The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate in...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
Yesterday I discussed the much-buzzed-about Stanford Atkins study…at length. As many of you know, I am very much in favor of a diet that is high in good fats, lean protein, and green vegetables – and very low in carbohydrates, particularly refined and grain carbohydrates.
“Atkins” and “low-carb” are controversial, attention-getting words because they tend to elicit images of bacon, butter and grease. While I am big on low-carb, I’m also big on doing it sensibly.
I think it’s clear that those on low-carb diets do experience both weight loss and health benefits – confounding to conventional nutrition wisdom, but evidently true nonetheless. However, that doesn’t mean a steady diet of sodium-stuffed sausage and chemical-laden deli meat is a sustainable or sensible path to health. If not done correctly, the Atkins diet is more of a vanity diet than a ticket to great health. (The good news: done properly, you can look good and feel good!)
Recently I talked about what I eat in a day, and though you might call it “low-carb”, I think of it as simply eating the way humans should eat (humble, I know). The focus is on fiber from greens, lean meat, good fats from fish and certain vegetable oils, and yes, even some saturated fat. So long as fat isn’t refined, I think much of our dread of saturated fat is overblown. (You all know how I feel about cholesterol – I think inflammation is far more deadly for humans.) I’m inclined to believe it’s the proportion of “good” to “bad” fat that is more important than fretting over the amount of saturated fat in your steak.
The irony, of course, is that a “controversial” diet that doesn’t worry about fat – even saturated fat – and proposes avoiding anything processed, refined or grain-based, is probably closer to nature’s ideal design for the human diet than we’ve been in a long, long time.
If you live on bacon, you will lose weight. You’ll also run the risk of kidney stones…and seriously annoying your friends. But grass-fed steak? Butter on your vegetables? A hearty omelet? I don’t think there’s anything remotely unhealthy in any of these foods. The allegedly healthy alternatives we’ve been sold on for years now – bran flakes, bread, fat-free egg substitutes – aren’t any better for you than French fries, Lucky Charms and cheeseburgers, in my opinion.
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[tags]low-carb, Atkins, Stanford Atkins study, fiber, saturated fat, processed foods[/tags]
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
Take two and see us in the morning.
Basically Meaningless Index
Science Daily reports that the BMI is a bad idea. We’ve been saying that for some time. And it’s not like we’re alone in this – a lot of health experts have been expressing frustration with reliance on the BMI. Some problems: the BMI does not take bone density, muscle mass or fat percentages into account. And it’s generous to a seriously scary degree. For example, a woman who is 5’7″ and 150 pounds is just as healthy, lean, and fit as a woman who is 5’7″ and 120 pounds, if you follow the metrics of the BMI. Hmm…
Thanks to Float for the photo!
Love Your Liver
…by losing weight. Obesity, more than anything else, affects your health. Obesity sets you up for diabetes, heart disease, depression, and stroke.
And That’s Fit reports: obesity is hard on your liver, making dangerous drug reactions more likely. In other words, being obese not only increases your risk for other diseases, but it increases your risk for having serious problems with the drugs needed to treat those diseases.
There are a lot of ways to lose weight, but among the simplest, most effective of methods is simply cutting out the sugar (soda, snacks, pastries and prepared foods).
This is Shinyai’s photo of sea toad liver. Now you know!
Seriously, Just Take Some Omega-3’s, Would Ya?
Good fats are good for your brain: more evidence. Fish everywhere do not rejoice.
Flickr fish pic
State of the Union
Guess how many states reveal preventable medical mix-ups? 20? 30? 40? No, unfortunately, only two. All together now: transparency, transparency, transparency!Read More
This week’s Aaron’s Additions brings you a roundup of the biggest, loudest, and by golly, shiniest heart health blogs on the web for your perusing pleasure. The assortment of perspectives out there is enough to send me running for my sneakers. Some are great, but I’ve also included a few that get my heart pounding out of concern. Okay, actually, many of them make me cradle my head in my hands and think about repaving America with running tracks.
The biggest problem I find: even “alternative” heart health blogs still truck out the same Uncle Sam outdated advice: bran flakes, low-fat dairy, fruit juice, and plenty of wailing away at the cardio machines.
The Cardio Blog
A very classy cardio blog that is sadly missing a little “heart” and soul. Nevertheless we keep daily tabs on the frequent multi-author posts for a glimpse of a more traditional health perspective. To wit: in their commentary on CNN’s “9 steps to a healthier heart”, the Cardio Blog dug the recommendation for pomegranate juice (#4). You might recall, yesterday we took issue with #4, and still do – fresh fruit, not juice, is the healthiest bet for your heart.
A Hearty Life
Dr. Lei clearly knows her stuff, and has the best of intentions, but the real bummer is that most of her advice boils down to “if only you’d taken your medication”. I’m sure she knows that 1 in 3 women die of heart disease, so I think it’s only reasonable to suggest that the thinking on heart health needs a hefty overhaul. Let’s start earlier, work harder, and take more assertive preventive action. Now where were those pills…
Can Steve Case – your friendly AOL CEO – really do this? Evidently so. We were turned on to a sneak preview of Revolution Health, Case’s health blog social network brainchild, and surprisingly, it’s not too shabby. In fact, it’s pretty cool. I haven’t found any entertaining angry apples or racist food scams exposed. Nevertheless, this mainstream-attempting-to-appear-cool community does all right. It’s fluffy, but so far appears to be sugar-free. (I can see the top dogs in the boardroom now: “The 25-35 set who watches The Daily Show and can afford hybrids will really like this one, guys…”). Or, as Jon Stewart might say…”Feh.”
Who is this fabulous person behind this fabulous blog? Eat your way to great health – it can be done. Though this blog focuses on other issues besides heart health – probiotics, diabetes, weight loss, allergies – the focus is sensibly alternative without skating into bizarre-theories-r-us territory. I know I’m always shilling this site, but it’s awesome!
No doubt you’ve seen the major news out today that the Atkins diet is significantly more effective for weight loss than higher-carb diets promoted by the likes of Dr. Dean Ornish and Barry Sears. As you’d expect, Ornish says the study is flawed. Sears says the study is bad science. That’s fine, boys. The Atkins followers not only lost weight, they were healthier by the end of the year. Both Sears and Ornish take issue with the fact that compliance in the study was, at best, half-hearted (meaning the ladies who participated didn’t exactly follow the various plans to the letter). My response to that is: all the more evidence that upping your protein and fat intake is a wise idea. If you can lose weight, lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, and you don’t even have to follow your diet perfectly…where’s the problem? A year-long study compared four different diets – Atkins, LEARN (Uncle Sam’s feel-good acronym will not leave you feeling good), the Zone, and Ornish’s bread-buffet regimen. At the end of the year, Atkins followers lost about twice the weight of the other participants. This is no big surprise – it’s yet another study that proves what I’ve been saying for years: cut the carbs. Critics – mainly, Sears and Ornish – are, as I expected, getting lost in the details and ignoring the big, fat elephant in the room. They point out that ten pounds of weight loss instead of five pounds of weight loss is no big deal. Well, okay, but that depends on your perspective – I’m willing to bet good money that had the results of the study gone in their favor, they’d be singing a different tune. Instead of “10 pounds is no big deal,” we’d hear: “Double the weight loss – this is huge!” Instead of a “flawed” study, we’d hear: “We’re talking about a long-term, year-long, significant study!” And instead of splitting hairs about the lack of 100% compliance, my guess is that Ornish and Co. would say “This is a realistic study that looks at how people actually follow diets, rather than perfect, artificial conditions in a lab.” So, while the pasta-and-bread fans are crying to Uncle Sam, here’s the question the rest of us are smart enough to ask: Why are doctors so afraid of fat? The overwhelming majority of studies – of all shapes, sizes and ulterior motives – supports, again and again, the case for a high-fat, high-protein diet for humans. And if the weight loss isn’t enough, those who enjoy bacon and butter also lower their cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. Doesn’t anyone in the carb camp ever stop and think – wait a minute, why are we subscribing to the low-fat, low-cholesterol dietary model to begin with? (People more cynical than me will note that the corn and wheat industries are among the most powerful lobbies, and the most heavily subsidized industries, in the world.) How … Continue reading “Why the Atkins Diet Works”Read More