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2018-02-27 15:35 by Karl Denninger
in Personal Health , 354 references
[Comments enabled]  

I get asked this a lot, so here are my thoughts.

First, two disclaimers -- I'm not a doctor.  Second, I've got a lot of data, but it's all mine so it's all anecdote.  All I can back it up with is a few friends who have similar or identical gear to what I use.

So with that said, here we go.

First, alcohol (drinking alcohol now, not the non-potable versions!) are ethanol.  They are a form of carbohydrate.

But alcohol is a special carbohydrate.  Unlike the common sort in foods ethanol is preferentially metabolized -- that is, it is burned first before other carbohydrates. This is why you get drunk (instead of it "mixing" with all the other carbs and being taken up slowly, which would mean you'd have to drink on an empty stomach to get drunk at all) but at about one drink per hour, you also burn it off at the same rate no matter how much food you eat.

Like all other carbohydrates, however, ethanol also produces the same sort of boost/crash response that you get from other fast carbs, and in fact since it burns first it's arguably the fastest carb.  This is why when you're drinking you often want food and is why "bar food" is inevitably high in carb content (e.g. french fries, etc); the bar owners are not stupid and they sell what people want to buy.

There are two basic problems with drinking alcohol in any amount as it relates to a keto lifestyle.  The first is that booze inherently is anti-ketogenic, although if you keep it to one drink in a day you can remain in a ketogenic state and have that one drink, provided you are performing some amount of exercise (so as to keep glycogen stores very low.)  The problem is that the second drink, and any non-keto food you might consume due to the cravings that alcohol does produce, is almost-certainly enough to knock you out of a ketogenic state.

There used to be a book out there from the early 1900s called "The Drinking Man's Diet."  Unsurprisingly, it called for consumption of essentially zero carbohydrate; the reason is that alcohol consumption greatly potentiates weight gain if you eat carbohydrates.  Why?  Because it's metabolized first and thus the rest of the carbs you take in wind up being stored as glycogen and, if your glycogen stores fill it goes directly on your body as fat.

So that's the keto-related bad news, basically.  But unfortunately the bad news doesn't end there and it's not ketogenic-specific.

I own a Fenix 5x, which I wear basically all the time (except when doing some sort of work that might damage it, such as working on my car, and when it needs to be charged) including overnights.  It's an incredible piece of equipment which I bought mostly for its performance tracking under exercise and its mapping functionality, which is a safety feature when I am hiking in the backcountry ("never lost" as long as it can see the sky and has power.)  No, it's not a substitute for a map, compass and knowing how to do land nav, but it's convenient and, in my opinion, was well-worth the investment.

It also gives me a hell of a lot of data across my entire day.  One of the things it allows me to do is track the quality of sleep, heart-rate variation (which maps to your stress level) and resting heart rate.  And this is where the second piece piece of bad news comes from.

I can tell you from looking at that RHR and HRV (stress) level during my time sleeping on which days I have had zero alcohol intake, on which days I had one drink, on which days I had two, and on which days I had more.  The "more" doesn't matter; once you pass the second one in a day from a stress point of view you may as well get hammered.  My accuracy rate just looking at this piece of information alone is astoundingly high -- and when it's wrong, it's never wrong on the low side (that is, indicating less stress than my booze intake indicates.)

The first drink will raise my resting heart rate by a point or two and delay my systemic stress level from dropping into the lowest category by a couple of hours.  The second by two to four points and costs me half the night in terms of getting into that "resting" state from a stress point of view.  Third and beyond?  You're screwed in terms of actually getting anything that's called "rest" when you sleep.

This has profound implications if you are interested in athletic performance as well.  There's simply no way you will be well-rested and able to perform at peak capacity if you've had anything to drink for two to three days prior to the event.

This is utterly repeatable, every time, has been since I've owned this unit from the first day forward and anyone that has access to that data is going to be able to figure it out without knowing anything else about you.  A couple of friends of mine who have similar units have told me that they have identical results, and I've confirmed this as they've let me look at their data briefly and told them which days they went out to the bar.  I was right -- every time.

For this reason putting such data in the "cloud" and allowing anyone else access to it is a profoundly bad idea.  You don't need an AI to process this, just a pair of eyeballs!

It would be utterly trivial to determine your consumption of booze and "box" you from which it would then be trivial to do things like charge you more for insurance.

The above, by the way, assumes your alcohol is liquor and there are no sugars in whatever you mix it with, if anything.  Straight-up Scotch, vodka-and-(diet) tonic, etc.  Beer and wine also contains carbs that are not from the alcohol; those have to be counted too and it's almost-impossible to know what the non-booze carb content is with the exception of a handful of "light" beers that advertise it -- because unlike actual food the manufacturers don't have to tell you, and they typically don't.  When it comes to craft beer you may get away with one pint glass (or 10oz for high-gravity) of beer but you won't get away with the second in terms of ketosis.  The same issue presents itself when it comes to wine.

So if you're asking whether drinking alcohol is compatible with living a ketogenic lifestyle, the answer is "maybe."  The maybe is that if you are actively trying to lose weight then no, it isn't, and by the way, it doesn't matter what form of food intake you're using in that case because alcohol will poison all of them in terms of weight loss.  The old saying that "he has a beer belly" is not bull****, in short.  One of the worst ways to sabotage your metabolic systems is to screw with your hunger regulation -- while it's possible to ignore that it takes an amount of willpower few possess.

If you are very studious about avoiding any sort of other carbs, except for nutrient-dense green vegetables, then you can probably remain in a ketogenic diet with one drink a day, assuming you are an average-height male.  Women have it tougher simply because on average they're smaller and alcohol is typically not "sized" in terms of the size of the drink to match body size and mass.  This means that for most women that first drink is going to be borderline.  Your odds of remaining in a ketogenic state improve if you are engaged in a material amount of vigorous exercise daily (defined as at least 15 minutes of effort in heart rate zone 4 or 5) as well.

But beyond one drink it doesn't matter if you're trying to live a keto lifestyle.  You will get knocked out of a ketogenic state with the second beer or mixed drink essentially every single time and it is likely to require 48 hours or even more to return to it.

So yeah, if you have one night a week you have a few beers and such you basically took a 7-day ketogenic state and turned it into a 3-4 day one. That's half.  If you're already where you want to be in terms of body mass and metabolic state you can get away with that once a week and probably not harm yourself all that much.

But if you do that twice in a week you can forget it.

The worse news, however, is that ketogenic or not that second drink costs you substantially in terms of impacting your overall body stress level and quality of sleep.  The third one destroys both and it will require 48-72 hours of abstinence before things are back to normal.

This, incidentally, is wildly out of kilter with what the so-called medical "experts" will tell you.  They all say that one drink a day is not harmful and may even be protective; that the second one is probably "neutral" and real serious harm starts with the third (and gets rapidly worse with increasing quantity.)


The trivially documented disruption starts with the first drink, the second does very material damage to the quality of your rest and beyond that you may as well get rip-roaring trashed in terms of cardio and overall systemic stress.

I'm sure a far more-strict analysis is almost directly dose-dependent -- for example, the damage done to your liver.  But here I'm not focusing on the long-term chronic effects from drinking too much -- those are both well-known and basically impossible to argue with.

This is simply looking at the data in the context of consumption of "routine" amounts of alcohol if you are trying to live a healthier metabolic lifestyle.

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2018-02-26 06:50 by Karl Denninger
in Personal Health , 224 references
[Comments enabled]  

Speweth the idiocy.....

Another way to get into ketosis is by eating less than 20 to 50 grams of carbs — or a slice or two of bread — per day. So people on a ketogenic diet get 5 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, about 15 percent from protein, and 80 percent from fat. Note that that’s a much lower ratio of protein and a lot more fat than you’d get on other low-carb diets, but it’s this ratio that will force the body to derive much of its energy from ketones. If you eat too much protein, or too many carbs, your body will be thrown out of ketosis.

Actually, the exact amount of carbohydrate you need to eat to drop out of a ketogenic state varies from person to person and is largely determined by your body composition and workload.  If you sit on your ass all day and watch TV then you might indeed drop out somewhere around 20-30 grams of net (of fiber) carbs a day.

Most people with a modest amount of exercise (some walking) will remain in it at 50g.

If you're exercising moderately heavily (30 minutes of running -- that is, roughly 3 miles -- every second day for example) you can probably take in 100, especially if they're not starches and sugars.

It is the exhaustion of glycogen stores that results in fat burning through exercise.  That inevitably produces ketone bodies as that's a byproduct of fat metabolism.

In practice, that means subsisting mainly on meats, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts, butter, oils, and vegetables — and carefully avoiding sugar, bread and other grains, beans, and even fruit. 

True.  And no, you don't need fruit.  The one thing you do need that fruit contains in volume is Vitamin C, but most green vegetables have far more of it than do oranges, for example.

Bread is, from a metabolic response point of view, not much better than table sugar.  In point of fact a Snickers bar has a comparable glycemic index to many breads!

I doubt anyone would call a Snickers Bar "health food."

There is a lot of other nonsense in this article.  One of the things claimed is that there are people claiming a 400-600 calorie metabolic advantage daily to eating low-carb.  I've never actually heard that from someone who knows what they're talking about and no, quack "Women's Health" tabloid magazines do not count.

The fact is, however, that under exertion -- that is, exercise -- this has been scientifically measured. Indeed ketogenic diets consume more fat on the body when exercising.  The reason for this is trivial science -- if there is no glycogen stored in the body when you begin working out it cannot be consumed first because it doesn't exist.  You thus start losing fat immediately.  In addition there is evidence that a keto-adapted athlete is more-able to process said fat than someone who is not; this is not surprising either as there's no alternative -- your body either does that or you cannot maintain the exertion level.

But you can maintain the exertion level.  I'm absolutely certain of it, because I do it.

Another reason very low-carb diets seem to help with weight loss initially is that there’s some evidence they’re effective for appetite control. “Most people actually eat fewer calories than they would on most other diets,” said Guyenet, adding, “The evidence supporting this isn’t great right now, but that seems to be where it’s going.”

Actually, they're very effective for appetite control.  I often wake up in the morning and have no desire for food until noon or even somewhat later.  That's not a function of conscious choice (i.e. I'm hungry but choose not to eat) but rather I have no desire to eat anything.

Long-term this is probably the reason it works maintenance-wise.

See, your body, like all animals, knows how to regulate its caloric intake without counting anything.  The precision that it can maintain on its own is astounding, just as is the case for all sorts of other autonomous and semi-autonomous processes.  You breathe and keep your O2 saturation and CO2 levels in balance without thinking about it.  When you exercise your heart rate increases along with breathing rate, when you stop it goes back down.  You don't think about either.  There are literally hundreds of such processes in your body, most mediated by one or more hormones.

May I remind you that in order to avoid gaining or losing a single pound in a year's time you must regulate your body's intake of food to within 10 calories a day.  That's roughly one or two potato chips or one good bite of an omelet or steak.  You cannot possibly do that consciously, yet if you're off "high" by even that tiny amount you'll gain 10 lbs every single decade, going from "normal" at 20 to ridiculously overweight (50lbs worth) by the time you're 60.  But your body not only can, it will regulate food intake automatically to a near-zero tolerance, at a level of low single-digit calories/day on average over the space of decades if you quit poisoning its regulatory mechanisms, just as it does for water balance (thirst .vs. urination), CO2 levels (breathing), insulin (glucose metabolism) and dozens of other body processes that are utterly necessary for you to remain alive.

So keto ends up performing a lot like other diets for weight loss: It can help the few who can stick to it, though not necessarily for the reasons proponents suggest. And it fails or is abandoned by everyone else.

Uh, nearly all "diets" are abandoned by everyone.

If you're going to eat keto then you have to make it a lifestyle, not a diet.

Here's the thing: You'll never do it eating fast carbohydrates -- unless you starve yourself, either out of necessity or choice.  Damn few people will do it by choice.  Many hundreds of millions have done it by necessity because they're peasants over the millennia, and that does work.  Do you wish to live like a peasant?  Have at it.

On the other hand if you wake up and aren't hungry it's not hard to not eat.  If you then choose to eat green vegetables and fats (e.g. steamed broccoli with cheese) at noon, and then eat a steak at dinner you almost-certainly will have consumed fewer calories because you didn't snack as you were not hungry.

Guess what happens when you do that?  Uh huh.

Your body knows how to regulate your food intake on its own and no, you're not "naturally large."  Nobody is.  You become fat because you poison those mechanisms and break them.  The way you break them is by eating fast carbohydrates.  If you stop doing that they will begin to work again.

The new study was sponsored and run by employees of Virta Health, a company selling lifestyle counseling on ketogenic diets for Type 2 diabetics. Virta, as well as other proponents of keto for diabetes, claims the diet can “reverse” diabetes — and that’s going a step too far.

“What’s been demonstrated is that [the ketogenic diet] controls blood glucose levels,” explained Guyenet. “That’s a good thing. But to show true remission or reversal, you have to show a person can go back to being able to eat carbs without having diabetes again.” And that has never been proven with the ketogenic diet.

The jury is out on this.

But this much is reasonably-certain -- you won't see the body reverse 20, 30, 40 or more years of insult and damage in months -- and probably not in a year.  In five?  Maybe.  And in fact while I was never diabetic I did have compromised insulin response.  I'm sure of it, because I've run my own tests with a personally-owned glucometer.  What I can tell you today is that the formerly-present compromise is completely gone.  I can attempt to drive my glucose wildly out of range, but it doesn't happen -- in fact it's virtually impossible for me to drive it over 120, and I've not managed to drive it over 140 irrespective of the depth of insult.  I stopped a couple of extreme attempts because I suspected I was going to puke if I kept eating that much in sweets.....

Ever see Matilda?  Remember Bruce?  Yeah, that sort of attempted gluttony.

But here's the thing -- I'm also reasonably sure that if I went back to eating carbs the way I used to not only would the weight come back on but so would the compromise, and it would likely resume deteriorating too... No thank you.

Incidentally, the reason I undertook this personal experiment was the repeated statements of both medical professionals and others, including the "general societal belief" that as we age our body's ability to control mass, control insulin and similar inevitably degrade.  The common chestnut is that it's utterly normal that we get fatter as we get older and that changes such as impaired insulin response is irreversible, chronic, progressive and age-linked (and largely genetic.)

I decided that if indeed that's true then I could not harm myself in the attempt to falsify the claim but if it was false then the outcome would be both dramatic and very positive for me personally.

Indeed, researchers have shown the opposite effect — that the body’s ability to tolerate carbohydrates can decrease after following a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Anecdotes ain't data but one contrary example voids a hypothesis.

Have a look up above 'cause there's your contrary example to the hypothesis.

However, I've been at this for close to seven years now.  Would the same show up in one year?  Probably not.

Then Vox goes completely off the rails.  They try to argue for a mutation actually being required for a high-fat diet to "work".  No such evidence is in the paper they cited and in fact the next study I cite fails to find same, but what is present is an explanation for why, when the Inuit started eating lots of carbs, they blew up like balloons and exhibited a huge spike in heart disease and diabetes.

In other words that which might dispose you to never make it to reproductive age, or disadvantage you in reproduction if you're eating lots of carbs doesn't have to advantage you in the absence of that -- it only has to not screw you to be selectively concentrated through natural selection.  The paper cited for that does indeed appear to lend evidence to exactly this.

Of course people are citing this study now too -- which is a comparison between low-fat and low-carb.  Except it really wasn't low-carb.  The mean was never under 100g/day.  Sorry, that's not ketogenic unless you're putting down a couple dozen or more miles a week running, and perhaps not even then, and the worst of it is that they were still taking in 20% or more of that in added sugars!

The other interesting finding, which of course nobody is making a lot of noise about (and they should be), is that eating higher fat content reduced triglycerides by a materially greater amount -- almost three times as much.  Since high triglyceride levels are considered to be dangerous and it's also said that eating lots of fats raises them, that claim (that "high fat diets will give you a heart attack") appears to have been falsified.  Where are the retractions?  Hmmmm...

The other problem with this "study" is that they basically ran the same protein and fat amounts in the allegedly low-carb group as the "low-fat" group.  That's nuts -- the allegedly "low carb" folks were eating double the RDA of protein for an average 160lb person.  Guess what all that extra protein gets turned into?  Glucose.  Yes, the exact same thing carbohydrate gets turned into.

The DIETFITS study replicates the results of numerous other RCTs, showing that, when caloric intake and protein intake are both matched between diet interventions, the proportion of carbs or fat matters little for weight loss. 

Well that doesn't surprise when you consume double the protein requirement -- the body turns that extra into the same thing it turns carbohydrates into.  Here's my shocked face that you didn't see material differences.....

In short: Garbage design, garbage results.

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2018-02-21 16:00 by Karl Denninger
in Personal Health , 184 references
[Comments enabled]  

You gotta be kidding me....

"These drugs can have serious side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding and heart attacks, and are often taken without medical oversight because many products are available over-the-counter," Kaufman said by email. "The attitude that users can choose their own dose regardless of label directions, along with poor knowledge of dosing limits, is associated with exceeding the daily limit."

Of course what do you think the recommendation might be?

"For occasional use, acetaminophen (again in the right dose) is a much safer option and very efficacious as a pain killer," Vogt added. "But we know that many people use NSAIDs for indications other than pain, such as flu, allergies, fever - and there is no medical base that indicates that NSAIDs or acetaminophen are of any use under these circumstances."

Did you read and parse that folks?

Let's recap.

1. Some people ignore the label directions.  There are potential serious side effects from doing so.

2. Therefore we should remove these drugs from the market because some people don't read the label, or intentionally ignore it.

3. But what we should do is have people use a drug that also is worthless for flu, allergies and fever and which, if people also ignore the label on that one, has the very serious side effect of destroying your liver.

Yeah.  We should listen to this jackass.


How about this: Add something to the label that documents that such drugs are not useful for those common circumstances where people use them but they have no value, along with a strong warning about exceeding the recommended doses.

Naw, that's not nanny-state -- instead we should turn these into prescriptions so you are now forced to spend a metric crap-ton of money to get the Rx for them, plus the pharmacy can then rip you off on the price.

Here buddy, make good use of this:


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2016-06-18 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Personal Health , 1350 references
[Comments enabled]  

The often-heard comments when someone says they're eating HFLC include "your kidneys will explode", "Atkins was really bad for him (Mr. Atkins)", "You'll have a heart attack", "You can't be athletic doing that; you need carbs" and more.

I would like to put some perspective on this.  Yes, this is anecdote; it's a sample size of one with no double-blind, of course -- that is, my personal experience.

Some background: Somewhat over five years ago I essentially went hard-core Atkins-induction coupled with "Couch-to-5k."  At the time I was unable to run one half mile without stopping, climbing a few sets of stairs was work, even summer lawn mowing was a strenuous exercise -- while the heat was certainly not helpful, neither was exercise tolerance.  I was "nominally healthy" in that I was not diabetic, but my body mass had risen from about 155 in High School to right around 210, plus or minus a couple.  I had several times undertaken fairly severe exercise regimes, including hour-long daily stints on a stationary recumbent bike I purchased, in an attempt to lose weight, along with a low-fat, "eat plants" diet -- without success.  I could drop 10lbs without much trouble, but no more, I was ravenously hungry all the time, and as soon as I cut back on the exercise the weight came right back on and stayed.

I'm absolutely certain that I was insulin resistant even though my blood glucose was normal -- I'd get the "hangries" if I attempted to not eat in the morning immediately on waking, and was often hungry for something by mid-afternoon after eating a carb-laden (and low-fat) lunch.  If there was a bag full of M&Ms in front of me and I had one, the entire bag would be gone within a couple of hours.  The same for a tin full of cookies.  A loaf of home-made bread (I have a bread-maker) would be lucky to make two days; the first big, thick slice would get consumed and I'd want two more an hour later.

In short despite my outward metabolic signs being ok, but being overweight (not obese) I know exactly where I was headed -- for both obesity and diabetes.  I'm sure of it.

So in early 2011 I decided I'd had enough -- that the conventional wisdom was either wrong or I was simply going to be consigned due to bad genetics to get older, fatter, and sicker.  The latter is what we have all been sold and I was determined to not simply give up.

Since that was the consensus, I saw no harm in trying something else -- after all, the odds were that I would not make it worse, at least not quickly, and when it comes to things like heart attacks and strokes they take years to develop, weeks or months.

So I went full-on, zero-carb Atkins induction, bought a pair of Nike running shoes and a Garmin 305 with a heart rate strap to track my exercise.

I'm not going to tell you that this was an easy path, at least at first.  I modified the Couch-to-5k thing (you can look it up online) in only one way -- the very last segment of each work-out I ran as hard and fast I could.  At the start this was maybe an eighth to a quarter of a mile, but it would grow to a half-mile later.  Other than that I pretty-much followed the program.

I could not run a half-mile when I started.  Not even close.

I felt like I'd been hit by a bus every.... single... day.

But I kept with it, both on the food and running.  After the first two weeks I added back green vegetables, but otherwise ate zero carbohydrate -- and that included alcohol.  Instead of three times a week I tried for five, and got up at 0500 every day to do it because living in Florida it's hot, even in May.

In the first week, five pounds disappeared.  I knew this would happen and probably be (mostly) water.  The next week and pretty-much every week thereafter, however, another one or two came off.

About two months later I ran a full 3.1 miles for the first time, without slowing to a walk or stopping.  It was not easy, but I did it, and by now it was the middle of June.

Eight months later, roughly that Thanksgiving, I was down to about 160.

I looked at the Garmin stats.  I had lost 50 lbs, which is about 175,000 calories. Running is about 120 calories a mile, according to a heart-rate adjusted GPS machine, and I had run roughly 500 miles at that point, or 60,000 calories worth.

Only one third of the body mass I lost was due to exercise.  That's a numerical fact; the rest was lost due to changing what I ate.

I slowly lost about another 5 lbs; my body weight now fluctuates around 155, +/- 5, assuming I'm reasonably good.

And there it has stayed for the last five years -- whether I'm training for a half-marathon, the Wicked Triple (three races in two days of close to a marathon distance in total), hiking part of the AT, sitting on my ass enjoying a vacation or whatever else I might be doing.  My exertion levels have literally been all over the map, yet my body mass has not.

What has remained constant, more or less, is my adherence to the consumption of food things (and not consuming others!) that I have laid out many times -- you can read that list right here.

Now here's what's changed long-term when it comes to my person and my health that I haven't talked about much:

  • Since I was a child I have had horrid problems with seasonal allergies to the point of being nearly useless twice a year for a month or so.  No amount of medication, OTC or prescription, has ever successfully controlled this completely.  Benedryl works but knocks me flat on my ass, and anything containing pseudoephedrine makes me feel extremely uncomfortable -- I'm one of the people who just can't use any decongestant containing that substance.  I was basically forced to remain indoors, in an air-conditioned space, for two months out of the year and maintain a high-quality pollen filter in my car's airhandler -- or else.  I also avoided travel to woodsy and other flowery areas during the times they were in bloom for obvious reasons.  Slowly, over the last couple of years, my seasonal allergies irrespective of where I am in the country have almost completely disappeared.  They're not completely gone; I still suffer from some congestion for short periods of time, but it's much better than it was.  Last spring I hiked a piece of the AT through the spring bloom, complete with thousands of bees pollinating the flowers, and had exactly zero trouble.  Five years ago that would have been unthinkable.  This appears to be correlated with....

  • My general inflammation level has, I believe, dropped quite a bit.  I had always had "on and off" acne problems, even as an adult.  As a teen it was bad, but it never went completely away -- until I got rid of the carbs.  The same is true of skin issues; I always had them on and off, especially in the winter when the air is dry.  Again, completely gone the first winter and they have stayed gone since.  Gee, I wonder what's going on in my coronary arteries?  Betcha it's not bad things but no, I'm not paying a couple of grand to get CT+contrast scanned to find out for sure.  (The one exception: perfumes in laundry detergents will still "get" me, so I have to watch out for that.)
  • I have no adverse blood glucose reaction to sugar intake.  I have, a couple of times in the last year, "challenged" my body with heavy sugar intake just to see what happens; typically with a large dose of milk chocolate or heavily sugar-laden confections like donuts.  I've not been able to drive my blood glucose over 110 with such a challenge despite intentionally trying.  I don't know if I could actually drive my blood sugar to anywhere near 140 today (the upper boundary of what they call the "normal" reaction to such a test) if I literally sat and ate a bag of sugar.  Note that while I was never diabetic I'm very sure my metabolism was compromised.  For those who wonder if your metabolic systems can heal over time if you stop insulting them, the answer appears to be "Yes."

  • I don't like sugar any more.  Things with a lot of sugar in them taste like crap.  Raw white sugar now has a smell to it that I associate with being "medicinal" and is not at all pleasant.  It sort of smells like poison, in fact -- hmmmm.... maybe it is?

  • I have no "hangries" -- ever -- or carb-cravings.  I often have no desire to eat anything before roughly lunchtime; I'll get up in the morning and am simply not hungry.  This means that if I eat something around lunch, and then around dinner, I'm effectively fasting 18 hours out of every day.  It's not because I'm trying, it's because I'm not hungry.

  • If I do work out a lot my appetite goes up.  If I don't it goes down.  I don't have to think about it, count calories, make efforts to restrict my consumption of food or anything like that.  It's simply this: If I'm hungry I eat.  If I'm not I don't.  Oh, and since I'm not gorging myself on hangries my capacity for food has shrunk.  Yes, it appears my stomach is smaller, in that I get full faster -- and it empties slower too.  An interesting observation that I cannot correlate with fact, but I sure can with how I feel if I try to stuff myself for some reason.

  • My exercise tolerance has gone up massively.  The other day I worked on wrecking out part of my gazebo floor (it needs replaced) which involved using a Wonder Bar, saw and moving sand (via shovel and yard cart) that had accumulated under them and then mowed most of the back yard -- in 90ish degree weather with 85%+ humidity.  It was hotter than Hell, but other than needing to stop and get a drink a couple of times it wasn't all that bad.  I would have heat-stroked out trying this a few years ago -- literally.  Likewise I might go run a 5k tonight, and while the sun will be down it won't be any cooler.  Yes, it will be hotter than hell, but I'm not concerned about not being able to do it.  This I attribute to the exercise, not the diet.  But, with an extra 50lbs I suspect I wouldn't be able to move my additional mass irrespective of my cardio condition anywhere near as well as I can today.

  • I am far faster running now than I ever was -- including in High School!  I was never able to break the 9 minute mile barrier on a 3 mile run, with my "typical" time being around 30 minutes.  My PR now is 7:00 flat on a timed 5k race and 7:49 on a half-marathon.  This isn't a singular result either; my kid, who ran one season with the HS cross-country team, has half-way adopted my way of eating over the last six months -- and not only has her appearance improved she has also taken more than two minutes a mile from her time, breaking the 10 minute/mile threshold for the first time in the last couple of weeks.  Don't tell me you can't perform athletically on a low-carb diet -- that's a damned lie.

I'm not going to tell you this was all easy, because it wasn't up front.  Yes, carb-cravings are real.  A week or so back while in a group having a conversation that turned to food I remarked that I do not, as a rule, eat carbs -- my carb intake is for the most part beer, and only a couple a day maximum.  A nurse who was there proceeded to say that "Atkins causes kidney disease" and further that she "has cravings for carbs and thus needs them."  Both are false; first, Atkins is high fat, not high protein.  It is true that high protein diets can cause kidney problems but that's not Atkins; that's doing it wrong!  Second, meth causes cravings too, but that doesn't mean you need meth -- it means you're addicted to it!  Carbs are the same deal; when challenged as to the specific nutrients that you need that are in carbs, of course, she had no answer.  That would be because there aren't any; the amount of carbohydrate you actually require in your diet is zero.  I gave up; oh, she was complaining about having big snoring problems too (gee, I wondered, if you lost some weight what might happen to that........) This, however, is illustrative of the attitude of many in the so-called "health business"; their 4 hours of class at some point was not only insufficient most of what was in there is flat out wrong and even when taking this path might help alleviate a person problem they're experiencing they won't try it!

Here's my view, more than five years into this: I've seen exactly zero bad effects from adopting this lifestyle, and multiple good ones.  My indicators of metabolic health have improved, my exercise tolerance is up massively, I am more able to perform athletically today than I was when I was 17 despite being three times as old, I have zero glucose tolerance trouble evident when challenged, I am never "hangry", I do not crave carbs and in fact find things with sugar in them "too" sweet yet I count no calories or make other conscious attempt to control my food intake and my body mass is approximately what it was 35 years ago and hasn't moved more than a few pounds in either direction for the last five years.  The only exception was when I was in a relationship, eating far too many carbs (and knew it) and five more pounds went on -- literally as soon as I cut that crap out they disappeared within a couple of weeks.

Why would I change what I'm doing now, when for the last five years it has worked -- effortlessly -- to not only halt what was an obvious and visible (albeit slow) decrease my personal vitality and health that many would simply attribute to old age, but almost-completely reversed it -- and in many cases my health and physical abilities now exceed those of my teen years!

Yes, I'm a data set of one.

Now tell me why would you not run your own experiment.

I'm all ears.

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How does this sort of tripe wind up in print?

Aamodt is a neuroscientist, book author and former editor of a leading brain research journal. She also has become a prominent evangelist of the message that traditional diets just don't work and often leave the dieter worse off than before. And she's an enthusiastic proponent of mindful eating.

"I define it as eating with attention and joy, without judgment," Aamodt said in an interview. "That includes attention to hunger and fullness, to the experience of eating and to its effects on our bodies."


Look folks, there are people who have a mental disorder when it comes to food.  I accept this, because it is trivially shown to be true.  But the vast majority of people who are overweight are not sick in the head or suffering from some psychosis -- they've been actively misled as to what's going on and the media spurs this with its crap "reporting" such as this article.

Likewise, the "energy balance" folks (all of whom like to wag their finger and scold) are correct but intentionally misleading.  That is, it is absolutely true that since a pound of body mass is roughly 3000-3500 calories (there is some debate on exactly what the number is but this is close enough; within 20%) if you wish to lose weight you must consume fewer calories than your body burns.

There's no escaping that; it's math.  Isn't it funny, however, that these people never bother to continue their mathematical exercise?  We'll get to why not in a minute, so hold that thought.

There is, unfortunately, also no escaping the fact that running, one of the highest calorie-consuming exercises, only burns about 100-120 calories a mile -- more if you're very heavy (it takes more energy to move your fat ass) and less if you're not, but again, we're talking about a 20% tolerance here and for the most part the figure is about the same irrespective of other factors.

This, by the way, means that you must run approximately a marathon to lose a pound!

No Mildred, you cannot outrun your fork and anyone who tells you otherwise is completely full of crap.

Yes, we have an obesity epidemic; fully 40% of US women are obese along with 35% of men -- and even worse, one in five adolescents!  This is a ridiculous percentage and what's really awful is that those who are in this position are setting themselves up for utterly horrible, slow and painful ways to die -- first through amputations, then blindness and kidney disease, and finally heart attack and stroke, all after decades of avoidable suffering and restricted physical capability.

It seems that every couple of years someone else comes along with yet another crackpot theory on why it is that people get and stay fat -- and then both get sick and die as a result.  They all keep trying to make the case that it's not your fault in some form or fashion, using words like "easy" to describe their particular prescriptive answer, knowing full well that this sells books.

After all, if you told people it was their fault or would be hard how many of them would pay you for the book -- the speech -- or the "counseling"?

But all these theories are just that -- theories, and IMHO they're all full of crap when it comes to long-term success.

Here are some facts for you and they are trivially proved through nothing more than casual observation of the world around you and arithmetic you learned in the first and second grades:

  • Every organism in the animal kingdom has a regulatory mechanism in its body that is autonomous for controlling how much food said organism takes in.  Absent that since "food" generally tastes good to said organism all animals would continually fill their stomachs to their maximum capacity as often as possible, eschewing virtually anything else other than sex, until they all died of obesity-related disease.  Clearly this does not happen "in the wild" but it sure does when a creature's "natural" diet is disrupted.  Witness all the "fat cats" that eat packaged kibble, then compare the nutrients in said kibble with that in a mouse or bird. The prosecution rests, your (dis)Honor.

  • Since it requires 3,300 calories to gain or lose a pound as a human and there are 365 days in a year in order to regulate your body size within one pound per year over time you must manage to control your caloric intake and expenditure within 10 calories per day.  For some perspective that is less than 1/10th of an ounce of potato chips!  If you wish to count them accurately use Pringles (all chips the same size and mass) and you will find that to control your body mass that accurately through voluntary action would require that you keep your consumption accurate to within one potato chip daily.  Certainly you cannot do this irrespective of the form and type of food you consume through "mindful", that is, volitional conduct.  The accuracy required simply cannot be met.

  • Remember, however, that there are a lot of things that go on in your body that require maintenance at this sort of accuracy and none of them are voluntary.  Your blood pressure, glucose level, blood pH, uric acid, water content, potassium level, dissolved CO2 and oxygen saturation are just a few examples of literally hundreds.  Any of these parameters that go materially out of "normal" range will cause serious disease and in many cases instant death.  Yet your body knows how to regulate all of them, as does every other animal's body on the planet, and all of that regulation in every organism that is alive happens without a scintilla of conscious thought.

So what's actually going on?

Don't ask NBC news; they claim nobody knows:

"Numerous foundations, industries, professional societies, and governmental agencies have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to support basic science research in obesity, clinical trials and observational studies, development of new drugs and devices, and hospital and community programs to help stem the tide of the obesity epidemic," the journal's editors, Dr. Jody Zylke and Dr. Howard Bauchner, wrote in a commentary.

"The obesity epidemic in the United States is now 3 decades old, and huge investments have been made in research, clinical care, and development of various programs to counteract obesity. However, few data suggest the epidemic is diminishing," they added.

Did you all flunk basic organic chem, then biochem and simply ignore the monstrous body of evidence that has been accumulated on this problem?

There is one basic fact that has to be dealt with by anyone propounding on our obesity epidemic: 

Your body knows how to regulate its caloric intake in light of highly-variable energy expenditure and do so within 10 calories a day.  If it did not the species Homo Sapiens would have gone extinct centuries ago just as would any other species that could not regulate its caloric intake.

Therefore the question must be this and only this:

Why is that regulatory system not working, can a fat person restore it to normal function, and if so how?

I believe we know the answer to that question but admitting it means admitting that the medical and "nutrition" folks have been lying to overweight people for decades and, in fact, they know damn well they've been lying which means they should all be in prison for the outrageous harms they have inflicted on millions of Americans.

Let's start with history.  Homo Sapiens (that is, our specific species) has been on this planet for about 200,000 years.  Our direct lineage in that regard is the matter of some dispute, but what is not in dispute is that until about 12,000 years ago we had no industrial mode of food production whatsoever.  That is, for better than 90% of the species' time on this planet we ate only that which we could obtain without processing, other than perhaps rudimentary cooking.

The epidemic of heart disease, obesity and diabetes is a 20th century+ phenomena.  It therefore must be traced to something (or a group of somethings) that happened in that time frame.  Ancel Keys claimed it was dietary saturated fat that led to heart attacks and strokes.  He cherry-picked his data, however, which made his advocacy not a mistake but a lie, and a fairly easy one to prove too.

So would anyone care to guess where it began?

I'll help you. It began right here with a dramatic increase in use of a very dangerous substance.

About 20-30 years following that ramp in cigarette consumption, guess what happened?  Lots of heart attacks and strokes.  Do you think this was a function of "fat in the diet" or do you think this had something to do with per-capita cigarette consumption going from ~200 in 1912 to twenty times that rate by 1959?  When you go from an average of less than one cigarette a day per-person to close to a full pack a day what do you think is going to happen to heart disease and stroke rates, with about a 20 year lag?

That's exactly what did happen.  Duh.

Then there's Crisco and other related trans-fats.  They came on the market in the early 1900s too and were in fact sold as healthier than animal fats.  But we now know that transfats greatly increase the risk of heart disease, while the association with saturated animal fats in fact runs the other way -- among European diets the highest in saturated fat (the Mediterranean nations) have the lowest cardiovascular disease rates. 

Between smoking and transfats is the causal chain clear yet or do I need a bigger clue-by-4?

Now let's look at obesity, which began to spike in the 1980s.

Again, what changed?

Simple: The US Government played hell with its "war on fat" predicated on the lie told by Keys (among others) and told people to cut it out of their diets.  But there are only three foods at a macro level -- fats, carbohydrates and proteins.  If you remove fat from the diet you must increase one or both of the others.

What got increased?  Carbohydrates -- specifically, cheap, fast and highly-processed carbohydrates.

And what do we know about carbohydrates, especially fast, processed carbohydrates such as grains (e.g. breads, pastas, etc), sugars and similar?  They all produce a large insulin response in the body.

Oh, and if that's not enough carbohydrate consumption also increases systemic inflammation and "bad" cholesterol, which prompts cholesterol in the body, a necessary component of our metabolic system, to perform the job it is present to do -- that is, to encapsulate and attempt to repair said inflammation.  Blaming cholesterol for heart attacks (and trying to reduce it through chemicals) is like blaming it for the inflamed finger you have after sticking yourself with a thorn -- rather than removing the thorn!

Finally, with few exceptions these "foods" have only existed in our diet for the last few hundred to few thousand years -- an inconsequential period of time on the evolutionary time scale.

In other words there is no evidence that our bodies know how to process these carbohydrates without harm because we did not evolve in their presence and thus our genetic coding was not selected through evolution to favor said energy sources.  The same is true for vegetable-based oils (PUFAs), none of which have been ingested in material quantity by humans for more than 100 years.

You would have to eat a full bushel of corn to get a tablespoon of corn oil and utterly nobody would (ever) eat a bowl of cotton seeds!

Now let's look at what we know to be fact in the context of body mass regulation.

Hunger (the desire to eat) is largely mediated by leptin and the hypothalamus, a small structure in the brain.  This structure is responsible for regulating not only hunger but also body temperature, sleep, and thirst.  In short some of the most-essential regulatory functions are directly controlled by this part of the brain and still more are via other structures that it interacts with, mostly via and through hormones.  This has been known since modern medicine has existed.

Now here's the nasty piece of the puzzle nobody wants to talk about, but which I believe is key to the entire obesity issue:

Insulin is a leptin antagonist.

That is, quite simply:

The higher your insulin level the less active leptin is in signaling satiety.

Therefore insulin resistance is in fact a severe problem, even when it occurs at a level that is sub-clinical and does not result in an increased blood glucose level as long the body is able to produce enough insulin, and your cells are still able to respond, to hold blood glucose within normal limits.

The harm is due to the fact that irrespective of your ability to maintain a normal blood sugar that elevated insulin level still results, in every case, in a desire to eat more food.

That is the condition of an elevated insulin level tips the balance of the body's signalling and thus makes unconscious control of caloric intake within the required tolerance, given access to food in excess of metabolic requirements, virtually impossible.

This then leaves you with only voluntary caloric restriction (e.g. "dieting") as an option which we know you cannot maintain over the long term as the precision required cannot be met through conscious control.

Worse, the divergence between needs and desires is all in one direction -- overeating and if your "diet" is a low-fat one where the substitution is made with carbohydrates you make your desire to overeat worse.

This is why when you cease dieting you almost-invariably gain all the weight back plus more -- your "dieting" has in fact done more damage to the metabolic systems that control your desire to eat!

Again, that insulin is a leptin antagonist is not a theory it is a biochemical fact.

The only means by which one can resolve the problem at a biochemical level is to remove the leptin antagonist.

Achieving that requires lowering insulin levels, and that can only be safely done (without skyrocketing your blood glucose) by restricting carbohydrate intake, especially rapid-acting carbs such as sugars, grains and starches.

It is not a coincidence that this is a corrective action in that it coincides with removing "foods" from your diet that your body was never designed to process and in fact at no time in our evolutionary history did such "foods" exist.  Those who make claims to the contrary that the intake of such "foods" in any quantity whatsoever are "safe" have the burden of proof to show how the body can handle such intake without any of the normal biochemical processes going out of the normal range.

The body of evidence found in the form of rampant obesity and insulin resistance, all of which exactly correlates with the "war on fat" by medical "authorities" and substitution of fast-acting carbohydrates in its place, strongly suggests that these foods are not safe and cannot be made safe; they can only be avoided or the consequences of consuming them accepted exactly as the correlation with smoking and transfasts correlated exactly with the rise in heart disease with the expected 20-30 year lag!

"Mindful eating" will not change your insulin levels nor improve your body's leptin signalling.

Getting the pasta, potatoes, rice, sugars and grains out of your diet, on the other hand, will. If you want the full list read this article.

As a "side effect" of following same, if you actually do it, I predict that your pants will fall off.

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