Thursday, February 4, 2016

What really caused the obesity epidemic


Will the new Dietary Guidelines make us even fatter?

I read this blog post by Michael Eades today, and I knew I had to post something about it. Michael Eades (author of Protein Power) is one of the main proponents of the low carbohydrate diet for weight loss and health, and his writings are very informed and always interesting. The point he was making in this post is that despite his general positions and inclinations, he knows that carbohydrate is not the only reason for the obesity epidemic that starting taking off around 1980, because there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of people from before than that ate plenty of carbs but didn't get fat. And via a fairly long story, he finds another culprit - PUFAs, or polyunsaturated fatty acids, the "healthy" fats like soybean and canola oil that replaced those "heart-clogging" natural saturated fats the government told us to cut out. They are inflammatory, and they make you more insulin sensitive, which makes all your fat cells hold onto fat, which makes fuel unavailable, which makes you hungry all the time, which makes you eat more carbs to get more fuel, which makes you store more fat in your fat cells, which...makes you fatter.

How do you end up with a whole lot of PUFAs in your diet, when you generally try to make good food choices? It's simple - eating out at restaurants and eating prepared, processed foods. Industrial seed oils are cheap, flavorless, and shelf-stable. They are ubiquitous at restaurants. How often do you eat at restaurants? A couple times a week? Once a day? More? How much of your food is prepared from scratch at home, vs. partially processed from the grocery store? What about your grandparents? Your great-grandparents? A generation or two or three ago, when there were way fewer obese and overweight people, there was way less exposure to PUFAs in the form of industrial seed oils.

It can be frustrating to try to eat healthy. There are so many factors to consider, so many things you need to watch. But nutrition and health are complicated. 2500 calories of junk is NOT the same to your body as 2500 calories of well-chosen, healthy whole foods. And all of the issues we raise here play a role. Whole foods vs. processed foods, good fats vs. bad fats, high carb vs. low carb, GMO vs. non-GMO, gluten vs. gluten-free. And the model is not additive - these elements interact in complex and difficult-to-understand ways. If anyone tells you that eating healthy is easy and it just takes common sense and willpower to lose weight (and by extension, cure the obesity epidemic), they are seriously underestimating the complexity of the issue. This is a rich, fascinating area of study, and one of critical importance. In optimizing convenience in our food system, we have seriously compromised our health, and we need to figure out all the ways in which we went wrong.
Workout
strength - add weight from last time (more info) 

front squat 3x5 

then

work up to a heavy single press

then 12-9-6 at 65%