Archive for January, 2012
Most people who have ever tried losing weight tend to experience ravenous hunger and lack of energy when they lose down to their “goal weight.” When they eat enough food to satisfy their hunger and provide them with enough energy to get through their day, they end up gaining back all the weight. Why does this happen? Is it because overweight people have a lack of willpower? Or because in order to stay lean, one must count calories, exercise compulsively, and not eat enough food to satisfy their hunger. Most yo-yo dieters would probably guess the latter is true — those who are lean just exercise all the time and starve themselves.
I tell you that neither of the statements above explain why overweight people tend to gain all the weight back after dieting, or why lean people stay lean without having to constantly track calories in vs. calories out. The reason why we all tend to maintain a consistent weight over time is because the body has a “body-fat setpoint” that it tries to defend. If you eat more calories than you expend, your appetite should decrease and your energy expenditure should increase. Translation: If you eat a big buffet meal at lunch, you should feel less hungry for dinner. Plus your basal body temperature and respiratory rate will slightly increase, making you burn more calories than if you had skipped lunch. If you eat fewer calories in an effort to lose weight, your hunger will increase and you will have less energy for exercise because your body is trying to defend its setpoint.
This leads us to the question of why one’s body-fat setpoint would be set at higher than it needs to be. Why would your body be trying to defend a weight that is not your ideal weight? This has largely been a mystery among weight loss researchers, but now we are starting to reach a few conclusions. Food additives, including everything from artificial and “natural” flavorings, MSG, wheat, and preservatives, to high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and vegetable seed oils like cottonseed and canola, can actually increase your body-fat “setpoint” to a higher number. This means that if your ideal weight is 110 pounds, but you’ve been eating fat-free cookies made from refined wheat flour and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and drinking diet soda, the intense and unnatural flavorings and ingredients will actually cause your body to increase its setpoint to a higher weight, such as 160 pounds. You will therefore develop a condition known as hyperphagia, a condition in which your appetite causes you to consume more calories than you expend, until you reach the new body-fat setpoint of 160 pounds. Your body will then be resistant to going back to its ideal weight by causing you to feel excessively hungry and tired when you drop below 160.
Modern foods essentially break the “thermostat” that keeps you at your ideal weight. There are a variety of methods to bring your setpoint back down to where it should be so that you can lose the weight and actually not feel hungry or lacking in energy. In the future, I will write in more detail these simple methods you can use to reach your ideal weight and then maintain it without having to count calories, spend hours in the gym burning calories off, feel hungry/deprived, or having to use your willpower to avoid your favorite foods. Obviously the first thing you can do to lower your bodyfat setpoint is to eat only real foods — no boxed or canned items containing added flavorings and non-food ingredients. You will also need to avoid *wheat, because the modern variety of wheat is actually a man-made food that is entirely different from “wild” wheat.
For treatment of hyperphagia, you will benefit from taking natural plant compounds that send signals to your hypothalamus that you’ve already eaten to satiety.
Chemical appetite suppressants may do more harm than good, but natural foods-based supplements such as Leantain can help repair your metabolism and treat the condition of hyperphagia. The active appetite-suppressing ingredient in Leantain is a succulent plant that is commonly eaten for food by hunter-gatherers on long hunting trips. This succulent plant helps suppress their hunger and keep their energy levels high while they are seeking food.
*If you’re skeptical about my advice to avoid wheat, please read the book Wheat Belly, and I guarantee you’ll never want to go near the stuff again. Not only does wheat pike your blood sugar higher than drinking a can of Coke does, it is responsible for triggering a variety of health conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, depression, and dermatitis. One man on the waiting list for a heart transplant actually recovered without the need for a transplant when he stopped eating wheat.
Something you may not know about me — which is also something that I have been heavily criticized for by some people — is that I stopped watching TV in 1999. I’m not really aware of what shows are on now (except for what I’ve heard from people talking about the shows they watch), and I don’t begin and end my day with a ritual of learning everything “bad” that’s happening in the world (AKA the news). The truth is that when I went off to college, I simply didn’t have time for watching TV. I knew that if I sat down to watch just one sitcom, I’d end up sitting in front of the TV for hours to watch the entire evening line-up. At my college undergrad, there was a name for people who could be found in front of the TV instead of in the library or the lab on weeknights: Five Year Seniors (people who took more than 4 years to finish their degree). I know there are people who are exceptions to the rule, but as a pre-med student, I personally had to study for long hours to make A’s and to graduate with honors after 4 years.
Many have argued with me that TV can be educational, and I’m really missing out by not being able to watch the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Mythbusters, the news, political debates, etc. While I agree that there are some worthwhile programs on TV and it’s important to be aware of current events, it is the nature of TV watching that can re-wire your brain and actually lower your IQ and ability to think critically for yourself.
TV watching is an entirely passive experience in which you are being spoon-fed information in short sound bites, and frequently interrupted by advertisements that subliminally tell you contradictory and false information: Buy this mascara or have ugly lashes and no friends; Eat this hamburger, fries, and Coke or feel hungry and un-hip; Be skinny like this supermodel or else you’re a big fat blob; Eat this candy bar and drink this sports drink for satisfaction after a long hard day; Don’t miss this exclusive report on such-and-such celebrity’s latest nose job, etc.
The average adult was believed to have an attention span of about 20 minutes (which is not very long), but nowadays some adults may have attention spans more like 20 seconds or even less. This means that if you’re trying to learn a new concept that takes longer than a few seconds or a few minutes to explain, you won’t learn it. You will only be able to comprehend very simple factoids — much like the simple concepts explained in TV soundbites. It’s one reason why there are so many problems in this world that seem to have no solution; people simply don’t take the time (nor have the ability) to think critically about our problems to reach a simple solution.
If you feel like your attention span might needs a boost, or if you’re constantly fading in and out of conversations, or feeling like you “don’t get” some concepts very easily, you might want to check out Focus Fizz.
It’s a nutritional supplement that contains many of the factors needed for attention and focus, and of course it’s gluten-free and soy-free.
Why I’m Cautious About Vitamin D Supplements
You have surely heard about the importance of vitamin D, and how we aren’t getting enough of it because we’re indoors too much of the time. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and even medical doctors are recommending it to their patients. However, I have remained skeptical of the push to get everyone taking high dosages of synthetic vitamin D3 pills. In fact, vitamin D is actually a hormone produced by your body in response to sunlight; it isn’t really a “vitamin” at all. All other hormones (except for DHEA, which has restricted status) are only available by prescription from a medical doctor. Vitamin D is the only hormone you can buy like candy from a discount store. Synthetic vitamin D taken alone in pill form may cause more harm to your body than good. We simply don’t know yet because the public is being used as guinea pigs.
What I Recommend Instead of Synthetic Vitamin D Pills
Before the era in which drug manufacturers and corporations influenced what the government, registered dieticians, and medical doctors told us what was good for our health, people who did not live in tropical climates used cod liver oil as a health tonic to protect against cold viruses, the flu, bone disorders, overweight and underweight, respiratory disorders, and chronic cough, among other things. We now know that cod liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2, which are not found in substantial amounts in plant-based foods, and which protect against a variety of diseases. The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are not present in plant foods and cannot be synthesized by the human body. New evidence suggests that the vitamin A and vitamin D found naturally in cod liver oil work together synergistically to protect against autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, and hypothyroidism. Vitamin K2, a rare nutrient also found in organ meats and nattokinase, protects against osteoporosis, tooth decay, and arteriosclerosis. Clearly, there is much more time-tested and scientific evidence for the use of cod liver oil to fulfill vitamin D requirements and promote optimal health than the usage of synthetic vitamin D3 pills such as here.
My Personal Experience With Cod Liver Oil
I truly notice a difference in my health when I take a tablespoon of cod liver oil every day.
Some things that I notice are:
- Perfect skin (I don’t mean to brag here, but I’m elated that my forehead pimples have been gone for an entire year.)
- Youthful complexion (People still think I’m a college undergrad.)
- Heightened mood (No more wanting to jump off a cliff.)
- Lots of energy that lasts all day (Literally.)
- Improved quality of sleep (I actually sleep through the entire night and wake up at 6 AM without an alarm.)
- Greater strength & flexibility (Nutrition plays a huge role in whether you are stiff or flexible, injury-prone or injury-proof.)
- Flat, toned abs (Without ever logging one minute inside a gym.)
- No winter weight gain
- No sniffles and coughs
- No winter blues
- No cravings for sweets
- No dry, itchy skin
- No pale, pasty complexion
The cod liver oil I recommend is this one.
This Norwegian cod liver oil is regularly tested to be free of heavy metals and PCBs. Lemon oil and rosemary oil are added to keep the oil from going rancid and to prevent “repeats” (AKA fish burps). This cod liver oil tastes pleasant — believe it or not — and you can take it alone or in a smoothie or salad dressing. Strangely enough, I always look forward to taking a tablespoon of cod liver oil that some days I will even take 2 tablespoons of it: one in the morning as soon as I wake up and one at night just before I go to bed. This practice of taking cod liver oil in the morning and at night is also recommended by Tim Ferriss in his book 4-Hour Body.
Some other supplements I take daily as part of my anti-aging and perfect health regimen?
Surely you’ve seen them — the ubiquitous ads that show up as Google adwords listings embedded in sites that are monetizing from the high traffic (usually news sites, online review blogs, and other websites made for people with a pulse but no brain). Read More
I was attacked by angry vegans again.
Last week I posted something on Facebook that turned out to be pretty controversial even though it seemed to be a benign status update at the time that I posted it. I said that there needs to be more dialog between companies and their best customers. For instance, Read More
One nutrition “fad” I would like for us to let go of in 2012 is the idea that caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and chocolate) is inherently “bad.” Whether caffeine consumption is hindering or helping you reach your health goals is actually highly dependent on your Read More
A blog post about grains, gluten, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat, etc. is long overdue here, and I admit that I’ve been procrastinating. Why? Every time I sit down to write about the topic, I get frustrated by all the misinformation floating around on the internet, in gyms, at health stores, and even in published diet books you can find at your local big-box bookstore in the health aisle. Because I’ve been enjoying a gluten-free and grain-free diet for years with great success, I forget how difficult it can be to sort through Read More
The longer it takes, the easier it is to maintain.
Bikram Choudhury, the inventor of Bikram yoga, always says that the longer it takes you to perfect a yoga asana, the more benefits you receive from the pose and the easier it will be to maintain them. For instance, Read More
The #1 and most obvious obstacle is… Read More
Some health gurus tell you to eat them daily, and others tell you to stay away. What’s the real truth on coconuts? Read More