Friday, January 14, 2011

Why am I blogging Pt 2

Why am I blogging? Well, if you noticed the rather sporadic nature of my blogging you'd wonder if I was at all. I've decided that my reasons for blogging are changing. Frankly, I'm giving up on politics for the most part. Regardless of whether or not you live in a 'democracy' or a dictatorship, it's all so damn corrupt and frustrating.

So what else? Well, lately I've had a number of discussions about my low carb approach to getting and remaining healthy. Believe me, I've tried many things. Counting calories, extreme exercise, veganism, low carb, low fat, etc. etc. And if I'm honest with you, the low carb thing has been the most successful in terms of adherence (as far as I'm concerned, the most important thing) and actual successful results. When I was close to 300 pounds and lost 90 of that, I did do low calorie. But I have to say, I was constantly fighting cravings. When I got close to my goal weight, I tried to continue fighting the cravings but eventual gained back some of the weight (about 30 pounds) and have been bouncing back and forth with that.

Anyway, what do I want to do here. Well, one is try to document the rest of my journey (wish I had started at the 300 pounds but that was in 2003 and I didn't really blog at all then). The second is try to organize my thoughts around the science of it all, and the politics of nutrition and dieting.

Politics I say? Yes. It's funny reading some of these blogs (like the review I posted last time) and reading the comments as well. People are so intrenched in their dogma that they often do the very things they accuse others of. Using logical statements like 'eat less and exercise has to be it' without being able to quote studies that prove that point, quoting parts of studies that prove their point but ignoring the parts of those same studies that counter their point (the atkinsexposed site is really bad for this), quoting opinion without foundation.

So, where does the science sit on what diet is the most effective? Well, I think there are some points of agreement for most if not all diets:

1. Sugar - bad. I can show some studies of this but everyone from Ornish to Atkins would agree on this one.
2. Refined carbohydrates - bad. Again not much controversy.
3. Non-Starchy Vegetables -good. Even the latest iteration of Atkins (I can't speak to the original) encourages 'foundation vegetables'
3. Exercise - good. This one is actually more controversial then one might think in terms of weight loss. I don't believe it is a huge contributing factor to weight loss itself. I do believe (although I'd have to research the science to be sure) that there are many other health benefits to reasonable amounts of exercise such as body composition, heart health, flexibility, strength etc. Oh and yeah, I said 'reasonable' now the definition of what's reasonable is also controversial...

So what is controversial?

1. Fruit. So this isn't that controversial. Even Atkins suggest introducing some low sugar fruits later on. I think the amounts and types of fruits one should consume depending on the situation is controversial. For myself, with about 20-25 pounds left to lose, fruits would probably slow down the fat loss, but I cannot prove that. I think the intake of these is probably best tailored to one's own situation and body. If they cause cravings and weight gain, back off. If not, they are probably at a minimum harmless or even helpful. Of course, that statement is not scientific and I'd have to see the science to be sure.
2. Potatos and Rice - This one is controversial. But I have yet to see where they have a benefit in the diet so what's the harm in avoiding them?
3. Whole Grains - I'd say the same thing about these. There's potential for harm. Insulin going up too much in those most insulin resistant. I've heard things about whole grains reducing the availability of nutrients in other foods.
4. Meat and Animal products - I think this one is controversial for a few reasons. One is ethics and environment but that has nothing to do with individual health. The second are the health concerns but whenever I see a study about these, the science is so bad as to not tell us anything. One study of a low carb approach using vegetarian sources and animal sources 'proved' that vegetable sources were better and animal sources helped cause cancer. However, if you looked at the numbers, both groups were consuming animal sources, just by different amounts and the 'animal group' had more smokers in it. Doesn't strike me as particularily controled or valid.

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