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Intermittent fasting: Nutritionist discusses methods for weight loss – TODAY

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March 13, 2019, 2:01 PM GMT / Source: TODAY

By Madelyn Fernstrom

While intermittent fasting for weight loss has received a lot of celebrity attention, it might surprise you to know it’s been around for decades. Strategies like delaying breakfast or not eating after 7 p.m. are effective ways to limit the amount of time spent eating, thus saving calories, resulting in weight loss. Both of these options result in a period of food restriction of about 12–16 hours — an intermittent fast. And while this might sound extreme — you’re likely asleep for at least half of it.

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Evidence continues to mount that intermittent fasting for weight loss can work for the long term, if it’s a plan that connects with you. By making healthy food choices, intermittent fasting can be a safe and effective weight-loss tool for both the short and long term. In fact, this term “intermittent fasting” might be better referred to as “intermittent eating,” because it’s not about deprivation, it’s about boosting mindful eating and a new relationship with food.

Intermittent fasting won’t automatically make you a healthier eater, and will only promote weight loss if fewer calories are consumed weekly, over time.

The types of intermittent fasting diets:

The two main ways to do this are by time-restricted eating (choosing an up to 12-hour period of eating daily) and a 5:2 plan (two days of limited calories of about 500 calories, and moderate intake on the other five).

Like any weight-loss plan, always check with your doctor before making any significant changes in your eating, especially if you have a chronic illness, or take prescription medication. And the ease of intermittent fasting is that you can choose from any balanced eating plan from WW to vegan because you are only modifying the times for eating, not the actual foods.

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Why intermittent fasting works:

Whatever plan appeals to you, here are some top reasons why this approach can help reduce daily caloric intake:

  • Reconnects you with true, biological hunger (not emotional, “head” hunger)
  • Makes it easier to recognize contentment and fullness, to stop eating sooner
  • Provides daily structure
  • Breaks the habit of snacking and all-day “grazing”
  • Helps you accept the slight discomfort of being a little hungry

And the downside? It’s always possible to “eat around” either plan, and overeat at certain times, cancelling out any calorie savings and weight loss. But at the same time, learning a mindful approach to eating will help keep you on track.

Here is some simple advice to optimize time-restricted intermittent fasting for weight loss:

  • Choose the most realistic 8-12-hour eating period
  • Aim to stop your evening eating by 9 p.m. (or at least two hours before bedtime)
  • Pre-plan your eating intervals for at least two meals
  • Limit snacking (two snacks per day, if desired)
  • Be mindful of portion size
  • Stay hydrated with low-calorie beverages
  • Be flexible: Choose a snack of 100-200 calories if you get physical signs of hunger (headache, light-headed)
  • Consume a varied diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of lean protein, healthy fats, low or non-fat dairy; add whole grains if including starchy carbohydrates
  • Choose produce as the primary source of carbohydrates, limiting starchy carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and cereal
  • Allow yourself a “treat” food daily of around 100 calories

If you’re interested in following the 5:2 plan, here is advice to make it more manageable:

  • Focus primarily on lean protein (eggs, fish, low-fat dairy, poultry, lean red meat) on the low-calorie days
  • Be mindful on your “standard eating” days
  • Maintain structure to avoid overeating
  • Aim for three meals; snacks are optional and limited to two per day
  • Choose a varied eating strategy similar to the time-restricted plan
  • Ease into the restricted days, to find your optimal amount of daily calories (it might be 600 or 700 calories)
  • Stay hydrated with low-calorie liquids
  • Be flexible if physical hunger strikes (headache, light headed, fatigue) and choose a 100-200-calorie snack

Intermittent fasting works best if you are already a healthy eater, and want some structure to eat smaller portions less often. If you’re are a grazer or snacker and want to consolidate and compress your eating, it can also be a good option. Finally, if you’re not in touch with your body’s hunger and fullness signals, intermittent fasting could be a good way to reconnect with your hunger cues.

Remember that this plan will work best for weight loss if you are already making smart, nutrient-rich choices. If you’re not a particularly healthy eater, it’s better to make dietary changes and practice those before adjusting the timing of your eating.

This plan is most definitely not for you if you have anxiety over periods of complete food restriction (and low-calorie drinks don’t help), or have not been cleared by your doctor to give it a try.

If intermittent fasting sounds appealing to you, including the caveats, there’s no harm in trying. As with all weight-loss plans, it will work for some, but not all, people. And, if after a few weeks you find it’s not a good fit for you, then switch to something more compatible with your eating style.

Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is the NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.

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Man revealed how he lost almost three stone and shed belly fat for six pack abs – Express

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The weight loss diet plan followed by a Reddit user who goes by the name ‘UFStriker’ has been revealed in detail online.

He has achieved an incredible amount of weight loss, resulting in an amazing transformation.

UFStriker told internet users he was losing weight for his wedding.

He sweetly said: “She was with me when I was skinny, and as I gained weight. I just decided that I wanted to be my best self for her.”

READ MORE: Man reveals how he lost almost three stone and shed belly fat for six pack abs following this diet plan 

So, the man told Reddit users he followed to rules to help his transform his body.

He said: “As far as working out goes, I lost the bulk of my weight by doing two things: 1) working out on a recumbent bike for 45 mins to 1 hr every single day and 2) Just flat out eating better.”

So exactly what did the man eat he revealed he didn’t follow a strict plan, but instead some general rules.

He said: “I wish I could say that I followed a specific diet but I really didn’t.

“Instead of eating huge lunches, I stuck exclusively to Lean Cuisines or Oatmeal.”

He cut out all sugar from his diet, a keto diet strategy to shed pounds.

“I gave up basically all sugar (soda, sweet tea were the big ones), and all food that you would consider ‘bad’ (all takeout, fast food, fried food) for the first four to five months and ate basically veggies and lean chicken/ turkey/fish,” he said.

“I never really had any cravings, and I only cheated one real day. My body did not like this now ‘foreign’ food so it punished me dearly which also made it easier to stay away.

“I now have cheat days and eat whatever sounds good but for the most part I still keep to a regiment and I LOVE VEGGIES now.

“Once I felt that I had lost enough weight, I started working out.”

When it comes to the gym the man revealed he didn’t have any set strategy in mind, and just rotated through gym machines every day.

He said: “Eventually, I got more interested in lifting and started doing a PPL split.”

This means he varied between two styles of workouts each day. On one day he does ‘pull exercises’ and on the two next days he does ‘push exercises’.

He added: “Finally, I’m not really a big believer in the count every calorie/maintain your macros/write down your lifts.

“I’m sure this can min/max your regiment but for the most part I just always try to keep myself accountable and try to do something good every day. I’m a firm believer of doing something, anything is always beneficial so just try to make an effort every day.”

Another man revealed the weight loss diet he followed to shed weight. 

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Dubrow Diet – What To Know About Heather Dubrow's Interval Eating Plan – Women's Health

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Celebrities and diet trends go together like brunch and mimosas. Stars including Halle Berry, Kelly Clarkson, and the Kardashians have taken to social media to share the (sometimes healthy, sometimes not so much) weight-loss approaches they use when they want to get strong and fit.

Some celebs, though, really go the extra mile and don’t just tell fans about whatever diet they’re currently following, but actually create and sell their very own diet plans. Case in point: Real Housewives of Orange County personality Heather Dubrow, the latest A-lister to pen a diet book that promises *big* weight-loss results.

Dubrow (an actress, podcast host, and business entrepreneur) wrote The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating to Lose Weight and Feel Ageless with her plastic surgeon husband, Terry Dubrow, MD(known for his show Botched). Not only does the TV couple claim their system can help you lose weight, it can also supposedly tighten your skin, promote hair growth, and give you energy.

But does the Dubrow Diet actually work, and is the plan in the book safe? Here’s the lowdown on the diet and whether or not it’s worth your time, with expert input from registered dietitians.

What does the Dubrow Diet entail?

The Dubrows centered this three-phase diet plan around the notion that when you eat is just as important as what you eat. The concept the Dubrows implemented is something they refer to as “interval eating”—meaning you consume your calories within a certain window of time—paired with a low-calorie diet. The windows that you’re instructed to eat within range from 12 to 16 hours depending on what phase of the diet you’re in. The first is a quick start phase, followed by a goal weight phase, and, finally, a maintenance phase. The plan also incorporates “cheat” days and meals throughout.

What are the three phases, exactly? Here’s the general rundown, though the book gets much more specific depending on how much weight you’re aiming to lose per week:

  • Phase one: This period is all about kick-starting your weight loss by fasting for 16 hours a day for about five days. For example, you might only eat between the hours of 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., an 8-hour window. Also, the eating is pretty restrictive (i.e. no alcohol or simple carbs).
  • Phase two: You’re in phase two until you reach your goal weight, and you can achieve this in different ways depending on how quickly you want to hit your goal. You might do a 12-hour fast five days a week and a 16-hour fast two days a week, for example. The foods you eat are pretty similar to those of phase one.
  • Phase three: You generally continue to follow the phase-two plan indefinitely, but you may incorporate a cheat meal now that you’re used to the plan and in maintenance mode.

    If you’re intimidated by the term “interval eating,” don’t be. You’re likely already familiar with the idea, just under another name: intermittent fasting. Although Heather has said that interval eating is different than intermittent fasting (the latter of which makes her think of “skinny, tired people,” she once commented), both involve following an eating schedule that combines periods of fasting with periods of unrestricted eating.

    On the Dubrow Diet page on Heather’s website, she claims that this schedule of eating can lower your insulin, fight chronic inflammation, change your skin, and even activate an anti-aging cellular “self-cleaning” process. In interviews, Dr. Dubrow has previously explained that they performed a clinical trial of 100 people to gauge the diet’s success rate; the average weight loss, he said, was 44 pounds.

    As far as what you eat goes: The Dubrows don’t provide specific meals per se, but they do offer lists of food suggestions and emphasize consuming quality foods, like protein, veggies, and fruits. They also suggest calorie intakes, which change as you cycle through the phases. For instance, you’re pretty restricted in the beginning phase, eating around 1,000 to 1,200 calories, but eventually you can work in carbs, sugar, and alcohol again once you’re in maintenance mode and have found your groove and the rules have become more second nature for you.

    Dubrow Diet reviews are mixed.

    Honestly, lots of reviewers aren’t exactly loving it. Not necessarily because the diet structure doesn’t work (some Amazon reviewers did report having success on the plan), but because the Dubrows’ explanation of interval eating is pretty light on useful, novel info.

    For example, one Amazon reviewer called the book mostly “fluff,” and another said that if you’re curious about the Dubrow Diet, just “go to Barnes and Noble and thumb through [the book] for 15 minutes [because] that’s all you need.”

    The other big beef people appear to have? Some individuals feel like the diet doesn’t actually contribute something new or revolutionary to the theory of intermittent fasting for weight loss. The Dubrows acknowledge upfront that their diet is based on research done by Jason Fung, MD, a kidney specialist who has extensively studied intermittent fasting and its effect on helping to control insulin levels, and who also has a book called The Obesity Code that focuses on intermittent fasting as a weight-loss tool. Still, many folks who have shared online reviews appear disappointed that the Dubrow Diet feels to them like a retread of weight-loss recommendations that have been widely circulated for years.

    “This is intermittent fasting. Period. Save your $,” wrote one Amazon reviewer.

    “I think Dubrow is a great doctor and a great guy, but you can’t just slap your name on literally the hottest diet trend for the last two years, and make it your own…It’s called intermittent fasting,” another reviewer said.

    Okay, so the concept behind the Dubrow Diet may not feel new. But can it still help me lose weight?

    Ehhhhhh…maybe. The science surrounding intermittent fasting in general does show promise, though it’s still emerging, says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area.

    “The research behind intermittent fasting is still preliminary, especially when you take into account long-term weight loss,” she says. That being said, “There’s been research to show that certain types of fasting may help people with weight or fat loss, but there is only limited research on time-restricted fasting,” Gorin explains.

    It’s also important to consider that the research on intermittent fasting varies as far as how the experiments are set up, what eating-fasting schedules are looked at, and the participants involved. There also isn’t a ton of research showing indisputable weight and fat loss effects in humans just yet (a lot of intermittent fasting research has been done in animals). So, it’s hard to say just how effective intermittent fasting is and over what period of time for weight loss specifically.

    Take this 2018 study, published in Nutrition and Healthy Aging, as just one example: When 23 obese subjects were put on an 8-hour time-restricted eating schedule for 12 weeks, they saw some minor decreases in both body weight and blood pressure. But you have to keep in mind that is a super small sample size, and the results could also be different in a sample of individuals of different weights or health profiles, or using a time-restricted eating schedule of a different length.

    This is not to say that intermittent fasting can’t be an effective weight-loss approach for some (save for the fact that it may feel pretty strict and limiting), but more research is needed to solidify how and why.

    In regards to the Dubrows’ food tips, Gorin was pleased to see some of the recommendations the couple wrote. Complex carbs, vegetables, and fruit are all included, plus the plan allows for some alcohol in the later phases (which Gorin says can make the plan easier to stick to!). Amanda Baker Lemein, RD, MS, also thinks the diet could work for people who need to curb their snacking and grazing habits.

    That being said, Lemein personally isn’t sold on the concept of time-restricted fasting in general—or the Dubrow Diet’s lack of guidance around how many calories you’re actually supposed to consume from each food group. Other than non-starchy vegetables, you can’t really eat any foods in unlimited amounts and expect to lose weight, she points out: “Almost all other foods need to be consumed in proper portion sizes, [and] this is much more important than the time of day you eat.” (FWIW, the Dubrows explain that they don’t want the reader to be daunted by counting every calorie and macro.)

    Gorin also raises concerns about the caloric guidelines in the Dubrow Diet, specifically during the first two phases when you might only be consuming 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day. “Cutting calories down this low might cause you to not feel very good (think irritability and potential mood swings),” she says. “It would also be extremely difficult to reach your daily needs for specific vitamins and minerals with such a restricted intake.”

    Finally, Gorin warns that the Dubrow Diet is probably not a good fit for anyone with a history of disordered eating because of its restrictive nature.

    If you want to lose weight, you’re probably better off taking advice from a registered dietitian over your fave Real Housewife.

    Intermittent fasting might be a legit way to lose weight for some people, but it seems that the Dubrows’ attempt to repackage it as a buzzy new trend called “interval eating” was underwhelming to some people who sampled the plan or at least explored the book.

    And the bigger issue is that Gorin and Lemein aren’t convinced that a diet marketed the way this one is—with lots of strict rules and so much wording that focuses on aesthetic goals (i.e. summer is coming! red carpet ready!)—can lead to long-term weight loss.

    “It seems like the book focuses a good amount on appearance, like getting bikini ready, and I’ve found with clients that the most successful weight loss happens when it’s done for health benefits,” says Gorin. “Outward appearance does not always end up being the best motivator when it comes to sustainable health changes.”

    Lemein echoes that sentiment, and also points out that you need to consider the source of the information: the well-meaning but arguably under-qualified Dubrows. “Working with a registered dietitian is always the best bet for creating lasting lifestyle changes,” she says. “They are the only credentialed nutrition experts recognized by the scientific and medical communities…to address dietary needs and restrictions.”

    If you are curious about giving time-restricted eating a try, talk to a registered dietitian to hash out whether or not a structured eating plan like that makes sense for you and your health.

    Sarah Bradley is a freelance writer from Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and three sons.

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    What Is The Carnivore Diet? Inside the All-Meat Meal Plan – menshealth.com

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    This is a story about human carnivores—people who believe that the best diet is one composed only of meat. No bread or potatoes. No salads. Definitely no kale. Just animal flesh. Or, in the case of the infamous Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson and his daughter, Mikhaila, just beef, salt, water, and the occasional glass of bourbon.

    “I know how ridiculous it sounds,” Mikhaila says. But that’s how the carnivore diet began, with people like her concluding that the standard nutritional advice wasn’t working for them. Mikhaila now credits her all-meat diet with easing her debilitating autoimmune conditions, fatigue, and depression. Her father, too, claims he has lost more than 45 pounds since he began following his daughter’s lead. He says he now feels magnificent, even if the diet is “dull as hell,” and he has turned into a vocal supporter of the plan.

    When you mention this meat-only diet to an omnivore or herbivore, their reactions tend to fall somewhere between disbelief and anger. And understandably so: Your hogwash-o-meter is on high alert when it comes to celebrity-endorsed miracle cures, and Jordan Peterson’s “cow plan” sounds like the bullshit bull’s-eye. After all, if vegans are associated in the popular imagination with environmentalism, progressive causes, the Left, and compassion, carnivores must surely stand for the opposite, right?

    It sounds like a parody diet for climate-change-denying, coal-rolling, gun-toting, toxically masculine (ahem) meatheads. Such is the age we live in—nothing just stands for itself. And so, in a weird way, this is also a story about science and ideology, carbs and fat, and the ever-fuzzy line between healthy skepticism and conspiracy theory.

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    The Carnivores Rise

    If there’s one guy who personifies the meat-only lifestyle, it’s Shawn Baker, a 52-year-old former orthopedic surgeon based in Albuquerque. He’s a beast—a six-foot-five rugby-playing powerlifter who eats about four pounds of steak per day. Through his commitment to eating carnivore, Baker has become something of a leader for the nutritionally disenchanted. Profanity-studded, pro-meat screeds are common across his social-media accounts.

    “Those who were going carnivore ten years ago did so because they’d been chronically sick,” he says. “They had been vegetarian and vegan. They had been on all kinds of medication. This was the only thing that worked for them.” Baker sells books and diet plans to would-be carnivores. He’s ripped like a cartoon henchman. Maybe that’s why people are listening, despite the fact that he lost his medical license in 2017 due to incompetence and for “failing to report an adverse action,” according to the New Mexico Medical Board. Baker, to his credit, does say that a meat-only diet is not for everyone and stresses that those who are interested in trying it should do their own research.

    Intriguingly, some of these carnivore-diet followers report that they used to be vegan, having tried various food-elimination regimens to address an illness or persistent weight gain.

    What’s helping this meat tribe bond is the Internet, the destination where people with niche interests usually find one another. A computer scientist named L. Amber O’Hearn blogs extensively about the subject at empiri.ca. Her tagline is “Eat meat. Not too little. Mostly fat.” (It’s a nice spin on Michael Pollan’s advice from his 2008 book, In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”) But where the carnivore community really comes together is on Reddit, with forums like /r/zerocarb (which has around 84,000 subscribers) and/r/carnivore (6,900 subscribers).

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    On these message boards, the carnivorous help each other troubleshoot issues like constipation and proper hydration, as well as share success stories about losing weight and overcoming irritable bowel syndrome. Intriguingly, some of these carnivore-diet followers report that they used to be vegan, having tried various food-elimination regimens to address an illness or persistent weight gain.

    “Carnivore diet” was also one of the top diet searches of 2018, according to Google search reports, and the term started trending last summer after Jordan Peterson appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. One listener was Luke Irving, 29, an /r/zerocarb member, swim instructor, and former personal trainer. “Before going carnivore, I considered myself relatively healthy,” he says. “I would work out a lot and eat a diverse range of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and lean cuts of meat. I basically flipped my old way of eating upside down.”

    Irving says hearing Peterson’s story sparked his interest in the carnivore diet, since the message ran against the traditional nutrition guidelines that he had been taught and followed all of his adult life. Irving admits that although he was living a supposedly healthy lifestyle, inside he didn’t feel great, pointing to mild depression, anxiety, and bloating, among other ailments.

    While some carnivores, like Irving, quit all non-meat overnight, others ease into it by trying the ketogenic diet first. “Keto” is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that was originally designed to treat epilepsy in children. More recently, it has gained a cult following among factions of the fitness community.

    When deprived of carbohydrates, your body switches its energy supply from glycogen to ketones, which are derived from the breakdown of fat. Many people lose weight on the keto diet, and its advocates claim that it lessens the symptoms of a suite of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes, though the scientific consensus doesn’t back those effects. Keto comes with significant risks—nutrient deficiencies and disordered eating—and is hard to maintain.

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    Irving went full meat last October and says he’s experienced mostly positive changes. He’s lost weight. He feels better when he exercises. He’s less socially anxious. But he’s also been sick with cold-like symptoms several times over the past two months and says he isn’t sure whether this new susceptibility to illness is part of the “adaptation phase” or something else.

    A typical day of eating for him involves a ten-egg omelet reinforced with heavy cream plus salmon cooked in butter for breakfast and about five to six quarter-pound burger patties with cheese for dinner. (He skips lunch.) “I accept a variety of meats and organs for dinner, but it’s usually beef,” he says. Like many others on the all-meat eating regimen, Irving says he was surprised that the diet appears to be working and that he feels great overall. That said, “in the first four to five weeks of being on this diet, my GI tract had trouble processing the abundance of fat I was giving it,” he says. Beyond six weeks, however, the symptoms abated.

    Still, anecdotes like Irving’s are not data. There simply isn’t rigorous, long-term scientific research on the carnivore diet yet. But with unprecedented levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes in America, skeptics wonder if the current approaches to nutrition are even the right ones to follow. Hence, all these people who eat only meat.

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    But Is It Good for You?

    The carnivore eating regimen, by all traditional nutrition standards, is entirely out of whack. For comparison’s sake, the ketogenic diet requires that 75 percent of your daily macronutrients come from fat sources (avocados, salmon, bacon, etc.), 20 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbohydrates. “Even keto or Atkins—as limited as they are—still include vegetables, and you can still have some low-sugar fruits,” says Abby Langer, R.D., a Toronto-based dietitian. “But the philosophy of carnivore is that carbs, fruits, and vegetables aren’t healthy.

    “Yes, you’ll lose a lot of weight,” she continues. “But that’s because you’re cutting out every other food except for protein.” Research shows that eating 25 to 30 grams of protein can help you fill up faster during a meal and feel full for longer after you’ve finished it. So eating only meat may reduce your total caloric intake significantly due to these factors, says Langer, which may lead to weight loss. But just because a diet helps you lose weight doesn’t mean it’s healthy, she says. In fact, it may be downright unhealthy—and quite possibly dangerous.

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    For example, going without fruits and vegetables would limit your intake of vitamin C, an essential nutrient your body can’t produce. Not eating enough vitamin C means that you’ll miss the nutrient’s powerful disease-fighting antioxidants, and you may put yourself at risk of scurvy.

    And then there is the absence of fiber, a type of carbohydrate known for decreasing your risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Carnivores believe that by not eating any carbs, they don’t have to worry about spikes in blood sugar. But, Langer explains, “even if you’re not taking sugar in, it still doesn’t mean that your blood sugar is going to be nonexistent.” Plus, she says, “fiber nourishes gut bacteria, and we’re just learning how our gut bacteria may be responsible for everything from our immune-system status to our mood.” And anyone who has ever seen a Metamucil commercial knows that fiber helps with your regularity.

    Brian St. Pierre, R.D., C.S.C.S., director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition, takes issue with the way the diet is being hyped. “When you think about ‘eating like a man,’ what are the connotations of that statement? It’s eating red meat, having a steak. They’re somehow attaching their eating choices to their manliness, their virility, their powerfulness.”

    “The current state of muscle-building research suggests that the carnivore diet would actually be suboptimal when it comes to muscle building.”

    Even if the diet is about virility, it’s far from clear that a carnivorous lifestyle actually maketh the man.

    Just consider the athletes and ironmen whose diet includes plants—basically, all of them—making it hard for carnivores to claim, as some will, that their own diet is the only route to absolute physical prowess. As it turns out, they may actually have it all backward. “To think that you can’t build muscle while eating plants is a misnomer and a straw-man argument,” emphasizes St. Pierre. “The current state of muscle-building research suggests that the carnivore diet would actually be suboptimal when it comes to muscle building. Now, folks can still gain muscle mass eating this way, but on average or compared to intelligent omnivorous eating, it would likely be less effective.”

    Yet carnivore-diet Reddit forums abound with glowing testimonials and photographic evidence of men who report leaning down after adopting an all-meat diet. And Baker, he’s proud to report, is very happy with his regularity.

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    “It’s always important to not outright dismiss approaches,” says St. Pierre. “There can always be nuggets of validity even if there are elements that are unsavory or untrue. So yes, there could be some viability to [the carnivore diet] for some people, particularly if they suffer from GI issues that plants might aggravate. For a small subset, a very small subset of people, maybe it works. Do I think that’s broadly applicable, that the arguments made are broadly applicable to wide swaths of the population? No. I don’t think the research supports that.”

    The Planetary Debate

    Then there’s the environment. A much-cited report published in Nature claims that greedy Westerners must cut beef consumption by 90 percent in order to reverse climate change. If cattle rearing is destroying the planet, a lack of vitamin C may well prove to be the least of your concerns.

    Regardless of how you feel about the future of the planet, you need to consider how the carnivore diet fits into our history as meat eaters. Eating only meat challenges the whole idea of what it is to be human. It suggests that humans may have taken a wrong turn with the development of agriculture. This claim has been levied against keto and paleo and contends that a diet based entirely (or almost entirely) on meat and protein bucks basic evolutionary logic.

    Shawn Baker, the unofficial carnivore king, argues that given the choice between killing a nutrient- and calorie-rich mammoth that would feed a family for weeks and scrabbling around for nuts and berries, an Ice Age hunter-gatherer would invariably have chosen the mammoth. This may be true, but not all hunter-gatherers had access to meat, let alone mammoths. There’s also evidence indicating that humans were consuming grain long before the so-called agricultural revolution—like tens of thousands of years before.

    “If humans had evolved to be pure meat eaters, we would have the digestive system of a carnivore, which we do not. We have the digestive system of an omnivore, someone who will eat a mixed diet.”

    “When you actually look at paleolithic research, there is no such thing as a paleolithic diet,” says St. Pierre. Early humans ate what was available based on where they lived. They didn’t have the choices of modern carnivores and had to consume what they could in order to live and reproduce.

    And they weren’t just eating meat. “If humans had evolved to be pure meat eaters, we would have the digestive system of a carnivore, which we do not. We have the digestive system of an omnivore, someone who will eat a mixed diet.”

    There are the obvious external anatomical differences, too, including the size of your jaw muscles and, of course, the shape of your teeth. Though you have incisors meant for cutting meat, your molars are squared, designed for chewing. The molars of animal carnivores are sharply serrated compared with those of humans.

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    “Humans can exist on a wide variety of diets,” says Timothy Spector, M.D., a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College London and author of The Diet Myth. “Some have adapted to eat high-meat diets, such as the Inuit, Maasai, or Mongolian people. But most don’t tolerate it.” There is, after all, a huge chasm between low-carb and nothing but meat.

    To suggest that humans somehow evolved while eating only (or even primarily) meat would be anthropologically inaccurate. To then suggest, as carnivores might, that humans somehow took a “wrong turn” along the path of evolution, well, that would be to claim something else entirely. Evolution doesn’t care about right or wrong; evolution cares about survival.

    Gut Reactions

    The Carnivore Diet seems to somehow defy logic and science. Even some carnivore redditors are complaining that ever since Jordan Peterson came out as a supporter, a certain “madness” has descended on what was once a quirky little community. Many of the more bizarre posts link to a YouTuber named Sv3rige, who makes videos about his experiments with feasting on raw meat and drinking pigs’ blood. Sv3rige’s channel also spouts flat-earth conspiracies.

    Various carnivores suspect that the movement has been infiltrated by Russian disinformation bots. The idea that many of the more extreme carnivore-diet posts are “fake” isn’t so far-fetched: Russian trolls were discovered to have been spreading antivaccination theories in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. The wider aim seems to have been to undermine faith in experts and to foster division. This theory plays into a current thread of distrust in science and the government.

    All the extremity is a sign of uncertain times, explains Langer: “It says that we’re getting to a point where the more extreme, the better, and that we revere things like strength and willpower.” But people are also looking for comfort, she adds. The carnivore community, like any subculture, provides a sense of belonging, of being in the right, of knowing more than the experts. “It’s become antiestablishment,” says Langer. “[Carnivores] think that plants are like a symbol of the establishment. And then they want to distance themselves from that.”

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    One recent Reddit discussion centered on such doubts. Even if, anecdotally, many carnivores feel better, shouldn’t the reality that their diet contradicts all of the established advice give us pause? “I think doubts are a sign of healthy skepticism,” came one reply. “This goes entirely against what is currently considered healthy by the vast majority of people. . . . That said, my doubts are very small. When I was eating what my doctor told me to, I felt terrible: gut pain, bloating, low energy, brain fog, heartburn, and high blood pressure. Now I’m eating exactly the opposite, and I feel incredible. . . . I’ll never go back to eating how I used to.”

    In these modern times of uncertainty, it seems that some people, fueled by frustrations that come from following the standard and falling short, are ever more willing to trust their gut.

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