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Sunday, 01 September 2013

Comments

Right on Mike!

You've probably seen this already:
http://www.sugarstacks.com/carrots.htm

Also, the wife suggests reading Mark Bittman.

Another interesting off topic topic, Mike. As you say, effective strategies are individual things. Equally individual is the point at which a person determines that losing weight is necessary. But that may be a topic for a future off topic.

[Good idea Tom. I added that info to the post. --Mike]

Good luck Mike. I hope it works.

One thing I did stop eating for the most part is wheat, even whole wheat bread. And I lost ten pounds in a month. I'll have some bread once in a while when eating out, but that's it, there's none in the house. No sugary stuff either.

If you don't like shopping but want to eat healthy and organic, try this outfit: http://www.doortodoororganics.com. We have a box delivered weekly. You have to modify your order two days in advance or you'll get the default box.

Hey Mike
Good for you that are are trying to look after your health.

I've never really been overweight, and my diet has been pretty much Mediterannean for over 30 years. I turn 50 soon and wanted to stay lean, and do what I can to maintain energy and health. I go for a long vigorous walk every day. About a month back I started trying a slight variation in my basic eating. I love meat and fish and won't give them up. I believe they are good for us anyway, just that we eat too much meat in particular.

My new plan is simple: I am Vegan until 6pm. I eat home made museli with almond milk, good bread, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds all day. Then meat or fish with piles of green vegetables at night, then more fruit. Oh, and at least one glass of wine a day.

I've lost a little weight, though at wasn't the goal. More importantly my energy has bounced way up. I'm loving it.

Anyway, good luck.

If you are going to include animal products in your diet then make sure they are not from factory farms. That stuff is very unhealthful and, worst of all, it is viciously, atrociously cruel. It also creates the worst environmental problems.

99% of eggs, meat, and dairy are from factory farms today and many of these have "humane myth" labels that imply otherwise (nonsense marketing terms like "free-range"; "natural" etc.). Do your homework so you are not deceived and can avoid this crap. Whole Foods does the best job of labeling:

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards

Some brief introductions to the issues:

http://www.meat.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_farming
http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm
http://www.humanemyth.org/

Best wishes for your health.

Hi, Mike.
I was an obese child until I was 13. Then my parents took me to an endocrinologist who prescribed me a rather draconian diet which excluded red meat, fat fish, butter and all kinds of fat, and restricted the daily portions of sugar. All I could eat was chicken, some cereals, fruit and vegetables. By 14 I was almost an average boy in terms of corporal mass.
Later in life I started gaining weight again, which I controlled suppressing sugar and fat and increasing exercise. Not only I controlled weight gain, I also reduced weight to optimal levels.
So I think I've got something to say :)
Diets are up to no good if they're not complemented by physical exercise. You may lose weight with a diet, but you'll really need some kind of exercise for it to be effective. I'd recommend swimming - it worked for me -, but 30-minute daily walks may do. (And I can't think of a better excuse to take a camera and do some shots!)
Take care.

Hi Mike,

The best thing about your diet plan, is that you stick to it. I don't like your diet but I wish you success in getting slimmer.
[Weight-loss] diets generally do not work over time, because they cause muscle loss, which causes resting metabolism to drop, which causes you to gain weight like a balloon the day you stop dieting. The only thing I know of which does not share this pattern, is intermittent caloric restriction, which does not cause (noticeable) muscle loss, and has to become a permanent part of your lifestyle, perhaps at a reduced frequency, once you get to the desired weight level. But you know this already, as I have sent you Dr. Mosley's book.
Final point about the distribution of your meals, try to meditate over this:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/why-eating-a-bigger-breakfast-may-help-you-lose-weight/article13695602/
.
Take care.

Marek

[Hi Marek, Fasting is as impractical in my view as many other forms of dietary "torture." I'm simply never going to do it. So it kinda doesn't matter (*to me*) whether it's a good idea or not. If it helps you, though, that is excellent. --Mike]

Here in France, people eat whatever they like. Nobody reads labels. What is important is to stick to the usual regimen. (No snacks.) Also, you drink water with your meals, rather than soda. It seems like US food is corn-based and genetically modified, so you will need extra caution even with small portions. (Provided you cook yourself). If you eat commercially-made food, alas, there is no hope.

[Hi Yger, According to a 2012 study by the pharmacist group Obepi-Roche that was widely reported in the media, obesity in France has doubled in just 15 years. Fifteen percent of the French population are now obese, and almost one-third (32.3%) are overweight. The problem is more acute among your young people. America is worse, for sure, but France is unfortunately not immune. --Mike]

I've always watched my weight (go up usually). There's so much information out there it can be confusing. You just have to read, adopt and experiment. But I have to say the Primal Blueprint diet has worked well for me because I understand the diet and don't get hungry. I even cheat a little. HDL cholesterol went up. Weight went down.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com
http://www.bulletproofexec.com/
For more info.

Sounds sensible Mike. I found after moving to Mexico that I lost weight because of having a big meal mid-dayish (2PM) and a smaller breakfast and evening meal. I have yogurt and homemade granola most mornings and maybe half of the evenings and a normal meal at 2PM. The last few years after a heart "episode" I cut back on meat, sugar and oils.greases and dropped another few pounds. I too have a sweet tooth to fight, but it can be done.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/

This was mentioned by Dan Doviddio a posts above.
i just want to second this and the Paleo 'diet' in general.

It's not really a diet, it's more about eating and moving the way you were designed to do.

Go Paleo and there's no need to be hungry or feel like your on a diet, you cant go wrong!

You got it right about how little is known about nutrition, you'll be shocked how negatively that bowl of porridge affects your sugar levels.....

Aaron

Favourite sentence in post? "virtually nothing not poisonous will kill you if you ingest it infrequently enough"
Enjoyed the rest of the post too, and I love the way you "offer" your knowledge and experience rather than pushing it - thanks for that, it's that kind of thing that keeps me coming back to TOP

Any diet that you can stick to for 22 weeks is better than most fancy diets out there and is a testament to your willpower and the simplicity of your eating plan.

From my reading and personal experience, long term success commonly seems to come from the following:

A slow digesting and slow energy releasing breakfast (oats, muesli, proteins)

Less choice in meals, clearing any barriers to a quick healthy meal (pure planning a complicated meal you can't be bothered to make, or filling your cupboards with unhealthy things)

Finding healthy regular meals that you don't mind eating every day., be it gruel or scrambled eggs

And then making the above a habit, as willpower is overrated!

Well, I'm not as tall as you, but a lot sounds...familiar.

You are missing one thing: a sensible, tailored for you exercise plan. You're reducing your body weight, which in your case is a Good Thing, but increasing your longevity is also a function of staying fit: it won't help if you've dropped a lot of weight, but can't swim a mile, i.e. lack stamina.

I found swimming to be the best for me (YMMMV), since it is non-impact and just plain works for me. I went from being unable to swim more than 2 laps of a 25 meter pool to, after two years, of being able to consistently swim 1km in around 30 minutes on any given day and at any given time: it also means that I can go on extended walks in the mountains without breaking down after an hour (recently did a 5 hour hike in heavy downpour in Zermatt, Switzerland, when the conditions up on the glacier sucked).

What really motivated it for me was being able to physically carry around a full backpack of camera equipment (26lbs) and a Manfrotto 028b tripod with that large Bogen ball head anywhere I wanted, including a full day on the streets of New York, up to Glacier Point in Yosemite and most places inbetween. I say most because the one place I want to go lacks the logistics for me to spend the night (Grand Canyon Ghost Ranch: just try and make a reservation from overseas. No chance) and at the ripe young age of 56 I can't simply pop down there for the day and have any chance of making it back up (did that at the ripe old age of 17 and it wiped me out for three days).

Seriously: living to a ripe old age isn't just about diet, but getting into a consistent and durable pattern of exercise as well that you can shape your life around. I go swimming Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings. I have my swim bag packed after every time swimming for the next swim, bought a season card at my local pool, and make sure that my IPX class 8 MP3 player with the waterproof earphones is charged twice a week.

What, you think I don't want to be entertained while I swim? Get real. :-)

http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2011/12/great-swimming-mp3-player-shootout.html

I use an earlier version of the Diver unit reviewed there with flange-type headphones that work great for my purposes.

Sounds gruelsome.

Very intelligent analysis, Mike. I took an easier route and married a nutritionist 42 years ago and changed from a classic Southern diet ( think fried grease,) to a balanced diet and lost ~70 pounds - 30 kg. However, we also follow a exercise regimen that is integral to a healthy lifestyle. I get up from the desk/computer at least once a hour and walk around the farm. It's almost 1/2 mile to get the papers before breakfast and ~2 miles every evening.
Two interesting articles worth a read from the NYTimes:

Junk Food: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?pagewanted=all

Sugar: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sugar-t.html?pagewanted=all

A search for the word protein in your post and responses so far comes up empty.

There's a book you might find interesting, which is not ostensibly about dieting at all, Sex, Time and Power, by Leonard Shlain, (MD). It's an inquiry into the evolution of humans to find explanations of our characteristics that seem on the simple face of them to be anti-survival.

One need not agree with his other ideas to find the story of our evolutionary changes in metabolism after splitting from the apes interesting and imformative. No need to read past chapter 11 or 12, for this purpose.

What's fascinating is his evidence (he is a prodigious researcher) that we evolved from primarily vegetarian to carnivores that supplement vitamins and minerals from plant matter. (This is all before we learned to make grains and other raw plant matter digestible by cooking in water.)

I find his discussion of the similarities and differences between the details of our metabolism, those of our closest relatives and other plant and animal eaters quite persuasive.

He makes no arguments about what one should eat, weight, etc. His purpose is elsewhere. But I find what I learned there playing an important part in my dietary choices.

You might also find this talk by Christopher Gardner, PhD. of Stanford interesting. As a 25 year vegetarian, he was quite surprised by the results of his tests comparing some different types of diets.

These sources, primarily, have led me to move my diet gently toward more meat protein, while decreasing the amount of carbs and grain proteins, at least when not eating with my veggie and vegan friends.

Just sayin'

Moose

Here's to your continued success!

One thing I will say about marathoners...I'd imagine that much of the perceived weight gain over the past 40 years is due to the exploding popularity and broader demographic reach than anything else. Fast marathoners are as skinny as ever.

This is probably the sensible thing written about dieting that I've encountered in a long time.

Consider that reinforced by the fact it didn't bring out of the woodwork a horde of true believers and evangelists advocating for the one true way to do it. There is no one way.

I wouldn't worry about losing too much weight in a week if one pound is your target. Given a modest amount of regular exercise to prevent wasting muscle mass you're basically just draining a battery otherwise known as fat. But, as you seem to imply, all things in moderation remains a good rule.

A little dietary monotony goes a long way, too. It frees your mind to deal with other things.

Diet's certainly critical but the science is now really clear that it's important to get regular sweat-inducing exercise for a variety of reasons, including retention of good cognitive function and raising our metabolic setpoint.

If we basically diet without increasing exercise, there's an evolutionary biological mechanism where our metabolism actually slows down and stores food as fat.

This has been interpreted as an evolutionary reaction to the feast and famine cycle that was the norm until not very long ago, which is essentially the present so far as our biology works. (It's estimated by a geneticist friend that it takes tens of thousands of years for a major evolutionary change to become the norm within the human species.)

The problem with exercise is that we tend to be very bad at self-motivating ourselves to do something that's basically unnatural, repetitive, and boring, such as using the exercise machines at the gym. That's why most gym memberships, about 88%, are paid for but not really used. Good intentions but predictably bad follow-through. In fact, the low usage is built into those business models.

Group exercise programs tend to have a higher long-term usage and follow-through. Part of that is undoubtedly the camaraderie and mutual encouragement, ala AA and other self-help groups. It also seems that there is some good research suggesting that people actually show greater measurable physiological benefit when they exercise in groups.

The take-away, I believe, is that we also need to build in sustainable aerobic exercise and that doing so in some sort of organized group that has fun or teaches new skills and a sense of increased personal mastery is also an essential and complementary part of any program of this sort.

(Testimonial: At least this works for me - my psychologist wife signed me up, without prior notice to me, for a karate class at age 54 because she said that I was overweight, out of shape, unhealthy, and looked poorly - actually, she used stronger language than this. I had been "flying a desk" for too many decades. The net result was that how precarious I felt during those one hour classes over the first 18 months reminded me of the captured British colonel in Bridge on the River Kwai, forced to stand at attention in the hot sun until he collapsed. The group motivation encouraged continued attendance until it became fun, even though grueling, after which there was perception of positive benefit and self-discipline to continue on. Karate is actually good whole-body exercise as one gets older, and less damaging to the body when done correctly than many other exercise regimes, such as jogging. I managed to get my first degree black-belt at nearly 59, as did my wife, when I later pulled her into the dojo. We're continuing toward second degree black belts and it remains fun and helpful into our mid-60s. The camaraderie and teaching younger students actually helps us keep the exercise program going.

I'd never been really heavy for my height & body type (6'2", long-limbed) but by mid-2009 I was feeling a little sluggish, and after weighing myself for the first time in ages decided it was time to change what I ate and the way I ate it. Not "go on a diet" but rather alter my whole approach to food. It took maybe six months for the new approach to become just "how & what I eat" but it has certainly stuck. And it worked great in terms of losing weight. I started at 220 lbs. and leveled off naturally at 160...and have stayed there with no real effort for the past 2.5 years. This is actually about 15 lbs. less than my initial target, but it's where my body wants to be.

I don't eat breakfast. Ever. Not even a glass of orange juice. In fact I hardly ever eat fruit and never drink juice. IMO juice is no better than soda. Just a couple glasses of water before I start the day's activities. For lunch I might have a toasted bagel, plain, or an eggwhite & veggie sandwich. Sometimes I'll indulge my love of Indian food with a traditional vegetarian lunch...delicious and light. For dinner, living near Dearborn, MI, I often eat at one of a number of superb Arab restaurants. Heavy on the veggies, light on the meat. Chicken...occasionally lamb. Other days I'll opt for soup & salad. I make a mean Indian-flavored navy bean soup. Grilled or baked salmon works for me too. Often a glass of red wine early in the evening, and usually a small glass of some spirit (tequila, rum or bourbon) later on. No snacks. Nothing at all except water after 10pm. (I'm a night owl...bedtime is usually around 1am.) After about six months of this approach I stopped having hunger pangs at any time of day. The main thing was to turn this into my normal way of dealing with food: enjoyable sustenance rather than a source of comfort or a means of satiating craving.

.......Hey Mike.....the one huge fact you stated here is that we know very little about nutrition. We know more about Mars and if we can believe the recent findings of Science: Life may have started on the
Red Planet. I wonder if there were fat Martians?
Good luck on Earth my friend.

First congratulations on being able to create a diet for yourself. Secondly, let me third MarksDailyApple.com

I always thought I was healthy until I looked at some holiday snaps about three years ago, and realised I definitely wasn't. The whole primal thing works for me as a model around which to design how to live now. When I have cravings it's usually because of too much stress, lack of sleep, time with love ones. Fix those, and the diet reverts to something very easy to follow. Much more of truly understanding what 'healthy means'.

And I went through the same book selection as you did pretty much, all of Pollan's books, Taubs and eventually Mark Sisson. From a maximum of 99 kg to a steady 88 kg or so for a long while now. Lovely.

Good luck

Well, Mike, can I just share my side of the story?

As a diabetic (Type 2) I have had (since 1998) a rudimentary, by way of necessity, education on what to eat and what not to eat, as well as learning to shop for the "right stuff".

Your general conclusion re knowledge of human nutrition might be a little "off beam" as my clear assumption is that the knowledge we all need is out there but is being concealed from us by the food processing industry, for the sake of ever increasing profits. Their mantra is to convince us that the staple diet shall consist of three main additives, sugar, animal fat and salt.

And the two main tools at their disposal to keep us in the dark are lobbying and advertising.

I'll get of my soap box now.

Jim R

A couple of comments. I don't get the whole aversion to wheat. There is a tiny percentage of people afflicted by Celiac Disease and now we all have to deal with glutten free. Just the amount of brain power wasted on reading glutten free is bothersome to me.

Second, as far as bread I suggest eating Italian bread. I prefer one called Spoleto, not sure if it's national. It's soft and delicious, less than 1g of sugar, and 70 cal per slice. Whole wheat is good too.

Lastly, I suggest you switch your desert for an apple. Also forget about splenda, and just eat brown sugar or even better some delicious honey. I'd also recommend putting some walnuts in your oatmeal for some crunchiness and healthy calories.

My own diet, on which I am losing ~0.5% of my body weight (currently ~225 lbs) per week:

At least 100 g protein
No more than 250 g carb (don't care what kind)
2000-2400 total calories
Don't die of scurvy

(The last one is just there to remind me to eat veg and fruit.)

I'm hungry sometimes, but I only notice it due to physiological symptoms rather than cravings, which are all but completely gone.

A few months ago, I added vigorous exercise (Crossfit) 3 times per week, which reduced my weight loss a bit (for some reason), but caused me to put on significant muscle. Suit pants that were fit to me when I weighed 230 lbs a year and some ago (before a precipitious weight gain put me over 250 lbs) are now more than two inches too lose, even though my weight's only a bit lower. I'm already enjoying having more strength and endurance than I've ever had in my decades as a dedicated couch spud.

By New Year's Day, I hope to have my body fat under 10%. (It's currently about 20%, down from about 30%.) I don't give a damn about my actual weight; as long as the body fat goes away and stays gone, my body can find its own weight.

In response to the references in the comments to the "paleo" diet, I would like to point out that the term is often used in a confusing manner. From Scientific American:

"If you want to return to your ancestral diet, the one our ancestors ate when most of the features of our guts were evolving, you might reasonably eat what our ancestors spent the most time eating during the largest periods of the evolution of our guts: fruits, nuts, and vegetables--especially fungus-covered tropical leaves."

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/07/23/human-ancestors-were-nearly-all-vegetarians/?print=true

Good for you Mike for taking this on and getting healthy.

Yger ecrit; "Here in France, people eat whatever they like..."

[Hi Yger, According to a 2012 study by the pharmacist group Obepi-Roche ...(trimmed)... France is unfortunately not immune. --Mike]

I was overweight and out of shape (driving to a sedentary job and eating "suburban business park" lunches) before I moved to France in 2002, and when I moved back to North America in 2006 my diet and lifestyle had become completely different (I am thinner and healthier) mainly, I think, due to immersion and observation.

French kids (meaning under 25) actively try to emulate American kids with their soda, snacks, and fast-food (Quick burgers, ha!), but now I continue to emulate the French adult portion sizes, wine and yogurt consumption, avoidance of pre-made meals, no sodas or snacks, use butter instead of margarine (0% fat is a warning label!), eat slowly, and walk everywhere (but no cigarettes for me, thanks). It has never been draconian or difficult (maybe a bit more expensive), and who can complain about the smell of onions fried in butter while sipping (cheap) red wine! And yet, my cholesterol levels remain low and I'm back to the weight (175lbs at 6') I've had since the 80's.

Some habits require a different environment to fully break... which reminds me, I now haven't watched TV in over a decade, either!

My take on the 'state of the science' is not so much that we don't know much, but that different people have very different dietary needs and what is great for one person will just not work for another - both what we eat and when we eat it. For me what is working is big low carb breakfasts, light lunch and replacing some meat with legumes but I wouldn't presume that would work for everyone.

I have no expertise here, except perhaps for having lost over 100 lbs myself. IMHO, the one very important thing that you omit is controlling your muscle mass. Believe me, it's very easy to lose muscle faster than fat.

Exercise is very important, but certainly not as a means of losing weight - rather the opposite, actually. If you are losing weight faster than expected, do test your strength and muscle tone for fun, you might be surprised... and not in a good way, I'm afraid.

Great topic and lots of good discussion. Echoing some of what Mike said, the keys for me were to cut out sugar, eat restaurant food less, eat more vegetables, and get some real exercise.

I thought my use of sugar in coffee and iced tea was minimal until I stopped adding it. I haven't even had to refill the sugar bowl in years where before I was buying 10 pounds bags of sugar ever few months. You'd think I'd notice things like that.

I realized that restaurant food is optimized to get you come back next time, not to be healthy. Likewise processed food is optimized to be tasty and easy. The only processed food I haven't shaken (yet) is bread because it's so convenient. Today I found bread that's only 1 gram of sugar per slice so I'll live with it for now.

I like to cook my own meals because I can control what goes in them. I'm no vegetarian, but I am lazy and like to cook simple dishes without meat. Preparing meat well is tricky because undercooking it carries risk and overcooking it ruins the experience. I like a meal that I can quickly prepare in a single skillet.

I started it all with exercise. I had been active most of my life but let it go for 10+ years. The key for me has been to work out hard, but not for long durations. For some crazy reason, I find hard workouts thrilling.

I'm in my late 50s and have reduced my weight to approximately high school level.

The simplistic models that abound about nutrition don't account for the complexities of our metabolic systems. It's confusing that oranges are good for us while orange juice is bad.

I also have a sweet tooth that I indulge with a no-sugar spiced tea (yes, I know, heresy to sincere tea lovers), fresh fruit, and occasionally dates plus pecans (candy bar substitute, but honestly too much sugar).

We traditionally think that overweight people lack willpower and self-control. Instead, I think overweight people are being poisoned by their food.

Great post, Mike! I really like your approach to dieting and may try it myself.

It's well timed for me, too. As a matter of fact, I just wrote a piece on coming to terms with getting older, fatter and in worse shape and trying to do something about it. Here it is:

Sick Of Myself

The only way to lose weight is to use more energy than you take in. Provided all your nutritional requirements are present, a long term lower calorie diet is a guaranteed way to lose weight.

[Hi Bear, No offense, but this is one of those conventional truisms I feel are false. The situation is more complicated than that in several ways. To name perhaps the most extreme, if you curtail your calories too much you can provoke a "famine response" from your metabolism, which can make it even MORE difficult to shed fat. --Mike]

Mike, I am battling the same issue at a little bit lower level.
I truly believe you are onto something and your regime is pretty much what I try to follow now, after reading several books and articles and following unworkable plans in the past.
My only adjustment is to try to eat salad or similar in the evening, instead of the rice or potato. After that heavy late lunch. Important to avoid the evening cravings, which means exactly that, a heavy lunch and a good healthy 'snack' in the evening.
Good luck! I hope it helps. Both of us. (Honestly and sincerely)

This is a interesting area. First I think it is important to realize that in fact we (the science community) does indeed know an awful lot about human nutrition its just that most of them publish in peer reviewed journals like J. Human Nutrition and Diatetics, and not in mass market books that are selling some point of view. For a remarkable answer to Gary Taubes from one of the scientists doing this work (and he is a very good writer) take a look at
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

If your diet is working for you, great but remember that as I tell the kids in the lab, the plural of anecdote is not data. Many of the concepts in many of the "diet guru" books have been rigorously tested and I think the real conclusion is that over time periods of more than a few months, most diets simply don't work very well.

Mike,

Over the last 30 years laboratory mice, cats and dogs, and other animals that live in a human environment have ALL been gaining weight.

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/08/the-animals-are-also-getting-fat.html

The implication is that there is an external variable common to all groups that is causing this and that it is not only due to supersizing portions or drinking too much soda or not exercising enough.

The mostly likely suspect people have come up with is the chemical BPA which is found in many plastics and in almost everyone's urine.

http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/david-berreby-obesity-era/

Maybe the first thing you should do is cut out exposure to BPA.

Good luck Mike! Sorry to say this, but the laws of physics must be obeyed. Take in calories - burnt calories = positive; you gain weight. Take in calories - burnt calories = negative; you lose weight. It's that simple (not). Weight watchers type diets with fairly rigid portion control are the only diets that have been shown in long term studies to both bring about short term weight loss and to enable the person to keep it off.

You could walk Lulu!

Hi, Mike,

Re "wheat", and the so-called "wheat belly", you might want to read this: http://www.aaccnet.org/publications/plexus/cfw/pastissues/2012/OpenDocuments/CFW-57-4-0177.pdf

You might also want to read this: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/16782826.html
It's got everything - weight loss, jazz (a drummer's tale), bicycles, and, most importantly, success.

My favorite diet snack/small meal is edamame right out of the microwave with a bit of sea salt on top. It is tasty, nutritious and satisfying.

Mike, good luck with the diet. I too struggle with some weight issues although not as much as you. I generally try now to eat less meat and more vegetables, but my tooth is very sweet as well. That has been my downfall along with good wine. I just finished reading the omnivore dilemma and agree, a book everyone who eats should read. Keep up the good work.

I feel for you Mike. We are about the same age and I've never had a weight problem. I'm 6'2" and 190 lbs. But I have family members that struggle with weight all the time and I just have remind myself that it's something I know nothing about. I was a smoker for a while and is the hardest thing in the world to give up!

One thing to add to the pile you have gather. Are you a Super Taster? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supertaster I've read that super tasters love sweets and alcohol and hate food and cooking. Check it out...

[Hi Steve, I'd never heard the term before. Don't think I am one, but who knows.... --Mike]

...you're certainly correct about there not being one way to diet or control nutrition for everyone, and that we know very little about how nutrition affects our bodies...for the same reason I can take a "PM" medicine, and it keeps me up all night and gives me jitterz, and someone else can take it and fall asleep peacefully, our different bodies have to react differently to similar items...

...the last time I lost an appreciable amount of weight, I ate very little, with most of it being fish and vegetables and fruit. Now the same thing is not helping me very much today, without more activity; but I just can't slog myself around any more; let's face it, if you spend most of your time sitting in front of computer, you're going to lose weight differently than someone painting rooms everyday...walking around the park every day for 40 minutes isn't going to be enough, but how much more time can you spend?

I'm 6'1, and I've never been more than 196lbs. At 196 I had a high percentage of body fat, and that's the "weight" you want to lose. I'd have been very happy at 196 if I had sprinters body, I didn't. So when we talk about weight lets use the F word.

I shifted the fat 3 years ago and now have the body of a runner.
Ok it's a runner beans body but I can run further and faster at 42
Than I could at 22. I'm not gonna bench press 300lbs anytime soon but my hearts as strong as an ox. On run days it's hard to consume 3000 quality calories. That's a lot of brocolie

Good for you, Mike. I'm pretty convinced you're right that there is no one magic bullet.

The comments that encourage you to exercise as well-- they're right.

However and whatever, tackling the issue is the most important step. You're single so no wife to kindly mention your pants have been shrinking, right? Since I suspect most of you readers are, ahem, middle aged semi-couch potatoes too, you'll likely find no shortage of support amongst them if you ask.

Good luck

Andy

Intake is one side of the equation. Exercise is the other, often neglected in the North American life style.

Computers are killing us!

How much sitting did you ever do in a real darkroom? Even the dark little closet I constructed for myself 30 years ago kept me on my feet for hours, moving from enlarger to developer tray to fixer to wash, then back to the enlarger. I wonder how many steps a pedometer would have registered in that environment?

Now, if I'm not careful, a morning at the computer and the pedometer might bear a count of 500-700. Ugh! My target is 10,000 steps a day, but anything over 5,000 keeps me out of the sedentary range, and anything over 10,000 is gold. (12,578 right now, this Sunday before Labor Day.) When I work at home, it's even worse. My wife and I plan to consolidate our home work spaces - including stand-up workstations to ensure we keep moving.

So, good for you on the diet, it's a credit to your determination that you've had the diligence to work out the right combination, and to stick with it. Now get a pedometer!
http://www.amazon.com/Omron-Hj-113-Pocket-Pedometer-Walking/dp/B003NCSM3E/ref=sr_1_2?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1378085585&sr=1-2&keywords=pedometer

I learned about the glycemic index from The South Beach Diet, and have used its principles for the last 7 or so years. One happy happenstance for me was since that diet's early phases are relatively gluten-free, it's elimination helped me determine that I had either celiac, or gluten sensitivity. Regardless of which it is, I want to say that for people who flock to "gluten free" because they think it's some kind of magic elixir, know that when you eat gluten free baked good, you're really spiking your glycemic uptake. GF baked ingredients are HIGHLY refined. If you don't need GF baked stuff, don't eat it. (And by the way, eggs, apples, and lettuce also are gluten free, but they are okay.)

Keep up the good work on the diet. I want to continue to read TOP for a long time.

Many things in life can be tricky but none more so than the diet world. It reminds me of audio in that there is much misinformation and misconception about sound, how we perceive sound and our awareness or lack of awareness to what makes good sound sound good. Nutrition and health are very nearly the same and snake oil is most assuredly not going to provide anything helpful except empty your pocket.

When looking for a solution to a problem, a topical answer to a deeper problem rarely provides anything lasting. With so much conflicting "facts" out there on the subject of nutrition it is no wonder that you are in such a position. Please be mindful that the solution to your problem will NOT be found in the healthcare industry. Try looking for a holistic remedy that is more lifestyle than diet and you might find an easier, more palatable panacea that sticks with you and rewards you with health and leanness.

Focusing on weight is not the only answer, in fact, it might be the one thing holding you back from success.

Just a comment, at times you're using 'diet' and 'dieting' interchangeably, and so a bit confusingly. 'If you think diet is all about calories' Well no, one's diet is about a lot of things, but dieting is largely about calories... etc. Trivia aside, I've been around 6'2 and 225/230 for years. 10 yrs ago diagnosed with type II diabetes - started reading about diet/nutrition/and esp. sugar. Today (at 71) I'm around 6'1 and 195. Still want to get to about 180/185 by 72. My experience in reading/educating myself is that a lot is known about nutrition (and can be very hard to follow/understand) and very little is known about dieting. Well, a lot is known about dieting as well, but the field is so full of noise that it can be hard to discern the information. That's my experience anyway. As to your comments about the 'normal' American diet, the food industry, sugar/salt, etc. - Uh yeah, or as the kids say, 'Duh'..

Good luck - hope you can stop putting sugar on/in your food in the future. 'They' do enough of that for us..

Ray

I'm on a diet, but not dieting -- I'm an involuntary vegetarian, following a minor heart attack a few years back. Also, in trying to reduce any further damage, I adopted one cardinal rule for eating: no fat.

In practice, it's almost impossible to eat in America without eating some fat. For example, I eat soy-based hotdogs which are supposed to be fat-free...but the hot dogs *buns*, which are just white bread, turn out to have between 1-4 grams of fat each, depending on what you buy. So, I wind up getting enough fat to stay pretty healthy, whether I want to get that fat or not.

I also keep a wide variety of stuff in the refrigerator. I don't worry much about sugar, because I never add any (we don't even have any in the house) and so I keep fruit around with the veggies, and quite a bit of yogurt, and oatmeal that I eat with Rice Dream rice milk, and various no-fat crackers, etc. I find that my eating habits (as opposed to food) haven't really changed much. I still browse, and eat at times other than mealtimes, and sometimes have late-night snacks, but my weight is pretty good. As I said, I'm not so much "on" a diet, as "have" a diet. I'm never hungry, and if I do get a little peckish, I'll eat something. Works for me. Although, I would like to have a pork chop someday, before I die.

Dear Mike,

Here's why your approach *might* work, when hortatory pronouncements won't.

First, the other big myth that creates problems along with the "it's a simple medical matter" myth, is the "it's a moral failing" myth. Usually phrased in some variant of "anyone can lose weight with discipline and will power," implying, of course, that anyone who hasn't is functionally deficient. Aside from the small matter that it's scientifically false, it's as helpful and practical a statement as saying "anyone can be a decathlete with discipline and will power." To which an accurate an appropriate response is ," "No, we all can't and no, 99%, of us **won't**, so piss off ya sanctimonious sod."

Second, the "it's just a matter of energy in vs energy out" may be good physics but it's false biophysiology and is as useless and counterproductive a piece of advice, in practice, as the overtly moral stand.

Which gets to point three. Even if you believe in fallacy two, almost no one can make it work as a matter of principle. An overage of 10 Calories a day is a pound a year, 10 lbs a decade. And that's yer whole "middle-age creep" thing.

Nobody can control caloric intake to 10 Cal/day. It's simply not possible outside of a lab, it's damn near impossible inside of a lab. (Not sure if you met my friends George and Sue on one of our Madison get-togethers-- the photography collectors who are scientists at UW? George's lab worked on this question.) End of story. Just can't be done.

In the real world, very few people, no matter how conscientious, can even track caloric intake with an accuracy of 100 Cal/day (Important note: we're talking accuracy, not precision, here.) Too many ways errors creep into the data. It's extremely difficult. And that's 10 lb/year, 100/decade.

Outgo is even harder to monitor. Just one example, the increased use of remote control devices over the past several decades has trimmed 25-50 calories/day off the average expenditure for the same set of activities. That's 25-50 lb/decade. And that's effectively invisible in personal record keeping-- only shows up in laboratory-controlled metabolic analyses.

I'd note that 10 Cal/day doesn't even require processed foods "loaded" with sugar, fat, and salt. 10 Cal worth over the course of a day is essentially **seasoning,** nowhere near enough to induce "craving." And people do like the way the stuff takes. This is a not a solvable problem on the food-industry level... although they certainly do make it worse!

When you put it all together, a theory-based diet that simply demands you follow a certain set of rules is very likely to fail, no matter its theoretical merits, because it ain't how people work, it's not how they CAN work. And that's true even when the theory is good. And, as you note, most of the theory is scientific crap (I could write an entire essay about why the paleo thing is major crap, but I'll just leave it at the meta level of saying that it's as supportable as the various "naturalistic" theories of human and social science of the late 1800's. It's a crypto-genetic version of phrenology or social darwinism.)

So, what works? Well, unless you happen to luck into a hortatory regimen that works for you, you just find something you can live with that happens to keep your weight stable and/or down. It ain't about logic, about theory, about pseudoscientific crap. It's pure craft and engineering, result oriented.

Emphasis on WHAT YOU CAN LIVE WITH. Remember that trial and error is DANGEROUS-- yo-yoing is far worse for the body than obesity.

Me, I think I've figured out mine. Maybe. It'll take another ten years to be sure. Slow research. No, I ain't gonna describe it. Because it's what seems to be working for me. Wouldn't work for you-- it's in direct conflict with a couple of your personal constraints (as your regimen is with mine).

pax / Ctein
==========================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
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I think we know a lot about nutrition, but there is just too much profit to be made by food/faux food producers and the diet industry: creating fear and doubt is essential to selling big.
I would suggest that people consilt a trained dietician and physician for personalized advice.
For Mike, I'd suggest a larger emphasis on breakfast and removing the Splenda and sugar -- perhaps some cashews and fruit to sweeten the gruel.

In case you didn't run across John Walker's Hacker's Diet (http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/), you might find it an interesting read.

I was really overweight as a kid, so I've always struggled to keep things under control, and it's only been as recent as a year or two that I've managed to really turn things around.

1. Diet / Food: this is really important. I love cooking and eating, so to find one meal a day that I can really enjoy is important for me.

2. Activity: about two years ago, I integrated a daily exercise into my life, either running or cycling. At the moment, I cycle to work -- which takes me about 2 hours a day. Not everyone will want to do this, but it really changed my life because it increased what I could eat and still keep my weight down.

I also took up some more extreme endeavours (trail running / fast hiking), where you really have to know your nutrition / output limits. Whilst at altitude and trying to run up 2000m, you know when you low on food, because you feel it. Getting to know that feeling really helps reset what feeling hungry really means.

3. The sugar question: I too removed sugar from coffee and a lot of other processed food from my diet, but just finding stuff that I love eating that doesn't have any (e.g. paté, ham, salmon, cheese, fruit, fruit, fruit etc.)

Finally, I agree with the input/output view being too simple: you can't infinately eat and infinately workout. The hardest thing is changing habit, so it's key to find a way to think about things that works for you. And that changes from person to person.

Good luck!

Pak

Learning to cook interesting and healthy food wouldn't be a bad idea.
Roy

might i suggest a couple tweaks to add a few calories? for breakfast, cook 1/4 cup steel cut oats in 1 cup water (you can cook seven servings on the weekend to make things easier), add 1 teaspoon honey, a few chopped almonds or whatever, and a few frozen berries. and for dinner, add some red beans to go with your converted rice. yum!

As a family physician I would have to agree that the current 'state of the art' in understanding nutrition is pretty pathetic. It seems to me about where infectious disease was in the 1930s- some decent theoretical underpinnings, but few if any effective tools. Our understanding of what controls caloric intake and metabolic 'burn rate' is quite crude.

Back in May 2012 I read David H. Freedman's article The Perfected Self in Atlantic Magazine. The subtitle really caught my eye- 'the creepy science of behavior modification'. Freedman ably makes the point that while B.F. Skinner's ideas were reviled and rejected in the 1960s-1970s, Skinner was basically correct. For all our nominal intelligence and sophistication, it's remarkably easy to manipulate our behavior with relatively simple cues and rewards. And in fact the food industry is utterly shameless in their exploitation of such tools to encourage us to consume lots more of their products. That we're ending up obese is of no concern to them. Collateral damage.
Freedman's article discussed a smart phone app as a tool used to modify one's own behavior in the opposite direction. This struck me as intuitively absurd; I mean, I'm a smart guy, I can figure this stuff out. That couldn't possibly work. But then, I've been obese since childhood, with occasional episodes of dramatic weight loss via grueling diet/exercise regimens followed inexorably by slowly regaining most or all of it.

So what the heck, I figured. I tried the app (Lose It). To my amazement, the trivial behavioral 'nudge' of tracking my calorie intake provided just enough leverage. It's much harder to mindlessly consume excess calories when you're tracking them. Over the course of a year I dropped about 65 lbs, stabilizing at 182 lbs at 6'1". Adding exercise made things happen faster. And (fingers crossed) so far it's been very easy to maintain rather than the usual excruciating reversion to regaining weight. I'm not using the app any more because the behavior changes have become habit, and appear to be durable.

This isn't meant as a testimonial exactly; my wife took one look at the app and immediately informed me "I can't do that. Won't work for me". I have tried recommending the app to patients struggling to loose weight; so far the success rate is not very encouraging, perhaps 20% or so. It seems to require an eager willingness to submit to its rules-based system, and that doesn't work for many folks. Worth trying, though. It's a freebie.

And if you think exercise is the solution to the obesity epidemic, consider that marathon runners on average weigh significantly more than their counterparts did forty years ago.

This means exactly nothing. They could just get taller, or they can have more muscles, or more amateurs are running marathons, etc. Never ever draw such conclusion from statistics, because you never know who and how collected the data. There are lies, bigger lies and statistics.
Before I write any further, please remember that I am not trying to insult you :-)
A deep breath ...
...
Excuses, excuses, and unconscious excuses. This is a summary of your post. If you spent the time you have wasted on reading diet books on sport, you would be much healthier and probably lighter.
Take on some sport, but for at least a few months, and you will see what I mean.

I believe there is a bigger factor out there behind the obesity epidemic. It is not chemical. It is psychological.
We are bombarded everyday by bad news via video, written articles, word of mouth, etc. We are constantly under siege with bad news and frustrating information (recession, war, murder, major accidents, etc.).
Watch commercials carefully. Most corporations sell "happiness", "comfort", "certainty", etc. They do not sell products. They are selling what they want you to believe the product could deliver.
This is also true of food companies. Look at all of the commercials for fast food and family food restaurants. They are selling "good times". Candy bars are selling themselves as "pick-me-ups".
In the end, this psychological addiction is much more of an issue than people realize. Each of us have learned to run to a particular set of foods when we are frustrated or sad and need consoling.
Just a thought...

Oooo, just read the post above mine. Unfortunately sport or exercise while being great for fitness and strength has not been shown by studies to be very effective at helping with weight loss. It tends to make you hungrier and therefore you increase your intake and if that involves more carbs, then usually that means more weight if you are a carb sensitive person (most people). Even Time magazine did a recent issue on why exercise is pretty ineffective at weight control.

Exercise is great at controlling insulin sensitivity and prevention of diabetes but that is another subject.

Good luck Mike!

I'm glad to read that you're taking care of yourself, Mike -- and with characteristic thoughtfulness. Keep up the good work.

For a second there I thought you were describing me with those 4 points: bad cook, not hungry in the morning, not gonna shop for elaborate meals and bad sweet tooth. The not being hungry in the morning has always puzzled me especially since the received wisdom is that one must eat in the a.m. to jump start the day's metabolic routines. I try, but it is hard to do. And even when I do eat in the morning and have something at noon, it does not stop the ravening hunger that overcomes me at about 6:30PM. Maybe someday the nutritionists & dieticians & other researchers will figure this one out.

given i'm highly active and for most of my life very skinny, i was taken aback when i started dramatically gaining weight a few years ago. similar to dr wittig, i found monitoring my input/output helps. being the retentive type also helps.

acquired a fitbit dongle. can't unreservedly recommend it as there are some really annoying flaws in both the device and the app/webapp that support it. but obsessively tracking my weight, exercise, and caloric intake have pushed my weight back to a reasonable range.

i'm also attempting to follow taube's more fat less starch recommendations. difficult for a vegetarian. but not impossible.

To Geoff Wittig, et al,
Plenty was known about nutrition in the 60s when my wife was at NYU. Nutritionists in those days bemoaned how the medical profession was so ignorant of nutrition. Their advice was simple - eat a varied and balanced diet and buy from the periphery of the grocery store where the fresh fruit, meat and bread was found, not the inside where processed foods were sold.
Nutrition has been overwhelmed by "experts" in the last few decades and those experts generally work for the food "manufacturers," agribusiness and chemical companies.
In the last 50 years, over 75,000 new chemicals have been introduced into the environment but only about 300 have any testing. Look at the labels on most "food" and see how many of the ingredients you recognize.
Today, over 200 chemicals are being used to "manufacture" wine alone and many of us have stopped drinking wine because we are allergic to some of these chemicals.
The final and most disturbing news was FDA recently reported that 99% of all the comments on chemical, drug and food safety came from parties with a vested interest in selling them.
That's why we moved to a farm, went organic and grow most of our own food.

Mike - you've had lots of comments and though I've haven't read all 60 of them i'm sure some of them are excellent advice. After 10 ten years in the weight management business, there's some simple things I learned that may be of use to you.

1. Get a copy of the Schwarzbein Principle by Dr.Diana Schwarzbein and read it cover to cover. Its available on Amazon - $14. Its the only dietary book I've read (and I've read tons of them) that makes any sense and seems to work pretty consistently. I tried it 14 years ago and lost 14 pounds in 6 weeks without any problem.

2. Get rid of the sugar, especially the Splenda. You don't need it. Look for a product called Stevia. Its a plant extract that's 100 times more powerful than sugar - 0 calories, no man made stuff and no side effects. Its a natural sweetner and all you need for your oatmeal is a a couple of drops. I've used it for over 10 years in cereal, cooking etc and no one can tell the difference.

3. Talk to your doctor about a good Vitamin supplement. Most of the foods we get today - even the "organic" ones - are far lower in nutritional value than what they were 40-50 years ago. So even if we eat a "properly balanced diet" we still don't get everything we need.

4. Be prepared to patient. Your weight will fluctuate. There will days when it seems to have gone up instead of down. You can be up or down by as much as two pounds on any given day. Its the trend over time that's important - if you are steadily down over time THATS WHAT YOU WANT.

5. Do not torture yourself by weighing yourself every day. See 4 above. Weigh yourself on the same day WEEKLY.

6. You may lose a bunch of pounds in the first week or two and feel really great about your new diet only to find nothing happening for a week or two. That's normal, what you've lost is excess water. Ideally, you want a steady decline over time of about 2 pounds a week. Keep in mind - that's 9000 calories out of your excess calorie account, so trying to lose any faster can get you into trouble. To reiterate - your trend is what's important.

7. Expect that you will plateau at some point in your downward trend. Nothing may happen for a couple of weeks and your weight stays where it is. That's normal. That's when you will need to recommit and stay with it.

8. Every diet will work for someone. The trick is finding one you can live with, that's safe, and that works for you. If this one doesn't do it for you, don't give up. Read Schwarzbein.

9. Finally, hats off to you. You've done your homework and made the commitment. That noise you hear behind you is all of us rooting for you. May The Force Be With You

Since you're not excited about the cooking process itself, have you tried using a slow cooker? I have a 5.7 litre which makes enough food for six or seven meals. Having stew six meals in a row can be boring, but that doesn't seem to be an issue in your case. The recipes are generally very simple (put ingredients in crockpot, cook on high/low for X hours). An added bonus is that it cooks the awkward, but cheap and nutritious cuts of meat very well.

Sarcastic comment first: if you want to lose weight, fall in love :).

You hit the nail on the head without realising it: "what works for me ..."

Many years ago, i read a book called "The Metabolic Typing Diet" and the basis of this was that by assessing what foods work for you and when, your body will function better and digest them better and you will fall to your natural weight. I gave the book to a couple after I finished with it. They were both active people, but both larger than they should be. Turns put that she was a carbohydrate lover and he was a protein lover. By cooking the same amount of food, but she ate what her body enjoyed and he ate what he enjoyed, they both lost weight.

It started with the assumption that doctors dont really understand the human body and that every body has a unique stomach size and shape anyway so why should we all eat meat and two veg for meals?

It's actually healthier to eat 5-6 times a day, but smaller amounts of food. It speeds up metabolism and makes the body more efficient in processing food. It is also generally better to eat more carbohydrates in the morning (our bodies burn through them during the day) and more proteins in the evening — repair works in our bodies mostly happen overnight, and protein provides necessary building materials.

P. S. I strongly believe marathon runners today weigh more than 40 years ago, because people on average are about 4-5 inches taller today than they were in the middle of the 20th century. And taller people just tend to weigh more.

Everyone is a nutritionist these days! Even though you've clearly laid out the rationale for all your decisions, which have been thoroughly researched and tested, and you also present evidence via your good results - everyone still wants to convert you to their own favourite vegan/paleo/raw food/whole food/low fat/high fat/atkins/whatever diets.

I'm impressed how thoroughly you've thought it through and tailored to your own personal needs, which is surely much better than picking a trendy diet from the bestsellers lists.

Describing your preferred method seems to provoke a similar reaction to mentioning a preference for Leica and B/W film over say a Canon or Nikon DSLR :)


Actually, the physiologists know a fair bit about it, at least for a lot of the pieces. It's nutritionists who are clueless. As for almost everything in biology, there's not one simple answer. What's helped most for me was cutting carbs and increasing meats significantly, but that won't be true for everyone.


Things known to affect weight (note that 'willpower' is not on the list. It's known -not- to affect weight significantly):

Genetics & inheritance
(Affects how you digest various kinds of food, how many mitochondria your cells have, hormones, etc)

Gut bacteria
(How many and which species; quantity)

Antibiotic use, especially in children
(Affects the gut bacteria)

What your mom ate while carrying you
What your mom was exposed to (chemicals and diseases)
(Can change your hormones, alter epigenetics)


For males, whether your grandfather starved as a teenager
(Epigenetics again)

At least 6 different viruses
(Causation in pigs, correlation in humans)

Large number of pollutants
(Including the ubiquitous BPA)

Carbohydrates, especially processed such as flours
(Raises insulin levels as fast as sugar does)
(Prevents using fat as fuel)
(Raises blood pressure much more than salt)

Fructose/sucrose
(Detoxified in the liver, creating fat deposits in and on the liver)

Why calories are misleading at best:

Rob Dunn, The Hidden Truths about Calories
http://www.robrdunn.com/2012/08/the-hidden-truths-about-calories/

Not only people are getting heavier:

David Berreby, The Obesity Era
http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/david-berreby-obesity-era/


A strong case that eating animal fat is not bad for you, but carbohydrates quite likely are (the environmental consequences of this are another matter):

Gary Taube, "Good Calories, Bad Calories" or the shorter "Why We Get Fat."

Mike,

Many thanks for a most engaging and helpful "off-topic" post. I too was very impressed with Gary Taubes' "Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It." His advice worked very well for me for 12 months. Then I hit a plateau that has persisted now for some 18 months.

You remarked, a bit farther on, that "The science of this stuff gets very heavy very quickly, and understanding the state of the science isn't going to help your diet. Take the wisdom and let the scientists worry about the science."

That would be great advice if the "wisdom" the self-help books provide was firmly based on the best current science. Alas this seems not to be always the case.

I've spent much of today following Bill Van Antwerp's advice (posted above) and reading

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

and related posts there. Wow! The real science does matter and, as in so many things, the devil is in the details.

All the best in your quest for sustainable good health!

Good luck Mike and a very interesting set of observations.

Two points - No.1 might well be useful to you with your pattern of evening eating, which I share:

No.1: There is a saying in the UK "Eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunchtime and a pauper at dinnertime". Food in the evening simply doesn't get time to burn off.

No.2: My doctor once remarked "There were no fat people in Belsen" when discussing why some patients claimed to be unable to lose weight, no matter how little they ate.

It just has to be "Calories in - calories out" when all said and done. The British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes was eating 8,000 calories a day when pulling his sledge across the Antarctic a few years ago - he still lost 30 pounds on the journey.

A few years ago, British hypnotist Paul McKenna brought out a book and self help CD for a very simple diet.

The three main points being:

1. Eat whatever you like.

2. Only eat when you are hungry.

3. Stop when you are full.

The last point is the one most people have a problem with. As a child, I was always encouraged to finish what I had and not leave any, so this can feel alien.

One of his suggestions is to put down the fork whilst eating the current mouthful rather than loading up the next fork full in anticipation of shovelling it into your mouth!

The trick is knowing when you are full and not eating any more.

The traditional idea of fixed mealtimes goes out too.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=paul+mckenna+diet&tag=googhydr-21&index=aps&hvadid=25716078776&hvpos=1t2&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=556851971579407452&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_3liy2r45uu_b

"Live the healthiest life that you can enjoy, not the healthiest life that you can tolerate."

"Your best diet is the one that keeps your calories reduced, your hunger at bay, your cravings controlled, and provides you with a regimen that isn't merely one you can tolerate, but rather one you can honestly enjoy. The reason there are so many diet books and gurus out there is that there truly isn't one right way to go."

-- Yoni Freedhoff, an "obesity medicine doc and certifiably cynical realist"

Seems like you & he agree.

Quotes from this article and he also has a blog, Weighty Matters.

Mike, my friend, going vegan is the answer. No "diet", no "program", no fussy rules.
It addresses the following:


  • The worldwide disaster of resources usage producing meat (water, land, crops, power).
  • The overwhelming outpouring of pollutants related to the production of meat (feces, chemicals, urine, nitrogen, etc)
  • The unconscionable situation that is industrial farming.
  • the certainty that casein (protein in dairy) causes cancer
  • the impossibility of scaling meat production to feed everyone in the developing world
  • obesity from consuming the calorie dense, nutritionally bankrupt, melange that is "food" today
  • yummy food, easy to prepare, nutritionally dense, calorie moderate

I could go on. We have a mantra that my son came up with when he went vegan this summer after his sophomore year at college: "No Wheat, No Meat, No Sweet. "
He was well into obese at 5'9" and 205+ lbs. In about 10 weeks he lost 40lbs and went back to school a new man. Just a small example.

So glad that you have watched Forks Over Knives and read Wheat Belly. Excellent ones.
I also suggest The China Study.

By the way, The Forks Over Knives cookbook is an excellent way to get started.
Best to you.

Mike,

Two books you might check out if you haven't already are The Philosopher's Diet by Richard Watson and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen.

I too used the app, Loose It, on my phone to track calories and dropped 20 pounds from the beginning to the middle of 2012. It wasn't a "diet"--I could eat whatever I liked, but if I wanted to spend 300 calories on a candy bar that meant I didn't have 300 calories for something healthier. I got to make choices. Also exercise, but I can't see any direct correlation between exercise and weight loss.


Very necessary and helpful post Mike, thank you from everybody.

Steve Smith hit it on the nail.

What is easily forgotten is that we are still built like we were 8000 years ago - and back then we had no guaranteed meals, spent all day running after something to eat and rarely getting a full-belly's worth.
If we are here today it's proof that that system still worked out ...

Fwiw the September 2013 issue of Scientific American is devoted to food and includes an article by Gary Taubes: "Which One Will Make You Fat?" (Excessive calories or the wrong carbohydrates.)

I agree with those who say we know a lot about nutrition and our bodies' metabolism. The real problem is that what we know is complex and subtle and doesn't allow simple prescriptions, which makes it an extraordinarily bad match for the current ways in which science is popularised and explained to non-experts. It doesn't make it invalid.

Dismissing exercise as not helping weight loss a confusion the symptom with the syndrome. Losing excess pounds should be part of aiming at a healthy life, not a goal in itself. In which case, getting a tad more exercise is not really optional. It doesn't have to be organised sports, or even aerobically challenging. You have a dog and a camera habit - I'd suggest combining the two with an extra half an hour's photo walk each day. Use a bike if you want to cover more ground. It'll be good for Lulu's health too.

On a similar note, many published diet regimes are good for losing weight (if they fit your habits and tastes). Quite a lot of them are bad - unbalanced - for long-term living. The distinction is often confused, and can lead to problems.

Carbs are not all bad. If you can cut out the introduced sugar in processed foods, and eat carbs following the advice given to diabetics about how to combine them with other foods, suddenly you find they're not so bad at all.

Now you have the coffee gadgets settled, consider buying a bread machine. That way you can sidestep the sugars foisted on you by industrial baking, and avoid having to think too hard about the process of cooking bread. 'Healthy' bread these days is in a labour-intensive sourdough fad, but you can get a long way by finding multi-grain recipes you like and bunging them into a gadget that does the hard work for you.

Good luck in your journey. Seek balance, not a cure.

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