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Interesting Information: “What Really Makes Us Fat”

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Interesting Information:  July 6, 2012

“What Really Makes Us Fat”

Husband John reads The New York Times every Sunday.  It’s a national paper, and we are lucky to be able to get a national paper way up here in Mid-Coast Maine.  We don’t get The NYTs until mid-morning on Sunday, but we do get it delivered to our driveway–which did not happen until about a year ago.  Before that time, one had to go to a nearby market mid-morning on Sunday to get a copy.

I rarely have time to read the Sunday paper, so John brings me articles in which he knows I’ll be interested.

This Sunday he put Gary Taubes’ “What Really Makes Us Fat” at my place at the dining room table.

I’ve written about Taubes’ work in my essays.  He’s a careful researcher, and he’s telling a story that has a lot of scientific data behind it but which isn’t catching much fire in the mainstream understanding of how the body works with regard to obesity.  His work has pretty thoroughly debunked the “calorie is a calorie” and you-just-need-to-cut-back” theory of fat accumulation–showing that what kind of calorie one eats does matter rather a lot.

In “What Really Makes Us Fat,” Taubes cites a very recent article (last week) in The Journal of the American Medical Association detailing the results of a clinical trial by Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital and his collaborators.  This study, writes Taubes, speaks to a fundamental issue–what causes obesity.

Ludwig’s team did something that has never been done before.  First, explains Taubes, they “took obese subjects and effectively semi-starved them until they’d lost 10 to 15 percent of their weight.  Such weight-reduced subjects are particularly susceptible to gaining the weight back.  Their energy expenditure drops precipitously and they burn fewer calories than people who naturally weigh the same.  This means they have to continually fight their hunger just to maintain their weight loss.”

Next, “Dr. Ludwig’s team then measured how many calories these weight-reduced subjects expended daily, and that’s how many they fed them.”  But, the subjects were “rotated through three very different diets, one month for each.  They ate the same amount of calories on all three, equal to what they were expending after their weight loss, but the nutrient composition of their diets was very different.”

One diet was low fat so was high in carbohydrates–it’s the “diet we’re all advised to eat:  whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein.”  One diet had a “low glycemic index:  fewer carbohydrates in total, and those that were included were slow to be digested–from beans, non-starchy vegetables and other minimally processed sources.”  The third diet was Atkins, which “is very low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein.”

The “results were remarkable” write Taubes.  “Put most simply, the fewer carbohydrates consumed, the more energy these weight-reduced people expended.  On the very low-carbohydrate Atkins diet, there was virtually no metabolic adaptation to the weight loss.”

On the low-fat diets, participants “had to add an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity each day to expend as much energy as they would effortlessly on the very-low-carb diet.  If the physical activity made them hungrier–a likely assumption–maintaining weight on the low-fat, high-carb diet would be even harder.”

Taubes notes that if we consider the weight-reduced participants as being “pre-obese,” their reactions to foods tells us what can make us fatter.  This study showed that “the fewer carbohydrates we eat, the more easily we remain lean.  The more carbohydrates, the more difficult.  In other words, carbohydrates are fattening, and obesity is a fat-storage defect.  What matters, then, is the quantity and quality of carbohydrates we consume and their effect on insulin.”

Taubes notes that “from this perspective, the trial suggests that among the bad decisions we can make to maintain our weight is exactly what the government and medical organizations like the American Heart Association have been telling us to do:  eat low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets, even if those diets include whole grains and fruits and vegetables.”

Taubes notes that these conclusions are controversial, and he calls for experiments to be “replicated by independent investigators.  We’ve been arguing about this for over a century.  Let’s put if to rest with more good science.   The public health implications are enormous.”

In his books, which I wrote about in my essays on this blog, Taubes discusses many ongoing clinical trials and numerous obesity clinics (like the one at Duke) which are showing that people lose weight and improve their health data on an Atkins-type diet.  Many other diets utilize parts of the Atkins approach–Paleo and GAPS among them.

Written by louisaenright

July 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Turkey Tracks: Flamboyant Fall Quilt

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Turkey Tracks:  July 5, 2012

Flamboyant Fall Quilt

This contemporary bar quilt is another colorway of an earlier quilt:  “Bar None”–which is on this blog.

I started with Flamboyant Fall with bar strips of neutral rectangles–2 by 3 1/2–cut up and saved as I finished other quilts.  I cut up any leftover scrap that was not approximately the size of a fat quarter.  Bigger pieces went back into my stash.  About 2 years ago, I realized that I had bags and bags of pre-cut squares and rectangles, and I began to quilt with them.  I purchased a Handi-Quilter long-arm two years ago and that enabled my production rate to increase sharply.  This past winter, I made a real dent in the saved bags of pre-cut quilting fabric.

At first I thought this quilt would be really pretty with browns, golds, and creams–and here’s what I pulled from my stash to highlight the neutral rectangle “bars.”

Here’s what the dark brown strips and the neutral bars look like on the design wall…

At this point, I headed off to Marge’s Mainely Sewing to get borders.  I had bought some lovely large fabrics for backing at a sale at Quit Diva’s in Rockland–one of which really wanted to be part of this quilt.  TAnd I did not have enough of the paisley to use in the quilt.  The plan for a mostly neutral quilt went right out the window.

Here are the fabrics that came home with me–the backing is the third from the left–the fabric with the leaves.  Marge found the big Kaffe Fasset floral for me, and I loved it at first sight.  (The laundry basket is a dog bed for whichever dog is hanging out with me in the quilt room.)

Here’s the top on the design wall–ready to be put on Lucy the longarm and quilted:

I quilted with a varigated thread that had all the colors of the quilts in it–all the golds, oranges, deep reds, and so forth.  This pic doesn’t do this thread justice, but you can at least see the pantograph pattern:

Here’s a good pic of the outer and inner borders.  Note how the inner border has the dark brown of the bars.  I love how the swirly fabric worked for the binding.  I cut all bindings on the bias these days, so that really made this fabric’s movement shine.

Look at how well the backing and the binding work with the quilt.

Here are two pics of the quilt on a low bed upstairs.  Neither do it justice.  One is faded and the other’s colors are a bit “off.”  But, here they are.

And:

Flamboyant Fall is both wild and controlled, what with the bars in the center.  I love the fabrics in this quilt.  I’m really pleased with how it came out.

Written by louisaenright

July 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm