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Category: Weight Loss

Low-Carb Is Not a License to Live on Bacon

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]

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Why the Atkins Diet Works

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”

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A Big Fat Blog Post

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.
Body Recovery
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.

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So You Want to Take Alli?

The oily spotting continues. Healthbolt has the money quote on new diet drug Alli:

“You can also bet your bottom dollar that GSK will be running ads of fabulous looking people living skinny-happy lives on alli in a field of wheat somewhere. They sure as hell won?t be running ads about 16 year old girls, malnourished as-is because of eating disorders (and this is who?s buying over the counter diet pills) passing out in gym class because they have no vitamins in their body…”

There will also no doubt be a floppy-eared puppy somewhere in that field of wheat – though I’m betting on a field of buttercups and violets myself.

For further consideration: at best, this new wonder drug will yield you a 5-10 pound weight loss…after 6 months! And that’s if you diet. And if you exercise. And that number may not be right, anyway, because the study was so shoddy.

I could lose 5 pounds on a bet in a week and it would still be healthier and safer than the Alli method.

If you work out for just 30 minutes a day and simultaneously cut just 200 calories from your daily intake (we’re talking a soda or a latte or just one standard serving of carbs, Apples), you’ll lose 5-10 pounds in one month. Yes. ONE MONTH. And that’s without a drug.

It should never take six months to lose 5 pounds. It should take about two weeks, and you certainly don’t need a drug to do that.

Among things that will take off 5 pounds in far less time than Alli:

(bear in mind this study isn’t totally proven, but then neither is Alli’s)

Yawning

Stretching in your chair

Rolling over one extra time in bed

Smiling at the mailman for once

Thinking about losing weight

Wondering if your friends are thinking about losing weight

Not thinking about losing weight

Remembering you need to put the clothes in the dryer

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[tags]Healthbolt, GSK, Alli, eating disorders, diet drug[/tags]

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And This Is What I Call a Deal-Breaker

I’m sure you’ve heard the headlines about Orlistat, the obesity drug, being approved for OTC use. What you may not have heard about are the side effects of this fat-blocking drug. Orlistat, which will still be distributed by Rx as Xenical for morbidly obese patients, will now be sold as Alli in drugstores nationwide. A magic pill it ain’t, Apples. I have a big (pardon the pun) problem with this drug, for several reasons. 1. How It Works I have no doubt that Alli is going to fly off the shelves faster than bananas in a monkey farm. People want to lose weight without making changes, and that’s the unfortunate truth. Some of us are lazy; some are depressed; some don’t have the information; and like children believing in Santa, many simply want to believe in a magic cure. These folks are the ones GlaxoSmithKline is banking on. Drug companies love a sucker. Alli “works” (and even this is highly debatable) by blocking fat absorption. This is problematic, to put it lightly. First of all, fat does not make you fat. The human body was meant to operate in a fat-burning metabolic state. Whether you believe in God or cite Darwin or both, there’s absolutely no disputing this fact. The advent of grain agriculture is a new thing for humans, relatively speaking, and the transition from a flesh-and-vegetable diet to a grain-and-sugar diet has humans suffering in a glucose-burning state. The side effects of this high-sugar diet are horrendous: inflammation, heart disease, depression, insomnia, diabetes, mental degeneration, aging, obesity and cancer. Do you still really want to block fat? People I coach are shocked when I put them on a higher-fat diet because mainstream wisdom still worships at the altar of low-fat. Know what happens? Infections clear, cholesterol drops, energy increases, anxiety dissipates, skin glows, and the pounds melt away. Second, reducing fat deprives your body of vital nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, which all need fat to metabolize. Blocking fat means you can’t properly absorb critical nutrients, which is why Alli has to be taken with a multivitamin to offset some of the damage. 2. The Law of Unintended Consequences: Oily Stools? Alli is available under conditional approval. This is the same FDA approval stamp that got us into the HRT and Cox-2 disasters. How many thousands of women suffered from breast cancer and how many people had heart attacks as a result of these reckless approvals? Conditional approval. As I mentioned the other day in an update on the FDA’s drug woes, conditional approval is a process by which the FDA essentially allows the burden of safety to rest with drug companies. (Yes: more often than you want to know, the FDA lets pharmaceutical companies begin marketing and selling a drug before lengthy testing has been conducted.) This tacit trust is just super-duper for drug companies eager to sop up years of product development costs with fast cash, but I’m stumped as to how this is beneficial for actual … Continue reading “And This Is What I Call a Deal-Breaker”

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Hoodia: So Much More Than Latin for ‘Hoodie’

The claims about hoodia are about as accurate as that headline.

Don’t get hoodiawinked. Here’s the truth about this alleged weight-loss miracle cactus (Latin for…well, cactus).

Does Hoodia Work?

In a word, no. There’s no proof that hoodia works to help you lose weight – not even a little. Myths, legends, stories and anecdotes are convincing because they resonate with emotional desires (which is why any profitable scam manages to make money). Hoodia is no exception – this new fat-reduction fad product has no scientific evidence to support the claims. Do a little digging around, and you’ll learn that the hoodia being sold is not even the real thing anyway.

Hoodia is a cactus from South Africa. There are 20 types, but gordonii is the only one that actually quells hunger. Here’s the catch: this version of hoodia is endangered and therefore protected by law. It’s not allowed to be harvested and can only be exported to botanists for study.

Now, the chow-suppressing molecule in gordonii hoodia is called P57. Right now, a company called Phytofarm owns it, and you won’t be getting your hands on it anytime soon. Unilever and Pfizer both paid big sums to Phytopharm to toy with hoodia over the last three years, to no avail. Why? Because it doesn’t work for weight loss.

Hoodia products on the market are not real hoodia (and there have been a flurry of government cease-and-desist orders in attempts to stop this scam). Even real hoodia doesn’t work when it’s powdered, processed or the P57 molecule is extracted. You have to eat actual pieces of the plant. Moreover, hoodia does not burn fat – its function is to slow the metabolism, which often has the reverse desired effect. Your body thinks it’s starving, so it hangs on to fat stores even more aggressively.

Web it out:

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[tags]Hoodia, cactus, gordonii, fat reduction, Phytofarm[/tags]

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