Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dumb Diets

I am so fascinated by the diets people try. Some have a pretty high success rate, like South Beach (boyfriend lost 30 lbs earlier this year on it- and, a quote from my friend Craig: "Diets don't work. They're all bullshit. Except South Beach, I lost a ton of weight on that.") Others sound awesome yet are not- like the Hollywood Cookie Diet. If eating cookies were a diet, I'd be in the starvation ward right now getting fed through a tube because I'd weigh 80 lbs. No matter the diet, I'll at least peruse the book even if I have no intention of ever following it, mostly because I'm always intrigued by the science and philosophy behind these diets. One I picked up recently is - Dr. Gundry's Diet Evolution. My good friend Kimberly told me about this when I visited her in San Francisco. The philosophy is that, with the modern diet and methods of exercise, we are activating "killer genes" which make us gain weight and cause a whole host of other health problems. Our current diet, heavily based on grains, sends a message that "winter is coming" and causes our bodies to hold onto fat. The diet advocates eating essentially like you eat when you do South Beach phase 1 or 2 (little to no grains products, protein, tons and tons of green veggies and no sugars other than those found in some fruits.) This supposedly tells your body "winter is now" and forces it to burn fat for energy. The longer you do the diet, the less meat you eat until you are mostly getting protein from tofu, tempeh, and seafood.

I have some really mixed feelings on this after reading some of the book. Kimberly lost lots of weight doing it, and in theory it should work- protein is actually the least efficient way for your body to get energy, because it has to work hard to metabolize it (you burn something like 16% of the calories from protein you consume just by metabolizing it.) And if you are already a vegetarian and really like veggies, than this could really work for you. However, I do not want to live my life eating rabbit food. What is the point of living forever if you can't have cupcakes sometimes (meaning twice a week)? I also have a hard time believing that our "genes are killing us" when we feed them sugar or dairy or grains or fruit- haven't people been eating bread and honey and apples and cheese since Cleopatra was riding around in her litter? Haven't Japanese people been eating white rice since the days of the samurais, and they're outliving us all?

What really disturbed me about the book, though, was the chapter where he advocated fasting on alternate days and skipping meals to further put stress on your body and keep your metabolism on its toes. He even admits that it's against conventional wisdom to skip meals or not eat when you're hungry. My opinion is this- unless you have absolutely iron willpower, there is no way in hell you will succeed on a diet that leaves you starving half the time. The best advice I've heard on this topic is: "the best diet is the one you can actually do." There is no better way to set yourself up for an epic binge than to wait until you're ravenous to eat. I have no doubt that this diet works, provided you can actually do it. And who the hell can do it? Not me. I went to bed hungry Monday night and two hours ago I polished off two bowls of death by chocolate ice cream with Butterfingers crumbled on top out of residual hunger.

Furthermore, I am really disturbed by the idea that, if you just push through it, you'll like the feeling of being hungry and it will make you feel "clean" and "pure." That's the same thinking that they advocate in Skinny Bitch. Let me say that there is nothing morally superior about your ability to not eat. It just makes you hungry and me annoyed with you. There are far better diets, or ways of eating, than to eat nothing but romaine. I'll discuss them later.

That's all for now, but I'll leave you with a picture of me and my new favorite cup. I love cups. And I love Hello Kitty. Where can one go wrong?

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