Last week was about the fat-loss-blocking powers of soy and agave nectar, here are the last two:
Vegetable oil: Processed vegetable oil is sold to us as the healthy industrial-made alternative to the fats you can find in nature — oils such as canola oil (from the rapeseed) and soybean oil. American nutrition dogma says they’re good because they are low in saturated fat. In all my college nutrition courses we were told that coconut oil made you fat and sick because it was way high in saturated fat. Coconut oil is 90 percent saturated and soybean is only 14 percent.
At my gym we’ve found exactly the opposite to be true: when people replace the processed veggie oil in their diet with naturally occurring fats such as coconut oil (and, of course extra virgin olive oil) they lose more fat — especially more belly fat, and are able to get off many medications.
In research, they find the same. Here’s an example from the International Symposium of Plant Lipids in 2010: The study took two groups of women who were trying to lose weight and put them on the same diet and exercise program. (Good or bad, it was the same.) The only change the study made between the groups was splitting them into a soybean oil group and a coconut oil group. Each got 30 milliliters (two tablespoons) per day of their respective oils. The research was double blind — neither the researchers, nor the participants knew which oil they were taking.
After 12 weeks on the same diet and exercise plan, both groups lost the same amount of weight, but the soybean oil group lost no belly fat. None. Whereas the coconut oil group did lose belly fat. So, two tablespoons of soybean oil might be enough to block belly fat loss or coconut oil might help the body burn more belly fat, or both.
Now for cholesterol: The soybean oil group had exactly what your doctor does not want to happen. “Bad” cholesterol (LDL) went up, and “good” cholesterol (HDL) went down. The coconut oil did the reverse — what your doctor would be happy with.
What to do: Replace your soybean, corn and canola oils with fats such as coconut oil or butter for cooking (better for higher temperature), or extra virgin olive for colder dishes.
Healthy whole grains: For decades we’ve been hearing statements such as these: “Eating whole grains … helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease… (and) help with weight management” (American Heart Association.) “(Eating whole grains can) help you manage your weight” (American Dietetics Association.)
Honestly, I’d always thought the above statements were based on some kind of direct evidence — that studies had tested a control group against a whole grain group, with the latter getting some nice results. Shockingly, this is not the case.
Here’s a quote from The British Journal of Nutrition from March 2010: “Recommendations for whole-grain (WG) intake are based on observational studies showing that higher WG consumption is associated with reduced CVD risk. No large-scale, randomised, controlled dietary intervention studies have investigated the effects on CVD risk markers of substituting WG in place of refined grains in the diets of non-WG consumers.”
Here’s an example of a legitimate association that you would find as the result of observational research: During the hot and humid summer in Washington, D.C., ice cream consumption will go up. Unfortunately, at the same time the homicide rate in Washington will also go up. Ice cream and murder have a statistical association much like whole grains and weight or any health marker.
Correlation (association) is not causation. Science 101.
If for some reason you suspected (hypothesized) ice cream causes murder, you would need a “controlled dietary intervention study” to test your hypothesis. You could work with a prison population and go three months with no ice cream, three months with lots of ice cream (and, trying your best to keep everything else the same, add a control group) and see what happens to the murder or assault rate. (No idea where you’d find funding.)
Here are the results from the first “large-scale, randomised, controlled dietary intervention” on whole grains and your health. The researchers measured: “BMI, percentage body fat, waist circumference; fasting plasma lipid profile, glucose and insulin (and more).”
They had three groups: a control (do nothing, but observe what happens by random chance), and two intervention groups we’ll call “A” and “B.” “A” consumed 60 grams of whole grains per day for 16 weeks. “B” did 60 grams of whole grains per day for eight weeks followed by 120 grams of whole grains per day for eight weeks.
Results? None. “Although reported WG intake was significantly increased among intervention groups, and demonstrated good participant compliance, there were no significant differences in any markers of CVD risk between groups,” the study concluded.
In the space I have left I’ll also say that we (and others) have noticed that wheat especially makes most people hungry. Anything that makes you want to eat more makes you fat, or makes it really hard to lose fat.
What to do: Eat other stuff like vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, berries and the like. Your energy will soar and your waist will shrink.
Josef Brandenburg is a Washington, D.C.-area certified fitness expert with 11 years of experience. In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training fitness program, which specializes in weight loss and body transformations for busy people. Read more about The Body You Want at www.josefbrandenburg.com