It’s not quite as common as the compulsion to rub a pregnant woman’s belly (really! how impertinent is that?). Yet, nearly all adults think about food, think about weight control, and just have to ask people how they are losing weight.
The extremely knowledgeable Gary Taubes ducks the what-to-eat specifics in his Good Calories, Bad Calories. After analyzing hundreds of research findings and his own interviews, he sets out the key concepts of controlling body size and fat. Yet, he punks out at the end, basically telling those who have stuck through 640 pages of substance to take his work and craft their own diet.
That didn’t stand and in his somewhat smaller, simplified version, Why We Get Fat, he begrudgingly comes across. He writes of the pressure to suggest a diet. He says if you really have to start somewhere, go with the Duke Diet. While it’s clear he still thinks people need to tweak their own within his conclusions, he accepts most people need a harbor to chart their voyage.
People see that I am getting trimmer again and have begun to ask. I don’t mind. I recognize that to most of us, certainly me included, diet is an avocation.
For the past six week, I’ve been keying off the Atkins. I’ve been modifying it to my tastes and results (mostly considerably less fat than Dr. Atkins mandated), but close enough that I can say Atkins and most folk are satisfied.
In line with Taubes precepts, I work with low-carb foods. That started with no bread/flour and no sugar. Unlike many folk I know who talk food, as I’ve aged, I care less for sweet, so the sugar part has been easy. I even eat the occasional third of an ounce dark chocolate square — one is enough; I truly savor it’s glories.
Far harder was dumping and later severely limiting the surprising high-carb foods. My previous breakfast was hardy and all wrong, for my main example. I started by boiling up a quarter cup of Scottish (steel-cut) oats. I loved the smell and flavor, plus oats allegedly keep the vascular system clear of nasty clogging stuff. I’d put in a chopped banana. Then most days, I’d have a half cup of non-fat, plain yogurt with 20 medium grapes.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The calorie total was fine and the foods in those quantities kept me perking, alert and satisfied. Yet, the meal likely wrecked my insulin levels and contributed to creeping fat/weight. Each ingredient was rife with carbohydrates…supposedly of the healthy sort. Forget calories. Yes, forget calories or at least put them down the list of considerations.
Likewise, I had kept whole grain breads on the shelf. Our sons would get cookies, but we didn’t indulge in any description of junk food. My pulses (beans and such) were from dried and not the mushy canned junk full of salt, sugar and chemicals. I’d make starches like potatoes rarely and low fat. Still, these declared healthy foods apparently also contributed to my belt creep, even counting, weighing, measuring and recording every damned calorie that entered my mouth.
I have known trim and healthy looking vegetarians and vegans who seem to thrive on what they call the right kind of carbs. That doesn’t work for me.
For decades, I’ve heard and read calories-in/calories-out, all you need to know. Just use the estimates of calories ingest, calories expended in exercise, basal metabolism rates, and consume fewer than you need to lose weight. That may well work for a small subset of adults, but anecdotally at least, it’s crap for most of us. I immediately think of my mother and niece as well as myself. Each of us is or was (my mother’s gone) assiduous in tracking food. We are Boy/Girl Scout honest and with strong attention to detail. We recorded and found the simpleminded formula is next to worthless.
I gave up on my doctor and the nutritionist I insisted on seeing when I found calories-in/calories-out was meaningless for me. Both of these are so mindlessly devoted to the calories cliché that they insist that the only way it can’t work is if the patient is deluding himself. That’s a sad commentary on them.
Amusingly enough, medical pros make breakthroughs conceptually and for individuals when they listen to patients and observe. Assuming that patient self-reporting is always wrong may make them feel superior, but doesn’t help us at all.
This series includes:
Call it Lifestyle on the intellectual and emotional commitment to low-carb
Watching the Struggle on my grandmothers diet woes
Wrestling with Fat on overcoming fear of dietary fats
Hunger? do you starve on a low-carb diet?
Low-Carb Eats on what’s on the menu in the regimen
How Much of What Food on calories-in/calories-out cliché
Dr. Cadaver on mindless trust in group averages
Who’s Counting on body fast v. weight
Part 1 on pants don’t lie