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Scientific Battlegrounds in Diets 765

There's an interesting article currently carried by the NYTimes (free reg. yada yada) that talks about the world of dieting, National Institutes of Health, Atkins as well as low-carb vs low-fat. The interesting thing, from a scientific perspective, is the sheer lack of study - and the reticence from the scientific community to question the party line.
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Scientific Battlegrounds in Diets

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  • On the theme of dieting, did anyone else see the hot dog eating contest this past fourth of july? The skinny Japanese dude schooled the Americans, downing 50.5 hot dogs AND buns in 12 minutes. The American guys outweighed him by at least 200 pounds, but this dude could pound those dogs down. It has something to do with the absence of layers of fat, which allows the stomach to expand more. Something to think about
    • Something to think about

      yeah, the less we eat, the more we can eat! how are we gonna do that?!
      • Well the stomach actually shrinks and grows as its lining is replaced. The shrinking and growing occurs in sync whith how full a person's stomach is on average.

        I am just guessing here, but the skinny Japanese guy might have some sort of 'training program' which involves drinking a lot of fluids or eating sugar-free jello to keep the stomach expanded while not gaining any weight.
        • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:42PM (#3846768) Journal
          (* I am just guessing here, but the skinny Japanese guy might have some sort of 'training program' which involves drinking a lot of fluids or eating sugar-free jello to keep the stomach expanded while not gaining any weight. *)

          Even being a glutton has been "Samurized" now?

          "I shall be not just a pig, but an honorable pig that my ancestors will be proud of. They will belch from the afterlife in thunderous approval as my enemies puke in pain after glorious defeat. For I have the stomach of a bear and the mouth of a tiger!"

          Can't wait for the asian entries in the farting contests. "The Eastern Wind shall blow such that there will be no denial...."
        • In an interview with the AP, he said he "trains up" by drinking so much water his stomach expands. He starts out about 3 weeks before the competition.

          being a native New Yorker I love the Nathan's contest, but I'd like to see Bob Kratchie the Maspeth Monster make a comback one of these years.

          And yeah, it IS a samuraized sport in Japan now. *sigh*
  • by Hatter ( 3985 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:15PM (#3846606)
    Here [] is the direct link to the article via the Registration Generator [].
  • yeah. (Score:3, Informative)

    by jon_c ( 100593 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:16PM (#3846610) Homepage
    This was on plastic []. I recommend some people steal some posts from there for some ez-modpoints.

    personally i'm a little overweight have been interested in the idea the eating bacon w/ butter as a main food could make me loose weight, the down side a lot of people on the adkins diet have dangerously high cholesterol counts. Then again, all research in the field seems to be highly biased, the only nugget of consistent truth i can find is eating less works, typically on a high far or low fat diet you'll end up consuming less calories, which seems to always work.

    There was something about a low calorie diet on Scientific Frontiers [] a while back, you can view it here [] if you like

  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:16PM (#3846616) Journal
    Most of the spin on the article is like the writeup here -- Hah! Atkins and Sears were right and the scientific world was wrong! CNN has an article [] where they talked to the reearchers were quoted in the article and found them to be a lot less supportive of the full "Zone" line than the Times presents them as being.

    In general, these "scientific battleground" stories are more hype than reality.

    • by jc42 ( 318812 )
      NPR just had an interview with them, too. Their main point seems to be that there is a serious lack of scientific research on the subject. The US government guidelines historically were based on little scientific evidence, and more on the political power of various agricultural organizations. People voice opinions loudly, but they don't fund the research.

      So, yes, it's true that they weren't particularly supportive of Atkins' theories. They weren't supportive of anybody's theories. They were calling for actual scientific studies of the question.

      I suspect that one of the things that triggered this sudden debate was the recent Consumers Report article on weight-loss diets. They actually described some controlled studies that they did, comparing several kinds of diets. Their results? The ones that followed the Atkins diet were the only ones who lost weight and didn't regain it after stopping the diet. And they commented on the lack of real scientific studies of the issue.

      Of course, few research agencies are likely to lower themselves by paying attention to a commercial consumer-oriented publication. So maybe we should ask them why they aren't doing the research themselves.

      From a scientific viewpoint, it's kinda embarrassing to listen to a debate among people who can't be bothered to do a proper study ...

  • To lose weight you simply take in less calories than your maintnance.

    If you need 2000 calories to support your 190lbs, you go down to 1900 calories, then 2 weeks later go down to 1800 and stay around there for about 4-5 months. Occassionally to keep your metabolism fast you do a 3000-4000 calorie day once a week.

    The low carb thing is healthy but it wont make you lose weight for long because you cant stay in ketosis for 6 months or so which is about how long it will take to lose about 50lbs
    • How about some exercise? Your recipe (pun intended) would leave a slightly less obese person who still lacks muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness.

      I really irks me when people talk about "weight loss" rather than fitness and health. "Weight loss" is usually about vanity, "fitness" is about self care.

      Walking a few kilometers a day is all it takes and is enjoyable in all but the worst weather.
      • Walking is for old 70 year old out of shape obese people, its not going to help guys in their 20s who want washboard abs.

        Walking a few miles a day wont make you lose weight, it only burns maybe 100 calories, you need to burn 3000 to lose a pound.

        You are right losing weight wont make you look any better, you have to lift weights to change that.
        Cardio is good for your endurance.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:25PM (#3846660)
    There was an article in Science magazine a few months ago about this. The main conclusion was that there are no truly "dangerous" foods. Food is not poisonous. The real problem is with people *not* getting the kinds of food they should eat, like green vegetables, for instance.

    I particularly remember a comment that the most unhealthy diet in Europe was found in Scotland, where the only widely comsumed leafy vegetable was tobacco.

    • by AJWM ( 19027 )
      Food is not poisonous.

      Well, that's a tautology. If it's poisonous, it isn't food.

      OTOH, there are plenty of things that can get mistaken for food that will do really nasty things to you.

      Rhubarb leaves, for example. High in oxalic acid. Oxalic acid, in the presence of calcium ions (such as within the cells of your body), forms needle-like insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate. Ouch.

      Or Amanita mushrooms. Pretty. Might even taste good sauteed in a little butter. But you'll feel really sick for a day or so, then seem to get better. And totally collapse a day or two after that because the toxin has destroyed your liver.

      Then there's natural contaminants of things that really are foods. The aflatoxin in those slightly moldy peanuts is a really potent carcinogen...
  • Not the case... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mensan98th ( 177463 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:30PM (#3846698)
    Caveat: I work at Pennington Bimedical Research Center, and my boss, Dr. George Bray, was interviewed for but not quoted in the NYTimes article, I suspect because he argues for what he calls "the inevitability of calories." Some problems with the article:

    1. It's lopsided journalism (surprised?). There's no *honest* attempt at balance, which is precisely what the author accuses the researchers of doing.

    2. The acknowledgement of the validity of the alternative position is buried in the middle of the article on page 4: "Few experts now deny that the low-fat message is radically oversimplified." The author seems to return to it, but never really does.

    3. Atkins's program, as with other low-carb programs, work well initially but are extremely difficult to maintain. (The same is true of low-fat diets, incidentally.) This is acknowledged by the research community.

    4. Some of the substantiations, such as that claiming that one's body sees all carbohydrates as sugars (page 5), is imprecise.

    5. An "Atkins diet without excess fat" (page 7) is a low-fat diet. Someone needs to get over himself.

    6. This quote is especially choice: "...the public-health authorities may indeed have a problem on their hands. Once they took their leap of faith and settled on the low-fat dietary dogma 25 years ago, they left little room for contradictory evidence or a change of opinion, should such a change be necessary to keep up with the science" (page 7). It only seems like "contradictory evidence or a change of opinion" if you're outside the research community. This is one research community that is not monolithic.

    Do more investigation before taking this article as gospel.
    • Re:Not the case... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jqcoffey ( 457742 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:17PM (#3846957)
      1. It's lopsided journalism (surprised?). There's no *honest* attempt at balance, which is precisely what the author accuses the researchers of doing.

      True. However, how much lopsided journalism and research has the low-fat diet seen over the past 25 years? The NIH hasn't even sanctioned a research project on anything else until now!

      3. Atkins's program, as with other low-carb programs, work well initially but are extremely difficult to maintain. (The same is true of low-fat diets, incidentally.) This is acknowledgedby the research community.

      I won't say untrue, however I do disagree. I've been on it in "maintanence mode" for the past year, without issue. People think that the Atkins diet is just a "cold-turkey" kind of deal. It's only that way for the first couple of weeks. After that you slowly ramp up your carb intake to something more inline with your fat and protein intake, still avoiding processed and bleached carbs (white bread, potatoes, etc.)

      4. Some of the substantiations, such as that claiming that one's body sees all carbohydrates as sugars (page 5), is imprecise.

      I think you're misinterpretting here. He's talking about simple/processed/bleached carbs, which indeed your body turns almost immediately into sugars.

      5. An "Atkins diet without excess fat" (page 7) is a low-fat diet. Someone needs to get over himself.

      Does without excess food mean a low food diet? No, it means food in moderation, just as "without excess fat" means fat in moderation. That does not mean a low-fat diet.

      It only seems like "contradictory evidence or a change of opinion" if you're outside the research community. This is one research community that is not monolithic.

      I will bow to your experience/background on that comment, however, so called legitimate research has never been done or released to the general public on anything but low-fat diets. In fact, not to long ago the "food pyramid" replaced the "four food groups" advocating an even starchier diet! The old "four food groups" diet was a much saner plan, and in reality is much closer to the "revolutionary" Atkins diet than you might think.

      Remember, the Atkins diet is a crash diet only in the beginning. It's designed to get people who are overweight into ketosis so they can "eat themselves" and start losing weight right away. Once they get to a healthy weight it goes into maintanence mode, which is damn close to the old four food groups doctrine.
  • shhh magic secret (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
    less food in + get off ass => healthier

    I dunno why people assume that instantly dropping 20lbs in a week is a sign of being "healthier". I'd say picking up more energy, stamina, better moods, better social interactions is also ideal.

    Little known fact but being healthier normally reduces stress on the body even before you lose your first pound [or gain muscle].

    People gotta stop looking at the scale and just eat reasonable portions of food.


    • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <ememalb@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:24PM (#3846988) Homepage Journal
      from above:
      "I'd say picking up more energy, stamina, better moods, better social interactions is also ideal."

      You are spot on, not too many people seem to pick up on this either. When you are in good physical shape, your mental conditioning is better over all as well (at least in my views it is). The reason for this is because less fatigue, better sleep (that's right, folks, you sleep better when physically tired) and a better diet all help your mental conditioning. This is not news.

      Also, another no-brainer, when you feel good about yourself (and you will, it's amazing) you're outlook on life will change, causing better, more positive social interaction. (I guarantee it!)

      theoretical question time:

      I haven't exercized in years, and am significantly larger/over-weight/out of shape than I used to be. How do I start exercising without feeling like I just ran a marathon and got kicked down the stairs?


      Start slowly. (DUH) Just like you can't expect to lose weight and keep it off if you binge diet, you won't be worth a damn if you try and do the crash course to exercise. Moderation, moderation, moderation. First off, when you start, find something you like to do. If you were a good swimmer, go jump in the local pool, do laps, tread water, whatever you do is better for you than sitting on your butt.

      If you need more motivation, go to a gym and sign up during one of their specials. Usually they will give you a free instructor to help you out.

      If you are in pretty bad shape, try walking. It's wonderful for getting you started.

      Keep it up, and find other like-wise minded geeks/friends/what-have-you to help you. Going to the gym by yourself isn't as good (IMO) as having a good partner with you to help you through the struggles, and periods of laziness.

      Please try this folks, it will change your life...and for the better.
  • Factor Analysis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Somnus ( 46089 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:41PM (#3846762)
    How does one get ripped? Look at all the shredded people, and see what they do and what they have going for them in the environment and genetically. My subjective observations, based on the research I've done to formulate my own diet/training program:
    • Eat a diet low in saturated fats (generally, animal fats) and simple/refined carbs, high in protein, vegetables and fiber, with just the right amount of complex carbs and essential fatty acids (generally, canola and fish).
    • Hit the weights. The extra lean muscle mass increases your base metabolism.
    • Cardio is good, but overrated. It compels your body to raid sugar stores instead of burn fat because the rate in energy expenditure is too high to burn fat efficiently. Having a higher base metabolism is the best strategy since it burns all day.
    • Eat all day, in small amounts -- increases utilization since your body expects food to be coming in short order. The flip side is if you miss a meal (e.g., if you're traveling), you feel like you want to go into "standby."
    • It helps to be a good athlete who can pack on muscle easily.
    • Sleep and relax like you don't have a care in the world -- stress (read: cortisol) is the enemy of looking and feeling healthy.

    My own results have been mixed. I got pretty lean late last year when I had time to do things right, and my strength and endurance were quite good, but I didn't gain as much muscle mass as I wanted. I was probably overtraining, lifting four days a week an hour at a time, all out.

    This dude [] is hardcore -- he's probably the top male fitness model out there right now. The only modification I've made is that I lift more and play basketball and do less cardio, and try to eat big after a workout to replenish my muscles.

    What's worked for Slashdotters?

    • Re:Factor Analysis (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mosch ( 204 )
      I started in January, I started a few things which have made me significantly stronger, and have dropped a little over 4 inches from my waist in the past 6 months.
      • Hitting the gym -- I work out for about an hour, three times a week, to build muscle mass and increase my metabolism.
      • Jogging -- I go jogging every day for about 20 minutes (3 miles)
      • Hiking/Biking -- About once a week I go on a long hike or mountain bike ride.
      • Nothing else
      Sure, I could probably have it work a lot faster if I didn't go out for beers with the guys, if I cut down on the bad-for-you foods, like big tasty steaks, or if I ate more vegetables, but my goal was a painless, sustainable change of lifestyle, not something that'd make me insane after six months and have me just abandon the whole thing.
      • Hey, you're doing far more than the vast majority of Americans. Four inches off the waistline in 6 months is damn good. And there's nothing evil about beer or red meat per se.

        What I put on the post to which you replied are guidelines, not dogma (hence my wistful surprise when I saw it get modded as flamebait!). I certainly indulge in cheese and crackers and sweets every now and then, and I don't limit myself vis-a-vis my nutrional regimen when I go out on engagements on Friday night or over the weekend. I find that my diet is pretty easy to stick to since a) it tastes good with a little planning and b) I feel better eating healthfully. I love a 3-inch think filet mignon, but tops once/month. When I get a hankering for red meat, I stick to lean cuts or lean ground ...

        Happiness is the ultimate goal, no? I think health officials try to hard, and turn off people. I also think people try to hard, and turn off themselves. Very few people find true satisfaction in torturing themselves in a game of diminishing returns. I think I've found a comfortable critical point, as have you.

    • ...the only way to lose weight is to eat less calories than you burn. I've read that the ideal way is actually to calculate the average amount of calories you use per day and intake about 50-100 less than this. I never did anything so complicated as counting calories, just ate less, but I lost like 60 pounds and kept them off. What worked for me was none of this carb/protein/fat bullshit, but just eating less (specifically, skipping lunch)... I've found that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and the less the better... I know this flies in the face of conventional dieting "wisdom", but I've known too many people that use more conventional diets like low-fat or Atkins and they just don't work as well as mine.
  • The interesting thing, from a scientific perspective, is the sheer lack of study - and the reticence from the scientific community to question the party line.

    Wow. Sounds just like evolution. What a coincidence. (Seriously, this isn't a troll (although I fear it will be moderated as one), but rather a sober observation that science is not often interested in investigating things that don't fit with the current body of popular opinion. Regardless of one's opinions on diets or evolution, there is clearly much more real science needing to be done before anyone should run around claiming an exclusive on the facts. In general that hardest thing for scientists to admit is that we simply don't know, even when that's the honest answer...)
    • > hardest thing for scientists to admit is that we simply don't know, even when that's the honest answer...

      On the contrary, scientists admit this all the time. It just that they express it in slightly different words.

      Some time back, I saw the advice that the most important part of a scientific paper is the paragraph near the end that start with "... more research is needed ..."

      Scientists make their living pointing out that there are many things that we don't yet know, and asking funding agencies to pay them to learn about some of those things.

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:44PM (#3846781)
    All I have to say is that it's a long article. If you don't understand low-carb or Atkins then please don't knock it until you read it.

    I've always been overweight and have always been in the low-fat and exercise camp. It didn't work.

    My wife and I went to a nutritionist who explained the principles behind low-carb. I had heard about Atkins and low-carb and been skeptical until I listened to the principles behind it. It made a lot of sense. 5 months and 50 pounds later, I no longer suffer from acid reflux, and weigh less than I did when I graduated high school almost 20 years ago.

    Despite popular beliefs, my weight loss has been almost 100% fat - I get an analysis every other week.

    Certainly we can bandy about talking about exersize and balanced diets - and I agree 100%, ultimately the way to stay healthy is a balanced diet (although not the food pyramid, which is a joke) and exersize. But to get to that point obese people need to lose the weight first! And for people who simply don't have a lot of time to exersize (and no, I don't watch TV, either), low-carb works wonders.

    I have to say that - it really seems like almost a miracle. I no longer take medication for acid reflux (was taking for over a year and a half). A friend of mine's mom went low-carb and now no longer needs her diabetes medication. And we've all lost weight.

    The scientific principles behind it really make sense, and every single person I know who is trying it is succeeding. I know a lot of people doing low-fat diets, too. Some of them are succeeding, some of them not - but none of them have had the kind of results I've gotten by doing low-carb.

    I think this is important for this group - I know a lot of healthy programmers, but I know a lot more fat ones.
  • Here are four things that weren't mentioned in the Times article and haven't yet been mentioned in the comments here.

    First, despite the huge length of the article, nearly everything mentioned to support the Atkins-type diets was anecdotal. Compare that to efforts like Dean Ornish's [] carefully controlled studies, where participants ate all they wanted of near-vegan foods and generally lost significant weight.

    Second, this is anecdotal, but I've never met anyone who could stick with the Atkins plan for more than a year. And while I'm being anecdotal, take a look at the bookjack photos of Atkins and Sears. Do you really think they look healthy?

    Third, and this is a huge concern for some and a trivial concern for others, consider the massive farm animal killing that meat-centered diets require. I've personally been healthy as can be for fifteen years, ever since I switched to a vegan diet. But the big attraction for me is that my food dollar no longer funds the slaughterhouse.

    Finally, keep in mind that Ornish-type programs invariably contain loads of fruits and vegetables -- which have been shown to significantly reduce risks of many types of cancer. After all, there are other health matters to think about beyond obesity.

  • by puppetman ( 131489 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:54PM (#3846826) Homepage
    Both are healthier (I think) varients on Atkin's diet.

    Higher fat, healty protien, and carbs from non-refined sources makes sense. It more closely follows the diet that we've evolved to do well on.

    I don't believe in saturated fat. And I don't believe in most animal protien.

    I've never seen a study that says vegetables cause cancer, and meat prevents it. It's always been the reverse. Most meat is stuffed with antibiotics (which most experts believe is helping create antibiotic-resistent super bugs) and pesticides (the higher up the food chain you go, the more pesticides you will see, as it is stored in body fat; dead whales in the St Laurence are have toxicity levels high enough to get them classified as toxic waste). The meat industry also creates alot of pollution (mostly due to the size of sed industry); manure poisons ground water, etc. In Canada, we had a case in Walkerton were a bunch of people died after cow shit got into the drinking water during a flood.

    And, especially for Slashdotters, don't use vitamin suppliments. Two studies just came out that said vitamin E (and, to a lesser extent, vitamin C) reduce the chances of getting Alzheimers; lesions relating to free radicals are found on most Alzheimer patients, and thus anti-oxidants are being viewed as a potential salvation. But only if you get it from natural sources. Pills had no effect.

    And then there was the study on smokers who took beta carotene in pill form. They had a higher incidence of lung cancer than those who didn't take the vitamin pills.

    Soy has been shown to have many benefits - lowering cancer risks in both men and women. There are alot of great soy analogues out there for hot dogs, hamburgers, ground beef, etc. Try a few - some are pretty good.
    • While were wandering down the nature trail, keep in mind a few facts...

      Many plants internally produce pesticides of more toxicity than commercial pesticides.

      Meat may have small amounts of antibiotic, but is hardly "stuffed with it." The comment about meat industry and pollution says a lot about your biases and nothing about what is healthy food.

      There was a recent study correlating lifelong use of Soy (in particular, Tofu) with earlier onset of Alzheimers.

      Aflatoxin is an extremely carcinogenic chemical, produced naturally by mold that grows on peanuts, wheat, etc.

      While many advocate getting vitamins from natural sources, vitamin supplements are also good sources for many. Of course, these days there are so many vague links that it is a toss-up as to whether many different substances do you good or harm. Dietary anti-oxidants are one example.

      Studies attempting to correlate specific substances (such as Vitamin E) found in natural foods are very unlikely to be significant, simply because they are going to be retrospective studies and separating out the vitamin E intake from other factors is essentially impossible. It may be statistically possible, but that is only if you ignore the fact that the data itself is of poor quality. This is true of way too many health studies that show a benefit or harm from this or that substance or habit. It is especially true of dietary studies because long term studies rely on accurate reporting, by the patients of their dietary habits... usually long after the fact.

      So, don't read too much into these studies. If you want eternal life, get religion (hey, at least it offers a possibility :-) You won't get it at the vitamin counter, the fresh produce counter, or the organic food store (although you may pick up some nice natural parasites at the latter).

  • Comma, duh.

    A diet high in saturated fat can raise your LDL, which can get damaged; this doesn't make you fat, however.

    The important thing to remember is that it isn't what calories, but how many.

    The Atkins diet induces a state called Ketosis (as in Ketone) where the products of fat breakdown (for energy) accumulate and cannot be used to make more energy; these products act as apetite suppressants and help people diet. A breakdown product of sugars (it happens to be called pyruvate) allows you to metabolise these ketones. So, if you eat fat but no sugar, the fat can't be burned for as many calories and produces compounds that help suppress your appetite.

    This may not have beneficial effects on your health. My Dad (who is a nutritionist) is extremely leary of it - not because it won't make you lose weight (it will,) but because it may not have overall beneficial effects on your health.

    The thing that demonstrably has a beneficial effect is EXERCISE.

    In the case of Type II diabetes, which is muchw worse to get than heart disease, even very mild interventions (150 minutes of activity per week, slight reduction in Caloric intake) cut the risk of getting diabetes by 58%. []

    That's not a great big shock for doctors, but it is for the weight-loss industry, which is trying to convince you that you have to be thin to be healthy. You do not; if you're obese, your health benefits from being thinner, but even a (relatively, very slight) drop in weight can be of great benefit.
  • So let's cut to the chase here: the "problem of the moment" here is obesity.

    Sure, some amount of debate remains regarding how to best control this epidemic by controlling *what* we eat. But the bottom line is *how much* we eat.

    It's a fundamental mismatch between super-sized overconsumption and generally sedentary lifestyles.

    And while there may be a few interesting detours on this road along the lines of fad diets (ie, Atkins), they utterly fail to address the root cause in a sustainable fashion...
  • Corn: The Culprit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:59PM (#3846865)
    "With these caveats, one of the few reasonably reliable facts about the obesity epidemic is that it started around the early 1980's."


    That's the same time we went from granulated sugar as a sweetener to High Fructose Corn Syrup, because it was easier for the food industry to deal with liquid rather than powdered supplies; welcome to "Old Coke"/"New Coke"/"Old Coke But Not Really".

    At the same time, we went from peanut and palm kernel oil to... corn oil ("and/or corn oil" on a label means "whatever's cheapest, and it's always corn").

    Try and find a food product in the grocery store today without corn oil/corn meal/corn starch/corn syrup/corn syrup solids/corn/corn/corn.

    And just what is it that we feed to cows and pigs to fatten them up? ...corn?

    Try an experiment: weigh yourself. Then, for one month, read the labels on everything you buy; and if it has corn products in it... don't buy it. Then weigh yourself again after the one month is up. If you lose weight, please send me the money you would have sent to Dr. Atkins... 8-).

    -- Terry
  • Or not.

    Anyway, you can stay on your ass all day and sitll not be a fat ass, I've done that long enough, so I know, eh.

    It doesn't matter much what you eat, rather what you DON'T eat.

    Just give up junk food. Gratz, you've done 90% of the work.

    But you're feeling hungry? Very hungry I guess? Ok here's another tip: give up aspartam junk, Pepsi Light, Coke Light and all those "light" stuff. Indeed, they don't have sugar inside, but they taste like sugar, and they make you feel much HUNGRY. It's a trap. Milk would be good, if you can be sure it's not filled with fattening hormons. I know, the WTO says it's harmless but I'd rather not take the chance, thank you. Orange juice is good, too, but same thing, you want real orange juice not sweetened stuff.

    So you still want that snack? Ok I have two tips for you: first, chocolate. Buy lots of it. But I mean real chocolate. Get the quality stuff preferably, black chocolate, as pure as you can. It's so strong you can't decently swallow it too fast. So you have to let it melt in your mouth; and it's busy (your mouth) for some time. It contains lots of interesting chemicals [] as well. I hear you can give blow jobs for the same result but I'm not into that kind of stuff, so I won't comment.

    Second tip: bread. Expensive bread is better. The real stuff. There's something interesting about bread, you see, there's lots of air in it. It stuffs you up much more than anything else. You can also get fiber enabled bread for improved intestinal maintenance.

    Ok now we've solved the snack problem. How about the meals?

    Meals are important. To NOT be overweight, you need to eat. Properly, that is. My advice: spend a lot of money on food. Good food, that is. Keep meals on schedule. No eating outside of meals, except for the small snacks. Food is not to be left hanging around, no snack stuff all over the place, if you want to eat something, you have to get off your ass, go to the fridge and take it. If you're bothered about getting up to go get the food, then you're not really hungry and you can wait next lunch.

    Get used to toning down the sweet taste. You can do the same for salt actually; better for your heart. Get used to drinking coffee without sugar. Get used to unsweetened yogurt. And then when you really want sweet, go for it. But keep food with their natural taste.
  • Sure took them long enough to start seriously considering alternatives. First off, IANAD, but I'm not obeise either, and I know what works.

    I eat no special diet, in fact, for a while I was eating fast food almost everyday for lunch. When I had a cholesterol test the doctor remarked that I had the lowest cholestorol count he had ever seen.

    Perhaps I have just been lucky and have a great metabolism... But after I started researching to put together a regular exercise program (mostly jogging), I kept hearing the same facts repeated. These were: If you eat mostly fats consistently, your metabolism with adjust to run your body on fat calories. If you eat mostly carbohydrates (complex-sugars) your body will adjust to burn them. If you are adjusted to burning carbohydrates, and start running, when you run out of sugars in your blood, you "hit the wall" while you body tries to switch over to burning fats (and does a crappy job at it, leaving all kinds of junk floating around).

    So basically, what looks like is happening, at least from my lay perspective, is that if you eat a ton of carbohydrates any extra fat you eat is going to be dropped off as fat. However, if you eat mostly fats, your body is already burning them, and extra sugar will be converted to fat and burnt later.

    So the best thing to do, if you like eating fat, is to keep eating it... and do get off your butt once and a while and actually use all those calories!

  • Ahha! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Latent IT ( 121513 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:05PM (#3846892)
    Obligitory Hackers Diet [] reference.

    Still the king, baby. Common sense, and a lot less trendy crap, and a whole lot more suck it up and deal mentality.
  • Or even computer science for that matter.

    Weight lose is an easy concept. It's the will power that is tougher.

    If you want to lose weight you simply need to eat less then you are eating. It's that simple.

    Here are two easy ways to lose weight.

    1. Grab yourself a pen and a small notebook. Keep track of everything you put in your mouth. Write down it's name, the time, as well as how many calories.

    Total it up at the end of the day. That's how much you need to eat to maintane your current weight.

    Now you are 280 pounds? You want to lose weight? Well you don't want to lose more then 2 pounds a week it's not healthy so here is all you need to do. Eat 1500 calories a day. Break it into 3 meals. Do what works for you. I found that 400 for breakfast provided a large bowl of cerial with skim or soy milk. 500 calories provided 2 pieces of skinless boneless white meat chicken. And some salad with low cal dressing as well as a piece of bread. And for dinner you can have 600 hundred calories. So make pasta and measure out your portion or whatever works. Be creative.

    So you have a total of 1500 calories. If you stick with this you will get good at making larger meals in fewer calories.

    2. So you maybe you are not into counting calories, well here's another easy one. When you make food, make a lot of vegies. Now take your plate. Fill half your plate with vegies. Fill a quater with with your meat, and fill a quater with your grain/pasta/side whatever. If you are still hungry and want seconds ONLY IT ANOTHER PLATE OF VEGIES. Now don't be rediculous, you can't have butter, etc on them, so get creative. It's not hard.

    You must be willing to stick to this and for gods sake you must learn to cook, at least a little bit. Late night burritos and a slurpie are not an option. There really is no mircle diet, just quit putting so much in your mouth.

    If you do want to still be able to eat a lot you do have a third option, you better get off your fat ass and exercise. Lift weights, run, etc. . . And I'm talking a couple hours a day. Then you could probably eat whatever you want because your body will burn it off. But for most people they simply won't exercise.

    I went from 280 to 180 in about a years time with little exercise by simply eating 1500 calories. My blood pressure dropped to a perfectly normal level, I feel great, and I have tons more energy. I fall off the wagon once in a while, but I don't worry about because now that I am smaller I am more active.

    Trust me guys this is not hard. You must stick to it. It's that simple.

    - Okay now send me $100 for advice. :-P
  • I think it might even be legitimate. All you have to do is show this [] to your girlfriend (or boyfriend if you are that way). I think it is originally an article from the Boston Globe.
  • by bourne ( 539955 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:09PM (#3846921)

    So, let me get this straight:

    • Low-fat diets aren't a cure-all
    • High-protein diets aren't a cure-all
    • High-carb and Low-carb diets have problems

    Gosh, maybe we should be eating - gasp - a balanced diet?

    Now you're talking crazy, man!

    The problem is everyone wants a "magic bullet" and few are willing to do the work unless they can find a "drastic" and flashy diet to throw themselves into.

    Eat a balanced diet (complex carbs, some fat and some protein) and exercise and you'll do fine. Stay off the sugar bombs. Eat less than you burn to lose weight. Buy a sports nutrition book to figure out your requirements, because those are the people who are practiced at this math. And don't expect to lose 10 years of fat in a few months.

    And like your mother always said, eat your peas.

  • As someone who lost over 70 pounds (around 35Kg) over a period of two years, I can say that dieting in the US is a very difficult task. The reason is simple: You get used to the amount of food you eat and once you get used to large portions, it's *really* difficult to go back to the small meals.

    I used to eat in those "pay by the pound" places in my home country. I started eating an average of 650-700 grams per meal. Slowly I was able to reduce it to 350 grams per meal without that "hungry" feeling that follows an incomplete meal.

    Of course I also followed a very regular course of exercises (walking, hiking, etc).

    Three years ago I moved to the US. I've gained back part of the weight I lost. A lot of work and no time for exercise, plus insanely big portions put me on this track. Now, here I am again trying to slowly reduce the amount of food on each meal, but given the prevailing idea that "more is better", not "better is better", that becomes a very hard task. But I'm getting there... Slowly, as it has to be.

    Anyway, just remember:

    - Eat less
    - Eat better
    - Cut down the greasy foods
    - Don't be too harsh or you'll quit
    - Exercise
    - Exercise!
    - Exercise!!! (You'll feel better, believe me)
    - Lose weight SLOWLY while you get used to your new feeding habits.
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:13PM (#3846938) Homepage
    Ever see a fat carnivore?

    Ever see a skinny cow? (Not counting desert-like lack of food conditions).

    Carbs are what food eats...

    (Okay, I'm slightly kidding. Humans are omnivores.)
    • Bad example. Cattle in this country and other developed ones are bred to point of being almost genetically engineered to be, well, beefy. Look at healthy cattle in places like Africa, they're a lot leaner. The same goes with deer and other wild critters. The only fat deer and elk I've seen have been at wildlife shelters. A better comparison would be wild vs domestic animals. You will almost never see an obese wild animal, except maybe Univ. of Michigan squirrels, and animals stocking up for winter. Now, how many of us have a cat or dog that needs a serious diet plan? Quite a few I bet. The scary thing is that analogy may carry over into humans as well. I wonder if our obesity results from the fact that we have tamed ourselves and our environment to the point where we have to creat artifical physical stress to keep us healthy.

  • On CNN Presents they looked at diets. The first conclusion is that all of these things work to make you lose weight, but the fad diets don't keep the pounds off because people can't stick to the diet. They gave 7 points for success. Let's see how many I can remember:
    1. Keep trying
    2. Don't be afraid to splurge once in a while
    3. Weigh yourself often
    4. Eat 5 small meals per day
    5. Excercise one hour per day
    6. A low fat, high carb diet (but low calorie) shows longest term success rate
    What has worked for me, is that in the last year I've basically become a half-time vegetarian (about 4 small servings of meat a week). Without really trying, I've lost about 25 pounds in the year. Not a lot, but it makes a difference to me.

    I still eat lots of carbs and love dairy. I no longer really crave meat. I probably don't get enough veggies. Small things like ordering small meals or not finishing the larger ones at restaurants can really help. So can eating a small snack when you get a little hungry rather than waiting until you are ravenous at meal times.

    Basically, I think it boils down to two things: eating a balanced diet and making gradual lifestyle changes you can live with for the rest of your life. What this means varies from person to person. For me, doing this has been easy and losing a little weight was almost a side effect to leaving a somewhat healthier lifestyle.

  • OK, so this is one of those testimonial type posts where one person says, it worked for me so it must work for everyone. OK, so I'm not going to say that!

    Let me put it this way.

    I'm 6' 3" and I used to weight 299 lbs. I never exersize except to climb out of the viper and behind my 'puter then back into the viper. I cut my lawn with a riding mower and when I'm "roughing" it outdoors I do it riding a ATV. Stairs? Elevators! I mean, honestly... 44" waist and I couldn't get it to shrink.

    I tried to eat "Low fat" - oh yea, all those "Low Fat" items at the store. Amazing, I actually GAINED more weight!!

    So, then I switched overnight to low carb. Basically I'm doing about 30g of carbs a day. What DO I eat? Lesse, breakfast I have a 3 egg omlet with cheeze, bacon, ham and sausage. For lunch I eat a low-carb bar that I get from GNC and wash it back with the 4-6 Diet Mt. Dews I drink at the 'puter. For dinner? Let's see: Sloppy Joes, Steaks, Pork Chops, Shrimp by the boatload, Lobster tails, crab legs with LOTS of butter (real butter). I eat microwave bacon whenever I feel like a salty snack. Sometimes I get those single serving hot dogs and skip the bun and just dip some ketchup and eat up. I'm telling you - just like the diets claim. All the meat and seafood I want. I skip bread and avoid pasta (that hurt!) and no potatoes; no french fries :(. It's not an effortless diet, you would be amazed if you stopped and looked at the labels on food. Damn near everything has a Lot of carbs. Every soda you drink is 30+ carbs, that's my entire days carbs in a single Pepsi! Eating a burger is a bitch carbwise, unless you just throw away the bun (or at least one of them). Sure, it looks weird but... it works..

    You know - how can people ignore the obvious facts. EVERYONE I know who has used a low fat diet has failed and everyone of them I have joining me on a low carb diet and it's working. I am personally, in 4 months, down to 240 and I am aiming for 205 before summer is over. This is not crazy weight loss, it's definately not "water loss". This is real pounds. I have to buy new cloths, my pants just don't stay up on me anymore.

    To people who critisize Atkins diets: Pffftttt!!! Especially to fat people on low-fat diets who critisize low-carb I say: AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAA

    Low-carb works -- just my own experience... (forgive the typing, I have to get the heck outta here and get my butt home - got some thin-sliced smoked turkey breast in the fridge I'm gonna eat with some pickles).
  • The interesting thing, from a scientific perspective, is the sheer lack of study
    Think about how hard it is to do a double blind experiment involving diet.
    "I want you to eat this, but I'm not going to tell you what it is..."
    Add to this the problem that a decent study would need to run for at least a year, and preferably several years.

    I never really realized how bad diet research was until I tried to find proof that eating more food makes you gain weight.
    Sure, we all "know" it does, but find a study that proves it.

    -- this is not a .sig
  • All you have to do is buy food that is a pain in the ass to cook. So if you're sitting at the computer and you're like "I feel like munching on something," you'll go to the cabinet and say to yourself "man, I don't feel like cooking any of this stuff. Forget it, I'm going back to quake. I guess I wasn't that hungry after all." See? It's perfect because it's founded on your laziness. A variant of this is to only buy bland food, like white rice and beans. It gets you to eat only when you're really hungry.

    A few people above mentioned that you need to exercise. Exercise is for lam3rs. Admit it, every time you see someone in a bright spandex jogging suit you think of spider-man. I say, find something you like to do that requires a physical effort. I doesn't matter if it's hiking, playing basketball, doing gung fu or yoga, or rock climbing. You'll see yourself get in shape magically, with no percieved(*) effort on your part. And you won't quit doing it after a few weeks, because, duh, you like doing it.

    * hmmm, okay, i before e, except after c, or when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh, and on weekends and holidays and all throughout may, and you'll always be wrong no matter what you say...
  • Easy: Eat less. Exercise more.
  • Here's my diet:

    Eat less food than you use up each day in energy. At some level of intake, you are guarenteed to lose weight.

    High fat food works just as well as low fat food for this, and it tastes better.

    Seriously. I lost 105 pounds so far.
  • Americans have not become fatter since the 1980's just because we're eating less fat, which is what this article seems to suggest. The simple fact is: We've been eating more. And more, and more. The average size of a restaurant entree today is 1.5 times that of one twenty-five years ago. We sip from larger Cokes and Supersize our fries. The simple fact is that if you eat more calories than you burn, you get bigger. It's quite basic. Now, your balance of calories on top of that in terms of fats, carbs, and such matters, but the fact that Americans get fat on low-fat "diets" doesn't mean much by itself.
  • by simetra ( 155655 ) on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:58PM (#3847123) Homepage Journal
    Point being, different types of people have different needs. People who've evolved in the arctic, with the limited variety of foodstuffs there, have different tolerances than someone who evolved in Africa, or Europe. Some of us can eat butt-loads of fatty foods without getting fat; some of us can't. Do what works for you. And, avoid refined sugar, it is the tool of the devil.
  • The Hackers' Diet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by splorf ( 569185 ) on Tuesday July 09, 2002 @12:00AM (#3847134)
    John Walker, founder of Autodesk, wrote a book (now online in entirety [] in HTML and PDF form) called "The Hackers' Diet. It says the only thing that matters is calorie count, but it says this in interesting ways. According to its blurb, it's Walker's attempt to treat the problem of weight loss as an engineering problem. It comes with Windows and Palm PDA software to keep track of your calorie intake, and has useful advice about what to do about hunger attacks. But basically, it says any successful diet is a program of deliberate malnutrition to make your body consume its fat reserve, so don't expect a fun time. Also, don't exect to lose weight too fast. It's set up to take off about 1 pound per week, so you may have to stay at it for a year or longer.

    A friend of mine had some success with it. I don't have much dieting experience so I wonder what others here think of this book.

  • From personal experience, I know a carb-deprivation diet a la Atkins works better for me than the alternatives. I've tried several different diets, but I've been able to maintain Atkins for periods of several months.

    One time, after five months of eating steak and eggs and bacon and cheeses, and various other high-cholesterol goods, I went to have a blood test to see whether I was killing myself on the diet. My cholesterol level was 170, and I don't recall what my HDL/LDL split was, but it wasn't too bad.

    Different people will do well on different diets, depending on their metabolisms. Don't poo-poo a diet that sounds ridiculous, because while it might not work for you, it could work for someone else.
  • Don't take away my Krispy Kreme donuts!!!!
  • About a year ago, I was fat. Not gross, but definatly verging on the relm of unattractive.

    I looked into all these diets and there was so much conflicting information, that I just made up my own.

    It was very, very simple. 1. No booze except on the weekends. 2. No matter what, no fast food (I still ate out quite a bit, just at sit down resturants where the nutritional value was a little better). 3. Walk for an hour a night. 4. If you ever are full, don't be afraid to stop eating (I had the bad habit of always needing to finish off my plate, even if I was'nt hungry).

    Being somebody who spends 90% of his waking hours behind a computer in a desk chair (not to mention quite a few in my sleeping hours), it probably was the perfect fit.

    I lost 45 pounds in 7 months, I feel much better, got to learn a lot more about my town (by walking), and have been told I look 'really good' by a number of very nice women.

    I doubt this would work for somebody who was highly obese, or somebody who has a eating disorder... but chances are that for your average geek whos putting on the pounds, it just might work.
  • by MrIcee ( 550834 ) on Tuesday July 09, 2002 @12:19PM (#3850060) Homepage
    Being a sedentary scientist (e.g., spending ones time on ones ass) I had gradually gotten larger and larger when, about 6 years ago, I discovered that I was over 250 pounds (yikes!!!). My wife and tried numerous *diets* only to find that the weight didn't come off.

    Watching an infomercial one day on Atkins, it sounded too good to be true, so we bought his book and tried his diet.

    First... here are the good things about the diet (then I'll list the bad things):


    1) Yes, you can eat *unlimited* quantities of meats etc... as long as you totally control your carb intake. We would go to Outback or Ruths Chris and I would eat 3 or 4 porkchops... and some brocolli... till I could eat no more.

    2) The diet throws you into ketosis - which is a diabetic term for pure fat burning. You can go to the drug store and get ketosis testing strips, little PH papers that you pass your pee stream over. The color the paper turns indicates the amount you are in ketosis. Once in ketosis, you are in pure fat burning mode.

    3) Did I lose weight? YOU BET!!! I dropped from 250+ pounds to 190 pounds in about 8 months. The diet is amazing because on a daily basis, you can easily see 1/2 to 2 pounds disappear (make sure you weigh yourself at exactly the same time each day for accurate statistics). My wife also dropped 50 pounds.


    Here are some negative things about the diet:

    1) You must be sure to drink LOTS of water on this diet... and I mean LOTS. The diet is very hard on the kidneys because they have to work overtime to break down the larger molocules. By drinking lots of water you assist your kidneys and actually drop the weight even faster. If you don't drink water, kidney damage can result.

    2) The closer you get to your desired weight (e.g., the longer you are on the diet), the slower you begin to drop weight. At the start of the diet, the pounds were flying off. By the end, we would even out for a few days and then drop a pound or two. The book says this happens - and indeed it does. The main reason for this is that your body has adapted to the new diet - so for us, that was the stopping point.

    3) Upfront it is very gratifying to eat unlimited amounts of all those wonderful foods... but in the end we tended to become bored with the diet - which happens in most diets. But don't get me wrong, we were still happy as can be that we dropped 60 pounds in such a short time.


    You stop pooping. Because you are getting little fiber in your diet (and the diet recommends that you keep up on high fiber, but it's hard) - you literally stop pooping. Other problems associated with not pooping can raise their ugly bumps at this point. However, this all goes away once you ease yourself off the diet.

    The other negative... you drop weight so fast that your skin ends up loose. This was a shock to my wife and me. We actually had skin that looked to be very loose. It took about 3 months after the diet was over for the skin to tighten up to our new bodies - but tighten it did.

    So did I keep the pounds off?

    The diet encourages you to reach a point and then back off the diet. The wonderful thing about the diet is that you now understand how to quickly lose weight... so if you indulge in a weekend of excess, all you need to do is go on the diet for 3 days to lose that excess and back down you are.

    I've managed to keep the weight off - and right now I'm fluxuating around 200 lbs. I'm about to start again because I want to drop the final 30 lbs.

    Another positive point... if you have cronic heart burn - we discovered it was from eating carbs. In fact, a friend of mine who had been told to sleep upright because of his cronic heartburn, had the symptoms totally disappear (as did I) on this diet. Amazing. And since, I've noticed that I only get heart burn if I eat too many carbs in a meal.

    The diet is not for everyone... and it helps to have a partner go through it with you (otherwise whoever you eat with won't like the meat-only choices you are forcing). Anyway... it worked for me - and it tought me to not listen to the government bullshit about the food pyrimid or any of their other crap they shovel out about dieting. They don't have a clue.


Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson