Thursday, April 29, 2010

Low Carbs or Low Fat?

Low Carbs or Low Fat?

That's still the question.

Recently, I went to see the doctor, just to make sure that objective outside observers agree that I'm in very good health. They do: both my doctor and her medical student intern agree that I'm in very good health. But... they took a blood sample, and they measured stuff in it, and they said: "you have borderline high cholesterol... you should try a low fat diet and exercise to see if you can lower it..."

So I am. Bleh.

And I'm being very strict with myself about not eating stuff that's on "the bad list." No cheese, no egg yolks, no butter, no mayo, no sausage, no bacon, no burgers. Read the labels. Check the fat content per serving. Is it saturated? Believe me, I hate saying no. And this is a pain. But I am determined about this, at least from now until late June or early July. I will see if the low fat diet actually makes a difference in my cholesterol measurement. I've survived one month like this, another two or three is do-able.

In the meantime, I'm trying to sort through all the data that's out there to see if diet and exercise really can make a difference for people. Apparently, for some, it can, and for others, not so much. Hence, my own self-depriving experiment.

Anything that crosses my path that's related to cholesterol, fat, diet and exercise are catching my eye, too. So when a friend on Twitter pointed out a recent Scientific American article, I was intrigued. This tweet grabbed my attention: "More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart" -- good article (thanks, Eric Butler...)

But then, even better than that article, was an older (2002) New York Times Magazine article that was mentioned in a reader's comment on the Scientific American article. This article is very in-depth, representing a multitude of perspectives. It's very strange to say nowadays, but it actually felt like I was reading a fair and balanced article that simply presented the reader with the facts, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions. I was astounded. You should read it too:

However, both of these articles call into question whether or not aiming for a low cholesterol measurement is even something one should strive for. And they certainly call into question what's the best dieting method to achieve it.

I firmly believe that the answer to most of America's obesity problems is simply "eat less food." I really don't think it matters much what you eat, as long as what you eat is satisfying for you. If you're basically happy with your food and eating experiences, then you will find it's easier to "eat less food" than if you're not. Sort of makes sense, doesn't it? Maybe just a reasonable, balanced diet is all any of us need in the end. Forget about the content except for this: make sure you're eating quality food, fresh as possible, and eat just enough of it, not more than you need.

So ... we'll see. I'll post an update later with my results and more thoughts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hello, April 13th: Back on the Saddle

Hello, tentative neighborhood SUV driver, afraid that I may veer in front of him before he turns the very same corner I'm aiming for... step on the gas already, this is supposed to be cardio!

Hello, line of cars waiting to pass through the one-lane railroad underpass.

Hello, smell of cigarette smoke wafting from cars waiting at traffic lights (although I'd rather that you hadn't said hello to me first).

Hello, field. Weren't there trees or brush here before?

Hello, construction site of new "senior apartment complex."

Hello, goose from Canada floating on the pond.

Hello, red-winged blackbird.

Hello, overpopulation of Shenendehowa school buses at one intersection.

Hello, hill.

Whoosh! Downhill's always more fun.

Boring flat part, not much to say hello to here.

Hello, northway traffic.

Hello, S curves: last burst of cardio for now.

Hello, parking lot.

"Hey Ken! How ya doin'?"

Sigh. Hello, work place.

Stay healthy out there!
- Cycler Dave