Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why We Get Fat

I took this off the website.  It is a post by Grant Peterson and he might take it down.  Since many of Sojkas Call readers are in the 50+ range it seemed a good post for the new year.  I subscribe to the basic tenets of the Primal Diet theory and have seen positive effects on myself when using it diligently. Grant's post goes beyond just PD so please give this a read and let me know what you think either pro or con and whether you are just going to intellectualize it or actually do something.

Good luck to all Sojkas Call readers in 2011 in whatever endeavor they pursue.


H. Pneu Year

January 1, 2011

Today and only today, not any other day of the year, unless this remains up tomorrow and beyond, and then later in the blogarchives, I speak to you as Grant Petersen, AA, 1975, Diablo Valley (Junior) College in the all-encompasing field of "General Studies." It was quite an undertaking, but I wanted a broad education in a short time span. No test-tubes and petrie dishes for me. That's to establish my credentials for today only, not later on when I put on my "skinny tubes and good clearances and high handlebars" hat.
One of the biggest, pervasive, and most harmful lies is that weight gain or loss is simple a matter of calories-in versus calories-out. In a non-exerciser's world, it's the notion that you can deprive yourself skinny. In a cycler's world, the notion that you can ride yourself skinny. You can't believe skinny people when they say they rode themselves that way. They're not the experts in they own bodies. It's like asking the local 101-year old the secret of long life, or worse.
Everybody knows a pound of fat has 3,500 calories, and that exercise burns calories. If you don't know that, you haven't been paying attention.
Everybody knows that pro road racers and top marathoners burn calories like there's no tomorrow and are lean. Doctors and exercise experts all over the world tell you weight loss is just a matter of burning more calories than you eat. It is mathematically irrefutable, scientifically incontrovertible, verbally unassailable, indubitably indisputable, athletically a slam dunk, but is also and unfortunately a lie of Paul Bunyan proportions.
It's tough to burn 3,500 calories on a bike ride or bike rides (or a hike, or anything else) without compensating by eating most or all of those calories back on.  Hard riding burns maybe 700 calories an hour.  You want to ride off a pound of fat? Go ride your bike hard for 5 hours. If you eat two Power Bars, or a Power Bar and a Clif Bar during the ride, better make it 5:45. If one of the hours wasn't hard, cover yourself by making it six and a half hours, just to be sure. Don't drink a pint of Gatorade, or you'll have to add another 20 minutes onto it.
That's how it works in the mathematically correct,Calories-in/Calories-out world.
The idea of compensatory eating isn't new. Your granny called it "working up an appetite." That's an expression we've all heard, can all relate to, but when it comes to fitness articles and promoting running or cycling as a way to get lean, it gets ignored. It's no less real for being ignored, but isn't it funny how they never tell you the obvious---that you're going to be hungry as a goat after those long hard rides, and so those rides can't, actually, be effective in weight loss.
It's not about not doing those rides. They can be satisfying,  even a blast. It's about not doing them for the purpose of weight loss. Don't look at skinny guys who do them and figure they weren't that way to begin with. Lots of skinny people do endurance stuff, because being skinny makes it easier, so they get there by gravity.
Any exercise increases your appetite and makes you eat back on the calories you burned. It's likely that skinny marathoners and BORAF riders would be skinny even if they didn't ride so much. Sure, Eddy Merckx got fat after he retired, but for every athlete who gets fat after retiring, there are two dozen athletes who are fat, or at least not as lean as they'd like to be, despite years of obsessive and often hellish exercising. It's because they're eating incorrectly and eating too much.
Have you ever been sick in bed for several days and lost weight? The effect is more dramatic if you're strong going into it. Even if you don't throw up and get diarrhea, you tend to lose weight because you're eating less, and you're eating less because you're exercising less. Meanwhile, your muscled body is still burning more calories than a body bereft of tone would, so there's a net loss.
When you recover, your exercise resumes, your appetite recovers, and you gain back the weight. I bet one in five of you reading this now can relate to that.
I'm not making a case for lying around in bed. That's no way to live.
Today is the day when many of you may be here resolve that you will exercise more and eat less, as part of a weight loss plan. It will work on paper, or on your computer spreadsheet, if you resolve to ride 200 miles a week and eat 1000 fewer calories per day, or 250. Counting calories is too hard and no way to live, either. It's tedious, depressing, and not sustainable. It gives you false hope.
I can't hear or say or read the word "hope" without this 1961 Bob Dylan poem lyric coming to mind:
But hope's just a word that maybe you said and maybe you heard/On some windy corner, 'round a wide-angle curve.
It is false hope. You may have tried it last year, or five years ago. It never works, but hope is a powerful force, because in its absence people tend to blow their brains out, or at least throw in the towel.
There's a new book out, published December 28. It's by Gary Taubes, science writer, and it's written for all the people who didn't read his monster-long Good Calories, Bad Calories
It's a short version of that book, with fewer scientific references and footnotes, and about 1/4 as many words. It is a book that will make any authority who's gone public or built their empire with the Calories-In versus Calories-Out chant peeeeeee in their pantaloons and wish for a Do-Over.
Maybe we'll carry the book. I have three copies of it. I've read Good Calories, Bad Calories, and I didn't find it hard to get though, but I'm kind of into this stuff. The new book, and of course I'll tell you what it is in a few moments, is like reading Dear Abby, or your favorite column in the Sunday paper, or the Sports Section, or whatever. Gary Taubes is a terrific writer, and his plan is to Not Lose You Along the Way.
We will stock the book. It's a companion to The Primal Blueprint. Don't think you don't need it, just because you've read TPB, though. Everybody wants to not get fat or to lose the fat they already got, or a good chunk of it, anyway. It's harder as you get older, as you've noticed. If you're 50 you may have given up, but here it is the start of a new year again, and out of habit you say you'll give it another shot---exercising more and eating less. It's perfect on paper and mathematically, but it won't work, and the you'll beat yourself up for not having will power. It's not about that, either. Will power is a circular, explanatory fiction.
The book is Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It, and if you are concerned with your weight, frustrated by past failed attempts to lose it, and barely willing to give it one more shot, get the book. The book is great. It spills the beans right on -- I think it's page 10 of the introduction. He doesn't mess around, and there are no menus with nutritional breakdowns or any of that.
The best way to get it is to go to It's a great photo blog. The owner is some kind of a friend, and makes money on the ads and the links. Don't look at the Joyful Nudes link  on the lower left. Focus, focus, focus on the Amazon link at the top right. if you link to Amazon from that, he'll get a small percent, and it won't cost you any more, and that'll be my way of feeling good about this. In two weeks we'll have the book, but don't delay.
It's a dreary day here, all cold and rainy, and I'm going out now. 
Monday we'll all be back to normal. I may delete this post, I'm not sure. I'm about 1/3 the way through Why We Git Fat, and it's good. He's a good writer.
A customer just this minute posted this to me:
I don't know if that works. If not, go to eBay and seartch for item
I think it's kind of dirty pool, but on the other hand, it would be dirtier pool if it were a wild and rare exception to the rule, but it seems to be the rule. We don't know how it happened, but failures should be dents, buckles, and slow fatigue failures, and this isn't any of those.


David Brown said...

I am in the 50+ category but haven't read your blog before.

And I'm still waiting for my copy of "Why We Get Fat" to arrive. Without reading the book I can tell you Taubes did not discuss two important aspects of weight control; gut microbes and omega-6 fats. Why? Because he's not interested in them as yet.

Gut microbes are probably not that important in terms of making the right sorts of dietary corrections to achieve weight loss. However, everyone needs to understand the omega-6 hazard. So Google "omega-6 omega-3 imbalance" and "1 of 4 Bill Lands" and "omega-6 Whole Health Source" to get started.

While it's true that a lot of people are aware of the omega-6 hazard, few truly appreciate the magnitude of problem. I urge all who read this comment to visit Evelyn Tribole's website. Google "Omega-6 research news."

Sojka's Call said...

David - thanks for the links and I will check them out for more info. I agree with you from personal experience that the gut microbes are important for general health and who knows what other benefits they may have in terms of helping the body extract the needed nutrients from food. Sisson (Primal Diet) does emphasize the importance of ehlathy gut bacteria.

Regarding the omega imbalance I believe we are better off taking fish oil for our omega supplements since the fish oil generally is in the right ration of omega 3, 6, and 9.

Please post back once you get the book and let me know what you think.

Jeannie said...

I agree that limiting caloric intake is the only way to loose weight and to exercise. There are some other factors to be included. Every culture has tended to eat certain foods due to food accessibility. Metabolism is very important when taking into account weight loss. Some people's bodies process certain foods differently. There are persons who process carbos, or proteins or mixed between carbo and protein intake.

I agree smaller portions will end in weight loss and exercise. But as to the athlete who goes on a two thousand mile ride I think that the exercise although may not cause weight loss does cause body fat to turn into muscle which is a very good exchange!!! So weight is not what health is all about but how you exercise and what and how much you eat.

Sojka's Call said...

Jeannie - I agree that just looking at total weight can be deceiving and we should look at body fat. For someone near or at the obese level they probably can safely just focus on total poundage until they are in the +20lb range for their height and build.

Certainly, due to genetics, different people process foods in a variety of ways as evidenced by tendencies in certain populations to not digest alcohol, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, etc so I am sure there are other more subtle food reactions that fly under our conscious awareness.


this post is good and i have learned a lot just reading some few paragraph here. thanks.