It's been a while since I posted about a book of the week and not because I wasn't reading anything. Far from it. I've been listening to quite a few books lately so I'll try to post more about it and today I want to start with a book that completely changed my life in the last 3 months... and it's about eating, dieting and health... and its contents are contrary to the popular knowledge. The author really explains why we get fat:
When I summarized 2013 I noticed I wanted to lose weight. About 10 lbs (4-5kg) this year to achieve my "perfect bodyweight". You see, three years ago I got chubby. I gained about 10kg (22lbs) to a really alarming weight of 80kg (176 lbs) which at my height (1.68 cm / 5'4) is starting to look pretty bad. I didn't feel great. So I got to work. Over the last three years I started getting in shape: I'm running regularly now, I do fitness training, I eat healthier... and I started to feel I was in the best shape of my life... but I only managed to go down to 74kg (163lbs) and not much below that. Of course, with fitness training and running my muscles got heavier, but still, I could tell I had still too much fat in my body. Then I read this book "Why We Get Fat?" by Gary Taubes... changed my habits and in 2.5 months of 2014 I managed to achieve my perfect weight of 67kg (147lbs), which is about 13kg (30lbs) less than where I was 3 years ago. And I keep maintaining this weight. Here's why this book changed my eating habits so much:
Calories IN vs calories OUT is a myth
The author of the book starts off with debunking a myth that is still alive and happy all over the world: that to lose weight we need to burn more calories than we consume. He writes that not all the calories are created equal and not all the people are created equal - some can eat whatever they want, and will never be fat, some have to watch out for what they eat... and others have to really take care of their diet (my case, unfortunately) or they'll get obese quickly. The first part of the book is pretty long but the author really wants to make his case in showing the reader that really, obesity has nothing to do with calories but with something else.
Conclusion: Stop counting calories. Eat less carbs.
Carbohydrates cause Insulin level to go up and accumulate fat
After the lengthy beginning, the author finally says that it's all carbohydrates' fault - we are fat because we eat carbs. Too many carbs. The so-called "balanced diet" says we should eat 50% of carbs every day and the author states it's way too much. He goes even further saying we really don't need ANY carbs at all to live. It gets even more interesting - he says that conventional wisdom of good fat and bad (saturated) fat is BS and we shouldn't be afraid of eating more meat. And our cholesterol level will not go up.
Conclusion: carbs make insulin level go up and it's the insulin that says to the body: "now let's accumulate fat". If we lower the insulin level by NOT eating carbs, we'll start burning fat for fuel and we'll get leaner.
We should burn fat for fuel, not carbohydrates... and we've been doing this for thousands of years
The author makes the point that people have been living on anima meat and fatty meat at that... for thousands of years. That our history of carbs, refined food and even veggies is pretty short one (only a few hundred years). That's why we should get back "to the roots" and eat more meat, less carbs and we'll be healthier and leaner.
The author, being a scientist, quotes numerous studies done over the last century that support his claim and proves that many of the "common dietary wisdom theories" have actually no scientific proof. Yet we tend to listen to them.
Conclusion: Don't be afraid of eating more fat and meat and protein... while eating less carbs.
Less carbs, more veggies and meat
Honestly I couldn't believe what the author was saying. This made no sense to me at all. The common wisdom was to eat balance diet with carbs, to adhere to the "food pyramid", and count calories. Now this guy comes along and says it's all BS and we've been wrong all along and we should actually eat more meat, more fat, and hardly any carbs and we'll be better... this broke all of my ideas of what a diet for me should mean... but the author has so much compelling evidence and so many good examples, that it was hard for me NOT to believe him. So I had to try something.
"Slow carb diet" test successful!
Based on this book and Tim Ferriss' "4-hour body" book, I decided to give "Slow Carb Diet" a try. It's perfectly aligned with the ideas from this book and I really wanted to be a little leaner and was frustrated I couldn't go lower than my 74kg (163lbs).
Well, I started mid-January with the diet and stopped it mid-March. I will write about the diet a full blog post soon, but just to make my point - in two months I lost 7kg (15lbs) and now I'm leaner than ever. I achieved my perfect weight, feel lighter, leaner, healthier... and have the lowest cholesterol level in my history. And I don't have the longing for carbs and other snacks as much as I used to. Now I reintroduced carbs to my diet but I'm doing it slowly and consciously. I'm really, really happy. And feel I'm in the best shape of my life now. I really like what I see in the mirror now :-)
Check out this book and see for yourself. If you've been counting calories all along, stop. Read the book and you'll see the "common knowledge about diet" doesn't make as much sense as you thought it did.
Question: What's your experience with carbs? Have you tried "slow carb diet yet"? How do you think we get fat?
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- Michael Sliwinski