Friday, May 20, 2011

The odds are stacked against you

Let's say you want to lose some weight.   Maybe 10 to 20 pounds.  Let's say you want to lose that weight before the end of the year.

Chances are that you'll find advice from any number of popular websites that recommend figuring out how many calories those pounds convert into on a daily basis, and that's what you need to reduce your daily caloric intake by.  Chances are also that you'll be advised to add a certain amount of exercise into the picture.

The popular press likes to quote that one pound equals 3,500 calories.  Therefore, to lose a pound a week, you should eat 500 calories less every day.

Most dieting advice recommends staying away from fad diets, and this logical approach, combined with balanced meal plans and avoiding foods with fat and cholesterol, is hard to fault from a logical point of view.

I don't doubt that it works for some, though I have never seen a single statistic on the success rates.

I have mentioned many times before in this blog that the nutritional and medical organizations also recommend staying away from fad diets, strongly advising instead, a logical and measured approach to weight loss.

Has it worked for you?

What strikes me over and over is the depth of information and research emerging on a daily basis that totally refutes the accepted wisdom.  The problem is that most people don't have the time or the inclination to read 600 dense pages of Good Calories, Bad Calories.  Nor do they have the time or the inclination to follow even some of the really excellent online discussions and debates in the low carb community.

Whether you're a sucker for punishment, or interested in an excellent learning experience, depending on how you look at it, take a look at Stephan Guyenet's blog, Whole Health Source.   Don't forget to read the comments, because the level of discussion is truly enlightening.  There are many other great resources.  Try googling Dr. Robert Lustig and Dr. Michael Eades.  Ed Bruske is a journalist you might like to follow as well.

I'm continually struck by the number of doctors and researchers participating in these discussions, and it sometimes takes me a lot of time with my high school-level biology knowledge to make sense of the acronyms and functions.  If you have the time to persevere though, it's evident that what we are told in the media is not how it works in practice.

You can be sure Big Pharma isn't at all keen to devote their financial resources to research that shows how people can permanently overcome their dependence statins and other cholesterol lowering drugs.  Food manufacturing giants like McCains, Kelloggs, General Mills, the Coca Cola Company or even the potato farmers of Idaho definitely don't want you to hear the no-sugar, no-grain, low carb message.  The dieting and gym industries are also dependent on a certain failure rate in order to keep their customers coming back for more.

Even the majority of nutritionists and dieticians don't engage on this level of intellectualism.   It's certainly not what they are told in school.

In a world of corporate sponsorships and lobbying, this has a lot to do with why  conventional nutritional advice is what is most commonly heard.  Hear it enough times, and it seems like the truth. 

There are two completely different nutritional worlds, in my opinion.  And unless you have sufficient time to invest in learning for yourself why the traditional 'calories in, calories out' theory is completely ineffective for the vast majority of people wishing to lose weight, I firmly believe you're far more likely to follow the traditionalists who love to tell you that low carb eating is akin to fad dieting.

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