Friday, April 16, 2010

Bullshit... The Diet Edition!

Has anyone ever watched that TV show on Showtime? I loved that show! .
I have only watched it a few times but it's always an interesting show. If you've never watched it before, the title kind of explains it all: it "debunks" a lot of stuff with a pretty blunt knife (What would you expect from a show with that kind of title? It's a crying-ass shame that they normally stick to intangible stuff like religion, politics and other divisive issues because if they knew anything about fitness and strength training, they could have a major field day!

There's more than enough bovine excrement to go around with all things related to health, strength training, and general fitness. What's annoying about so much of this is how long it persists. Seriously, ever notice how the same, bad ideas just won't disappear, no matter how much we try to disprove it? So, I'm going to take this opportunity to go through, in no particular order, some of the biggest bullshit out there, as I see it, focuing on what we put in our mouths.

1. LOW FAT IS BULLSHIT! This is a pretty easy one to start with and it's timely because I'm trying to help someone lose some weight. Naturally, if you want to lose fat, you're probably smart to drop some (I didn't say all) of the extra fat out of your diet. Food makers know this and that's when they came up with low-fat food-in-a-box. Yeah, it's low fat but most of the time, it's also loaded with sugar to compensate for lack of taste by removing the fat. So, the notion that you'll lose weight eating this stuff is BULLSHIT! The truth is, you're probably better off eating a full-fat original over the over-sugared, low-fat variant (yogurt comes to mind).

2. LOW CARB VS. LOW CALORIE ARGUMENT IS BULLSHIT! This one recently occurred to me as I was reading a medical and science-laden article about how we get fat, specifically the different chemical reactions and hormones that provoke it. I'll have to re-read it if I want to actually retain even half of what I read (it was that technical!) but the second-to-last paragraph really stuck out in my head.

This complicated article must have detailed at least three chemical pathways for the body to store fat. This paragraph in question mentioned how futile the quest to develop a pill that could short-circuit all of these biological mechanisms and keep an over-eater from gaining weight. That made me think about fat gain differently, and in light of this article, I realized why the pointless arguing about low carb vs. low cal is BULLSHIT. There are just too many ways for the body to gain weight for one narrow-minded focus on diet to work.

What we have to keep in mind is that our body was designed to love and adore fat. Fat storage allowed us to survive famines, winters, or any other long periods without food. So, our bodies developed all these lovely ways to store fat. Now, we're capable of manipulating our environment to supply us with all the food we want. Trouble is, our body hasn't changed from the old days and what we're left with is a body that will seek out any way possible to store fat. It's up to us to keep that fat gain in check by not pretending that we're not going to gain weight because we eat 3500 calories of mostly low-carb foods... or by eating 2000 calories of refined sugars and carbohydrates.

3. LOW GI IS (partially) BULLSHIT! Or, at least the way that they're treating it like a magic bullet for weight loss, that is. The Glycemic Index has become the latest, greatest thing in weight control and diabetes prevention. In case you're not familiar with what it is, I'll give a brief run-down. Any foods that rapidly spike your blood sugar aren't good for you. It provokes massive dumps of insulin into your bloodstream, which is really bad for your pancreas and keeping a healthy weight (just to name a few). So, Glycemic Index (GI) measures how fast foods spike blood sugar. In other words, it's kind of like slamming your foot on the gas pedal, going from 35 mph to 85 mph.

The problem is there's way more to keeping a healthy body weight than just controlling how fast blood sugar rises. The responsible dietitians will tell you that Glycemic LOAD is just as important as GI. Sure, keeping your blood sugar from rapidly spiking is a good thing but if you still take in a lot of food that will eventually end up as blood sugar, you're still going to run into problems.

This is no joke: I read somewhere (I wish I could remember where too!) that a normal, Americanized burrito could be healthy because the beans and the cheese (which have very low GI) counteracted the higher-GI contents of the burrito! What BULLSHIT! Going back to our car analogy, this would be like a gradual climb from 35 mph to 85 mph. Sure, you're not doing rapid acceleration but you're still not doing anything good for your gas mileage driving so fast!

I'm not going to lie to anyone and say that eating right is simple. I wish it could be as easy as giving you a list of good stuff to eat and a list of bad stuff to stay away from along with only one or two rules and send you on your merry way. It's just not that simple though. Sometimes, in our effort to make things as simple as possible, we go overboard and end up with, well, BULLSHIT. Take a look at everything I mentioned above as being BS: each one has a little grain of truth to it. The trouble is that someone took it and ran with it, treating it like the only thing that mattered when it came to eating healthy. Sure, proper eating is confusing but being fat and unhealthy hurts way more than confusion ever did.


Todd said...

Yeah I'm so sick of all the crooks trying to sell people bogus science to lose weight, and also the ones selling foods that keep people fat. I have a family member that is putting on a lot of weight but I don't live with her so I don't know what she is eating. It really bums me out because she's getting older and I know there will be health problems due to her weight. All the bullshit out there isn't just harmless lies, it is taking lives. Really pisses me off.

Jeremy Elder said...

This is a great post! I couldn't agree with you more.

I have a super fast metabolism and eat a lot of healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.). People freak like I am going to kill myself, while the chow down on their Coke and 100 calorie pack of Oreos. That is BS. People have been tricked into thinking fat is the culprit (not saying that there aren't bad fats), but it is really sugar and processed foods - something that all "diet" foods have loads of.

Dread said...

Great read, thanks for posting this.

Riles said...

Great Post! If people would just focus on whole foods/home made meals like what our great-grandparents ate and stopped worrying about carbs, fats, calories, we would see a lot(and I mean A LOT) less physical degeneration and diseases of civilization today.