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May 27, 2009

Health, Food, Fitness Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Mark Sisson has some fun at the expense of fat-free food products. Good lord, what are the people who purchase this stuff thinking? Buy a copy of Mark's startling and excellent (and self-published) health-and-fitness book here.

* Yum-o!

* Double-yum! Incidentally, take a look at the picture the London Times is using to illustrate that story. Why don't American newspapers show a similar degree of playfulness and earthiness?

* Stephan thinks that you might do well to avoid industrial liquid vegetable oils like corn oil, canola oil, and cottonseed oil.

* Was it the invention of cooking that made us human? Razib points to a conversation about this possibility.

* What makes people happy? (Link thanks to visitor Bryan)



UPDATE: Is there any point to doing cardio at all?

posted by Michael at May 27, 2009


That Atlantic article was a huge letdown. Only bought the magazine because our library didn't have the hard copy yet.

It's more of a narrative history of a single project, rather than a discussion of the findings -- not to mention the findings from all the other happiness research.

I mean, it's not rocket science, the human interest value is inherently large, and therefore there's no shortage of quotations from famous authors to fold in. It would be really hard to fuck it up, in the hands of an inquisitive journalist.

I don't want you to "tell the story" of some project -- I want to know what makes us happy! You're better off reading a psychology blogger who has a passing familiarity with the lit.

Posted by: agnostic on May 28, 2009 1:04 AM

certainly there is a great linkage amoung health, food and fitness. For excellent results there should be a perfect balance of these three.

Posted by: Nelson on May 28, 2009 6:54 AM

Living in Colorado, I do cardio so that I can do cardio. Specifically, I'm addicted to mountain biking but if I don't work on my lung capacity I can't drag my sorry butt up hundreds of feet from a starting elevation of 5000 ft. Weight training helps but isn't enough.

Posted by: CyndiF on May 28, 2009 11:53 AM

Do keep in mind that these ultra-short high-intensity interval sessions are just that: high intensity. How high? Too high by far for most people to be able to perform the workout hard enough to get benefits from it. Consider:

The famous Tabata Protocol is eight 20 secs sprints separated by only 10 seconds of rest. I can tell you, they are VERY HARD TO DO. And yet I wasn't close to the intensity needed to benefit maximally from the Protocol. I'm just not mentally tough enough.

The Tabata Protocol was developed through tests on members of the Japanese Olympic speedskating team. They'd do the protocol on bike ergs. Now, speedskaters are very tough athletes indeed, with massive pain tolerance, and of course Olympic athletes are the toughest of all. So demanding was the Protocol that these very very tough athletes "dreaded the work", and when finished the Protocol (only 4 mins long total!) would "lie down on the floor". Speedskaters don't "lie down" even after a brutal world record race. So there.

Point: untrained subjects can benefit from any type of workout, including ultra-short high-intensity ones. But the psychological demands of those workouts very soon exceed the mental capacity of the athlete, and will not provide continuing benefits beyond the basics. They're just too damn hard and people will either start featherbedding them or not doing them at all.

Posted by: PatrickH on May 28, 2009 2:02 PM

in all my years working out, since i've reached what amounts to a plateau in non-aerobic exercise, i find that the best way to lose weight is through cardio. i add it to my weight-lifting workout.

now if they are arguing that given two choices, either traditional cardio (running, stair climber etc) or non-cardio workouts, then i'm not sure which one is more beneficial cardiovascularly.

Posted by: Chuck on May 28, 2009 2:41 PM

I like doing some cardio myself -- it's calming, and I find that it's good for taking off about 10 pounds. At least, when I'm not doing the cardio, 10 pounds pile on. But interesting to learn from people like Sisson and others that overdoing the cardio can become its own problem, and fun to learn about alternatives. I've started doing little bursts -- I wouldn't call it HIIT by a long shot, more just a matter of going all out (or what for me is all out) for maybe 10 seconds at a time in a random pattern. Even going up stairs ... I'll trudge up one set, then bound up the next, then trudge up two, then take the next set two by two ... Mix it up, create some effort-peaks. I don't know that it's really done me any good, but my interest is good (always important), and those few seconds of all-out effort is definitely a different experience than just always trudging along. Arthur De Vany says that bursts of that sort provoke blasts of human growth hormone and help keep you young. We'll see, but it certainly sounds attractive.

Eating Paleo (mostly) is a blast. Good food, enough of it, never putting on weight ... Plus it's so easy: skip the processed foods and dumb carbs, focus on meat, poultry, game and fish and veggies, nuts and a little fruit. What could be easier?

Good Paleo resources:



Are y'all eating low-carb these days? Paleo?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 28, 2009 6:51 PM


Nope, rice, tofu and miso for breakfast, sushi and/or noodles for lunch everyday, and rice with every dinner. Still skinny, energized and full of piss and vinegar, thank you very much. Mind you, I ain't eschewing fats.

Frankly, from my own inquiries into both sides of the matter (and Jesus H. Christ, what a freaking religious debate this crap is. Lo-carb Shi'ites versus Lo-fat Sunnis.), the main benefit of fats is mostly hunger control, and by extension portion control, that and the wise notion that too many raw carbs = all sorts of diabetic problems in later life.

Sorry, I can't take the Paleo narrative seriously, given what I know from history, anthropology and archeology. They're only giving part of the story. The Lo-fatters are giving part of a story. The truth is a messy thing with no easy answers.

Hey, if it works for you, great. I'm not saying lo-carb is full of shit. Plenty of peoples did eat almost no carbs and lived healthy lives in traditional societies. There are also traditional societies where the majority of caloric fuel came from carbs that were also known for their relative health, prior to modernization (I say relative because it's pretty damn hard to say that folks were living longer less disease-free lives in a premodern society without kidding yourself, no matter what the hell they ate).

So boiled down, what's my point? Unlike epidemiology, where you can be pretty damn sure that washing your hands with soap and water saves you a hell of a lot of trouble, there ain't no "One true way" when it comes to what we put in our pieholes.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on May 28, 2009 7:43 PM

Plus it's so easy: skip the processed foods and dumb carbs, focus on meat, poultry, game and fish and veggies, nuts and a little fruit. What could be easier?

Once you get into the habit of baking your own bread, some of those carbs don't seem so dumb after all. Umm, baguette.

Posted by: CyndiF on May 29, 2009 12:41 PM

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