Archive for the ‘Research’ category

Fat and the screwed up medical community

August 12, 2011

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes provides a much more in depth explanation of the dynamics of fat storage than was in my last posting, but it goes well beyond that as well. Taubes is pretty scathing in his description of how off track the medical community got with respect to diet since World War II, and to the great detriment of the average American’s health.

If you believe, as most people seem to today, that carbs are the chief culprit, it’s absolutely shocking to look with fresh eyes at the food pyramid. Introduced less than 20 years ago, the explicit recommendation was for 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta vs 3-5 servings of vegetables! No surprise that the FDA replaced it in June with MyPlate, a much saner guide though still probably off for someone trying to lose weight. In the meantime the obesity problem has achieved epidemic proportions.

A lot of smart people got caught on the wrong path with two overly-simplistic models: Cals in v. cals out, and If you eat fat, you get fat. And, implicitly, if not explicitly, they cultivated the view that obesity is a symptom not a cause. Of what? Why of gluttony, sloth, and a lack of willpower, of course.  The reality is that some people have a tendency to get fat and some don’t. Most of us who are over 40 know that our current selves are in the former, and that our former selves didn’t have to think about diet. Why is it so hard to believe that a fat guy has an inherent problem, not a lack of willpower. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet in the book. If you tend to fat, you can’t eat carbs; if not, you can.

The implications are pretty well aligned with the diet I’ve suggested for losing weight. But there are a couple of differences. First of all Taubes would take issue with my suggestion that counting calories can accelerate weight loss. I’m not sure I buy it, but he poo-poos that whole notion. And, while he suggests that exercise is great for a bunch of other reasons, diet it the dramatically dominant factor in weight loss. One of the key dynamics he cites is the relationship between exercise and eating. Most people eat more when they exercise more which offsets the weight loss benefit. Finally, he’d have you eat more meat than I was suggesting; no reason to limit at all. I suppose I could test all this by putting 40 pounds back on and giving it another go…nah!


Barefoot calorie counting on both sides of the equation

July 31, 2011

The simplest model of body weight dynamics says there are g’zins and g’zouts and to lose weight the g’zouts must exceed the g’zins. So, if you are really aiming to lose some weight, it’s an excellent idea to track your caloric intake versus output. For me, that practice turned the daunting endeavor into a game with my score reported by the scale every morning. My competitive juices provided the discipline to keep the calories down and the exercise up.

Years ago my mom would diligently look up various foods in a little paperback pamphlet. Today, if you are at all technologically bent, software makes it a lot easier. Google “counting calories” and you’ll find scores of options. Most are free web apps where you get an account, enter your stuff and it tracks it for you. They all are pretty similar; the key is to find one with a good database. Piecing together what’s in a salad from McDonald’s is tedious, but if you need only enter “McSalad- Southwest,” that’s easy. Some of the sites have social media aspects, so you can “friend” with other dieters and build a support group. For me a key feature was having an iPhone app available, so I could carry my tracking software in my pocket. I did a little research (more…)

Why do my legs always feel so much better when I run barefoot?

May 15, 2010

My friend Larry is the first person who mentioned it to me. “My legs never have that heavy feeling anymore,” he said. The simple explanation, of course, is that Larry’s not lifting a pound of shoe with each foot lift. But when I pulled out my old physics book and calculated the work required to lift a one lb shoe a few inches, even 120 times a minute, it just didn’t add up to much, so there’s more to the story.

Scientists have concluded that barefoot running is about 4% more efficient than shod running. This article explains that the extra work comes of accelerating and decelerating that extra mass, all the more work because the extra mass is located far end of the lever arm (in this case a leg). Imagine how much harder (more…)

The Barefoot Running Book Review

May 3, 2010

I just read Jason Robillard’s The Barefoot Running Book: a practical guide to the art and science of barefoot and minimalist running. Now that’s a mouthful, but it’s also a pretty good description of what’s inside. I would recommend the book to any beginning barefoot runner.

The first thing that struck be about the guide is that it is a compact 60 pages, and that’s a good thing. The reality of our sport is that it’s pretty simple. There’s only so much one can say. At the same time, as one who is more or less, self-taught, I would have found Jason’s recipe very useful when I was starting on what he calls “the journey.” And, the book would have given me a heads up on most of the questions that occurred to me along the (more…)

What does Nike have to do with barefoot running?

April 17, 2010

I totally don’t get it. Wired Magazine reviewed the Nike Free Run+. First of all, what the hell does Wired know or have to do with running? Fine, I’m sure someone there runs. But let’s talk about the review. WTF do these shoes have to do with barefoot running?

I seriously don’t get it. The review claims that the shoes “simulate barefoot conditions.” How? Your feet aren’t bare, the soles are thick, the heels are muh higher than the ball.  Nike explains, “Deep cuts in the outsole mean your feet flex and move the way they would if you were barefoot.” What does that mean? I suppose I should try ’em before knocking, but the claim seems so outlandish, I’m not even inclined to try. I would love someone to explain this to me.

Barefoot running’s big questions: Three months in perspective

April 7, 2010

I’ve been actively running, researching and thinking about barefoot running since the first of the year. That renders me far from an expert, but for what it’s worth, here’s my current take on the big questions:

Cause it’s fun.

Don’t your feet hurt?
The sole is the least of one’s concerns in transitioning to barefoot running. After a month, asphalt in good condition is a perfectly comfortable surface.

What about broken glass?
I run through urban/suburban blue collar neighborhoods in Waltham several (more…)

New official word on availability of Bikilas

March 29, 2010

According to a posting today on Facebook from Vibram USA CEO, Tony Post, says the Bikila’s will start hitting the stores in late April. He also discusses product availability issues explaining that in Q1 they are shipping 6X last year’s volume of VFFs and that in Q2 the plan is 10X last Q2!

He goes on to say, specifically about Bikilas:

When will the new Bikila arrive? Some of you have been running in Vibram FiveFingers since 2006 – in fact, since March of 2006 it’s the only shoe I’ve used for running. And despite all the progress we have made since our launch, we never really had a FiveFingers product designed SPECIFICALLY FOR running — until now. As Vibram’s #1 running product tester, I can tell you that I love this new Bikila platform – especially for longer runs. It offers a little more protection to the metatarsal heads, without compromising that barefoot sensation; the fit is secure and comfortable, and the shoe just feels FAST.

Look for the new Bikila to start hitting the first stores in late April. We are flying in the first 25K pair, but I doubt we will be able to keep up with the initial demand. We ask for your patience, as we will work diligently to bring you this new product.