Day 251 (R, 110908) — Mistakes Were Made

SparkPeople.com.  I like SparkPeople.com.  I use their diet and exercise tools all the time.  I read their exercise articles (e.g. Exercising in Water) and motivational stories (e.g. Stop Emotional Eating Before It Starts) almost daily.  But, when it comes to diet advice, when it comes to nutrition information, they promote a low-fat diet with frequent meals as the answer to all things.

They specifically don’t like low carb diets and intermittent fasting, warning people away from both them while ignoring evidence which supports their use.

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Carbs. For example, just a few days ago, they had an article which, on first blush, looks promising:

The Truth About Carbohydrates: Not all Carbs are Created Equal

Halfway through the article, it starts making claims about low carb diets which Atkins, Taubes, etc., and experience have demonstrated are not true. (E.g. “Following an extremely low-carbohydrate diet is disastrous, dangerous, and above all—boring!“)


Later, they recommend:

RULE 1: Include the following in your diet:

  • Fruits: 2-4 servings daily
  • Vegetables: 3-5 servings daily
  • Whole grain breads, muffins, bagels, rolls, pasta, noodles, crackers, cereal, and brown rice: 6-11 servings daily
  • Legumes, beans and peas: 1-2 servings daily
  • Low-fat and non-fat dairy products: 3 servings daily

At the beginning of the article they tell us, “It’s true. A carbohydrate-rich diet can inflate appetite and girth.” yet they suggest people to down 14-25 servings of carb-loaded foods per day?

Plus they allow a few servings of fruit juice, bread, muffins, bagels, rolls, pasta, noodles, crackers, cereal, white rice, fried vegetables, and even french fries.

In fact, the only thing they disallow is straight sugar in its many forms.

They consider this a “simple, effective carbohydrate-controlling plan” which allows for proper, moderate carb intake.

This is moderate?!?!?

I understand that low carb is not the answer for everyone. I understand that some people can eat all the carbs they want, eliminate only fructose, and still be skinny as a rail.  But this advice has been offered by the nutritional establishment for a several decades now and look where it has gotten us.

While cutting sugar is a good start, the rest of this advice will doom many, many people to a life of frustrating weight problems.

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IF. They also had an article on fasting recently which seemed to rely only on things related to long-term fasting rather than intermittent fasting.

Ask The Experts: Will fasting jumpstart my weight loss efforts and boost my health?

For instance, they say, correctly, that fasting encourages the body to use up dietary glucose and switch to glycogen.  But they go on to say that, “Within only hours after starting a fast . . . .[the body] turns to its own protein [and fat] . . . . result[ing] in a considerable breakdown of both lean muscle tissue and fat tissue, and a production of ketones.

Seriously?  Mere hours?  So every night, people who don’t get up twice to scarf down a meal are experiencing “considerable breakdown of both lean muscle tissue and fat tissue, and a production of ketones“?  Really?  Think that might be a bit of an exaggeration?  Or, at least, a mischaracterization based on a too-short time frame?

They also say, “As a result, you might lose weight, but it is due to water loss, dehydration, and muscle tissue wasting, and is usually accompanied with symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness.

I’ve been doing IF for months now.  I’ve even been working out and running 8+ miles during this time, in a fasted state, and never felt these symptoms.   I’ve not once felt dizzy and only felt tired when there were other reasons to do so (e.g. after an intense workout).

I know anecdotal evidence is not . . . but the other people I have followed who engage in IF have failed to report anything like dizziness or fatigue.

Sounds to me like they are confusing long-term fasting with short-term / intermittent fasting and they would do the public a service by making it clear what they are criticizing.

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Plan for Week 36.

Day Fast? SCD? Run? Exer?
Sunday No No No No
Monday Yes Yes No Yes No
Tuesday Yes Yes No No Yes
Wednesday Yes Yes No Yes
Thursday Yes Yes No No
Friday Yes Yes No Yes
Saturday No No Yes No

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8 responses to “Day 251 (R, 110908) — Mistakes Were Made

  1. Ugh, those recommendations are a recipe for at best frustration and at worst, disaster. I don’t buy the low fat, no fat doctrine anymore either. They pump up the sweetners in that stuff so it is palatable. Our bodies need fat and it keeps you full.

    Good post.

    • As with all things, it depends. For some lucky few, it would work, no problem.

      For tons of people,* that many carbs will only keep them pointed down the broad and crooked path of incessant and hopeless struggling to lose weight and be fit.

      —–
      * Literally 😉

  2. For MOST people the recommendations laid out by SparkPeople is what will be disastrous and dangerous. PS, low-carb diets are not boring at all! I might have to run over and give a comment. 🙂 Haven’t been on SP in a while…

    I know when I’ve used their calculator to add my food I was off their charts on everything but carbs.

    -j

  3. Pingback: The REAL Truth About Carbohydrates | Finding My Fitness·

  4. Pingback: Day 266 (F, 110923) — Intermittent Fasting; A New Pic; UPs Workout Day 6 | New John for a New Year·

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