The Inuit and blubber. The Masai and beef. Dr. Cameron Smith and bags of butter. Come again? This week’s Smart Fuel is practically genius – although we wouldn’t necessarily recommend making it your next meal! It’s a well-known fact that some of the healthiest populations on earth enjoy copious amounts of saturated fat in their diets – enough to thoroughly horrify any American dietitian worth his or her salt. Though we seem to be moving away from the fat phobia that gripped the nation’s nutrition conscience in the 90s, mainstream wisdom still recommends avoidance of saturated fat in the diet. They wouldn’t be too pleased with Arctic expeditioners. When we learned that folks crossing the polar ice cap for research (thank goodness someone is doing it) subsist largely on such delicacies as lard balls and butter sticks, we just had to find out more. To learn about this greasy business, we sat down with Smith, an expeditioner, noted author, and anthropology professor at Portland State University. MDA: What do you eat on an expedition? Why fat? Smith: “I do eat a lot of fat, because of the three foods you can eat (fat, carbs and protein), you can simply get the most calories per unit from fat, and when you’re dragging every calorie you will have access to in the next 40 days in your sled, you have to pack in as many calories as possible. My colleague, Charles Sullivan, and I make rations from store-bought bulk goods, mixed in various formulas. Note that each breakfast, lunch, and dinner normally has as much as a half stick of butter in it!” MDA: What is the biggest health challenge, or challenges, one faces in an extreme circumstance such as your expedition? Smith: “The main worry is to prevent my core body temperature from dropping below a certain point; once you get really, deeply chilled, it can be hard to come back. It’s hard to be sure of how close you are to the line, because as you drift towards hypothermia, you start to get a little loopy. So I have to be very conscious of my state of mind.” MDA: Is anxiety or stress an issue? Is energy the primary challenge? Smith: “Fear and stress are significant, and I have to juggle them consciously. But, of course, in part I’m there for stress: I come alive when the pressure is on, and I love to solve awkward, clumsy, terrible problems in the wilderness. That, to me, is adventure; solving unexpected problems, with minimal resources.” MDA: Do you jazz up the butter to make it more palatable? Smith: “Nope – I quaff down the food like you wouldn’t believe. While it’s good to have the food taste good, I really inhale it by the time I get to eating, and rarely take time for the luxury of taste.” MDA: Do people criticize this temporary diet, or do you have the endorsement of doctors/experts? Smith: “Neither – I wouldn’t care what any expert … Continue reading “Lard Balls & Other Culinary Delights”
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”
Cut the fat with these bloggers as your guides. Though we can’t condone every health tip offered by these ever-slimming scribes, the will of these bloggers to lose weight is inspirational and noteworthy. Check out these blogs and then head down your own obesity-free path to well-being.
U-Turn: My Journey to Health
Kevin Graves is sick of being fat. With age 50 fast approaching, Kevin has made an oath to get healthy before it is too late.
The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl!
After six years of learning how to eat smart and love exercise, Shauna has lost over 170 pounds.
Donna’s goal is to regain her pre-grad school body before she graduates this May. Can she do it?!
The Skinny Daily Post
JuJu and Jane have a lot of advice to give. After years of Yo-Yo dieting they lost a combined 375 lbs. by adopting smart habits and making health their number one priority.
101 Reasons I Hate Being Fat!
The title says it all.
Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb
Not simply a personal account and a lot more than just low-carb living – Jimmy Moore’s blog chronicles his loss of more than 200 pounds and offers words of encouragement to anyone trying to do the same.
Renee Gets Fit
Stats, graphs, pics and video posts help you follow Renee as she tries anything to get fit.
Junior Apple Mike F. writes: “Mark, what can I eat? I hear dairy is bad, fat is bad, then fat is good, but some fat is bad, carbs are bad, but fiber is good. There is nothing left. I can’t even have milk in my tea now – not that I would be caught sipping tea. But if I wanted to is the point. What’s a guy supposed to eat?” Good question, Mike. The answer: just about everything. I am pretty disciplined (according to my kids, I’m a drill sergeant). I don’t really “do” carbs, I definitely avoid any junk or processed food, and I try to eat organic. But even being so careful about what goes on my plate, I’d say honestly I get a lot more flavor and variety than some people I know who insist on a steady diet of burgers, beers and pizzas. The truth is, “fun” foods like nachos, pizza and tacos all taste the same: the texture is usually a mix of creamy or crunchy, there’s a lot of salt, some meat-type seasoning, and sugar. Eat that stuff and you’re starving the next hour. You can eat salad and be a man about it. Seriously. I’m fitter, have more muscle mass and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been at 5’10”, 165 lbs. and 8% body fat. I do it with a heavy supply of vegetables, of all things. I never worry too much about fat because I eat a lot of “good” fats, which really aren’t too hard to identify. More on that in a moment. But honestly, I never am deprived, hungry or suffer from any cravings. Actually, I refuse to eat something that isn’t delicious, period. To me, the relentlessly boring, salty, familiar flavor of most processed foods is not delicious. The fact that they’re also totally unhealthy is almost a side issue. This morning, for example, I had my cup of joe with a little organic H&H. I don’t always eat breakfast (there I go breaking all the holy grails of health). This morning I had some scrambled Omega-enhanced eggs, and sometimes I’ll have a piece of fruit or a protein smoothie. I confess I don’t eat a lot of fruit (my wife jokes that men like the idea of fruit but don’t always know what to do with it). I like to get my fiber from vegetables since they’re lower in sugar and have more nutrients than fruit. For a snack I’ll grab a piece of fruit, cherry tomatoes or some almonds. I completely avoid processed snacks like chips and candy. Fresh stuff just tastes better – but it will take your body some time to readjust its tastes if you’ve been a junk food kind of guy. For lunch (speaking of lunch…): I always eat a huge salad. I’ve done so for 20 years. But no regular salad – I add in seafood or turkey, mountains of colorful chopped up veggies, and drizzle some balsamic vinegar on … Continue reading “I Can’t Eat Anything!”
Apples, as you know, this is a pro-fat health site – pro-fat meaning we recommend eating beneficial fats, of course, not getting fat. There are a lot of issues to consider when it comes to fat – heart disease, inflammation, arthritis, obesity and prevention, to name a few – and I’m going to weigh in (I know, I know) on some of the latest findings. Arthritis Increasingly, the medical community is focusing on the interrelatedness of health conditions like obesity, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. These prevalent health problems have a common component – inflammation – and mounting evidence suggests that a wide range of lifestyle habits aimed at preventing inflammation is clearly the better avenue for public health. Soaring health care costs, unequal distribution of nutritious food, Americans’ sedentary lifestyle, grievous drug side effects, and inaccurate food and health information are all factors in a health crisis that I believe has hit critical mass – it’s time for a smarter solution. Case in point: arthritis costs alone are over $120 billion dollars every year and growing. Just a few years ago, we were spending about $80 billion. By 2010, about 50 million people will suffer from arthritis. In my opinion, this is utterly unacceptable. Arthritis can occur for many reasons – I myself manage osteoarthritis from years of professional sports competition. Excessive levels of stress like hardcore athletic training or lack of any physical exercise are common culprits. Though there is a genetic predisposition to arthritis in some folks, the majority of people suffer from arthritis to a much greater extent than they need to, given the availability of easy prevention options (that are a lot cheaper and less painful than drugs, surgery and daily suffering). Personally, I’m rarely bothered by my arthritis because I maintain a good exercise routine, I don’t eat junk, and I am ruthless about preventing inflammation. How to prevent inflammation: – Douse yourself in antioxidants – Consume “good” fats with reckless abandon – Exercise – Limit both physical and emotional stress – Absolutely avoid anything that contributes to oxidation: smoking, excessive drinking, lack of activity, processed and prepared food, trans fat, and sugar Add Another Test to the List There have been several new heart disease markers identified this month (and a few thrown out as doctors realize basic prevention is worth a lot more). A Japanese study found interesting results for a specific set of women with particular heart conditions; and this study will help doctors determine how people who already have heart disease can avoid a second incident. In the same vein (there I go again), a few studies released this month are too fraught with questions and conflicts of interest to be of much insight (though no doubt Big Pharma will still bandy them about). Look, heart disease is the biggest killer of men and women. And it goes beyond that – those suffering from heart problems also tend to suffer from other big health problems like diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. … Continue reading “This Is a Big Fat Blog Post”
WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES
Yo! All kinds of news you’ll want to check out today, Apples. Here’s the best of it:
Bite My MDA
The FDA says it wants stricter warnings on the dangers of over-the-counter pain pills like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxin sodium. Since thousands of people die every year from painkiller-related problems (even when following dosage directions!), this is a good thing, but we’re still not forgiving the FDA for what we feel is a moronic decision yesterday to allow Celebrex for tiny tots. It’s not at all about being anti-drug – drugs serve a tremendously important role in improving human health and survival. But we think it’s short-sighted to approve the prescription of a very problematic drug to the wee ones.
There’s no clear-cut data on just how many people die from painkillers, according to the FDA. Sure. If you believe that, you’ll also believe the FDA’s claim that they wanted to issue stern warnings back in 2002, but it just takes so long to write warnings. Yes, that’s right – your eyes do not deceive you. It has taken over four years to deal with this because, well, writing a few paragraphs for pill bottle labels just takes a really, really long time. We know there are things like rules, regulations, and procedures. But don’t lives take precedence? Nope – lobbyists do, and that’s why it takes so long. That’s why they get paid the big bucks, Apples.
Feed Those Kids Some Sushi!
While this is a small, simple study, it’s certainly interesting news for your little ones’ health that isn’t the least bit fishy. Read up.
Why Supplements Are Important As We Age
Here’s a good study out of Cornell University that discusses the importance of supplements for older women. Stay healthy, ladies!
Trans Fats Make It to State
First, Chicago and NYC had to start in with the fat bans. We’re still waiting on Los Angeles to join the city competition, but in the meantime, an entire state – Massachusetts – is all set to ban trans fats, too. They always have to be first, don’t they? However, we’re glad to see the trans fat issue finally getting some serious political sizzle (we know, we know…bad pun).
[tags] FDA, Celebrex, painkillers, fish health benefits, aging, trans fat, Massachusetts, hydrogenated fat, restaurant ban [/tags]