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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Probiotics not always helpful, understanding your metabolism, and how to reverse muscle loss with age

by | Sep 7, 2018

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week probiotics not always helpful, understanding your metabolism, and how to reverse muscle loss with age.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Your spit helps you quit picky eating, breakfast boosts carb burning, and water doesn’t help with weight loss

by | Aug 24, 2018

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Quick announcement: I’ll be at the Fireside conference Sept 6-9 in Canada, and doing a live podcast on stage with the venerable Yoni Freedhoff. Would love to see you there!

Short list this week. Your spit helps you quit picky eating, breakfast boosts carb burning, and water doesn’t help with weight loss.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Real talk about weight loss resistance, how to fix your post-baby belly, and how different exercises impact hunger

by | Aug 11, 2017

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

This week real talk about weight loss resistance, how to fix your post-baby belly, and how different exercises impact hunger.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Salt may help with weight loss, grass-fed beef gets an upgrade, and a new blood sugar regulation mechanism

by | May 12, 2017

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

This week salt may help with weight loss, grass-fed beef gets an upgrade, and a new blood sugar regulation mechanism.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: How Big Ag is killing the banana, 15K is the new 10K steps, and what’s missing in the Western diet

by | Mar 24, 2017

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup. 

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

This week how Big Ag is killing the banana, 15K is the new 10K steps, and what’s missing in the Western diet. 

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Read the rest of this story »

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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Why big goals lead to failure, how friends sabotage your health, and why vegetables are the best path to weight loss

by | Feb 10, 2017

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup. 

A quick heads up that starting next week I’ll be traveling until early March (Kevin is turning 40!), so I won’t be posting Friday links. The podcast will continue as normal.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

This week why big goals lead to failure, how friends sabotage your health, and why vegetables are the best path to weight loss. 

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Read the rest of this story »

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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Your gut sabotages your diet, how to teach your kids to love veggies, and why exercise leads to weight gain

by | Dec 2, 2016
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup. 

This week how your gut sabotages your diet, how to teach your kids to love veggies, and why exercise leads to weight gain.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Read the rest of this story »

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Does ‘The Biggest Loser’ Study Prove That Long-term Weight Loss is Impossible?

by | May 6, 2016

wow scale

Instead of our regularly scheduled Friday link love, today I’m going to discuss just one story that made a huge splash in the weight loss community.

On Monday the New York Times published an article titled “After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight” and about a million of you sent it to me asking for my opinion.

The new study (you can read the real thing here) is very interesting and also a little frustrating. In case you live on Mars, ‘The Biggest Loser’ is a reality TV show that takes a group of people with Class III obesity and subjects them to extreme exercise and caloric restriction, with the result of rapid and dramatic weight loss often close to 50% of body weight.

I’ve never been a fan. Not only does the show double down on the torturous methods of weight loss perpetuated by the dieting industry, but (as expected) virtually everyone who participates in the show gains the majority of the weight back.

I doubt many of us can fathom how devastating this must be to the contestants psychologically––to go through months of hell and achieve what seems like an impossible level of “success,” then have those hard earned victories evaporate over the following years, all under the public eye. It’s amazing to me that this level of cruelty is even legal in the US. There’s probably a joke about The Hunger Games in there somewhere, but I don’t have the heart to make it.

Thanks to this latest research, however, we now have a pretty clear understanding of how physically devastating it is to participate in ‘The Biggest Loser.’

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7 Reasons Dieting Makes Losing Weight Harder (NOT easier)

by | Sep 8, 2014

Photo by lydia_shiningbrightly

People rarely argue that eating healthier isn’t a good idea. Of course it’s the right thing to do. Duh.

In the backs of their minds, however, people who want to lose weight are often skeptical. I know, because I’ve been there. The argument goes something like,

“Healthy eating is great and all, but I really want to lose this weight as soon as possible. I’ll just do this ___(insert latest diet)___ plan for awhile until I get to my goal weight, then I’ll start with that whole healthy eating thing.”

It sounds like a great plan. Lose the weight quickly, then when you’re happy shift to a more “sensible” eating plan for maintenance.

The only problem is that it doesn’t work.

For people who want to lose weight one of the hardest things to understand is that dieting really, seriously isn’t the answer. Not even for a little while. Dieting isn’t some temporary outfit you can just try on for a few months then discard. Dieting changes you, both physically and psychologically, and it’s not for the better.

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Book Review: Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes

by | Mar 2, 2011

I hadn’t planned on writing a formal review of Gary Taubes’ latest book, Why We Get Fat, because I already wrote an extensive review of his first book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, and the messages (and my criticisms) are basically the same. But after finishing the book I think Taubes is worth revisiting.

My biggest problem with Taubes’ first book is that it was very difficult to read, and that of course means most people won’t finish it. In Why We Get Fat Taubes repackages the data in a way that is much more logical and easy to digest. The book is substantially shorter, and is mostly free of the rants and tirades that peppered Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Instead, Why We Get Fat takes the reader through a clear and concise explanation of why all calories are not created equal, and that carbohydrates are the reason for the vast majority of the health and weight problems plaguing modern civilization. He also does a fantastic job demolishing the currently prevailing hypothesis that dietary fat and blood cholesterol are the causes of heart disease. They aren’t.

That so few people understand these points is why I recommend everyone read this book. It breaks my heart every time someone writes to me for nutrition advice and proudly points to their butter-less popcorn or baked chips as proof of their already “healthy” diet. Until it becomes common knowledge that fat is good for you and processed carbohydrates are the worst thing you can eat, I think this book is the best resource we have to explain it.

Still I do not agree 100% with Taubes’ conclusions. Though I do think the evidence is overwhelming that all calories are not created equal, I disagree that calories therefore do not matter and cannot be manipulated to help with weight loss. Taubes argues that how much we eat is dependent on our hormone levels (specifically insulin levels) that regulate energy balance, and that depending on this balance we naturally regulate our feeding and energy expenditure (exercise) so that we maintain our weight.

Taubes makes a compelling case that severe calorie restriction is counterproductive in weight management, and I agree. However there is some evidence that a small calorie deficit, on the order of 100-200 calories per day, is within the range of our natural homeostatic mechanisms and can be effective at controlling body weight.

In his book, Why We Eat More Than We Think (another must-read), Brian Wansink explores study after study where environmental cues are manipulated to get people to eat either significantly more, or significantly less than they believed. Importantly, the participants never reported any difference in satiation no matter how much they ate. Wansink argues that people can make small dietary changes resulting in a moderate 100-200 calorie per day deficit that does not affect hunger levels and can be used to effectively control weight.

Similarly, in The End of Overeating (here’s my review) Dr. David Kessler discusses how eating can become uncoupled from hunger when it is associated with external cues, making a strong case that some of us really do eat more than we need to. I think many of Kessler’s points about overeating are valid, particularly for emotional eaters. His argument is further strengthened by individual case studies of people who learn to eat less without experiencing sensations of starvation that are predicted by Taubes. One such example is Frank Bruni’s book Born Round (my review), in which he overcomes his weight struggles by moving to Italy and changing his relationship with food. Bruni is able to maintain his weight even after accepting the job of food critic at the New York Times.

These accounts conflict with Taubes’ argument that people overeat to satisfy a caloric deficit caused by a carbohydrate-induced faulty metabolism. Though there is good reason to believe Taubes’ metabolic hypothesis accounts for a large part of the health issues in today’s society, I think it is premature to conclude that this is the only force at work in why we get fat. Indeed, some research suggests learned feeding cues can directly impact insulin and metabolic pathways even in the absence of food. This data does not refute Taubes’ hypothesis, but rather makes it more complicated than he implies.

Even if we assume Taubes’ metabolic theory accounts for the majority of our health problems, insulin response (the ultimate cause of fat accumulation) should also be affected by eating rate and exercise, and vary among individuals. However Taubes handedly dismisses the possibility that any behavioral modification other than carbohydrate restriction can impact metabolic function because, he argues, we will modify our physical activity to adjust for any nutritional changes. His case is compelling, but not air tight, and my interpretation is that while carbohydrate consumption is clearly very important, there are likely other factors that may also be helpful in controlling metabolism and body weight.

In his book The 4-Hour Body (my review), Tim Ferriss describes how WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg lost 18 pounds by simply chewing each bite of food 20 times. Extra chewing or “masticating” was made popular as a weight loss technique in the late 1800s by Horace Fletcher and is explored in Gina Kolata’s book Rethinking Thin (not a particularly good read). Extended chewing and eating slowly are both effective at inducing weight loss, likely because they slow the glycemic response and almost always result in decreased meal size.

One of the most interesting points made in The 4-Hour Body was Ferriss’ personal glycemic response to a low-carbohydrate diet of just meat and vegetables. He claims that even with this meal he could easily spike his glucose to over 150 mg/dL (this is very high) by simply eating quickly, and that this effect could be controlled by slowing down and taking a full 30 minutes to finish a meal. Unfortunately I could not find a similar experiment in the scientific literature, but Ferriss’ observation suggests that behavioral modification can have a powerful impact on metabolic response independent of diet composition.

My final complaint about Why We Get Fat is that Taubes never considers that individual variation may preclude his theory from applying to everyone. He suggests that while some people are genetically blessed with a higher tolerance for carbohydrates, others will only thrive on an almost zero carbohydrate diet. Unfortunately this is the one part of the book he does not provide data to back up his assertions.

Though Taubes frequently argues the importance of paying attention to outliers, he never explores the possibility that some individuals may actually do better (rather than less bad) on a diet with slightly more carbohydrates. (Let’s assume for now that I mean slowly digesting, natural carbohydrates and not highly processed sugars and grains.) In a healthy person there is no reason to assume that such a diet would induce insulin resistance, and there may be some additional advantage outside of metabolic health for including such foods. I don’t think this is a possibility we should dismiss without solid evidence.

To summarize, Taubes does an excellent job describing the importance of carbohydrates in both weight management and health but oversimplifies the science, particularly neglecting the importance of behavioral factors on metabolism. However, the analysis presented in Why We Get Fat is still the most clear explanation of the relationship between metabolism and health that I’ve found and is an invaluable resource for the general public.

What did you think of Taubes’ latest book?

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