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Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

FAT IS STILL BAD FOR YOU....The big health news today is that you don't have to worry about fat. Except, not really:

"Just switching to low-fat foods is not likely to yield much health benefit in most women," said Marcia Stefanick, a professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, chairwoman of the steering committee for the Women's Health Initiative study.

"Rather than trying to eat 'low-fat,' women should focus on reducing saturated fats and trans fats," the so-called bad fats, while maintaining their intake of "good" fats, such as vegetable, olive and fish oils.

Apparently this applies to men as well, but who cares? Cutting back on fat isn't all that hard. It's cutting back on saturated fat (mostly from meat) and trans fats (mostly from processed foods) that's hard, and if those things are still bad for you then nothing much has changed. I sure hope people don't read these stories and think "Yippee! I don't have to worry about what I eat anymore!"

Kevin Drum 12:04 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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Comments

Eat less and take a walk. You'll be fine.

Posted by: craigie on February 8, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

In your case, it won't help. The universe hates you!

Posted by: craigie on February 8, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it might be easier to avoid saturated fat and trans fat if the labeling requirement was better. Apparently, manufacturers can reduce the portion size down to a point where the value falls below 0.5 grams and then report it as zero. I was also surprised to see that it possible to list hydrogenated oil as margerine in the ingredients. It's a little harder to scan for something that has multiple names.

Posted by: B on February 8, 2006 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Only if you swim a mile a day in them.

Posted by: craigie on February 8, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Reduce simple carbohydrates, which will reduce insulin levels, which will reduce stored fat.

Posted by: NJC on February 8, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

I've gotten good results from simply avoiding fast food (other than salads), but the demands of a long work day/work week make menu building at home tough.

Suggestions?

Posted by: jcricket on February 8, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

If the ingredients list is that long and complicated, then don't eat it.

Eating foods that are not processed much before you get them is a little more work, but it's a great way to stay healthy. (and eat in moderation). The other day I realized that my grocery cart was 90% unprocessed food - produce, animal proteins, nuts for snacks; the processed stuff was coffee, some locally made bread, plain yogurt, some locally made sausage. (Hubby does Atkins, believe it or not, so we eat meat and sausage around here)

Probably some would say no meat at all, but I just eat small portions, 1x a day or less.

Whole grains - brown rice, bulghur wheat etc. are also optimal.

We just don't buy chips, crackers, white bread, cereal except for Cheerios (we have little kids) and plain old-fashioned oatmeal.

I even make my own salad dressing - not hard - a little lemon juice or vinaiger, salt & pepper and maybe garlic, olive oil whisked in and voila! My six year could do it. No preservatives or weird stabilizers. And olive oil is good for you.

What we save on processed crap, we spend on better quality produce and organic meat.

Just my $.02

re: low fat and outcomes for breast cancer survivors (my particular concern) they just can't get any good data. I think that if you eat better food and less of it, lose weight, you have better odds. It does seem that being thinner correlates with less risk of recurrence. for this reason I am being conscientious about not snacking etc. for the first time in my life.

I've recently had the stunning revelation that if I eat less, I'll lose weight. Amazing, huh. this involves pushing the plate away, and NOT buying the chocolate dipped biscotto I used to get 5x a week. What a concept.

Posted by: Leila on February 8, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting that the NY Times story and the LA Times story seem to take two entirely different tacks: The NYT story says no benefit to a low-fat diet whatsoever, other than it's an easier way to cut down on calorie consumpion. The LA Times story makes subtle hints and allegations that maybe just maybe it's still bad, but the evidence doesn't support the belief. Neither story, as far as I could read, mentions proven health effects of trans fats or saturated fats since the study didn't differentiate at all.

So where does Marcia Stefanick get her facts from to support her editorial bits? And why does Kevin pull these two paragraphs out for emphasis?

Science ain't no good if nobody WANTS to believe. Isn't that what we've learned from the current batch of clowns in Washington?

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 8, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

How 'bout just using more calories than you take in?

Sheesh.

There are conservation laws governing this stuff, folks. You don't get something from nothing.

Posted by: cdj on February 8, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

"Reduce simple carbohydrates, which will reduce insulin levels, which will reduce stored fat."

Pretty close to theoretical Atkins, which works for me. Easier to cut breads and sugars than fats, and carbs increase appetite. Plus exercise, of course.
YMMV.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on February 8, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

"but the demands of a long work day/work week make menu building at home tough."

Menus? A hunk of meat, cheese, big salad, raw fruit. Fish or eggs instead of meat. Meal after meal, month after month. When I am going good, anything complicated disgusts me.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on February 8, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Menu building at home - a protein, a salad, a side veg, a whole grain carb - whole wheat bread if you're stuck. Fruit for dessert. This is what we do.

Protein - well, chicken breasts are spendy but easy and fast to cook. Or roast a whole chicken (or 2) on the weekend to "cut on" during the week.

My local market sells top round pork loins at under $4 a pound, usually in 1.25 pound chunks. These roast up quickly (with a drizzle of olive oil and maybe some rosemary on top).

Burgers. We just had ground beef & lamb burgers Middle Eastern style, with chopped green herbs and scallions mixed in - shaped more like large flattened meatballs or tiny burgers, roasted in a pan in a hot oven. Broiling is problematic because the burnt bits aren't good for you. (Carcinogenic)

Good old beans and rice. The fiber is good for you. Brown rice takes longer but if you have a rice cooker it's somehow less onerous - set it going when you walk in the door, relax or tidy up and fix the rest of the dinner, the rice is done in 50 minutes. Or make ahead. Sometimes a decent brand of canned black beans over brown rice, with some nice hot sauce or salsa, accompanied by a hefty salad, is just the comfort food you want.

The tortilla is a great thing - leftover meats, beans and rice can go into them with a decent salsa and you have a reasonably healthy home version of your local Mexican restaurant's food. We like quesadillas around here but they're higher fat of course.

Fish fillets are easy to cook and fast, but expensive.

I also recommend Pam Anderson's book "How To COok Without a Book" for flexible "formula" recipes - frittatas, supper soups, pasta sauces, stir fries and more. Everything in the book is meant to be cooked in 1/2 an hour (although her roast chicken takes longer - but it's still fast - she has you cut the back out and spatchcock it) but it's not about processed awful foods.

Her supper soups are terrific - a quart of broth, a can of tomatos, a pound of protein, a pound of veg, a cup of starch, a sauteed onion. This yields Sausage and kale soup, or chicken and rice soup, or pork and hominy, or any number of combos. We love it.

Just a few ideas.

Posted by: Leila on February 8, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, I lost 41 pounds two years ago (went from 153 to 112 on a 5'4" frame)over about 4-5 months by just cutting out refined sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, and white flour. My doc told me that both are toxic for your bod. I'm pretty much able to eat whatever I want, and the weight hasn't come back. Exercising, though, is a whole 'nother matter. I'm still waiting on that perfect workout video that will let me sit in my recliner eating potato chips and still tone up like a 16-year-old.

Posted by: CatStaff on February 8, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Leila,

what is a "decent brand of canned black beans"?

Posted by: dfdf on February 8, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

1. This study was not about dieting. It was about health risks such as heart disease and certain kinds of cancer.

2. This study found that the common belief that carbs lead to increased insulin levels, blood glucose levels, and diabetes was unproven.

3. The New York Times article can be found here:
Study Finds Low-Fat Diet Won't Stop Cancer or Heart Disease

4. One would presume that those on the high-fat spectrum of the study would be consuming saturated fats and trans fats, yet the study found no increase incidents of heart disease, cancer, or other illnesses commonly blamed on a high-fat diet.

5. Kevin's headline for the study, Fat is Still Bad For You, is not supported by the conclusions of this $415 million eight-year study.

Folks, if we're gonna take the side of science and reason based on factual proof against the Huns in D.C., we've gotta learn to accept facts that suggest dietary anathema and ideas counter-intuitive to accepted "truths" as well.

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 8, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

And, no, I am not fighting for the science of this study because I am fat. As a matter of fact, I cycle about 20 miles each and every day. I am a rock and I watch what I eat. I'm just guarding against self-serving misinterpretations of the largest study ever done.

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 8, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

I still haven't figured out why we let corporations get away with using trans fatty acids in the careless way that they do.

1) There was no labeling requirement for them until last month, 2) the FDA removed a proposed labeling foot note "Intake of trans fat should be as low as possible", 3) the FDA allows less than 0.5 grams to be reported as 0 grams, and 4) fast food companies are only reducing them on a voluntary basis.

Multiple well substantiated epidemiology studies (greater than 50,000 total participants in multi-decade studies) indicate that the risk they pose is 2 to 4 times that of saturated fats and that approx. 100,000 premature deaths related to coronary heart disease can be attributed to them annually.

See: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/reviews/transfats.html

Even replacing them with saturated fats (butter and lard) would substatially decrease heart disease in this country. Nobody seems to be aware of it.

Posted by: B on February 8, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Avoiding trans fats isn't that difficult, since they're mainly in things likes cookies, and many manufacturers are starting to list whether they contain it or not.

The 99 Cents stores (probably forbidden by zoning ordinances in Irvine) have several cookies without trans fats such as caramel coated shortbread, chocolate covered peanut butter cookies, etc.

If what's said above about manufacturers being able to round down is true, then they might have some trans fats. Check for something being listed as hydrogenated to be sure.

Here are my diet tips.

Posted by: TLB on February 8, 2006 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

TLB -- I'm not worried so much about my health. I can eat healthy if I want to. This stuff has an impact on public health, insurance costs, medicaid, medicare, etc.

Posted by: B on February 8, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

One more thing:

A recently released study (past ten days) shows that late-night snacking isn't more likely to put on pounds than eating at any other time of the day or night. It still all comes down to calories consumed versus calories burned throughout a 24-hour period, if not longer. The fact that one consumes those calories just before going to sleep doesn't increase the likelihood of weight gain.

However, some of us get the munchies late at night and blow our caloric intake numbers out door at this time. That's why I tend to snack on very low-calorie items like air-popped popcorn, fruit, and steamed broccoli (yeah, really).

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 8, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

How 'bout just using more calories than you take in?...Sheesh...There are conservation laws governing this stuff, folks. You don't get something from nothing.

cdj: you're right, of course, but you also oversimplify. The reality is different substances exert different effects on our metabolism. Five hundred calories worth of fat will keep hunger at bay longer than 500 calories worth of refined carbs.

Posted by: 99 on February 8, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Want a healthier diet? Just buy your food from the perimeter of the supermarket. Fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, breads. Don't buy the processed crap that fills the aisles. It's shit. You don't need it.

Posted by: Digital Amish on February 8, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that one consumes those calories just before going to sleep doesn't increase the likelihood of weight gain.

I vehemently disagree with this. Your metabolism undertakes certain activities while sleeping that are performed more efficiently on an empty stomach. I recommend www.arthurdevany.com for more info. He's an absolutely brilliant and fascinating nutritional theorist.

Posted by: 99 on February 8, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Nevermind. Leila covered it at 12:28am. I guess I should read the comments first.

But it's hard work.

Posted by: Digital Amish on February 8, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

HRlaughed, there is one paragraph with speculation that saturated and trans fats might still be bad, but the source admits it's speculation, with nothing in the study supporting it. He just conjectures that the study's methodology might have missed it. (I presume this is what you are addressing in your point 4.)

From what I could see, this massive study failed to find any measurable correlation between types of diet and better or worse outcomes in the target diseases. (It also doesn't support the Atkins crowd's contention that simple carbs raise insulin levels etc.) So what we're left with is that we really have no idea if we can address heart disease and cancer risk through diet. There's an outside chance that saturated and trans fats may still contribute to disease risk, but we don't have any solid evidence that this is so. In other words, we don't know a damn thing.

Six years ago when I went through cardiac rehab, there was lots of emphasis on reducing overall fat intake, with evidence cited from studies showing certain foreign populations that eat less fat have lower rates of heart disease, while others that eat more have higher rates. These studies are obviously problematic as they involve comparing populations differing in ethnicity and geography as well as diet. Even so, given that I'd just gone through an experience I didn't feel like repeating (cardiac treatment), I figured I'd do everything I could to keep my heart healthy, so I did the low-fat thing on the chance that it was useful.

A few years ago I came across this, which contains an account of how dietary fat came to be such a bogeyman. It turns out there is almost no scientific basis for the demonization of fats, and the consensus that they are bad comes from an accident of politics, and once in place the consensus was immovable even after it was shown to have no basis.

So what to do? We all have to eat, and yet none of the guidance we thought we had is valid. Apparently fruits, veggies and whole grains are pretty universally thought of as good (though they may not help out with heart disease of cancer), and saturated/trans fats have the possibility of being bad. For the rest, it's a roll of the dice.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 8, 2006 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

99: Guess you missed the SCIENTIFIC study that totally confounded your accepted precepts -- much like this new one that is the basis of all this off-topic banter on dieting hoey. Maybe next time.

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 8, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

The most surprising aspect of the new study:

"The study did not differentiate between different types of fat."

Even in the 1980's they had to have an inkling that this might matter. 415 million dollars down the drain. Any mention of trans fat or saturated fat in this study is apparently a reference to other studies -- where, as I've stated above, the correlation with heart disease is unambiguous.

Posted by: B on February 8, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

99: Guess you missed the SCIENTIFIC study that totally confounded your accepted precepts -- much like this new one that is the basis of all this off-topic banter on dieting hoey. Maybe next time.

HR: Guess you missed the memo that says I shouldn't give a rat's about someone who doesn't know me who presumes to pontificate on what my "accepted precepts" might or might not be. Oh well. Maybe next time.

(PS -- I'm a scientist myself, but I have no illusions that there's anything resembling universal consensus when it comes to human nutrition. For your own health, I strongly urge you to think for yourself and question EVERY conclusion emerging from the all-knowing "studies" that appear weekly. It was just such a "study" that told us to be terrified of fat in the first place -- I'm old enough to remember when we weren't supposed to eat eggs).

Posted by: 99 on February 8, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

For your own health, I strongly urge you to think for yourself and question EVERY conclusion emerging from the all-knowing "studies" that appear weekly.

The whole idea behind doing studies is to create objectively verifiable data upon which to base conclusions. If the studies are in conflict (or, as in this case, they have nothing to say), then you have nothing other than speculation and anecdotal minutia to work with instead. If you're really a scientist, you'd know that these kinds of data are pretty much worthless. So I have no idea how we're supposed to "think for ourselves" or question conclusions. It's just the blind leading the blind.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 8, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

B

Can you link to any of these other studies? I'm curious.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 8, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

99: No offense intended. I'm sure we're both on the same side, but just don't know it. Typical of Democrats. Still...not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know, but a scientist knows not to pick and choose between studies based on whether or not they support or conflict with ones pre-existing beliefs or precepts (like "don't eat late at night"). This new $415 million eight-year study is a prime example. We can learn from what it tells us, or we can find ways to dismiss it because of saturated fat loopholes it fails to directly address. Also, I am quite healthy, thanks for the concern. I cycle 20 miles each day -- excepting snow days and in reeeeeally strong winds -- and I eat a very healthy low-fat diet heavy on the short-grained brown rice and steamed veggies. Plus, I am old enough to remember when there were no health concerns regarding diets or cigarettes.

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 8, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

jesus JimBOB -- your own link pointed to the largest and most statistically sound study (although their characterization of the risk associated with saturated fats doesn't quite jive with that of the study authors).

For 20 years, for instance, the Harvard School of Public Health has run the Nurses' Health Study and its two sequelae--the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses' Health Study II--accumulating over a decade of data on the diet and health of almost 300,000 Americans. The results suggest that total fat consumed has no relation to heart disease risk; that monounsaturated fats like olive oil lower risk; and that saturated fats are little worse, if at all, than the pasta and other carbohydrates that the Food Guide Pyramid suggests be eaten copiously. (The studies also suggest that trans fatty acids are unhealthful. These are the fats in margarine, for instance, and are what many Americans started eating when they were told that the saturated fats in butter might kill them.)

You can find references to three of these studies (Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene study, and the Nurses Health Study (NHS)) at the following link:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/reviews/transfats.html

they are refs: 37, 38, and 39

My advice on nutrition studies is to not pay attention to those that have fewer than 30,000 participants or last less than 10 years. The media publicizes them all, whether they are statistically significant or not. This is the largest single source of confusion in the public.

Posted by: B on February 8, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Jeez, it's not that complicated. Eat less/right and move your a** ...

:)

Posted by: Daldianus on February 8, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

B
Thanks for the pointer. It's been awhile since I read that piece, though skimming it again it seems to jibe with this new study, in that the issues involved are complex and involve trade-offs and multiple interactions of nutrients, so it's not surprising that simply lowering fat intake doesn't do much of anything. Good to see transfats are still a villain.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 8, 2006 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

I realize that the link didn't really include recent publications, but the following news story (published yesterday) indicates that the Harvard School of Public Health still stands by their research.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-02-06-hospital-fries_x.htm

I'll just take another opportunity to bitch that it took 10 years to go from multiple peer reviewed publications to FDA policy.

Posted by: B on February 8, 2006 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

This has been the story for over a decade now...this is not news.

Trans fats will kill you, and saturated fat might.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

For the record, it's not too hard to get lean cuts of meat, but you just have to be willing to pay a little more. This can be a problem with those with low budgets, especially since the temptation is much higher to buy cheap processed food, which has the even more dangerous trans fats.

One must always remember there is no reason to go overboard either, in cutting back on saturated fat, and plenty of people live long lives not worrying about saturated fat, and basically eating a diverse diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats.

A few good habits go a long way, and, if you have a varied healthy diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, diary, and meat, then you don't really need to worry about saturated fat as much as trans fats, and, if you want to lose weight, the key is to cut back on calories, not fat, just keep the same diet and eat a little less, or exercise more.

It's that easy. But easier to say than do, especially for those with limited budgets and time.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter lesson: eat fresh food, with lots of variety, avoid processed food, and burn more calories.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

I've commented on this before, but it bears repeating: In the numerous times I've attended the Endocrine Society meetings over the past decade, the world's foremost researchers in weight disorders, diabetes, and genetic medicine have said a lot of things, but I have never heard one of them say that we finally understand how people can all be thin, non-diabetic, and heart-healthy. What I have learned is that there are strong genetic components, postulated dietary influences, and a lot of work yet to be done.

The most interesting finding last year, from Yale's Gerald Shulman, was a possible explanation for insulin resistance. Fatty acid build up in the skeletal muscle cells directly influences the glucose transporters, resulting in insulin's action being muted.

That is science. What you read in the health food store is not. And epidemiology is hard to do and not at the level of mechanistic understanding that biochemistry is.

What's missing from all this hand waving is the deep understanding of how coronary artery disease and diabetes come about. By the way, there has been a suggestion that fat increases the danger of breast cancer, but once again, its all submerged under lots of other variables. One thought was that because fat collects steroids such as estrogen, it increases the overall lifetime internal exposure to estrogen, something that may be correlated with mortality. That's a lot of "may be" and "could."

Posted by: Bob G on February 8, 2006 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

Bob G,

At least the epidemiologists figured out cigarette smoke and are on the right track with trans fats. Studying the effect of trans fats on LDL and HDL might eventually expose a mechanism.

Where correlations are weaker epidemiology is very sketchy. I'm guessing unrecorded environmental variables and genetic predispositons cause a lot of noise. Maybe we should just do all our studies in Iceland where some of these variables will eventually be constrained.

Posted by: asdf on February 8, 2006 at 4:21 AM | PERMALINK

I sound like a fast food shill when I say this, but it works for me--if you run (on average) 11 miles a day, seven days a week, you can eat ANYTHING. I lost 45 pounds (185 to 140 on a 5'9" frame) and completely reversed dangerous cholesterol and bp tests just by picking up marathon running as a hobby.

Run to work instead of commuting, and it even heavy mileage doesn't take that much time--subtract off my commute time, and my runs only take an extra 45 minutes or so.

Posted by: Joe on February 8, 2006 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

Moderation and variety.

Hard to build the latest 'magic bullet against disease' or 'miracle weight loss' best seller on such but those simple words remain the best diet advice around.

Your life expectancy isn't going to take a nose dive if you have an occasional Big Mac. Or smell someone else's cigarette smoke from 15 feet away either.

So much 'magical thinking', so little thought.

Save me from food faddists and their latest craze.

Posted by: CFShep on February 8, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

One word - Lipitor

Posted by: cq on February 8, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Why does everyone keep saying saturated fat is bad for you? This is nonsense. Do some real reading on the subject such as "know your fats" by Dr. Mary Enig. A real scientist, not a hack.

Posted by: alan on February 8, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Sugar is worse than fat, and we take high glycemic foods and fry them in bad fats, which become our comfort foods.

Posted by: Hostile on February 8, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I believe this illustrates the difference between American and European health outcomes. They eat small meat portions and don't use all that processed crap that we eat.

Posted by: Chad on February 8, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

If you don't want to be overweight, eat less and/or exercise more. If you want to eat healthier food, stay away from processed foods and don't eat fast food. If you don't care that you are overweight or become overweight, then eat whatever makes you happy since even the healthiest of us are going to die anyway.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 8, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

The only thing I've ever found to work at all is not to try to "reduce" everything, but instead focus on increasing alternatives; its a lot easier to "increase fresh green vegetables" and "increase tuna and other fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acides" than to "decrease sources of saturated and trans-fats", but if you do the former, you'll pretty much do the latter automatically.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

More delusion. It's all about vigorous exercise. And by the looks of things, not many people are getting it.

Posted by: Pechorin on February 8, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

GO Vegan!

Ask Kos.

Posted by: Calvin on February 8, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I read that article and did not get your conclusions from it. Where do you come up with the recommendation to avoid saturated fat? I see nothing in this study that substantiates it - quite the opposite. All of the results along those lines were within the margin of error. If I have missed something, please point it out.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on February 8, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'd love to be able to jog or bicycle to work, but I meet with clients all the time and I can't look (and smell) like I've just biked/jogged six miles.

And I think that's the case with most people. In addition, work is hell. By the time I get off work I'm emotionally exhausted.

I used to do weight lifting after work, but to be honest it's a real struggle to motivate yourself after 8 hours of crap. Yeah, I know that I'd feel better, but it's one thing to know what you should do and quite another to be motivated to do it.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 8, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

It is quite fantastically simple:

Consumer fewer calories, burn more calories.

Everything else is window dressing when it comes to loosing weight.

Posted by: jefff on February 8, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone, go check out Dean Ornish's column in Newsweek, which is available on-line at msnbc.com (even if you dislike msnbc and/or newsweek, setthose feelings aside for the moment as Dr Ornish is very well respected when it comes to dieting & heart disease).

In a nutshell, Dr Ornish says this study was a sham...they did NOT make distinctions between the good fat (i.e. unsaturated fat) versus bad fats (trans fats, etc.) Also, he maintains that the study group didn't siginificantly differ from the control group as far as their eating habits, and therefore you can't draw conclusions because the difference was not as sharp as it should have been.

Let's face it, there is now a ton of evidence that lowering bad fat etc. is a key to heart disease (although cancer might be another story). One poorly excuted study will not trump a mountain of evidence.

Any canche big medicine is in bed with big agribusiness and the cattle lobby on this one? Perish the thought!

Remember, the republicans want you dead as soon as you're about to retire, not pay payroll taxes anymore, and start collecting social security and Medicare. They'd love it if everyone eats at McDonald's, Outback Steakhouse, never has a salad, and dies of heart disease at age 65.

Posted by: scott on February 8, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

EmmaAnne -- the study didn't differentiate types of fat, but the authors told us to avoid sat-fat and trans-fat because of their faith in previous studies that did. The Harvard nurse study discussed above in comments was larger, differentiated fats and came to conclusions that are consistent with this one:

total fat -- irrelevant
polyunsaturated fat -- good
saturated fat -- a little bad, similar to carbohydrates
trans fat -- bad

Posted by: asdf on February 8, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd love to be able to jog or bicycle to work, but I meet with clients all the time and I can't look (and smell) like I've just biked/jogged six miles."

I'm lucky in that regard--my employer's building has a gym with shower facilities. I just take up two days worth of clothes and bag lunches on Sunday and Wednesday, and shower when I get there. You do have to plan ahead, though, and be willing to come into work on the weekend with your gear (usually not a problem for me, given that I normally have several hours--if not a couple of days--worth of work to do on the weekend).

If there were no showers, I could always join a gym or club, but that's admittedly a ton of money just to bathe.

"And I think that's the case with most people. In addition, work is hell. By the time I get off work I'm emotionally exhausted."

True. When I'm at the height of marathon training and running twice a day, I'll do a post-work workout, but it's usually only half an hour or so of speedwork. The 90-120 minute runs are strictly a morning thing. Even, then, though, waking up at 4:45 to run, getting out the door by 5:30, getting into work at 7:15, showering and getting to my desk by 7:45, putting in a 12 hour day, getting home at 8:15 and doing 30 minutes of hard running on the treadmill before eating and collapsing is utterly exhausting.

"I used to do weight lifting after work, but to be honest it's a real struggle to motivate yourself after 8 hours of crap. Yeah, I know that I'd feel better, but it's one thing to know what you should do and quite another to be motivated to do it."

8 hours of crap? Cushy job. As I said, I'm lucky if I can get away with a 10 hour day, and 11-12 is more standard. Really nice pay, though.

Posted by: Joe on February 8, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

I left out one item...even worse than trans fats, processed sugar. Too much processed sugar drives wildly fluctuating body sugar levels drives diabetes-type conditions drives overconsumption of more processed food drives more consumption of trans fats.

The number one reason for obesity in America is overconsumption of processed sugar.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing the Atkins diet ever did was to eliminate all sources of hydrogenated oil.

Avoiding hydrogenated oil isn't nearly as hard as some people like to imagine, I haven't had any in years.

You can't eat Wheaties, but you can eat Lucky Charms. What more do you need?

Posted by: cld on February 8, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I've eliminated all hydrogenated oil in my diet too, at least in terms of what I eat and prepare at home. Unfortunately, I'm one of those who love going out to eat, and do so frequently, so inevitably I'm getting some hydrogenated oils through that route, but probably less than you imagine, since I'm not a fast food guy, but a fresh food guy.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Lucky for me I'm just as paranoid about eating out. You just don't know what kind of maniac is in the kitchen!

Posted by: cld on February 8, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

And I think that's the case with most people. In addition, work is hell. By the time I get off work I'm emotionally exhausted...I used to do weight lifting after work, but to be honest it's a real struggle to motivate yourself after 8 hours of crap.

Get a new job. Seriously. Nothing is worth your health. I once worked for a company that was situated in a large office park that also contained a nice large healthclub. I'd go two or three times during the week on my lunch break. Of course, I had to take an extra hour or so those days, but my numbers were good and they weren't about to question my lunchbreaks because of my solid performance (and frankly, I made it clear to my boss that my productivity would suffer if I couldn't work out).

If your employer won't accommodate such obvious "work-life-balance needs", you're definitely working for the wrong people.

Posted by: Nate on February 8, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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