Friday, May 25, 2012

"Oh, by the way..."

I was talking to a friend just now on the phone.  As the conversation was winding down I casually mentioned that I solved the cause of the obesity epidemic.  The conversation went something like this:

"Oh, by the way I figured out what was causing the obesity epidemic."

(Trying to sound interested) "Did you?"

"Yeah, I wrote about it on my blog.  I've lost over 20 lbs. now.  I'm not even on a diet or anything."

(Trying to sound encouraging) "Well that's great. Charlie, I may lose you because I'm on an elevator right now. So I'll talk to you later."

"Okay, I'll talk to you later."

According to the CDC, the medical costs of obesity is estimated to be around $150 billion this year.  A tiny fraction of that would allow me to retire for life.  But the reality is that I am not a scientist or a doctor.  As of right now there have been almost 1400 page views of my article titled "Obesity: My Unexpected Final Conclusion".  It is by far the most viewed article on my blog and the most important thing I have ever written or possibly ever will write.

However, we live in a world of converging ideas where even unbelievably complex things like calculus and the telephone were simultaneously invented at virtually the same time.  It is HIGHLY doubtful that I am the first person to discover that the obesity epidemic was caused by ad libitum eating and can be corrected by discrete meals.  My problem is that if someone else discovered it before me they weren't making it easy to find that information.  I'm not exactly sure how to get this message out more effectively, either.

You would think that people would be clamoring to get a hold of the information which could fix their weight issue and help them have a real shot at improving their health for the long term.  The reality is that people are shockingly indifferent.  The subject of obesity is like the little boy who cried wolf so much that now nobody is paying attention when the real wolf shows up.

I'll keep trying to get the message out, but this is going to take much more time than I thought it would.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Calorie Misinformation

Think about this.  Theoretically, is it possible to have lots of money in your bank account but die broke because you had no access to it?  Is it possible to die of thirst surrounded by an ocean of water?  Is it possible to suffocate on a planet surrounded by breathable air?  Could it be possible to die of starvation in a grocery store full of food?

The idea that fat loss is ONLY about calories is not correct.  Insulin levels must be lowered.  If your body has no access to fat stores, then you can starve AND be fat.  You must allow your insulin levels to lower.

Insulin has an antilipolytic effect.  It prevents fat from being accessed as fuel and forces the body to use carbohydrates and proteins.  If someone's body tends to release too much insulin when stimulated by food, then they will have more difficulty burning fat than another person whose body releases less insulin from the same meal.

It stands to reason that the insulin response to food is adapted over time.  Just like a bodybuilder increases the size and strength of a muscle through training, it seems reasonable that the insulin response to food may be adapted over time to excessive work.  In order to reduce that insulin response it may take time and plenty of skipped meals.

The big question is "Will the insulin response attenuate over time with occasional large meals or are frequent small meals necessary?"  From my own personal experience I found that weight loss is frustrating and unpleasant with frequent small meals.  Also, there are many examples of people who eat infrequent large meals and do not suffer from obesity.  Check out JiGsAwMoFo's videos on Youtube.

Reversing obesity is about burning fat and that requires access to the stored fat.  Insulin prevents that access through its antilipolytic effect (regardless of calories consumed).  Reducing insulin levels is REQUIRED to burn body fat.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Calorie Control Without Counting Calories

How many calories is too many?

If I eat a meal of 5000 calories, will I get fat?

If I eat a meal of 500 calories, will I lose weight?

My doctor told me that we gain weight if we consume more calories than we burn.  At first it sounds kind of reasonable.  But here is why that is confusing:

First a 400 pound man eats a meal that has 1000 calories and it took 15 minutes to eat it.  Did he just gain weight?  Of course!

But then 6 hours later did he still gain weight from that meal?  Possibly, but not as much as he did in the first 15 minutes.

Now 24 hours later after eating the original meal, did he still gain weight?  No, he has probably lost weight by now.

But what if he ate 2000 calories in a meal?  Or 3000?  Or 4000?  He can still lose weight after a HUGE meal as long as he gives it enough time before he eats again.  Weight loss depends on time for calories consumed.  The more calories you consume, the more time is required to lose weight.

My doctor was quick to point to calories, but completely ignored the time aspect of weight loss.  Why are so many people hung up on portion sizes or calorie counts?  It doesn't matter how big the portion or the amount of calories if you are not taking the TIME to burn them off.  So portions and calories only become too big or too small depending on the time taken AFTER EATING THEM.

If one feels like eating a big meal, no problem.  Afterward just give yourself plenty of time to digest it.  It is probably more helpful (and easier) to keep track of the time since your last meal rather than the meal's calories.  Your scale can be helpful for measuring your results and then you could adjust your after-meal time accordingly.

I found it is MUCH easier to hold off on eating and then eat foods I enjoy and can eat until I am satisfied.  The alternative is small, unsatisfying portions of foods I can marginally tolerate.  Where has this option been all of my life and why hasn't this been better explained to people?

What Did I Eat Last Night?

It had been approximately 51 hours since my last meal.  I felt I could hold out longer, but after a trip to the store for groceries I began to succumb.  Surrounded by food and having to think about meals triggered some strong hunger in me.  But I had earned that hunger.

I decided to go to McDonalds and here is what I ate:

1 Bacon Angus Cheeseburger
1 Medium French Fries
1 Medium Chocolate Shake
1 Chipotle BBQ Sauce Packet
3 Ketchup Pakets

And when I got home a few minutes later I ate:

2 Store Bought Cookies
12 or 16 oz of Dr. Pepper

My estimate of calories from that meal is 2500.  That is a day's worth of calories for a lot of people.  I ate that in a single meal!  Normally I do not get a chocolate shake with my burger and fries.  That was an indulgence.  I usually just get a soft drink...usually Coke.  Eating cookies as a dessert is something I might have done an hour or two after eating the burger and fries, but not usually within the same meal time frame.

As I write this, that meal was about 9 hours ago.  I haven't eaten since then.  I'm not sure how long I will go before eating again.  That meal still feels like it is being digested, so I'll be satisfied for a while.  All of that sugar, fat, and protein is very satiating.  But there was a problem.  It sapped my energy.

After I ate that meal I felt drained.  I just wanted to relax and rest.  It could have been the type of food that I ate, but I have to experiment a bit to find out.  Other types of food may affect me in a different way.  I'll play around with it a bit and see if I notice anything.  For me, that "drained" feeling is usually gone after about 12 hours.

51 hours is an unusually long time to go between meals for me, but I have fasted for as long as 7 days in the past.  The difference now is that I know better what to do after a fast to prevent gaining all that weight back.  I do not think going 51 hours or more is necessary or should even be a goal.  It depends on how you feel after you eat.  Although 51 hours is the longest I've gone so far, I have also gone as short as 9 hours between meals since I started this a couple weeks ago.

My meal sizes and compositions also vary.  They all include protein, fats, and carbohydrates but the ratios are not consistent.  I like Jon Gabriel's advice on adding "live" food and protein to a meal.  By "live" food I think he is saying raw fruits and raw vegetables.  He also recommends adding something with omega 3, but I think that is not good advice (since I am a PUFAphobe).

Since I started eating less often, I feel like I am starting to become much more discerning about food.  It doesn't seem to be enough to just eat.  It seems I am better able to determine which foods are affecting me in what way.  I don't want to blow my treasured appetite on impoverished meals.  I think I understand why the French are enjoying their paradox.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What Diets Do Doctors Advise To Lose Weight?

Here are some real examples of advice from doctors for how to lose weight.

1.  Count calories.  Old advice that has PROVEN itself to be ineffective at stopping the obesity epidemic.

2.  Count carbohydrates. Correct about the problem of insulin.  Incorrect about the solution (unless you think eating cheeseburgers without fries, the bun, or a shake/soft drink is going to be popular).

3.  Eat frequent small meals every day.  So scientists figured we evolved this ability to store fat to be able to go for periods of time without food...then we have doctors telling us to eat more often?  The power of placebo can be astonishing...for some.  No surprise this is not catching on.

4.  Low fat diet.  A very unsatisfying diet.  It was from eating a low fat diet that I discovered the appetite is not satisfied by simply filling up your stomach.  It also did not explain why there was suddenly an obesity epidemic.  It also did not help me lose weight.

5.  Vegetarian/vegan diet.  This is a diet for people who have an ethical problem with eating meat/animal products.  I don't feel there is anything wrong with eating this diet for that reason.  But vegetarians and vegans can certainly be overweight, so this is not the cure for obesity.  A person can still lose weight on a vegetarian/vegan diet if they allow themselves to eat until satisfied (oil, nuts, avocados and all) then give themselves many hours before eating again.

6.  Raw vegan/fruitarian diet.  This is a more extreme vegan diet for someone who wants to be hardcore.  It is clearly a fringe diet and is not going to appeal to most people.

The bottom line is that food prevents us from burning body fat.  Body fat is only burned between meals REGARDLESS of what foods you eat and only when insulin levels drop low enough.  Reducing insulin levels takes time after any meal.  PERIOD!

Where are the doctors explaining that?  Why aren't the doctors explaining that?  Until that is explained to people, we will continue to have an obesity epidemic and there will continue to be confusion about how to lose weight.

Insulin Prevents Fat Burning

Although insulin is known as the fat storage hormone, the most important aspect to understand about insulin for the purposes of obesity is that it prevents fat burning.  It does not matter that you spike your insulin after eating a meal.  What matters is that you allow the insulin level to drop enough to be burning fat again.  This is how body fat is regulated.

It is extremely clear that spiking insulin does not cause obesity.  There are billions of high carbohydrate eaters in  the world who maintain lean body mass eating lots of rice.  But to hammer home the point that big meals do NOT cause obesity, look up Takeru Kobayashi.  Kobayashi is a competitive eater and holds records in consuming hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and other foods.  He also sports a lean body with six-pack abs.

Kobayashi even has a record of eating 97 Krystal burgers.  That is 13.871 lbs of burgers and 12,610 calories.  Try eating 12,610 calories in a day.  It is a difficult thing to do for most of us.  He did this in one MEAL.  This makes it Krystal clear that eating large meals does not cause obesity.

When your insulin level is high, you do not burn fat.  You burn fat after your insulin level is lowered.  That takes time after a meal.  The longer the time, the more fat will be burned.  Eating low calories may keep the spike down, but can be unsatisfying and cause cravings and binges because it is an unnatural way to eat.  Normally a person sits down to eat a meal and eats until they are satisfied.  No calorie counting.

It would be nice to find some magical foods that are satisfying and bypass this insulin spike phenomena, but they don't exist.  Pure fat does not cause insulin spikes, but I found it causes low blood sugar for me.  It is also not a satisfying food on its own.  The search for such magical foods that do not inhibit fat burning continues to be a fascination for people.  But they don't exist.

If people eat until they are satisfied, then why fight that?  That is how people eat.  The problem only arises when people eat their next meal due to the wrong signal.  They mistake hunger for an empty stomach and eat again too soon.  Takeru Kobayashi would not make that mistake.  He trains by drinking large quantities of water (to keep the stomach stretched) and not eating for days at a time.

If a person wants to eat unsatisfying foods and/or unsatisfying quantities, then such ascetics will hopefully find those who appreciate their pursuit of martyrdom.  But most obese people do not have such aspirations.  A simple understanding of the need to give a good break between meals is all I needed to understand.  This allows insulin and other hormones to return to normal.  It can even be a quick solution if one wants it to be.