Links From Readers: Exercise, Standing, Frankenfats, Frankensweets and Collectivized Obesity

My readers are really on the ball. Not a day goes by that I don’t receive an email it two — or more — with links to some article relevant to the topics we discuss around here. I thought I’d give you a sample. These are all things I got from readers and not on my own.

~ From WilfredoWeighing the Evidence on Exercise. A lot of interesting stuff in there. The bottom line seems to be that while exercise isn’t that helpful to lose weight (I say it is, if combined with a paleo / primal diet and sensible IF) it’s very helpful in keeping it off once lost, even if returning to bad eating habits. Most notably, even consistent walking and standing rather than sitting has profound effects. I’m standing at my desk right now.

~ And on the subject of standing rather than sitting all day, looks like the mainstream is catching onto something I was all over a year and a half go. From Benjamin in The New York TimesCan’t Stand to Sit Too Long? There’s a Desk for That. I now have minimalist barstools so that I can alternate. Oh, and the prices of those models shown in the NYT article are outrageous in my view (as much as nearly $3,000). My application at the foregoing link cost $200 for two people and is built like a brick shithouse.

~ Here’s a few from David Brown. Diets High in Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fats Linked to Obesity.

Adipose tissue is more than a dormant energy storage depot. Fat cells, known as adipocytes, release chemical mediators, which promote inflammation. This may be the key link between obesity and increased risk of inflammatory diseases. […]

Extrapolation of the present data to human populations showed a stark parallel to the increased dietary intake of omega-6 fats in most developed countries in the last 100 years. Due to the competitive relationship between omega-3 and omega-6 fats the inevitable increase of the omega-6 HUFA pool may irreversibly lead to both obesity and the inflammation resulting in increased mortality.

Also, see Dr. Stephan Guyenet’s take on this issue: Have Seed Oils Caused a Multi-Generational Obesity Epidemic?

What this all means to me is that eating out too often is a bad idea. I have fallen prey to that myself, most often breakfast. And while I always ask for my eggs to be cooked in butter, who really knows? I think eating out subjects you to a lot more omega 6 than if you eat at home and don’t use seed/ grain oils or products that contain them, such as bottled dressing and other bottled & canned products. Dr. Eades recently posted about this specific thing: Dining out and bad fats.

~ Moving from frankenfats to frankensweets, three readers (David, another David and Kevin) sent these pieced on added sugars.

Added sugars increase heart-disease risk

Higher Amounts of Added Sugars Increase Heart Disease Risk Factors

And here’s a couple of videos from MSNBC, and while a bit all over the map and you may have to tolerate the guy who "trusts his heart to Lipitor," it’s at least good to see some awareness and waking up to the reality that SUGAR MAKES YOU FUCKING FAT!!!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Now of course it would have been fun to actually have a reporter on scene who’s not your run of the mill useful idiot in order to pose a brain teaser for Dr. Miriam Voss, something like, "OK, Dr., during this interview you’ve said that’s it’s well established that dietary fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease, and now you’re telling us that added sugar — an enormous if not chief source of dietary carbohydrate for most Americans — is also associated with increased risk. Since that implies a low-fat diet combined with a greatly reduced carbohydrate diet, can you tell us what people are supposed to eat?"

~ And finally from William comes this pretty wide ranging article in The Atlantic by Marc Ambinder about his decision to undergo bariatric surgery, and much more: Beating Obesity. I find it interesting that in four pages he covers so much ground — most of which I find to be nauseating collectivism — about obesity yet identifies the basic problem right on page one.

The rise in obesity is associated with a rogue’s gallery of individual, social, and technological factors. The “Big Two,” as scientists call the leading factors, are reduced exercise and increased food consumption: Americans are ingesting more and more calories than they’re burning. But underlying that simple energy-in, energy-out equation is a complex, and so far inexorable, interplay between powerful physiological and societal forces.

Start with our bodies. Molded by evolution in the Pleistocene era, when grains and meat were not easily acquired, they are hardwired to store as much energy in reserve—fat—as possible. Some scientists think that the brain tries to regulate our caloric intake and metabolism to keep our weight within a range that is heavily influenced by our genes. This “set-point theory” argues that an obese person’s body will actually “defend” an excessive weight. An alternative hypothesis, “settling-point theory,” argues that body weight settles into a range determined not just by genes, but by their interaction with learned behaviors and environmental cues. […]

Obesity is also correlated with lack of sleep, with exposure to certain chemicals (like bisphenol A, used in making plastic bottles), even with the type of bacteria that is found in our intestines. And, of course, we adapt, not necessarily in the most healthful way: a high-fat, high-sugar diet can alter the composition of the bacterial flora to persuade our gut to signal the brain to eat even more.

When we subject our Pleistocene bodies to our modern era, in which corn is cheap and animals are killed by others and safely prepared, the effect on waistlines might seem predictable.

Of course, getting it right — implicit in all of the foregoing links submitted by astute readers — won’t make any big corporations big bucks, nor increase the figurative penis or boob size of your average commissar holding a public office. The only one to benefit is you, your friends & loved ones, and perhaps those specific individuals or groups you have stepped up for, like readers of a blog. And why should you really give a shit about anyone else anyway?

Update: Via Dr. Eades’ Tweets, this just out, in Scientific American: Carbs against Cardio: More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart


  1. Gina on April 27, 2010 at 13:16

    Thanks Richard for reminding me to *stand up*!

    I was a drafter for Carrier Corp. back in the day (pre CAD) standing at my board all day and as I remember, sitting on the drafting chair only when taking a break or chatting!!
    I was very lean in those days and could use some more of that today…going to fashion a standing desk ASAP.

    “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.-Friedrich Nietzsche

    • William on April 27, 2010 at 19:41

      “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.-Friedrich Nietzsche

      And apparently Aristotle thought walking was a good medium for teaching those great thoughts.

      • Gina on April 27, 2010 at 20:41

        Ah yes walking thinking and teaching…what am I doing on this chair???

  2. Chaohinon on April 27, 2010 at 12:42

    No offense, but I always have to shake my head when someone says, “I always ask for my —- to be cooked in butter.” They’re not going to do it. They probably don’t even HAVE butter in stock. And your server is probably going to spend ten minutes bitching to the cooks about how someone had the audacity to make a special request.

    I say this as someone who wants nothing more than to be a professional chef: fuck restaurants and morons who run them. (and more importantly, fuck the government that regulates and taxes them to the point where making a living is impossible)

    • Richard Nikoley on April 27, 2010 at 12:48

      I do have three local cafes where I can rest assured they are being cooked in butter, and it’s real butter. They know me quite well.

      But generally, yea, I wouldn’t count on it either. The best choice is to have your meals at home, which for that lat 2 1/2 weeks, exactly what I’ve done.

      • Aaron Blaisdell on April 28, 2010 at 12:52

        Maybe I should start bringing my own pastured butter (BYOB) to restaurants, hand it to the waiter and say “could you have them cook my meal in this?”. Hell, I should also bring a jar of coconut oil. Or I should just cook my own food more often. ;-) Right now my kitchen has been undergoing a remodel and so I’ve been forced to eat out much more often than I’d like, and it is difficult to eat proper food. I’m sure I’m consuming all kinds of hidden frankenfoods even despite careful menu choices.

      • Richard Nikoley on April 28, 2010 at 12:56

        One thing I’ve seriously considered doing is brining my own EVOO for salad dressing. Even if you ask for oil and vinegar, you’re likely getting canola at best (except for a high-end resto) or even soy.

      • Michael on April 28, 2010 at 14:15

        I do that. I take butter, olive oil, and coconut oil with me into a restaurant. I have even taken an egg when I knew I was ordering steak tartar (and slipped to the sommelier who gave it to the chef) but I was a regular customer of this very high end restaurant when I did that. Once I also brought raw cheese to sprinkle over my beef carpaccio.

        It is easy to do in such a way that no one even notices.

        I mentioned carrying my contraband in an article I wrote, The War On Good Food.

        I will never forget the delight my server had the first time I ordered steak tartar from a popular upscale restaurant in my area. He is from the old country and was simply delighted that a relatively young chap like me knew “what was good for him.” Little did he know I was about to sprinkle my tartar with a wonderful homemade sauce that consisted of raw butter, virgin coconut oil, and garlic, which I had secreted into the restaurant. Tartar is my favorite politically incorrect dish because it has raw beef and raw egg.

  3. Beth on April 27, 2010 at 12:43

    “Start with our bodies. Molded by evolution in the Pleistocene era, when grains and meat were not easily acquired, they are hardwired to store as much energy in reserve—fat—as possible.”

    This is just NOT TRUE. I don’t know how anyone can believe it. It is just a silly idea & yet, people put it forth as if it made sense. ARRGH!

    I know you don’t believe it, I just find it insane that anyone does.


  4. Steve on April 27, 2010 at 13:39

    Sitting at work all day, as I do, is murder on the back. I’ve been planning on setting up a standing workstation for quite some time, but have been a bit slow to implement it.
    What I’m really thinking about is a treadmill desk. Check out this link:

    You can buy a fancy-expensive- treadmill desk, or you can just whip one together cheap which is what I plan to do. There’s some plans for homemade desks on the above link. You just need to find a treadmill that does the job.

    Sitting all day is definitely not paleo. ;-)

    • William on April 27, 2010 at 19:49

      Steve, for about eight years, I have used a therapy ball, or Swiss ball as it is commonly known as, to sit for endless hours at my desk, with superlative results. The ball allows me to move without restriction, and with proper posture while I do my work. I’m fifty-five, and have no back problems whatsoever.

    • Horst on April 29, 2010 at 11:15

      I built my own treadmill desk and it’s great.
      I am walking every morning 1h at my treadmill desk.

      After 5 minutes you forgot that you are walking.

  5. fireandstone on April 27, 2010 at 14:17

    “Start with our bodies. Molded by evolution in the Pleistocene era, when grains and meat were not easily acquired…”

    Meat was most definitely easily acquired, and preferentially, among Pleistocene hominids.

    “When we subject our Pleistocene bodies to our modern era, in which corn is cheap and animals are killed by others and safely prepared, the effect on waistlines might seem predictable.”

    Is he suggesting that people wouldn’t eat much meat if it wasn’t killed and prepared for them in advance by others? Any cursory observation of any modern hunter-gatherer population makes that assertion (common among vegans/vegetarians) nothing but a hand wave.

  6. Elliot on April 27, 2010 at 14:56

    Sorry to hijack this thread, but I have written a bleg asking for advice on helping someone with several health problems to get into the paleo lifestyle. If anyone has some good advice (after reading my article), please leave a comment there on my blog or send e-mail to mydiet180 at gmail. I’ll be happy to share information and results, in case anyone else may be facing similar issues.

    (Yes, I am giving her all sorts of links from Free the Animal to get more ideas.)

    • anand srivastava on April 28, 2010 at 00:20

      That is quite a big list of diseases.
      I can’t post on your bleg. Its blocked.
      Have you tried posting at Panu’s forum and at Marks Daily Apple.
      That might help. Panu’s forum has several MDs.
      I would think starting on a low carb Paleo diet would solve many of the problems. Then slowly start walking then exercising. It will be a slow process. But I guess you know all this.

      • Elliot on April 28, 2010 at 07:14

        The comments required being registered. I’ve changed that.

        Thanks for the advice on other forums.

  7. Paul C on April 27, 2010 at 15:03

    Near the end of the Scientific American article:

    “Nobody is advocating that people start gorging themselves on saturated fats, tempting as that may sound. Some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in fish and olive oil, can protect against heart disease. What is more, some high-fiber carbohydrates are unquestionably good for the body.”

    Nobody? Unquestionably? Way to cap off an article that attempts science, with statements based on beliefs masquerading as science. :(

    • fireandstone on April 27, 2010 at 15:13

      To their “credit”, SciAm was merely attempting journalism. It’s WAY more pathetic when contrary and concessional dietary recommendations are included in the discussion area of an actual published research paper.

  8. Elliot on April 27, 2010 at 15:20

    I try to pick the healthier choices when I eat out, even though I know it can often be futile. A couple times, I ate at IHOP and ordered an omelet. Later, to my horror, I read that they added pancake batter to their eggs to make them extra fluffy. Wow. And, I’m guessing the oil they used was canola.

    Recently, at a Cracker Barrel, I ordered a ribeye. It was delicious, except it was extremely salty. They obviously brined it. I grew up being a salt fanatic. But having cut back on my salt (particularly in the past few weeks when I’ve added virtually no salt to my cooking), the amount of salt in the steak was a bit shocking to my taste buds. I asked the waitress if they could prepare it with less salt next time, but when she came back, she gave me some line about reducing the “spices”–in other words, they brine all of them ahead of time.

    • jason on April 27, 2010 at 15:50

      table salt will lead to hypertension….the use of sea salt will not!!!

      • Elliot on April 28, 2010 at 07:23

        I have never read that before.

        If so, that’s good for me. The salt we use for cooking is all sea salt grinders. I have used kosher salt in the past (for baking potatoes and brining meat), but not recently.

        I’m used to the taste of very-low salt now, just like I’m used to drinking only water or unsweetened tea and coffee.

    • Michael on April 27, 2010 at 17:10

      The more upscale the restaurant, the more likely you will get what you asked for in terms of substitutions. But the regular run of the mill place? You better know the servers and chefs/cooks real well. :-)

  9. Ned Kock on April 27, 2010 at 16:28

    One more Richard, that some may find interesting:

    Blood glucose control before age 55 may increase your chances of living beyond 90

  10. Flying Burrito on April 27, 2010 at 18:36

    I’ve been using a hard wooden school desk chair for something like umpteen years–so halfway there to standing, I guess!

    • Chaohinon on April 27, 2010 at 18:51

      I’d really like to find whoever designed the desks I sat in during High School, and beat them to death with a shovel.

  11. Susan in Spokane on April 27, 2010 at 19:35

    For a time, I used to use an exercise ball as my chair when I was a data-entry operator. Unfortunately, I only had one place to store it at work – under my desk. I popped three of them before going back to a chair. It worked great!

  12. Hugh on April 27, 2010 at 20:04

    While we’re talking links, Martin Berkham over at Leangains has put up some good stuff over the past week, including (finally) a decent overview of his IF/strength training/fat loss protocol. If one wanted a paleo-friendly means to getting lean and perhaps even a six pack, this would probably be a great place to start. (sorry couldn’t help myself)

  13. Laurie on April 28, 2010 at 04:50

    The Scientific American SHORT blurb ” Carbs Against Cardio” is Very exciting. The article in ‘the Atlantic’ is disturbing because the author, an unfortunate victim of bariatric surgery, was failed by the medical profession. Can’t they ever try something simple and cheap first that might help before slicing and dicing and re-plumbing digestive organs?
    The studies mentioned in Sci Am blurb are here:
    From Dr Ronald Krauss
    And from Stampfer., NEJM
    I was disturbed at the end by this statement “But saturated fats may ultimately be neutral compared with processed carbs and sugars such as those found in cereals, breads, pasta and cookies.”
    My issue is that it somehow looks like it’s the sugar ADDED to the “cereals, breads” that’s bad. It’s bad, but wheat is one of the most highly processed ‘foods’ around. It isn’t ‘edible’ without processing (and I would argue it isn’t after either). While the starch in wheat and grain is what I think is implicated here, along with the ‘added processed sugar’, I’m beginning to understand it’s the PROTEINS in grains that are the bigger culprit.

  14. Laurie on April 28, 2010 at 05:23

    There’s a description in “Sugar Blues” by William Dufty, about the processing of cane or beets to make table sugar. All that’s left is pure sucrose. That’s bad enough. Wheat goes through this – grinding, separating, pulverizing, fractionating, heating, and pressurizing to arrive at a ‘food’ with much of the wheat proteins remaining in the final processed product. The Wheat proteins that are left, if ingested, are immunogenic to humans. Plants have defenses against predation. Wheat is a plant. If those first defenses fail, there are additional defenses against digestion, especially against digestion of the seeds. So in addition to the immunogenic proteins that remain after all that processing there are additional compounds that are NASTY to the human digestive system. Processed Wheat and grains have a trifecta- starch, proteins, phytates, that make them unhealthy ‘food’ for any human to consider consuming.

  15. Hillary on April 28, 2010 at 06:04

    I really liked the link to the article about the effects of seed oils. I do not know why people are so convinced that ingesting this junk is healthy.

    I render my own lard to cook with (cannot use store-bought as it is mixed with hydrogenated oils). People are always SHOCKED when they find out I cook with lard. I mean they are truly horrified. It is the oddest thing. I cannot describe it. It’s like I told them I cook with baby parts or something.

    I am pleased that lately it appears that there is some mainstream movement away from the high-carb, low-fat mantra, but it seems we still have a long way to go before people will finally accept that animal fats are healthy and natural.

  16. cna training on April 28, 2010 at 20:35

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  18. Debbie on April 28, 2010 at 13:32

    In a way I’m really surprised at the article by the guy who had weight loss surgery. He says, in the article, that he was 235 pounds the say of his surgery. Okay, unless you are very tall then 235 might be a little chunky – but it hardly sounds like a weight of someone who feels WLS is his last and only hope! I figured the guy had to 350 or something like that the way he describes his miserable obese 20s. Well maybe he is only 5 feet tall. He sure looks a lot heavier than 235 in his “before” photo.

    But if I had that little weight to lose I would not spend $30K of my own money on WLS, I’d follow blogs like this one and others and do what these guys do. Me? I’m down 110 pounds so far without any stomach mutilation. :-)

  19. D. Foltz on April 28, 2010 at 14:31

    > Exercise seems to be ineffective, says NY times

    To be fair, that article (although it doesn’t give us links to the studies sourced) seems to be talking, almost exclusively, about extended cardio. They hide the idea that low intensity stuff (walking, standing) or resistance training can be useful in short sections at the end of the article, and totally ignore things like sprints.

    Incidentally, I think it’s a really interesting finding that running at the level of persistence hunting doesn’t cause any dramatic metabolic changes. Perhaps we really are born [with the ability] to run, though the long-term health effects aren’t conclusive, so (IMO) it’s probably still worth categorizing it as a low-harm recreational activity, rather than something good for you.

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