I watched 3 really interesting videos in the last 3 days. The first was a documentary on Hulu called Fat Head. Here’s the summary:
Have you seen the news stories about the obesity epidemic? Did you see Super Size Me? Then guess what? … You’ve been fed a load of bologna.
Comedian (and former health writer) Tom Naughton replies to the blame-McDonald’s crowd by losing weight on a fat-laden fast-food diet while demonstrating that nearly everything we’ve been told about obesity and healthy eating is wrong. Along with some delicious parody of Super Size Me, Naughton serves up plenty of no-bologna facts that will stun most viewers, such as: The obesity “epidemic” has been wildly exaggerated by the CDC. People the government classifies as “overweight” have longer lifespans than people classified as “normal weight.” Having low cholesterol is unhealthy. Lowfat diets can lead to depression and type II diabetes. Saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease — but sugars, starches and processed vegetable oils do.
The second was a talk/lecture by Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories – now I must read this book) called Big Fat Lies. He has a second book that just came out entitled Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, which may be more appealing – it’s less scientific and includes explanations designed for lay-people.
The last video I watched was called Sugar: The Bitter Truth. It became somewhat of an internet sensation back in 2009 but I guess I missed it. It’s a 1.5 hour lecture on why fructose is a toxin. (I’m sold.) The lecturer is a doctor by the name of Robert H. Lustig.
If you have some time (each video is over an hour) I highly recommend them. The gist of all of them is that the obesity epidemic is caused, not by fat/saturated fat/meat, but by too much sugar and too many carbohydrates. My take on them:
The first link (Fat Head) “proves” that a high-fat diet is good for you. Um, duh. Tom Naughton’s high-fat diet consists of a lot of meat; I am still kind of undecided on the meat issue. Two more of his points are that 1) grains are doing a lot of damage (he does go into detail but I don’t want to right now) and 2) processed vegetable oils (corn oil, soybean oil, etc… – and not just he partially hydrogenated trans fat ones) are also killing us. Humans are not used to eating either of those things.
Now – I like meat, and I would eat it, but I am morally opposed to the way meat is produced in our country, and I can’t bring myself to eat it anymore. If meat were truly ethically raised? I’m still unsure nowadays. I’m getting off topic, but my takeaway from this one – fat is good. Eat more of it. Eat veggies too, though. It may be possible to have a semi-healthful fast food diet, but it’s probably better to just be more primal.
Mmm… bacon and eggs and butter.
Personal side notes:
- My “Bring on the Fat” post from last year (one year ago – to the day). Sadly I didn’t keep up with this as much as I’d have liked. Now that I’m a veggie I need to get my animal fat from butter, ghee, eggs (with yolk), and dairy (goat’s and sheep’s milk yogurts are my faves; regular ol’ organic whole cow’s milk for my coffee). Since I went veggie I have been eating too many carbs and not enough fats.
- The Great Fat Animal Experiment. This was from a year and 3 days ago; it was an intro to my passion for animal fat. I still do love animal fat; again, I’m just going to try to get it from non-meat sources.
- Way back in July 2009 (4 days before I got engaged… can’t believe I am married now!) was one of the first times I started trying to eat more fat. I didn’t really follow through, at least not to the extent that I should have. I have come a long way since then.
Big Fat Lies
The second link (Big Fat Lies) discusses the matter of why people are getting fat; is it simply that we eat too much and sit on our asses? Gary Taubes seems to think that it’s because we have too much insulin (I’m leaning towards agreeing with him, but I think the reason we have too much insulin is because we… eat too much). He basically says that we aren’t getting fat because we’re eating more; we’re eating more because we’re getting fat. He debunks Ancel Keys’ Lipid Hypothesis/Seven Countries Study which states that:
- Saturated fat increases cholesterol. (If A then B.)
- High cholesterol associated with heart disease. (B associated with C.)
- Saturated fat must cause heart disease! (If A then C.)
What a load of bologna! Ugh, too much to say about this horrible study, will post about this later (if I don’t remind me). I tend to agree with Taubes’ conclusions, but I think that there are a lot of people out there who do simply “eat too much” for probably mental reasons. It’s not just hormones that are making us fat. We have issues that also make us eat too much which starts the vicious cycle of greedy fat cells –> eat more –> greedier fat cells –> eat even more –> also be lazy because we’re too fat.
Sugar: The Bitter Truth
The last link, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, Robert H. Lustig discusses how fructose is metabolized in the body. It turns out that fructose is very similar to ethanol, which is a toxin. He also debunks the Seven Countries Study (though for different reasons than Taubes does). He’s not a low-carb advocate (unlike the other two); he thinks we just have to eat the right carbs, which does not include sugar at all. His diet prescriptions for his patients (mostly kids) are (this is around the 1:10 mark):
- Only beverages should be water and milk
- Eat carbs with fiber (ex: fruit is fructose but has fiber built in)
- Wait 20 minutes for second portions
- If you’re gonna stare at a screen (tv/video games) you have to do equal amounts of activity (playing outside)
His prescriptions are probably easier and more reasonable to follow than what Taubes thinks we should do (low-carb, lots of meat); they’re also probably more sustainable (we can’t all live on steak due to overpopulation). I’m still on the fence about carbs though. I love ’em, but they make me feel like shit. Maybe I’m just more sensitive than some people; my husband could probably live on just carbs and get along fine. (Though he did lose 10 pounds in the last month from being vegetarian – 10 pounds he did not need to lose and he is worried about. He’s practically as skinny as I am.)
What are your thoughts? On grains? On carbs? On sugar? On fructose? On saturated fats? On animal fats? On “healthy” fats? On a low-fat diet? On a low-carb diet? On Tom Naughton/Gary Taubes/Robert Lustig?
Or, if you wanna stop with the heavy topics…
What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
Bobby got us reservations as a restaurant we haven’t been to yet but that I hear great things about.
14 Replies to “Big Fat Video Links – Weekend Link Love”
I eat a lot of fruit too. I eat a lot of animal fats. Hmm…I guess I do a bit of everything. But I have awful digestion issues also. I totally eat a lot of dairy; maybe not so good, I can’t help it.
I tend to “overdo” foods to be honest: dairy, fruit, avocado, oils, animal fats, etc…I still eat carbs though.
But my Worst habit??? Eating too too fast. I will eat something in like 5 mins that I should mindfully slow down and eat in maybe 20 mins. And then I SUFFER for it….I wish I could stop that. That is a big guilty trigger for me.
Macronutrient ratios are such a minefield! I tend to focus on trying to eat as ‘wholefoods’ a diet as possible with fruit and/or veg at every meal, and then worry about the macronutrients. I conciously eat plenty of protein, but also with plenty of fat (ie oily fish and eggs), fermented/cultured dairy and wholegrain carbs. I do eat plenty of fruit but I eat berries mostly as I think they have the best health benefits (antioxidant rich but not as high in fructose), I do love apples but I wouldn’t eat more than 2 a day. I don’t completely avoid sugar- I do use honey and moderate amounts of brown sugar in my own baking and I eat the odd baked good when I’m out but I don’t drink sugar or eat candy.
Primal diets are really trendy at the moment, and to be fair I think any diet that focuses on real food will probably do someone good if they’re coming from a worse diet. But I personally think a very low carb diet would be hard if you exercise a lot at certain intensity levels. Supposedly you can ‘train’ your body to burn fat preferentially, but fat does take a lot longer to digest than carbs, so I think carbs are still ideal fuel for people that do moderate to intense exercise daily. Low to moderate intensity exercise usually burns fat so higher fat less carbs might suit people who prefer long slow exercise like walking, golf, easy swimming etc.
oh i’m gonna have to watch these in the next few days.
honestly, i think i weigh a little less/feel a little more toned when i lay off the sugary fruits. does that mean i do it? no. i do feel a lot better when i eat 90% veggies and protein, which still isn’t that hard to do vegan. i’ve been eating a lot of spinach and kale smoothies lately, so i do have some fruit in those, but i think the massive amounts of greens i’m eating kind of balances it out. but thanks for the link. i’ve had gary taubes’ “good calories bad calories” but have never gotten through it because it’s 600 PAGES!! i wonder if his new book is shorter. or maybe i should just buckle down my attention span and read good calories bad calories 🙂
thanks for the links!
Maggie, wow, thank you for the vids and your commentary. I really hope I can find the time for the sugar vid especially.
I love my fats, I’m a nut fiend. An egg yolk a day keeps the doctor away!
Again, thanks for the info.
I will watch gyres and will let u know what i think.
I like grains, whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, homemade WW bread, corns and kabocha. I need them and I don’t feel too full when I eat high veggie and high carbs. Instead, when I eat meat often, i feel too full too long. And besides of that, according to chinesr medicine, carbs should be the basic of our diet, what really nourishes us, so I am okay with high carbs. 🙂 Bobby lost a lot of right? Woo! Feed him! He was already skinny.
Oh.. About sugar, i don’t eat sugar much, even from fruit because 1) I don’t crave them, 2) I heard sugar causes aging. So, except sweetness from chocolate, i don’t normally eat sugar. But it’s a personal taste preference, I don’t think it’s too bad to have some sugar from its unproceed form like fruits.
Very interesting post! And it goes pretty much into the same direction like what I’ve read about nutrition when digging into it during the last year, and this is why I started the Paleo diet. (I hope I’ll find some time to watch the videos soon!)
During that time of eating more fat and protein, no grains, and less fruit, I’ve felt so much better than on the high carb / low fat diet I’ve eaten before! I was satisfied and energized. Still, I think I have similar issues, stubbornness, and stupidity in always tending to go back to that. The idea of eating a lot of fat still scares me, although I know it would benefit me.
Still, I’ve also made the experience that too much fat makes me feel sick, as well as too much meat, and I can’t function so well on a low carb diet. Complex carbs like kabocha (love!) therefore make a big fraction of what I eat, and I’ve also tried whole grains again, mostly rice and oats so far (gluten-free). But especially grains tend to cause problems with my stomach which has always been very sensitive, and the only way I can eat them is pressure-cooked and only in small amounts.
“Good Calories, Bad Calories” is quite hard to read. I have it and read about half of it. It’s very interesting, but also very extensive, and I don’t agree with the radical low carb conclusion Gary Taubes draws from his research.
A book you might like is “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon (Weston Price Organization). This is a recipe book mainly, but it contains quite a long introduction chapter that yields some very interesting insights about nutrition. I really like that book! It also contains recommendations about how to prepare grains to avoid the anti-nutrient load. I’ve made some posts on my own blog on grains and sugar as well, and I plan to write something more about it in the time to come.
I’ve also heard of a book “Real Food” by Nina Plank.
I’m in a quandry because I need to gain weight and eating grains makes me feel incredibly guilty. I’m basically on bedrest and this stinks.
I’ve heard a lot about the “hormone diet” by Natasha Turner and “the fat flush plan” by Louise Ann Gittleman. I know, I know! These silly diet books are all the same…but there is something about these that is compelling for some reason.
Again, I’m all about high fat! But I worry I’m not getting enough calories to gain. People who gain weight going all primal + dairy + fruits swear its easy to gain while on that (and the “best” way). And I LOVE that idea. But, sure I can gain weight on them; by doubling my dairy and doubling my fat. While I enjoy those macronutrients, I’m already taking in an abundance of them. And surely, an imbalance will either lead to body imbalances or nausea (I mean how much fat can a person take).
I wish I could get some bacon though.
So, in short I’m very conflicted on it all and am probably overthinking. If someone is underweight, does it really matter I guess what they eat? First just get to the healthy weight? The trouble with that though is that I have severe IBS issues combined. So, I am trying to figure out. The result? Losing even MORE weight. This stinks. I also have cravings for sugar, so I can’t imagine not having some baked goods or yummy granola bars frequently. I’m confused. Too . Much. Thinking.
Haha, again, we seem to run parallel! I’ve actually been loving my meat lately…but the meat I’ve been eating is wild game or totally grass-fed (I’ve had to pick buckshot out of a pheasant!).
Taubes makes some good arguments. However, he does cherry pick certain data. Leigh Peele did a really good review of it.
I love my fats. Animal and plant, bring ’em on…the only ones I try to avoid are vegetable oils (except olive/coconut) because I like to eat nuts, and the research I’ve done on Omega 3/6 ratios has made me ponder. But I like butter more as a cooking agent anyway, haha.
In the grand scheme I do think weight comes down to calories…but I feel a lot better when I’m running on higher fat and protein and low(er) carbs. Nothing remotely Atkins-esque, but less of an emphasis. Sugar’s my ultimate downfall though…it makes me all cravey.
But science is a funny thing. There actually is evidence to suggest that for people who have gone into metabolic adaptation (which usually accompanies skittery hormones and general unpleasantness), a hit of sugar and carbs can drag someone out of it faster than anything else.
@Mimi: Thanks for the Leigh Peele links! She’s right, but he’s right too. I definitely need to do more research on my own. Science is pretty crazy.
Oh gosh, I could go on forever about this topic. There is so much conflicting info. out there, and I tend to get caught up in, I need to do this, and eat this way, and not eat this and that, but then I always end up right back where I started, eating the way that my body likes best – lots of fats, minimal sugar (although I do best with zero), some grains, etc. – you know the story. Honestly, I don’t think we necessarily need grains, but some people’s bodies seem to handle them better than others. That being said, I don’t think starches from natural sources are evil like some primal/low carbers do. Potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, etc. – I say go for it if you enjoy them. However, I’m not a fan of fruit, and I don’t think we need all that fructose. Any nutrient you can get from fruit, you can get from other sources.
You know my thoughts on fat – skip the trans fats and refined vegetable oils, but saturated fat? Eat up. 🙂
phew, i just watched the fat head video and gary taubes video. i think i’ll take a break and maybe watch the sugar one tomorrow 🙂
i don’t disagree with their findings. as a future md, i have a huge interest in nutrition and want to get better educated about it. my problem is when ANYONE (these people included) market their eating strategies as the best thing for EVERYONE. i’m not sure it’s that cut and dried.
that being said, i’m going to try to eat more fats and protein and cut gluten and carbs out for awhile and see what it does. i’ve been feeling puffy and bloated and can’t get rid of this last 5 lbs that i’ve been holding onto for awhile now. this will be interesting to do vegan (especially without gluten, which pretty much cuts protein sources down to tofu and tempeh and rice/hemp/pea/soy protein powders), but i think it can be done. i was basically eating that way a couple of years ago and felt the best i have in awhile. just need to get back to it. i’m curious to see how it will work only using plant-based fat sources. i guess bring on the avocadoes and coconut oil!
I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now and I’m finally delurking to say thank you for posting these links! I haven’t watched the Gary taubes video yet, but hopefully I’ll get some time tonight or tomorrow.
I’d been veg*an for almost three years until last summer, when I gave in to my cravings and started eating bacon again and I couldn’t believe it but I felt so much better! My skin looked better, my hair stopped falling out, I had more energy and I lost weight. Anyways, I was in the same boat as you in that I’m completely opposed to factory farmed meat, so I always try to buy the grass fed, cage free, cruelty free when I can afford to.
I want to second someone’s recommendation of Nina Planck’s book Real Food – she said in it that it is possible for a vegetarian to get enough of the fats they need by eating whole eggs and full fat dairy, but that a vegan simply can’t no matter how many avocados and nuts they eat. That was a big turning point for me.
Going back to lurking now, but I’m still out here reading!
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