|At the Alberta Legislature, just after the birth of my second baby.|
He was 9 lbs, 11oz, btw...
I'm not promoting a book right now, or asking for grant money, or want to have my name forever immortalized by associating it with a fad diet. I've worked in the industry for more than 15 years and I'm constantly amazed at the misinformation that is continually repeated, particularly in diet and weight. I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of those 'professionals' who are more interested in the health of their own fame or pocketbook, rather than that of those who rely on their knowledge. So I'm going to give you all the actual, unembellished truth - for a change. Here's the magic cure.
First, I'll go into the basics, then take on some of the myths.
I loathe fad diets and all they stand for. Atkins for example is one of the most dangerous fad diets ever created, especially for diabetics and others with chronic health issues. ("Potential Atkins diet danger exists for diabetics in that recommended carbohydrate intake is as low as 1/5 of the recommended minimum for diabetics. Diabetics or those with sugar/glucose sensitivities should consult their doctor before following a dietary plan that so inadequately provides the minimum carbohydrate recommended...One important Atkins diet danger relates to the excess acidity from a high protein/high fat diet)." 1 . So I normally don't go into the details, but as so many people now have to be deprogrammed from the "Carbs are bad" nastiness, I'll have to flesh out the background. So to speak.
Plants fuel themselves by turning sunlight into chemical energy, and use it right away or store it as carbohydrates. Vegetarian animals run entirely on the stored plant energy of carbohydrates, and use it right away or store it as fat. Carnivores, on the other hand, are optimized to convert energy from consuming that stored in the bodies of other animals as fat. They get all of their protein and most of their amino acids from their prey, rather than producing them in their own bodies or getting them from plants, as vegetarian animals can. And then there are the "omnivores", which are actually quite rare. It is impossible to eat everything. Most animals considered omnivores are plant eaters, with a supplement of a few types of protein. Like bears, which live very nicely on plant products, with some fish or deer in season and such. The omnivore argument has been one of the worst banes for North Americans who use it to justify eating everything from raw seafood to all meat diets. They can't possibly 'eat everything', so we shall dismiss the usual omnivore argument as irrelevant for most humans.
Compare the vegetarian animal and the carnivore. Of the two, which do you think humans most resemble? Can you, say, be dropped in the middle of the mountains naked with no tools and have you chase down, kill and eat an animal raw with your bare hands for a nice lunch? Or would you instead stalk a berry bush that can't run faster than you, where you don't have to light a fire to cook, and you can have all the energy and nourishment you need to survive? You guessed it. Humans are almost entirely vegetarians. We survived long enough as a species to be able to supplements our diets with game by hunting with tools BY EATING PLANTS. Our bodies run largely by converting CARBOHYDRATES, not fat. We produce all our protein aminos in our own bodies, rather than getting it from animal flesh. Such chemicals break down in heating anyway, so if we were carnivores cooking our meals, we'd be dead. In fact, if we eat too much protein, our bodies cannot handle it and begin to break down rapidly. 2, 3, 4 , 5 . It's extremely hard to find an overweight vegetarian. Many lose a significant amount of fat just by eliminating flesh from their diet. There are exceptions, of course, but they generally have other issues as well.
So. How does that little lesson in the cycle of life affect our middles and bottoms? In the most fundamental ways. It is your body's job to keep you alive, no matter what. And it does an excellent job of that. Salads and other low energy, high vitamin and mineral foods are the oil in your engine. You need them to keep you running smoothly, and if you get too many, then they usually just go unused. And you can still manage on lower amounts; you just aren't as efficient and your parts wear out quicker. But carbs are the fuel for your gas tank. You need them to keep functioning at all. Your body and your brain run mostly on glucose derived from carbohydrates. If your body feels that it's not getting enough carbs to function, every time it gets slightly more than what it needs, it will STORE every bit it can get to provide fuel for later. And how does it store fuel? As fat! Your 'spare tire' is really your extra gas tank!
There are a few points that seem elementary but bear repeating. Unless you have a very, very rare hypothalamus condition, or other serious illnesses that does not allow you to easily lose weight, the only way fat is being added to your body is by GOING THROUGH YOUR MOUTH. No one is injecting it into you in your sleep. Unless you have a serious disorder, you, and you alone, are completely responsible for the food you ingest, and how you look, feel, and act. (I accuse no one of anything. Eating disorders are a terrible thing, but they are almost ALWAYS based on PTSD, or other forms of mental trauma, self-esteem, or other issues. It is NOT a born biochemical condition, though mental health does create a feedback loop with physical health and vise versa.) However, the good news is that since it is entirely under your control, therefore you can control it. I find that much more empowering that the shrug and declaration that it's just 'in the family'. Fat is NOT handed down to any significant degree. How your family deals with food is. Trauma is. If everyone in your family looks like that, maybe it's because they have always eaten the same, and have similar issues. I guarantee you, if you are from North America and moved to India, totally changing your diet, lifestyle and movement regime, you would not have the same shape as the rest of your family.
And again, even if this seems simple, if it goes through your mouth, other than surgery, the only way to remove fat from your body is to use and excrete it. That means when you start cleaning your body out, you will pump the waste through your bowels. Especially when laxatives are recommended to you to lose weight. Yes, they will work. Until you stop taking them. Unless you changed your lifestyle habits, your body will not relearn how to deal with your food, and it'll be right back on again.
It is most definitely what you eat (ask a diabetic), but it is also how you eat it. Eating food with reverence and less stress increases the ability to process, to increase efficiency, and to ensure a lower level of fat retention. If food were given the same reverence and respect some of our ancestors gave it, we might not experience many of the problems we have now. It is also always an excellent idea to chew your food very well, however, it is a myth that most digestion takes place in the mouth. Saliva begins to digest mostly simple sugars from a chemical point of view. But the smell, texture and qualities of the food prepare your mind, and therefore the rest of your body to receive it. Seeing and smelling a cake, for example, prepares your body with completely different enzymes than say, seeing and smelling a casserole. One of the reasons that the art of cuisine in most cultures stresses the presentation of food as well as the taste, smell and quality.
Eating fat doesn't mean it goes on your body as fat. Plants have fat, too. We press it as 'oil'. There are good fats and bad fats. As mostly plant eaters, good fats for humans are mostly from...plants. Raw, too. They cleanse the body, lubricate the joints, make cell walls more permeable, and remove bad fats. Processed oils are killers. Cooked and processed oils turn to transfats, that stick in your blood and never quite go away. Bad fats are mostly from transfats and animal flesh. They will kill you dead, after they've filled your body with nastiness, pain, and suffering. Consider ignoring the cholesterol advice your doctor gave you. Women's bodies are designed to create a human body inside it and produce the milk it needs, including all its fats. We require and handle fats much better than men. Women generally require about 30% body fat, obviously good fats, to maintain optimal health just walking around, much more when pregnant and nursing. Men need about 10%. Current cholesterol tests and subsequent advice are all based on men. Our cholesterol health is based, like much in our lives, on ratios that were designed with only men in mind. Optimally, women should have about 1 to four bad to good fats. The actual amount should even increase, depending on pregnancy and menopause. That means that when your doctor tells you that you should cut down your cholesterol or your fats, find out what your actual numbers are. Most are reluctant to tell you, and in all probability, you don't have a problem at all. So eat your good fats, avoiding the bad ones, and know that they are helping you reduce your...fat.
Sweets don't make you fat. If simple sugars aren't used by your system, they simply pass on by. The fructose in that apple will simply not be turned into fat. Go ahead. Eat only apples for the next month. In fact, eat nothing but candy for the next month. Boy, will you lose weight. But try to eat only McDonalds... Just watch "Supersize Me" for that horror story. It's the BAD FATS that are the culprits. Honest. Refined sugars only poison you, making it harder for your body to combat the bad fat buildup. Which makes it a good reason to avoid them, too. But they don't make you fat.
Men are prone to what's known commonly as 'beer bellies' or 'beer gut'. In the industry, we call it 'deer gut'. It is hardly ever stored fat, since most of the men you see with it are not very fat anywhere else. It is almost always undigested food, and almost always meat related. This is because meat takes over 12 hours to digest in the most efficient human systems. If yours is not that efficient, well, you get the idea. Eat meat with every meal and you can see the problem. Europeans, Asians, and most other peoples on the planet rarely ate meat, unless of course you were fortunate to be rich. There are a few exceptions. Peoples that lived off more meat centered diets, like Native North Americans and particularly Inuit such as the Dene rarely have these issues. They usually have other problems, such as the slow death from a gluten and sugar centered diet; wheat and refined sugar being unknown until the Europeans showed up. Women, too, get bogged down with undigested food, but as their viscera can adapt to carrying around a baby, they keep it mostly internally, and just have their internal organs much more squished.
And now for the magic bullet to change the shape of your body, and how it deals with food:
Human beings are not meant to eat every 6 hours; at 6 in the morning, at noon, and at 6 at night. We optimally function if we have an infusion of carbs at about every 3 and one half hours. Eating good carbs, like rice, potatoes, pasta, etc. every three and one half hours gives your body the fuel it needs when it needs it. It takes only a few DAYS of this dedicated regime for your body to realize it no longer needs to store the carbs necessary for your survival, and makes the decision to release the extra gas tank to save on moving the extra weight around. I have seen people achieve their ideal weight in usually about two weeks and miraculous fat loss in very short periods of time that was completely safe, effective, and best of all, as permanent as the continuation of this lifestyle concept. It works for people who are too thin, as well. They have enough calories to achieve efficient growth, and pad out in whatever shape is most optimal for them. Many of these ideas are found under the concept of 'natural hygiene'. One of the first mentions of this concept in North America was the book Fit for Life in the 70's. There is much more to be learned and used by those who are interested. 6, 7
That regime alone, of consuming good complex carbs every three and one half hours, is sometimes referred to as the Hypoglycaemic Diet. It's a diet in the old sense of the word, of an eating routine, not a fad diet, in the modern sense of unhealthy quick weight loss. I've gone on that regime at various points in my life when I needed to focus on my food habits. The one time I did it intensely was with a partner, my roommate at the time. He was about 60 pounds overweight, and I was about 20 pounds under. We helped each other eat at the proper times every day, and took turns making the meals. I'd do potatoes in the morning, or rice in the afternoon, with veggies on the side, whatever. Small meals, where we were not hungry, and without combining more than one complex carb. Very simple. Within one week, I was more filled out. Within a month, he had lost 40 pounds. Easily. Naturally. His body no longer needed to hold onto it. I had gained twenty, and was stronger than I have ever been. In a month and a half he had lost fifty. He had no idea he was carrying so much extra.
Another excellent choice for learning to pay attention to and increasing your body's efficiency or shedding/gaining the proper amount of weight is fasting. Fasts are not starvation. That produces the opposite effect of a fast. A fast is a resting of the digestive system, usually one day of prep, then the fast, then the last day of winding down. The first day would be like eating soups, plain rice or potatoes; simple uncomplex food your body can digest well without making too much of an effort. On the last day, as you come out a fast, it's vital that you gear up slowly again. Salads, soups, breads; plain foods will help your system get back into gear without missing a beat. If your colon is still hard at work eliminating on your last day of the fast, as many have reported, you know darn well it isn't recent food you're getting rid of, since you haven't eaten any. Fasts should never make you feel hungry. You should have enough calories in the fast in some form to complete your daily activities, fibre in some form to fill you up, as well as vitamins and minerals. They can be done for as many days as you like, but usually it's wisest to start with one, then go to three, done on a weekend. Experts can do ten, and usually go on them once a year, like spring cleaning. One feels like crap, as it were, for the first two days of the fast generally, as much of the contamination of the cells is leached out. Then, by the fourth, one's energy returns greater than ever. Keep that in mind when planning your schedule, and don't be discouraged by what you feel like at first. For many types of healing, it gets worse before it gets better. Fasting can be done at any time and gives your body a rest for dealing with complex foods, while providing it with everything it needs to continue it's daily activities satisfactorily. As fasts are simply regimes used in a lifestyle, there as many different kinds of fasts as there are people.
Fruit fasts or cleanses add fibre, vits and minerals, and moisture to the body. They clean out your digestive tract and balance enzyme and acid production, which when out of synch is usually termed 'heartburn'. One can eat any kind of fruit achieve this benefit, even what are called semi acid fruits like dates and bananas. All fruit servings of whatever kinds, mix or match, must always be eaten alone, however. No water, no coffee, no juice. Otherwise it just dilutes the enzymes and ends up sloshing around in your belly, taking hours longer to digest. Any type of food other than fruit requires different enzymes at a different pH level to digest, making it impossible to balance anything out, when two or more different pH levels and enzymes fighting for control of the digestive environment. A litmus nightmare. An efficient digestive system requires at least one half hour to digest fruit sufficiently before anything else can be added, so judge your own system accordingly. In a weight loss regime, this is can be easily combined with the Hypoglycaemic diet. The fruit fast when you first wake up for the day until a half hour before your first meal helps to clean out the system and make it more efficient, then eating every three and one half hours all day. This is the fastest, most efficient, and energy producing way to get rid of fat and achieving optimal weight for nearly everyone. I just recommended it to a friend. One could actually see the difference on him in less than a week.
The Master Cleanse is all the maple syrup, lemon juice, and olive oil you can drink for a number of days, usually three. There are those who put some cayenne pepper in the mix, and always keep your fibre up in the form of, say, oat bran pills so you don't feel hungry. It's a pretty intense fast, for the brave and/or desperate. The Juice fast or Liquid fast are much less so. And there are so many others, in any combination. Fasts are as individual as personal diet regimes. The Internet is a great source for ideas.
And now, exercise. Exercise uses up calories when stress is applied to muscles. Enough stress and they signal that they need amino acids building blocks to create more for the future. Is there fat mentioned in there? No. Fat is stored energy, but it takes a good deal of energy and work to release it, and your body doesn't like doing that if it can help it. It also takes quite a while. Fat doesn't 'transform' into muscle, and will often as not stay right where it is when calories are demanded. In fact, your body will use up every bit of carbs available before it starts on the fat, like the meal you ate before you came to the gym, and the sugar in the coffee. It will also signal that you are very hungry, and entice you to plug in carbs and glucose into your system as quickly as possible. Most people eat significantly MORE when they are on a training program, not less. As a fat reduction program, increasing one's activity level are not particularly helpful. However, as a toning program, like teaching your body to sculpt itself in the way you prefer, it's a great idea. A training program to train your body to have everything in all the right places should be considered a supplement ONLY to a weight reduction program, and ONLY if you have already altered your eating patterns. Otherwise, you just fall into the old trap of working out, and eating, and not losing weight. Or gaining it, as muscle indeed weighs more.
Serious food allergies will cause serious weight problems. Test yourself for allergies using the rotation diet, not the standard skin tests. Those don't help show how the foods interact with your digestive tract. If you do indeed have a serious food allergy, it will gum up your system and induce all kinds of illness. Avoid all foods that you show reactions to. This often is the undiagnosed issue behind so many chronic illnesses.
This is basic info, but quite frankly, it is extremely simple to achieve one's optimal weight. Your body will know what it is and it probably ISN'T what your doctor or trainer has told you it is. Your body does its job and will naturally equalize to your ideal size, given the proper tools. Don't read ANY fad diet books. Don't drive yourself crazy with highly complex and disciplined programs. Don't give anyone money to help you 'get in shape'. YOU are the only one who put on the fat. Only YOU are going to remove it. Throw out your scale. If you REALLY feel the need to monitor your weight, use the one at the gym or the doctor's office. And no more than once a month. Your clothes will tell you. The mirror will tell you. Anything else is quantifying gone mad.
This isn't really a book, of course, but it should more than start you off on a new way of thinking about your body. It's not portion control, it's not your metabolism, it's not caloric intake, it's not your genetics, though all of those can play a part. How much weight you carry and where it goes is almost entirely under your control. Take back your life, and never worry about dieting again.
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