Sunday, June 1, 2014

That diet is bananas!

First, if I may:


OK, now where were we...

A browse through some of my recent cookbooks acquisitions brought this little ditty to light:

via The Buffet Cookbook
This is not something met with my usual lip smacking culinary fantasy. However, it seems this was a fairly common recipe in mid-century cookbooks. And I was intrigued. Instead of getting immediately creative, I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter (except I halved it). The result? Granted, my dinner guest thought it was delicious. I thought it tasted like, well, bananas mashed into beef. Blerk.

This might have been good with some sort of curry or jerk spice. Something tangy-spicy to interact with the bananas.

To me, it was a failure. Even if the blog reviews of this recipe were saying it was amazing.You can't believe everything you read.

Which is why this particular article in the NY Times made me a little nervous, at least by it's headline. Men losing 11 pounds in only 4 days? If you look at the full study, overweight men were given severe caloric restriction (360 cal/day!) combined with intense exercise, then continuing increase exercise for another week. And surprise, these men lost a lot weight. And they seemed to have kept it off after a year. But even the scientists confirmed that this needs more observation and it may not be ideal for those without the initiative.
But also, there was a only a handful of men in the study, so this cannot be considered a universal solution, just yet.

Also, looking at it in perspective, when I started my Streamlined lifestyle change, I worked out with my first trainer that if I cut my intake to 2700 cal/day, but increased my exercise, I could maintain my goal of a one lb. of weight loss per week.

Now that was already a huge calorie drop for me. Doing a quick and dirty calorie count on Retro Ska Librarian meals, I was probably taking in 4000-6000 cal/day. Way more than any recommended daily allowance. So coming down to 2700 was already a shift, never mind that it also meant I should be engaging in "intensive exercise" at least 5 days a week (otherwise weight loss would have been only do to even less calories).  I cannot imagine handling 360 cal/day. That's not even a bagel or a beer.

So while this is an eyebrow raising study, do we see it fitting into a healthy lifestyle change? I'm sure someone will try to bank on that! 

"The Danish Starvation Diet! Eat like a Little Mermaid!"

But what makes it more difficult could be our overall diet. A brief written for JAMA has two doctors saying it is the way we store fuel in fat cells that can actually prevent us form properly losing weight. Coming back to the theory that it's not how much you eat, but what you eat. 

I'm not sure how I feel about this theory, and it is just that at the moment, a theory. Taken at it's basics, yes, it is healthier when you count calories to try to eat healthier foods (I suppose 2700 cal/day of frosting tubs would have not have been very smart of me to do).

But will this idea throw more people into the arms of "quick fix" diets and pills, as they feel they are "doomed" by their fat cells? Frank Bruni, fellow former pudgy guy, does see it as a problem that we all fall into:

"And the vogue for painstakingly tailored eating regimens and dieting techniques is to some extent a distraction from that, a dangerous one, because it promotes the idea that basic nature and fundamental biology can somehow be gamed, cheated, transcended."

There is no cheat. There is no extreme way of doing this. And I can no longer buy into any special diet.

It is highly possible that my fat cells have been so overworked that weight loss for me might be harder. But I did do it, without denying myself anything out of the ordinary. However, maybe those "trigger" foods are what these doctors are talking about.  I don't know, I just know what worked and it wasn't advertised on TV.

In any case, there is no easy answer. Never was. Never will be. You want a miracle, look at those beautiful NY Rangers! It took 20 years, but they finally hit their goal! (OK, ouch...)


4 Days, 11 Pounds. (n.d.). Well. Retrieved May 23, 2014, from

Bruni, Frank. “Diet Lures and Diet Lies.” The New York Times, May 26, 2014.

Calbet, J. a. L., Ponce-González, J. G., Pérez-Suárez, I., de la Calle Herrero, J., & Holmberg, H.-C. (2014). A time-efficient reduction of fat mass in 4 days with exercise and caloric restriction. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/sms.12194

Ludwig DS, & Friedman MI. (2014). Increasing adiposity: Consequence or cause of overeating? JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.4133

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