Sunday, August 16, 2009

This really bugs me...

While I was searching for a pic to illustrate the last post. I encountered countless blogs and web pages that ranked on Americans for being so fat. I will not claim there are no fat Americans, of course there are a lot of fat Americans.

And, there are a lot of fat Germans, and Italians, and Irish, and Swedes, and....

About the only peoples in the world who aren't terribly fat by percentage these days are the ones who do not have all the modern conveniences of refrigeration, canning, and getting fruits, grains, and vegetables out of season. This is really true. Research it yourself, if you don't believe me.

Think about this one.

Speaking of overweight...

I'm currently watching "Food Detectives." If you haven't seen it, it's a pseudo-scientific show about food myths and related topics. I seldom watch it, because their idea of scientific experimentation basically, well, sucks. But, it, of course, is geared to the average audience, and, I suppose this is therefore to be expected. The entertainment factor, of course, is much more important than is actual science. Only geeks watch shows that contain real science, and geeks don't fall for the advertising they sell on such shows. So, geeks are just about no one's target audience.

Anyhoo, the current rerun is talking about how to avoid over-eating when you go to an all-you-can-eat place. I suppose this might be a valid concern if you go to buffet places daily, or even once a week. I, however, don't go to these places very often, and when I do, by golly, I'm gonna get my money's worth. I'm not going to worry about counting calories. The whole point of a buffet, in my opinion, is conspicuous consumption.

However, if you avoid the carbs and the sugary stuff, you should be able to pork-out to the point where your stomach is complaining, and still not gain weight. The key is in what you eat, and not so much in how much you eat. However, be aware that in a lot of Asian cuisine, sugar plays a major part in nearly every dish. But, no matter the cuisine, eat the meat, and avoid the rice, potatoes, mac and cheese, and so on, and you'll be fine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to get your dog to lose weight

The last post brought this subject to mind. Many people out there have fat dogs. This is not a normal state of affairs for canines; ever see a documentary with a pack of fat wolves? Or even a pack with one fat wolf in it?

How do our dogs get so fat? By sitting in front of the television eating potato chips? Perhaps from midnight trips to the refrigerator? Nope. They get fat simply by eating what we feed them.

I once had a little mutt that looked rather like a white Lhasa Apso. I fed her cheap dry food from the grocery store. She got fat. Concerned, I switched her to a brand that claimed to be "diet" dog food, and followed their recommendation for feeding amounts. She got even fatter. Alas, she was doomed to remain fat to the end of her days, because I didn't know how to make her thin. That's right, I was the one who made her fat, and it was my responsibility to make her thin.

For many decades, we've had pounded into our heads the idea that a balanced diet is the best for us, and I suppose, by extension, it seems that a balanced diet must therefore be good for our pets as well. After all, our dogs are practically people, right? So dog food companies provide appetizing-looking illustrations of what goes into their dog food. Meat, grains, carrots, other vegetables, they often look like ingredients for stew.

Vets, regular people, dog food companies, all debate the kind of grains that are best in a dog food. Some say corn is best, some rice... But the thing is, all of them seem to miss the point entirely. The grain should not be there in the first place. It is only in there because it is a healthy-sounding cheap filler. Carnivores don't eat grain in the wild. You won't find a wolf, for example, trying to decide between what's in a corn field and a wheat field for dinner, except to decide which will provide the best hunting. The natural order of things is that herbivores eat the grains, and carnivores eat the herbivores. By introducing grains in the diet of dogs, we upset the natural order of things, and our dogs get fat.

Years ago, I hooked up with a gal who had two large dogs. One was a very large Doberman, the other was the stereotypical fat lab. By then I had learned how to make dogs thin. We found a canned dog food that was 79% protein. Ironically, it was a good deal less expensive than some of the well-known brands that were only 20-30% protein, and it was available by the case from Costco. I also found a brand that was very similar in our local supermarket, for when we hadn't quite made it to Costco in time to restock.

Simply by switching their food, without changing the amounts, giving them more exercise, or anything else, we were able to quickly get the lab to her ideal weight. What a change that was! She went from looking like a cocktail sausage with too many toothpicks stuck in, to a magnificent example of her breed. The Dobie had not been obviously fat, but it soon became apparent that he'd had a thin layer of fat spread over most of his body. He was an old dog, and was happier and moved better without it. In fact, both exhibited more energy and were a good deal happier.

As these were large dogs, they spent a good deal of the day outside. Although we lived in a temperate zone, it sometimes did get quite cold out during the winter months. We therefore learned to control the dogs' weight. In the fall, we would start to replace some of the protein in their diet with carbohydrates. The dogs would put on fat, which is insulation. Once the worst of the winter had passed, we would switch them back to the high-protein diet, and they would lose the fat layer, and emerge into spring lean, happy, and healthy.

You're probably thinking this sounds too easy. It almost is too easy. Far easier than feeding them the expensive "diet" dog food your vet recommends, and far easier than taking your dog for that nightly long walk, which sounded so reasonable, and even fun, when you promised yourself you'd do it, but now seems a chore, especially since it doesn't work.

If you have a fat dog, I invite you to try my method, and prove me wrong.

Of course you have to shop carefully, find the highest protein content you can, and only feed your dog this. No high-carb dog biscuit treats, or bowls of macaroni and cheese from the table. If you must give your dog treats, buy some beef jerky. The people kind. Even this is usually not nearly as high in protein as you might think, so give these treats sparingly.

However, if you have a fat dog, and adhere to my method, in a surprisingly short time you will have a thin, healthy and happy dog, who will probably live longer, and not be susceptible to a lot of horrible, and horribly expensive diseases like doggy diabetes.

This is also the diet to feed if your dog already has diabetes, unlike what many recommend, like: "The current recommendation for the dietary management of diabetic dogs is to provide a diet high in complex carbohydrates (starch and fiber), low fat, and no simple sugars."

THIS IS ABSURD! Well, at least except for the simple sugars part. What, some people are feeding their dogs candy? Anyway, this diet is what caused the diabetes in the first place, and will only make it worse, not better. Carbohydrates, even complex ones, turn into glucose in the bloodstream much faster than do proteins and fat. Excess glucose in the bloodstream is the problem with diabetes, and also makes your dog fat. Get rid of the cause of excess glucose, and you eliminate the problem, both with the diabetes, and with your dog being overweight. And that cause, of course, is a diet high in carbohydrates, whether simple or complex.

What this diet is good for is allowing your vet to take your money. Your dog won't get better, and your vet will be assured regular visits from you, at least until your dog dies a very early death. Am I saying your vet is intentionally robbing you? Not necessarily, but if they are advising this diet because they don't know any better, they're not very bright, either. I'm really not sure which is worse.

The people who give such advice also tend to classify dogs as omnivores. Apparently they disbelieve the following scientific categorization given to dogs:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Canidae

Just as wishful thinking can't make chocolate cake good for you, neither can it make dogs into omnivores. So, if your vet recommends a diet high in starch and thinks dogs are omnivores, get a smarter vet. One who relies on logic and fact instead of rote learning and rumor.

And feed your dog proteins and fats, and watch the pounds melt away.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Balanced" Dog Food

This is one that annoys me. I see Rachael Ray has even gotten into the game now, with her new line of dog food, called (of course) "Nutrish."

She touts it as being "balanced" nutrition for dogs. A lot of dog food manufacturers do the same these days, not just Rachael Ray. Somehow I always seem to find things more annoying when she does them, though.

Dogs are carnivores. Carnivores eat meat. A "balanced" diet for dogs is meat. End of story. Oh, sure, we've bred them over the centuries to be goofy enough to want to eat whatever we eat, or whatever we give them, but they are still carnivores, and the best thing for them to eat is meat.

They say that a balanced diet for humans includes grain, fruits and vegetables. Humans are onmivores, meaning we are equipped to deal with the glucose such things pour into our bloodstreams, more or less. Carnivores are not well equipped in this regard. This is why there are so many fat dogs out there.

I suppose it's good that the dog food companies who claim their food is healthy don't pour a bunch of chemicals into them, but the grains and vegetables they do put in them aren't good for dogs, either. The reason they do it, of course, is that compared to meat, such things are cheap.

I was curious about the nutritional Q&A on the Nutrish site, so I had a peek. One of the questions was "Why is it important that meat is the first ingredient?" "Oho," I thought, "If she replies that dogs are carnivores and need meat, how will she justify the vegetables?"

The answer, of course, was that she didn't really answer at all. "Nutrish lists either chicken or beef (depending on the variety) as its first ingredient, which guarantees a high-quality, super premium dog food that you can trust." She should be a politician. No doubt someday she will, too, more's the shame.

I've read things online, where vets sweep this whole thing under the rug by claiming that dogs are not true carnivores (whatever that means.) I've also heard vets say that dogs should not have too much meat. Which is patently absurd, and one step away from saying fish shouldn't have too much water.

If your vet tells you things like this, it's time for a new vet, and if you truly care about your pet, at least find a dog food that is very high in protein, and forget about all this "balanced" b.s. Of course, ideally you'd feed Fido meat every day, but some of us can't afford to feed ourselves meat every meal, much less our pets. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Can't I drink juice or something instead of plain water?

Yes, you can. Of course you can. This one just baffles me. I've heard nutritional "experts" tell people that they can't "get by" drinking juice, soda, tea, coffee, or milk, or whatever, for their daily intake of water, and no matter how much they drink of these other things, they still need to drink 64 ounces of plain water a day. Do these people even have brains? This is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard. Apparently somewhere in whatever process passes for thought in these people, add a couple percent of something to water that makes it actually taste good, (or even have a taste) and somewhere along the line all the water in it disappears.

What do you suppose most beverages are made of? Even whole milk, as thick as it is, is still about 88% water. Many sodas are around 99% water. Pure juices are usually somewhere in the middle. But, all of them are mostly water, and from them your body gets hydrated.

Of course, the jury is still out regarding beverages with a diuretic effect, but anyone who has drunk more beer in an evening that was probably good for them can attest that one of the things they don't wake up feeling is hydrated. So, one must use common sense, and listen to their body. However, it should be mentioned that in the days before sanitation, often beverages containing alcohol were far safer to drink than water. Beer and wine were often consumed in much higher quantities than water. On long voyages, for example, beer was often the only beverage the crew was served, along with the occasional tot of rum. You see, nasty critters that cause nasty things like dysentery don't grow in an environment that contains alcohol, but they often grow quite happily in barrels that contain plain water. So, beer was the beverage to take on long sea voyages. Apparently the folks on those voyages didn't die of dehydration, though it is probable that the alcohol content of that beer was much lower than modern varieties. Or, of course, this could be where the whole "Here be Monsters" thing came from. :)

Coffee is another, for me, at least, that I don't drink if my aim is to become hydrated.

Am I saying you should substitute other beverages for water? Well, not necessarily. Most sodas, and even fruit drinks and juices, for instance, have a ton of sugar in them. Sugar is not a necessary nutrient, and is not good for you, no matter its origin. Your body makes fat by storing the excess energy of the glucose in your blood that you do not burn immediately, and sugars of all sorts are the most easily and quickly turned into glucose in your bloodstream. Glucose, of course, is only a very pure form of sugar, and this, along with oxygen, is what your body runs on. But, glucose is what the digestive system eventually turns most everything you eat into.

The problem occurs when you dump a bunch of stuff in your stomach that turns almost instantly into glucose in the blood. Too much glucose, and your body makes insulin to get it out of your blood. But, excess glucose doesn't simply vanish, as most people seem to think. Your body is much too frugal for that. It converts the excess energy to fat, to be used as a food source in times of famine, or at least actual hunger.

But this is (and will be) a topic for another post. For now, let's just say that constantly substituting sugary or diuretic drinks for water is probably not a good idea. But aside from those two caveats, drink whatever you like, and your body will still get the water it needs. Oh, and unless you are doing something really taxing, like running a marathon, or cutting wood for hours at a time, energy drinks are evil. All they are is a combination of all the stuff that makes your body hyper, in huge quantities. Aside from the crash you get later, they're just plain bad for you. At the very least, they'll make you fat.

Do I really need 64 ounces of water a day?

This myth is even propagated by doctors and other health professionals, who really should know better. But, and here's another indicator that this is a myth, when you ask the people "Why?" no one seems to have an answer. Oh, a doctor who believes this will give you some mumbo-jumbo about how the body requires that much water per day for its various functions, but if you persist in asking them for specifics, they will change the subject, or suddenly need to be somewhere else. Try it sometime.

It's the old one about drinking eight eight-ounce glasses a day. According to the myth, everyone should do so, apparently without regard to age, size, level of activity, and so forth. This alone makes it seem somewhat suspect to anyone who actually uses their brain. "What, everyone? So my toddler needs the same amount of water as Joe Sports Guy?"

As it turns out, though, this myth run rampant is as a result of some pretty typical pseudoscience. It goes like this: Around .03 ounces of water are required to digest one calorie. The "average" caloric intake is about 2000 calories. Using the formula .03 x 2000 =60, and then rounding it off for convenience, we arrive at the conclusion that the average person with the average caloric intake needs about sixty-four ounces of water to digest those calories. Which is true, as far as it goes.

However, "average" only accounts for people who truly eat the average amount of calories. In order to have an average, you must also have people whose caloric intake is more, and people whose caloric intake is less. Often, in the case of calories, this can be much more or much less. So, just going on the information we have so far, no, not everyone needs to drink 64 ounces of water a day.

But it gets worse: The real problem with this whole myth is that the formula completely fails to account for the fact that all foods contain water, and many contain enough water per calorie for us to digest them without any additional water intake. And if we eat foods that don't have enough water in them, or for some reason we don't drink with meals, (another silly thing some people believe) and we need more water to digest something, guess what happens? We get thirsty.

As I write this, there are millions of people out there blissfully over-hydrating themselves, toting around their little plastic bottles of water everywhere they go. Aside from the impact on the environment, with literally millions of these things going in landfills every day, there is also an impact on the people themselves, and it isn't good.

Yes, drinking too much water is harmful to your body. Not "might be," not "can be," but is. There are even medical terms for it, like "Water Intoxication." (I think they should have a fancier name, like "hydrotoxia," but apparently they don't) In any event, the short story is that too much water flushes things like water-soluble nutrients, vitamins and minerals from your body, along with electrolytes. Electrolytes simply put, allow your muscles and nerves to communicate and function properly. Sodium and potassium, among others, are the primary ions of electrolytes. Water soluble vitamins like B-complex and C get flushed out with water as well.

So, if you subscribe to the common "wisdom" that you should drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, that your urine should be clear, that you should eat a diet low in sodium, and take vitamin supplements, not only are you probably literally pissing away the money you spend on vitamins, but you are risking problems in the way the electric tissues of the body communicate with each other, and the way they behave.

Humans got along for millennia by simply drinking when we were thirsty, and now "science" has come along to tell us that our bodies can't actually tell when we need water. What is more, apparently Homo sapiens is the only species on Earth who must drink even when we are not thirsty. What complete rubbish.

I, for one, think this whole thing was started as a way to get people to buy something they would normally get for "free" out of the tap. Sure worked, didn't it?

About this blog

I often run across, or afoul, of things that "everyone knows," which, despite the general "knowledge" of their accuracy don't happen to be true at all. Here I will be posting regarding these.

Don't be surprised if you encounter something here that you "know," and by all means, feel free to prove me wrong.