I want to try and have more communications on here with an overview of my take on the evidence out there for common practices. I’ve only really done one of these before and it is a look at the evidence for osteopathy. Our greatest achievement as human beings is to be able to test ideas and then form better ideas based on the evidence. It’s quite simple really, but, at the same time it’s denied by most of us. Just look at religion, it’s a pervasive and destructive view of the world backed up by an entire lack of evidence and it has such a hold on humans, we just want to believe the easy stuff and ignore the realities of what we know.
You would think that the subject of dieting be straight forward. It’s a very basic law of physics [thermodynamics]. For a subject to use energy the energy must be there in the first place. The human body synthesises food to make energy. If there is excess energy the human body stores this as fat. It really is that simple. To make the body use fat you have to reduce your energy intake and force the body to use its stores of energy. Essentially:
Make energy out greater than energy in.
This should be the end of the communication. But there are some pervasive ideas I wish to contend. To maintain a mass loss you have to change your overall behaviour.
It’s My Genes
Yes, it is your genes and it is “programed” into you. That’s why it’s so hard to do. It’s not an excuse. No, you do not have a “hormone” problem. You have an eating problem. It is IMPOSSIBLE to get fat by eating fewer calories than you need to maintain your body. The thinner you are the less food you require to maintain your body. The fatter you are the more food you need to maintain your body. It’s not a lot though. Look up your Basel Metabolic rate, mine is below. It’s surprising how little energy we need to stay alive.
Diets DO NOT work
Temporarily restricting the foods you eat with the desire to lose mass will always result in later mass gain. You might see a mass loss and you might be really happy about it. However, ultimately you need to change your behaviours permanently. You have to develop your habits to find food that suits you and fits into a calorie controlled diet. You have to be HAPPY with what you eat and how much you exercise. This is REALLY hard to do. This is why Weightwatchers doesn’t work. You lose the mass and feel the peer pressure but ultimately you end up putting the mass back on because you haven’t changed your behaviours overall.
A lot of diets, where you count points or use replacement foods, are just calorie control mechanisms. You are too lazy to understand how to add up calories and so you rely on a crappy points system and buy into foods branded with your particular regime. You might wander the supermarket with a booklet giving you permission to buy certain foods or not. This is not a good way to live. You must change your habits entirely.
Food and kcalories
Ever wondered why in some diets you are allowed unlimited amounts of some vegetables? It’s because they contain so few calories compared to other foods that you can’t eat enough to survive or if you could you’d hate it. Here’s an idea of calorie content:
- Water – 0
- Pre-cut slice of bread – 100
- Apple – 80
- Chocolate bar 200-400
- Café Latte – 120 or more
- Can coke – 140
- Glass (small) red wine – 120
- Bottle beer – 150
- Shot spirit – 50
- Cookie from supermarket – 300
- Donut – 250
- Crisps (30g) – 180
- Carrots (100g) – 40
- Chicken breast – 200
- Richmond Thick Sausage (grilled) – 130
- Rice (100g) – 120
- Pasta (100g uncooked) – 370
- Potato (100g) – 80
- Granola / muesli (100g) – 500
- Cornflakes (100g) – 380
- Special K – (100g) – 375
- 12″ thin pepperoni pizza (supermarket frozen) – 900
- Dominos lg reg crust pepperoni passion pizza – 3200
The surprises for me when I started looking into this were:
Pasta and all wheat products are really efficient in terms of food mass to calories. Other wheat products are all bad, essentially anything cooked with flour: cakes, biscuits all types of bread are all heavy with energy, flat breads are the worst, a large pitta could be about 300kcal. They are the baddies. If you want to lose mass really restrict these items. Cook with alternatives. Potato is a good this to use but you have to make sure you cook it sensibly. Roast potatoes are lovely because of their texture and because they are soaked in fat.
Beer and wine are pretty bad. They don’t have to label bottles with calorie information so it’s hard to tell. I tend to drink a spirit and diet coke. Fortunately for me I’m not that fussed about beer.
Café Latte is a surprising one here. Coffee shops tend to use semi-skimmed milk but that’s still quite calorific. Ask for a skinny-latte or better still just have an Americano with semi-skimmed milk. A teaspoon of sugar is about 30kcal. Use sweeteners to help control the overall calories. It’s very surprising how quickly you reach 2000kcal a day just with a normal routine.
Breakfast cereals contain CEREAL and so are high in energy content. Muesli and granola are the worst [peddled as healthy by the advertising industry] because they have loads of wheat and other cereals. Have you ever measured a “serving” of 30g of cereal. It’s depressing. The industry might think it’s a serving and call it such but it’s not what most people would call a breakfast. The little multipack boxes are 25g.
The most amusing thing about breakfasts (apart from all the sugar and chocolate that are added to encourage kids to eat a healthy cereal based breakfast) is that Special K has (effectively) the same energy content as normal cornflakes. This STILL makes me chuckle whenever I see adverts for it!
Low fat. High fat. People seemed programed to think that if they eat fat they will get fat and the way to lose mass is to cut out fat. Yes, this will help as fat in foods is energy-efficient. However, food manufacturers replace the fat with SUGAR! Start looking at the energy content of all foods as you buy them, you might be surprised. Choose foods you enjoy but have lower energy content. It really is:
Energy in, energy out.
It hurts and requires effort. Losing mass is really hard. If you watch something like “Biggest Loser” on TV you see people losing mass really fast. Why? because they eat sensible amounts and work out like crazy in the gym. More importantly they learn to enjoy the new control they have over their lives. They like the power they feel. I hope they are able to maintain this loss once they have left the ranch. It’s very hard to keep these changes going and all too easy to think that one biscuit doesn’t matter.
Do you know someone who
can eat what they want and not put on mass
I do. Thing is, it’s bullshit. Skinny people tend to eat less or exercise more. It’s that simple.
Do not exist, it’s bullshit. Just eat a sensible varied diet.
Bullshit. They may help a little bit but you’d do better to spend your money on vegetables and fruit. We love a quick fix and they DON’T exist.
Change your entire behaviour and develop a new approach to life or forever life with a poor relationship to food.
More information is available everywhere on the planet. Read around the subject but don’t buy into schemes or special diets. This article on Science Based Medicine is a good start. Do not trust health GURUS, do not read diet books. It really is quite simple really:
energy in, energy out
The Gaia View
Being overweight is morally reprehensible given that we (as a species) don’t feed all our own kind. It’s a disgrace that I can enter six massive shops within five miles of my house and pretty much buy anything I want to eat while there are 870 MILLION under-nourished people living in this world. This does not count those for whom finding food is their primary concern.
Once again I have used the term MASS in this communication. It’s because I understand physics.
Early on in this communication I used the phrase “my take on the evidence”. I realise after writing this that the phrase is rubbish. The evidence shows what the evidence shows. This is more my generalisation of the evidence for you, my readers. There may be some discussion in “science” about some issues and that generally occurs where the evidence seems conflicting. I am not talking about the “debate” about global climate change or evolution as these are pretty much as settled as they can be. There is no debate. Just the imaginings of the deluded few who see these things as attacks on their beliefs. Which is what they are. Your beliefs do not follow the evidence, hence the term belief and so you have to change your beliefs, which is really hard. It is much easier to deny the evidence that to change your beliefs. Anyway, this communication has been my interpretation of the evidence for you.