The Rise of Obesity and How to Make It Stop

Obesity is on the rise across the world almost universally and it doesn’t show signs of stopping.  There are 10 times more kids obese now than there was 40 years ago and if we don’t do something, and quick, we are just going to become sicker and sicker as a race.

It is easy to blame carbs for the obesity crisis and lots of people do, especially if they’ve had success losing weight on a high fat diet.  It is also easy to blame fat for the obesity crisis and lots of people do especially if they’ve had success on a low fat diet (and this has been the recommended advice for decades).  Then there’s the calories in calories out (CICO) argument, where some believe it is purely energy balance (and perhaps it is), but often the subtlety of the metabolism changes caused by foods are not considered, or the satiety or lack thereof induced by certain food combos.

My own person belief has been that both approaches work for a very simple reason i.e. carbs+fat combos are autumnal, and by avoiding foods with this signature, you avoid hyperphagia (uncontrolled urge to eat), calorie input and maximise the time you have oxidising fat.  I’ve written previous articles on hormones impacted by carb+fat combos and on adult brown adipose tissue (BAT) etc. to make the case that human beings are seasonally adapted creatures.

I’ve been seeking proof of this concept for some time and over time more and more emerges.  Marty Kendall of Optimising Nutrition shows how analysis of a half million days worth of myfitnesspal data which highlights the fact that the people who ate most calories were those who ate carbs+fat in an almost equal ratio.  I sent Marty a message about the autumnal squirrel formula of 50% fat 40% carb and 10% protein and showed him how many junk foods match the signature of acorns (a major autumnal food for hyperphagic bears and squirrels), and human breast milk (a food designed to make human infants as fat as possible in as short a space of time as possible to aid early survival, which is a universal formula among humans) and how various junk foods like donuts and ice-cream match this signature perfectly.  He expanded this list using his nutrient optimiser tool and found a list of 30+ junk foods that match the signature and only 2 natural foods were shown on this list… you guessed it: acorns and breastmilk!

Read this fascinating article on optimising nutrition https://optimisingnutrition.com/2018/06/23/dont-eat-for-winter/

Recently, I had a hunch that if I compared macronutrients eaten by nations across the globe (without considering calories) and compared this with obesity rankings I would find a trend whereby as fat and carbs converge, obesity would rise accordingly.

So I searched for the data and found 2 individual sets of data that would allow me to correlate the information.

a) WHO data on prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30kg/m2) (2016)  ref: https://www.who.int/topics/obesity/en/ 

Tabular data obtained from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_body_mass_index#cite_note-3

b) FAO Statistics Division 2010, Food Balance Sheets, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy http://faostat.fao.org/

Tabular data obtained from http://chartsbin.com/view/1160

I whittled down the common countries so that I would have the headings and ranked the countries from lowest levels of obesity to highest and converted that to a percentage value.

Country, Obesity Rank, Carbs, Fats, Protein

Then it was simply a matter of plotting that data against the carb, fat and protein percentages (click to enlarge).

I think the graph says it all really but let me explain what my interpretation and conclusion is:

  • As carbs and fats converge, obesity levels rise, this trend is clear from the graph
  • Protein remains the same, the reason the patterns of carbs and fat mirror is because they make up 100% so as carbs increase fat decreases and vice versa
  • This is without consideration of calories, I am not denying that there is a relationship between carb+fat macros and calories (there is), but this is clearly showing a trend based on macronutrient selection.   The relationship I believe here is that carb+fat combos like fatty meat and bread, donuts, syrupy coffees etc. drive hyperphagia, a hunger that can never be satisfied for a creature that is hardwired to understand winter is coming.
  • It is important to note that this is % calories from fat and not grams (1g of fat is 9 cals, but when we’re talking percentages we are looking at it from an energy point of view).

The following graph looks at female BMI as % vs macros, the relationship may even be clearer here (the gaps are wider when obesity is lower).

My conclusion therefore is that it seems evident that obesity rises as carbs and fats converge, globally, without considering calorie intake.

This is potentially driven by a hyperphagic survival response in humans due to macronutrient ratios (e.g. autumn = carb+fat).

There are no diets recorded with higher levels of fat than carbs, though it is obvious that this would be the case in countries further from the equator in winter, as photosynthesis is required to create sugars and starches, therefore in non farming communities in times past, they would have had very little access to carbohydrates in winter as opposed to late summer during the harvest.  I believe this is the key to why high fat low carb diets are effective.  The simulate winter and spring.

The following images is a hypothetical graph showing the circannual changes in fat, protein and carb levels available during our early history, and the hormonal responses of our bodies.

BAT Fat Natural Annual Cycle - Don't Eat for Winter

Counties where there are many crops of fruit per year (closer to the equator), tend to be high carb low fat, however, people from these countries are not immune to carb+fat combos and seem just as programmed to gorge on this type of food.  I’m not sure the implications of this but it stands to reason if our species dates back to the beginning of time where an uncountable number of migrations may have occurred during various climate change events.

The bottom line is that eating autumnally in every meal and snack, as per diets in many countries now, which are all tending towards more carb+fat combos in every meal, snack and beverages (milkshakes, syrupy coffees etc)., means autumnal hyperphagia and resulting weight gain.

Problems: in the graph above you can see the clear trend but some of the carb+fat data varies quite wildly from country to country.  This could be for various reasons including but not limited to:

  • Levels of manual labour vs sedentary lifestyles
  • Types of carbs and fats e.g. fibrous wholefood sources vs refined starches, sugars and fats
  • Longevity (typically weight gain increases with age, a younger population should correlate with less obesity)
  • Levels of sunlight available
  • Ethnicity factors (ability to deal with sugars and fats based on geographic latitude and ancestral diets).

A recent study by Dana Small et al showed that humans value carbs+fat more by sight alone, and this is evident in shops as they are front loaded with high carb+fat junk foods.  Fauxtom foods?

https://news.yale.edu/2018/06/14/fat-and-carb-combo-creates-stronger-food-craving

Another recent study found that mice got fat on diets made up of up to 60% fats but then became less obese as fat percentages went higher.  Finding out this figure in human beings would be useful.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118303929?via%3Dihub

I predict that it is approximately 50% fat, 40% carb and 10% protein that causes the most damage (the signature of acorns and human breast milk) and it would be useful to run trials to discover this once and for all.

Time will tell.

If you want to find out more about this hypothesis, and discover a sustainable anti-autumal eating strategy/pattern that includes carbs and fats in daily diet, check out my book ‘Don’t Eat for Winter’ on Amazon or explore the other blogs on this site.

 

 

 

Top 5 best diets for losing weight and burning fat?

I saw an article online on Mens Journal describing the following 5 diets as the best ways to lose weight and burn fat:

  1. Low-calorie diet.
  2. Low-fat diet.
  3. Low-carb diet.
  4. Ketogenic diet.
  5. High-protein diet.

Before I delve into an interesting observation on the 5 diet types I want to say that I disagree with the term weight loss, as fat loss should be the focus (if overweight), while gaining or maintaining lean muscle mass, bone density and of course hydration levels.

I also have issues with the world diet unless used the context of a healthy diet.  Crash diets and long-term calorie restriction or nutrient deficient diets should be avoided where possible.  A better approach is a sustainable long-term lifestyle change with whole foods that are seasonal and local where possible.

What struck me from the list above is the fact that each diet is inherently but unintentionally anti-autumnal.

An autumnal diet is a diet high in both carbs and fat and relatively low in protein. Don’t Eat for Winter presents the ultimate autumnal formula as approximately 50% fat, 40% carb and <10% protein (from a calorie point of view).  Avoiding this is key to an anti-autumnal diet.

Let’s take them one by one:

  • Low-calorie diet: restricting calories is a way of creating an energy deficit, possibly simulating a time where food is less available in nature e.g. winter/spring, by doing this you automatically eat less carbs+fat, which means it is less like an autumnal diet.
  • Low-fat diet: a healthy low fat diet means high carb, fibre and protein with low (but not no fat).  If fat is too low, particularly healthy fats, perhaps long term this is unhealthy as there may be too few healthy fats in the diet. Going low fat means avoiding carbs+fats together by default and so autumnal combos like granny’s famous pecan pie are off the table.
  • Low-carb diet:   These diets avoid the autumnal signature of carbs+fat for the same reason as the low fat, high carb diet. Low carb diets are typically higher in fats and proteins too.
  • Ketogenic diet:  The ketogenic diet is very low carb and controlled protein with high amounts of fat.  A person would shift into ketogenic mode in the absence of carbohydrates as the body generates ketones to fuel anaerobic processes.  This diet is anti-autumnal as it avoids the combo of carbs+fats too.
  • High-protein diet:  Protein requires a lot of energy to digest, but a high protein diet also means less carbs+fat together in the same sitting as high protein is means less of the other two.

One thing all of the above have in common is a potential lack of balance as a single macro nutrient is the focus of each.

Don’t Eat for Winter, the anti-autumnal diet, is all of the above but at different times, providing total dietary balance and yet still avoiding the high carbs+fat autumnal squirrel formula.  The format is as follows:

  • Low Carb High Fat: Eat a healthy fat based breakfast with protein and healthy low gi veg if desired e.g. an omelette, salmon, avocado and some nuts etc.  Avoids carbs+fat.
  • High Protein/fibre: Eat a lower fat protein source (meat, fish, poultry) at lunch time and include fibrous veg (watch the sauces) and/or/berries. Avoids carbs+fats and creates a buffer between breakfast fats and dinner carbs.
  • High Carb Low Fat: Eat carbs (some starches and potentially fruits) in the evening with low gi veg and a healthy low fat cut of meat/fish/poultry, use lower fat sauces too. Avoids carbs+fats, aids recovery, reloads glycogen and some research suggests that it aids sleep too.

This means each macro is a focal point of each meal, with constant protein and fibrous fruit and veg.

Special focus around training is required to get the required amount of carbs for energy purposes and increased protein for muscle recovery too, carbs and protein before and after can help fuel exercise, reload glycogen and accelerate repair.

Finally, sometimes it’s good to enjoy a treat, this is the time to get the autumnal formula in but make it once or twice a week instead of every single meal and snack like the current western diet if fat loss is your goal.  Make treats good ones, be it a delicious dinner out or a home made dessert, savour it, enjoy it and get back on track.  Be aware of your feelings afterwards too, are you surprisingly hungry afterwards.  At least being aware of it gives some sense of domination over what you are, a seasonal creature designed to gorge on particular foods to survive winter.

4 Amazing DEFoW Weight Loss Transformation Stories: a total of 350lbs fat lost

6 years ago, I was trapped in a body that I knew I did not belong in. I had to do something about it, but didn’t know what to do.  I was confused by all of the mixed messages from experts, many of whom based their advice on a foundation of sand (the sugar scandal comes to mind). I grew up thinking I had to starve myself to lose weight and/or go on a low fat diet. As a result, I always associated dieting with negative feelings and ultimately, FAILURE. I tried lots of diets and had some success but ALWAYS piled the weight back  on, normally with interest, which was incredibly frustrating.  What’s worse is that lots of low fat foods are high in sugar and starch and I was probably exceeding my need for glucose every day, even when dieting.

They say “necessity is the mother of invention” and I needed change but I was baffled with all the conflicting messages out there. The most success I had on any diet was a paleolithic style diet, but I still got stuck at a point. I had a Eureka moment one day and realised that carbs spike in nature in late summer and autumn yet we eat them all day every day in the western diet, and I thought, “this has to have something to do with the obesity crisis we’re in”.  I started eating an anti-autumnal diet that I created myself, and the weight I was carrying literally melted off after years of holding onto it even while competing internationally for Ireland with kettlebells, and, training like a demon.

It was then that I put on my research hat and went down a rabbit hole for a year and came back up with the Don’t Eat for Winter (DEFoW) Concept – The Anti-Autumnal Diet, still a whole food natural diet, but with an understanding of the dynamism of nature. It is unlike other diets as it is consciously avoids foods with the autumnal signature.   It’s not torture it’s actually pleasurable.  It’s about avoiding the autumnal signature of carbs+fat, which I term ‘The Squirrel Formula.’  This food signature is unique to autumn and I believe puts animals, including humans, into a state where we crave and binge on foods. With DEFoW you avoid that by eating a spring like breakfast, a summer like lunch and a modified autumn for dinner to suit your lifestyle and activity levels.

Simple.

Little did I realise that my little acorn of an idea, which had such an impact on me, would have such an impact on so many others this quickly.  I’ve had a multitude of messages from readers about their weight loss transformations over social media, and it’s difficult to keep track of them all, but I would estimate total weight losses have exceeded well over 1000lbs thus far.

Recently, I’ve received some amazing messages.  I knew it would take some time for bigger weight-loss stories to come through, after all it took me about seven years to complete my transformation, but I promised in my book that it would be a lot faster for people with the knowledge I picked up along my journey.  I didn’t realise just how fast it would happen for those who took it in earnest.

Here are 4 amazing messages I received recently in reverse chronological order.

This first one made me quite emotional last night from a delighted spouse:

“Hi Cian, my husband is one of your shy followers. He tried many times to lose weight. He  tried many diets working out etc. Nothing worked not until he took note on your book. He ordered it straight away when I say we have been together eleven years I have never ever seen him read a book before it’s amazing he read it back to back and could not stop talking about it. It has been one of the easiest and most sensible things he has done in his life. At his heaviest we recorded 19 and a half stone but I do believe the scale went above this. After your book and following your diet he is now a healthy and amazing man at 14 stone. I am so proud we have 5 children and he is so much more active with them both mentally and physically. He amazes me that in all these years your diet is so easy and healthy to follow before he was pre diabetic and had terrible heart troubles all of wish have disappeared. He followes your page everyday but would never write to you. He is sitting beside me right now and I could burst with pride at how well he looks and I would genuinely like to just thank you from the bottom of our hearts”

A 5.5 stone loss, 35kg/77lbs+ and more importantly a happier family!

I received the following message on Friday last,

“I started with the concept of DEFoW from commencing with your challenge back in January, when I was 119kg / 43% body fat, this morning the same smart scales tells me I’m 88kg and 25% body fat! I feel great 👍 and full of energy, I’m 40 next year and have been more or less above 100kg with an obese BMI since I was probably 16.

Your story has provided me with plenty of positive inspiration, especially as can remember seen you around town when you were probably at you heaviest, now your a kettle bell champion and taking part in men’s physique completions. Now for the final push finish the book, go strict on the Defow plan and come out the other side of Christmas lean and with a BMI inside the healthy scale!

PS why can’t they teach this basic nutrition in School? A minor investment in education will eventually translate to major savings in the health service!”

A total loss of 31kg or 68lbs but more importantly, the person has escaped the obesity that they were trapped by for 20+ years.  

I received this message from a proud daddy…

“I’m down about 4 stone… my daughter by the way has an even bigger thank you… she’s just too shy….nearly 6 stone gone buddy 😊😊😊😊😊

I’m so proud”

A combined 10 stone loss, 35kg/140lbs+ from a father daughter team driving each other on every day.

Finally, a message via twitter…

“Nov. 8, 2017. 245 lbs. 40 waist -> July 4, 2018. 171 lbs. 30 waist.
not an exaggeration that you guys have saved my life. A1C down from pre-diabetes into the 3s. BP, triglycerides, cholesterol vastly improved. Seven months really. Started in late Nov. The pounds literally melted away. I do exactly what you do for cardio-hiking, or uphill walking on treadmill as proxy when can’t get out. Weight work 2-3x a week as well, just a full body circuit 2 sets each exercise to failure. Eminently sustainable, as is the diet.”

This is a 71lb or 32kg loss (and they’ve reported more since), with improved health, which is fantastic!

In total, the overall weight loss from these 4 stories is a staggering 161kg or 350lbs!!!

I never met or do not know any of the people in these stories personally. All of them wished to remain anonymous and I totally respect that.  Should a journalist wish for me to verify these stories, I can show them the messages in person, once the anonymity of the individuals is maintained. Losing weight is a very personal issue and before and after pictures can be very embarrassing and I do not wish to breach anyone’s trust.  I’m thrilled that they would trust me enough after reading my work, to first of all try the concept, see great success and then have the graciousness to me on their success stories and attribute their results to The DEFoW Diet.  It means so much to me that lives are being changed by the concept.

You don’t have to buy a copy of Don’t Eat for Winter to try out the anti-autumnal diet. There’s plenty of information on the site and I post most days to twitter, facebook and instagram (links in header).  Please do follow me if you wish to get daily motivational tips, or to get in touch.

I do encourage people to read the book before asking specific questions, and also to help support my continued efforts to spread and support the concept.  I try and answer every request that comes in but it is difficult to do so in a timely fashion with other commitments in my life.

Best wishes,

Cian

From Obese IT Specialist to Men’s Physique Medalist

A computer programmer from Waterford City was a medalist at the Natural Bodybuilding Federation of Ireland (NBFI) national championships in the Everyman Theatre, Cork last Saturday the 1st of September.  Cian Foley, 42, competed in the Men’s physique (short) category against 8 other competitors.

Cian Foley Side Pose: Photo by Kest

What is extraordinary about Cian’s story is that he was once morbidly obese, weighing 256lbs in 2012. Since then, he has not only managed to get his body into good shape, but into competitive contest condition weighing in at 163lbs (93lbs lighter).

A DEXA scan at Waterford Health Park last Friday revealed just 10% bodyfat:

“My good friend Dr. Mark Rowe took me through DEXA scan results. I wanted to make sure my bodyfat levels were at safe levels, and Mark was delighted with my results revealing I was in the 1st percentile for men my age, which I’m very pleased with”, said Cian.

Cian is no stranger to strength & fitness sport having competed internationally for Ireland in Kettlebell GS over the past number of years and has won 2 European (Hamburg 2015, Poland 2016), a pan-American title at the Arnolds in Columbus Ohio (2014), and a World Championships in Dublin in 2015 in the 2x24kg men’s long-cycle category.  Since then he’s shifted into physique training, a no less demanding sport.

“I really enjoyed lifting kettlebells, it made me very goal focussed and sent me down the path to controlling my weight in order to be competitive, and eventually investigating exercise/sports nutrition and nutrition in general.  I shifted to men’s physique recently because I felt I had potential with it and is in line with my goals to inspire others who suffer with being overweight/obese.  It’s just as demanding as kettlebell sport, and it really is a sport though it may appear a little more glamourous.”

Cian is  author of Don’t Eat for Winter, which he suggests unlocks nature’s little secret to losing weight.  The hypothesis is that autumnal foods are eaten in every single meal and snack in the western diet, and so human beings prone to putting on weight can never become their summer selves, as they are eternally preparing for a winter that never comes.

“I believe Don’t Eat for Winter – DEFoW, was the key to my weight loss success having me walking around for the past 30 months at a weight that was just 6 weeks away from Men’s Physique competition readiness. It is the first ‘Anti-Autumnal Diet’ with the key premise being avoiding carb+fat combos, which is the signature of autumn itself and have proven to cause gorging.  Exercise alone will not shed weight, squirrels become hyperactive in autumn but still become obese to survive the winter.  It’s the same for us, except our autumn never ends.”

“In order to get into men’s physique shape I spoke to Frank Haley toying with the idea of competing in the NBFI championships.  I was drawn to it because of it’s ethos with regards to testing for PEDs. Frank was an old school band mate, and successful bodybuilder so he graciously agreed to speak with me to discuss diet and training.  He suggested I should enter the men’s physique category and then he trained with me for a week (with an injury) and told me what I would need to eat in order to put on the muscle required to be competitive while also losing fat. It is always good to draw on the practical knowledge of someone who got to a high level in a sport.  It has been a very tough but rewarding 6 weeks and everyone is amazed with how far I’ve come in that time (including Frank, who was as excited as I was).”

Cian is a guest panelist at the Harvest Festival – Glanbia Sports Nutrition Event – alongside former Waterford Hurler Manager Derek McGrath and others next Friday 7th at 5.30pm in the Book Centre.

Harvest Festival Link: http://www.waterfordharvestfestival.ie/index.php/events/details/glanbia_sports_nutrition_talk

photos by Kest Photographer

#nostarchinmarch – Can you go one meal without starch in march?

I’m running a #nostarchinmarch campaign on social networks highlighting the fact that there are less carbs available in nature at this time of year and ask people to cut out carbs in one meal a day and replace with protein, healthy fats and low gi veg examples might be. egg omlettes for brek (but no toast), salad with avocado/olive oil and some meat at lunch (but no bread)… the graph shows sugar peak occurs in autumn and uses icons of the natural produce with a mid/high GI to show the stack by month… as you can see in March there’s very little and so our paleolithic ancestors would have had no choice but to go without the bread, pasta, rice, wheat, cereals and so on during March.

If you want to get on board use the hashtag #nostarchinmarch in tweets, facebook posts, instagrams, snapchats and so on with comments, pics of your low carb meals etc.

Remember, no carbs in a single meal a day… and try to cut down on sugary drinks and junk food too!!!

#nostarchinmarch

#nostarchinmarchI hope everyone is over the carbabreaddin last week??? LOL.Chapter 3 of DEFoW 'There's no starch in…

Posted by Don't Eat For Winter on Thursday, 8 March 2018

Striking Similarity between the Signature of Junk food and Autumnal Produce – The Squirrel Formula

When I was writing Don’t Eat for Winter I noticed a striking similarity between the macro-nutrient ratios of many junks foods sometimes called comfort foods, and noticed that they are very similar in nature to two natural foods i.e. breast milk and acorns… I term this “The Squirrel Formula” in Don’t Eat for Winter.

Why did I compare with those two foods you might be asking yourself…

Well, human breast milk is extremely consistent across every nation across the world and is designed to work with our infants to give them the best chance at surviving the most vulnerable stage of their lives… it is designed to make us as hardy as possible in as short a space of time as possible. Babies put on an incredible amount of weight in the first few weeks/months of their lives, which used up once they become active, they need a buffer of energy – TO SURVIVE.

Acorns, are designed to work with creatures like squirrels, bears etc. to fatten them up as quickly as possible to survive winter, a layer of fat for insulation and back up energy, again a buffer of energy – TO SURVIVE.

Both babies and animals gorge on these foods, they deliver a comfort hit and a feel good factor, and instinct is utilised to great effect in order to aid survival.

Now, look at how junk food precisely matches in terms of macro-nutrients… is there any wonder that they are called comfort foods and we get that same feel good factor while eating them… but they’re not designed by nature for adults to eat every day because we are neither animals that need to survive winter, nor defenseless babies needing a head start in life. Many of us can, however, put on the weight and so by eating this formula constantly we put on weight for a winter that never comes and so we battle constantly to fight it off, but in reality it’s extremely difficult to out-train (look how active squirrels are in autumn).

These are foods that have this particular signature, but at the end of the day food combos like a soft drink with an overly fatty dinner could have the same effect. There are many more that match too, all taste great because they trigger our primal survival instincts. See the figures and the radar chart to see just how closely they all match!

This is what Don’t Eat for Winter is about, recognising we should not be eating the gorge formula or squirrel formula as I’ve termed it in the book, in every meal and snack… keep this for an occasional treat and understand that it may trigger the squirrel within to go wild, and once he’s unleashed, he’s wiley and difficult to get back in his cage!!!

The autumnal squirrel formula is high fat, high carb, minimal protein, I round to 50/40/10 so that it’s easy to remember, watch out for it (remember 1g of fat is 9 cals and 1g of carb is 4cals so to work it out you need to look for products where the fat is about half the grams of carbs and protein is very low in comparison).

Spring into your Summer Body with Don’t Eat for Winter …The Anti-Autumnal Diet

🚫🐿

Update:  Marty Kendall of Optimising Nutrition has written a fascinating article building on Don’t Eat for Winter’s radar chart above… Don’t Eat for Winter suggests Human Breast Milk and Acorns are a key to why junk foods and autumnal combos are so valued by humans, which is constantly being backed up by data and scientific papers.  Marty shows a table of 30 junk foods in the USDA food composition database that approximate ‘The Squirrel Formula’

Featured on Al Jazeera News Grid

I was asked to comment on the following article by Leah Harding of Al Jazeera’s news show #AJNewsGrid

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/press-release/2018-02-26-millennials-top-obesity-chart-before-reaching-middle-age

From the Article

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “Being overweight is the UK’s biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, but most people don’t know about this substantial risk. If more people become aware of the link it may help spare not just millennials, but all generations from cancer.

“The government must play a part to help people make healthy food choices. We’re campaigning for a ban on junk food adverts before the 9pm watershed to protect young people from advertising tactics which all too often promote fattening foods.”

I am in agreement that shops, advertisers and governments need to take responsibility in order to make junk food less accessible to the vulnerable individuals outlined in this article.

I myself was 256lbs and lost all my excess weight through eating more whole foods and looking to nature for inspiration around balancing my nutrient intake.  This is what Don’t Eat for Winter is about, it’s about avoiding foods with the autumnal signature, which induces ancient primal instincts in us that cause gorge eating and ultimately fat storage.  We live in an infinite autumn in our environment storing up fat for a winter that never comes.

I sent in the following clip to Leah, part of which was aired on the 27th of Feb 2018 on the news show.

 

DEFoW 30 day January Challenge

Who is up for a 30 day January DEFoW challenge to mule kick junk in the caramel nuts for the new year? Tag, share with friends to join in.

1. Minimum of 2 litres of filtered/bottled water each day. Pint before morning shower. Squeeze in a lemon for extra kudos.

2. 7.5 hours minimum sleep at night. Put your phone in flight mode before midnight and settle in to ensure you release recovery growth hormone during the night.

3. No junk whatsoever mon-friday, only natural whole foods wherever possible and when having a treat on the weekend go out for it and eat something natural like a homemade brownie in a cafe. Don’t bring it into your house.

4. Exercise approx 3-4 hours a week. Suggest that you do a mixture of resistance, cardio and flexibility work any way you like that is enjoyable for you. Use light cardio between days you push hard in a circuit or lifting weights. Make use of those gym memberships and socialise with people. If you keep this up consistently for the year and beyond you will highlight to the world what your DNA is capable of.

5. Do 60+ push ups a day break into as many sets as you need over the day. On knees if you are a beginner, but if you do have to work off knees hold a plank for 10 seconds for every 10 push ups. This will work your core, shoulders, triceps and chest.

6. Cut out carbs in at least one meal a day and keep portions moderate in other meals. If you work at a desk and train evenings I suggest morning time. Try scrambled eggs instead of cereal for example. When eating carbs go for whole food and eat the skin/bran for extra fibre, nutrients and to slow absorption to control blood sugars.

7. No sweetened fruit juice or sugary drinks. If you must have a light flavoured water or low cal vitamin drink but remember they contain sweeteners which can make you crave.

8. Do 60+ bodyweight squats a day, as low as you can safely go. Works lower body and flexibility squatting our bodyweight deep is something we should be able to do. If you need to put a bench under you to sit down on to for safety.

9. Avoid having fat and carbs at the same time. Even natural combos like trail mix or apples with nut butter, though nutritious bring out the squirrel in us. Sorry that means no buttery toast or creamy mash. Have that as a treat if you mus on the weekend.

10. Get out into nature. Walk for 10+ mins every day and a nice long one on weekend along a river, up a mountain, through a forest. Wear the right boots and gear. Breathe in that fresh air, revel in the sun and enjoy the crispness of the January air.

Keep us all informed of your progress, pictures outside, in gym, updates etc and questions on the facebook event page…

Here’s a shortened version for you to print off (click to enlarge)

 

 

Have yourselves a DEFoW little Christmas… 

I was asked in supermarket Delhi today, how to keep from eating a pile of junk over Christmas???

Answer = Simple

I will let go and eat my fill, that’s for sure, but damage limitation is the operative term.

First, have a good breakfast, not junk. Yes we’ll all get sweeties in our stockings and the kids will get junk from family and friends too, but get in a healthy breakfast, you owe your body some decent nutrition up front. It’s the least you can do for you. Save the junk for later…

Second, build up a nice appetite for the big dinner (maybe go for a little walk and bring the kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews out to play with toys).

Third, there will be huge portions of everything at dinner load up on the turkey and ham, load up on the brussells sprouts and carrots, and have a couple of roasties too… if you’re going back for seconds, get more meat and veg. Damage limitation, but you certainly won’t feel denied, you’ll be as full as an egg.

Fourth, get a nice cup of black coffee and a modest dessert.  Black coffee goes particularly well with dessert if you have a bite with each sup, melting chocolate, mixing with cream etc. I find with milky coffee the flavour of the coffee is lost if having with a sweet dessert.

Fifth, if you can still move, maybe go out and go for another little walk before coming back and settling in for movie and some beverages with loved ones… If you feel like it then, have a bit of junk food.

Sixth, don’t leave the junk hanging around for days, every time you eat them you trigger the gorge which will keep giving you fixes and you’ll keep wanting more. Throw it out if you have to or do some baking with it e.g. rocky road and give it away / share it…

Finally, make a nice healthy curry with the left over meat, veg, adding spices and more veg, garlic etc. you might even get a few days out of it. Waste not want not.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Have a wonderful holiday.

Cian

Don’t Eat for Winter – The BAT Fat Layer Hypothesis

I plan on adding this to a revised edition to Don’t Eat for Winter in 2018 but for now I just want to get the information into the public domain.  I’ve been using this as part of my corporate presentation work for a while to expand on the original concept somewhat.

Essentially the Don’t Eat for Winter concept is this:

In nature, carbs become hyper-available in autumn time, the harvest.  A huge spike in sugary and starchy foods becomes available from late summer into autumn – peak sugar. Carbs are a major variable in the stone age diet over the course of the year.  These foods cause us to gorge and eat more triggering hormonal and chemical responses in order to guile us into put on a bit of healthy, protective body fat to prepare us for winter for 2 major reasons:

  1. Back up energy as food sources become scarcer (body-fat is an long-term storage facility for energy).
  2. Thermal insulation (it has been shown that those with more body-fat can survive longer in colder conditions).

In the modern world, carbs are no longer a variable, they are over-eaten in every meal and snack and not only in natural form, but also in refined form.  This means that we live in what I term The Infinite Autumn (on steroids),  so we pile on weight indefinitely, preparing our bodies for a winter that never comes. This has resulted in the obesity epidemic we face.

The core message, to control body-fat, therefore is this:  Don’t Eat for Winter, at least not all of the time, to prevent invoking these ancient instincts and body processes thus keeping our instincts at bay and body-fat levels optimal.

In 2016 there was an obesity epidemic among squirrels.  The winter was mild so their autumn was extended and so they got fatter than normal. Luckily for them the cycle is natural and they use the weight gain in autumn to survive the winter and emerge in the spring ready for action.  Imagine if their autumn was extended indefinitely however? What would happen the little critters? They would eventually suffer from obesity related issues as their natural design limits are exceeded.

We don’t have to imagine this scenario though, as in our world, this is what is actually happening to people. In computing terms, when inputs exceed design limitations, the software throws what is known as an exception, in colloquial terms ‘a wobbler’.  The statistics regarding the obesity crisis and related issues are staggering and demonstrate that our design cannot handle the input of the modern western diet, an artificial infinite autumn we must endure. However, I’m hopeful that we can actually fix things by taking personal responsibility for our own dietary input and begin to simulate nature as much as is possible in order to stay within our design limitations.

Organ-ism

Our bodies are an hormonal organism, a delicate, complicated instrument that is being played by nature. As we digest food, the tiny molecules absorbed into our bloodstream include amino acids, fats, (sacharrides) sugars, minerals and vitamins, which all play different roles in our bodies.  For example arginine, an amino acid will causes the pancreas to secret glucagon, whereas glucose, a monosacharride, will cause the pancreas to secrete insulin.  Another sugar: fructose, doesn’t cause an insulin response but can cause a dip in leptin levels, a hunger hormone, which tells the brain how much body-fat we currently have. Fructose also increases ghrelin, another hunger hormone, which tells the brain that our stomachs are empty.  A study in 2004 concluded that a diet high in fructose could potentially cause increased hunger, thus increased calorie intake, resulting in weight gain (KL Teff et al, 2004, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15181085).

There are a myriad of molecules that affect our bodies in various ways and in various combinations that no single study can ever view in totality.  It is like a complex musical instrument on which beautiful chords were played, which transitioned, subtly, through the seasons by a master musician since time began.  That genius was nature and she was the composer of the music, the conductor and the musician. The levels to which we thrive are the direct results of the tune.

With our ingenuity, however, the tune is no longer subtle music it is hard-core noise and so it is no wonder we are suffering as we require more and more medication for all the side-effects we cause through our problem solving.  This is due to our lack of ability to see all repercussions of our actions because we can never account for all of the variables. All of us need to understand this and admit that we do not know everything, we are finite beings with only a snapshot of knowledge, which become personal truths.  This is evident from the confusion between experts, and the totality of the problems we face.  Straying from nature always ends badly and we find ourselves medicating for side effects in a never ending cycle, instead of addressing the root problem: we’ve strayed too far from nature. We simply cannot leave well-enough alone.

So what do we do?

a) adapt to this new artificial environment

or

b) simulate natural inputs, thus taming the environment

I opt for the latter because the former option requires a lot of pain, as the adaptation of a species requires lots of hardship and pain over many centuries, which we may never fully achieve as we medicate ourselves to keep us alive.

Don’t Eat for Winter – Extended Hypothesis

I now believe that the core reason we would have put on body-fat, during summer and autumn is as a precursor to fuel the genesis of brown adipose tissue, or BAT for short.  To develop BAT requires energy in the form of white adipose tissue, or WAT for short (standard  visceral and subcutaneous body-fat). The original reasoning does not change, this simply provides a sharper picture.

I wrote an article previously on BAT describing it as our body’s attic insulation layer. It is a very effective form of body-fat that appears on many mammals that adapted to cold climates and the health benefits developing it are many including longevity.  Human babies are born with it, but it was previously thought that it could not be activated in adult humans, however recent research has shown that it can.  BAT is an excellent thermal insulation layer, and it activates on humans around the neck and shoulder area, an optimal position for thermal insulation on an upright being in order to maintain body-heat (remember heat rises so it would be no good on the soles of our feet).  BAT increases metabolism as the main output of BAT is heat, so as well as being a thermal insulator, it also generates heat, and it’s main source of fuel is WAT.  It stands to reason that we would develop BAT for winter to protect us from cold exposure, just like wild animals that adapted to the seasons, however in order to generate BAT we must first create a store of WAT as a precursor.  I propose that this is exactly what occurs in nature during the transition from summer to winter based on dietary and other environmental inputs, resulting in specific hormonal and chemical conditions, which are outlined below.

Two recent papers discuss how BAT can be stimulated in in adults humans  through:

1. Diet, via a mix of hormonal responses

“Here we report that insulin and leptin act together on hypothalamic neurons to promote WAT browning and weight loss”  (G. Dodd et al 2015 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4453004/)

2. Cold exposure

“Cold exposure activates and recruits BAT in association with increased energy expenditure and decreased body fatness”   (M Saito et al , 2016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27697214)

Both of these situations occur naturally as we transition from summer to autumn/winter in climates with pronounced seasons.

Consider the following graph:

BAT Fat Natural Annual Cycle - Don't Eat for Winter

This is a simplistic overview of some important inputs to our bodies over the course of the year and resulting hormonal responses. The coloured lines depict average environmental inputs including the main macro-nutrients:

  • protein (from natural sources, particularly the staples of meat, fish, poultry)
  • fats (from natural animal and plant sources, including nuts in autumn)
  • carbohydrates (specifically fructose and glucose from summer and autumn harvests)

and two other important inputs:

  • sunlight (affects vitamin D levels and sleep)
  • cold (affect activation of BAT)

The black lines depict average levels of major hormones & chemicals responses caused by the inputs including:

  • insulin (blood sugar regulation hormone, in response glucose and some aminos)
  • leptin (a hunger hormone, in response to body-fat levels, dietary fats and fructose, and other environmental conditions)
  • ghrelin (a hunger hormone, in response to food satiety from food inputs and conditions)
  • dopamine (to provide a comfort feeling in response to ingesting certain foods)

From this basic picture you can see the kinds of transitions going on and it looks almost musical to some degree, so what is going on.

Let’s take it by the season.

In Spring, our diets would consist of lots of animal based protein, there is not much vegetation at this time of year and carbohydrate sources are not easy to come by (unless you’re good at digging for roots through frozen ground). This is the high protein, carnivore zone, and would be simulated today with low carbohydrate diets.  Fats would also have come from animal sources.  At this time of year winter fat would be dissipating as the sun begins to climb in the sky and temperatures become milder.

In Summer and Early Autumn, berries and fruits appear, so in addition to the staples of spring, we now have sugar in the form of fructose and glucose becoming available in our diets.  This would lower leptin levels increasingly as the summer progresses into early autumn, so as we put on a bit of healthy body-fat, our brains do not notice it happening as our leptin gauge has been altered. Lower leptin levels mean increased hunger and thus more eating. There would also be a more pronounced ghrelin rebound so there would have been less satiety in general (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19820013)  and, again, more regular eating as a result. Also as the days become long, there would be potentially less sleeping, another factor in driving down leptin and increasing ghrelin levels, tricking us into eat more often during this period. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/)

As we transition into Autumn, something really interesting occurs.  We shift from a fructose weighting to a glucose weighting in terms of carbohydrate intake as fruits decay and starches become more prevalent. See the following diagram of naturally occurring foods with a position on the glycemic index:

The paper mentioned above by G. Dodd et al, 2015 shows that when leptin and insulin levels are high, neurons in the brain are affected which trigger the activation of BAT.  It just so happens that these conditions occur naturally at this time, and only this time, of year. We know that fructose lowers leptin levels, and glucose causes increased insulin secretion. so as the summer to autumn transition occurs, leptin levels would bounce back due to the reduction of fructose in the diet. The body-fat increase that occurred during the previous high-fructose period and the introduction of nuts would mean leptin levels elevate rapidly.  Insulin levels would also increase due to a continued ingestion of starches such as squashes, grains and late fruits etc.   Essentially, just before we move into winter, the dietary conditions exist to begin the activation cycle of BAT. At no other time of the year do these conditions occur. 

Aside: It’s worth noting that this time of year is simulated all year round with the western diet, except we’ve refined the foods, which amplify the subtle effects they would have had on stone-age people.

Finally, winter.  As the cold increased, and sun reduced we’d become more sedentary and rely more on foods like stored nuts, and prey when necessary.  The increased cold exposure would further activate and develop BAT giving us a fully activated thermal insulation assisted with our natural long hair to help us tolerate the cold of winter. This time of year may have been a ketogenic period where we burned fat as our primary fuel source for both anaerobic and aerobic energy.  It would make sense, as some studies have shown ketogenic diets increase metabolism potentially increasing the heat we produce internally, thus turning us into high temperature fat burning machines with good insulation to maintain core temperature and fight off hypothermia. Ingestion of fat from stored nuts along with the body-fat stores we would have generated in summer and winter, would therefore have been critical to our survival.

In summary, BAT activation is a natural insulation layer that protects us from the cold. Two conditions occur in nature in autumn that helped stone age humans activate BAT i.e. dietary changes and cold exposure.  The dietary conditions that cause raised leptin levels and insulin levels that are more frequent and pronounced only occur naturally during this time.  The environmental change of increasing cold also allow us to activate BAT further.  Both factors occur during this transition from autumn to winter, aiding our winter survival through the healthy creation of BAT.  The dietary conditions of winter would then support the continued fueling of the BAT layer.

In our world, BAT was not discovered until recently because we have removed the natural conditions that caused it to activate.

  1. Our daily diets have considerable amounts of fructose from table sugar, fruit, and high fructose corn syrups in drinks and snacks which lower leptin levels continually preventing hormonal conditions required to activate BAT.
  2. We are not exposed to cold anymore due to advanced clothing, bedding, insulated buildings and central heating systems thus preventing cold stimulation of BAT.

Through simulating natural seasonal inputs i.e. reducing dietary fructose and some cold exposure, perhaps we can activate BAT in the autumn time to take advantage of the health benefits brown fat yields, which are many.