July 21st, 2012

More about dieting

I’ve noticed whenever I post a dieting thread I get quite a few commenters saying that the Gary Taubes diet worked for them.

I think that’s great if it does. But I’ve posted at length on my own bad experiences with various versions of that sort of approach. In summary, I felt awful, and I didn’t lose weight either.

So the diet is most definitely not for everyone. What’s more, I don’t see any evidence that in the long run it’s any more successful than any other diet in keeping weight off. There is no doubt that there are people for whom it works quite well, but no more than for any other diet—meaning there are not a whole lot, in the long run, compared to the numbers who try it.

This is no special condemnation of Taubes or Atkins or any other low-carb diet, it’s just in the nature of dieting itself. I’m curious, though, what you Taubes-advocates (you know who you are!) think of this article and this one. Let me make it clear that I’m not trying to talk you out of your diet. If it’s successful for you, that’s great.

Oh, and I’m not really fat. It’s just that same old 15 pounds I’d like to lose.

53 Responses to “More about dieting”

  1. Kurt Says:

    Although I’m one of the people who brings up Taubes from time to time, I’m actually someone who learns from the Taubes approach, but I actually follow something more akin to the Nourishing Traditions approach, which isn’t so much a diet as a lifestyle change or a paradigm-shift with respect to how one thinks about food. The emphasis is on whole foods, prepared in traditional ways. Sally Fallon’s approach emphasizes the importance of high-quality fats in the diet and encourages the avoidance of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, etc). It’s not opposed to grains, but emphasizes that they should be soaked, sprouted or soured (fermented) prior to use to neutralize or reduce anti-nutrients. It also emphasizes the importance of cultured and fermented foods–from yogurt and kefir to traditionally-fermented vegetables and sauces–in the diet, as well as bone broths as a source of minerals and gelatin. You can learn more by going to the website for the Weston A. Price Foundation. As I mentioned in one of my recent comments, I’m not low-carb, but “reduced carb” (which I’m sure neither Taubes nor Atkins would consider a legitimate category), and I don’t think I could ever follow the full-fledged Taubes approach unless I had a specific reason for doing so, and only then for a specifically-limited period of time.

    I feel like the Fallon book is a great resource, but I don’t closely follow all its recommendations yet. Fortunately, there are a lot of websites and blogs maintained by folks who follow a Fallon-style approach to food, which provide tips, guidance, recipes, and just general advice. I also learn a lot from other sources with similar approaches, and Taubes is one of those, as are the Paleo and Primal diet people (see, for instance, the website Mark’s Daily Apple). Another great resource is the website Whole Health Source which is maintained by a researcher who is interested in a variety of topics related to “ancestral nutrition and health.”

  2. Curtis Says:

    Good stuff there, Kurt.

    I’m not interested in better dieting. I’m interested in better snacking, better drinking, better eating of the fat of the prime (yeah boyyyy) and better everything.

    Okay.

    I do think there’s something good related to digestion with the kefir and stuff.You can’t neglect the intestines, the seat of emotion.

  3. Occam's Beard Says:

    I’ve taken Taubes’ lesson to heart, and am writing a book, “The Guzzle Scotch like a Fish Diet.” The problem is that people eat too much food. Restrict those empty calories from food, and replace them with single malt Scotch for all meals. Think about it: when is the last time you saw a down-and-outer who was overweight? Learn their weight loss secrets for only $29.95.

    But wait, there’s more! Send in your order now and receive Free! Free! Free! an autographed photo of me face down on the bathroom floor holding on for dear life, a $9.95 value!

    Hurry! Operators are standing by!

  4. Curtis Says:

    And the other thing is tramps have a full head of hair. Ever riddle that. How is that the corporate boardrooms are full of bald men racing to the bathroom to explode while the tramp shakes his shaggy mane and has a decent bowel movement.

  5. Occam's Beard Says:

    Because the guys in the corporate boardrooms are full of crap?

    I could provide LOTS of empirical evidence for that assertion.

  6. Steve D. Says:

    ‘So the diet is most definitely not for everyone.’
    Just like every diet. The variability between individuals is too great to make many generalizations about nutrition and health. Look at the studies. Their most dramatic characteristic is the tremendous variation between different people. What is good for the goose is obviously not good for all geese much less the gander.

  7. Curtis Says:

    Yes, but I am not suggesting an occupy strengthening. There is a tie, yes, but let us be sure we know what that tie is.

    That tie is meant to show what the outdoor life with sunshine and wind provides: We have lost. I’m not a bum lover; indeed, anyone who has had the rural.

    I experience plants and animals and earth and wonder what will be our lot when we lose them, when our geography and biology are video.

  8. Mr. Frank Says:

    O.B.

    I only drink for medicinal purposes. I’d die without it.

  9. Don Janousek Says:

    I maintain a very good weight for my age and I have found it to be quite simple.

    No fast food, very little processed food, use of olive oil, little bread, no red meat, no sweets. Lots of fruits and dark-green veggies and lots of fish, rice and beans.

    No between meal snacks and the use of wild swarm honey in tea. Alcohol use is wine only.

    Cheese – limited. Usually Danish Blue.

    No ice cream or chips.

    Plus, walk at least two miles every day. And, take fish oil capsules.

    My cholesterol and trigylceride readings are good and my “good cholesterol” is where it should be.

    All this will not cause me to live forever, but it does make me feel good for my age, going on 65.

    Could use a few wild women in my life, but I’ll have to settle for good cholesterol readings for now.

  10. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    There are several problems with our efforts to reduce weight through dieting. The first is the most obvious one – the range of human reactions to food. Or possibly I should call it the range of human basal metabolic rates coupled with the wide range of physical activity further coupled to the inherited ability to digest and use food to maintain a healthy state. In fact that is one of the problems in medicine today. Most doctors seem to treat their patients as if they all fall in the normal range of the bell curve. If they don’t, many throw their hands up and call the patient “resistant” to treatment. Diet doctors/experts are the same way. They try to compose a one size fits all way of eating. When that doesn’t work, the dieter must have “cheated.” The unfortunate thing is that most people don’t have the time to find out what to eat to stay healthy and at a reasonable weight. If a person has tried two or three different diets and failed, it can really be discouraging. What really ticks me off though are the a calorie is a calorie school or those who have inherited the genes that allow them to eat heartily and stay thin while pointing at the overweight as gluttonous slobs.

    Low carb eating worked to drop weight for me for years and I never worried about counting calories. However, at the age of 65 when trying to get really lean and muscular for entering masters (men over 60) bodybuilding contests, I found I had to not only eat low carb, but also count calories. It was during that time that I found out about basal metabolic rates (BMR) and how the body will adjust the rate if you take in too few calories for an extended period. Our limbic brain (LB) doesn’t know whether there is a reliable supply of food around or not. For millions of years humans often had to go for long periods on short rations. The survival reaction when food was short was for the LB to down-regulate the BMR to preserve tissue. If you are already lean the LB will down-regulate that much quicker because it senses there is less fat to burn. This is where we hit “plateaus” in losing weight. We must fool our LB by eating more calories every few days so it doesn’t think there isn’t enough food around. On the other hand most of us (not all) will easily put on weight after dieting because the LB will keep the BMR low to store fat in preparation for the next period of starving times.

    There is much we don’t know about the variations in humans and how their BMRs can vary depending on genes, activity, and food intake. We also don’t know why and how the LB works to preserve fat in some and not in others.

    There is a good book (“Six Weeks to OMG” by Venice Fulton) that I just read which has a lot of what I consider good information (guesses?) about this MBR/LB dance. The weight loss techniques recommended (skipping breakfast, high caffeine, and cold showers) would be problematic for some. (Okay, I definitely would not do it!) The food (moderate protein, and high-fiber, low glycemic carbs in small helpings) is not so out there, but who wants to get up, drink a big cup of black coffee, stand in a cold shower for five minutes, take a 30 minute walk, and then go to work without breakfast? On the other hand, there may be some who would love it.

    We do know that diabetes is growing and it seems to be linked to overeating of simple carbs. Ms Fulton covers a lot about why simple carbs are so bad for us. She explains that, being simple in their structure, they are very easily broken down into sugar and hit our blood stream first in large amounts triggering a big insulin response. More complex carbs, protein, and fat are broken down more slowly so the sugar (all foods become sugar and what we don’t use/burn is then converted to fat – just in case) produced doesn’t overload our system and the insulin response isn’t as great. There is definitely a case to be made against simple carbs. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by simple carbs and they are our cheapest food. It does present a problem for combatting diabetes and weight control.

    OB, even though your diet book is offered tongue in cheek, I know a few who would gladly try it. Because they are desperate to lose weight and because they love single malt. Of course it could eventually result in the maximal weight loss – death.

  11. Stefan Says:

    I think most people do not understand how the machine works. Why do we get fat? What is the biological mechanism?
    Here is a very short explanation: Insulin drives fat. This means, excess glucose in our blood stream, created by a higher carbs intake, triggers the pancreas to rise the insulin production. And insulin signals our fat cells to take up the extra glucose and store it as fat. You cannot get fat without raised insulin. And you cannot lower your insulin if you eat carbs. This is why a high fat diet works, because dietary fat has no effect on insulin production.
    It amazes me people continue to debate the virtues of Gary T. without understanding how the machine works.

  12. Teri Pittman Says:

    I’m always amazed by the folks that think Atkins is all about meat. It specifically requires vegetables to go along with that.

    I’ve gone low carb twice. The first time, I did Atkins with my husband. He went from 300 to 185 and kept it off, until his death in 2008 from pneumonia. I lost some weight and stalled out. I found out that I have to seriously restrict my carbs to be able to lose weight, almost at induction level.

    My boyfriend and I have been doing Paleo for two months. It’s a serious health issue for him and I recently tested pre-diabetic. I still have to be very careful about the amount of carbs I take in. And like before, it’s been easier for my boyfriend to lose the weight than me. It has been very easy to stay on this diet and neither of us has felt deprived.

    What I like about the Paleo approach is the combination of diet and lifestyle. I use Mark Sisson’s approach, because I like the idea of simple exercise, play, and an 80/20 approach to what you eat. When you are heavy and trying to lose weight, it’s great to be able to get get to the point where you CAN move more easily.

    If anyone doubts the role that carbs play in obesity, I’d just ask that you take a walk through the grocery store and see what people are buying. Try eating a low fat, high carb diet for a month and then try a low carb diet. If nothing else, I think you’ll find that it’s much easier to stick to the low carb diet and that it’s more satisfying. And it’s a far more reasonable approach to take to weight loss than bariatric surgery (which has its own failure rate.)

  13. NeoConScum Says:

    N-Neocon: Watch Calories+Walking 1.5/2-Miles= Easy, steady loss of poundage. I’m 6-ft & not big boned. Don’t have much of a weight problem but, at 68, it can creep on easier than at a ‘yootful 60. Came back from a week in the Great Smoky Mtns. of N.C. at 202-lbs. Want to lose 10-12 lbs. Now at 195-lbs just watching calories and strolling every day. A few more to go, but don’t feel deprived. Found that cut-up chunks of fresh pineapple is great at night instead of ice cream, cookies or choc candy. Good for the intestinal innards(high fiber)and amazingly tasty. Side salad made by ‘Rabbit Kin’ wife of 4’11”, 95-lbs, is good with anything. An Albertson’s Mkt. near us has great salads-to-go, my favorite being Chicken Ceasar.

    Go, Girl..! To heck with carbs-no carbs/fat-no fat, whateverrrrr. Just watch the calorie total & stroll-walk for 20-30 minutes per day.

  14. davisbr Says:

    Here, I’ll throw this in.

    About a month ago (maybe 5 weeks: I ain’t keeping precise track, as this ain’t exactly science), my wife and I switched from high carbs (pasta, bread, etc.) to a meat focused diet.

    We eat a LOT more meat. Especially beef.

    And since we’re eating about 90% less grains – no, I have no idea, but we’ve went from bread & pasta almost every day to like a half piece of toast in the morning, and “…that’s it” lol – we’re also eating more veggies.

    Well, I am: my wife’s always been big on the veggies.

    And we continue to eat lots of salads (we’ve both always been “big” on salads).

    No chips. No comfort food. We’ve substituted nuts and fruits. (And not a lot of those.)

    Look: we still eat pretty much like we always have, just LOTS less grains. We’ve almost assuredly the same caloric intake; we’ve just re-sourced the cals.

    I’m no dieter lol. (My attitude has always been: you want to lose weight, eat less. Wrong maybe, but I’ve not cut myself any slack, either.)

    …and I still eat like a horse.

    In my wife’s case, it hasn’t made much of a difference (she’s lost a few pounds).

    But in my case? – I’ve lost three inches off my waistline. Pants that have been a wee bit tight, aren’t (they’re loose wonder-of-wonders). Jeans that didn’t fit, do. The weight loss is visible: I’ve almost totally lost my jowls, and the double chin is history. (Comparitive pictures show an obvious difference.)

    (Dunno what the weight loss is: we don’t have a scale lol.)

    So. Cutting the grains (and prepared grains) down by a huge amount in our diet has definitely in my case paid huge (and unexpectedly quick) and dramatic dividends. Without pain. Without effort. Really.

    But in my wife’s case, hardly anything, on the same diet (and really, about the same caloric input, and output …we’re active people, and we do most active things as the pair we are).

    We’ve been puzzling over it.

    The only thing I’ve come up with is that I have a genetic component that she doesn’t. We’re both of Welsh and Germanic stock (I can trace some bits of the family lineage back to the 8th century lol), but on paternal and maternal lines, I’ve got significant North American lines that she lacks.

    FWIW, we’ve kind of reached a working theory that genetics is playing a huge role in my reaction to fewer grains (to wit: I store grains as body fat …but take ’em away, and the change in body morphology is dramatic and swift), and she don’t.

    No way to test it, of course. But we’ve decided to see if she has some dietary inclusion – something she doesn’t metabolize well – that will show a similar result.

    …worth a shot, at least.

    Just FWIW.

  15. Gringo Says:

    Don Janousek:
    Plus, walk at least two miles every day.

    I have taken weight off by both a very low carb diet and a moderate carb diet- around a cup of flour equivalent a day in grains. Weight loss is faster with a very low carb diet.

    The main issue is keeping the weight off. My experience has been that I do not keep weight off unless I walk at least two miles every day. Period.

    While I weigh more than I did 20 years ago, I now weigh about what I did in high school [for most of my adult life, I have weighed less than I did in high school].

  16. mezzrow Says:

    I have about the same story as davisbr, though I suspect he is more active. We are all individuals, and there are folks for whom the Taubes book is a revelation. I am one of those individuals.

    Over about 90 days, I have dropped 18 pounds, one pants size, and twenty points on both ends of my blood pressure reading. My only real change was to crank up the leafy veg (raw and cooked) and drop all carbs, allowing myself to eat the meats and fats I really wanted anyway, and avoid all the junk. I don’t keep any bread, chips, sweets, etc in the house and am reinforced by the degree to which I feel better.

    It wouldn’t hurt for me to keep this up for another 30 or 40 pounds worth, so my plan is to continue as long as it works. As always, your mileage may vary.

  17. Gary Rosen Says:

    I believe in physics – if you eat more calories than you use you gain weight and if you eat fewer you lose. I think the Taubes/Atlkins diets work for a lot of people because eating protein is more satisfying and keeps you from constantly nibbling. I’m skeptical that people gaining weight on carbs are actually consuming the same amount of calories.

  18. Barry Says:

    I’m on the mountain bike diet.
    You can eat what ever you wish but you must ride a mountain bike minimum of 15 miles every day, rain or shine, cold or hot.
    Drink only water.
    10 lb in three months for me.

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    Davisbr, Teri Pitman, Don Janousek, Gringo, etc.:

    One factor that’s clear is that, in addition to genetic/metabolic differences among people, there is a gender difference that’s quite pronounced. Women (for hormonal reasons, also because they have a lower percentage of body weight that’s muscle, and perhaps for other reasons as well)—especially starting in middle age, are programed to have more body fat and find that fat to be much more tenacious when they diet. It is extremely common for a couple to be on essentially the same diet and for the man to find it relatively easy to lose weight and the woman to find it very very slow going, or even that it doesn’t happen.

    As for the “walk two miles a day” prescription, that’s fine, but it makes me chuckle for the following reason: I’ve been walking at least 3 miles a day, fast, usually with hills, for about 20 years (and before that I was very active in other ways such as tennis; then I hurt my back and concentrated on walking). I suppose I’d be heavier if I didn’t walk that way, but I can’t say it’s ever meant my weight is down where I’d like it to be (that 15 pounds again). Plus, I do not ordinarily eat bread, rice, grain products, potatoes, etc., (or I eat a very minimal amount). Nor do I regularly eat sugar. My diet is mainly protein from animal products and beans, vegetables of many kinds, and fruit, which makes it semi-low-carb, I suppose. It is also somewhat low calorie. I have to do all of this just to keep from being fat, and my weight loss is so slow as to be glacial.

    And when I go really low carb, as I said, I feel ill and do not lose any more weight. In fact, I think I lose less.

    Lastly, there are many people (although the majority are men, if I can believe the message boards and comments sections I see) who lose weight on Taubes or Atkins or the like. Some of them even keep it off—but no more than on any other diet. Unless you are very rigorous and disciplined, and can deny yourself the forbidden (or highly restricted) foods for the rest of your life, the appetite for them will come with a vengeance, the body will re-assert itself, and the weight will come back. If you like the diet enough to stay on it for the rest of your life, you may be one of the few for whom it continues to work.

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    Gary Rosen: agreed.

  21. sergey Says:

    Dietology have been greatly overestimated pliability of our bodies to external factors like, um, diet and exercise and underestimated organism’s self-regulation and genetic make-up. We all are genetically hardwired for some type of metabolism and physical constitution and can do pretty nothing to change this. Of all diets the most sound to me looks the one used by Maya Plisetzkaya: eat everything you want but only half the quantity you want.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    mezzrow: See my comments above. But I would add that I think if you end up being successful in the long run, the key will be this sentence of yours, “allowing myself to eat the meats and fats I really wanted anyway.”

    I don’t much care for meat; I eat it in moderation. I also don’t crave a lot of butter, mayonnaise, cream, eggs, or bacon. If I eat a lot of those things it makes me feel awful. The only category of food that I would like to eat more of, and that I could eat more of on Atkins or Taubes, is cheese, and even then I can’t say I “crave” it, and I’ve found if I eat a lot of it I don’t feel well.

    What would I like to eat more of? What do I “crave”? Pasta, grains, fruit, things like potato chips, and sweets. And that desire only increases when I’ve been on very low-carb diets. I get to the point where the idea of meat or cheese or eggs sickens me, and I dream of fruit. That happens quite quickly on these diets, and never abates (I’ve been on them very strictly as long as a couple of months at a time). Not only do the cravings never stop, and I never stop feeling sick in a host of ways, but I lose almost no weight as well.

    For me, those diets are positively ghastly in nature. I cannot imagine I am alone in that reaction.

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    NeoConScum: I know you mean to be helpful, but your prescription is a good example of exactly what I’m talking about here. Please read it to see what I’m already doing.

    I’ll call your attention especially to this paragraph, though:

    As for the “walk two miles a day” prescription, that’s fine, but it makes me chuckle for the following reason: I’ve been walking at least 3 miles a day, fast, usually with hills, for about 20 years (and before that I was very active in other ways such as tennis; then I hurt my back and concentrated on walking). I suppose I’d be heavier if I didn’t walk that way, but I can’t say it’s ever meant my weight is down where I’d like it to be (that 15 pounds again). Plus, I do not ordinarily eat bread, rice, grain products, potatoes, etc., (or I eat a very minimal amount). Nor do I regularly eat sugar. My diet is mainly protein from animal products and beans, vegetables of many kinds, and fruit, which makes it semi-low-carb, I suppose. It is also somewhat low calorie. I have to do all of this just to keep from being fat, and my weight loss is so slow as to be glacial.

  24. sergey Says:

    Paleodiet will work great with some people if an additional factor of this diet is added: most of the the time these paleolithic people were just plain hungry. It takes wonders of willpower to accomplish this in a world of abundance. For them this was inescapable everyday reality in the world of austerity.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    sergey: and being torn apart by wild beasts at the age of 30 probably helped, too, as well as walking 20 miles a day (not in that order).

  26. NeoConScum Says:

    Yikes, N-Neocon..! Maybe drink like 6-sailors and eat nuthin’? (-: Okay, that didn’t work for me either. Kept breaking out in handcuffs & billyclubs,’Yo.

    You’re right about me(Not)following links. My BAAAAAD.

    Final Suggestion: Keep Doing what you’re Doing. You appear healthy as hell and have a very nimble brain, Kiddo.

  27. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    neo-neocon: “My diet is mainly protein from animal products and beans, vegetables of many kinds, and fruit, which makes it semi-low-carb, I suppose. It is also somewhat low calorie. I have to do all of this just to keep from being fat, and my weight loss is so slow as to be glacial.”

    Methinks you have the gene that gives you a very low basal metabolism all the time. My wife is very similar. She can gain weight on 1500 calories per day. She can get fat very easily. Fortunately, she is not a big eater, never has been. She has either an enormous will power or just a small appetite. She can’t understand why I’m always hungry – even after I’ve eaten an enormous meal.

    When she does gain some pounds, she can lose weight slowly by eating 900 calories/day, but must pulse up to 1400-1500 calories every few days or her weight loss stops. Her BMR seems to down-regulate very easily. That may be the way you have to approach your dropping of those 15 pounds. It sounds like your food choices are not too high in simple (low glycemic index) carbs. Your BMR may also not be increased as much by physical activity as it is for other people. Most diet gurus would say your walking routine plus eating the way you do is just the right thing to lose weight.

    Counting calories is a pain. I carry a little book around and log everything I eat when I’m counting calories. (There phone apps for that now – not my bag!) That’s why I like to stick with foods and servings (repetition) that I know the calorie count with some precision. I can go for several months eating that way but the weight creeps back. (My will-power is not perfect and I occasionally eat out or travel.) Then it’s back to counting calories for a time.

    The kind of BMR you and my wife inherited would have been a real asset for Stone Age survival. In a world of abundance it’s a problem.

  28. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Drat! I meant ….simple (high glycemic index) carbs….

  29. Gringo Says:

    Neo: maybe you don’t need to lose 15 pounds, given all that you are doing right.

    Your point about the differences between men and women regarding fat and losing fat are well taken.

  30. John in Dublin Says:

    Much like Don Janousek, I live on a very low fat, very high fiber diet. I’m 61 and in the last six years have lost over 80 pounds. I combined my low fat/high fiber diet with WALKING. Lots of walking. Unlike Don, I was up to 12 miles a day at one point, six days a week, and I’m talking about 13min30sec miles. Currently, I’m walking 8 miles a day, five days a week, and will be cutting that back more. It takes me less than two hours to walk that distance (I estimate 14 min/mile, but in actuality I’m faster than that). I got on this kick after I suffered a heart attack at age 54 when my cholesterol was a healthy 180. Now, with diet and exercise and a statin drug I take only twice a week, my cholesterol is at 96, my triglicerides are 95 and my b/p is 105/70. I went from 240 to 160 in about 12 months and have maintained that weight ever since. Virtually no red meat, lots of fish, skinless chicken, and lean pork, many many fruits and vegetables and high fiber grains every day. No sweets (except for jelly beans but that’s for another topic) and no alcohol but an occasional glass of wine. But Neo makes a very important point: women and men have very different reactions to diets and I’ve always noticed men are able to lose much more weight much more quickly. And everyone reacts differently to different diets. I have friend who did great on South Beach and/or Atkins, but I hated both. So I developed my own diet and exercise program that worked for me. Simply said: EAT LESS FAT AND WALK!

  31. neo-neocon Says:

    J.J.: Yes, I think I’m like your wife—except for the fact that I have a pretty hefty appetite and if I had my druthers I’d eat a considerable amount more than I do. I have no problem whatsoever understanding why other people are always hungry—I’m often at least a bit hungry myself.

    Gringo: Thanks. But I have two reasons to want to lose the weight: vanity (apparently not quite a potent enough motivator) and some health problems I have (I inherited the gene or genes for high blood pressure and had problems with my blood pressure even when I was a young, skinny, starving, extremely active dancer who ate in a way that was supposedly very healthful).

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    John in Dublin: and I thought I walked a lot!

    Glad your program has been working out so well for you.

  33. Occam's Beard Says:

    Want to see the weight melt off? Run, don’t walk. And by running I don’t mean long, slow jogs. Sprint, sprint as though your life depends on it. Once your loosened up, sprint 60 yards, then walk back (briskly) and do it again. Do ten sprints in ten minutes.

    When you can do that, start running up stairs. A multistory set outdoors is ideal (“stadiums”). Run up and walk down, with minimal (but nonzero) rests in between. Running the equivalent of 30 stories will take about 30-45 minutes, but you’ll be amazed by the results (weight loss and increase in muscle tone in the legs). I absolutely guarantee it.

    When you can do that, mix it up and run some of the transits taking two steps at a time. Be prepared to be even more amazed.

    I’m in my sixties, and do this several times a week with a friend in his mid-20s, and a former college athlete (who leaves me in the dust, needless to say, but trying to keep up motivates the hell out of me). But for building stamina, sprinting speed, and keeping weight off, nothing but nothing beats running the steps.

  34. neo-neocon Says:

    Occam’s Beard:

    (1) I know quite a few dedicated runners who are somewhat overweight.

    (2) I can’t run because of my injuries. In fact, I’m pretty much limited to walking for aerobic exercise. Can’t lift weights either, except a tiny bit.

    And don’t tell me to swim! That’s verboten—it’s how I hurt my arms in the first place.

  35. Occam's Beard Says:

    neo, then don’t run up the stairs, walk up them.

    Overweight runners are generally joggers. Much like people who read People magazine on exercise bikes at the gym, these people are wasting their time. I guarantee no one reads People while running the steps.

    I don’t know about your injuries, but I have a number (sports are good for you!) starting from back in high school (blown out knee, ruptured disks, broken ankle) and found that more work (the steps, light weight high-rep squats, lunges) actually mitigated the problems they cause. Body weight is a good place to start on squats and (especially) lunges. If your condition permits doing this at all, start slowly and do what you can do easily, then push just a little bit. That, with persistence, will lead to astonishing results. Consistency is the key.

  36. neo-neocon Says:

    Occam’s Beard: you’ll learn about my injuries if you follow the link in the comment above, and then follow the links within that article.

    I have fairly severe chronic nerve injuries in my back, legs, and arms that limit my activity severely. I am pretty much okay if I keep to the activities that work for me (walking, some stretches, some very light weight-lifting). But anything else seems to provoke a resurgence of pain, and the pain can last for months and months. I’ve consulted physical therapists and trainers, and the consensus is that I probably should keep doing what I’m doing, because considering the magnitude of my injuries I’m doing pretty well (knock wood).

    The overweight runners I know are not extremely overweight. But they are slightly overweight. Nor am I very overweight; I’d just like to be slimmer (not skinny, just about 15 lbs slimmer). I have watched the Boston marathon in years past, and in the pack were quite a few hefty people. They were not elite runners, of course (nor would I ever be, even had I not been injured). But they were serious runners, and they were far from skinny, and there were a lot of them. I was surprised.

  37. Occam's Beard Says:

    Poor neo! How did you come by such severe nerve injuries? Sounds like you’re well-advised not to try doing anything more strenuous, so kindly disregard my comments.

  38. neo-neocon Says:

    Occam’s Beard: oh, I know you were just trying to help. My situation is rather odd, but I’m grateful that I can do what I do. For many years I was much more disabled than I am now.

    Short version of how I hurt myself: hurt my back dancing (ballet) when I was in my mid-twenties. Never completely got better. Then many years later re-injured it from a combination of doing a lot of bending from the waist (not using the best ergonomics) while doing yardwork, and a slip and fall on a bunch of wet leaves. Pretty severe back injuries seem to run in my family, as well. Also, oddly enough, I was doing quite a bit of yoga, too, that ended up hurting my back.

    I hurt my arms swimming as PT for my back. But it turns out I had a congenital predisposition to the arm injury (see this, in a thread where you and I seem to have had some sort of discussion about this).

    There is also some speculation that I, as well as several family members, may have a genetic anomaly that means the nerves are more subject to nerve compression injuries than is normal.

  39. Occam's Beard Says:

    neo, sorry to hear this. It sounds as though your situation is anomalous, however. I’m convinced that the vast majority of people’s aches and pains result from disuse, rather than overuse, of their bodies. That conviction has turned me into something of a Johnny Appleseed, I’m afraid.

  40. holmes Says:

    Everyone is on a diet all the time; it’s just a matter of which foods they’re consuming. We all forego calories/types of foods we would otherwise like to have every day. So it’s just a question of what we are then replacing it with. When people ‘diet’, they really mean sacrificing the foods they would otherwise eat. So, for most people, it’s this regular choice/combination of foods given their activity level, that is the problem. You can change one or the other or both. No one expects to, say, exercise for a few months, and then be in permanently good shape. You have to keep at it. Like forever. Same with diet.

  41. neo-neocon Says:

    holmes: I know plenty of people who eat whatever they want and don’t restrict their eating in any way. And not all of them are fat, either, not by any means.

    I also know people who diet and/or exercise to lose weight, and do not consider that they’ll have to keep it up for the rest of their lives.

  42. sergey Says:

    If you having headache from being hungry or feel hungry in the morning before breakfast, or irresistible urge to eat something sweet (fruit, sponge cake, etc.) when hungry, that means that your insulin regulation system is inadequate. This is a widespread genetically programmed trait, and it means that restricting carbohydrate diet is not for you. Nobody can for long tolerate low sugar level in bloodstream. I know perfectly well how it feels, being treated with insulin for bipolar disorder. But my own insulin regulation system is OK, so I can eat everything in any quantities without acquiring overweight.

  43. NeoConScum Says:

    My tiny Sicilian Minx’s “secret” is: Have a metabolism like mosquito, eat like a rabbit and be in the garden 6-hrs per day. (What the heck is it with Eye-Talians and Mulch??)

    N-Neocon: Your sunny disposition and ‘ease’ with the intemperate+your chronic physical ish-shoes make you a RARE Girl, Kiddo. My hat’s off to you, Big Time.

  44. M of Hollywood Says:

    I recently got a dog who recently got a veteranarian. We spoke of food. I asked if I should change doggie’s food once in a while because there is a controversy among dog people: some say never change, some say change every three months.
    Vet said, “We look at our dogs and we anthropomorphize, attributing human emotions to them. Dogs eat for calories. We eat for many reasons: we’re hungry, it looks good, it’s on our plate, we are happy, we are sad, we are angry, we are confused, it is time to eat, it’s a holiday – and so forth.” That gave me pause.
    It’s Ramadan: good 30 days to “fast” – that is, eat before sunup and after sundown. Water in between. I’ve lost 2 pounds already, and it’s only Day 4. I turn off the computer at 9:30 and talk to God each night, too. No, not Muslim, but I thought I’d give the good habit a try. Looking forward to the night of Day 30 . . . and I’ll be lighter and cleaner.

  45. roc scssrs Says:

    Don’t know how true this is, but I’ve heard that in many Muslim cultures there are dishes which are prepared only during Ramadan, and that some people like these special “holiday” meals so much they wind up putting on weight during Ramadan!

  46. Occam's Beard Says:

    Forget Taubes; thermodynamics rules.

    Doesn’t sell many books, though.

  47. neo-neocon Says:

    NeoConScum: thanks.

    I try.

    One of the things that makes it easier for me now is that I was in so much pain for so long (about 12 years), that I really never expected to get any better. And so the improvement I experienced as a result of my surgery was a really wonderful thing, and I’m very grateful for it.

  48. ArmyMom Says:

    About a year and a half ago I was 40lbs heavier than I am right now and desperate to lose weight. I really wanted to run but had to address some issues with my hip flexors and general IT band soreness. I had the blind luck of going to a very young chiropractor who was also a certified trainer. Since the guy was starting his practice right then and he wanted some patient testimonials and some success stories that he could advertise, I managed to talk him into doing personal training for me to help me get back to running shape again in return for my (video, audio, written, pictorial) testimonial. What a stroke of luck that was!!!
    While working with him for adjustments and training I lost 50lbs. He had me change my diet to eating almost solely vegetables and a small amount of meat and taking supplements while having me workout 5 days a week sometimes twice a day. It was hell going through all the workouts but the end result was worth it to me.
    A few days ago I ran across the thread here where J.J. mentioned Taubes. I had never heard of him before and now have his book. He makes sense so far but I am not done reading. However as Taubes says (at least so far), you can only operate in a state of semi-starvation for so long. After I had run several half marathons and had given the guy all the marketing material he could want we have only been working together once a month. I have cut back on the number of workouts but have continued the distance running. I run 4 days a week with a local running club now. And, I did let my diet slip back to my old ways. I have now gained 10lbs back and am unable to lose it despite running more now than ever before.
    I am pretty certain that my inability to lose weight is because of my diet and my age. Yup…I have entered menopause and hate it! But I don’t want to become heavier and am willing to change my diet to make progress. I hope Taubes simply advocates for a more natural diet that is heavy on the veggies and protein. I can do that. I am not looking forward to the coming off carbs detox that I will have to do but I know it will be worth it. I just don’t want to be hungry all the time again. And, I really want to run faster. The extra pounds are making me slower and I want to get into the masters runners ranks at some time. I am thinking that I may be best served if I go to see a sports nutritionist to find out what my body really needs so that I can move up to running marathons.
    Anyway, thanks for the tip J.J!! And, it is good to read about everyone else’s ideas and struggles with weight so that I know that I am not the only one who has not found a consistent way to lose weight.

  49. NeoConScum Says:

    N-Neocon: Good on’ya. Some folks, I’ve long been convinced, are constitutionally wired for “Up”. That rascal I mention regularly(and Gratefully!!)has chronic pain from various sources, not least being a broken neck on October 7, 1972–in a strange alignment of planets, I was saying ‘I do’ to my first wife in Benedict Canyon, BH, California at the same time! My Sicilian maintains she broke the “wrong neck” that day. Has back pain, hand pain, etc. and still a sunny disposition of the purest joy I’ve ever seen.

    You are wired for ‘Up’, obviously, and it’s a life-saver. One Optimistic Sceptic to another.

  50. Tom Says:

    Horgan’s article is titled “Thin Body of Evidence,” a cunning pun, yet he claims in it that “Gary marshals mountains of data in support of his thesis, but I still have misgivings about it. My reaction is partly visceral …”

    Taubes actually has a great deal of evidence for his position. Still, the science is a work in progress and we don’t have one answer that works for everyone.

    My own experience is that Taubes explains why we get fat very well, but, as he states, he didn’t write a diet book. After reading his “Why We Get Fat,” I bought the new Atkins book (they modified the diet in 2010) and have been on it about two months. I’ve lost 20 pounds and have a lot more energy. I actually lose weight faster on the diet when I don’t exercise, but that’s because when I exercise I put on muscle.

    My complaint about Taubes is that he presents a very short form of what he claims is the Atkins diet in an appendix to his book, but it is not the 2010 Atkins diet and there are significant differences. Also, it’s a vegetable intensive diet, and there are suggestions for how to make it a vegetarian diet (not being a vegetarian, I didn’t read them, but they’re there).

    As far as keeping it off, I’m learning to make a lot of dishes I can eat, sort out what I can have at restaurants, and intend to make it a life-long change. Regardless of diet, making the change permanent is the only way to keep it off, I think.

  51. NeoConScum Says:

    N-Neocon: There’s a hilarious article in today’s Orlando Sentinel about how MJ-Bud-Grass-Hemp is becoming popular among the senior crowd here in Florida. The girls in their 70s who were quoted had never done drugs, but were praising(With words like “Awesome!”, “WOW!”, “Lovin’it!”, etc)its medicinal value for various pain complaints. I was about to suggest it for your pain ish-shoes until I realized–Duuhhh–you’d likely be plagued by the munchies. Bummer. (-:

  52. Barry Says:

    Taubes’ books are not about a “diet.” They’re about science. Good science and bad science. Read Good Calories and/or Why We Get Fat and you just plain realize that we’ve been fed a bunch of garbage the last forty years on nutrition, why we have heart attacks, etc.

    The funny part is the guy from comments above who had a cholesterol level of 180 (which is supposed to be good), has a heart attack anyway, and then goes on statin drugs to lower his cholesterol even more. 96? Sir, we need cholesterol to live. The death rate for a person with cholesterol that low is much higher than one for someone with a total chol. over 200.

    All I know is I had tried to lose weight for 15 years following conventional wisdom. I then read Why We Get Fat, GCBC and Wheat Belly and I effortlessly lost 35 lbs. and have kept them off for 18 months. Do whatever you want. Just know, eating that bread and pasta ain’t helping you much. Eat some fat. You’ll feel better (except for NeoNeocon) and you’ll lose the weight.

    The bad science is so much like Global Warming, you should get a kick out of reading these books. Cheers!

  53. G Joubert Says:

    It’s the carbs. In addition to making one fat, they’re addictive. Big Food figured this out some time ago, about the same time they began increasing portion sizes, on their way to supersizing everything. That didn’t just happen randomly, Big Food led us down that garden path. A nation of carbohydrate addicts.

    Meanwhile, a high fat diet by itself DOES NOT make you fat. It may contribute to clogging your arteries, but it won’t make you fat. In fact, Atkins showed that the fastest known way to lose weight is on a high fat – low carb diet, on which people lose weight so fast that it’s dangerous. Atkins made it clear: do not try this at home or on your own.

    For me, the best diet limits carbs to about 20 grams a day. No breads, no sugars, very limited corn. Ample of fish, poultry, beef, pork, and green vegetables. All prepared simply- broiled meat and raw or lightly steamed veggies. Perfect for me. YMMV.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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