Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
1 Feb

The “Asian Paradox”: How Can Asians Eat So Much Rice and Not Gain Weight?

eatingriceHow the Primal community loves the concept of a dietary paradox. How we eagerly point to its various manifestations as supportive evidence for our way of eating, living, and moving. You know the French Paradox and how it confounds the experts. To mention all those smug surrender monkeys with their brie and their butter and their duck confit and their Gauloises and their seeming imperviousness to heart attacks is to make Dean Ornish binge on bran and pull out tuft after tuft of frizzy hair. And then there’s the lesser-known Israeli Paradox, which attempts to answer why Israelis have skyrocketing rates of heart disease despite a skyrocketing intake of “healthy” omega-6 fatty acids. In its wake, Walter Willet might be found weeping into a mug of safflower oil. There’s even an American Paradox – those who ate the most saturated fat had the least coronary heart disease – that had the minds of researchers thoroughly boggled.

All those paradoxes work out in “our favor.” Saturated fat gets off pretty much scot-free and omega-6 vegetable oils get raked over the coals (and, presumably, oxidized). And if people were honest about things, they would see these paradoxes not as paradoxes, but as reasons to reevaluate previously-held beliefs about health and diet.

But what about the Asian Paradox? How can Asian countries consume so much white rice and so many noodles and remain so thin? If carbs make you fat, how do they eat so many of them? This is a question I get from Mark’s Daily Apple readers all of the time, so it’s about time I gave a thorough response.

First of all, I want to confirm that Asia eats a lot of rice. It may be a “side dish” or not the main course, but there’s no dancing around the fact that a lot of rice gets eaten – the stats (PDF) are pretty clear on Asian rice consumption. I briefly covered the Asian Paradox in the rice post, but I think the subject deserves more than a brief paragraph. So, today, I’m going to explain why the Asian Paradox (like all “paradoxes,” really) isn’t actually a paradox, and why I consider it to happily coexist with all of the other Primal-friendly paradoxes. I’ll also explain why I think the Asian Paradox offers us Primals a chance to evaluate our own beliefs (because that’s the only honest thing to do).

They Move(d) Frequenty at a Slow Pace

Whenever I’m in a large city with a sizable Asian immigrant population, I notice a different approach to walking. For instance, Carrie and I were recently visiting San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. We spent the day just walking around and getting sort of lost, and we both noticed the difference. Of all the multitudes of people walking, jogging, and otherwise being active, everyone but the older Asian folks seemed to be actively exercising. Exercising on purpose. Trying to “burn calories” or “improve VO2 max.” We noticed as a young mother with strollered child powerwalked down the path, wearing compression tights, a baseball cap, and the latest running shoes, while the elderly Chinese grandma she passed wore some keds and a knit sweater. Two seemingly identical joggers (one in Vibrams!) with Bluetooth earpieces jabbed at each other with business-speak opposite a pair of old friends strolling along and loudly speaking (in another language) of politics and times long past (again, it was another language) in well-worn suits and loafers. A group of cyclists could have passed for pros with all their gear and advertisements and special cycling shoes, while an older Asian gentleman wearing a collared shirt and slacks cruised by on a simple ten-speed. I got the distinct impression that walking or cycling or just getting around using your own limbs as the vehicles was simply a way to get from here to there for the older Asian folks. It wasn’t a special occasion. It was an everyday occurrence. It was normal. For everyone else, it was exercise. It was a big event that you had to get geared up and spend money for. Exercise is great, and walking with intent of getting healthier is great – I do it all the time. But my observations speak to a huge cultural difference between the way older Asian folks who immigrated over (and, presumably, the cultures back at home) and Americans treat moving frequently at a slow pace.

People living in Asian countries have historically been more active than people living in the States. It’s not that they’re all lifting weights and running sprints and joining gyms; it’s that their average daily activity levels are higher. And as everyone here probably already knows, the simple act of walking on a regular basis does wonders for one’s health. Daily walking is consistently associated with (among other health benefits) improved insulin sensitivity (better tolerance of carbohydrates like white rice), better moodlowered blood pressure and triglycerides, and greater longevity. America is a car country, and has been for about a hundred years. We don’t – and haven’t for over 50 years – have to walk to get around. Heck, oftentimes we can’t walk to get where we want to go even if we wanted to walk, since many of us live in a kind of suburban sprawl that requires the use of cars just to buy groceries or take the kids to school. The result is a country that takes fewer steps per day than the rest of the world. As Asians start buying more cars, relying more on vehicular transportation, and moving further away from labor-intensive work, I suspect you’ll see more carbohydrate intolerance, fat gain, and general ill health begin to emerge. It’s already happening, as you’ll see.

I think daily activity levels are probably the biggest determinant in tolerance to carbs. In American cities where walking is required or more convenient than driving, like New York, people are generally healthier, slimmer, and longer-lived. Things are changing, though. In 1989, 65% of Chinese performed heavy labor on a daily basis. By 2000, that proportion had dropped to 50% – still far more than in Western nations, but the downward trend is clear. You’ll notice on that same page that the proportion of overweight children also increased by the year 2000.

An Otherwise Unprocessed, Nutritious Diet

Traditional Asian food is highly nutritious. Go to a Vietnamese noodle house and the signature dish is pho, a big bowl of homemade beef marrow bone broth, tripe, tendons, brisket, and rice noodles. Go to a real Thai restaurant and get bone broth soup with cubes of pork blood, greens, rice noodles, and a duck egg. Go to a Chinese restaurant and get sauteed (alas, in soybean or corn oil these days) pork kidneys with Chinese broccoli and rice on the side. Go to a Japanese restaurant and get wild caught salmon eggs rolled with seaweed and rice, mackerel sashimi, and some fermented miso soup with kelp strips. Go to Korean barbecue and eat a dozen different kinds of kimchi, grilled short ribs, beef tongue, and liver all wrapped in lettuce, with rice on the side. In all these foods, rice is present, but so are real bone broth, fresh meat, fermented cabbage, offal, and vegetables. The presence of rice does not invalidate or negate the presence of every other nutrient.

Of course, that’s restaurant food. If you want to get an idea of how Asian folks cook at home, go to their supermarkets and note what people are buying. It’s not as fancy or flavorful, but it’s just as nutritious. Stand by the register and you’ll see twenty kinds of whole fish; live oysters, mussels, clams, crabs, snails, and sea urchins; a pig’s entire digestive tract; buckets of chicken feet; bags full of strange leafy green things and exotic vegetables like bitter melon; all sorts of herbs, roots, and teas; fermented, pickled foods; a dozen different kinds of root vegetable; and yes, rice. If you want to isolate the rice from that list of nutrient-dense offerings and say “What about that?” be my guest, but not me. I’ll be admiring the handsome beef foot oozing collagen and marrow and imagining all the wonderful dishes it could make (while I mentally compare the contents of shopping carts in Asian markets to the contents of shopping carts in standard American grocery stores… guess who wins).

Before recently, Asians ate less refined sugar and used animal fats for cooking. Sugar intake is rising now, of course, and cooking oils made from corn and soybean have largely replaced lard and tallow, but rice in the context of a low-sugar, no-HFCS (remember, the oft-cited 55/45 fructose/glucose breakdown for HFCS is highly misleading and actually quite often incorrect), low-vegetable oil, nose-to-tail nutrient-dense diet is (or was) acceptable. You can’t reduce a food down to its constituent parts and focus on, say, the bit of fructose in a blueberry and then condemn the entire berry because of it. Similarly, you can’t reduce a diet down to a single constituent food and condemn – or praise – it based on that single food. You have to look at the entire picture, and the Asian diet is largely a nutritious one.

More Rice, Less Wheat

Thanks to regular monsoons, 90% of the world’s rice production is located in Asia. It’s been cultivated in the region for close to 10,000 years, so the region’s occupants tend to eat a fair amount of the stuff.

Luckily for them, rice, especially white rice (the favored type across most of Asia; as a Thai friend of mine who grew up there and came to Hollywood in the 60s told me, “rice bran was for the chickens”), is a mostly non-toxic source of glucose. On the grain spectrum, where wheat and other gluten grains reside at one end, rice relaxes at the opposite end. It’s not “good,” but it’s also not “bad.” It just is. It’s pretty much neutral. Whether you can handle (or need) the glucose load is another thing, but you can rest assured that white rice will be generally free of gut irritants, phytic acid, and deleterious lectins. If you’re eating wheat, on the other hand, you have gluten, wheat germ agglutinin, and a host of other antinutrients with which to contend. And, as Ned Kock’s masterful (and under-appreciated) series of stats posts on the China study data suggests, rice intake is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease while wheat flour intake is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease. The upper level of rice intake did correlate with a slight increase in CHD, however, but not a major one.

All else being equal, people will be healthier on a rice-heavy junk food diet than on a wheat-heavy junk food diet.

Is Asia Even All That Healthier Anymore?

Healthy, long-lived Asia isn’t so healthy and long-lived. Both China and India are facing diabetes epidemics. In Taiwan, KoreaVietnam, and Thailand, diabetes is also increasing. The perfect storm – of sedentary living, processed junk food full of carbs and bad fats, and poor sleep – that has ravaged America and other industrialized nations for almost a century and led to a host of debilitating illnesses is beginning to descend upon Asia. Cooking oils have displaced traditional animal fats and sugar intake is rising. People walk less and eat more wheat.

Even the low BMIs of Asian countries are misleading. At equal BMIs, Asians generally have more body fat than other groups (PDF). So, on average, the American or the Pacific Islander with a BMI of 25 has less body fat than the Chinese guy with a BMI of 25. It’s not clear whether these higher body fat levels (at lower BMIs) correspond to increased risks for certain diseases, but it does suggest that BMI is an unreliable barometer for a country’s leanness on a particular diet. You can be skinny-fat with a low BMI – and it appears that significant numbers of Asians with low BMIs fit that profile.

So, like every other one before it, the Asian Paradox topples: there is actually no paradox. Asian countries remain lean (if they’re actually lean, that is) on a rice-heavy diet by virtue of lots of low-level aerobic activity to promote insulin sensitivity, lots of nutrient-dense food to go with that rice, and because rice is the least offensive grain.

Any questions? Fire away!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. HOORAY FOR THE ASIANS!

    Kevin Lin wrote on February 6th, 2012
  2. I’m commenting on the “fattness” of carbohydrates. With a short term perspective.

    I am a long time low carb eater, because when I decided to get “unfat” the combination of Atkins diet and lots of bicycle camping took me from 245 lbs on a 5′ 6″ frame down to 175 obs in five months – and I am currently, seven years later, at 168 lbs.

    So, I have previously been enamored with the carbs are fattening.

    I backpack again, starting 5 years ago then at age 68 and did 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail my first attempt, and first hike in over 25 years.

    I didn’t want to try making months worth of low carb food to send to myself C/O General Delivery at trail towns. So I opted for convenient easy to prepare foods which are easily gotten in grocery stores, even the small ones in small trail towns, … and these happen to be starchy carb heavy. Pasta, potatoes, rice with flavoing goodies added (along with olive oil, sometimes cheese, ….)constituted my high carbohydrate 3,500 Calories per day diet. This is up from nearly 2,000 Calories per day when being a flatland non-backpacker.

    I was on that diet 90 some odd days, and never gained a pound. I often would lose a couple of pounds and eat like the proverbial hog whenever we found an AYCE (All You Can Eat) place for meals in our town stopovers. In every town we packed in all the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that we could eat.

    The lesson was that if you can manage to do enough calorie burning from muscle action, then the “Fattening Power” of carbohydrates is not evident.

    Therefore, along with the expressed views of many others on the importance of activity, you can’t discuss the fattening power of food in the absence of activity.

    So, I no longer brand carbohydrates as fattening foods all by themselves. I still eat pretty low carbohydrate, but am considering taking a trial at Paleo type eating.

    I wish I could find some nice convenient food repacking lists of how to do a month long backpack on a paleo diet by buying easy to prepare foods in a small grocery store, or how to easily prepare paleo foods for pickup at remote post offices for a month or two long backpacking trip.

    That would hasten my intent to convert to a Paleo eating style.

    ThreeDay wrote on February 6th, 2012
  3. Genetics,i read where white Jasmine rice is like 100 on the GI scale.My wife eats rice everyday,and i dont eat it at all,its just like eating sugar to me.She is asian,im not.My wife did grow up with veggies and fresh seafood every day.

    ron wrote on February 6th, 2012
  4. Being asian and currently living in asia, i can safely say that many asians have the skinny-fat syndrome (look skinny but have a high body fat percentage). Many people here aren’t as fit as they appear =)

    But what works in our favour is the smaller portion size. Most meal portions are much smaller than American portion sizes. Less food = less calories = less weight gain.

    Also traditionally, many people do not consume dessert or their dessert is something mildly sweet. Many do not like overly sweet desserts.

    And what Mark said about the walking is true. I’m currently living in China. Many people, especially older ones think that joining a gym is absurd. Why pay for gym fees when you can walk around the park/walk to the subway for free? It is a form of transport and you save money.

    Joanne Khoo wrote on February 6th, 2012
    • “Being asian and currently living in asia, i can safely say that many asians have the skinny-fat syndrome (look skinny but have a high body fat percentage). Many people here aren’t as fit as they appear =)”

      I go to a gym and I see this all the time in the locker rooms. Skinny *looking* with clothes on, fat when they are off.

      Carla wrote on February 6th, 2012
  5. The thing that stood out for me in the Asian grocery store was the snacks, whole squid, little fish (with eyeballs that fall out, which is why it’s going to be forever and a day before I try them even if they are crispy and yummy), strips of flavored seaweed.

    Of course not all Asians eat those things, and even the people who eat those things don’t necessarily eat only those types of snacks, it was just interesting that anything so healthy would be a treat like a potato chip.

    The other thing to consider when comparing BMIs with Asian countries is that Japan and Korea at least have high rates of anorexia.

    Liz wrote on February 6th, 2012
  6. good article, my wife is Thai, meat consumption is low in Thailand, id say 5 to 10% of diet and this would be the general consensus amongst the poor in Thailand. Id agree with the article in that my wife has made very little changes to her diet since she moved to Ireland but she is much less active and her weight goes up and up as a result. I’m blaming the white rice and lashings of oil in the stir fries.

    john wrote on February 6th, 2012
  7. I am saddened to read through these comments. Do people of French nationality deserve this pointless negativity. What does this help? It is negative nonsense. Methinks the author is being controversial in order to get more traffic, otherwise he is just an idiot. SO disappointed.

    Laura Harden wrote on February 6th, 2012
  8. Having lived in northern (non-metro) Japan for a while, I can confirm many things in this article and add a few more comments. Lots of walking and daily activities; the children have almost mandatory activities such as tennis, baseball, etc; the home is for relaxing, and not much else — people go out all the time, they’re so active; grocery shopping is almost a daily activity, their kitchens are small, produce is so fresh; food is more expensive here in Japan (e.g., $6 for a small 12oz bottle of ketchup); food quality and presentation is very important — this a country of discerning foodies, they love food but good food; even at fast food places portions are small; on the topic of rice, it is often a side dish — pure white rice almost never accented with much else; Farmers Markets? What are those? The whole country is practically a Farmers Market!
    Also true is the invasion of western culture — fast food, video games, sweets, and baked goods. Luckily, their ovens are only big enough for broiling fish and not much else. Baked goods are predominately only found at stores and are expensive. They use sugar and not corn syrup. All their sweets are very small or served in very small portions. Fish and vegetables are plentiful and cheap; fruit is a seldom and expensive treat, and almost all their desserts incorporate fruit in it (a honey dew is often given as a gift, and bears a price tag of $20 or more per melon).
    The Japanese love being active – hiking, snowboarding, biking, etc. They work so much more hours than Americans, and when they have free time, they pack it full of activities – travel and sightseeing especially.

    Leo wrote on February 6th, 2012
  9. Another factor is portion size. They just aren’t in general an excessive, greedy culture. Just enough is just enough.

    Rich wrote on February 6th, 2012
  10. My guess was they have a very different body type than Europeans, Africans, South/Central Americans etc. I am mesomorph through and through. Though as a female I have great muscle mass naturally, I was also born with a sensitive to carbs.

    I have always been active, in fact, I was a fat runner. My activity level was above average, but my diet was piss poor. I ate LOTS of grains including rice.

    Different body types and metabolism, different diets?

    Carla wrote on February 6th, 2012
    • Yeah, I hear that “different body types/different diets” a lot and it makes for a great ‘reason’ to eat addictive foods. I don’t buy it and think it is only an excuse to mentally feel better about oneself. We should all try our best to eat clean, non-toxic foods that don’t mess with our hormones, period. That includes healthy fats from avocados and coconuts to yes, grass-fed meat fats. Craving will go away naturally and your genes will start to work like they are supposed to.

      Raphael wrote on February 7th, 2012
  11. i’m asian. i ate rice for my country. i ended up weighing 200pounds.

    i’m doing low carb! lost almost 70lbs.

    wont eat so much carbs…lesson learnt!

    EM wrote on February 6th, 2012
  12. Paleo cooking pots?

    As 8-9 year olds we used to made pots from grey seams of clay that lined our river bank. They were dry in the sun by the end of the day. I remember my Dad trying one on a fire he had going in the garden (yard). It boiled water.

    George Phillips wrote on February 7th, 2012
  13. Thanks for this informative article. Just want to add one thing more about rice as we know it today. Rise contains a portion of cyanide. As a heavy rice consumer, this poison will in the long run affect the brain, spine and eye sight .This can be seen in the poor posture of many Asians. Back problems and poor visions are very common in Asia.

    Liam wrote on February 7th, 2012
  14. Hi Mark I happen to be your publisher in France and I believe your article on rice and the Asians would be just as good if you dropped the French bashing. Most French people love America and what it stands for, and now that you have a publisher in France and an opportunity to get to know its people better, you may realize that most of them do not deserve to be depicted as “surrender monkeys”. Best Regards, Thierry

    Thierry Souccar wrote on February 7th, 2012
  15. “It was an unnecessary slur. There is absolutely no need for choosing such biased wording. Simpsons reference or not… it’s offensive and misrepresentative. I expect better from MDA.”

    It was an unnecessary slur. There is absolutely no need for choosing such biased wording. Simpsons reference or not… it’s offensive and misrepresentative. I expect better from MDA.

    It was an unnecessary slur. There is absolutely no need for choosing such biased wording. Simpsons reference or not… it’s offensive and misrepresentative. I expect better from MDA.”
    For all of you who said something like this ^ Read the book The Four Agreements by Ruiz and your life will be filled with less misery and needless suffering. This falls into : Dont Take Anything Personaly. Here is the rule : Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you wont be the victim of needless suffering. This book will change your life!

    Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-asian-paradox-how-can-asians-eat-so-much-rice-and-not-gain-weight/#ixzz1lhZtq0At

    Aaron Curl wrote on February 7th, 2012
  16. Hi,
    what do you say about the Jaminets’ approach that you can’t count vegetables as carb source because it takes too much energy to digest them. What do you think about that?
    Thank you very much.
    Jasmin

    JP wrote on February 7th, 2012
  17. @ Mark Sisson, I have to ask, does any in Asia eat “brown rice?” I often wander why do they eat so much WHITE Rice? Isn’t Brown Rice healthier, why do you think they would not choose that instead? Also, WHICH State in the U.S. would you think eats more white rice?

    Donna wrote on February 7th, 2012
  18. I have been reading a great book – with a horrible title: “Why the Chinese don’t count calories” – in this book, the author explores “secrets from a 3,000 year old food culture”… in it, the subject of rice and noodles is extensively covered. I was inspired by some of what she wrote, and found myself compelled to try out eating some plain white rice with my food. I typically eat only meat and veggies at a meal, although I am not strictly paleo. At any rate, to my surprise… I discovered that when I added a cup or so of rice to my usual meal, I felt full longer, and found that my food digested much more easily. Having suffered from many years of digestive discomforts, I’ve learned specifically which foods offend, and which are allies of mine… lately, having added some simple rice to my usual meals of meat, veg and fats has really improved my digestion, and staying full longer has kept me from eating unnecessary calories. I still have plenty of energy and have stayed the same weight, but best of all, I feel MORE satisfied with a meal when rice is included. Just thought I’d share my two cents…..

    Ami wrote on February 7th, 2012
  19. Great article – a question I have always wondered the answer too but was never sure who to ask – it will be interesting to see how the “East” evolves over the next couple of decades based on so called “progression”

    Thanks Mark – much appreciated!

    Jenny wrote on February 7th, 2012
  20. What’s with the trite French-bashing on an off-topic topic? The British surrendered at Yorktown, not the French. The French were supplying the Americans even before France formally entered the American War of Independence. No France, no US.

    They also provided the US with most of its weapons and supplies in WWI, even though they had a smaller economy than the US, and took 3 million+ casualties over the course of stopping a German invasion.

    How would you like it if every time the US was mentioned, non-Americans said, “Oh yes, the people who lost in Vietnam”?

    Alex wrote on February 7th, 2012
  21. One thing I never see mentioned is the practice of “washing’ the rice. My father was stationed in Japan in the late 60’s and was taught by a local friend to rinse and rinse and rinse the rice until the water was clear before cooking. Not sure of the true effect but we thought it washed some of the starch away.

    Christina wrote on February 8th, 2012
  22. Great job on the post as usual,
    but could you possibly use another term than “surrender monkeys” when referring to the French? As a frenchman myself, I find the term a little…offensive.

    Kevin wrote on February 8th, 2012
  23. Interesting… rice was a MAJOR part of my diet before I went primal. My family is from Ecuador and eats rice almost every meal (including breakfast)!

    Sonia wrote on February 9th, 2012
  24. An interesting test case would be Northern China vs. Southern China. Northern Chinese are wheat eaters and don’t like rice much. Southern Chinese are rice eaters. I am interested to know if anyone studied the differences in health outcomes.

    One study I found suggest that Northerners have higher obesity rates: http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v15/n1/full/oby2007527a.html

    iljay wrote on February 9th, 2012
  25. Take a look at rice farmers in China. They are not fat at all.

    Rice farming is very hard work.

    Peter wrote on February 16th, 2012
  26. Rice doesn’t make you fat, excessive calories does. Plain and simple. I don’t know a lot about the science behind carbohydrates in regards to fat storage and to be quite frank, I don’t care. I think the negative reputation of carbohydrates has been hugely blown out of proportion. I’m saying this from personal experience. I grew up in a very traditional Asian family and white rice was eaten 2-3 times a day. If i had to estimate how many grams of carbs I get in a day from rice alone, I’d say around 150. I don’t remember a day that has gone by that I did not eat at least a serving of rice. As far as physical activity goes, playing basketball on weekend was as strenuous as it got for me. Am I overweight? Not even close. None of my siblings are either.

    Russel Lee wrote on February 20th, 2012
  27. The “Asian Paradox” refers to the low rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer in Asian countries despite high rates of smoking. Your definition is different than what I was searching for. Maybe you could call yours the “Asian Obesity Rice Paradox”?

    Rex wrote on February 29th, 2012
  28. The Asian paradox is interesting, and some parts are historically even more fascinating. Beyond Buddhist vegetarianis,, Certain Taoists, many of them mountain recluses,poets, sages and herbalists followed a variety of diets. the small book Immortal Sisters, by Thomas Cleary, is about the female practitioners of this lifestyle. I doubt they ate meat, although they may have eaten grubs or something if starving, but they did eat a LOT of mushrooms,tubers and leafy greens, and AVOIDED ALL GRAINS, claiming that it extended life and helped clear the mind for meditation and spiritual exercises.

    These are the same folks who invented Chinese physical therapies and the martial arts to defend against invading bad guys, so there must have been good reason for it all.)

    Elsie Harrington wrote on March 3rd, 2012
  29. Yet another proof that Asians are not immune to the effects of rice:

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/white-rice-seen-type-2-diabetes-says-study-233837784.html

    White rice linked to type 2 diabetes.

    Pete wrote on March 15th, 2012
  30. Cool coffee graphic…unfortunately, though, caffeine can cause magnesium deficiency, and it reduces appetite! I’m trying to restore my appetite and replacing coffee with chicory in the morning has helped! Though I suppose the effect varies from person to person, some don’t get affected that way by coffee.

    Milla wrote on April 2nd, 2012
  31. I live in Japan for 17 years, I think Mark is right, they move a lot. I would walk to the train station then from the station to work. My wife rode her bike to work every day. When we went out to drink or eat usually we rode out bikes. I think that Japanese get a lot more natural exercise.

    Also the sugar use is a lot lower. Most people I know drink ice tea with no sugar instead of soft drinks.

    My family did eat lots of rice but a lot of other very healthy food. At home we did not fry a lot or eat processed food much. This is changing in Japan. There are fast food shops everywhere and more and more people are eating bread and processed food. The obesity rate in Japan is going up but not near as fast as the US.

    I think that the traditional lifestyle in Japan naturally included two of the primal key elements, move a lot and very low sugar.

    Since moving back to the US and driving everywhere and eating out I gained 20 pounds. Hopefully getting back to a more primal way of life will help with that.

    Davew wrote on April 4th, 2012
  32. in 2001, I went to the Cape Verde Islands for 45 days..staple diet? Rice. Little meat but lots of rice. I came back 20 pounds lighter. I noticed how much rice everyone ate at every sitting, but how slim everyone was. Of course, they walked everywhere as well. Long roads, steep hills. Long slow walks. Every time I run into articles in favor of what I term “third world diets,” I definitely give kudos:)

    sonia wrote on April 12th, 2012
  33. Do you think it’s possible that the way Asians prepare the rice white before cooking it has anything to do with it? I lived in Okinawa, Japan for 3 years and while there, learned the proper way to prepare rice. The Japanese people soak their rice for at least an hour in a non-metallic bowl and wash the grains by rubbing them between their fingers until the rice turns pearly white. It is then drained and all the excess starch is rinsed away. It is only then is the rice suitable for cooking.

    Leah wrote on May 7th, 2012
  34. Huh? You went to a park and saw Asians jogging and concluded that this is the reason why they are not obese despite high carb diet? Really? That’s it?

    Lazar wrote on June 10th, 2012
  35. …and this makes me feel really good about all the rice I’ve been eating. Goodbye, wheat bread!

    Thomas Frank wrote on June 11th, 2012
  36. Let’s not forget that in general, Asians eat small amounts compared to the Standard American Diet, even if they may eat rice and/or noodles a lot. Couple that with walking a lot and voila, thin people!

    Edward Brown wrote on June 15th, 2012
  37. Good article, I am slender and I was gainning weight when I left rice and was eating whole wheat bread, whole wheat cookies, etc. However, recently I changed, I stopped every consumption of bread, except casabi (no gluten) and I eat my white rice everyday (I excersise several days a week with Jillian Michaels videos)and I can say, I am not gainning weight and I am loosing it easier.

    Rebeca wrote on June 27th, 2012
  38. You can’t eat too much carbs, you just pee themn out. The problem arises when you eat too much fat.

    I eat loads of rice and I’m not fat or asian lol. I just cut the fat out.

    Read the china study it’s great.

    Charlie wrote on August 11th, 2012
  39. I am asian 5’2 size 0/2 and I eat a lot of rice 2mugs of rice/meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) thats about 6-8 mugs of rice/day which normal for us asians. Rice is the main dish, everything else is just a sider!
    but we also eat a lot of fruits as opposed to chocolates or ice cream or puddings. We prefer water or fruit juice as opposed to coca cola or coffee. we are not a “bread” or “potato” lovers. Sandwich is not something we prefer to eat. Not too many asians eat sandwiches. In Asia, specially southeast, everything is served with rice. We cannot live without rice.

    The only fat asians you see are the ones you see at mcdonalds, KFC, starbucks etc…

    So stop eating junk =)

    Lisa wrote on August 15th, 2012
  40. My wife is Japanese, and I have visited her family several times (Kagoshima- Southern part of Japan), as well as made several trips there while in the Navy. The Japanese DO eat rice with complete ferocity. An interesting note, however, is that traditional Japanese wisdom shared with me by my Japanese mother in-law is that a reduction in the amount of daily rice intake is how a Japanese person used to lose weight. They figured the correlation of high rice intake to bigger guts a long time ago.

    Now-a-days, this wisdom is lost in the fight to reduce sugar intake (found in abundance within the beverage machines located on every corner in the whole country). My mother in-law did leave me with one piece of marvelous advice, this after visiting her mother who is 102 yrs old. The advice was to eat what you want, the healthy stuff first, and be sure to include at least 30 (yes thirty) different whole foods into your diet every day. I found out this was significantly harder than it sounded. By whole foods, she was referring to veggies, fruits, and meats.

    AUCARK wrote on August 16th, 2012

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