Gary Taubes vs. Alan Aragon EPIC Debate

OMG, it finally really happened. Gary Taubes actually agreed to a debate over his “Alternative Hypothesis” of obesity (he blames carbs, not calories). It was long anticipated (scheduled last year), and it finally happened at the EPIC Fitness Summit 2015 last weekend in the UK.

To some obsessed diet nerds, this debate was the Holy Grail we’ve waited our whole lives for. The its-black-and-white, carbs-literally-make-you-fat, I’m-never-wrong Gary Taubes was finally to address his critics (or at least one of them), in person, in a responsive manner.

Usually, the only times we see Gary Taubes is either in some friendly (i.e., “low-carb”) environment, or bullying mild, reasonable people with his boorish behaviour. No one gets an opposing word in edgewise, or he stonewalls against any reasonable questions. And then some crazed low-carb (i.e., overweight) fan comes on to say that Gary Taubes’ books changed their life.

So that’s all you get on the internet. A bunch of old Gary Taubes videos of his “Why We Get Fat” talk, that make you want to scream. Or worse, him and some other fixed-idea nuts like Andreas “The Diet Doctor” Eenfeldt, or Dr. Robert “Fructose is Poison” Lustig enabling their fans’ low-carb hysterics.

And half the idiots believe him. After all, he spent 10 years researching the science, and writing a 600+ page magnum opus, and he’s won the biggest awards in science journalism, and he writes for the New York Times and the BMJ. And what if eating fat doesn’t make you fat? See, that bacon is good for you. It’s all you should eat. Don’t eat any carbs. Carbs literally make you fat.

And it never ends. (Well, maybe after this debate, it might finally stop.) Gary Taubes drove all this low-carb, keto, paleo craziness by making people fear insulin. His description of a normal metabolic process becomes a fat storage horror story.

Thankfully, the crowd of professional trainers and coaches at the EPIC Summit weren’t as gullible as the general public. They provided the perfect audience for Taubes’ “Carbs vs. Calories” debate with Alan Aragon. Personally, I thought Gary Taubes would pull his usual antics, and stonewall against any informed discussion. From Ben Carpenter’s description of the exchange, it sounded like he tried a bit of that, but the informed crowd saw right through it.

I haven’t seen any of the debate video, which should eventually become public. For now, we have Ben Carpenter’s excellent review of the exchange, which he clearly credits Alan Aragon as winning. Thank g*d. Please no more pathological science. Oh, I forgot, there’s still years of NuSI research to waste everyone’s time on.

Alan Aragon posted about the whole experience on the forums:

It wasn’t even an actual debate. It was Gary hypothesizing without supporting research, then me presenting a metric shit-ton of research supporting my position, followed by Gary flippantly dismissing and denying said shit-ton of research. Gary should have approached the debate very differently. The overwhelming consensus was that he got his ass handed to him. I personally was VERY disappointed in Gary’s lack of decorum. He consistently ran way over his time slots, and interrupted me several times during my opening statement, which was very time-sensitive. It was very insulting to the audience, moderator, and of course me. To top things off, he admitted to me that even if NuSI research refuted his position, he likely wouldn’t change his current opinions. So, in essence, he’s not swayed by evidence. Bottom line is that he made a bad impression on everyone.

Dabbling in the Crossfit Gym

IMG_2986I don’t post here very often, but I’m always on Strava and Instagram nowadays. I’m pretty much in maintenance mode, stuck around 79 kg. I don’t think my current habits and psychology will get me down any lower. (Of course, if I ate less, I’d lose weight. But for now, I’m happy enough with my current weight, and I don’t plan on restricting my calories anytime soon.)

Maybe I’ll lose more weight over time. But this will only happen if I learn to eat less food. There’s no magic diet, except for the one that fills you up on the least amount of calories.

I tried a Crossfit workout last week! I was the only newbie in the free Saturday class, but I finished the workout! I never run, but we ran 400m, 800m, and 400m in between modified pull ups and thrusters. I like Crossfit people. They’re very positive and encouraging, even if they’re Paleo 🙂 Of course, I’ve been sore for the last few days.

I found out they run cheap spinning classes, and they’re just a few blocks away from where I live. So, I’m signed up tonight, and will check out their version of a spin workout.

Island Soul Bistro

I rode out to watch local cyclist / competitive eater / body builder Eric TheElectric smash a 12.4 lb food challenge at Island Soul Bistro. Most people can’t handle even 1/4 of this amount of food. Erik demolished the challenge in just 35 minutes, and didn’t have to pay the $70 price tag. The kid has talent.

My food obsession led me to the YouTube channels of a few competitive food eaters. I found it so refreshing that these guys eat insanely, and completely opposite to the orthorexia channels that I usually watch. I saw Erik was local, and found him on Strava too. Now all he has to do is get as famous as Durianrider.

So instead of watching pseudo-science polemics from low-carb or raw vegan advocates, I calmly watch guys eat things like 150 Chicken McNuggets and not panic. The body is amazing, and can handle all kinds of foods and outright abuse. People need to lighten up about their food.

First Twinkies in 20 Years

IMG_2826I don’t remember the last time I ate a Twinkie. They’re so universally maligned, that I don’t know anyone that eats them. Sure, they’re an iconic brand (at least to people over 40 years old), but the reality is that no one in their right mind is going to eat them. They almost went out-of-business last year, and they probably will again.

That said, they were actually pretty good today on the Moment Cycle Sports Sunday ride. After about 70 km of hard riding, we make a fast stop at a 7-11 Store. We never spend too much time resting, so I bust through the doors and grab the first thing that looks edible, then race to get a Coke. Sort of like the way Tour de France racers used to raid cafe’s along the race route (flash mob style, but back in the 50’s, and more-or-less accepted by the business owners.)

Food Challenge Fail :(

I thought it’d be easy enough, after watching people like Matt Stonie eat 12 lbs of food in 20 minutes. I failed the Great White Whale Challenge @ Shakespeare’s Pub. It was 2 lbs of fish + 2 lbs of fries and a bowl of peas. A bridge too far. I ate all of the fries, most of the fish, but barely touched the peas. It stopped feeling good about 15 minutes into the challenge. I gave up with 15 minutes to go, about 7/8th of the way finished. I just didn’t want to make myself sick. The fish and breading tasted horrible at the end. I’m happy I gave up. Blah.

The Occasional Junk

IMG_2813I’m in maintenance mode now, happy with my weight, and willing to eat the occasional off-plan junk. So the other night, I picked up these treats at a local Mexican-style bakery on 25th and B in Golden Hill. I wasn’t too afraid of the carrot cake or the scone, but that flaky pastry on top was dangerous garbage. I felt the butter seep into my adipose tissue, and had to ride about 100km to get it out of my system.

It’s easy when your hobby is riding 300 km/week, often going as fast as possible. Still, it probably helps more by avoiding greasy food, and instead loading up on low-fat starches, vegetables, and fruits. It’s all pretty obvious stuff, and is how we ate and moved before the age of convenience.

Rip Esselstyn @ Whole Foods

IMG_2762Rip Esselsytn, and other advocates and ambassadors of the whole foods plant based diet, helped me regain my life 18 months ago. I went from obesity and depression to health and fun, because I learned how we’re supposed to eat as humans. So, when I found out Rip Esselstyn was giving a talk at my local Whole Foods Market tonight, I rode my bike out to meet him.

Rip looks just like he does in all his videos and promotional materials. He’s very kind and helpful, and spent a lot of time speaking individually with people after his presentation. I had a lot of questions for him, but I didn’t want to monopolize his time. I asked in the Q&A what he thought about fruit smoothies. He thought that juicing was a fad, and hoped that people would eat their foods whole, instead of pre-processing them with blenders.

I asked him if he knew about Durianrider, and of course he did. I didn’t go any further than that, seeing how he’s not a fan of juicing.

I recorded about 10 minutes of his talk, before my memory filled up on my old phone. You can watch it on my YouTube channel.

(90 km + 1300 m) / 1 Litre Coke

IMG_2726_2I rode out to Viejas Casino from again this morning. From downtown San Diego, it’s a 90 km trip with 1300 m of climbing, on a fixie, wearing jeans. All the parking lot and valet guys looked pretty surprised to see me arrive on a bike. Tribal land in California is always way out in the middle of nowhere, and a city bike is the last thing you’ll see out there.

Strava says I burned 2650 calories. But it doesn’t know that I rode 48×16 fixed up those hills. It assumes you’ll do something reasonable like use gears. I made good time today, getting out to the casino in 2.5 hours. By car, it takes about 40 minutes each way, and at least 10 litres of gas. My body made the trip using only 1 litre of Coca Cola, two oranges, an energy bar, and a (comp’ed) burrito. It’s amazing how efficient the body is.

Can’t Blow This Diet

IMG_2699You probably shouldn’t eat a whole 500g box of Raisin Bran on the couch while watching television, but that’s pretty much what I do when I buy a box of cereal. To me, the box is just a 2000 calorie pack. I start off eating about 3 or 4 bowls with almond milk. Then I just reach into the box, and eat the rest like popcorn. No, it’s not ideal. But I do it all the time, and I don’t worry about it much.

Sometimes I’m genuinely hungry, other times I just finish off the box because I can’t stop. I should probably stop buying cereal, or cook something more substantial (i.e., with water and fibre) if I’m really hungry. But, I’ve been eating massive amounts of carbs at night, before going to sleep, and I’ve still lost 28 kg.

Since excess carbs aren’t easily turned into fat (de novo lipogenesis in humans is minor), this occasional overeating isn’t an issue when you eat low-fat (< 10% of calories). Still, it's always best to aim for approximate energy balance, and not to continually overeat. But on the Starch Solution, eating a whole box of cereal isn't "blowing the diet". It barely registers in the scheme of things.

(Yes, I'm watching ArchieLuxury.)