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How SANE are Popular Diets Such as Paleo etc?

Carrie: Hello, lovely listeners. This is Carrie Brown and with me I have Mr. Jonathan Bailor.

Jonathan: What’s up Carrie? How are you today?

Carrie: I am doing awesome. How are you?

Jonathan: I kind of thought you were going to…

Carrie: The timing was not quite right there, was it?

Jonathan: That’s like in the track and field when they’re doing the baton handoff, and it’s like. “Oh, no! I dropped the baton on the ground.”

Carrie: How are you?

Jonathan: I am quite well, Carrie. How are you doing?

Carrie: I am doing great.

Jonathan: Carrie, I remember that you had – this is an episode where you have – we didn’t actually say the name of this show.

Carrie: No, we didn’t.

Jonathan: This is – in case you don’t know, this is The Calorie Myth and Smarter Science of Slim show, just in case you didn’t know where you are at?

Carrie: I never do that – one of the intros.

Jonathan: I know. You got to do that for brand recognition, Carrie. All right. So, Carrie, you had one of your awesome questions for today’s show.

Carrie: Well, I just saw – and particularly because it’s a new year, although it won’t be when we podcast this, but anyway, there’s an awful lot, I mean, there’s a staggering number of diets out there. And when people are out there and looking around, it can be incredibly confusing as to what they all are and what the differences are. And so, I just thought it might help to just do a quick kind of overview of a few of the ones that people might run across and that would help them in their – not being quite so confused about everything that is going on out there in the diet world. What do you think?

Jonathan: I think that’s a great, a great topic, and I would like to actually give one big answer and then we can get into some specific diets. But the biggest answer is that if you look at results, the most effective ways of eating, and I said “way of eating” intentionally, is they are effective because they aren’t diets. Because diets are by definition temporary, and I know this is going to sound really, really obvious, but sometimes we have to remind ourselves of obvious things. If you press the accelerator in your car to make your car go faster, your car will only go faster and maintain that speed as long as you keep your foot on the accelerator pedal. You have to keep doing whatever you did to get the result to continue to get the result. So, any diet which takes place for a finite period of time, say 21 days, 28 days, whatever, it may or may not work during that time period. But who cares because I think most of us want long-term results, not “Oh look, I lost 20 pounds of water in 28 days and then another 28 days later I gained it all back and 10 pounds.” The premise of dieting, aka doing something which you will only do for a short period of time, can’t work if “work” is defined as “help you to achieve any long-term goals.” Just like very, very simple logic we have to remind ourselves: if you do something, anything, regarding eating and exercise and you stop doing it, the results will stop too.

Carrie: That’s why we need to find something that not only works, but we need to find something that we can maintain forever.

Jonathan: Exactly. But think about how – what we are saying Carrie is so – it’s like saying, “Laughing is more enjoyable than crying.” It’s true. Doing something, you have to keep doing it if you want to keep achieving the results that it gives you, but think about these meal programs that we see on television constantly where it’s “If you allow us to mail you food and all you eat is the food we mail you, you will lose weight.” That may or may not be true, but unless you plan on only eating food you receive in the mail for the rest of your life, how is that supposed to work?

Carrie: Yes, it’s going to stop working. It’s going to stop working as soon as you stop getting your mail in the food – no, your food in the mail.

Jonathan: The same thing applies to calorie counting and starvation dieting. If someone – I don’t care how many letters they have behind their name – tells you to do something and you are hungry, unless you are willing to tolerate hunger, cold, being tired, being crabby, every single hour of every day for the rest of your life, it can’t work because you have to keep doing it, and no one should have to live their life in that state.

Carrie: I am certainly not interested in doing that.

Jonathan: Think about things that actually do work. There are a lot of people – for example, two of the most popular lifestyles are vegetarian/veganism and Paleo. And then there is low carb. People who – all of these can work and have worked for many, many people and have worked long term for many, many people because they are less about dieting and more about changing the type of foods you are eating and eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full, just in a different set of foods.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: Vegans don’t count calories, they don’t ever tolerate hunger. They just don’t eat animal products.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: Low carbers eat when they are hungry, stop when they are full, they just don’t eat sugar and starch. Paleo, again, they’re not tolerating hunger. They’re just saying, “Unless it’s something found directly in nature, I am not going to eat it.” And all of those lifestyles can be very effective for the exact same reasons: all of them eliminate processed garbage and sugar and other toxic elements.

Carrie: But it’s not – those things are not something you do just in order to lose weight. They’re things you do which you intend to do for the long-term.

Jonathan: Exactly. It’s also ridiculous, I think, to say that not eating garbage is a diet. That’s like saying “not smoking.” The default state of human beings is to eat natural foods found in nature until you are full and to stop when you are full. That’s not a diet, saying, “I am not going to eat processed garbage.” How is that a diet? It doesn’t even make sense to me.

Carrie: It’s not a diet. It’s a way of life.

Jonathan: Basically every single diet with the exception of some of these ridiculous processed-food, just-eat-this, magic-Hollywood-cookie diet are all basically “eliminate the most toxic foods.” And if you eliminate the most toxic foods and you can keep that up, you will have success. And there’s different like if you – for example, if you really don’t like the idea of killing mammals, then being a vegetarian might be the right way for you to go. If you really like meat and fish, then going low carb or Paleo might be a way for you to go. It’s just like labeling it seems almost arbitrary because every single “diet” that is a diet has to fail because a diet by definition is temporary. Anything that works long-term will work long-term for the same reasons. It’s enjoyable and it’s based on nutrient-dense whole food, and you don’t ever deprive yourself and you eat high quality stuff. There is myriad ways to do that, but anything that works has those characteristics.

Carrie: You mean you don’t think the cookie diet works?

Jonathan: The only – there’s two classes of diets in my mind – not diets. There’s two things. There’s diets. A diet by definition is something that is so restrictive that it can only be done short-term. Then there is lifestyle change. Lifestyle change is you change something fundamental about what you do day in and day out that you continue indefinitely.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: Getting married is a lifestyle change.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: Right? Because it changes your lifestyle. Having a child.

Carrie: In my case, getting a cat is a lifestyle change.

Jonathan: Whereas like going on a date is a diet. It’s something you are just kind of testing out and trying out in the short term. So, does, for example, the Dukan diet work? I think it is quite effective while you are doing it, but maybe what do you when you are off it? So the question is really, goes back to other shows we’ve had, Carrie, which is what are your goals and what makes you happy, right? If for example, you really like the taste of fatty foods, then a low-carbohydrate diet – excuse me, low carbohydrate lifestyle – see how it is ingrained in my brain. A low carbohydrate lifestyle is going to be right for you. If you really don’t like the thought of eating animals then a SANE vegetarian lifestyle is going to be right for you. If the idea that you should just eat the way people ate before we had an obesity epidemic makes sense to you, then the Paleo lifestyle is probably a great lifestyle for you. I feel sometimes there is so much ideology and label-putting on things that I just don’t get it.

Carrie: Well, except when people – I don’t think a lot of people do but some people label the SANE diet as a diet, and it’s – that’s not what it is. It’s a lifestyle. We don’t embark on this for a month to lose two inches off our waist and then go back to eating how we used to do because then that’s just like yo-yo dieting at its finest.

Jonathan: The best way to characterize SANEity is actually the same way you would characterize vegetarianism or Paleo because they are both actually best. They are all three of them defined in terms of a template because the template of vegetarianism is “Don’t eat animals, eat plants.” How you do that is very open-ended, right? The template for Paleo is “If it wasn’t available to our ancestors, you might want to think twice about eating it.” It doesn’t tell you exactly what to do. SANE eating, if it’s not satisfying, if it’s really aggressive, if it isn’t nutritious and if it’s extremely efficient at being stored as body fat, you might want to think twice before eating it. It gives us a framework just like it’s the difference between “Can you memorize your multiplication tables?”

Carrie: No.

Jonathan: Can most Americans students who need to graduate from grade school memorize their multiplication tables?

Carrie: More than likely.

Jonathan: More than likely, yes. However, the reason we do that is so that we learn the underlying laws and principles that dictate algebra, because once you understand the laws and principles, you can now multiply any set of numbers together. It doesn’t work by memorization. Same thing applies with these templates. Vegetarianism, veganism, Paleo, SANEity. They are templates; they teach you underlying principles and then you apply those principles throughout your life and that’s why they work.

Carrie: It’s also just awesome because when we – and I hope you are broadcasting this after the one about realistic goals, because when we talked about that – if you have different goals and you have, you know, you’re a different age and you have a different body composition, you have different parents, and you have all these variables, a SANE lifestyle is fantastic because you just take the principles and you can tweak the “what you actually do” to fit your situation while still maintaining the lifestyle because it has – it doesn’t have a rigid set of boundaries. You can make it work whatever your situation is.

Jonathan: Yes, and I think the other thing which may be helpful for people is to understand the premise. So, what is the premise behind certain lifestyles? For example, the premise behind Nutrisystem is as long as you only eat things mailed to you by Nutrisystem, you will lose weight. And that is probably true because they could mail you nothing and then if you eat nothing, you would lose weight. The premise behind vegetarianism is “Don’t eat animals.” The premise behind the Paleo lifestyle is “Eating the way our ancestors ate will give us similar results it gave our ancestors and those results are better than the results we are getting today.” The premise of the Mediterranean diet is “People who live in Mediterranean regions eat this way and they seem to be doing better than we’re doing, so let’s eat that way.” The premise of SANEity is the scientific research over the past 40 years has established that foods that fill us up faster and keep us full longer are better choices for us than foods that don’t fill us up quickly and don’t keep us full, that foods that slowly give us energy and cause a minimal negative hormonal response are better for us than the opposite. Foods that provide us with more vitamins and minerals and essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, things we need, relative to things we don’t need are great options. And foods which our body doesn’t really easily store as fat are good options. So, those are the underlying premises of these various lifestyles. So, you can see actually there are some of them that may even cross-pollinate.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: And that’s the key thing, is to take a step back and just say, put all the marketing and noise and nonsense, just try to turn the volume down on that a little bit and simply ask yourself, “Can I do this and enjoy it for the rest of my life?” If the answer is yes, it will absolutely improve your health because basically anything – the worst possible way to eat in the world is the standard American diet.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: Anything is dramatically better than that. If you literally ate – people are like, “Jonathan, you don’t like starch.” If you were to only eat starch found directly in nature – yams, sweet potatoes, taro root, blah-blah-blah, those types of things as well as some vegetables – you would be dramatically healthier than the standard western diet. Does that mean that there aren’t things that could be even better than that? No, not at all. The point is finding what works for you, finding something that echoes the proven scientific principles and finding something that’s sustainable and enjoyable are the keys. I don’t care what you want to call it.

Carrie: It’s got to be enjoyable for sure.

Jonathan: It can be. There is no – like this, here is another general rule of thumb.

Carrie: Human beings don’t stick to things that they don’t find enjoyable for the most part. Some do, some people (both talking at once)

Jonathan: … or not long-term or when the diet doesn’t – when their life – it’s easy to stick to something you don’t like doing when everything else in you life is going well, but as soon as life isn’t just cuddles and hugs, it’s hard to stay on it.

Carrie: Rainbows and unicorns.

Jonathan: Exactly, but the other thing that’s key to keep in mind, Carrie, is that any lifestyle that – do the common sense check, too, for example, this idea that fat is bad for us, that doesn’t pass the common sense test from day one because if fat was bad for us, why – if fat was toxic, why would we have developed a taste for it? For example, there is a reason poisonous mushrooms don’t taste good. It is true, there is a reason.

Carrie: Nor does kale.

Jonathan: That’s actually not true at all depending on how you prepare kale, but that never should have passed the common sense test that eating fat found in nature is somehow bad and gives you heart disease. If that were true, then we would have seen way more heart disease all throughout human history whereas it was really, really rare for a really long time.

And then, for example, being a vegan for moral reasons – sure, if – that makes plenty of sense. If you don’t think it’s right to kill any animals that is a totally rationable [sic], reasonable position to have, I respect it and I think it’s great and I think you could probably be way healthier than the standard American diet. However, to have people out there saying that eating animals kills you is patently false. We wouldn’t have the jaw structure we have if we weren’t – if we couldn’t eat animals, if animals were toxic.
And that’s what people are saying when I say sugar is toxic, I am not being hyperbolic. Sugar is toxic. It is a poison, which it is dose-dependent, but refined, processed sugar is not something we are designed/evolved to eat, depending on your belief system, as evidenced by the fact that if you eat sugar, your incidence of diabetes correlates as strongly as if you smoke your incidence of [smoking correlates to] lung cancer. When you do this, it breaks you and it breaks people in a consistent way, whereas anything you find in nature, if you just stick with things you find in nature, there is no, “Well, everyone who eats cows, gets cow disease.” It doesn’t make any sense at all.

Carrie: One or two people get mad cow disease. No, not the whole population.

Jonathan: Carrie, I got a little soapboxy on that one, not as tactical or concrete, but does that somewhat help?

Carrie: I think it does help. I think it helps a lot.

Jonathan: The key thing, though, that I would urge everyone to do literally is don’t – I was at the place I workout the other day, and they have this thing inside the lockers where they are for $849, we will provide you with all of your meals for twenty-one days and when we have done this in the past, the average weight loss is fifteen pounds. That’s probably true. What happens on day twenty-two? Just run in the other direction.

Carrie: Doomed to the drive-through and eat a bacon and egg McMuffin and all hell breaks loose.

Jonathan: It’s like as long as this really tall person holds you up, you will be able to dunk a basketball. That’s true, but what happens when he puts you down? So, unless it’s something that you can do on your own sustainably and enjoyably, don’t do it. And try to find something else, because doing the wrong thing is worse than doing nothing, as we talked about and as the studies in The Calorie Myth show because yo-yo dieting is so damaging.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: Don’t just try anything, don’t believe the hype that “Oh, just try it.” No. Be very conscientious just like you wouldn’t just jump into a relationship with anybody, your relationship with food is very serious and it needs to be thought through. You are putting things into your body. That’s a very intimate activity and I think we should cherish it and think about it.

Carrie: I wholeheartedly agree so.

Jonathan: I love it. Well, Carrie, hopefully that was helpful for our listeners. It was certainly an enjoyable conversation for me.

Carrie: Yes, always.

Jonathan: Listeners and dear Carrie, remember: this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. We will chat with you soon.

Carrie: See you.

Jonathan: Wait, wait don’t stop listening yet.

Carrie: You can get fabulous free SANE recipes over at carriebrown.com.

Jonathan: And don’t forget your 100 percent free eating and exercise quick start program as well as free fun daily tips delivered right into your inbox at bailorgroup.com.

Ever wonder where various rank on the SANEity scale? Find out in today’s show.