Thursday, January 17, 2008

Obesity and the Regulation of Weight

I finally powered through and finished Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. After two long parts discussing high-fat/low-carb vs. low-fat/high-carb, this part got down to the nuts and bolts of dieting and losing weight. It takes aim at busting two of the common mantras of weight loss: "Calories In, Calories Out" and "A Calories is a Calories is a Calories." The late, great Dr. Atkins is also discussed in length including the tragic story of how he was ostricized by the medical community for daring to preach anything but low-fat/high-carb.

What I found most interesting was the story of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who ate nothing but meat for one year and emerged perfectly healthy. He did it to prove to scientists what he learned from the Inuit (indigenous people living in the arctic regions of Alaska, Greenland, and Canada) -- you can live perfectly well on nothing but meat.
The Inuit considered vegetables and fruit "not proper human food," Stefansson wrote, but they occasionnally ate the roots of the knotweed plant in times of dire necessity."
In the end, I was disappointed by the lack of conclusions drawn by the book, but that wasn't the author's fault. He points out that no research has been done to positively prove whether or not a low-carb diet is the best way to eat and he hopes that his book will inspire that research to be done. Personally, I've been doing amazingly well on Atkins Introduction and the information in this book has only affirmed that what I'm doing is not only safe, but good for me.

1 comment:

David Brown said...

Hi Jon,

I try to be the voice of reason and reasonableness in the debate over what constitutes the best diet. Really, trying to identify the ideal diet is an exercise in futility because of biochemical and physiological variations in human metabolism and organ configuration. Until the science of metabolomics matures and scientists can correlate genetic makeup with appropriate food choices, all one can do is experiment to find out what works best for ones peculiar genetic makeup.

Glad you've found an approach that helps you lose weight.

David Brown
Nutrition Education Project