VHALKYRIE   16,233
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Some updates on my future with Spark

Monday, June 20, 2011

First, before we start our regularly scheduled program, a few updates.

One, I am semi-retiring from the message boards. Given certain recent events, it is clear that my new diet falls under the 'fad diet' category, and is not allowed on the general message board forums.

First, I'd like to show you an example of my 'fad diet' meal.

This is mixed green, kale, cucumber, bell pepper, guacamole, and blue cheese salad with grilled london broil strips. Handful of grapes and pineapple. Manhattan clam chowder.

Please compare this with the new USDA Food plate:

What am I missing here? Oh no, I forgot the bread. And my clam chowder is supposed to be a glass of skim milk.

This is about 465 calories. We went for a walk on the beach after lunch, and this is good quality fuel. If I followed the guidelines, I'd cut my vegetable portion down in order to make room for the bread. I'd be adding another 120 calories from the bread. I estimate I'd be at 545 calories if I removed a quarter of my veggies, and added a 1 oz slice of bread. So I'd be cutting my nutrients down, and getting more calories.

An additional 1/4 plate of veggies is way more nutrient packed than a slice of bread. And fewer calories. I tell people on the message boards that if they need to reduce calories and hunger, they should skip the bread and pasta. This causes outrage, and labels me a fad dieter.

I got this from the Whole Foods salad bar. When I went to pay, the checkout girl remarked at how incredibly healthy and delicious my lunch looked. She had no idea I was a low carber. Does it matter?

Anyway, I am moving my food log over to LiveStrong. I like their food tracker better. I am also moving my community involvement to Mark's Daily Apple. I think they can help me with my transition to my new diet. I am Vhalkyrie in both places, if you are also members.

I'm afraid that I have moved away from Spark's dietary message, and they are making it clear that differing ideas are not welcome. I didn't know when signing up it was their way or no way. They are the host, though, so I will oblige.

I am going to continue blogging on Spark. If you like my blogs, please make sure to add me as a Spark friend, as I may soon be changing it to private status. I will also remain active on my Spark teams.

------ Back to our regularly scheduled programming

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALIE719 6/22/2011 8:44AM

    I don't get the insistence that you *must* have bread/grain. I think some people who don't like the whole low carb thing are more against the processed crap that people eat in stead of veggies, since, you know, there are carbs in veggies. There are people out there who will eat an atkins chocolate bar and refuse a piece of fruit, because *gasp!* carbs!!!

If you're eating a balanced mix of whole foods, you're fine. Ignore the crazies.

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GRACIOUSGRAPE 6/21/2011 1:24PM

    Your plate looks absolutely delicious! I don't avoid carbs altogether but certainly have cut back on them. One has to do what works for themselves, as long as you have researched what is healthy for you and balanced for your body. Everyone is different. Glad to see that you will stick with some of SPARK so that the rest of us can cheer and applaud your successes!

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JUSTBIRDY 6/21/2011 1:03PM

    Here's a great post about fad diets

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LADYIRISH317 6/21/2011 9:40AM

    If you even THINK about disappearing from our teams, I promise I WILL hunt you down! You're a valued member.

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BEANBYDESIGN 6/21/2011 6:58AM

    I'm so glad you're sticking around to blog! I was already on the path to cutting back grains thanks to Jackie Warner's book, and you have been an amazing resource for me as I figure this out further. (Also, thanks for the tip on Mark's Daily Apple - I'm not a member there yet, but if I join I'll be sure to add you!)

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EUPHRATES 6/21/2011 6:33AM

    See, I don't have ANY problems with arguments, etc, but I've never really spent any time on the message boards. I concentrate on teams where the folks are supportive and challenge me, and it's all good. That said, the "low carb friends" board (where I LIVED when I was doing Atkins, and still visit from time to time) is just as antsy as I've heard people complain about SP in terms of "alternative thinking" (though their version of alternative thinking would be anti-low-carb). *shrugs* It's everywhere really.

Do what works for you!

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RMREEVESOLIS 6/21/2011 6:23AM

    awe.. you will be missed. I enjoy your upbeat spirit! I will have to check out those other websites.

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VHALKYRIE 6/20/2011 11:08PM

    LUCYSUNFLOWER: Mark's blogs are goldmines! I just need some help fine tuning my own goals, that I am having difficulty on Spark due to some overzealous moderators. I will be sure to share what I find! I'm going to be sticking with my Spark teams, so no worries there! And thank you so much for your nice words - it means a lot to me! Besides, I don't know too many INFJs! Gotta stick together!

MYTURN11: You are so right! Thanks for the encouragement!

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 11:08:57 PM

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MYTURN11 6/20/2011 10:54PM

    Thanks for the heads up on the other web sites and your plate looks delicious! There is a whole foods about 15 minutes fr/ my workplace ~ think I will check it out. I do not think of your diet as fad. In addition, I do not march to the beat of anyone elses drum ~ just my own ~ I know what works for me when i see results and the condition of my hair and skin, etc.....well you know what I mean ~ plus energy level. emoticon

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LUCYSUNFLOWER 6/20/2011 10:52PM

    I would SO hate to see you leave Spark - I rely on your blogs! I am still early in my new eating plan and slipped and fell (face first, coincidentally) in chocolate pudding today. I definitely want to feel good more than I want to look thin, so I am focusing more on nurishment and fitness and your blog is key to that! Based on your recommendation I signed up for Mark's newsletter, but I am spread too thin for another community. Gotta hang here. If you feel like you need to go private that is totally understandable. Just keep blogging!

emoticon emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 6/20/2011 10:30PM

    I agree with you all. I'm just going to stick with my Spark teams and the blog!

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MYLADY4 6/20/2011 9:31PM

    I so hear you girl. You have really spent the time and truly informed yourself and us about the perils of unhealthy carbs.

If I followed the new food plate and ate breads and pastas, I would get so so so sick (and not to mention FAT). I eat low carb cause my body has told be loud and clear that is what it needs. Low carb means eating good protein, lots of green veggies and not being afraid of fats (like we have been told was bad).

People can be so ignorant sometimes. Everybody is different so not every eating plan is going to work for everyone. I think people are slowly getting it that the county is getting fat from too many carbs.

Thanks for all the info. Reading all of your blogs made me decide to go back to low carb (not that I was really high to begin with).


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RKJ1969 6/20/2011 7:24PM

    I'm over at MDA too, but it has as many problems as Spark does....lots of fighting, trolls, wacky opinions and redundancy - I was really involved for about a month, but I learned quickly to stay out of most discussions. I do love the Primal Blueprint though, and follow Mark's blogs!

It's much the same here, I feel pretty safe in the Low Carb team though I really just keep up with my own Spark friends. Just fyi, there is also a Primal and a Paleo team - though both are less active than the Low Carb team is...

Good luck!

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 7:25:09 PM

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ZUMBAMAMMA3 6/20/2011 6:56PM

    your plate looks like mine. do whats best for you. GOD speed emoticon

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JECKIE 6/20/2011 6:56PM

    Your lunch looks a lot like one of mine! YUM!

I'm very careful about which boards I join. I focus on those that help me be an athlete and leave the food choices alone. It's far too touchy a subject for me to get into an argument with people about (especially when I start on my "no HFCS" kick... that really gets 'em riled up!)

Do what works for you!

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ANDREA409 6/20/2011 6:39PM

    I love Mark's website and look there often for info, but I've yet to set up an account. If I do, I'll friend you for sure. I can't say I blame you for not wanting to be a member of the "community" here. It's changed, even in the few years I've been a Spark person. Or maybe it hasn't. Maybe I've been closed off to it. I'd say more, but, well, I don't want to get in trouble by the Thought Police.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/20/2011 6:29PM

    Well, I'll always be a follower, no matter where you end up, and even if you change back to an 85% grain diet. ..Cause I know you would arrive at that diet because of actual data, and I always respect that.

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LHIEBEL 6/20/2011 6:07PM

  I just signed up at Mark's Daily Apple--I am lhiebel over there, too...

Had problems at livestrong--will try again later...

these both look like great sites! Thanks!

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NEURONERD 6/20/2011 5:27PM

    Like the PhD in the you-tube presentation you posted a week ago, if low carb was a fad-diet then they wouldn't have been able to conduct research on the theory.

I'm so happy that you won't stop writing your blogs. I do enjoy reading them, especially the science behind it all.


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NAYPOOIE 6/20/2011 3:40PM

    Since Atkins has been around for 30 plus years, that a bit long to call it a fad.

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PRANA_DANCER 6/20/2011 3:16PM

    fad di·et
a reducing diet that enjoys temporary popularity

Truth is, that's what low carb diets are. But the thing is people equate fad diets with things that are unsucessful or unsustainable in the long run.

You want to know another fad diet?


From http://www.everydiet.org/fad_diets.
htm, a short article on fad diets the Almighty Plate meets:

*Claims that sound too good to be true
*Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study (See the lipid hypothesis)
*Lists of "good" and "bad" foods
*Recommendations made to help sell a product
and finally
*Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups

That's not all the criteria for a fad diet, but yours doesn't meet them all either.

In fact, my mini-meals could fill a few of them too and I'm not even trying to cut back on anything.

My point is, "fad diet" is a talking point thrown around by people when they disapprove of another's diet. I'm guilty of it (usually in regards to hypocaloric diets or cleanses) but I try to be aware of it and back up my points with science.


I'm also checking out this Mark's Daily Apple thing and thus far, I am intrigued.

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 3:18:18 PM

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THINRONNA 6/20/2011 3:14PM

    I am glad that you have found a solution that works for you my friend. I am so very glad that you will not be leaving Spark all together but I do understand why you are moving around a bit! I am very much enjoying your blogs and the information that you have been providing...as well as your more for fun blogs...like about your fish! Thank you for informing us of your changes...

You dinner looks wonderful!

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The Vegetarian Myth

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I have never been vegetarian, but I have skirted the edges several times. I heard about this book first from reading Dr. Mike Eades blog. His book "Protein Power" is referenced several times in "The Vegetarian Myth". He never consulted with the author when she was writing this, so he was flattered and surprised to be mentioned.

It sounded interesting, but I decided to read it on the recommendation of Spark friend ANDREA409. If you haven't already, go to her blog and read her personal story reading this book.


I don't intend for this blog to be a book review, so much as commentary. I took notes while reading, so I may be coming back with a more review type blog later.

The background you need to know going into this is the author, Lierre Keith, was a 20 year strict vegan. She writes about her philosophy as a vegan, feminist, environmentalist, philanthropist, and animal rights activist.

She then eviscerates every argument for vegetarianism and veganism. I mean, it is brutal. It is total annihilation that can only come from a fallen angel. It is her painful account, in both body and soul, that human beings were meant to eat other animals. There is no other way. Not if you want to be alive.

I have skirted near vegetarianism, but I lacked the conviction to truly take the plunge long term. I found keeping track of my macronutrients to be too difficult, as well as all the supplements. The supplements bothered me. If we have to take that many supplements, is it truly a healthy diet?

I never considered veganism because of the pesky B12 problem. B12 is an essential vitamin. And I do mean essential. If we do not get B12, we risk severe brain and nervous system damage. This damage is irreversible. It was enough to scare me away from even dabbling with veganism. B12 is produced by a bacteria. Animal protein like cows, sheep, lamb, chicken, eggs, and fish contain these bacterias that produce B12. We eat these animals, and we get the B12. There is no other way. Even if you take a B12 vitamin supplement, it is still cultured from this bacteria. A non plant source.

Then there is the problem that I, personally, have never known anyone who was a truly healthy vegetarian or vegan. I do not mean that disparagingly. But in my personal circle, the vegetarians and vegans I know are seriously ill. My vegan friend is morbidly obese, and anemic. No doubt vegans will say she is doing it wrong, and I can agree with that.

The times I have skirted near vegetarianism is during times of despair. Despair that I would never lose this stupid weight. The diet isn't working, maybe vegetarian is the answer. So I skirt close, then fall off. I lack the conviction.

I have never felt particularly guilty about eating meat. I take a native American approach. Thank the animal for its life. It is prey, and I am built with the digestive system of a predator. Prey is life, and it deserves respect. I long ago reconciled there is an order. A balance.

My western astrological sign is libra. My Asian astrological sign is a tiger. I am a libra-tiger. As a scientifically minded person, logically, astrology seems like mythology. However, I very strikingly fit the descriptions for both.

Libra: A very strong sense of justice, order and balance.
Tiger: Empathetic. Loyal. Independent and strong willed. Live by a personal code of honor and moral compass.

More scientifically, my personality profile on the Meyer's-Brigg scale is INFJ. Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judge. This is the rarest personality profile - only 1% of the population. Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, and Carl Jung were all INFJ.

So what is an INFJ? They are called counselor idealists. Highly empathetic and loyal. Very strong sense of justice, order, and balance. Independent and strong willed. Live by a personal code of honor and moral compass.

Coincidence? Uncanny and weird, and I can't even make sense of it. But there it is.

Taking up the cause of animal rights would seem a natural fit. So why was I never really vegetarian?

Maybe because I am a tiger, and I have an instinct that I could not deviate from. Every time I strayed, I got yanked back.

Factory farming is a horrific practice that needs to ends. But undergoing protein starvation is not the way to do it. I want animals to be raised in humane conditions. My grandma grew up on a farm that had its own self sustaining ecosystem. Cows and chickens. Milk and eggs. Dogs to chase foxes away. Cats to eat mice. A vegetable patch. They traded many items for others that they needed.

As factory farming is inhumane and unnatural, so is industrial agriculture. Land that is stripped of grass and trees, and planted with corn and soy destroys the soil. The soil is fertilized with nitrogen made from fossil fuels. This land is barren without the chemical fertilizers.

One of my favorite sci-fi books is "Years of Rice and Salt" by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is an alternate history story about what if the black plague wiped out the populations of Europe, and the dominate religions of the world were Buddhism and Islam?

There is one part in particular that stuck out at me. There is a passage in the Koran that is often misunderstood, and is used by radical Islam to promote misogyny and oppression of women. Mohammad said, "Treat your women as you would the soil beneath your feet."

As Westerners, this sounds horrific, right? Barbaric!

No. He was speaking to a group of farmers. He was telling them that soil that is healthy and rich with life, will grow life in which to feed ourselves. Soil that is mistreated, abused, and untended will not grow life. It will not prosper.

He was telling the men that women grow life, just as soil grows life. All life depends on the foundation. For plants, it is good soil. For humans, it is healthy and happy women.

This has been perverted by radicals, because we have lost the meaning of where life comes from. This statement has the wrong meaning for them because their land is already dead.

Soil is the bedrock of life. Modern agriculture strips the soil of life, and it subsists on life support with industrial chemicals. This is unsustainable. The age of fossil fuels is ending, and it will happen in our lifetimes. 2050, and crude oil is exhausted. Nuclear energy cannot power tractors. It cannot create the chemical nitrogen that our corn fields currently limp along.

Promoting agriculture as the savior of animals is noble, but horribly misguided. The fertile crescent where agriculture began is roughly in modern Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Turkey and Iran. It is now desert, due to stripping the land of its fertility, and not putting back into the land what was taken. It is barren.

There is a way to do crops and livestock sustainably, for us to get back in harmony with nature, but I'll save that for another blog topic. Also, the author goes into this in excruciating detail.

The message of the book is if we love animals, and are environmentalists, then we should be fighting for sustainable farms using crop rotation instead of chemicals. We should be encouraging livestock raised in free range. We cannot change our biology, as much as we wish we could.

One thing that I wonder if my vegan friends have considered is, what if they succeeded? What if we were all vegan?

They are not saving the lives of cows, chickens and pigs. Cows, chickens and pigs would no longer serve any purpose, and would stop being raised. These domesticated animals have become dependent on us. Most of them could not survive on their own anymore. They are available in numbers because we need them for food. And they need us. Otherwise, they would serve no purpose, and they would be extinct.

Don't believe me? Did you know that the clydesdale horse is at risk of becoming an endangered species? They did not have much purpose after the rise of the automobiles.

Cows and chickens that were not raised for food would cease to exist at all. Who would tend them? Who would care for them? Why would you?

Great book. Highly recommended.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUGNUT_9754 6/21/2011 9:41AM

    Why eat pig but not a dog?: This is a western concept. I know of at least two countries that do eat dog and quite a few that don't eat pigs.

I have not read the book but wanted to throw my two cents in. I'm not sourcing anything, just giving my opinion and random things I remember.

First, I don't believe in being a full-time vegetarian. In high school biology we studied amino acids and learned that in less you are a vegetarian that knows what aminos are in what vegetables/fruit etc. you will never get all the essential ones. Eating meat will give you all in one meal. I have yet to meet a healthy vegetarian (and yes, of course there are unhealthy meat eaters). I don't eat beef or pork except when I crave it (usually means my iron is too low). I believe in balance. It's okay to eat meat, just not everyday. Humans have always ate meat, and survived. Northern Canadians still live off of 98% meat diets. I read in a book (sorry I have no source), that stated that our bodies are not made to digest red meat. Our teeth and digestive system are designed for meats like chicken and fish but not beef. Thanks for reading my opinion.

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VHALKYRIE 6/21/2011 9:18AM

    PETALIA: I think that is a really good point. If one chooses a vegetarian diet, they can still eat better quality carbohydrates (ie less grain products) and protein sources. We are different, though. Some of us can't tolerate plant proteins as well as others, I don't think. I plan to write a topic on this soon.

As far as B12, I think that is less of a problem for vegetarians. Vegans...well...I'm sure it is possible. I speak only from my own experience, my vegan friends have all ended up with B12 trouble. I'm not saying it isn't possible, but it seems pretty easy to fall into trouble if they get lazy. And personally, I am pretty lazy. So this is not a track for me.

Thanks so much!

Comment edited on: 6/21/2011 9:23:30 AM

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VHALKYRIE 6/21/2011 9:13AM

    I think I am more in touch than most about where food comes from. I have pulled potatoes and carrots straight from the earth on a farm. I have grown my own tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs. I have hunted and fished. I can clean my fish, but not very well, so I usually have someone else do it. Dressing an animal is not something I am able to do. But I feel more connected that I have at least been a part of the experience of where food comes from, and what we once had to do on a regular basis in order to survive.

Comment edited on: 6/21/2011 9:16:02 AM

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PETALIA 6/21/2011 9:11AM

    I just read two of your blog posts, this one and, "Some Updates on My Future with Spark." I have learned so much and am excited to read into your archived blog postings! I looked at, Mark's Daily Apple' and feel there is much there that is relevant to me. Thank you.
I grew up eating a vegetarian diet based in complex carbohydrates. Pretty much no animal based foods at all. Rice and beans. Grains. Fairly recently I began to consume far fewer grains, no gluten...Me, I'm doing much better, more energy and overall wellness with more plants and proteins, fewer grains and sugars e.g. fruit. I imagine people are all different and respond differently to different kinds of nutrition. I know few facts. I have only my own experience. Tracking my nutrition here at SP, I meet all the goals except for carbohydrates which I often fall below my minimum. For some reason, my B12 level is great without any supplement. Hmm...
I feel so much better with very, very little grain and an emphasis on protein/fat. I look for complete proteins. In the plant world, I'm finding that in fermented soy products (e.g. tempeh, natto) and in Spirulina and quinoa (a grain.) I've subscribed to your blog and I hope that I'll be able to continue reading your insightful and interesting postings in whatever future with SP you choose to have. Thanks again and good luck to you on whatever changes you carry out.

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VHALKYRIE 6/21/2011 8:35AM

    JLITT62: Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

I agree with you. Most people do not think about where their food comes from. That includes some vegetarians. Agriculture is a huge consumer of fossil fuels, and I don't think most people are aware of it. When I lived in Washington, there were a lot of farms, and it was easy for me to get locally grown food on sustainable farms that used crop rotation. Now that I live in Georgia, it isn't possible. I have to eat a mix of conventionally grown and organic.

Now why it's ok to eat a pig and not a dog is indeed a moral question. I mostly think it has to do with the type of symbiotic relationship we have developed with these animals. Dogs are hunters, and we found them useful to aid us in catching prey, so we domesticated them to be companions. The original purpose of having a dog was for hunting and catching prey. Not running laps around a park and playing frisbee. They were also bred to guard livestock animals, or herd them. In return for their service in providing food, or protecting food, we did not eat them.

In times of starvation, they have been eaten as food. A lot is made of Asians eating dog, but this is not entirely true. There is no taboo about eating dog, but that doesn't mean dogs are raised for food. Dogs, and pretty much anything else, were eaten when food was scarce during war and famine. Asians prefer fish over any other type of animal proteins.

The choice of being vegetarian, vegan, or omnivore is a product of abundance of food. If you've ever been to a country that experiences real famine, and real starvation, you'll find they are less picky, and there is less ambiguous moral dilemma. They will eat what they can catch.

Also, I have hunted, and I have caught fish. I find sport hunting grotesque, but I have no problem with hunting animals that are consumed. Grass fed beef is rich with omega-3s, but we didn't know how important they were until we started eating low fat diets, and feeding cattle a grain diet. Fowl are the only animals that can eat and tolerate a grain diet.

Comment edited on: 6/21/2011 8:59:52 AM

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JLITT62 6/21/2011 8:24AM

    Nature will find a way, as they say. My point about the feral chickens is that they didn't die away when people were not care taking for them. The same might be said of the javelinas in the south, which can be a real menace.

And of course since you're talking vegetarianism, not veganism, we wouldn't be getting rid of cows or chickens - milk, cheese, eggs. Pigs would be a different story.

Keep in mind, again, that I'm not vegetarian, but often say to my husband why is it ok to eat a pig, but not a dog? Pigs are more intelligent, after all.

No, I don't eat much meat & what I do eat generally comes from the farmer's market so that I have a better idea of how it's treated.

I think my biggest problem is with people that don't put any thought into where food is coming from, which is sadly the vast majority of people. And that doesn't just apply to animal products, either.

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VHALKYRIE 6/20/2011 8:11PM

    If you want to know the sources, you'll have to thumb through the bibliography. Sorry, but I am not typing out 14 pages of sources!

Is it 14 pages of all primary sources? No, I wouldn't say so. If you want a book that references mostly primary sources, you'll have to read "Good Calories, Bad Calories". But many people have trouble finishing it.

Since the reviewer was slamming the resources, I kept waiting for the her to offer her own primary sources in the rebuttal, but I didn't find any. If she offered sources, I would read it. The only references she offers are to another opinion piece blog. Her proof that vegan-from-birth children are perfectly normal is a link to a blog with pictures of cute babies, not a primary resource study or journal. This is not intended to be an intellectual rebuttal, but a rally cry for the converted.

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 9:11:20 PM

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NAYPOOIE 6/20/2011 7:21PM

    OK, I haven't read the book, and don't plan to, but could you address the reviewer's contention that the references were not primary sources, but popular literature?

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ANDREA409 6/20/2011 6:51PM

    Poorly researched? Are you kidding? Have you even READ the book? I completely disagree. The citations in the back extend for pages. She excrutiatingly goes into detail to break down every single scientific study she discusses. I'm also a scientist, and, yeah, I gotta say, her book fits the definition of science to me. In fact, many excerpts were so freakin' tedious, it was grueling to get through them.

I'm all about people eating what is best for their bodies. But no one should criticize something they've never read or experienced. I live in a sick body. Yes, a body made sick by a low-fat vegetarian diet. Certainly, there are healthy vegetarians. Certainly there are unhealthy meat-eaters. But I would argue that we evolved eating animal products, and many of us need to continue doing so.

The blog supposedly debunking this book was demeaning. It seemed to me to be more of a personal challenge, rather than an analytical piece. This vegan is angry/upset/hurt that her or his way of life could be incorrect and came out fighting. I don't call that objectivity or science, in the least.

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 7:10:23 PM

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VHALKYRIE 6/20/2011 6:38PM

    I'm sorry, I don't see that review debunking anything. Debunking would require citations and sources, in which there are none. It is an opinion piece. The book has plenty of citations from medical and research sources, but I doubt the citations were read.

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LEONALIONESS 6/20/2011 6:07PM

    That book is very very VERY poorly researched and full of down right inaccuracies regarding... well, everything!


Here are real doctor/nutritionist (who happens to be vegan) debunks it/reviews it.

I've been vegan 8 years. Was vegetarian for four or so before that.
I run marathons and am very healthy. My blood work is epically perfect, my bone density if off the charts. I'm surrounded by fellow vegans and veggies in my city. I run in a very wide circle of vegans - I'm talking dozens of them I see each month. Including many, many vegan and vegetarian coworkers. Not a one is unhealthy or sickly looking. In fact, they are some of the most beautiful, healthy and vibrant folks I know.

You'll have some unhealthy vegans just like you'll have some unhealthy omnivores and vegetarians. Quite frankly, I see a lot more unhealthy, overweight and sickly omnivores than vegans in my daily life.

I think this book is bunk.
Of course your mileage may vary. I just find it to be incredibly poorly researched, not backed by any real science and full of leaps in logic that are unfounded and untrue. That's my biggest issue with it. Diss veganism if you will but do it with actual *fact* and not just some rubbish pseudoscience. It bugs me as a scientific person more than it bugs me as a vegan.

Oh, and vegans WANT there to be no more domesticated chickens/cows/pigs/etc. Ideally, the demand for animal products drops and the farms stop breeding so many animals. As the demand drops, production follows. That's basic economics. The world will not go vegan in one day, one year even one decade. It's a slow process and supply/demand will handle much of the transition. And the animals who are left can go to sanctuaries like Animal Place, Chicken Run, and Farm Sanctuary or be adopted as companions. I'd love to adopt some bantam companion chickens from our local rescue.

There will not be a giant rash of livestock taking over the earth. I assure you.

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 6:10:55 PM

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THINRONNA 6/20/2011 3:33PM

    I should check that book out. I was a vegetarian back in the day before culinary school mainly because it was more interesting to my palate. I did that for three years (with a brief stint in there of vegan for a couple of months) and then once I committed to becoming a chef at the level that I am at I decided it was silly for me not to eat meat. I needed to know about it and how to cook it. (I did get through culinary school as a vegetarian though.) Anyway I am with you on these points that you write about. I like how your research is so all encompassing!

BTW...I do think those chickens in Hawaii are probably owned by someone. It is hard for people to imagine who don't live on islands but the farm animals just roam free. (except for pigs...they would be a little scary if they didn't tie them up...they get so big!) It was kind of a pain to get behind a big herd of sheep, goats or cows when you were late for work but they kind of don't care! I never quite got how the owners knew whose was whose but they did. Most of the donkeys had become wild though. I only saw a few people using them as pack animals and I think one cars made it to the island the donkeys just became wild. I came upon some higher up on the mountain once and they were just crazy looking and strong!

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MIPALADY23 6/20/2011 11:24AM

    Nice... ahhh FODD for thought! Pun intended!

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PRANA_DANCER 6/20/2011 10:40AM

    I didn't skirt vegetarianism; I went lacto-ovo. I was still getting animal proteins and for the first month or so I felt great! But then I started getting tired all the time. I'd eat to kick my energy levels back up only to get sleepy again an hour later. I've always been against the idea of supplements and trying to eat a balanced diet as a vegetarian was hard. When I dabbled with veganism it was impossible. Supplements are meant to supplement (go figure) an otherwise unhealthy diet. Like you said, if this diet is so unhealthy, why do I need to supplement it?

Fortunately, I was doing it as a health experiment. Would I actually feel better? When the answer was no I had no qualms about switching back.

What does make me feel better about eating meat (as I do feel a bit guilty about factory farming) is that my boyfriend's family hunts and befriends the local farmers. As such, much of the meat I eat is free-range venison, and well-cared for bison, beef and pork.

I really do want to read this book, expecially since Andrea's post. Thanks for the notes!

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VHALKYRIE 6/20/2011 9:00AM

    Also, I knew when I wrote, "I, personally, have never known anyone who was a truly healthy vegetarian or vegan", I would inevitably get responses saying they know health vegetarian and vegans. I'm sure you do. And I hope you do, because I have seen the terrible effects on people I care about who are not. It is unfair to assume that these are junk food vegetarians. Most vegetarians and vegans would approve of their healthy food and lifestyle, as well as their strong conviction to the cause. But inside, they are dying. One of my friends will probably not live to 40, but she refuses to eat meat to save her life. She would rather die for her belief. That is her choice to make, but I would miss her. I desperately wish that she was not so kind and giving, and would choose her own life.

B12 and iron anemias are deadly, and can happen on the cleanest vegetarian diet. It is simply a proposition of not getting enough. We humans simply do not extract iron from plants efficiently, even from the most iron rich sources like spinach and kale. Spinach contains oxalic acid, which prevents iron absorption. Even though it is rich in iron, we only get a portion of it. Steaming or boiling can help reduce oxalic acid. My raw food vegan friends do not get this benefit.

Vitamins A, D, E, K, and all essential fatty acids are fat soluble. A vegetarian that removes the egg yolks from the whites is also removing the B12. So eating a low fat vegetarian diet can lead to being deficient in all of these. Again, all of the vitamins are not extracted from plant sources as readily as animal proteins. The only animals that can naturally access and use all of these vitamins and minerals purely from a plant diet are ruminants.

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 9:31:05 AM

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VHALKYRIE 6/20/2011 8:28AM

    Yes, I have been to Hawaii. And rural Jamaica. The feral chickens in Hawaii are a menace, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources routinely gives out permits to cull their populations, precisely because there are no predators. I cannot agree that they do just fine - they are an imbalance on the landscape. The chickens in Jamaica are more free range. They are raised and eaten by the local population, so the population does not get out of hand.

They are also not an indigenous species, which wrecks its own disaster on the environment.

Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 8:34:27 AM

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JLITT62 6/20/2011 8:13AM

    Let me preface this by saying that I am not vegetarian, but i do know healthy & unhealthy vegetarians & vegans. Potato chips & pizza can be vegetarian, after all . . ,.

Just one little tidbit to throw out there - ever been to Hawaii? Feral chickens everywhere, granted, they have no natural predators there, but they're doing just fine without anyone taking care of them.

It's a choice everyone has to make for themselves. Whatever your choice, I'm good with it as long as you put some care & thought into it which obviously you have.

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LUCYSUNFLOWER 6/20/2011 12:54AM

    Yet another interesting blog post! AND, believe it or not, I am another INFJ... I had no idea I was rare - just thought I was was weird! LOL

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JUSTBIRDY 6/19/2011 11:30PM

    A bigger problem with the eco-vegetarian concept is that pastured animals not only can eat grass while we can't, many people, including the author who first proposed that vegetarianism is more eco, don't know that the reason this is so significant has to do with the weather and rainfall patterns.
It is ideal in a temperate climate with adequate rainfall to grow many fruits and veggies. In drier climates, the growth is much less. Grasses have a "C4" metabolic process that enables them to grow sufficiently in the absence of lots of rain.
Eating animals that can take advantage of C4 plants is a very efficient way to use marginal land, and ecologically superior to trying to intensively farm it by using mining mountains for the minerals, and using up aquifers and salinizing land.

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FRECKS96 6/19/2011 10:51PM

    Wonderful, thought-provoking blog, thank you! I plan to stop back tomorrow to re read and check out the comments.

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VHALKYRIE 6/19/2011 10:28PM

    I favor an approach that restores balance. And I'm sorry, I do not believe vegetarianism/veganism is the answer. I kind of wanted to save this for another post, but it is somewhat unavoidable to address, it seems.

Some of my vegetarian friends' ideas about how to save the planet would actually destroy the balance even farther. Cows that roam pastures, eating grass, turning the grass into protein, and fertilizing the fields with naturally occurring nitrogen and minerals is the sustainable, environmentally friendly option. But some of my friends want to free the cows, never to be slaves to humans again. This breaks the cycle. Cows (and other ruminants) are the only animals that can turn cellulose from plants into protein. That is protein that we need and consume. Plants turn energy from the sun into cellulose. Ruminants eat plants. Carnivores and omnivores eat the ruminants. It is the cycle of life.

Big fish swallows little fish, so goes the Asian saying.

My ideal balance would be the symbiosis of the plains indians and all the creatures of the plains. The buffalo was revered, even though they killed and ate them. The buffalo gives its life to the people. It is not a voluntary sacrifice, but it is one that is necessary.

While plants may not be sentient in the way we understand, plants do communicate with each other through pheromones. They produce toxins in order to prevent being eaten - they do not want to be eaten, as the buffalo does not want to be eaten. We destroy many plant defenses by cooking them, or by breeding them to be less toxic. Raw wild almonds cannot be eaten - they contain toxic levels of cyanide. Domesticated almonds have been bred to eliminate it. If a buffalo does not want to be eaten and fights for its life, then why is the toxin in plants not regarded clearly as the plant also defending its life? It cannot run away, so it produces poisons. We have found a way to circumvent these poisons, just as we have bred cows to be docile and willing symbiotes. Free range cows see no urgency to jump fences and run away from the slaughterhouse. With the exception of the longhorn cattle, most domestic cattle are completely defenseless. They have exchanged being wild for being protected. And yes, that means even sacrificing their bodies to their hosts.

From "Omnivore's Dilemma":

"What's wrong with eating animals is the practice, not the principle.

What this suggests to me is that people who care about animals should be working to ensure that the ones they eat don't suffer, and that their deaths are swift and painless - for animal welfare, in other words, rather than rights."

Comment edited on: 6/19/2011 10:40:01 PM

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DDOORN 6/19/2011 10:10PM

    You are just a well-spring of ideas, aren't you...? :-)

Another Libra Sun here...Cancer rising, Pisces Moon.

Keirsey? I'm an INF, but suspect I'm the other one, not the J...lol


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KAKIPOPUP 6/19/2011 9:15PM

    Another INFJ! Fantastic!

(I'm also equally P....poses problems sometimes...)

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SENSEIIRENE 6/19/2011 5:08PM

    Well, there those vegetarians among us who know the difference between free range animals and factory farm animals. Really we do. And who also avoid Coca Cola like the plague. Imagine...

The sadness I feel when I read some of these posts is that I don't really condemn anybody for their choices, and I really wish not to be condemned, either, for choosing to follow a vegetarian diet. I encourage people to be absolutely sure that they've got all the information and choose based on what makes the most sense for them.... It's how we came to the decisions we made 20 years ago.

Vegetarianism works for me. And my family. AND we're pretty careful about our environmental footprint in just about every other aspect of our lives as well. Just sayin'....

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PZF144 6/19/2011 3:33PM

    The documentary "King Corn" does a beautiful job exposing the truths about the corn industry. Fascinating stuff.

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BTVMADS 6/19/2011 2:29PM

    What you say about those animals is SO true. Vegetarians who do not understand the difference between a factory farm animal force fed corn until its bloated, premature death and a humanely raised heirloom breed of animal left to graze are just incredibly ignorant and judgmental. I want to know what all the vegans would have us do with the 403,000,000 chickens and 99,500,000 cows in this country, should every American give up meat and eggs and dairy. Chickens lay eggs whether we eat them or not, and cows produce a boat-load of milk (more than their calves can finish!) whether we drink it or not!

I know that because I cannot yet afford to purchase grass-fed beef or antibiotic-free chickens, I'm still contributing to the many negative aspects of commercial meat production. I KNOW that, and I struggle with it. Truly, I do. I take forever to go grocery shopping as I weigh the benefits of organic chicken against the detriments of paying high grocery bills on my small budget. (Thank god for frozen, responsibly farmed and wild caught fish!!) Organic, cage-free eggs are a SPLURGE in my home at 3.50/dozen. But this is why I plan on starting a homestead as soon as I can afford the land. I can feed myself and my husband (and, someday, our children) with organic, humanely raised/slaughtered food entirely from a 25-mile radius if I'm growing and raising most of it myself.

And even with so much corn going into mistreated cows, I can still help end Monsanto's grip on the world by refusing to purchase foods made with corn syrup, buying organic tofu/edamame, and strictly limiting the amount of grains I eat to whole sources processed and cooked at home. It is STILL a greatly reduced carbon footprint, even if I'm eating chicken twice a week and eggs every day.

Simple fact is, though, that even when we eat a fair amount of meat and other animal products, if we're eating a "protein power" style diet, the BULK of what we put into our bodies is still coming from whole plants. I eat 7 servings of produce daily, on average. If everyone made vegetables and fruit the bulk of their food (by volume), instead of grains, the whole planet would be better for it. If 90% of the corn fields were replaced with vegetables for feeding humans and grass for feeding animals, the ills that have struck our soil and our bodies would be CURED.

But companies like Monsanto, ConAgra, and Coca-Cola have roped Americans into choosing corn over cows, and thereby cost and "flavor" over HEALTH.

And vegetarianism feeds right into it all.

Sorry for practically writing a blog on your blog, but... this stuff gets me so riled!!!

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JUSTBIRDY 6/19/2011 1:44PM

    I am sure the author brought up the choline issue, which I have only recently heard about. Turns out choline is essential if people don't want to develop fatty liver. Choline is in eggs and liver, and most vegetarians are deficient. I don't know if I was, but I did take choline supplements in my 40's and felt better. I ate eggs at the time, but probably not enough.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/19/2011 1:42PM

    I still have some difficulty with meat, and am only now learning how to cook it properly. I went from being disgusted with beef to craving burgers. As a vegetarian, I had always craved high-fat foods like coconut, cheese, eggs, so that wasn't a problem.
I am beginning to wonder if most of the problems I see with today's vegetarians stems from all the soy. I was a vegetarian for about 8 years before I even heard of soy other than soy sauce. Even back in the mid-80's, tofu was only available at certain health food stores and in Asian neighborhoods. I knew of only two places in my whole city that sold it. Now it is everywhere, and in practically every meal, except for the Paleo's and Weston Price people. (BTW, I'm INTJ, as is Karl Jung, only he didn't develop the MBTI, so his score is just a guess. The Jungians peg him as an introvert/intuitive with thinking. He didn't have a P/J category.)

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LADYIRISH317 6/19/2011 11:25AM

    Brilliant, rational, resonates every word. You are an amazing writer. And I agree with everything you said.

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ANDREA409 6/19/2011 10:16AM

    I loved every paragraph, but this one might have been my favorite:
"She then eviscerates every argument for vegetarianism and veganism. I mean, it is brutal. It is total annihilation that can only come from a fallen angel. It is her painful account, in both body and soul, that human beings were meant to eat other animals. There is no other way. Not if you want to be alive."

There simply is no other way. I've read plenty of pro-vegan books in my time. They go to great lengths to rationalize any biological feature that stands in their way. For instance, the vitamin B-12 issue? Well, the prevailing belief (or lie) is that at one time we obtained B-12 via soil residue left on our vegetables. Due to modern techniques of food handling, we foolishly wash away the soil (and, thus, bacteria that produce B-12) from our vegetables. So, we deprive ourselves of this necessary nutrient.

As an impressionable 18 year old girl brimming with idealism, this all made so much sense to me. Of COURSE this is how it happened. The fact that several years later, I learned in a nutrition class that B-12 is part of every animal cell, unfortunately came too late. The idea had been cemented, and I wasn't going to let biology, biochem, or ecology stand in my way. I was VEGETARIAN, dammit, and I was going to end the suffering.

...until the day came when I truly thought I was going to die. Something no 30 year old woman should ever experience.

Your blog brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. It's such a relief to me to know that there are thoughtful, intelligent, kind, and compassionate people out there who want the truth revealed.

Two healthy vegans I know of are Dr. Neal Barnard (as SPARKBIRDY mentioned) and Brendan Brazier. I've read Barnard's book to reverse type 2 diabetes. If my own experience with vegetarianism had not been so debilitating, I'd firmly believe these two men have both found great arguments for the virtues of veganism. As it stands, however, I have to listen to my body. I felt great on Brazier's vegan "Thrive Diet" program for 2 weeks. Why did I stop? Because although I had tons of energy, the diet simply was not sustainable. I didn't look forward to eating. It was a chore. The food was nutritious, to be sure, but I could barely choke it down.

Like you, I know a lot of vegans. Most of them "junk food" vegans. They look like crap. I look at them and think, It's only a matter of time until their bodies give up too. As much as I freaking hate adrenal fatigue, I'm glad it happened now, while my body is still young enough to cope. I fear my friends won't discover the damage until it's too late.

Thanks for the amazing review, Cathy. You rule. emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/19/2011 10:21:35 AM

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VHALKYRIE 6/19/2011 9:39AM

    I got to run, so I'll just make one comment, and respond to others later.

PZF144: I agree. I spent the last 10 years of my life forcing myself to eat low fat stuff that I was told was good for us. Our taste buds developed to make us spit out stuff that was poisonous, yet we choke down skim milk because it's "healthy".

I cut meats and fats way down, but in order to make up my calorie needs, it was replaced with grains. No one told me those grains are converted in the body as sugar, so I was still overloading my body with sugars. This had the horrific effect of raising insulin resistance. Yes, even eating just healthy "complex carbohydrates". I wonder if I will ever be able to eat an orange without my insulin spiking again.

While I never went full vegetarian, I went flexitarian, where I cut out animal proteins to evening meals only. This was a disaster. I lost muscle, and gained bodyfat, but you couldn't see it on the scale because my scale weight stayed identical. No, I probably didn't do it right, but it is not intuitive eating. Now I eat in a way that feels normal and natural. I don't fight myself to eat things. I'm never ravenously hungry. I have zero cravings. I'm regaining the muscle mass that I lost. I do not plan to revisit the flexitarian way. I wish it were otherwise, honestly.

Also, eating soy protein in the quantities that most vegetarians and vegans eat is bad news. Large quantities of soy is not a good substitute for animal protein. Asians do not eat that much soy - it is a misconception. They eat maybe 8g of tofu per day. The amount of soy burgers that my vegetarian and vegan friends eat are in quantities well beyond what the cultures who invented them eat. This does have a price, and it is covered in the book.

Comment edited on: 6/19/2011 9:56:49 AM

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PZF144 6/19/2011 9:30AM

    The single most liberating part of going LC for me is the notion that I can have my burger and eat it too. It's so gratifying to sit down to a huge bunless burger and wolf it down. OMG, is it good. My body's been craving this stuff for years; I just didn't realize it. I eat red meat every single day now, and my body and mind feel amazing. I hadn't slept through the night in years; now I get 7 hours sleep, straight, and wake up feeling great.

I shunned "bad" burgers and "bad" steaks for so long it pisses me off. I'd always order the "healthy" salad, dry chicken, lowfat dressing on the side. I tried every WW trick in the book: dip your fork sparingly into the dressing so you get just a taste, while you try to choke down some tasteless chicken and eat tons of salad and veggies. Which is cool, but a couple of hours later, mmmm, that ice cream place is calling my name. And that bag of pretzels. The notion of never being satisfied.

The fact that now, I can just.EAT.stuff. that I like, is amazing.

When I look at a menu and decide, hmmm, that steak looks grand; I think I'll actually order one, instead of reminding myself how "bad" it is; well, it makes me realize that our bodies were MEANT to consume this stuff. This desire wouldn't be so great in me if it weren't.

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SENSEIIRENE 6/19/2011 9:04AM

    It's too bad that we're unlikely ever to meet in person, since you'd finally meet your first healthy vegetarian. :) I haven't had "anything with a face" in my diet for over 20 years, and I'm incredibly fit and healthy...at just shy of 53 years old, might I add. I don't take a whack of supplements, either. I take the same multi-vitamin that everyone buys at Costco, and that's it. LOL

Vegetarianism was never meant to be the saving grace for weight loss. My family entered into it because of the humanitarian aspect. Our daughter has never eaten meat. At 18, she's slender, healthy, and a world champion black belt in Karate (she did that at age 14), for which we both trained intensively for several months on end (I competed too - came home with a bronze).

It CAN be done. And it can be done well. It's a matter of being informed, and making healthy choices in every aspect of your health. *Just* eating vegetarian isn't going to do the trick. Rich, unhealthy fats can all be part of a vegetarian diet, so just cutting out meat isn't the answer at all. Do I have the perfect body (for me)? Nope. Just a few years ago, I was more slender than I am now and I am working to get back there. Approaching menopause has been nasty. But once I'm on the other side of that, look out. :)

Interesting read and thanks for posting. I'd have lots to say about the animal extinction piece, but then this would get REALLY long....

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GLC2009 6/19/2011 2:51AM

    the last couple paragraphs pointing out that these animals would not exist at all if we didn't raise them to eat really resonated with me.
and the comment that clydesdales are heading toward extinction. i used to drive draft horses in the city for tourism and was interviewed once on a news show. the interviewer asked what the horse would be doing if he wasn't pulling a carriage around the park. in my head i thought, he wouldn't exist cuz there's not much reason to have draft horses nowadays....but, i said, he'd probably be pulling a plow around a farmer's field (NOT!)
...and that got me thinking about why animals exist and the future of those animals.
while i can see it's a problem raising meat animals with resources that would feed way more people if we were vegetarian, it still doesn't quite work for me.
i'd like to be a vegetarian, cuz, i don't like the idea of killing and eating animals, but, we are very geared toward eating animals.
the best i can do at this point is say, if we use the whole animal and not just take the choice bits and throw the rest away, treat them with respect and make their life until death pleasant and stress free we are doing the best we can do with the knowledge we have.
i am a big fan of temple grandin. she changed pretty much the whole cattle slaughterhouse industry with her views on how cattle think and changing the design of the killing pens so they are stress free as possible for the cattle.
i think her designs are used in something like 90 or 95% of the slaughterhouses in america today.
and, the idea that we all eat soy and grains and don't kill animals will mean there are no animals alive and that wouldn't be good either. i'd hate to go for a drive in the country and see mile after mile of soy/wheat/what have you fields and no cattle or animals to be seen anywhere.

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PRECIOUSJENI 6/18/2011 11:10PM

    I'm also an INFJ! I have never come across another INFJ until I read your blog.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/18/2011 11:05PM

    I was a vegetarian for a very long time, and a vegan for part of that time. I think I came out not as bad because I always ate lots more fat. I have never personally known a healthy vegan, and while that might not necessarily show anything, since, like a low-carb diet, the vegan diet is recommended for unhealthy fat people. But most of the vegans I know are young and they shouldn't look so bad.
(Take that back. I did personally meet Dr. Neil Barnard and he looked really great.)
My own personal belief is that micro-nutrients aside, being a high-carb vegan doesn't necessarily get someone into more trouble than a meat-eating diet, but I am firmly convinced that you can't get out of a mess the way you got in, and I am convinced that the low-carb, meat-based diet is the best way to dig your way out of obesity, regardless of ideology.
It is hard sometimes to just sit back and watch some of my vegetarian friends struggle so much with obesity and related conditions, but I don't say anything about it.
I just hope that Dr. Rosedale writes another book some day. He spend a bunch of time in India, assisting people on low-carb diets there. Their obesity and diabetes rate is through the roof! Fat vegetarian diabetics. If I'd kept it up, that would be me, too.

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UPSWIFE 6/18/2011 10:49PM

    This was very interesting---I feel like I really learned something here. Thanks for sharing! emoticon

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RIVERCITYTOM 6/18/2011 10:44PM

    Very interesting take on Vegetarianism and the also the factory farms.

What portion of science would we lose if we did not have the Meat Sciences? Absence of meat animals would not have had the early development of Insulin, Heart valves, do you want to raise these animals for Drug purposes? Is that not inhumane as well?

Looking at the both of these practices are very interesting and thought provoking. I can see both sides of the story and have a tendency to want to live a more Natural life. But are the fruits and Vegetables we see in the garden and on the grocery shelf actually Natural?

Thanks for sharing, I do like your view in the discussion.

Have a great rest of the weekend.

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Dietary Apostate

Friday, June 17, 2011

I read Spark's article on the new USDA "MyPlate", and just sighed. Of all the articles I've read lately about it, Spark seems to be the only one with a generally favorable opinion.

Compare the Spark and LiveStrong articles regarding "MyPlate"



I agree with LiveStrong that "MyPlate" is not really different than the old pyramid, it is just packaged different. It is the same old advice that made many of us fat. Protein represents a horrifically minuscule portion of the plate. Grains still take up too much, especially if we are supposed to eat it 3 times per day.

This thing really cost $2 million dollars?

You have to realize what a really huge paradigm shift I have gone through. Just 2 months ago, I was an ardent believer in this. I believed that a low fat diet was the healthiest diet. I believed that I wasn't losing weight because I just wasn't following it strictly enough. It wasn't working, so I decided to go more flexitarian. I eliminated most animal proteins from breakfast and lunch. I only ate animal protein at dinner.

This made me protein deficient.

And now, I am a dietary apostate.

I finally got my weight and appetite under control. I feel more balanced. Being a libra, this is pretty important!

I eliminated the grain group entirely. Protein takes up about 1/4 -1/2 of the plate. Veggies take up the rest. Fruit and dairy are eaten once per day.

According to the government MyPlate, my diet wouldn't be balanced. Grains are not an essential food group. Are we really supposed to drink a cup of milk with each meal? The ADA and AHA fail to mention for kids servings, a chocolate milk in school lunch contains almost 30g of sugar from high fructose corn syrup. A regular glass of milk contains 11g sugar from lactose. They say this is ok because it is more important for the kids to drink milk.

No. This much sugar is making our kids obese and heading down the path to Type 2 diabetes as young as 13.

While Spark and the government emphasize that this is a good diet for "most" people, it doesn't say who this wouldn't work for.

I'd say this dietary advice might work for most people, who are not overweight, and do not have insulin related issues. That excludes most of America that is overweight.

I am clearly not "most" people. I had to go out and search for the proper diet for me. After years and years of following this advice and not getting anywhere, I abandoned ship.

As a society, we have a tendency to apostatize people who go their own way. Most of us recognize that diets like HCG are sketchy, but people still do it. Why?


I am not so cynical. I do not think these people are stupid. I do not think they weren't trying hard enough. I think they tried the approved low fat diets we are all supposed to follow. They were left uncontrollably hungry, and did not lose weight. They blamed themselves and their lack of willpower.

HCG is doctor supervised, btw. Not saying that means it is good. I would not do it myself. I think it shows that people honestly want to follow doctor's advice, even if this one seems a bit tenuous.

Why are low carb diets still shunned by the medical community?

Low carb diets still carry a stigma. My diet of protein and a half plate of vegetables is only unhealthy if you buy into fat in foods makes us fat. It does not.

When I first started my diet, my fiance was extremely concerned. I posted a picture of my progress on my Facebook recently, and friends immediately wanted to know "my secret". When I told them, they seemed shocked. It was not the answer they were expecting. More protein and veggies. No grains, starches, or sugars. What about fat? I eat plenty of fat. About 40-50%.

Let me show you a representation of what I eat.

Smoked salmon salad with avocado

Roast chicken breast (with skin) and broccoli and snap peas with real butter

Roast chicken salad with avocado and cheese.

Cheese and onion omelet (whole egg) with avocado and tomato.

This food leaves me feeling nourished. I don't see anything unhealthy about it. When you count it up, it comes out to about 40-50% fat, though. The ADA and AHA say this is dangerous.

They say I should be getting fatter eating this much fat. But I am losing fat, gaining muscle.

They say my heart arteries should be ready to explode. My resting heart rate, a sign of fitness, has dropped. Lance Armstrong purportedly has a resting heart rate of 35bpm. Mine isn't that good. It has dropped from about 76 bpm to 60bpm. My heart is stronger, pumping more blood, more efficiently. A sign of lower blood pressure.

They say the weight I have lost on low carb is only water weight loss. Does this look like it is just water weight?

2 Months Ago:

2 Days Ago:

So water weight made me look fat? Not bodyfat? I lost about 8% of fatty water so far, then. And still going.

I keep hearing stories about people who are getting better on low carb diets. I hear a few stories every once in a while of people who said it didn't work for them. Overall, though, I am hearing people who say it does.

My fiance, the skeptic, is even coming around. He eats at Wendy's almost every day for lunch. His typical lunch was a small chicken side salad and a baked potato. This is a perfect match, according to the government "MyPlate". Vegetable, protein, and a starch.

He would come home from work, ravenously hungry, and literally start tearing our cupboards apart looking for snacks. This used to drive me insane, as I was usually cooking dinner.

I told him to skip the large starchy carbohydrates. He could have a large chicken salad, but skip the baked potato. He could have a double cheeseburger, but no french fries. Diet Coke only. He thought it was crazy and ridiculous, but he tried it.

Last night during dinner, he admitted to me that he isn't ravenously hungry when he gets home anymore. He said I was onto something. He is a lot more willing to hear my ideas and what I have learned.

That testimonial is a huge boost to keep me going. It makes being a dietary apostate worth it.

Note: As always, this refers to people who have no underlying health conditions. See your doctor if you are taking medications before making changes to your diet.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AMANIJABBAR 7/14/2011 2:56PM

    I'm happy that you have found a diet that works for you, but would you go so far as to say that this type of diet would work for everyone? I don't think "dieting" can every be a one-size fits all approach.

We all have different bodies and we each have to learn how to nourish our bodies in the best manner. No, the MYPlate will not work for every American, and neither will Paleo/Atkins etc.

I have tried low-fat/high-carb and low-carb (atkins/south beach). I have learned that my body craves balance. Not too high carb, not too high fat. Probably a 40-30-30 ratio of carbs, fat and protein. That's what works for me. It will probably not work for everyone. BUt neither will Paleo. I do congratulate you on doing the hard work to find what works best for your body!

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ANDREA409 6/18/2011 2:19PM


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OWNEDBYFERRETS 6/18/2011 12:05PM

    Great blog! I did have a winge myself about the food plate this morning.

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BTVMADS 6/18/2011 8:30AM

    It's all so true! I don't think my insulin response was as damaged as you believe yours was, simply because I never drank soda and stuck to whole grains for a long time before I even came to Spark, but I KNOW insulin was playing games in my body. I know because I can still feel the old habits trying to creep back in when I'm feeling tired or stressed -- suddenly, I want to eat a hunk of my hubby's bread when 4 days ago, I wasn't hungry for it. (It's because we had flourless chocolate cake on Wednesday. That really did make Thursday and Friday much harder, with all the chocolate in the staff rooms) But I've told myself every time I want a treat, "it's not worth the insulin!"

And this week, after 2 weeks of high protein eating, my weight finally went under 160 for the first time since my wedding!! I am 100% certain that this is because of the high protein/fat eating, and now I'm even more determined to cut down on the carbs, do more research, and eat the food that makes me feel good. Thanks for inspiring me to do more reading and do what's right for my body!!

As for the MyPlate, I think my husband is probably the only person I know who can get the right balance of nutrition from that graphic. Why? He's the only person I know who needs to gain weight and does not have any past issues with weight, blood sugar, or inactivity. Even my best friend, who is super skinny, can't eat well with this graphic because years of terrible eating habits (skipping meals, then diving into a plate of pasta) have totally screwed up her metabolism.

If you lived your whole life "by the plate" starting with your first solid foods, you MIGHT be okay (if you only have whole foods and grass-fed meat and remember that avocados are fruits and butter is a dairy product!)... but considering that almost all Americans need to "fix" their metabolisms or lose weight... pushing this agenda is just dirty!

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1MIN17SECB412PM 6/17/2011 9:35PM

    Love the plates of food!! It gives me some gr8 meal ideas!! Read the SP article & saved it to refer to several other highlighted articles I can read later. Read the LS article & I agree that THAT is way too many grains & the one side of the plate has too much fruit if you have to watch your sugar intake (which I do) and I prefer HALF of my plate in veggies, but that doesn't mean potatoes either!! LOL!! There's some serious issues with that new improved so-called 'easy' way to 'eye-ball' your portions. If I load up half my plate with starchy veggies, & another quarter with breads... I'll be waddling or rollin' along obese forever!! I do try to drink a quart of unsweetened kefir every day. It's an acquired taste. LOL!! ANYWAY, I do like your ideas of lowering the fruit, though... I do think I'll try to eat a grain portion once a day. You look FABULOUS btw!!

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VHALKYRIE 6/17/2011 5:12PM

    PURPLECRACK: Glad it gave you food for thought! It has really been a mind bender for me, too.

DDOORN: He was a tough convert, that is for sure! Still a work in progress though!

PZF144: Your experience sounds so much like mine! Last night we went out for dinner. I had a caesar salad with grilled shrimp, and crab legs. I did not abstain from the wine. I shouldn't have had 2 glasses though!

And thank you for the compliment!

PRANA_DANCER: Even if you could understand the food pyramid, it was way too high in grain. Have you read "The Vegetarian Myth" yet? I am almost 3/4 of the way through.

4A-HEALTHY-BMI: I really had no idea it was the carbs that was causing my out of control cravings, until I read "Protein Power". It has made the transition so much easier, knowing what the heck was going on!

NAYPOOIE: Hang on - still a work in progress! ;)

THINRONNA: I do track my fiber. But...I guess there is some debate about it. I'm still working through the details, and I haven't made up my mind about it. Basically, I am eating a bunch of veggies with each meal, so, it would have to be a seriously militant dietitian who would say that I'm missing out because I'm not getting fiber from grain.

SPARKBIRDY: No, I didn't see the US News report. I'll have to check it out.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/17/2011 4:00PM

    What???? The plate makes no sense? Obviously, your dangerous and boring FAD diet is affecting your brain.
Didn't you see that US News rated it the lowest?
(Now where is the zombie emoticon for the plate-ers?)

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THINRONNA 6/17/2011 2:40PM

    What about fiber? Do you track how much fiber you are getting? I know that is a big deal for many people and I wonder how you feel about it.

Nice job getting through to the fiance by the way!

You look so darn good in these recent pictures! The definition is starting to show in your stomach. Keep up the good work!

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NAYPOOIE 6/17/2011 12:36PM

    Yay for getting thru to the fiance.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 6/17/2011 12:22PM

    "I'd say this dietary advice might work for most people, who are not overweight, and do not have insulin related issues. That excludes most of America that is overweight."

...and by extension excludes most of the people on SP, as well!

I'm in favor of a high protein diet. I try to make it 40-50% of my calories. Fat I try to keep at least 20% of my calories, no less than 15%. I just function better on a diet like this.

Carbs, for me, generally cause cravings which lead to binges. Especially complex ones like grains and added sugars. So I have to watch the intake of fruit and non-filtered dairy. (Greek yogurt is OK. The lactose drains out with the water.)

Don't even get me started on the misconception that legumes = protein source.

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PRANA_DANCER 6/17/2011 11:44AM

    I could go on and on about what the change from 1% to whole mlk did for me, and I have the numbers to back it up! Fat ISN'T BAD. Protein ISN'T BAD. We just eat need to find a balance of fat, carbs and proteins that works for us. Some people will need more of a particular macro-nutrient to function at their prime and they should go for it.

Honestly, I think the plate is a step in the right direction; I can't tell you how confused I was by the food pyramid when I was in school. I think that kids will understand this better and (hopefully) start incorporating more fruits and veggies.

It's a small step, but it's a step.

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PZF144 6/17/2011 10:09AM

    I learned a new word today too! Apostate.

Hey, I've been reading Dr. Eades blog and PP for almost 3 years now, but never really following LC. Oh, I'd add more protein to one meal, but another meal would come along, and I'd think...hmmm...that bread looks nice. And that cake too. Oh, and I can't pass on the chips, 'cause they're free. But let me add more lean turkey to my sandwich, so it all balances out. Yeah, worked real well. All the way up to 163 lbs.

On 5/22/11, I finally decided to truly give LC a go, after reading Gary Taubes "WWGF" and re-watching Tom Naughton's "Fathead". Oh, and yes, re-reading Dr. Eades till I couldn't blink anymore. I weighed in at 155.2 that day, because I had been white-knuckling it, getting through carb cravings one day, only to go wild the next. Today, not even 4 weeks later, I'm at 150.4. Down almost 5 lbs. And my resting heart rate is in the low 60's (from the high 70's). And I'm sleeping better than ever.

I'm eating a lot of protein, a lot of fat, and a lot of veggies. And stopping when I get full, which is much much sooner than before. My total calories are probably around 1500, but I haven't measured. Haven't needed to. For the first time in my LIFE, my body actually says "stop", and then I go on to my activity without thinking about food.

The other night I dined out with 2 friends. All 3 of us always subscribe to the Lowfat, higher carb dogma. But this night was different: while they ordered "no cream sauce", dry salmon, salad without dressing, but ate the bread and drank the wine, I ordered a large caesar salad (with whole egg yolk dressing), a steak with butter on top (the waitress asked me if I wanted it on, and I said yes!), and I subbed the fries for broccolini. Now, I didn't have the wine or the bread: I drank San Pellegrino with lime but ate my entire huge salad. I ended up leaving about 2 oz. of the steak because, well, I was just done. But so satisfied.

And my pants that wouldn't fit 'cause that darn dryer shrunk them soooo much are gonna look so cute on me today. :)

BTW, you look SO cute in your denim shorts!!!

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DDOORN 6/17/2011 9:35AM

    Kudos to the fiance coming around!

You do the Apostate podium SO WELL!

Thx for the new word of the day!:-)


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PURPLECRACK 6/17/2011 9:15AM

    This really gave me something to think about. I truly believe we have to listen to our own bodies and do what works best for us, and that is going to be different for every single person. Have a great weekend!

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Another Piece of the Equation - Leptin

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A long time ago, I didn't understand the whole low carb thing. I had an image of people eating gobs of bunless burgers, bacon, and no vegetables. I didn't think that could be good.

Now that I am a convert, I still don't think that is a good idea. Overeating anything is bad. And we need our veggies.

All of the things I have been reading lately really changed my mind about our species, and the way we are supposed to eat. Our digestive tract is short, more like a true carnivore - canines and felines. Herbivores have a very long digestive tract. The thing that makes us omnivores is we have lost the ability to synthesize our own vitamin C. Most other mammals can synthesize vitamin C in the liver. We have to get vitamin C from plants and fruit. However, there is an exception. Inuit eskimos are able to get vitamin C from eating raw seal meat.

I remember not so long ago being jealous of a friend who could seemingly eat anything. Whole milk in her coffee. Hamburgers. Hot dogs. Bacon. Cheese and sausage plates. Lots of stuff we deem to be "bad". That should have been my first clue. Maybe it should have donned on me, if she is eating all that "bad" food, staying trim and healthy, then maybe it isn't actually bad. Maybe my low-fat cottage cheese that always leaves me hungry is bad.

The muted appetite is still something of a surprise to me. After being nutritionally starved for over 10 years, I seem to be at a loss on what to do without ravenous hunger. I'm not hungry, should I still eat? How do I know when I should eat? On some days if I followed only my appetite, it would leave me very low calorie. Is this still ok? I don't know. I am at a loss. This is uncharted territory.

Overeating is a bit more straightforward. It is very hard for me to overeat now. I noticed something clicks off in my brain when I'm done eating. I have recently learned what that "something" is. It is called leptin. Leptin suppresses appetite. It does indeed flip a switch in the brain saying, "I'm done".

Insulin resistance and leptin resistance go hand in hand. If you are constantly hungry, overeat, and can't stop when you are overfull, your leptin responders aren't working properly. Constantly elevated insulin seems to mask leptin. This is an imbalance our body doesn't know how to handle. Insulin resistance comes from overeating sugars, and never before in our evolutionary past have we had such a vast amount of sugar available, in either table sugar or bread form. Especially not high fructose corn syrup.

For many people like myself with this situation, a low grain/low sugar diet comprised of mostly protein and vegetables might correct this situation. My insulin levels are lower. My leptin seems to be working again. Fixing my blood sugar balance fixed my leptin.

For others, it gets more tricky. Especially for post menopausal women.

I found this interesting passage on Wikipedia about this:


"In addition to white adipose tissue—the major source of leptin—it can also be produced by brown adipose tissue, placenta (syncytiotrophoblasts), ovaries, skeletal muscle, stomach (lower part of fundic glands), mammary epithelial cells, bone marrow, pituitary and liver.[6]

The absence of leptin (or its receptor) leads to uncontrolled food intake and resulting obesity. Several studies have shown that fasting or following a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) lowers leptin levels.[8] It might be that on short-term leptin is an indicator of energy balance. This system is more sensitive to starvation than to overfeeding; leptin levels change more when food intake decreases than when it increases.[9] It might be that the dynamics of leptin due to an acute change in energy balance are related to appetite and eventually to food intake. Although this is a new hypothesis, there are already some data that support it.[10][11]

There is some controversy regarding the regulation of leptin by melatonin during the night. One research group suggested that increased levels of melatonin caused a downregulation of leptin.[12] However, in 2004, Brazilian researchers found that melatonin increases leptin levels in the presence of insulin, therefore causing a decrease in appetite during sleeping.[13]"

This seems to be how starvation diets and fasting wreck your metabolism. It lowers your leptin. Lower leptin compels you to eat more. This is the binge that plagues every anorexic. This is a survival mechanism. You're starving, so go find food. Low leptin plus elevated insulin levels prevents your body from accessing stored bodyfat. So you are forced to stuff yourself with any food you can find. How to correct this? I don't know. If it were me, I suppose I would keep calories high, and try pushing that insulin level down even further with very low carb temporarily. (My opinion, not medical advice. See your doctor first if you have any underlying conditions before making changes to your diet.)

The last paragraph says if you aren't sleeping well, your leptin isn't working. It is a vicious can't-win-for-losing cycle. Can't sleep well, so you can't lose weight. Can't lose weight because you can't sleep well. And if you are post menopausal, your ovaries aren't helping to produce leptin anymore.

It is also circulates in proportion to bodyfat. The more bodyfat you have, the longer it will take for leptin resistance to correct itself. Again, vicious circle.

Also, exercise does not have statistically meaningful effect on leptin levels. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, but it does not increase leptin sensitivity. Exercise can improve bodyfat loss, and the bodyfat loss is what helps leptin sensitivity. Overtraining exercise stimulates cortisol, which prevents fat loss. So exercise, but don't overtrain.



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JUSTBIRDY 6/17/2011 7:50PM

    It's all about what Dr. Kruse says. Our carby diets and other habits drive leptin resistance, which drives insulin resistance, which drives cortisol resistance which drives adrenal fatigue. Why would we do something that can even aggravate high cortisol levels until we have that fixed? I doubt if our paleo ancestors had all the metabolic difficulties we have now.

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THINRONNA 6/16/2011 5:03PM

    Really interesting. I love how you are delving into this and constantly learning more! Thanks for the great blog!

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ANDREA409 6/16/2011 12:47PM

    Many paleo dieters engage in "intermittent fasting," on the premise that back in the day, our ancestors did not have a steady source of food available. It makes sense, but they didn't have the sort of low-grade chronic stress that we all have bombarding our bodies today in our society.

Because of that reason, I think it's important to eat every few hours, even if it's only something small. Letting your blood sugar levels drop low is quite stressful on the adrenals, because it's their job to maintain blood sugar. Just my two cents' worth...

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JUSTBIRDY 6/16/2011 12:37PM

    Well, that's interesting. I looked at the gene expression plot for leptin, and it doesn't look like it is all that high in the fat or the ovaries. I'll have to dig some more.

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VHALKYRIE 6/16/2011 12:05PM

    SPARKBIRDY: White adipose tissue is white fat. Leptin is primary produced there. But it is also present in brown fat in certain organs, ovaries included, according to that article.

MY_DERIVATIVE: Yes, our leptin levels need to be in balance. People with too much bodyfat become leptin resistant, and it doesn't work right. I have reduced my carb consumption to only vegetables, some fruit, and no grain. Added plenty of protein. My appetite and sleep levels have become normal. I get tired at bed time. I wake up naturally earlier, sometimes before the alarm clock, and I'm not sluggish to get out of bed.

PRANA_DANCER: I'm still not sure what to do about my appetite. Do I just follow my appetite, or do I just nibble throughout the day to keep calorie intake constant, but not overstimulating? I'm experimenting with both.

PZF144: So glad you are over the die off! The strep sounds terrible! If someone would have told me that my skin would look younger, hair would stop falling out, my appetite would be controlled, and I'd sleep better, I'd think it was some infomercial scam. I'm soooo glad I decided to suspend my disbelief long enough to find out myself.

Comment edited on: 6/16/2011 2:32:26 PM

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JUSTBIRDY 6/16/2011 12:02PM

    ...meant to say that if our ovaries are shut down, the hormones they cranked out now have to be done by the adrenals, which they can't do well if they are cranking out all the cortisol, and also using up all the precursors to all the other corticosteroids.
This is probably why Dr. Schwarzbein does not recommend going as low carb as Atkins or the Eades. Perhaps it is better for people who have already incurred lots of hormonal abuse (super-thin sugar-eaters) or post-menopausal women should ease into lower-carb so they can manage everything. She says that people can easily get themelves into adrenal fatigue if they try to fix their insulin problem by going low carb. She is absolutely against VLC, IF or anything else that produces an undue amount of stress. Then again, an ADA-sponsored "registered" dietitian would label Schwarzbein's diet a dangerous fad. She starts out at 60g carb and goes up from there, depending on the situation.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/16/2011 11:54AM

    I thought that leptin was produced in fat, not in the ovaries. The problem for post-menopausal women is that while it may be true that fasting or under-eating can "fix" a leptin problem, the stress of it all can cause cortisol levels to rise. If the ovaries are already shut down, we need our adrenals to make up for that. If they are already overwhelmed by pumping out constant cortisol, the whole thing can come crashing down and then we won't lose weight for sure.
Prana_dancer, when I got my hormone levels back in-whack, I realized that the spark levels were way too high for me. I ate more according to my needs and quit trying to hit the minimum levels. I did really well at 300-500 calories lower than the recommendations.
My-Derivative, we do want leptin in our system. But, studies attempting to give leptin to people to help them lose weight were not over-all successful. Then they found out that people can become leptin resistant, and just like when people are insulin-resistant, giving people alot of insulin doesn't help. Both anorexics and fat people have leptin issues. Some of the fat people in the clinical trial did VERY well with extra leptin. Researchers are now trying to determine which fat people will respond well and which don't.

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PZF144 6/16/2011 10:36AM

    You know what's funny? The reason I found Dr. Eades in the first place was due to a google search I did for the word "leptin". I had read about it a couple of years ago in a magazine and wanted more info. I typed in "leptin & hunger", and Dr. Eades had a post about it. It took me a couple more years to actually GET that a LC diet made sense.

The thing about leptin, too, is that if the triglycerides are too high, the leptin can't surpass the Blood Brain Barrier to tell the brain you're full. Consuming massive amounts of carbohydrates over the years raises tri's markedly, so the more carbs you eat, the more likely you are to have high tri's; the less likely your leptin will be released properly. So it's a vicious cycle.

I've been LC'ing now seriously for about 3 weeks. I eat around 20-30 g total/day, from veggies/salads. After my initial bacteria die-off, where I had a terrible sore throat and subsequent laryngitis (total loss of voice for 2 days!), I feel terrific. Sleeping completely through the night, sinuses completely clear for the first time, skin looks better, and more energy.

The best part for me has been that yes, I feel that my leptin is working properly for the first time in my life. I eat a huge breakfast (whole eggs, sausage, fresh cheese, creamer) and just don't feel hungry again till around 4. I might eat another piece of sausage, but then wait till dinner. But I find I just can't eat as much, so I'll have a 4 oz steak, veggies, and a salad, and be completely satisfied. Like, no cravings for something sweet (my downfall is the desserts; I can put down a package of Oreo's like nobody's business).

Better sleep, lower hunger, more energy. WinWinWin.

Comment edited on: 6/16/2011 10:39:58 AM

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1MIN17SECB412PM 6/16/2011 10:33AM

    Very interesting information on the Leptin! So, we don't want high levels of leptin in our bodies, which would produce- kind of like an immunity to leptin, right? But there are foods which promote (or, regulate, might be a better word) the leptin in our bodies to function with BALANCE, i.e. fish, beans & veggies. I'm gonna' give this a try- like an experiment, to *see* if my sleep patterns change. I've be SLEEPLESS for some time now. Thanks for sharing. I love reading your blogs.

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PRANA_DANCER 6/16/2011 9:58AM

    In regards to eating when you have no appetite, I do it all the time just to make my calorie goals for the day. I found that it gave me more energy (this was at the beginning of my spark journey where I would track and find out I was eating ~800 a day for 5-6 days of the week and +2,500 for the other 1 or 2). When I do though, I usually try for something really high calorie to get me there, but still full of nutrient like whole milk, eggs, cottage cheese (things I love!) or if I was feeling particularly lazy...Mt. Dew. (Those days are over.)

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    Appetite is still not well understood. They're still discovering hormones that play a role in appetite. Ghrelin is another hormone that plays a big factor. Your leptin sensitivity can get "fixed" by consuming less over time. Ever notice how you start to get used to a diet after a few weeks? It can get "broken" if you consistently consume too much.

It's important to understand that there isn't a one size fits all solution to dieting. Everyone's hormone balance is slightly different. The friend that can eat anything most likely eats LESS of "everything". Example, I live with a skinny one who looks like she can eat anything and everything. She eats a garbage diet and stays thin. I started watching her more carefully. When she eats a big junkie meal, that's all her body needs for the day. If we both eat a big junkie breakfast, I might be able to skip lunch, but I'll definitely need dinner. She probably won't eat for the rest of the day. This is instinctual in her.

So the key is really to eat less, of course. Where it gets tricky is how. For some people, they can simply track and regardless of macronutrient composition, this works (this works for me). Other people need high protein because it makes them feel full (thereby eating less!). Some folks need to eat several small meals, some need to eat fewer large meals.

This is why you can pretty much find some "evidence" that a particular diet works, because it always works for someone. None of them work for everyone. Where it gets dangerous is when people claim that a diet is metabolically superior. In other words, if you eat 1,500 calories per day my diet is better than your diet across the board. That's just not true, yet so many claim it is.

I like how you're thinking. Great blog.

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KELPIE57 6/16/2011 9:48AM

    Yes, the sleep link is one that is often overlooked.

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ALYSON1214 6/16/2011 9:17AM

  The body is such a complicated thing, but maybe this is one piece of the puzzle. Interesting.

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Exercise is Important

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

There is some debate on whether you can lose weight on diet alone, and if exercise is less important. Gary Taubes says exercise doesn't really matter for weight loss.

I say, it depends.

I agree that nutrition is the first place to start. If you want to change your body, you have to change what you eat. "You are what you eat" is absolutely true. What you eat makes up your mitochondria.

However, exercise is also a part of the equation. Here is why. I've been sharing my revelation that elevated insulin levels makes us fat. Insulin is NOT just important to diabetics. If you have weight to lose, you have to pay attention to your blood sugar.

For some people, all they have to do is modify their diet slightly, exercise more, and they are on their way.

Some of us have damaged our insulin receptors. What does that mean? It means when you eat a cookie, your blood sugar rises. Your pancreas releases insulin to make your cells absorb the sugar. Except if your insulin receptors are damaged, they don't respond properly. So the pancreas sends even more insulin to wake them up. You get Type 2 diabetes when your insulin receptors refuse to respond at all, your pancreas can't produce enough insulin to wake them up, causing blood sugar to spiral out of control.

What's the number one cause of insulin receptor damage? Sugar abuse. For me, it was 2 years straight of Big Gulps and chain restaurants. Those mere 2 years was enough to send me into obesity, and 8+ years trying to right this ship.

Changing to a low carb diet causes my insulin levels to drop. Less sugary foods (even from whole grains) means my pancreas gets a break. However, there's still the pesky problem of the sleepy insulin receptors. With slow insulin receptors, even minor levels of carbs could stall weight loss, or heaven forbid, cause weight gain.

You can repair insulin receptor damage with nutrition to some degree. Citrus peel is one supposed remedy. Good thing I drink water flavored with a lemon wedge every day, all day long. I drink it because I like it, but if it has a health benefit, even better.

However, exercise is the best remedy. Even if you don't change anything about your diet, exercise will improve insulin sensitivity. This is why some people are able to just start moving, and they will lose weight.

Some of us, unfortunately, require more intervention. In my case, even complex carbohydrates was enough to stall my progress. I have to limit carbs to vegetables and limited fruit. Grains and starches are off the plate at the moment. It all depends on the degree of damage.

Here is an article for reference on exercise improving insulin resistance. This study was for obese adolescents, but I'm certain it holds true for adults. We just don't bounce back as fast as the kids.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 6/17/2011 5:54AM

    Agreed! *SOME* form of physical activity is essential...our bodies are meant to be MOVED! :-)


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THINRONNA 6/16/2011 5:10PM

    I have to exercise...fortunately I get a heavy dose of it in my regular routine. I am even wondering what I will do this coming fall when the kids change school and I don't have that huge commute on foot everyday!

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PZF144 6/16/2011 10:50AM

    When Taubes wrote about how exercise doesn't help weight loss, what he was talking about was the long stretches of cardio that people do in order to "burn calories". The body strives to achieve homeostasis, so whatever calories are burned, the body is eager to put back, so hunger is much higher, and the human desire to eat becomes too strong to resist. So the calories lost through the burn are put back by an extra bite here or there.

What IS natural is to spend time doing enjoyable activities: hiking, biking, tennis, etc. Or, in the absence of those activities, resistance or weight training to build muscle, I believe, WILL help in weight loss.

And like Dr. Eades writes, when you remove the processed carbs from your diet and feed yourself protein and fat, more energy is created, and you simply have a desire to move more. And man was meant to move. Paleolithic man was constantly on the move, running towards prey and away from captors. The human body was designed to move.

Sometimes people can take things too literally and think...wow...I can eat a pound of bacon each day AND lay on the couch! WooHoo! Eureka...I've found the way to better health! Which simply isn't true. You still have to watch the amount of food you eat (with LC it's easy; your body shuts off the hunger receptors more quickly) and build muscle through whatever type of exercise you enjoy.

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BEARCLAW6 6/16/2011 10:48AM

    Thanks for this blog entry! When I was in my early 20s, I managed to lose a lot of weight by exercising obsesively. Meanwhile, I continued to eat garbage and carb-heavy foods. Then I hurt my ankle and spent the next two years gaining 80 lbs.

This time around (in my early 40s), I started with what I eat. The low-carb thing allowed me to lose about 100 lbs without increasing my exercise. It is nice to know that the increased exercise that I've done the last couple of months might actually be repairing the damage I did to every cell in my body. I need to do more reading on this!

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W5VEOTX 6/16/2011 7:08AM

    Calories in vs calories out - BUT
I do much much better with exercise

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KELPIE57 6/16/2011 2:37AM

    What I like best is you showing that one size does not fit all.

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JOCARAPACK 6/15/2011 9:45PM

  Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 6/15/2011 9:44PM

    HOPELESSRMANTIC: Thank you! I had hoped sharing what I've learned will help people!

SPARKBIRDY: Good point! I should have mentioned that strength training is probably the best exercise for improving insulin sensitivity. The reason is because when strength training, the body has to build new cells and pathways in order to build new muscle. These new cells are shiny, perky and ready, which may help balance out the damaged cells.

And yes, too much cardio will halt progress, as all of us have experienced at one point from overtraining!

Comment edited on: 6/15/2011 10:00:14 PM

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JUSTBIRDY 6/15/2011 9:33PM

    Exercise is very important to me, too, but it is much more important for weight loss if I don't get too much. I have cut my cardio down considerably, but I try to get in more strength exercises than before.

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BEANBYDESIGN 6/15/2011 9:27PM

    Thanks for this! You have been an amazing source of information as I've started learning about sugar and carbs (and why they don't work for my body chemistry!)

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