Many diets out there are inadvertently anti-autumnal through the fact that they exclude the simultaneous combination of carbs+fat. For example low carb diets are typically high fat, and low fat diets are typically high carb, both of which minimise the high carb+high fat combo. One of the latest diets, ‘the carnivore diet’, is also anti-autumnal as it is basically just meat, which is high protein with low to high amounts of fat with zero carbohydrates, again no carbs+fat.
I believe these diets work because they avoid the food combinations available in autumn time and thus control satiety and fat storage. Carbs and fats are our primary energy fuels, and so if you up both these levers our brains and bodies go crazy for it (for many scientific reasons, which boil down to instinct) resulting in energy balance in constant surplus.
Let me explain…
The signature of autumn is high carb and high fat simultaneously. Think fruits, grains and nuts and when they harvest (e.g. trail mix). These ingredients make up things like Granny’s apple tart or pecan pie, everything good from the harvest mixed together to create delectable meals and treats. Acorns themselves, the most iconic autumnal symbol (which is used in the DEFoW logo), is a tool used to fatten up iberian pork, and what squirrels, bears, and many other creatures in various eco-systems, use to fatten themselves up for Winter.
The signature of this food is approximately 50% fat, 40% carb and 10% protein (which I term ‘the squirrel formula in Don’t Eat for Winter) and I propose is precisely designed by nature to fatten up all sorts of creatures, including humans, for winter (humans in many cultures such as the celts and native americans, used to collect and eat them to aid winter survival also).
Interestingly, an acorn’s macro-nutrient signature also exactly matches human breast milk, another food designed by nature to fatten up humans to survive the most vulnerable stage of their lives (coincidence?).
I believe nature becomes akin to a nurturing mother in autumn to protect all through the provision of highly available carbs and fats.
It is no coincidence that most junk food (e.g. donuts, chocolates, syrup coffees, crisps, pastries) and even meals (e.g. mayo and cheese sandwiches, cheesy bolognese, fatty bacon and spuds) in thewestern diet approach this signature because it tastes so good, and overly processed foods send us into an autumnal frenzy, which I believe contributes significantly to the obesity crisis the world faces.
Here is a radar chart comparing some junk foods with acorns, note the similarity in terms of macronutrients in both the data and the visualisation.
Carbs+fats prime our ancient winter survival instincts, encouraging us to fatten us up a little, in order to protect us from the cold and famine of winter and so avoiding this formula simulates other seasons.
Marty Kendall of Optimising Nutrition wrote a fantastic article on DEFoW that interrogates the USDA food composition database for foods with the squirrel formula signature and the list of foods there shows just how powerful this formula is. This came about after I contacted Marty with the chart above, after I read another article on his site, showing how carbs+fat provide the least amount of satiety using a half million days of myfitnesspal data.
Here is that startling excerpt from that table in his article expanding on my radar chart…
The modern diet has this combo available all day every day in meals too for example breakfast (buttery toast and sugary cereals with milk), lunches (meat and salad sandwiches with mayo and cheese, saucy wraps etc), dinners (cheesy pasta meals, fries, burgers, pizzas, even buttery potatoes and creamy sauces with rice) and snacks and desserts too (biscuits, donuts, chocolate, crisps, ice-cream, cake etc). We don’t stand a chance living in an environment where it is autumn all of the time (even our coffees have become syrupy desserts).
Don’t Eat for Winter is the first diet to point out that this formula is autumnal, and so I am claiming this as the starting point of the anti-autumnal diet™, which is a game changer in understanding why there is a global obesity struggle and to a lesser extent a global battle with bodyfat.
DEFoW aims to arm people up with knowledge in order to escape the infinite autumn that is the Western diet (and other global diets). There’s lots of articles on this site with the reasoning behind what’s been outlined. Every day, more and more science and data points to the fact that it is carbs+fats together that are the cause of out of control appetites, and resulting fat storage.
The plethora of chemicals and hormones released in our brains and bodies are astounding (dopamine from sugar, endocannibanoid activation from fat, ghrelin rebound from carbs, depressed leptin from fructose and frequent insulin production in response to glucose etc), which used to serve a seasonal survival function but today, they are abused by commercial entities who would rather make a profit than see us take on our healthiest form. It gets even worse when you consider the fact that our food environment today is an ‘autumn on steroids’, where processed fats and sugars, with no nutritional value, are injected into Frankenstein foods to make them irresistible to our inner squirrels.
The theory goes even deeper when you consider the factors required to create insulation on the human body in the form of brown adipose tissue (or brown fat), a different type of fat that has incredible properties including heat generation and insulation. It was only recently discovered that brown fat can be activated in adult humans and much research is ongoing to determine if it can be used to tackle obesity. Three things activate brown fat including cold, high insulin and leptin levels, and compounds in foods such as ursolic acid in apple skin. Three independent studies have outlined this and these conditions only occur in nature around autumn time too! All the pieces fit! (Check out the advanced DEFoW hypothesis regarding BAT fat here here)
All non-autumnal diets work especially well in the short-term because they are seasonal snapshots that avoid autumn, however, the long term effects of living in a single season other than autumn is unknown. Time will tell. We know the results of living in autumn, given the current state of affairs with 2/3 of adults either obese or overweight practically worldwide and related illnesses out of control, so it obvious that anything that helps this situation is good.
DEFoW, is different in that it encourages the consumption of both carbs and fats based on the standard dietary reference intake, but advises eating carbs and fats at the opposite ends of the day. This yields balance between our current environment and nature, balanced nutrition and avoids provoking our ancient autumnal instincts. It works within the current guidelines to encourage complete nutrition including healthy fats, protein, carbs, fibre and micronutrients. The aim is balance working within the standard dietary guidelines.
On DEFoW everyone is encouraged to exercise, particularly around the time of eating carb meals and get in healthy fats at another time of the day. Just like nature it encourages balance through a novel approach of eating seasonally on a daily basis e.g. a spring time macro breakfast (zero carb e.g. eggs), a fibre rich summer lunch which is lower in fat (lots of low gi veg and lower fat fish, poultry or meat), and a modified autumn low fat dinner with carbohydrates. Of course it’s OK to have carbs+fats now and again and indulge, but the awareness of what happens when you do is key. All of the reasoning behind this is explained in the pages of Don’t Eat for Winter and expanded upon in this website.
Become an infinite autumn escapee (like these heroes who lost 350lbs between them) and spring into your summer body with the first anti-autumnal diet – DEFoW
Don’t Eat for Winter!