During the past several years, conventional dietary wisdom — skimp on fat, count calories — has started to crumble, thanks largely to a named Gary Taubes. In his latest book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, Taubes argues that calories and fat aren’t to blame for the world’s increasing girth and high incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. He contends that exercise, while a healthy habit, won’t help with weight loss and that most everyone would benefit from eating more red meat and eggs because animal proteins and saturated fat don’t cause cardiovascular disease and weight gain: Simple sugars and carbohydrates do.
Taubes’s view of dietary tradition is so progressive that reading him will change the way you look at calories, the food pyramid, and your daily diet. While his recent book is primarily a slam against the established science of obesity, his philosophy of nutrition upends everything you’ve been told about eating to stay healthy and trim. Adopting a similar approach doesn’t mean you can’t ever consume carbohydrates, but it does mandate a new set of dietary rules that will help you live longer, be leaner, and better enjoy the foods you love.
1. Don’t go on a diet — change your diet.
Starving yourself or cycling through fad diets isn’t a sustainable, effective way to lose weight and stay healthy over a lifetime. Some diets may work for some people in the short term, but dieting has been shown to fail over time. Scientists found the effect so consistent across studies that they were forced to conclude that one of the best predictors of weight gain is having been on a diet at some point in the past.
2. Don’t eat anything with BHA, BHT, sodium nitrite…
If you want to live by one rule instead of 10, this is it, not least because it’s the easiest to follow. Shop only the periphery of the supermarket, choosing whole fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and dairy products — instead of fruit juices, canned vegetable soups, chicken fingers, fish sticks, and chocolate-covered ice cream bars — and you’ll avoid the majority of what’s wrong with the modern Western diet. Packaged processed foods are altered from their natural state for convenience and to extend shelf life, but they contain fewer nutrients and more sugars and unhealthy fats than whole foods do.
A good way to tell if a food is overly processed is to scan the nutrition label for ingredients you can’t pronounce or visualize in an organic form. These include, among others: hydrogenated oils, a common source of trans fats shown to boost the risk of heart disease; high-fructose corn syrup, a processed sugar associated with obesity and diabetes; butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), a food preservative and suspected carcinogen; butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), a preservative found in potato chips and jet fuel; and sodium nitrite, a chemical used in deli meats that is linked to cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.
3. Don’t count calories.
You’ve heard it a million times: To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. But the idea that we have to match or exceed the calories we eat with the calories we expend isn’t accurate. The “calories in, calories out” concept fails because it measures only how many calories are present in the body at one given time rather than what the body actually does with these calories after they’ve been consumed. People’s bodies vary: Some of us store more carbohydrates as fat, while others use more carbohydrates as energy. If all people were similar and calories the only precursor of weight gain, then a man could put on two pounds a year — 50 pounds in 25 years — simply by overeating a mere 20 calories a day, or the real-food equivalent of 4 almonds.
The body’s fat tissue doesn’t act like a garbage can, mindlessly collecting every calorie we toss in. Instead, hormones control whether available calories in the body are stored as fat or liberated as energy. The more you eat of certain foods, the more hormones your body releases, and the more fat your body stores. The more fat your body stores, the more calories you need to eat to feed your fat. As a result, you’re not getting fat because you overeat: You overeat because you’re getting fat.
If you set out to use calorie-counting to help you maintain your weight or determine how much food you should eat during the course of a day, the effort won’t necessarily help you accomplish either goal. Once you understand this, you can stop worrying about counting calories and start focusing on what really matters.
4. Get to know the glycemic index.
If calories don’t make you fat, what does? Carbohydrates, especially simple ones like sugar, honey, and refined white flour. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into sugar, which enters your blood. Your pancreas responds to blood sugar by producing the hormone insulin, which tells your fat cells to hold on to fat and store it — but not necessarily as permanent fat. When everything’s working right, fat acts “more like a wallet than a savings or retirement account,” Taubes says: You’re constantly putting money in and taking it out again. In the case of the body, fat gets stored in cells and rereleased after digestion to ensure steady energy.
Simple carbs, like those found in cake, candy, and fruit, contain lots of sugar and will eventually cause a large insulin response. If you eat simple carbs with any regularity — or worse, drink them — your fat cells hold on to accumulated fat because there’s always more sugar, and consequently more insulin, in the body. Over time , your fat cells continue to acquire more fat than your body can use as energy. To lose weight, then, you have to cut back on your carbohydrate consumption, to push your insulin level low enough that it forces your body to release the stored fat that your muscles and organs burn as fuel.
If you’re looking to maintain weight, remember that not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbs, such as legumes, whole grains, and leafy vegetables, produce only a moderate effect on blood sugar. All legumes, except baked beans, are particularly healthy because they’re high in fiber and protein; aim to eat them on a daily basis. You shouldn’t eat pasta, cereal, and baked goods as frequently, but when you do, choose only those made from whole grains. Look for products that specify whole flours, but read labels carefully: Without the word whole, “100 percent wheat flour” doesn’t count. Opt for sprouted-grain, oat-bran, or 100 percent whole-wheat bread. Brown rice is preferable to white, but whole-kernel substitutes like barley, farro, and quinoa are even better because they contain more protein and fiber.
5. Eat meat from farms, not factories.
Humans have spent nearly all of evolutionary history as hunter-gatherers, with only a short time as agriculturalists and an even smaller span as industrial urbanites, eating processed carbohydrates. While anthropological studies show that Paleolithic men ate a wide range of foods, virtually none of them were vegetarians. Most cultures got the majority of their calories from land animals or fish, yet none of this fat and protein eating produced any significant obesity, diabetes, or heart disease.
Unfortunately, the flesh of most modern domesticated animals bears little resemblance to the wild meat consumed by our forebears. From time immemorial, humans ate animals that led active lives, eating only wild foods. Today, we eat meat mostly from sedentary animals raised on grain feed that they never evolved to digest. Grain-fed meat tends to have more fat and fewer nutrients — such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta-carotene — than wild and grass-fed meat.
Eat plenty of fish, but avoid big-predator breeds like swordfish and tuna that can be high in mercury. Opt for wild halibut, cod, and sole, or choose tiny, oily fish like sardines and mackerel. If you don’t eat meat, be sure to get adequate protein from tofu, nuts, beans, and low-sugar dairy.
6. Eat leafy green and brightly colored vegetables at every meal.
You can spend a lot of time trying to figure out which foods have which antioxidants when all you need to know is that people who consume more vegetables are at lower risk for chronic diseases than those who don’t.The healthiest vegetables to eat include leafy green ones like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens, and cruciferous varieties such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale. In addition, eat plenty of brightly colored vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, beets, and eggplant, which generally contain more health-boosting nutrients than their paler counterparts.
Leafy, cruciferous, and brightly colored vegetables are also excellent sources of fiber and complex carbohydrates, and they contain less sugar than most other carbohydrate sources. If you’ve tried adopting a low-carbohydrate diet in the past but felt sluggish or didn’t have enough stamina to finish your afternoon workout, you probably weren’t consuming enough complex carbohydrates. Avoid this draggy feeling by making vegetables part of every meal, along with a healthy source of protein from meat, fish, eggs, legumes, or soy.
While it’s almost impossible to eat too many leafy, cruciferous, or brightly colored vegetables, it’s best to limit starchy ones like white potatoes, corn, and yuca which have a large amount of simple carbs,and a high insulin response. Instead of white mashed potatoes, which score especially high on the GI (85), go for mashed cauliflower, which has a similar consistency, less sugar, and arguably more flavor. In a large pot, boil a whole head of cauliflower until soft. Drain water from the pot, and using a potato masher, mash the cauliflower until the texture is consistent. Add a small amount of cream, extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and cooked, crumbled bacon, if desired. Using a hand mixer, whip the cauliflower until creamy. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
The new path
Gary Taubes has toppled conventional nutrition — for the better.True to this line of logic, Taubes has spent the past nine years challenging established nutrition, and he’s adamant that the authorities have it all upside down — in particular, in blaming dietary fat for global health problems when carbohydrates are actually at fault. In his latest book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, Taubes makes a powerful case for a set of dietary heresies/ dogmas?? He rejects the idea that weight maintenance is a matter of balancing calories expended with calories consumed, and he argues against exercise as an effective weight-loss aid. Instead, he proposes that carbs are what have made Americans fat and increased the national incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and other major health problems. Finally, he contends that dietary fat, even the saturated kind, is essentially harmless.
Another progressive nutritin read would be In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan or the condensed version Food Rules.
7. Put your mind into mindless eating.
A guy’s got to snack: It’s simply too much fun. Plus when you’re hungry or bored between meals, there’s usually no stopping that impulse to cram something into your mouth. But the world of snacks is also the world of simple carbohydrates and processed foods: potato chips, crackers, cookies, muffins, pastries, and granola bars. Stay stocked up on healthy, low-GI foods like nuts, beef jerky, cheese, plain yogurt; low-sugar fruit like berries and apples; and even energy bars made from only whole ingredients. If you need to indulge in a low-sugar treat by looking for dark chocolate with a cacao content of greater than 70 percent or eat the amazing natural cacao that is grown here in the Dominican Republic
8. Go easy on the fruit.
Fresh fruit is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and cancer-fighting antioxidants, but because of its high sugar content, you shouldn’t think of fruit as the all-you-can-eat food group many nutritionists purport it to be. Most fruit causes a large insulin response, but there are a few low-sugar fruits that, given their other healthy properties, are a perfect snack or dessert when you’re craving something sweet. Good choices include apples, cherries, grapefruit, plums, pears, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Eat up to two servings of these fruits a day with a small amount of protein or fat to help balance your blood sugar.
High-sugar fruits, like cantaloupe, pineapple, and watermelon, are best viewed as an occasional treat. Not all dried fruits are bad for you, either, but stick to dried apricots, pears, and prunes instead of dates and raisins. Consuming whole fruit is always preferable to drinking juice, which, without fruit’s natural fiber, isn’t much better for your blood sugar than drinking Coke and other sweetened beverages.
9. Eat some saturated fat — eat more omega-3s.
Another reason to thank Taubes is for his disproving of the so-called lipid hypothesis — or the notion that eating fat increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Many major research institutions, including the Harvard School of Public Health, no longer believe that dietary fat, even saturated — found in red meat, pork, butter, and cream — is bad for heart health. What’s more, a study published last year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no link between saturated-fat consumption and incidence of heart attacks.
This rethinking of dietary fat doesn’t mean you can consume all the steak and eggs you want. While it’s best to eat a little protein at every meal, you should vary the type you consume by rotating through beef, poultry, fish, game, and pork, in addition to eggs and plant-based protein like soybeans. If you don’t have unhealthy LDL-cholesterol levels, you can probably safely eat as many eggs as you want; if you do have high LDL, limit your egg intake to one daily.
The true enemy in the lipid world isn’t saturated fat but trans fat, found primarily in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are common components of processed, packaged foods. Research has shown that trans fats boost LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Since margarine often contains processed oils and trans fats, butter made from organic cream is a healthier spread. For the best sources of good fat, look to foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show can help lower the risk of arthritis, heart disease, and some cancers. Complement your omega-3 intake with monounsaturated fats from extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, and avocados.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fatty acids, one of the most popular supplements today, are essential to building cell membranes. Because the body doesn’t naturally produce omega-3s, we have to get them through diet, but few foods contain significant amounts. Fatty fish is high in omega-3s — a half fillet of wild salmon contains up to 4,000 milligrams — but if you don’t eat at least two servings weekly or consume flaxseeds, nuts, or canola oil daily, you’re most likely deficient.
Doctors say omega-3 supplements are key not only to cell health but also to keeping the heart healthy by reducing blood triglycerides, which can cause arteries to harden. A 2008 Mayo Clinic study of 32,000 people showing that those who supplemented with 850 to 1,800 mg of omega-3s daily have up to 45 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks, and that taking a combination of supplemental omega-3s and statin drugs is more effective at treating heart disease than statins alone. Research continues to mount showing omega-3s can also help protect against arthritis, depression, dementia, and other cognitive problems. Most people are deficient in omega-3s, which may account for the rise of asthma, coronary heart disease, many cancers, and neurodegenerative disease.
How to take them: Most experts say to take 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily. Look for a supplement that delivers at least 500 mg each of EPA and DHA, the two active fatty acids in omega-3s. Fish oil is better than plant-derived supplements, which don’t contain both acids.
Krill, a shrimp-like crustacean, has become a trendy oil source, as larger fish like cod and herring can be contaminated with mercury. But there’s growing concern that krill is being overfished, endangering whales that rely on it for food. Doctors also argue that the process used to extract oil from larger fish is so sophisticated that contaminants don’t end up in supplements
10. Learn to cook.
The best thing you can do to eat nutritiously for the rest of your life is to learn how to cook at home. Processed foods play no role in fine cooking, and simple carbs are usually not the main ingredients in most high-quality recipes