Diet Advice

Last year I managed to lose roughly 15 kilograms in the space of about two months, my only exercise being running several times a week. Granted, I also walk a lot, but at that time I didn’t have a gym membership so running was the only exercise I could regularly do. What was my secret? I followed an incredibly simple low-carb diet technique which I have outlined below:

-100 net carbs a day

-Carbs must come from green vegetables or nuts, no grains

-The rest of the calories come mostly from fat, followed by protein

Once I actually joined a gym and started strength training, I was able to start phasing in more carbs, at least on weekends. While my carb intake went up, I continued to lose weight.

Now the reason I got into this diet wasn’t just a matter of losing weight. I’ve never been described as fat or overweight, even if I probably was the latter at least some time in my life. For me it’s about energy levels and not feeling fatigued all the time, something which is essential to doing athletic activity and exercise.

Of course when you bring up a low carb diet and its results, or any diet for that matter, there’s usually going to be someone who pops up and says- “Well I eat the exact opposite of what you recommend, and look how healthy I am!”  Many times these people are indeed telling the truth. Medical science shows us that weight gain, loss, and body composition varies radically based on a number of factors. Aside from genetics, there are factors such as hormone levels and insulin resistance. This is why when I was young I could eat all kinds of junk food in massive portions and never appear fat, though to be sure, being tall helped with that. Some people can eat lost of refined carbs yet their body uses them efficiently and doesn’t end up storing the surplus as fat. Other people may find they need to go on an extreme ketogenic diet of around 50g of carbs a day in order to burn fat.

The point here is that if your goal is to get fit, you can listen to a wide variety of advice, but the final deciding factor must ultimately be results. If you do it and it works, fine. If at some point it no longer works, change your routine. If it doesn’t work at all, drop it. Basically it comes down to this:

1. Do you actually want to be fit and healthy?

2. Do your actions support this goal?

Now here’s the part where I tell you this isn’t an off-topic post and it actually contains an analogy about Russia. These days “patriots” say they have a goal:

1. Make Russia strong.

Have they achieved that goal? Well obviously not, because they’re holding rallies against a government overthrow at the hands of a movement that doesn’t even exist, and in fact has never really existed. That and economically the country is basically fucked, with corruption on par with numerous developing countries in spite of all Russia’s natural and human resources. If we stick to the fitness metaphor, Russia is obese. Like, American-style obese.

Now if Russia could eat junk food all day and somehow get into shape, then the diet wouldn’t be the issue. America eats some junk food called neo-liberal economics. China eats some junk food in the form of a restricted political system. But America and China are in good shape while Russia pigs out on pizza and gummy bears, growing fatter and fatter and finding it increasingly difficult to lift itself from its sweat soaked sofa.

This American is a metaphor for Russia.

This American is a metaphor for Russia.

Russia’s junk food is the paranoid “patriotic” narrative of the Kremlin- the idea that the United States is and has always been hell-bent on destroying and humiliating Russia, and Russians must attribute all their problems to the United States either directly or indirectly. This is a deep dish pizza topped with Skittles and washed down with a sugary 2-liter bottle of historical revisionism. When you criticize the Russian diet, the objection is always, “We don’t want your advice! This is our way! This is the way we’ve done things for decades!” Ignoring whether or not the premise is true, the bottom line is that it’s not working. Russia isn’t getting healthier.

The only time Russia did improve was when it was opening to the world in the mid-2000s, attracting foreign investment and forging ties with other countries including the United States. Alas, just as the low-carb dieter finds it difficult to swear off potatoes or pasta, Russia relapsed back to Skittle-topped pizza. Again, it’s not working.

Thus I think the “patriots” of Russia, that is those who believe that the Russian people are a mass of stupid cattle who need to be treated like children by a “strong leader,” need to make a declaration. They can choose one of the following two options.

1. Admit that they don’t want Russia to be healthy. They are fine with descending into developing world standards of living, withdrawing from the realm of scientific research, and basically going back to 19th century conditions to suit their 19th century worldview.

2. Change their worldview(diet) and reject the obviously failed beliefs that they’ve been promoting for the past quarter of a century.

If they openly declare in favor of option number 1, there would be no need to criticize their diet because they’re happy being obese and unhealthy.  If they do not so declare, then there is a problem, because their means do not support the goals.

Whatever Russians say about their nation’s “special path,” it’s simply not working for the vast majority of Russians. Therefore it’s time to find a new path or just openly admit being satisfied with terrible health, shortness of breath, fatigue, diabetes, and an early death due to a massive coronary.

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3 thoughts on “Diet Advice

  1. Asehpe

    To continue your diet metaphor, there are also many things one can do to lose weight — there’s the Nadya Savchenko option, which is ultimately self-defeating unless you want to be a martyr; there’s the “cut-everything-you-eat-in-half” option which does work but you keep eating junk food, just less of it and less often; and there’s the “let’s-talk-to-a-nutritionist-about-a-balanced-diet” option, supposedly the best, but you have to pay the nutritionist, then you have to do all those exams to see what your health condition is so the diet can be tailored to your needs… so it feels like you’re being controlled by an ‘foreign agent’ (= nutritionist) so the results aren’t really ‘yours’ (= it’s all just American money!). So maybe you fall for the “the-nutritionist-is-just-after-your-money” fallacy, so you decide to tell him to go make love to himself and do the opposite of what he told you to do (‘those foreign NGOs were just ways to manipulate us into becoming America’s slaves!’). You probably go back to the eat-junk-food-just-not-so-much-of-it, and it does work (even if only because you have some more free time to work for Mother Russia, now that you’re not blaming the West for everything all the time), but then you have a binge evening one day (‘I worked so hard today, let me hate America a little more than usual to cool off’), and you’re angry at the results, so you blame America for them (‘it’s America’s fault that I hate America so much!’) — and soon enough you’re back to your old weight, if not a couple of pounds above it. Aaaand it’s America’s fault, right? Like pizzas and Dr Pepper, if America didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be hating it so damn much…

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