Author: Clyde Wilson

The power of nutritional common sense

It makes sense that typical dieting ultimately causes weight gain. The body is an engine. Fall short on anything maintaining the engine and it sputters, meaning metabolism drops. When our car’s fuel tank empties or an engine part fails, we supply what is needed to keep it going. Pushing harder on the pedal to keep going won’t help, and yet that is what the calorie-balance concept tells us to do with our bodies: if cutting calories and exercise doesn’t work, diet and exercise harder. This disregards how our body responds to starvation, shutting down its own metabolism to work against us. Unlike our car, our body still has some function when metabolism drops (a car just stops), but weight loss becomes difficult to impossible. The 500-Calorie metabolic suppression per day 6 years after being on the “Biggest Loser” television show mirrors the pattern in modern hunter-gatherers where food is periodically scarce. It is the relative nutrient supply compared to the body’s needs that determines metabolism. Overfilling your car’s gas tank spills gas onto the pavement, and overfilling your body spills calories into fat. But the opposite extreme of insufficient fuel keeps both a car and your body from operating well. The body has sophisticated ways of shutting down to maintain most every-day functions, so you don’t even realize how hard it is fighting your weight loss unless you get...

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Coconut Conundrum

The American Heart Association Presidential Advisory Board recently published a new scientific review and recommendations for dietary fat intake, including a recommendation against the consumption of coconut oil.  This has lead to a flurry of newspaper articles with headlines such as “Coconut oil worse for you than butter and beef dripping” (The Independent). I agree that most oils of any kind on the market are highly processed and therefore oxidized and unhealthy compared to oils the way they were produced hundred of years ago (and still are in traditional environments). So I agree that oil is in general reduces health unless of the artisanal type consumed in Mediterranean villages with no supermarkets in sight, or from small local olive farms purchased at your local Farmer’s market. HOWEVER, the AHA is not taking into account all of the evidence when concluding that replacing animal fats with vegetable oils increases health. In fact, there is significant evidence going back half a century that the opposite is true. Eggs were recently taken off of the “bad food list” by the US Government as reported by the same newspapers in 2015: “Cholesterol U-turn as research shows fatty foods might not be bad for us after all” (this example again from The Independent). Part of the problem of this discussion is its combining three separate issues into one debate. First, overeating in general accelerates...

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Relax, but don’t “Super Relax” to drive metabolic rate

Keenan Mayo emailed me this morning to ask about my recent research on metabolism. His upcoming book with David Zinczenko entitled “The Super Metabolism Diet” claims you can “lose up to 20 pounds in four weeks with a scientifically proven and rigorously tested eating plan that will torch fat and ignite your body’s fuel furnace.” This sounds a bit commercial, but I appreciate his interest in science and am happy to help anyone in their quest for understanding. What follows is my email back to him: The motor protein “myosin” that binds to and pulls on actin to shorten muscle is a major contributor to metabolism by the mere fact that this is the basis of muscle metabolism.  On a side note: the metabolism i.e. amount of calories expended maintaining excitation (the nerve and within the muscle itself) is likely as high as the calories burned to generate force, so you cannot simply say that generating force account for all or even most of the metabolism associated with movement. In any case, different species, disease states, and fed versus starvation states regulate how much of myosin is “shut off” in the super-relaxed state (“SRX”) to conserve energy.  Since myosin binding to its own thick-filament backbone (“shut off”) reduces muscle metabolism by as much as an order of magnitude compared to when it is in the regular relaxed state, this...

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Our nutrition parachute

We are born with a reward response to sugar, fat, calories, and the more the better. Our food industry provides us a little TLC (tasty, low-cost, and convenient food) to satisfy this drug response in our brain. Eating has thus evolved into a series of drug hits to momentarily relieve our tense busy schedules with brief necessary food pauses so we can go on. The World Health Organization tells us we have globally crossed over into more disease from non-communicable diseases than communicable, mainly associated with eating refined foods and animal products. Thus, our busy excuses have ballooned both waste lines and onto the global scale. Wholesome foods are for moments when we can pause to think about genuinely taking care of ourselves, the environment, and future humanity. But pausing in our day is a luxury, and we succumb to food-as-drug because we want or need some quick TLC to keep us going. Being confronted with the extra body fat, together with the personal and global disease risk, might lead to eating wholesome foods half the time with great effort, but what about the other half? It turns out we have a parachute to slow the digestion of junk and fast food without eliminating it or even reducing it in our lives. In 2011, research showed that eating vegetables before carbs lead to dramatically better metabolism (insulin sensitivity) in...

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