back to article Eat FATTY FOODS to stay THIN. They might even help your heart

Have our health authorities been spouting unscientific nonsense for the last few decades? Dr Pan Pantziarka looks at whether official advice on fatty foods has been wrong all along. Richard Bedford A reduction in dietary fat consumption, especially saturated fat, has been the cornerstone of official dietary advice for as …

colour me cynical

Add back in: don't eat too much red meat and don't drink too much, "there's no such thing as superfoods"

All that expensive research and it turns out the answer is "eat sensibly" who knew?

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Headmaster

Re: colour me cynical

Upvote for your clear thinking. Another case of common sense wins. Another case of 10 minutes of my life I will never recover...

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Re: colour me cynical

Pssst - if you've got ten minutes try a speed reading course!

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Re: colour me cynical

There's an astounding amount of FUD around the entire diet industry... if you were the type to see conspiracy everywhere you'd almost think that dieticians were more interested in keeping themselves in a career than any long term sense.

Fat in your diet: Too much, obviously bad but largely because you're likely to be eating too much unbalanced food and likely to not be doing enough exercise... and as rightly pointed out in another article on El Reg, very little of your body's energy is needed to maintain body warmth compared to even 50-75 years ago, e.g. within a generation. Certain types of fats have been proven to be very bad for you, e.g. trans-fats / hydrogenated fats and while these are great for the bulk food industry as they are very cheap and double as a preservative they are very bad for your body. Luckily there is growing awareness of this and while most governments haven't mandated clear, honest, labelling of these or banning them, this situation is improving. One very inportant point about fats in your diet is that it is far from the case that fat goes straight from your food to your own fat cells, there's a huge number of steps that the intaken fat goes through and the more steps the better as this requires more energy to process and the energy from the result tends to be eventually used more evenly throughout your day which helps to keep your hunger at bay as well. This is one of the reasons a good solid fry up keeps hunger at bay much longer than a bowl of cereal, a yoghurt and a fruit smoothie.

Refined sugars: These are best avoided as much as possible however in order to substitute for the lack of food flavour from removing fats in food the food industry has added sugar instead and this sugar is far worse for you than the fat it replaces. Refined sugar requires very little energy to process / break down and as a result produces an instant energy hit but no lasting, or spread over time, benefits. The less refined the sugar the better it is for you and the longer the period over which the sugars will be released. This is why natural fruit sugars or honey is far better for you than refined (cane or beet) sugar.

Calories: While it's useful to have some form of indicator as the nutritional value of food, there is a world of difference between a boiler and a digestive system. As a result a 100 calorie chocolate bar and a 100 calorie oat bar while having similar calorific values, produce vastly different results. The chocolate bar will be loaded with instant energy refined sugars which if you need an instant energy hit isn't a bad thing but very poor for a longer term snack and won't satisfy hunger in nearly the same way. The oat bar requires much more energy to break down and while the nominal calorific value is the same, your body will use much more energy to break it down and the results are spread over a much longer time. There is a noticeable lag between eating and your body's signals telling you that you've eaten enough, which is one of the reasons that eating slower works, similar to not eating while distracted (working, driving, watching tv) as we tend to not pay attention to our body's signals at this time.

Detox diets: These work solely due to the fact that you're cutting out the crap from your diet and eating less for a bit. There are no "super foods" or other rubbish, our bodies have had millions of years perfecting amazing detox mechanisms, eating freshly-marinated-quid-puree (or whatever today's celebrity inflicted detox diet is), doesn't help any. The other risk of a heavily calorie restricted diet is that your body goes into "starvation mode" where it hangs onto food for longer to wring out as much as it can for it (constipation often results) and then has a digestive fun day when you stop the starvation and supply enough food where it will continue to wring out more of the food... which is why the weight piles back on and the cause of yoyo dieting. If you must starve yourself, do it for a couple of days time at the most and then eat normally for the rest of the week.

Typed up while eating a nice sugary snack because it's oh so tasty... mmm... dammit.

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Re: colour me cynical

Kind of reminds me of removing lead in petrol as it had a link to retardation in children. So they got rid of it and replaced it with more Benzene etc....which doesn't discriminate between old and young.

Much more fair.

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Re: colour me cynical - lead in petrol

Wrong on most counts.

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Re: colour me cynical - lead in petrol

Personally, when analysing increases in risk in chaotic systems (like the human body or any biological process) I find that visualising the stats is far better than reading headlines.

After all, we all know that a 14% increase in a very small percentage is still a very small percentage. Viewing an image like this helps immensely in whether or not I need to care enough to do anything about it. (Yeah, it's on smoking rather than food, but you get the point.)

In the case of food, the answer to "so should I actually care?" is almost always "no."

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Re: colour me cynical

I really don't get why you've got so many upvotes for this post. You have totally missed the point. And yes, eating "too much" of anything is bad for you, by definition. Duh. But you should probably eat plenty of red meat, that advice is outdated.

The whole point is that traditional diets have been recommending low fat / high carb for decades now and this was the "eat sensibly" thing for many, many people. Still is for a lot of people too.

I guess by the amount of upvotes, everyone else is missing the point here too.

Read "The Diet Delusion"

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Re: colour me cynical

Add into this pot of very good advice... the sugar industry that has built up into a behemoth as a result of government advice and you have the perfect dietary storm!

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Trollface

Re: colour me cynical

Sorry Tom,

It would take me 20 minutes for the 10 minute course. Glad this response only takes 10 seconds,

In any case, I take my time to relish most of the El Reg stories I read.

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This is what is being taught

I've been doing ultra distance races and challenges for a few years now. Obviously, this involves paying careful attention to my diet so I've spent considerable time over the last 4-5 years reading up on this sort of thing and had come to the same conclusion. I even know athletes who have completed an 85 mile race having both trained and raced on a zero-carb, high fat diet. But I wondered if this was just an endurance sports thing.

However, having been made redundant last year I decided to switch careers and am now training to become a personal trainer. I was a bit apprehensive. I assumed I was going to be taught the same old shite. Low fat, high carb. Official government policy. The reality has been that academia are teaching exactly what this article and my own experiences had already found to be true. Fat is good - as long as it is the correct fats. There is a surprising amount of Chemistry for a Personal Trainer course and plenty of focus on what the fats are, how hydrogenated fats are manufactured, what these fats do to "confuse" the body etc. The same goes for sugars and sweetners.

But it really does seem to be only government health authorities that still peddle "Fat is bad". Colleges, the health industry and athletes seem to have cottoned on quite some time ago.

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Facepalm

Re: This is what is being taught

Yes, quite often it's simple natural effects that we accidentally remove or side step with a manufacturing process.

For example, try eating a bag of sugar. That's hard to do the bodies natural systems tell you "don't do it". Try eating a bowl of fat... same thing.

Now try eating a tray of cheese cake (I know I could! :O ) or a lot of chocolate (milk fat and sugar... oh they may remember to add cocoa ;) ). Our body now has trouble stopping the hunger response.

This kind of effect happens less with home cooking as we tend to use sensible ingredients. In a factory/business they just maximise profit and maximise "desire" (taste or sugar/fat content).

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Re: This is what is being taught

"Colleges, the health industry and athletes seem to have cottoned on quite some time ago." -- Bassey.

In fact, I remember a highly respected nutritionist (one of the WHO senior advisors at that time) at Oxford Brookes telling me that the link between the plasma markers and what one actually ate was embarrassingly weak, and when added to the uncertainty between the markers and the diseases, pretty much left you with nothing more than "eat sensibly and exercise sensibly" - the same advice, as he pointed out, that has served people well for thousands of years. This must have been about 25 years ago.

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Re: This is what is being taught

@Bassey, do you have any recommendations for reading up on this stuff? It's kind of hard for a lay person to know where to start when you can't trust the advice from health authorities.

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Holmes

Re: This is what is being taught

Actually, eating a bag of sugar is very doable. That's the heart of our current problem.

That's why there's this apparent paradox of "good fat". Fat induces satiety in a quick and effective manner that carbs (and especially refined sugars) do not.

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Re: This is what is being taught @philDin

The Diet Delusion would be a good start - very thick and a bit turgid, with a huge bibliography. Paper-back edition available from Amazon, and presumably other booksellers.

It apopears that the villain is insulin; a good high protein/high fat diet with low sugar tends to kep then insulin in equibrilium, and it is the large swings in insulin levels that lead on to multiple diseases.

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This recent talk at UNSW by two leading experts on ageing: David Sinclair and Steven Simpson is quite revealing. Their general thrust is on delaying the onset of diseases that affect the elderly and reduce life satisfation.

Skip ahead (through some interminable intro) to about 13m30 for Prof Steven Simpson talking about carb vs protein vs fat profiles and how they work differently for different outcomes.

http://video.mypremiereshow.com/view/x0-Jt7az-54/Scientists-close-to-reversing-ageing.html

Prof Sinclair talks about resveterol and other promising compounds.

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@hitmouse

Great believer in resveratrol myself!

(Obviouslu can.t use the beer icon!)

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>Fat is good - as long as it is the correct fats.

Would it be more accurate to say that some fats are ok as long as you actually burn them off?

Aren't both fat arnd carbs energy, with carbs being converted to fat if you don't burn them?

The problem with articles like these is that whether or not they are correct, what most people see is, "fat is ok" and carry on consuming too much in general.

I saw an TV programme which ran along a similar vein, looking at bush firefighters and the food intake mode which allowed them to function "at their peak." (a fairly continuous supply of high-calorie food). The problem was that they were implying that that food consumption mode *made* you function at your peak, rather than *allowing* you to function at your peak. That sort of thing is fine for the physically active, but that is probably not most of the people watching.

Most people's problem is too much energy input for their given output. My guess is most people know how to improve their health, they just don't care enough to do much about it. It isn't so much a question of carbs or fat, but carbs and fat, in the form of macaroni-cheese. I spent years eating pasta and cream & chease/sauce, pancakes with syrup and it was all fine, right up until the kids came along and the gym visits stopped.

Will (or won't) power is the hard bit. Personally, I find a simple formula works - eat almost exclusively plants and process them myself as far as possible without being militant about it. Also, keep the volume of food down. I know I could get far more scientific about it, but a large part of my problem is keeping my palette trained to enjoy simple rather than processed food. Keeping off processed food actually seems to dull my appetite for the desert buffet - I enjoy they stuff I used to pass over and feel little need for anything sweeter than a date.

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Re: >Fat is good - as long as it is the correct fats.

Thank you - summed up very well I think.

The trouble is Newton's fifth law "for every expert there's an equal and opposite expert". Science is difficult and scientists agree and disagree in varying amounts. For those without the knowledge to read the studies in depth, understand them and extract the relevant data we are left to read articles in the general press with no real clue as to the quality of the research or even of accuracy of the interpretation of the writer who, in most cases, will be journalist rather than one of the actual scientists.

In any real world scenario, faced with a bunch of scientists appearing to say that your lifestyle is wrong you need to make hard choices and difficult changes to it, or another bunch of scientists saying what you're doing is fine please carry on, it's pretty obvious what choice the reader will make - even if the bunch saying the former outweighs the latter many times. People will hear what it suits them to hear. It's only when no-one is saying what you want to hear that it becomes harder to ignore, as long as there is discord or at least *someone* considered expert is on "your" side the rest will be ignored. Indeed, that doesn't even start on the issue of whether the expert on your side actually *is* since the interpretation is down to the person listening who may have little or no knowledge on which to base that interpretation. I think the example above puts it nicely - just because something is appropriate for a bush firefighter does not mean it is necessarily appropriate for the man from in a suburban house who drives to his sedentary office job and spends the evening watching TV.

I have so many anecdotes about the extent to which people in my circles delude themselves on subjects like this, shutting out inconvenient facts, that there simply isn't space to put them here. And these are the people that governments have to deal with. I'm no particular fan of our government, either this one or previous, but I simply don't believe that successive generations of governments all across the world are wilfully putting out scientifically inaccurate information for shits and giggles. They have to take a very broad brush to the facts, weigh up their target audience and communicate accordingly. That it is possible to drill down into the facts and find it doesn't apply to everyone in equal measure is hardly surprising but still doesn't change the overall fact that whilst the ideal weight is different for everyone, being very substantially over it is detrimental to your health.

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Re: >Fat is good - as long as it is the correct fats.

"Aren't both fat arnd carbs energy, with carbs being converted to fat if you don't burn them?"

As I understand it, carbs and sugars are more or less instant energy while fats are stored energy in terms of how your body deals with and uses it. If you have a regular carb and sugar intake then the fat never gets used and just keeps going into storage. Reducing your overall intake of food, but especially the sugars and carbs, will cause your body to start using up the fat reserves

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Re: >Fat is good - as long as it is the correct fats.

"They have to take a very broad brush to the facts, weigh up their target audience " . . . you forgot the part where the government needs to check in with the political donors and act a accordingly to the sources of money. I saw a lecture on utube where a college prof claims that the American Heart Association is funded by General Mills which is the largest manufacturer of breakfast cereals.

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Re: >Fat is good - as long as it is the correct fats.

"..carbs and sugars are more or less instant energy while fats are stored energy in terms of how your body deals with and uses it. If you have a regular carb and sugar intake then the fat never gets used and just keeps going into storage..."

That's not 100% accurate but close enough to be useful. In reality, your body tends to burn a blend of carbs and fat all the time but the proportions vary enormously depending on what energy is available in what form and what demands you are placing on the body at the time. In fact, the body needs sugars (glycogen) to break down fats so it can't really act in isolation. But it is certainly useful to think along those lines.

Plenty of people actually like to go for a run or walk first thing in the morning, before breakfast, to "wake up" the fat-burning mechanism within the body before they consume any carbs. Studies have shown it to be quite beneficial. It's a good idea to take something with you, though. if you aren't used to it your body could react badly so it's handy to have something sugary with you just in case.

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Re: >Fat is good - as long as it is the correct fats.@Bassey

Plenty of people actually like to go for a run or walk first thing in the morning, before breakfast, to "wake up" the fat-burning mechanism within the body before they consume any carbs.

Interesting to notice the body shapes of those, in travel -type films, found doing Tai Chi in various Chinese parks early in the mornings; very few of them seem to be obese.

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On it!

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Further reading on the mechanics:

http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.co.uk

From what I gather the worst thing you can eat is seed-oil washed down with carbs... donuts.

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Holmes

A bomb calorimiter does not mimic digestion or metabolism

Plain and simple the body does not burn food, it metabolises it and the two way of extracting energy are quite different. Fats are hard to digest needing expenditure in energy producing enzymes and all, and then require significant energy to move them around and store/re-utilise them. Carbs on the other hand are easy to digest and slip into the Krebs cycle very easily and an excess is stored as, yes, fat!

Cholesterol in the diet is damned hard to adsorb and most passes straight through, where as the cholesterol excreted/secreted by the liver is modified and is almost all reabsorbed. Learnt this in physiology at med school 40 odd years ago and believe me human physiology has not changed in that time, just the idiots writing 'knowledgeable' papers; oh and the diet, we just eat too damned much now for our life style, end of.

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Re: A bomb calorimiter does not mimic digestion or metabolism

We do NOT store excess sugars as fat, we store them as Glycogen, a sugar polymer, like starch or lignin, (wood).

All fooods need enzymes to be digested easily, not just fats, amilases, (carbs), lipases,(fats), proteases.

The highest energy content of foods is 1. fat, 2, Protein, 3. Carbs.

Eating high a protein diet "should" be good as the excess amino acids are excreted through the kidneys and the excess sugar mols are stored as glycogen.

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Re: A bomb calorimiter does not mimic digestion or metabolism

"We do NOT store excess sugars as fat,"

That is simply not true. Glucose is stored as glycogen AND also converted to fat. This is most evident when excess is consumed. The body has a limited capacity for glycogen but as is all too evident an almost unlimited capacity for fat, whether eaten as such or produced from glucose.

There are countless refs. to this : here's one :

"Hepatic and whole-body fat synthesis in humans during carbohydrate overfeeding"

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9174472

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Re: A bomb calorimiter does not mimic digestion or metabolism

"Cholesterol in the diet is damned hard to adsorb" Not too hard it seems

"Absorption values ranged widely from 29.0% to 80.1%"

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9925660

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Re: A bomb calorimiter does not mimic digestion or metabolism

"we just eat too damned much now for our life style, end of."

Oh, but if only it where that simple. Carbs, and particularly sugary drinks leave you feeling more hungry. So, people tend to eat more. And it only takes a little bit over to start piling on the weight.

Of course we need to move around more as well generally, but it's not as simple as "just eat less".

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Learn the one weird trick for losing weight!

Eat less.

There are, incidentally, a lot of ways of making food more interesting which don't depend on sugars and fats.

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Don't forget the other trick: exercise. Input vs output, changing either changes the balance.

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Exercise is fine for health, but it will do nothing for weight unless you also constrain intake.

To burn off a pack of chocolate digestives you'd be jogging for 4 hours.

You don't need to do exercise to lose weight.

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Yeah every now and then when I want to shift a bit of weight I just cut out the following -

Biscuits

Crisps

Cheese

Beer (maybe a pint a week)

Cut the junk and have a little will power basically.

I just do it for 4 weeks and I can lose 8-10lbs easy. If I want to snack I fill a ramekin with some Shreddies/bran flakes and eat those instead of crisps etc.

I have to say cereal like dry Shreddies are a decent swap for the usual after dinner snacks.

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"Exercise is fine for health, but it will do nothing for weight unless you also constrain intake."

If your intake is reasonable then exercise will reduce your weight, if your intake is enormous so will you be unless your an athlete in training.

"To burn off a pack of chocolate digestives you'd be jogging for 4 hours."

Scarcely a reasonable diet !

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If your intake is reasonable then exercise will reduce your weight, if your intake is enormous so will you be unless your an athlete in training.

Argument from fallacy; if your intake was reasonable, you would not need to lose weight.

Exercise makes you "fit", it does not make you "not fat" unless the exercise tips your intake from a net surplus to a net deficit. Extra exercise accounts for such a small amount of your calorific expenditure, and an even smaller proportion if you are overweight and unfit, as you will find it difficult to do considerably more exercise than you are currently doing.

Exercise is "double good", but if you want to lose weight, cut out food and exercise more. If you want to lose weight, and only have the will power for one of those things, choose "eat less".

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"Argument from fallacy; if your intake was reasonable, you would not need to lose weight."

Of course not. The point is to return to a normal calorie consumption ( for you) that keeps your weight neutral - this isn't dieting it's just returning to normal. At this point you can diet, exercise or both .All will work, the exercise will be hard but you'll be fit and not suffer hunger, & retain/increase muscle.

If you chose diet then you'll be hungry and lose muscle and have lower basal metabolic rate

"Extra exercise accounts for such a small amount of your calorific expenditure" - depends how much you do - when I was losing 35kg I would usually do 800-1800 Cals a day. You can lose 1kg a week or more doing that. It's a lot day-in day-out but it worked (for me)

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No fats or carbs? so, proteins then?

Or water, minerals & vitamins?

Or did you have something else in mind?

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Linux

It's a lot easier to just not eat it to begin with.

Unless you are a serious athlete, you aren't going to exercise enough to lose weight. The numbers simply aren't there. It's much easier to simply eat less in order to achieve a net energy deficit.

The main value of exercise is to help keep your metabolism from crashing due to a significant calorie defecit. Your body is a complex machine and it will try to put itself into quasi-hibernation if it thinks you are in the middle of a famine. THAT will sabotage any kind of numerical advantage you're trying to get.

Some people do this "Stalingrad adaptation" thing very well. Makes weight loss very difficult.

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Re: It's a lot easier to just not eat it to begin with.

"Unless you are a serious athlete, you aren't going to exercise enough to lose weight. "

That's not true. It's very hard because it needs commitment.

Consider this : most people gain weight slowly - say 5kg a year, that's ~40000 Cals, and that's just ~110 Cals/day Even a weight gain of ( a huge) 15 kg a year is still equivalent to just 350 calories a day and that's just 1 chocolate bar. Weight gain is pernicious, not sudden. When people do try to seriously do something about it they want instant results hence the fad diets etc. If they try by dieting, unless by serious starvation, to lose weight the weight loss will so slow as to be disheartening given the hunger hence the constant failures.

If you merely diet you have to reduce your intake to 'normal, and that takes time to establish as everyone is different, different outputs, basal rates, environments, biological variation and basic diets. Compounding this is the measurement problem. (Day-day variation in weight can be quite large, even ± 1kg is a range of 16000 Cals, almost entirely water retention/loss but tracking true weight change is made very difficult when you might only be losing 0.05kg/day.)

Once normal ( for you ) calorie intake is known you then have to decide how much to lose and also compensate as you say for the dropping of metabolic rate that accompanies semi-starvation. What that is for any individual ?. If it's say 200 Cals/day (which is a <10% drop in metabolic rate) then that has to be added to the amount you have to diet. If you want to lose 0.7 kg/week (say) that means reducing intake by 1000 Cals/day and that's when it becomes hard. Most people will feel very hungry, cold and depressed. Normal social life becomes hard and any backsliding a cause for guilt. Is it any wonder that most overweight people fail ?.

But remember that weight went on slowly, without most people noticing, it's best removed that way. It does require long-term thinking. But if you've managed to establish a weight neutral diet then even walking 2 miles extra a day will lose you ~9 kg in a year. There are caveats to this, as you lose weight your exercise is less costly in Calorie terms so the loss/mile will gradually slow, you need to be careful about your 'normal' consumption drifting as one choc. bar will negate 2 whole days exercise. The gain is you probably won't feel as hungry as if you'd seriously reduced your calorie intake, you'll get fitter, you'll feel better about yourself, you'll go quite some way to reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes, and if you do this exercise outdoors you'll probably boost your Vit D levels.

Me, I did a lot more than 2 miles a day, I was lucky my job allowed me enough time to do this , running before breakfast, walking instead of lunch, and stomping around the hill in the evenings I did backslide and doing as much exercise in winter where I live was very difficult. But I lost 35kg and never regained it. I still average ~500 Cals/day exercise but my Calories intake has risen to match it.

Footnote : I gained ~25 kg over ~ 5 years when my only exercise was working all hours refurbishing a house that we bought. Lots of isometric exercise but not as much aerobic. Lots of eating of convenience food/beer. I f you remember that equates to just ~100 excess CAls/day

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Re: It's a lot easier to just not eat it to begin with.

>> "Unless you are a serious athlete, you aren't going to exercise enough to lose weight. "

>

> That's not true. It's very hard because it needs commitment.

That's very much true. Moving yourself a mile will consume only about 100 calories. That's the energy of an Apple or 1/3rd of a candy bar. It's much easier to just avoid that candy bar. Cutting out the soda and the snacks is a far more easy and effective option.

Exercise is time consuming WORK vs just avoiding something.

> I still average ~500 Cals/day exercise but my Calories intake has risen to match it.

I know serious athletes that average about that much. Normal people, not so much.

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Re: It's a lot easier to just not eat it to begin with.

"I know serious athletes that average about that much. Normal people, not so much."

Serious athletes doing the equivalent of a 5 mile walk a day - forgive me if I find that ludicrous. The minimum recommendation for ALL people (in UK) is 2 miles brisk walk or equivalent 5 days a week. If you are desk/car bound then it should be a lot more including moving around every hour if possible even for just a few minutes.

"That's very much true. Moving yourself a mile will consume only about 100 calories. That's the energy of an Apple or 1/3rd of a candy bar. It's much easier to just avoid that candy bar. Cutting out the soda and the snacks is a far more easy and effective option."

It might work if you've a small amount to lose but the fact is that obesity is increasing and most people fail with just dieting - they yo-yo. The point isn't "I'll avoid eating that choc" - it's "I'm massively overweight - what am I going to do now ?"

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Been ketogenic for 8 months now

No bread, pasta, rice, spuds, sugar, and very little fruit other than a few berries. Dropped from 87 kg to 75kg and feel great. General mood is much better too. No carbs other than low levels in veg and lots of lard / olive oil / omega 3 oils. Meat / fish, lots of veggies and eggs are where it is at folks.

The count calories . 'eat a balanced diet; thing sounds like good sense. Everybody down the pub will nod and agree. Except it is wrong. Simply wrong. Half the modern diet is some sort of cheap corn / potato/ rice based unhealthy junk. We are not evolved to eat the stuff. Fatness, t2 diabetes, leptin resistance, inflammation are the result.

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Good for you

I eat bread, pasta, rice, spuds and fruit (every night) minimal lard but plenty of olive oil, fish and vegies and I'm still 75kg, so I suspect 'eat a balanced diet' and not too much of it is probably pretty good advice after all. Not to mention the exercise (why doesn't anyone want to mention the exercise?).

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Re: Been ketogenic for 8 months now

Ah, we've spotted another "do what I'm doing" <insert-extreme-unbalanced-diet-here> because I feel great, etc. Obviously because I feel great, failure to do what I do is the cause of obesity, diabetes, cancer, constipation and the common cold. Everyone's metabolism works the same, so if it works for me it applies to everyone, everywhere, and all research might as well stop because I know it all.

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The New Fashion

We seem to have a new consensus displacing the old consensus. Switch from carbs to fats. And the biggest demon switches from fat to sugar.

Am I allowed a healthy (or even unhealthy) scepticism about both old and new consensus? Since my career involves neither marketing nutrition nor publishing papers on the subject, I shall just continue on the general principle that moderation in all things is healthier than excess, and a little of what you fancy makes life worth living.

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Re: The New Fashion

Who cares what the consensus is? I don't care about 99.9 percent of the population's view of the Higgs Boson either.

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Re: The New Fashion

The current trend of promoting protein as a guilt-free health food is concerning. So many processed products now advertise themselves as "high in protein" in a manner similar to the old "low fat" labels. Demonising one food group (carbs/fats) and promoting another (fats/carbs) is nothing new. People want magic bullets.

The truth has been known all along: eat a balanced, varied diet of home-cooked meals with lots of fruit and vegetables, and everything in moderation. But that takes effort. So people will buy their low fat yoghurts, their protein bars, and since they consider them to be "healthy" they actually offset them against other unhealthy things. "Since I ate that healthy cereal I can now eat this muffin", and the fact that the cereal is packed with sugar is either not known or ignored.

Guess what? I eat carbs. I eat fat. I eat protein. I eat meat (but not every day). But I cook all of my own meals from fresh ingredients, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (mainly vegetables) and avoid processed food. There is no secret to it. All it takes is knowledge and effort. You don't even need to exercise, although it's very good for you. But I don't get fat whether I'm exercising or not, because I eat a healthy, balanced diet which fills me up and I don't treat food like a drug. If you eat the right things your appetite control works. When I exercise, I eat more. If you are fat, fixing your diet is the best change you can make.

Most people are always chasing their next fix, snacking between meals, drinking their calories in sugary drinks, eating things out of a packet which are heavily processed with an unnatural combination of sugar, fat and salt that makes them incredibly delicious, but barely nutritious or satiating.

Fad diets, such as cutting out an entire food group or only eating one type of food might work, but it's usually because the number of calories you consume goes down and you are controlling what you eat. The best long-term solution is just eating a balanced, varied diet rich in vegetables. When your body is working correctly and being fuelled in a natural way that keeps you feeling full and doesn't overload your pleasure centres, you don't need to count calories or watch what you eat or only eat one thing. Nor do you need to exercise to offset eating too much (although exercise is good for other reasons).

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Know what you eat

The only way to really know what you're eating is to avoid as much preprepared, manufactured food as possible because you have no control over what's gone into it or over the truth of the ingredient list written on the packaging.

Instead, get a few good cook books. Buy raw materials (meat, veg, spices, fruit and oils etc.) and cook them yourself. Its fun to do, much better for your health and probably tastes better as well.

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