69% of all adult Americans are overweight. Besides that being a hilarious number due to a certain simultaneous oral sex act, it’s a depressing number because that’s a lot of fat people.
Since so many people are overweight and there’s various health and emotional and financial implications due to this new rise of the “fat class” there’s a lot of information about how to live a healthy lifestyle. A lot of that information is also incredibly stupid. We’ve brought in professional writer and health information person Kristen Domonell to debunk some of the myths
people I have been throwing out there.
1. Skip as many meals as possible.
Ripp: The basic equation to lose weight is consume less calories than you intake. So what’s the best way to do that than to stop eating? I really don’t see any downside to this one plus you save a lot of money. Kristen, thoughts?
Kristen: For starters, because cleanses are the same idea as skipping as many meals as possible, this article on juice cleanses provides really great information on your body’s reaction to being starved. In just three days without proper nutrition, your body can start to lose muscle, you can feel irritable, unable to focus, and even depressed. All of these things will affect your work, relationships, and life in just as negative a way as being chubby would.
Plus, if you skip a meal you’re more likely to feel really hungry later in the day and eat more calories at your next meal than you need (i.e. you’ll skip breakfast and then eat a sandwich and three bags of Cool Ranch Doritos and drink four orange sodas for lunch). Researchers at the National Institute of Aging [Ed. Note: Sounds made-up] found that skipping meals during the day and eating one large meal for dinner (with the same total calories you’d eat in three meals) results in elevated fasting glucose levels and a delayed insulin response, which could lead to diabetes. This is a long winded way of saying that if you frequently skip meals you will lose your limbs.
Instead, you should eat regular meals (research is iffy on if more than three is actually beneficial), and work on cutting a reasonable amount of calories in order to lose weight. Shape magazine provides a good formula for figuring out how many calories to cut to meet your weight loss goals, which I’m not going to spell out but is worth checking out. And if you don’t want to do math, just making simple changes can result in effortless weight loss. For example, if you drink two cans of soda a day, choosing water can cut 1,960 to 2,310 calories from your diet per week. Since you need to consume or cut 3,500 calories to gain or lose a pound, this alone can help you lose more than half a pound a week.
Ripp: That last paragraph just proved my theory that if you never eat you’d lose pounds faster but I won’t mention that fact! [Ed. Note: I did.] OK, so I’ll just eat a little less, but how do I make healthy food choices day five into eating healthier when I begin to crave all the Triscuits and Flavored Triscuits I used to eat regularly?
Kristen: A good way to do this is to not completely deprive yourself of foods you love. I personally think that if you eat only salads for four days, you probably will binge out on something absurdly bad for you on day five (unless salads are your comfort food, in which case we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation). So if you love and often crave chocolate, for example, have a small piece every day instead of a huge candy bar. And, believe it or not, most food cravings last three to 12 minutes, so if you can distract yourself for a few minutes when you’re hankering for a shrimp tempura roll, you’ll be able to avoid giving in. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day is one way to make you feel less hungry, and it will also give you something to do besides snacking. General recommendations call for men to drink 3 liters of water a day (about 3 large Nalgenes) and for women to drink 2.2 liters. This varies based on your weight and/or activity level. This will also give you some extra exercise walking to the bathroom during the workday, because you will be peeing A LOT. Chewing gum is the same idea (minus the peeing).
2. Drinking diet soda is a waste of time.
Ripp: Look who has links to back up his facts! OK, if you actually clicked the link it says studies are inconclusive if drinking diet soda is worse but let’s just use some common sense. There’s a lot of bad chemicals in diet soda and if people are using drinking calorie-free drinks, they think they can eat a bunch of donuts to make up for those calories they are missing with regular soda. Boom. K-Dizzle?
Kristen: I agree, diet soda is a waste of time. Even if studies are inconclusive about the possibility that drinking diet soda leads to weight gain, they also aren’t conclusive that it doesn’t. It’s also way too soon to tell what the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners could be. If you drink a diet soda once in a while I doubt it will kill you, but what’s the point? Instead, just drink water. Or if you really are craving a soda, at least drink a regular sugary one and hold yourself accountable.
Ripp: Mitt Romney doesn’t agree with your last sentence. Is Splenda bad for you? Let me rephrase, is six Splendas throughout the course of a day bad for you? Is everything that is artificial bad for you? What’s the balance between eating something artificial versus eating too many natural calories? Is there a God? Hello? You still there?
Kristen: At the end of the day, eating natural vs. artificial foods won’t make you lose or gain more weight, it’s more a matter of how you feel about putting unnatural things in your body. Having six Splendas throughout the course of the day probably won’t kill you, and according to the National Cancer Institute, studies of FDA-approved sweeteners “have not demonstrated clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans.” But there are plenty of studies out there that have found a link, including one in 2005 that linked Aspartame (found in Equal) to cancer in rats fed high doses, which came out to being equivalent to drinking eight to 2,083 cans of diet soda a day. The FDA has said the findings of this study are inconsistent and won’t back them as legit, but the FDA is also a very political organization… Many of these sweeteners were also only just approved for consumption beginning in the eighties, i.e. there is no way to evaluate the effects of the sweeteners on someone who has heavily consumed them for an entire lifetime. The same goes for genetically modified foods, which the FDA says is A-OK.
*Stepping off soap box*
With that said, it really comes down to what you want to put in your body. If you are totally fine with consuming artificial foods and simply CAN’T replace soda or other artificially sweetened drinks with water, it’s probably best for you to have the diet version if you’re trying to cut calories. But to be clear, I’m not recommending this. And again, research is inconclusive as to whether or not drinking diet soda can contribute to weight gain.
3. Develop a cocaine habit.
Ripp: If you are going to drink a lot of beer when going out each night, that’s roughly 120 calories per drink so after six beers, that’s basically a meal. Since you’re not going to burn off those calories with a jog to end the night so do a bunch of cocaine. Exercising speeds up your heart rate to burn calories faster…which is the same thing cocaine does. And would you rather pay a trainer $100 a session or a drug dealer $100? Both are d-bags but one isn’t going to judge you based on your eating habits. K-Swift?
Kristen: I’m going to ignore your convoluted math, but I asked Anthony Riley, PhD, a psychologist at American University who researches the effects of drugs, for some help with this one. Cocaine does speed up your heart rate, but to an unhealthy level, he says (and with high enough doses heart attacks and cardiac arrhythmias can occur). But the main reason cocaine can make people lose weight isn’t that it makes your heart race, but that it makes you not want to eat.
“Cocaine does suppress feeding and appetite, although there is usually a rebound when the drug is removed,” shares Riley. “It is also hard to separate the drug user’s lifestyle from the effects of the drug. That is, the choices users may make may preclude normal activities, and it is hard to know what is an effect of the drug itself.”
The side effects of cocaine use would preclude any benefits of being thinner, though. “There are many side effects, and these effects are dose and duration dependent. They include effects on the central nervous system, heart, breathing, GI tract, and behavior (stereotypies, dependence, addiction),” says Riley.
Here are a couple articles worth checking out (and I included some excerpts, if you don’t want to check them out…):
Cocaine and the Heart, About.com: “Cocaine and smoking each exacerbate the other’s ability to elevate the heart rate and constrict blood vessels. Cocaine paired with alcohol prompts the liver to make cocaethylene, a substance that steps up cocaine’s potential to cause heart strain and sudden death.”
Asymptomatic Heart Damage Common Among Heavy Cocaine Users, Medical News Today: “A considerable number of regular cocaine users have heart damage and do not know it, researchers revealed in the medical journal Heart. Serious heart damage among cocaine users commonly has no symptoms.”
Cocaine Use and Its Effects, WebMD: “Cocaine increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries supplying blood to the heart. The result can be a heart attack, even in young people without heart disease. Cocaine can also trigger a deadly abnormal heart rhythm called arrhythmia.”
Binge Eating May Lead to Addiction-Like Behaviors, ScienceDaily: ”’Indeed, while about 20 percent of those rats and humans exposed to cocaine will develop addiction-like behavior for the drug under normal circumstances, in our study, the probability of addiction to cocaine increased to approximately 50 (percent) for subjects with a history of having binged on fat,’ Grigson said.
Future studies will look more closely at how bingeing can lead to addiction-like behaviors — whether bingeing on sugar or a mixture of sugar and fat also promotes cocaine or heroin addiction, for example, and whether bingeing on a drug, in turn, increases the likelihood of bingeing on fat.”
Did I scare you yet?
Ripp: I decided to become a vegan by the third paragraph. Thanks!