Back in August, Time magazine ran a bunch of ridiculous nonsense cover story which made the laughingly feeble case that exercise was not at all helpful for weight loss.
In what seemed to be an essay right out of a middle schooler’s notebook, the author attempted to convince us of this theory by stating that on days when he exercises, he ends up eating more (and, apparently, he decided his personal anecdote somehow applies to the rest of the world).
In any case, the folks at Time continue their bastardization of nutrition and health issues with their latest article (thankfully, not a cover one) titled “The Thoughest Diet”.
In it, author Joel Stein talks to popular chefs who have managed to slim down despite working in kitchens — and being surrounded by decadent food — all day.
The article quickly goes South, though, when it turns into nothing more than misguided and inaccurate weight-loss tips from men who clearly have very little knowledge of nutrition.
As can be expected when dealing with celebrity chefs, there is plenty of egotism, too. In the second paragraph of the article, Food Network star Alton Brown credits himself and other television chefs for being “partly responsible for the fattening of America.”
You want to talk about factors behind rising obesity rates? Think crop subsidies, expanding portion sizes, food lobbyists, and issues with the National School Lunch Program. Mario Battali’s alfredo sauce doesn’t even make the Top 100.
Brown then goes on to make the following statement:
“The old wisdom of everything in moderation was pretty much hogwash.”
This from the man who has chosen to “boycott French fries” and “now snacks incessantly on avocados, sardines, and almonds.”
First of all, it is still very possible to gain weight while “snacking incessantly”. Although avocados, sardines, and almonds are very healthy foods, they are by no means calorie-free.
In fact, I recently spoke to somebody who didn’t understand why she wasn’t losing weight even though she stopped eating junk food. A look at her dietary habits demonstrated that while she was eating healthier foods, she was getting just as many calories from those foods as she was in the days when potato chips, Skittles, and sugary cereals were staples of her diet.
Furthermore, Brown’s example that moderation is ‘hogwash’ is based on the fact that he used to eat massive quantities of French fries, which sounds like anything but moderation to me.
Then there’s chef Alex Stratta, who “decided to get off sugar, fatty meats, and carbs after his suit wouldn’t fit for an awards reception”.
Sigh. When I hear people say they “got off carbs”, I always have to count to ten and take deep breaths.
Carbohydrates are not just in donuts, cookies, cakes, and 600-calorie muffins. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and healthy whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and barley are also “carbs”.
Therefore, when people proudly beam that they “no longer eat carbs” , my response is often: “Wow, you stopped eating fruits, vegetables, and beans?”
As for sugar — it is absolutely a source of empty calories, and undoubtedly overconsumed in the United States.
However, what is with this notion of “swearing it off”? Why not just set a goal of eating significantly less? Besides, most people who I speak with who claim to be “off sugar” only mean white sugar, since they still consume honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup as if it somehow were calorie-free or chock-full of nutrients.
Stratta’s “tips” get worse:
“His new rules include starting the morning with a protein shake, having only three meals a day and never eating after 6 p.m.”
It is “thanks” to ridiculous articles like these that I come across so many confused individuals at workshops and classes that I teach.
In essence, what Stratta is doing is — are you ready for it? — eating fewer calories than he used to! Wow, imagine that.
It would be much more helpful if he simply credited that for his weight loss, because it is very possible to do the three things he does and still not lose a pound.
Depending on what goes into it, a protein shake can have anywhere from 200 to 800 calories. As for “three meals a day”, there are plenty of people who only eat three meals a day and gain weight because their total caloric intake for the day surpasses what they need!
Rules like “never eating after 6 p.m.” are not only unnecessary, but also overly rigid. Munching on a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts at 8 p.m. is not going to make the magical weight-loss fairies disappear into thin air.
Another example of misguided advice? The article states that renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres (who intelligently lost a total of 32 pounds by joining Weight Watchers) “stocks up on 70% cocoa chocolate bars, with the goal of always having a low-sugar options on hand.”
Let me be perfectly clear — chocolates with a high cocoa content are great.
The intense flavor often helps one satisfy cravings with small amounts, and they offer some added health benefits as a result of having more cocoa than milk chocolates. Low sugar values, however, are irrelevant.
The reason why high-cocoa chocolates are a better snack than those with lower figures? They are higher in fat, which means they take a longer time to digest, therefore allowing you to feel full with a lower amount of calories.
And then the magazine industry wonders why it’s going down the drain…