Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.

–Mark Twain

The Roommate’s latest suggestion for a post is to reflect on why people might try ditching the gov’mint approved Food Pyramid (we’re 100 certain!) and then after a while give up on this new way of eating.

And by “ditching the Food Pyramid” I don’t mean going on the cookie diet.

As “Dr.” Siegal says, “Hunger Wrecks Diets®©™,” so order all your cookies and shakes now and don’t ever stop eating. That’s the key. And also don’t forget to take all the nutritional supplements, since cookies apparently don’t provide all the nutrition you need.

Or you could just start eating real food like beef, bacon, fat, butter, and vegetables and get tons of vitamins and minerals (especially if it’s all grass-fed or pastured) in their most readily absorbable form for the human digestive system. For more info check over at the nutrition journal, where you can read among other things:

Red meat, regardless of feeding regimen, is nutrient dense and regarded as an important source of essential amino acids, vitamins A, B6, B12, D, E, and minerals, including iron, zinc and selenium [17,18]. Along with these important nutrients, meat consumers also ingest a number of fats which are an important source of energy and facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K.

Now I’m digressing again, so let’s get back to the point. As soon as I remember what it is.

Oh yes! Reasons why people might start eating this way and then give up. Now I’ll repeat a swiftly-growing-old caveat at this point: I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, Hollywood star, or anyone else you would normally go to for nutritional advice. I’m just someone who has had personal experience and who reads a lot.

What I’m droning on about in this post is based on my personal experience with friends, as well as a lot, LOT of reading people’s online testimonies. And in talking and reading with and about people, I’ve noticed some things.

I just didn’t feel well till I added back in some carbs.

Sometimes I hear or read people say this when they’ve been eating plenty of clean, healthy meat, and fat for more than a year. I believe these people: for a reason. These people have tried it for a good amount of time and seen their health improve the whole time–they just want to tweak it to be at their very best. I’m perfectly willing to believe that there are some people whose bodily systems perform optimally with a few more carbs than mine loves.

And, most importantly, when they said “I added back in some carbs” they did not mean: “I instituted a tri-weekly pizza event” or “I ate the entire pan of brownies.” What they mean is that they’ve started eating a few sweet potatoes and some more fruit. Maybe a bit of honey. They are not adding back in refined sugar, grains, or other processed junk.

But these aren’t the only people who trot out this line.

I also hear this from people who never gave themselves time to get over the carb flu. If you recall from an earlier post, the “carb flu” is an affectionate name people who have gone through it give to the general feeling of blech that attends switching over from being a glucose burner to a fat burner. Until your body makes this shift, you won’t feel your best. This takes anywhere from two days to two weeks, and occasionally people report that it takes even longer to regain their metabolic flexibility: the ability you (most likely) had in childhood to switch back and forth from burning glucose to burning fat with ease, which many adults have lost from eating diets high in carbohydrates for their whole lives.

You’ve got to give the whole thing a fair shot and your body enough time to get adapted. That means at least four weeks before you declare the whole thing a wash, which brings me to #2:

I tried it and it didn’t work. I just felt terrible, and I didn’t lose any weight.

It’s actually very rare for me to hear this. Once in a great, great while I read this kind of testimony online where I’m really convinced the person genuinely tried it; and they need to be seeing a doctor.

But most of the time when I hear or read this, a little digging reveals that the person never did switch from being a glucose burner to a fat burner. They didn’t eat bread and sweets as much as previously, but they still gave up every few days and ate a donut or a bowl of popcorn. It’ll never work if you do this. Going from a day full of toast and cereal and soda and sandwiches and pasta and smoothies and a brownie to one where you just had the brownie or the toast is an improvement: but you’re still spiking your blood sugar and interfering with your body’s ability to relearn how to burn fat easily and efficiently.

It’s like teasing a dog. You’d be an idiot to hold a piece of raw meat in front of a dog and continuously dangle it just out of reach. When you keep eating that just one piece of toast, or just that one small brownie, you keep telling your body: “Here you go. Here’s a little glucose. You don’t need to burn fat. They’ll be more sugar coming. OOP! Changed my mind! No more!” Your body will not respond positively to this.

Don’t despair. If you can regain your metabolic flexibility with a few months of careful eating, there’s every chance that you can have some M&M’s once in a while again (although why would you want to?). Once in a while. You’ll have a sugar high, a crash, but then in a couple hours you’ll be back to burning fat for fuel. You’ve just got to get there first.

I had headaches or I was tired/hungry all the time.

There are a couple culprits here.

1. The person wasn’t eating enough salt. EAT SALT. You’ve got to be taking in at least 3,000 mg of salt if you aren’t eating any grain or sugar; more if you’re active. And if you aren’t eating processed foods, sodas, and lots of french fries, you aren’t getting much salt.

If you’ve been told to cut out the salt in order to improve your blood pressure, that’s pretty much the same as being told that in order to prevent a fire in your apartment you need to make sure there’s as little oxygen as possible. Yes, fire can’t burn without oxygen and the more oxygen there is the hotter the fire burns; but that doesn’t make oxygen the ultimate culprit in your house fire. The ultimate culprit in your high blood pressure is excessive carbohydrates–even in the form of whole grains. You need sodium just as surely as you need oxygen, and unless you’re eating ridiculously high amounts  you’re body isn’t going to just hold onto all of it in the absence of carbohydrates.

Not eating enough salt on a low-carb diet can give make you tired and give you headaches. If you’re still nervous about it, read here, here and here.

2. The person was eating too much protein. Unless you are particularly tall or are a body builder, most women don’t need more than 150g of protein in a day and can easily get by with 75g. For men it’s more like 200/85. The body loves to use fat for energy. Protein in excess of what your muscles need has to be converted into glucose by the liver. Some is used by your brain, which is good. But if there’s too much it just does what glucose does: gets used before the fat (to keep your blood sugar down-remember elevated blood sugar, even from “healthy whole grains”, is a toxic condition that your body works to correct) and makes you feel hungry and tired.

3. The person wasn’t eating enough fat. This kind of correlates with #2. Either there’s too much protein intake, or the person is just still afraid of fat and is trying to do a low-fat, low-carb diet. That’s disastrous. Your body needs the fat for energy!

Think about this too long and it might blow your mind: all diets–if the dieter successfully loses some fat–are high saturated fat diets.


Even the vegans.

Wanna know why? Because your own body fat is pretty much identical to the fat make-up of lard.

So if you ever succeed in burning your own fat, (although on a low fat diet you’re really burning up your muscles as much, if not more, than your fat), you are using lots of saturated fat for fuel.

Cool, huh?

And this brings up a related question: if saturated fat is so bad for you, why did God make you so that your body converts excess glucose and fructose into that form of fat for storage in your fat cells and subsequent use for fuel? Why not convert it into exactly the same form as canola oil? Or corn oil? Or margarine? If those oils are healthy and saturated fat is evil, then your body has a disastrous malfunction.

Eat your fat so you have energy.

There’s just so much social pressure when I go out to eat.

Ok, on the one hand I’ll give you that people are more important than food. I’m of the opinion that if someone invites me over to their home for a meal they’ve prepared, I will eat what I’m served. I’m obligated to prefer others before myself.

But when eating out, unless you’re headed to the pizza joint, it’s rare to find nothing you can eat. No one at the restaurant, or at the table, is going to force you to eat the french fries or the bun with your burger. Or the baked potato with your steak. Or the bread with your salad. Or the dessert after your roasted chicken. That’s a choice that 99% of the time, you alone make.

Are you sure that’s not just an excuse to justify chowing down on something you know is horrible for you? Something that will inflame your arteries, boost your blood pressure, and skyrocket your blood sugar, making you cranky, hungry, and tired?

And if you’re sure it isn’t just an excuse, ponder the possibility that it might be a little self-absorbed. Maybe not. Maybe you’ve got friends who scrutinize everything you eat. But most of the time people just aren’t paying as much attention to us as we think they are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten out with people who didn’t even notice that I didn’t eat the bun or the fries with my burger. The portions were huge: everyone left some stuff on their plates. And the few who do notice are, if anything, thrilled to be able to count on eating all my fries for me.

But let’s say that you really do have a friend, or friends, who feel compelled to watch what you eat and comment on it. Such people do exist.

I wonder if they would feel compelled to comment if you said you were on a low-fat diet?

I wonder if they’d have something snarky to say if you were diabetic and asked for a sugar-free dessert?

I wonder if they’ve be sarcastic about your choices if you had celiac disease and couldn’t eat any gluten?

I wonder if they’d try to force you to have breakfast cereal with milk if they knew you had a dairy allergy?

If you’re convinced what you’re eating is healthy, and what they want you to eat makes you feel bad, just say so nicely and be done with it. For me, things that spike my blood sugar are no different than peanuts to someone with an allergy or white bread to a celiac: they make me sick. Sure, my sickness doesn’t show up instantaneously and require me to carry epinephrine around with me in a syringe. It doesn’t cause me to get incapacitating intestinal pain an hour after eating.

But it hurts me just as surely. It’s been working on me for decades: raising my blood pressure and my heart rate, inflaming my arteries, spiking my triglycerides, storing ever more fat in my fat cells, filling my blood stream with extra sugar, making me fat and slow and killing my joints.

I’m not going to voluntarily eat that junk again.


Plato says he’s hungry

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