All The King’s Horses

…and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.

–Traditional English Nursery Ryme

Here we are again, and let’s see what has been happening in the world of nutrition over the last couple weeks.

1. US News and World Report released their ranking of the best diets in America.

According to the completely objective opinion of those who have been preaching faithfully that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate, whole-grain diet is healthiest, the best possible diet to lose weight in the ranking is a low-fat, high-carbohydrate, whole-grain diet.


In a tie for #3 is on the list is Weight Watchers. If you’ll recall from a previous post, Weight Watchers has a very different definition of success than those of us living in the real world. To us, “success” means achieving the goal. We all know that very few people who go to lose weight have “lose some weight” as the actual goal. The actual goal is almost always qualified: lose x number of pounds. Lose enough weight to be healthy. Fit into x size clothing. Look good instead of looking like a cow. Lose enough that my knees don’t hurt when I climb stairs.

When we read that only about 5% of dieters have “success” we are discouraged, but we still probably assume–since we are sane–that this figure means about 5% achieve their goal and become thin and healthy. But in the world of government-approved dieting, “success” is actually defined as “lost 5-10% of body weight and maintained it for at least a year.” Cool. 5% of 350 pounds is 17.5 pounds. I love it when I see a 332.5 pound person celebrating a whole year’s effort. Those tears of joy at having achieved their goal are so moving.

No wait. I’ve never seen that.

In WeightWatchereese, “success” has an even narrower definition. “Success” means that you managed to lose five pounds within two years. You may also recall that Weight Watchers has been downgrading their definition of success for years, as people fail to meet it. Finally, we remember that Weight Watchers has only a 6% success rate, and that only among people who are not obese. The average starting BMI of a “success” is 25–which means they have only ten to twenty pounds to lose in the first place. Worse, the number who actually achieve their goal and stay there is about .24%

But this, according to US News, is the third best diet you could choose.

Coming in at #6 is “Flexitarian,” which is a fancy way to say “vegetarian who is starving.” You eat only about 1500 calories a day of almost all plants, and not surprisingly you lose weight. Of course you do. You’re starving yourself. Starvation has always made people more or less thinner in the short term. What it stinks at is making people healthier or thinner in the long term. In the long term, starvation diets carried out permanently lead to death. People generally only manage to stay on starvation diets when they are forced to at gunpoint. When left to themselves, nearly everyone gives up and gains back all the weight, only with a higher percentage of it being fat.

#13 on the list is Slimfast. You remember that: shakes. According to the “experts,” Slimfast is a “reasonable approach to dieting.” Know what they think isn’t a reasonable approach to dieting? Paleo. Yes, Paleo, with its emphasis on nutrient-dense animal foods and lots of vegetables and some fruit, excluding only grains, diary, sugars, and excessive amounts of starchy vegetables, is–according to the experts–the worst possible diet you could ever choose. It would be ten times better to drink Slimfast shakes than to eat Paleo. According to these experts, Paleo is bad because it’s too hard to follow.

I would say more about this, but it made me so angry I stopped being able to think clearly. Besides, not long after I saw it and was plotting my post, I saw a post by Tom Naughton on the subject. I would suggest you go over there and read his. It’s hilarious, insightful, and pretty much hits the nail on the head

2. You stupid people won’t keep your New Year Resolutions.

You heard me. I know you aren’t doing it because the news websites are full of articles about how hard it is and all the apps you can now get that will help you. According to this lady, the problem is your goal was probably too lofty. Did you want to become thin and healthy, and after twenty-one days of working out you haven’t seen any progress? Don’t think about how you hope to look one day after doing it for long enough. If you did that, you might be discouraged . Instead, just think about how “good” you feel when you’re done each exercise session. After all, the average fat woman who wants to not be fat at the New Year has made that same resolution seven times in her life already. Eighth time’s the charm!

I don’t mean to belittle the struggles of fat people. Not at all. What I’m belittling is the advice that made them fat in the first place (lots of grains and carbs, cut that fat, exercise and starve yourself), kept them fat through seven years of resolutions to not be fat (lots of grains and carbs, cut that fat, exercise and starve yourself), which is exactly the same advice we’ve been giving fat people since the late 70s, or about the same time that people started getting enormously fat. But since the advice hasn’t been working, just keep doing it harder.

That’s why when my car wouldn’t start, I always just shoved that pedal harder to the floor and turned the key till the ignition popped.

If you want to feel better and see some progress, eat plenty of good, healthy, animal and saturated fat. Don’t touch vegetable oil (except maybe olive) except as emergency lamp fuel. Eat nutrient-dense animal foods, and particularly organ meats and fresh eggs, which are the most bioavailable powerhouses of nutrition your body can ingest. Eat moderate amounts of vegetables and small amounts of fruit, and always as a garnish to your fat and meat (not a substitute). Eat very, very small amounts of natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey. Don’t eat grain. Don’t eat sugar. Don’t drink juice, and think of smoothies as a very occasional treat: a milkshake, not a health drink. Stop counting calories, and eat things that are filling and healthy.

And I’ve heard the cries of a few people who really have tried eating this way and just can’t lose weight. So one more time, I’m going to remind you of a couple things:

–If you have unresolved hormonal issues, nothing will work for you till you fix that. This is especially a suspicion if you are over forty and have been fat most of your life. If you don’t know if this is you, but you’ve tried every diet on the planet and nothing ever works, you need to go find out. Until you have found out, you’re pretty much just blundering around in the dark.

–If you have an unnaturally intense blood sugar reaction to lactose (milk sugar) stop eating milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese. How can you tell if this is you? The easiest way is to just cut those foods out for two weeks and see what happens. Another good clue is if you can’t stop stuffing your face with cheese. If you can eat a couple slices, and then you’re full, great. If you can’t stop till the whole bar is gone, or you consistently want to skip other fat sources or meat to just eat cheese or cream, your body is responding in a metabolically inappropriate way.

You have to actually do it. I know someone who does come crying to me once in a while over this, and I feel for them. But I’ve noticed two things about this person. First, when there’s a “special” occasion (i.e. anytime this person is with other people) they eat things they know they shouldn’t. Just a bite. After all, it would be rude not to have some cupcake when someone went to all the trouble to open a box, pour the contents into a bowl, throw in some oil and water, bake it, and then pop open a can of icing onto it.

After behaving in this way, this person complains that they just can’t get over their craving for things like cupcakes. This is like a smoker trying for years to quit and complaining that he just can’t ditch his cravings for cigarettes when he keeps smoking one two or three times a month. Or an alcoholic that complains of how he can’t get over those urges to drink when he has a beer every week. Cravings don’t go away until you completely break the addiction. And if your emotions are so deeply tied to a food that not getting to eat it makes you depressed, or you start sobbing, or get angry–there is something wrong. You need to find an appropriate thing to be attached to like that. God. A spouse. A child. A puppy. Even a hobby. But brownies or soda are NOT something anyone over two should be crying over.

The second problem for this person is they eat low fat. They don’t think they do, but they do. Which brings me to #3:

If you’re not eating a high-fat diet, it most likely won’t work. Either it won’t work at all, or it won’t work very quickly, or it will work but you’ll be hungry and deprived. Recently I ate at someone’s home and this person served a “Paleo” style meal of a protein, some vegetables, and a salad. The salad had oil, and the vegetables cheese, and the total fat was about 46g. The approximate percentages were 39% fat, 46% of very lean protein, and 15% carbohydrate. This isn’t a high-fat diet. This is a high protein diet with just barely more fat that most people eat, and with far too many carbohydrates at one sitting for any metabolically sensitive person hoping to lose weight. After all, even Weight Watchers recommends a diet that is 20-35% fat!

So what’s wrong with this low fat diet? First, there’s not enough fat to be filling. Second, there’s not enough fat to cushion the blow of 17-20g carbohydrates, particularly in dressing. For anyone sensitive to carbohydrates–and if you’re a chronically fat person over thirty-five, I can almost promise that you are very sensitive to carbohydrates–this is enough to mess with your blood sugar. Third, this is way too much protein at one sitting without enough fat to slow digestion. Protein in excess of the body’s needs gets turned into glucose and stored in the fat cells. This person’s protein needs for the whole day are about 100g, but this person was eating more than half at one meal.

Forget dire warnings about “high-protein” diets. What you are supposed to be eating, what is being recommended to you is not supposed to be high-protein. It is high-fat, adequate protein, minimal carbohydrate.

And the max amount of carbohydrates this person–at this point in the journey–should be eating in one day is about 25-50g. Almost certainly that lower number would be best, because of a lifetime of being fat and extreme sensitivity to carbohydrates. But between the meal and a very small dessert afterward, there was at least 25g in one meal. This kind of diet is going to result in frustration for the person trying to follow it.

Now if you are happy with your weight and general health, or if you are very active, if you are pregnant, or if you are a child, then you can lower the fat some and up the protein and carbohydrate. Maybe go to 50% fat, 35% protein and 15% carbohydrate. But if you’re older, fat, mostly sedentary and feel awful all the time, you aren’t going to see much success unless you are eating at least 65% fat and no more than 5% carbohydrate. Really. It’s true.

I know. It’s not fair. It’s not fair when you’re around skinny children in their 20s who can eat all kinds of garbage that you want to eat. But life isn’t fair. What diet in the world promises you that at 35, 45, 55, or 65  you can eat like a 20-year-old? Every single one will tell you the same thing: your body has changed. Grow up and deal with it. Better yet, mourn for those 20-year-olds who are starting the process of ruining their body and metabolism in later life. Even better yet, stop thinking of worthless, nutrition-less junk food like crackers, noodles, mac and cheese, and candy bars as something you’re being “deprived” of if you can’t eat. Instead think about all the delicious actual food you are now free to eat.

Of all the diets on US News’ list, the Paleo is most nutritious, filling, and varied diet you can choose. If dairy doesn’t bother you, add it to your Paleo and you have endless variety and taste to play with.


Plato says he’s hungry

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