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Dietary Adventures part 4: Getting unfat

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Just to recap part two since it was almost two months ago, we talked about how people get fat. The process is largely driven by the hormone insulin. When we spike blood sugar, insulin is released, some of the glucose is burned by our bodily tissues, any excess is stored. Spike glucose really high too often and congratulations, you're obese.

So what do we do about it? The answer is really simple and should be pretty obvious: stop spiking blood glucose. It's very hard to lose weight and tap into fat stores if every time you eat your body is trying to store more fat. It's even harder if we've become insulin resistant so every time we eat, we're storing most of the glucose as fat and then we're hungry two hours later.

So the key to controlling glucose? Avoid foods that spike it. The big offenders are sugar (obviously), wheat products including whole grains and starches such as potatoes (less obvious). These things have a big impact on blood sugar, and if you're already obese, your ability to tolerate them without storing more fat is even less than someone like Jiro who will never be obese.

Instead, your diet should be based on things like meat, vegetables, some fruit (too much will also spike glucose), nuts, seeds, etc. Meat and other such sources of fat and protein are pretty good. They have a much lower effect on glucose and they keep you feeling full longer. Same with vegetables though they aren't quite as satiating as something high in protein and fat. And keep in mind, things like saturated fat in meat are actually good for you (something I hope to address in a future post), so load up.

Since that was pretty short I'll post a link to this blog post as well. If you haven't gotten the idea already, I like Fat Head and Tom Naughton is a pretty cool guy. Go watch it.

But this most recent post of his is a good run down of why calories in minus calories out doesn't work, using his dogs as unexpected test subjects. They got both dogs from the same breeder at the same time. The dogs are the same age, started with only a couple of pounds difference in weight, and (here's the key point here) eat the same amount of food everyday. But one of them is now 18 pounds heavier several months later.

Now calories in minus calories out would tell us this dog must be less active and isn't burning as much of that food (again, they eat the same amount). According to him though, the larger dog is actually more active than the other. If it's burning more calories but eating the same amount, conventional wisdom tells us this is impossible.

I figured I'd share that since it's an interesting real world (even if totally anecdotal) example of the idea that the conventional wisdom doesn't work. If you're trying to lose weight by cutting calories and exercising more and it's not working as fast as it should be, if it's working at all, there's probably more going on than you realize.

Next time, I plan on offering up some useful tips for eating out, including at fast food restaurants, since real world advice that's easy to follow is pretty cool. Stay tuned.
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