Friday, June 24, 2011

Insanity of So You Think You Can Dance.

So I have to start with a small confession. I watch So You Think You Can Dance. Yup, I admit it. I enjoy the music (most of the time), and the creativity and the athleticism of the dancers. No necessarily the most macho thing in the world to admit to but there it is.

Anyway, last night on the show I saw something that sums up some of the stupidity and insanity of the conventional wisdom of the world. The segment started with a nutritionist going through the refrigerators of the dancers and criticizing them for the calorie count in the food they eat. Now if you've ever watched the show or even just seen a professional dancer, you know that in general they are EXTREMELY fit, lean and toned. Talking the them about calorie count is crazy. These people can pretty much eat what they want and stay fit. Granted, I would probably suggest that sugar isn't the best thing for them but they would burn that so fast that I wouldn't argue that the damage would be much more than negligible. But to suggest they should watch their calorie intake is just stupid. Why? Because they are fat and lazy? Weird stuff.

The next segment was another example of the insanity. They were pushing the Gatorate Fit drink and explaining why the sodium in the drink would help in their recovery especially in the case of heavy sweaters. Now that is probably the case but one of the reasons we have the obesity problem we have (especially in children and teens) is that drinks like Gatorade are associated with athletes and as a result are seen as super healthy. Well, I think we need to accept that athletes can consume food differently than the average person. They burn huge amounts of calories in their daily lives that most people do not. They can handle the intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates much better than most because they will burn those types of fuel almost faster than they can take them in. The average person does not.

My main objection to the common 'wisdom' about nutrition is that there is a 'one size fits all' diet for everyone. That was beautifully and horribly illustrated by suggesting to dancers who are extremely lean and fit that they should watch the calories. Sure, if they stop dancing for some reason, maybe they would have to look at their diets and adjust appropriately to their activity level, but while they are as active as they are, that's total crap. And to promote drinks like Gatorade as a recovery drink without doing the responsible thing and informing people that walking around the block does not require a recovery drink to re-hydrate and replace electrolytes.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mice and Cancer

There has been a lot of buzz in the low carb/paleo community about a new mouse study. A pretty good write-up is here:

Essentially, these mice were genetically predisposed to cancer and were fed in two groups. A low carb-high protein group (55 % carb 23 % protein, 22 % fat) and a 'western' diet group (15% carbs, 25% fat, 60% protein). 

A couple interesting results:

1. By middle age half the mice eating the western diet had tumours, none of the low carb-high protein group did.

2. Only one mouse eating the western diet reached the normal life span. Half the other mice reached or exceeded their expected lifespan.

3. 70 % of the western diet mice developed cancer compared to 30% of those on the low carb diet.

4. And a little blow to calories in calories out, the researchers noticed that while the calories were kept the same, the mice on the western diet gained alot of weight.

Now this is a mouse study and has to be taken with a grain of salt but still interesting. 

Hyperlipid wrote a blog post that calls the researchers out on their flaws:

But regardless of the flaws, I think it does point to some interesting theories about diet consumption and cancer. Especially when you look at the extreme difference between the outcome in the groups. 

I would be interested in a followup that would use a diet that substituted fat for carb (as long as it wasn't trans-fat) and see if the results are similar.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New YouTube Video

Just wanted to share a YouTube video that a friend sent to me. Very interesting stuff. I do think that very very slowly the scientific and medical communities are starting to realize they got a lot wrong in terms of treating obesity and metabolic syndrome.

My N=1 Experiment The next Phase

So I've been thinking a lot lately about how far I've gone with the diet thing and where I should go from here. That last 15-20 pounds had not come off which was frustrating but when I consider that I was almost 300 pounds 8 years ago and I have kept the vast majority of the weight I lost off, I can't beat myself up about it.

So where do I go from here? I think at this stage I need to concentrate on something different health wise and I believe that thing is fitness. One thing I agree with Gary Taubes about (one of many things) is that excercise does not really help in terms of weight loss. I don't necessarily agree that it is only because it makes one hungry but also that the body can react to the slightly increased energy expenditure by both manifesting hunger to replace that energy and also by tiredness slowing the body down to conserve remaining energy.

However, I do believe that there are some basic things a fit, healthy person should be able to do. For example, I think a fit, healthy person should be able to run 5K. I can't do that right now. I don't have the endurance to do so, but I think that being able to do so is a sign of a basic level of fitness. I think being able to do a chin-up (just one) is a basic fitness thing. I've never been able to do one. I have been able to do a pull up (hands facing in) but not a chin-up (hands facing out, at least I hope I have that right).

So my focus over the summer (thank goodness it's summer!) will be to work on these things. One of the reasons I've picked these goals is that I think I have a significant amount of influence over whether or not I can achieve them. The last 15-20 pounds, well apparently my influence is not as great with those.

Obviously, I cannot ignore diet in this quest for fitness but I think for the most part I can go on auto-pilot in terms of that as long as I follow a few basic principles. To that end, I think I need to list the basic principles I will follow over the next few months, both in terms of exercising and diet. So here's a first go:

  1. Eat no grains or sugar. These things just have a bad effect on my body and hunger levels so they are out. 
  2. Tubers only once or twice a week and always leave some behind. I have been eating more tubers (mainly potato) lately and they don't seem to have a strong effect on my hunger. However, I do not want to overdo.
  3. Cheats will be allowed one meal every week and a half but must be minor (an extra tuber in a week or a small desert).
  4. Try to notice how a meal makes me feel immediately afterwards and an hour afterwards. Try to notice the effect that the quantity and type of food I eat has on my body and adjust my diet accordingly.
  5. When I do a resistance training workout, I will not do another resistance training workout until I feel fully recovered. I do have a tendency to go back while still very sore and stiff. I think I need to listen to my body and instincts more in that regard.
  6. When I do a run, same thing. 
  7. Walk as much as possible. My wife and I have been walking after dinner and on weekends. It's great for us to bond as a couple, and not strenuous so even if I am recovering from a workout, it is possible. 
  8. Try something new at least once or twice a month. that may be a new recipe or going kayaking. Something slightly outside of my comfort zone but still fun.
  9. I will not weigh myself until September. I haven't weighed myself in over a month and frankly, I like it. The weight may or may not come off with this. Instead I'll try to notice other, more qualitative changes. Pants fitting better, mood improving, etc.
  10. Get outside in the sun when possible. 
  11. Have fun, enjoy all of this!
So there we go, that's what the next 2-3 months are going to look for me. I think I'm going to like this new phase. Not exactly a maintenance thing but definitely concentrating on enhancing my health rather than trying to recapture it.