kitchen table math, the sequel: the Ed diet

Sunday, November 8, 2009

the Ed diet


I was talking to my tennis teacher yesterday about Ed.

My tennis teacher is a big Italian guy who is frequently trying to lose 30 pounds. Since I am frequently trying to lose 5 pounds, we talk about food and weight a lot.

For the past month I've been keeping him apprised of my efforts to become a 'vegan.'1

The latest news: Ed, who has no interest in becoming a vegan, has lost weight. Three pounds, possibly 4.2 He has lost weight entirely because he is married to a woman who is interested in becoming a vegan. Which is annoying because Ed was already extremely thin; Ed was already so thin he is borderline too thin for my tastes. Now he's thinner.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the Ed transformation, the Times ran an article on the Calerie study, a project looking at people who reduce their daily calories by 25 percent for two years.

For me, the most amazing finding of the study is the fact that its subjects have actually managed to remain in the study. That is the revelation, not the fantastic drops in cholesterol and blood pressure, etc. Although I've lost weight a number of times over the years, I'm not sure I've ever stuck to a reduced-calorie diet for more than a few days in a row; the notion of living on a restricted-calorie diet for two years is inconceivable.

But the Calerie people have done it, and apparently we know the secret of their success: they all switched to low-energy density foods. Vegetables, fruits, and soup: 3
Apples are superb in this regard. At the medical centers running Calerie, you see a lot of people walking around eating apples. Even subjects who disliked apples have discovered that calorie restriction, which generally has the effect of making food taste better, has given them a surprising desire for the fruit.


When I asked Susan Roberts, who runs the Tufts study, if there was a danger in Americans trying calorie restriction on their own, without a dedicated team of medical experts offering advice, she suggested that there are built-in safety mechanisms. Roberts said she didn’t think anyone would be successful by reducing portion size. “If you don’t change your diet to a high-satiety diet, you will be hungry, and you will fail,” she told me. A high-satiety diet, she said, was bound to be a healthful diet with a lot of vegetables, fruits and insoluble fiber — the kind found in some breakfast cereals, like Fiber One — that her research indicates has a unique effect in helping calorie-restriction subjects feel fuller, probably because they activate certain receptors in the lower intestine. Roberts added, “If people are doing this on their own and succeeding, well, I’d be surprised if they’re eating a lot of Hostess Twinkies.”
I don't happen to like apples, particularly. Or fruit, generally.4 I so lack a taste for fruit that I have to set a formal goal of consuming 4 fruits a day & keep a running tally to hit the mark. Even then, likely as not I won't make it.

Ed, on the other hand, loves fruit.

Yesterday Ed mentioned that he keeps a bag of apples on his desk at work. A bag. He snacks on apples all day long; he eats at least 4 apples a day, he said.

I had no idea.

Something else I didn't know: since age 22 he's been eating soup for lunch.

Every day.

And apples. Four apples, at least. Every day.

I didn't know.

He basically invented the Volumetrics diet when he graduated college & didn't think to mention it to anyone he happened to be married to who might be trying to lose weight.

So I was telling my tennis teacher about the Ed diet. Soup and apples, I said. The Ed diet. We should all try it.

My tennis teacher said I should write it up, and now I have.
1 How I dislike that word! Who came up with it? And why? Do we know?
2 I've lost 5, but I've been trying.
3 Barbara Rolls is always cited for her work on low-energy density foods & satiety.
4 I do like Twinkies.


Allison said...

Poor people have always known the soup and apples diet.

In college, several friends who had no money survived on lettuce sandwiches. They ate a head of lettuce every day.

If I eat four apples a day, my digestive system revolts.

But the reason why calorie restriction makes you want fruit is because fruit has instant sugar. The body needs energy. If you aren't eating calories and making energy from the calories you eat, then you need immmediate energy from the sugar itself.

Under no circumstances was I allowed to eat unrestricted fruit on my gestational diabetes diet. No fruit for breakfast (no milk either), no more than 4 servings of fruit all day, and no fruit juice ever.

Never forget that rodents get OBESE. Their diet doesn't keep them thin. Not eating for 5 months a year is what makes them thin. If my squirrels ate their fruits and nuts 12 months a year, they'd be so fat they would be unable to climb a tree.

Anonymous said...

My first year of teaching was, to say the least, hectic. Early on, I picked up the nasty habit of starting at 5:00 AM and working through both breakfast and lunch time without preparing real food.

I ate Snickers. Every day I had a Snickers for lunch and no breakfast. I became so famous for eating Snickers that people actually bought them for me. It was sort of a running gag. When there was a luncheon/pot luck sort of thing, I would go and somebody would always deliver a Snickers to me.

I lost 15 pounds that year.

BTW: It didn't stick. I'm now eating a proper breakfast and lunch and have returned to my normal 12 pack abs.

Liz Ditz said...

A friend of mine who tends toward high cholesterol & has a seditary job has been following the "paleolithic diet" (lean meats, veggies & fruit, moderate nut consumption, no grain or grain only as a condiment, no expressed oils) -- he reports significant weight loss & increased energy.

My primary objection to a vegan diet is that it requires the consumption of heavily processed foods (tofu, seitan) for adequate protein intake.

Anonymous said...

"My primary objection to a vegan diet is that it requires the consumption of heavily processed foods (tofu, seitan) for adequate protein intake."

Actually that's a myth. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes have protein and you don't need to consume tofu or combine foods either. Keep in mind that 100calories of broccoli has more protein than 100 calories of steak!

"Any combination of natural foods will supply you with adequate protein, including alle ight essential amino acids as well as unessential amino acids. It is unnecessary to combine foods to achieve protein completeness at each meal. The body stores and releases the amino acids needed over a twenty-four-hour period. About one-sixth of our daily protein utilization comes from recycling our own body tissue. This recycling, or digesting our own cell lining the digestive tract, evens out any variation from meal to meal in amino acid 'incompleteness.' It requires no level of nutritional sophistication to get sufficient protein, even if you eat only plant foods. It is only when a vegetarian diet revolves around white bread and other processed foods that the protein content falls to low levels. However, the minute you include unprocessed foods such as vegetables, whole grains, beans, or nuts, the diet becomes protein-rich." Joel Fuhrman, M.D. Eat to Live

Anonymous said...

"Keep in mind that 100 calories of broccoli has more protein than 100 calories of steak!"

Not by my count (or the USDA nutrient database). 100 calories of broiled lean beef top sirloin steak has about 16g of protein and 100 calories of raw broccoli has about 8g of protein.

If your figures differ, please post them and include your source.

Anonymous said...

Tofu isn't all that highly processed. I've made my own tofu from scratch in my kitchen (starting with dried soybeans).

1. Soak soybeans.
2. Grind up soybeans in blender or food processor with some water.
3. Strain.
4. Briefly bring to a boil.
5. Add gypsum.
6. Strain, press, refrigerate.

Anonymous said...

Source: Adams, C. Handbook of the Nutritional Value of Foods in Common Units (New York: Dover Publications)

100 calories
sirloin 5.4g protein
broccoli 11.2g protein
romaine lettuce 11.6g protein
kale 9.46g protein

USDA promotes analysis of food by weight instead of by calorie. USDA was originally financed by the meat and dairy industry and it slow going to shift the paradigm.

"Now, which has more vitamin E or vitamin C-- broccoli or steak? I'm sure you are aware that steak has no vitamin C or vitamin E. It is also almost totally lacking in fiber, folate, vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin K, flavonoids, and thousands of other protective phytochemicals. Meat does have certain vitamins and nutrients, but even when we consider the nutrients that meat does contain, broccoli has lots more of them. For many important nutrients, broccoli has more than ten times as much as steak. The only exception is vitamin B12 which is not found in plant fare." J. Fuhrman

Lisa said...

Unfortunately I like my apples in pie and my soup with cream.

TerriW said...

Junk science in education has *nothing* on the junk science floating around on nutrition. Those guys are the masters.

But, speaking of apples -- I've always found it humorous that my two most useful pieces of "diet" advice that I've ever received both involved apples:

1. "I can eat anything I want, but I've trained myself to want apples."

2. "If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not hungry enough to eat."

palisadesk said...

Given the diversity in population genetics, it always made sense to me (admittedly I haven't researched this in depth) that individuals, regardless of phenotype or presenting symptoms, might have quite different optimal nutritional needs dependent on genetic variables.

Coming at it from a knowledge of dog breeding, and the fact that different breeds can have significant differences in dietary requirements, I found the metabolic typing hypothesis suggestive. I read the book but have gotten most of my information from a variety of sources. It explains how some can do well on a paleo diet (I', one of them -0- bit with an unfortunate love of yoghurt and oatmeal, both excluded from the true paleo diet, which essentially is, if you can't pluck it from a tree, pick it off a plant, or kill it with a club, don't eat it;-) while others with a similar presenting profile thrive on a "Mediterranean" type diet, and so forth.

If you don't know the site, you might enjoy Dr. Mercola's newsletter and various articles at his site. He's an MD, on the juncture of the complementary/allopathic dividing line (and sometimes over it) but he has a lot of well-researched information and links to articles in respected journals. I like the newsletter and often follow up on one or more of the articles he features each week.

Liz Ditz said...

Oh, dear, palisadesk....

Joe Mercola is an anti-vaccine, anti-science woo-meister, who is in it for the money.

His nutrition advice may be sound, but is tainted by the unsoundness of his other activities.

References (just from the past two years):

palisadesk said...

Yikes, Liz, thanks for the links, I'll check them out. He has never made any money off me, as I only read the newsletter -- and have found very good info there, with links to publications like Lancet and N.E.Journal of Medicine. He is critical of chiropractic, for instance, which I thought was a good sign (anecdotally, people report good results -- but the "science" behind it is hokum)

I'll keep my critical reading skills sharp when reading his stuff. Some of it *is* good.

Catherine Johnson said...

Unfortunately I like my apples in pie and my soup with cream.

toujours le problème

Catherine Johnson said...

But the reason why calorie restriction makes you want fruit is because fruit has instant sugar. The body needs energy. If you aren't eating calories and making energy from the calories you eat, then you need immmediate energy from the sugar itself. are eating calories.

The people in the experiment aren't starving. They're eating 25% fewer calories than they normally eat, and I gather quite a few of them start out moderately overweight ---

Catherine Johnson said...

Paul - I've seen autistic kids lose weight on diets like that.

I read research a few years ago showing that a restricted diet - restricted in terms of the different kinds of foods you eat - will lead you to eat less.

One of my friends' kids developed a pretty classic autistic eating disorders very suddenly; as I recall, she would only eat spaghetti and marinara sauce -- actually, I think she had a worry about getting the sauce on her clothes, so she may have stopped eating anything but the plain noodles.

She lost all kinds of weight.

We've seen that with Andrew, too, who has a pretty severely restricted diet. His chosen few are high-calorie but there are only a handful of them and at times he's been very thin.

Fruit juice makes him chubby, however.

Catherine Johnson said...

2. "If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not hungry enough to eat."



I'm going to be saying that to myself - & to C. - for the rest of my life.

How often have I been not hungry enough to eat an apple, but just hungry enough to eat a bag of potato chips? And I don't mean the snack size, either.

Catherine Johnson said...

The meaning I took from the CALERIE article was that apples are 'special': it isn't just fruit per se that keeps these people on a calorie restricted diet for two years, although fruit per se is important.

It's apples.

Catherine Johnson said...

Calorie restriction has never made me want fruit, and it doesn't make me want fruit now, either, unfortunately.

It makes me want potato chips.

Of course, potato chips are the ultimate sugar rush. (I know, because I once ate a bag of chips & tested my blood shortly afterwards. That was when I had gestational diabetes.)

Catherine Johnson said...

I didn't realize it until just this month, but a paleolithic diet is the 'opposite' of the Eat to Live-type diet.

Paleolithic is fairly high-protein.

(Pretty sure.)

The Eat to Live Diet & Neal Barnard's diet are both high carb.

I think Barnard's is:

10% fat
15% vegetable protein
75% carbs

Catherine Johnson said...

The next book I'm reading is The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.

Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber
The Instinct Diet by Susan Roberts (Roberts is one of the researchers on the CALERIE study)
and then Charles Esselstyn's book on reversing heart disease in his Cleveland Clinic patients

Catherine Johnson said...

If you're interested in Nutritional Oncology, David Heber's book is the one I'm pretty sure.

I love David Heber. Heard him speak at UCLA. Wonderful person, or seemed so from afar.

His book What Color Is Your Diet? would have become my diet if I'd followed-through.

I'm going to dig it out and see if I can get serious this go round.

Catherine Johnson said...

C. told me the other day he'd seen something on TV about what kind of personality you have if you like a particular personality. (Sure enough. He did see something about junk food and personality.)

"People who like potato chips are aggressive and they won't take no for an answer. That's you, mom," he said.

Catherine Johnson said...

I meant to day Heber's book would have become my Bible if I'd followed through.