Mark Twain once said, “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect”, and that’s loosely what this post is about.
This is my first (and certainly not last) ranting post, so buckle up and get ready to get hit in the face with a fist full of knowledge.
It seems that we all have splintered off into our various camps when it comes to what we eat. He’s a low carber, she’s a raw vegan, they say Atkins is a “fad diet”, and we all scream for ice cream! This is also true about how we exercise, but I’m primarily going to focus on dietary habits in this article.
Now don’t get me wrong, some diet plans ARE better than others, and I’m not going to give some hippy cop out answer trying to get people to eat a “balanced” diet and plead with everyone to just get along.
But, if you’re going to talk copious amounts of noise about how someone else chooses to eat without giving their diet a try then please lay on a bed of nail.
For example, in academia and the fitness industry we scoff at low carbohydrate diets like they are some hipster kid who doesn’t have the latest Death Cab for Cutie EP. This makes me especially angry because I SWEAR I’m the only one of us that has actually tried a version of Atkins.
Oddly enough I didn’t die, get super weak, and by some crazy stroke of luck I didn’t even get tuberculosis. I actually lost weight, didn’t lose any muscle mass, and believe it or not I got stronger.
One of my favorite experiences was when a fellow fitness worker and myself were conversing with a potential client (that’s what trainers pretentiously call people whose lives involve more than how many hours they’ve logged on the elliptical that week). My colleague was saying the same tired information that they got from the recent edition of Shape magazine about how a balanced diet is so important. Then much to my enjoyment, this potential client said the only diet that ever worked for her was in fact Atkins (probably just a low carb diet because Atkins actually has phases). She went on to say that she dropped 40lbs. and has successfully kept it off for 5 years. Then I saw my colleague scramble for a “scientific” answer to why that happened.
There actually has been some research into the effects of low carb dieting, and if you read my first post, I talked about some reasons why science isn’t always the bee’s knees. But, it’s still worth a gander.
These two studies came out the same year, and looked at the same thing; just slightly different sets of people were experimented on. The first study compared a low carb style diet to a conventional low-fat low-calorie diet in 63 obese men and women (1). Of course, both diets induced weight loss, but the low carb faired a little bit better. The other study followed essentially the same protocol, but it was performed solely on overweight to obese women (2). And you guessed right! The ladies had similar results too!
There was one glaring difference between the low carb and low fat diet groups. These studies sadly, didn’t emphasize enough that the low fat diet WAS calorie controlled, and the low carb WAS NOT! Essentially that means all the bacon you can fit in your face is fair game. However, really the only thing that these studies proved is that people could not follow a diet to save their lives. They reported attrition rates of 59% and 79% respectively.
THE MAIN POINT
So now, I’ll try to clarify what I meant to get across with this rant. Life is way too short to not try different things and to truly find out what works best for your unique body and physiology. Even if you are only going to live 10 to 70 more years, it wouldn’t hurt to try something different for the next 6 months or so. And, as always Make up your own damn mind!
Reference (if you care to disagree)
(1) Foster, G. D., Wyatt, H. R., Hill, J. O., McGuckin, B. G., Brill, C., Mohammed, B. S., … & Klein, S. (2003). A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(21), 2082-2090.
(2) Brehm, B. J., Seeley, R. J., Daniels, S. R., & D’Alessio, D. A. (2003). A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women.Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 88(4), 1617-1623.