After finishing the book “Why We Get Fat”, I decided to try a low carb diet. I needed a baseline before I set any goals, though. So I decided to go crazy last Friday and stack up on the carbs and the sugar. Not only would this give me an idea of a bad carb day, but it would give me an idea of an upper limit.
Last Friday I ate around 319 grams of carbs and 206 grams of sugar. I was, quite frankly, amazed that 2/3s of my carbs came from sugar. I didn’t think I ate that much sugar. But that’s what the nutrition labels told me. Of course not all of it was added sugar, and some was natural. But even when I went back and estimated what the added sugar was, I was still at around 140 grams of added sugar, the worst kind.
The recommended daily allowance for carbs is 300 grams per day. So even blowing out the carbs in one day, I didn’t do too bad overall. That alone tells me a little about government recommendations. If I try and eat bad and barely go above the recommendations then there seems to be something wrong. Of course, they would tell me it’s the kinds of carbs I eat, not just the general carbs. But it is frightening how many “good” carbs I’d have to eat to meet recommendations.
There didn’t seem to be any recommendations on sugar alone, which is strange since the USDA literature really discourages eating sugar. They seem to want you to just eliminate sugar from your diet. Good luck. As I was completely shocked by, almost everything has sugar in it, and a lot of that is added sugar. Check your foods during the day to see what’s in them. How many ingredients listed end in “-ose”, which generally means it has some kind of added sugar? Yet there are no recommendations. Unbelievable.
So I’ve decided to start with cutting sugar. After looking around online I think that trying to get my sugar intake below 50 grams seems reasonable. I’m also trying to stay below 150 grams of total carbs. I decided to start there and see what happens. I began Saturday, but then had a pre-planned Superbowl party with lots of goodies that had already been bought, so Sunday night was not a banner day.
I also still have a lot of high carb foods in the house, so I’m not going to be totally successful right away. Until I go and do some grocery shopping I’m stuck eating what I have left in the house. I don’t believe in just throwing away food, so I thought I’d just do the best I can with what I have until I can adjust.
I’m keeping track of calories, carbs, sugars, and fiber. I’m only concentrating on carbs, but the calories have come down as a side effect. I won’t be a great test case for the carbs vs calories debate unless I can adjust my diet accordingly.
I also want to get a handle on my blood pressure and cholesterol and see what happens there as well. My blood pressure is always a little elevated, but not too bad. I want to make sure that what I am doing doesn’t have any adverse effects. Even though Mr. Taubes’ book says that the way we generally understand cholesterol isn’t the whole story, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Why We Get Fat
I’m so frickin sick of not losing weight, I decided to take a chance on this book by Gary Taubes called “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It”. I had never heard of Mr. Taubes and had no real idea of wht to expect. So I did some research.
It turns out Gray Taubes has a good reputation. He has written for the New York Times, wrote a book called “Good Calories, Bad Calories” (the basis for this new book), and has won a couple of awards. With that knowledge and a couple of good reviews, I decided to take a chance on the book.
In effect, Mr. Taubes is an advocate of a low carb lifestyle for all around good health. If you’re looking for a diet to help you lose weight, this book isn’t really for you. But if you want to read why our science of eating is so out of whack, and you want to learn that there’s more thought than just “calories in vs. calories out”, then this is a great book.
You see, there’s this hormone called insulin that regulates carbohydrates and turns them into fat. Insulin rises when your blood sugar is high. And if, like me, you doubt this claim, look it up. It’s not controversial. it’s well a well-known process. And yet I’ve been told over and over that fat is created by eating too much.
The first law of thermodyamics states that you do NOT talk about thermodynamics. No, wait, I mean “Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only change forms. In any process in an isolated system, the total energy remains the same.” So most scientists applied this law to diet, and, voila, calories in MUST equal calories out, right?
But wait one gosh darn minute, son! The body isn’t so simple. The body processes different nutrients differently. A carb and a protein aren’t handled the same way. Yet many books, including ones I thoroughly trust, state that a carb calorie is no different from a fat calorie is no different than a protein calorie. Yet the same scientists will turn around and tell us whole grain calories are better for us, or that fat calories are worse. Huh? If one calories isn’t different than another, then I understand how I gain weight. But if your telling me that some calories are better for me than others, then that’s the monkey wrench, at least for me.
Mr. Taubes does a terrific job at explaining all of this and more in his book. The best part is you can look a lot of the information up and discover it is well covered science behind the book. This isn’t some fly-by-night diet book. This is hard-core science comin’ at you at the speed of funky.
I have decided to give it a shot and go on a low carb diet. I’m not doing Atkins, which, as I’ve recently discovered, is insanely difficult. Instead I’ve decided to lower my sugar intake first and foremost, while keeping the carbs down as well. For the first diet in my life I am not trying to count calories to lose weight. And it’s all due to this book.
As preliminary, I’ll recommend the book. I’ll update on whether I’m losing weight or not and how I’m doing it. If I don’t see some results within a month, I may change my mind on this book. Until then, I’ll say that this dude is on to something, and the book is worth the read if just for the great argument he adds to a difficult discussion.
For the umpteenth time in my life, I am trying to lose weight. I’m pretty exasperated at this point and have decided to go back to the very start and find out for myself how we gain and lose weight. See, I’m not a sloth, and I generally don’t eat a lot. Last summer I even tookup jogging and limited mycalories to around 1700 a day. According to all the supposed “experts”, this means I should lose weight, and lose it fairly easily. Since I was looking to lose only a pound or 2 a week, I was ready to shed the pounds.
I lost 2 all summer.
How is this possible? I thought that if I ate less and exercised more, I would lose the fat I’ve gained on my belly the past 20 years? What is going on here?
The answers I generally get are, “You aren’t exercising enough”, or “You’re eating too much still”. Meanwhile, I’m in pain from the run and I’m hungry from the starvation. Clearly, the “experts” are wrong.
I’ve gone back to the source and have done some simple research on digestion and how adipose tissue is formed. I’m also reading the book “Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It” by Gary Taubes, and he is making some interesting observations and arguments about the problem with what he calls the “calories in/calories out” explanation.
In the meantime, I’m going to start to change the way I eat the best I can and will update you here at the League.