Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Saturated Fat, Tempest in a teapot.

4oz 85/15 ground beef broiled 11.9 4.5
2 oz scrapple 8 2
eggs whole x2 10.6 3.2
2 chicken thighs skin on 19.2 5.4
olive oil 2.5 tbsp 33.75 4.75
almonds 1 oz 14.4 1.1
Plain Whole Yogurt 1cup 7 5
Totals 104.85 25.95

According to conventional wisdom, and popular advice, we should get no more than 10% of our calories from saturated fat, based on our projected caloric needs. My projected caloric requirements are about 2400 Cal. per day which gives me a daily allotment of 26 grams of saturated fat, out of a total of 106 grams total fat based on the recommendations of Willet and Skerrit (EAT, DRINK, AND BE HEALTHY). Now 26 grams of saturated fat doesn't seem like much, but when you look at what I ate above, 26 grams of Saturated fat goes quite a ways. The above values come from

Now to be honest I didn't measure and weigh my fruits, vegetables, or beans, I'm just not that concerned about counting calories right now. But for completeness I also ate cantaloupe, grapes, a nectarine, a peach, blueberries, chic peas, a big salad, broccoli, spinach, and a couple of scoops of whey protein powder.

Lets call the case against saturated fat what it really is, a thinly veiled political war on eating meat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

South Beach vs Atkins

No, this is not going to be one those my diet is better than your diet posts, accompanied by flaming comments from the true believers of either plan. Sorry to disappoint. Rather this is about why a person would choose one plan over another, and be successful. Each plan has its success who are die hard adherents and turn it from a way of eating into a religion. Each plan has had converts from the other plan, and each plan has its failures. In a short one word answer, its about compliance. Which eating plan are you most likely too stick to over a long period of time, and why?

I am going to admit up front that my own personal preference is for the South Beach plan. This is based on my attempts at very low carb dieting, which I hated. With in a couple of days of starting phase one of SB, I always start to feel "better". Even after several days of induction, I can't shake the feeling of death warmed over. I never seem to get to that happy ketosis place. Even accounting for the people like me who don't do well with induction, there seem to be other components which make one successful on one plan versus the other.

While in each eating plan, both red meat and seafood are allowed, even encouraged, the Atkins plan seems to draw the meat eaters, while the seafood folks gravitate to SB. I am sure there are exceptions to this observation, but based on my observations both on and off line this seems to be a general distinction between the groups. Using myself as an example, if I had to eat Fish or beef every day for a month for dinner, I would choose the fish. I like beef, but if I eat it once a week that's enough. I cannot, however, say I have met (in real or cyber space) a practitioner of Atkins who would make the same choice, or that has the same preferences. Maybe they exist, but I haven't met one.

A second area where preferences seem to differ is the choice between olive oil and butter. I'll admit that I think real butter from grass fed cows has a place in every kitchen. I also think that the fear of saturated fat is unwarranted. Most SBer's I know use a bit of real butter now and again. Many Atkinser's use olive oil as well. Perhaps because the SB book encourages olive oil, and the Atkins book doesn't discourage butter that this is a side effect of the plan, but I also think that personal preference plays into this as well. Given the amount of veggies both plans encourage you to eat, a preference for olive oil or butter may be a factor in deciding which plan is best for you. While its true that you can use olive oil on Atkins and one the butter type spreads on SB, if you start looking at the recipes and menus associated with the plans, the trend becomes clear.

There are certainly other points of distinction between the diets, that may be make or break issues for some. Some will prefer to count carbs, while other will prefer to follow the rules and food lists of SB. Some people won't like either diet. With all of the noise lately about low carb vs low fat vs the Mediterranean diet, I find that the South Beach plan provides a livable mix of the best parts of a reduced carb and Mediterranean type diet. Success on any plan is about the commitment to change the way you eat permanently, whether you ultimately end up choosing South Beach, Atkins, or even the Ornish plan,

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Most Sugar-Packed Foods in America

From the "Eat This Not that" blog by David Zinczenko from Mens Health.

Most sugar packed Foods

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mistakes were made, Including by Me.

As part of a routine physical back in February my Dr ordered various lab tests. This particular time he ordered a few extra due to my insistence that I was eating a reasonable diet and exercising regularly. Despite my efforts and protestations, I somehow seemed to avoid losing weight. Even though by his own admission My body fat levels were not morbid, they were higher than he considered healthy, and I steadfastly maintained a 39 inch waist. So after some chatter of him trying to convince me that he was right and I was just being difficult, he agreed to test "everything". The first round of test came back and he said that some things were not normal and we should do the tests again. Given my history of issues with cholesterol and glucose metabolism, a second round of labs was not anything that raised a red flag. Second set of labs come back and Dr calls and said I should see an endocrinologist, a number of my hormone levels were not normal. So, I made an appointment, and saw the endocrinologist. More lab tests. Then an MRI, an appt with an optometrist, then a neurosurgeon. I felt like I was on the health care merry-go-round as nobody would really tell me what is wrong with me other than some abnormal lab work, but they all got paid, both by me and my insurance. After all of these visits I end up back at the endocrinologists office. The bottom line is that at some point my pituitary gland stopped behaving normally, and no one really knows why. He gave me a couple of prescriptions, a sheet for some more lab work and sent me on my way.

One of my biggest frustrations during that period was trying to get meaningful answers from doctors who barely spoke English. Not to mention the cultural issues some of these guys have when some one questions their decisions. I'm looking to get a second opinion, but the health insurance I have requires me to go through their process. I've come to the conclusion that managed care equals managed symptoms, not a cure. If nothing else, maybe this'll serve as an example to others. If you aren't getting results, and you are really trying, and following your chosen plan, go see your doctor. Convince him/her to test "everything". Leave no metabolic or hormonal test undone.

On the one hand the meds make me feel better then I have felt in quite some time. Many of the minor ailments I had attributed to aging and normal wear and tear are going away. I no longer have any issues with my cholesterol or glucose metabolism. I still haven't lost any weight, not that I've been trying. In fact my appetite has increased rather markedly. My exercise as of late has consisted of walking, and for the first time in quite a while I have something that resembles aerobic endurance. I'm not yet sure where all this is headed, but it promises to be an interesting ride.