Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Body" -> Aging And Diet Part II

By my own estimates, I am 17% bodyfat. We will talk later on simple ways to derive this. And while I am skinner than almost all my co-workers, I know that 15% bodyfat is really at the top of the range that I should be at. So, I am fighting the bulge, and with my family's genetics, this isn't easy.

There is only one way to lose weight. That is to take in less calories than you use every day. I certainly don't want to hear this, but I have exhausted the literature, and unfortunately this is true.

So let's go looking for a couple of wrong headed ideas that get turned around by silly diet authors. Many diet authors would like to get you to believe that by eating carbs you can lose weight since carbs get turned into fat with only 75% effective rate.

In reality, this conversion is called de novo lipogenesis. And in the research, you will find carbs simple don't get turned into fat. (They do, but the amount is so small and in such strange conditions that it is clear they can't contribute to obesity.) So why is this a problem? You eat a lot of carbs and the body spends all it's time burning carbs, and the body stops eating fat.

If you aren't burning fat, you aren't burning your own fat. To make things worse, most people, even if they think they are eating 100% carbs, aren't. Any little bit of fat that you eat on high carb diet will get sucked right into your fat cells.

So people like Atkins saw the above and declared "well then I'll just eat fat, and the body will learn how to eat fat." This is called a ketogenic diet. However, you can eat all the fat you want, but if you take in more fat than you use, you'll store that extra fat. (Atkins went on to say that the body will simply urinate extra fat away in free ketones, which happens to have never, ever been shown to happen in any case. The man simply fabricated this story with no solid evidence.)

Ketogenic diets do have their place, but once you are under 15% bodyfat or are using them for epilepsy or other nootropic experiments. I am assuming that this is probably not you.

John Walker, the founder of Autodesk (Autocad) describes this calorie equation in great detail and very clearly in his free book "The Hacker's Diet." Mr. Walker who lost a massive amount of weight in his own life clearly calls out this fact. If you are willing to spend some time on this, his book is an excellent overview of this fact.

Now you may hear people claim they don't eat anything, but gain weight. I have heard many of my friends declare that their friends can "eat all they want." Some skinny people claim "I have a high metabolism."

You know what? In the research, in every instance except for diseased states, show that all of these commonly accepted ideas are wrong, wrong, wrong. Metabolic rates, for the same people doing the same thing, is extremely close to each other.

What does happen? Two things:

Calorie counting
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People, you and I, simply don’t count our calories correctly. The research shows time and time again that people simply have zero idea of what they actually eat. By in large, most of the research shows that fatties (and I include myself in on this list of late) simply undercount what they eat.

Activity counting
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The second item is more problematic because while your metabolism may be the same as your friend, you activity level is probably not. Let me give you an example is the norm for our naturally skinny friends.

My wife stays at home with our four children.

I work all day.

My wife, generally, is all muscle and while not skinny, the lack of fat on her is very obvious (as she can do 7-8 pull-ups at will any time). She has told me numerous times that “I guess I’m lucky I have a high metabolism.”

So I decided to do an experiment with her a few years back. I put a pedometer on myself to see how many steps I took during the day. My “stay and home wife” who never left the house also put one on.

After I had done this on many days, I noticed a trend:

I had an average of about 2 miles of walking per day.
She had an average of 6 miles per day.

Although she never left the house, she was running up stairs, running downstairs, playing with the kids, running to change diapers, running to do dinner, constantly moving. 6 miles inside of the house! And she did this on a regular basis. By the way, she had a hard time recognizing this. She thought the pedometer was broken or something was wrong. However, when we switched pedometers, she still had the big number of steps. And, if you watched her on the weekends, you would quickly recognized she did move three times more than myself.

Her extra 4 miles is about 400 calories per day or 2800 calories per week, or ¾ lb of fat per week.

So go up to your skinny friend:

1. Eat exactly what they eat
2. Do exactly what they do

You will end up looking just like your skinny friend, skinny.

So in a later post, we’ll look at how we use the above to good use. However, I'll give you a hint with this link.

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