Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thought for Food

It’s been a year since I started following the Slow Carb Diet from Tim Ferriss' The Four Hour Body.  I’m still lighter than I was in high school and wondering why it took me 41 years to figure this out.  Friends have sent me links to books and movies that, for the most part, align with Slow Carb, Glycemic Index and Paleo thought.  If you're looking for some diet info, here's your summer reading/watching list!

The next book to come along was the book Wheat Belly (http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/).  Dr. William Davis explains how the wheat we consume now is not the same plant our grandparent’s ate and how elimination of wheat from one’s diet causes a significant health increase. 
Next was the movie Fat Head, which is a response to Supersize Me.  The latter is about a vegetarian who eats at McDonalds for a month and gains weight.  Fat Head is about a regular guy who also eats at McDonalds for a month while limiting carbohydrate intake and loses weight while improving his cholesterol levels.

Both Fat Head and Wheat Belly assert that starchy foods like potatoes, rice and breads are metabolized just like table sugar.  I was one of the people who thought that whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk was a healthful way to start the day.  I’ve since learned that I was biochemically ensuring that I would store fat no matter what I did or ate.  It’s a function of the glycemic index.  The general assertion is that our ability to process a high-carb diet has not evolved as fast as our ability to create it, hence the Paleo diet.

For years I wondered why calorie counting failed and eating whole grains wasn’t doing the trick.  Apparently birds are the only creatures on the planet well suited for consuming large amounts of grain.  I miss eating pasta and other wheat products on a regular basis, but I’ve become conditioned to looking forward to the one-day-a-week food orgy where I eat anything I want.  Re-setting the clock and quieting the beast is an important part of the diet.

Yet another friend told me that he lost 45 pounds on a plant-based diet after watching Forks Over Knives.  This documentary says that meat consumption causes cancer.  I can see the weight loss coming from the fact that refined grains are out of the picture too.  I’m not going to take the vegan plunge anytime soon, but I do eat more beans and greens than before.  A decent steak, plate of fajitas or chicken stir-fry is one of the few meals I look forward to. 

On an interesting note, I once tried vegetarian hamburger patties.  They’re not all that bad, but it’s not sirloin.  I had an elevated cholesterol level most likely caused by eating egg yolks because I had become too busy/lazy to boil ahead of time and eat only the whites.  I was downing about 6-8 eggs worth of omletes per day!  For about a month I lived on vegetarian meat substitute products.  It’s not bad, but damn sure not the real thing.  The result?  I gained weight even though I was working out regularly and otherwise maintaining the slow carb regimen.  The culprit was wheat gluten that was present in all of the vegetarian junk.  I went back to lean meat and chicken and the weight went away.  Once the egg yolks were gone the cholesterol got back in line.

There’s no denying that your genes define how you metabolize food, but there’s also no doubt that our average high carb and sugar diets are the cause of mass obesity.  The most common response to the Slow Carb diet is “I can’t go without my [insert processed wheat product here].”  Somehow we’ve developed a belief that each meal should be entertaining.    That was the toughtest part for me to master, because it's like breaking addiction.  It’s a matter of dealing with instant gratification that the "cheat day" takes care of. 
It all boils down to a diet centered around green vegetables and lean meats, reasonable exercise and completely pulling out the stops once a week.  There's nothing like eating a half-gallon of ice cream (using cookies as spoons) to lose weight.  That makes up for every craving supressed through the entire week. I'm convinced there's a perfect lifelong diet out there for everyone alive and I've finally settled on mine.