I know I’ve made fun of nutritionists and health writers in the past, but I have to admit most of them possess an unusual skill: they can listen to a true-life story about weight loss and hear exactly what they want to hear, instead of what actually happened.
That skill became apparent after I read this story on the MSNBC web site and watched the accompanying video clip from The Today Show. Before we get into the details, let me summarize the how the story was covered:
“Today we’re talking to Cindy Dominick, who lost 130 pounds and went from a size 24 to a size 6. Cindy, how did you lose such an amazing amount of weight?”
“I walked a lot and cut all the sugar and starch out of my diet.”
“Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen … proof once again that a low-calorie diet and exercise will make you thin!”
Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad. Cindy Dominick didn’t state directly that she’d given up sugar and starch, but it’s pretty obvious if 1) you listen to her describe her new diet and 2) you have a functioning brain. But as usual, whoever wrote the story managed to pound a round peg into a square hole and blame fatty foods for causing obesity. Take a look at this quote:
At 285 pounds, Cindy was certainly aware of her size, but felt hopeless about controlling her eating habits. She never felt satisfied by three meals and she’d often catch herself snacking on fatty fast food like fried chicken, McDonald’s fries or take-out pizza. She’d then top it off with a king-size Snickers bar.
Are those fatty foods? Yup. But they’re also loaded with refined carbohydrates.
If you eat a 12-inch pizza (which isn’t difficult for a fat person; I’ve done it many times) you can easily consume 200 grams of starch. A large order of fries delivers 25 grams of fat, but more than 60 grams of carbohydrates. Fried chicken isn’t particularly starchy, but if you snarf down three pieces of KFC extra crispy, you can still end up consuming 50 grams of starch from the batter.
And I found this part of the quote rather illuminating: She never felt satisfied by three meals …
I can assure you from both personal experience and from the research I read while producing Fat Head that anyone who isn’t satisfied with three meals is almost certainly consuming a lot of carbohydrates. The insulin spike that results from a high-carb meal causes your body to store calories, either as glycogen or fat. With the calories locked in storage, you soon run out of fuel and feel hungry again.
This doesn’t happen with meals that are mostly protein and fat. Or as Dr. Mike Eades put it during our first interview, “Nobody ever binges on steak. Nobody ever binges on eggs.”
This quote was also interesting:
Soon she was taking medications for blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol and acid reflux. Tired from being overmedicated – and concerned after her home state had been named the fattest in the nation – Cindy put on her sneakers and started walking.
Let’s see … high blood pressure, asthma and acid reflux. What could possibly cause those conditions?
Acid reflux can have a number of causes, including food allergies, but sugar and starch will do the trick for a lot of people. In fact, starch alone can cause reflux. When I was a starch-eating vegetarian, I didn’t consume sugar at all (I at least knew that was bad for me), but I still had acid reflux now and then. I also had asthma, which disappeared – along with the reflux – when I cut back on starch. And chronically high insulin is known to cause chronically high blood pressure, along with a host of other horrors.
To her credit, Joy Bauer of the Joy Fit Club pointed out the high amount of sugar Cindy Dominick consumed when she was 130 pounds heavier. But of course, she also had to bring out the butter sticks to demonstrate the high fat content.
Fat doesn’t make you hungry. Fat makes you feel full – unless you mix it with carbohydrates, which causes the fat to be stored instead of burned for fuel.
(I always wonder what they do with the butter props after they tape a segment like this. Since the hosts seem to think butter is the nutritional equivalent of a loaded gun, I’m pretty sure they don’t take it home. One of the kids could find it and suffer a tragic butter incident – like taking a bite and realizing it’s delicious.)
Fortunately, Cindy Dominick herself provided a clue to the real cause of her admirable weight loss when she described her current diet as “grilled and green.” Unless she’s grilling bread and potatoes, that means she’s living on a low-carb diet. Her insulin levels have surely plummeted since the time when she was filling up on pizza and French fries, so when she takes those long walks, her body can burn fat for fuel.
Too bad nobody at MSNBC or The Today Show managed to figure that out. The readers and viewers might’ve learned something useful.