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Session 4 - The Fat/Cholesterol Myth PDF Print E-mail
Healthy Eating classes - Healthy Eating Class 2011
Written by Chris Walquist   
Saturday, 29 October 2011 14:49

A brief summary of the class as it was taught.  The goal of the session was two-fold:

1. Cure thoroughly the fear of fat

2. Cure thoroughly the notion of calorie-counting

For the fear-of-fat antidote, we traced the history of the current conventional wisdom that dietary fat is bad.  Most of that material is found in the second half of the PowerPoint slides from Session 3.

 

We sought to cure the calorie-counting preoccupation by considering two studies: one by Bruce Bistrian and George Blackburn of MIT's dept. of nutrition and food science and Harvard Medical School in the 1970's, described in "Good Calories, Bad Calories" beginning on page 336, and continuing on pp. 339-340; and the other by George Wade of the University of Massachusetts, also in the 1970's, on weight regulation in rats with respect to their diet and activity levels (and another factor, to be discussed).

 

Calorie-counting study #1: Consider these two diets tested by Bistrian and Blackburn:

Diet #1:

protein 400 calories
fat 400 calories
total 800 calories

 

Diet #2:  Exactly like diet #1, except that 400 calories were added in the form of "wonderful fruits and vegetables"...

protein 400 calories
fat 400 calories
carbs (fruits & veggies) 400 calories
total 1,200 calories

 

Question: Which diet is the "semi-starvation diet", based on its perceived effect by dieters?

Answer: Diet #2, the so-called "balanced" diet with *more* calories

 

Diet #1 enabled about half of its patients--thousands of them from the 1970's on--to lose at least forty pounds each, Bistrian said.  "It's an extraordinarily effective and safe way to lose weight".

 

In contrast, they found that the effectiveness of Diest #2--the "balanced" diet with 50% more calories as carbohydrates--was *one percent*.

Bottom line:  Adding 400 calories of carbohydrates to a 50-percent-effective diet of fat and protein transforms it into a "semi-starvation" diet of the kind commonly recommended to treat obesity, and reduces its effectiveness by a factor of fifty.

 

Calorie-counting study #2: George Wade studied two sets of rats.  He observed that the first set of rats ate voraciously and quickly became obese.  The second set did not exercise, and so also became enormously fat--indeed, as fat as the first set.

 

If that were all we knew about these studies, it would be easy to conclude that this was calorie-counting in action: If you eat too much (too many calories in), you get fat.  Or, if you don't exercise enough (not enough calories out), then you also get fat.

 

But wait, there's more.  Both sets of rats were previously your basic well-adjusted rat: normal-eating, normal-exercising, and normal-weight.  How did George Wade ruin their lives?  He removed the ovaries from both sets of rats.  The effect was to significantly lower their estrogen levels.  Normally, estrogen has a blocking effect on LPL, which is a key enzyme for taking fat into cells.  So the first set of rats no longer had the blocking effect, and they got fat.

 

As for the second set of rats, Wade introduced one more complication into their lives:  He *calorie-restricted their diet*, so that even though they wanted to eat like the first set of rats, they were unable to do so.  These rats (unlike set number one) became completely sedentary as a result.  They only moved when movement was required to eat.

 

This leads us to a radically different conclusion:  The rats didn't get fat because they were (a) overeating, or (b) under-exercising.  Rather, they were (a) overeating, or (b) under-exercising because they were getting fat.  That is, the underlying hormonal imbalance and the resulting mis-allocation of energy drove their behavior--not the other way around.

 

(We also talked in some additional detail about how estrogen "down-regulates" LPL.  This material is found on pp 89-91 of "Why We Get Fat".)

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 October 2011 17:10
 
Session 3 - Saturated Fat and Politics PDF Print E-mail
Healthy Eating classes - Healthy Eating Class 2011
Written by Chris Walquist   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 07:50

 

Saturated Fat - Politics Not Science (powerpoint 2007 and higher)

 

Saturated Fat - Politics Not Science (powerpoint 97-2004)

 

Saturated Fat - Politics Not Science (.mov format)

 

Saturated Fat - Politics Not Science (PDF)

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 October 2011 17:12
 
Session 5 - Know Your Fats PDF Print E-mail
Healthy Eating classes - Healthy Eating Class 2011
Written by Chris Walquist   
Monday, 31 October 2011 07:11

What kind of fat is good for you?  What are essential fatty acids?  What is saturated fat vs. unsaturated fat?  How about mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated?  What are trans fats, and are all trans fats bad?  Are there natural trans fats, and if so, where are they, and are they good or bad for you?  Oh, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats--what are they, and why are they important?  This session will tackle these questions and more.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 11:27
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Suggested Reading List PDF Print E-mail
Healthy Eating classes - Healthy Eating Class 2011
Written by Chris Walquist   
Saturday, 15 October 2011 12:08

"Good Calories, Bad Calories: The Controversial Science of Diet and Health" - Gary Taubes, 2007 - 468 pages, plus 141 pages of notes, bibliography, and index.  The original manuscript approached 1,000 pages, but Taubes' editor had him slim it down.  A masterful take-down of pet diet dogmas, a history lesson on nutrition, and a compelling argument for a hypothesis to better explain the results of centuries' worth of medical research.

"Why We Get Fat, and What to do About It" - Gary Taubes, 2011 - Similar material to "GCBC", but condensed and less technical.  More focused on weight regulation.  Some more sources of information.

"Do We Really Know What Makes Us Healthy?" - Gary Taubes, NY Times, 16 Sep 2007 - A good introduction to strategies for evaluating the claims of epidemiological studies

"Guts and Grease" - An online essay describing what native Americans really ate (in contrast to most Paleo Diet recipes).

"The Modern Nutritional Diseases - Heart Disease, Stroke, Type-2 Diabetes, Obesity, and Cancer - and how to prevent them" -- Alice & Fred Ottoboni - If you want to know in great detail why Omega-3 fats are good for you, this book will tell you.

"Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol" - Mary G. Enig, a University of Maryland researcher on lipids, who early recognized the dangers of trans fats and pushed for more accurate labeling.  An invaluable primer for untangling the thicket of terms and acronyms around fats.

 

 
Session 2 - Why We Get Fat, or, Is a Calorie a Calorie? PDF Print E-mail
Healthy Eating classes - Healthy Eating Class 2011
Written by Chris Walquist   
Saturday, 15 October 2011 19:47

Why do we get Fat? The conventional wisdom confidently claims to know:  "It's all about calories-in, calories-out!"..."You simply have to take in less than you burn off!"..."Fat is more dense than carbohydrates, therefore carbs are better for losing weight."..."If you count calories carefully, you will succeed!"   And so on.  But if this is true--if Jillian Michaels is really doing it right--then why are so few people successful?  As a nation, our fat intake is down, our carbs are up, and exercise has become part of our culture--and yet, we are the fattest we've ever been, and getting fatter.  In fact, the beginning of our current obesity epidemic coincides closely with the exercise boom and with the U.S. government's first-ever publishing of recommendations for healthy eating.

Building on the understanding from Session One of how foods differ greatly in prompting the body to store their energy as fat, we will begin to examine some of these claims, find out how well they stand up, AND gain insight as to what we should actually be doing for our health.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 October 2011 18:47
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