M.O.: Our readers would be upset with me if I didn't ask a weight loss expert weight loss. I know you advocate a low carb diet. Would you talk about that, and share some weight loss guidelines?
J.B.: I'd like to define low carb because I think it's deeply misunderstood. The first stage of the Atkins diet is not the definition of low carb. It's one variation of many dietary strategies. I prefer to talk about controlled carbohydrate eating.
The average consumption of carbohydrates in America is over 300 grams a day. That's what's on the ridiculous nutrition facts label when they talk about percentage of daily value. They are assuming that 300 grams of carbohydrate a day is what you should be taking in. That is utterly ridiculous. And very much tied to why we have an obesity and diabetes epidemic.
When I talk about controlled carbs I'm saying: Can we get it down to 100 grams or 120 grams? Can we get it down to where we cut out a lot of the extraneous processed carbs that are high in sugar, high in glycemic load - the pastas, the rices, the cereals that are masquerading as health foods and are really sugar. Can we get it down to unlimited fruits and vegetables? You can't eat enough spinach, for example, to get 100 grams of carb. You can eat a lot of fruits and vegetables on a low carb diet.
It's about controlling our sugar intake. That is key to losing weight. Going after fat is going after the wrong enemy. Fat is not the problem. Sugar is the problem. I'm going to tell you something else that is out of the mainstream: I do not include saturated fat among the bad fats. Saturated fat doesn't mutate. It doesn't change its composition under heat. What I call bad fats are damaged fats like trans fats.
So there are definitely bad fats but they are not synonymous with saturated fat. For example, saturated fats from whole foods like eggs or coconut are fine. No need to avoid them. Egg-white omelets are a very bad idea. There are so many healthy things in the yolk that are good for the brain and good for the heart. By the way, most of the fat in an egg yolk is monounsaturated fat anyway.
Portion size does matter. Calories do matter. And we overestimate how many calories we need in a day. We see ridiculous things on the Internet where they tell women they need 2,650 calories a day if they are 115 pounds. No wonder we're fat. And, if we get our calories where they should be, it doesn't matter what percentage is coming from fat.
We don't exercise enough or hard enough. It's one of those inconvenient truths. Weight loss really requires exercise 5 to 6 times a week, and it requires greater intensity than walking. Walking will give you innumerable health benefits, but it's not enough. You need higher intensity like circuit training and interval training. Get your heart rate up. Really move around. Interval training is the way to go. You burn more calories and get more bang for your buck.
Next, Jonny Bowden on Nutrition and Exercise (with a feature on Pilates)