Wednesday, September 14, 2022

My current take on nutrition.

I have several openings for this post. They don’t really go together, so I’m just going to put all of them here because I'm lazy. Enjoy!

1. In the new book, I have a line from 1994, along the lines of:

When anyone found out Anne was pregnant, they became a nutrition expert.

2. Re-re-re-re-reading the book, I find myself continually revisiting the time when I was deep in the vegan bubble. Every problem in the world was caused by people eating animal products. Every issue could be solved by veganism. From the section of the book when I was getting ready to go in for heart surgery after thirty years of veganism:

I asked a vegan medical doctor what preparation advice they would have if someone might be having bypass surgery in a week. This person basically said not to have the surgery, but instead go vegan. I asked what to do if that wasn’t an option. I never heard back.

The surgery saved my life, BTW.

3. Here in 2022, every day is a war between my love of food and my hatred of blubber. 

4. In addition to hating blubber, the older I get and the more times I almost die, the more concerned I am with my physical health. The ideal BMI is around 21, and despite my efforts, I certainly don’t have enough muscle mass to justify being above that. Given that I want to remain attractive to and active with Anne, I need to stay healthy.

With that said, here is a brief overview of my current take on nutrition:

Americans get too much sugar and too little fiber.

Sugar here is crazy. I was looking at a fruit bar recently, and it has almost half the daily recommended added sugar. One fruit bar!

I’m not a “keto” person, but I think that simple carbohydrates are a leading cause of why Americans are so fat. When we eat these carbs (sugars, white flour), our insulin spikes and the body decides to stock that energy away in fat.

Complex carbs – whole grains – don’t seem to trigger an insulin spike.

From this article:

obesity rates remain at historic highs, despite a persistent focus on eating less and moving more, as guided by the energy balance model (EBM). This public health failure may arise from a fundamental limitation of the EBM itself. Conceptualizing obesity as a disorder of energy balance restates a principle of physics without considering the biological mechanisms that promote weight gain. An alternative paradigm, the carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM), proposes a reversal of causal direction. According to the CIM, increasing fat deposition in the body—resulting from the hormonal responses to a high-glycemic-load diet—drives positive energy balance.

Obviously, this isn’t to say exercise isn’t important, just that we can’t eat a high-glycemic-load diet and expect to stay optimally fit.

This is probably why people who go paleo (keto / Atkins / whatever is the label these days) often lose some weight. It isn’t that all carbs are bad, just the simple ones that are everywhere. Try to cut all carbs and you’ll cut the bad ones. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater, it would seem, but helpful in a way (no screaming baby).

So the first takeaway (after "do a diversity of exercises") is: Avoid sugar and other simple carbs.

I’m not sure what I think about fat. It seems there is a difference between eating five grams of fat in an avocado vs those same grams of fat in margarine. Is it just accompanying fiber? I don't know.

Protein is perhaps the most frustrating nutrient for me. Many (if not most) people justify eating meat as a way to get protein. This has led many (if not most) vegans to lose their minds when it comes to protein. Saying that Americans get too much protein and that broccoli has enough protein are probably some of the stupidest things anyone has ever said.


For decades and decades, a huge swath of vegetarians has waged war on protein. And people in the U.S. eat more protein than ever. 

People like protein. They crave protein. They expect it and are satisfied by it.

Vegans shouldn’t try to make protein the enemy. People love protein and hate animal cruelty. So rather than flail at protein, push on the animal side! (I started drinking this Evolve high-protein drink when my jaw was wired shut after I broke my neck and smashed my face.)

If we want to make a difference for animals, the foods we promote need to be what non-vegans are looking for, not what we prefer. Tasty, easy, satisfying, cheap.

Sorry – this was meant to be about nutrition and ended up another anti-vegan rant. Not very mindful!

In short: Cut out sugar and other simple carbs. Increase fiber and protein. If you can, exercise as much as you can. PS: Eat slowly. Food these days is so good (and generally so calorie-dense) that we can consume a lot of extra calories before our body can signal satiety.

No. Seriously: NO!

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