In the final months of 2013 I decided to do something about a bit of belly fat. I was lean overall , some would say even underweight and so I desired a lean stomach too but that wasn't the case. And how did I go about fixing the issue: like every one thinks this issue should be solved. Exercise more, eat less. In other words, watch the calories and because we are heat engines and nothing more and nothing less, calories in - calories out == weight gain. I had been on this path for only a few days when out of sheer good luck* after a lunch of wheat rotis and Indian curry, which naturally make you feel very sleepy, as I lay on bed for an afternoon sleep, I happened to listen to Jonathan Bailor of "The Calory Myth" on Fat Burning Man podcast. It kind of blew my mind as Jonathan explained how a calorie of food itself doesn't have any context. How the impact of 100 gms of PROTEIN is very different from that of 100 gms of CARBS and which again is very different from that of FAT. They elicit different hormonal response.
In fact Jonathan seemed to be suggesting that we basically need lots of good FAT and good PROTEIN.
I call it good luck because in hindsight by focussing on just calories I could have damaged my brain, thyroid, cells and suffer muscle loss.
This made me very curious and next I listened to Dr. Perlmutter of The Grain Brain fame. Dr. Perlmutter is very pro FAT and he went on to explain how FAT is the fuel your brain desires and keto adapted (which I didn't understand at the time) state is ideally what you want. You should become a FAT burner from a sugar\glucose burner. I think at the time it sent my brain into a tizzy because I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that it's not FAT which makes you fat but rather a combination of refined carbs and sugar mixed with FAT in the food. Grains were also pooh-poohed in the podcast and I couldn't believe the wheat rotis I grew up on were not the health food I thought they were.
I kept listening to as many Fat Burning podcasts as I could even though I wouldn't understand half of it. However, a few things started to crystalize in my head like
- Not all calories are equal. They have very different impact on our bodies. So, quality of food is much more important than focussing on quantity of food.
- Being FAT adapted or KETO adapted seemed like a good thing. In fact, it seemed that good FATs were very important for us.
- Grains and sugars seemed to be big issue in causing modern diseases.
Over next few months I read books like 'The Calorie Myth', 'The Grain Brain', 'Primal Body, Primal Mind'. Soon thereafter I discovered the works of Mark Sisson, then Robb Wolf and finally The BulletProof Executive podcast. Because I kept feeling better and started putting on some lean muscle mass, it kept me very thirsty to constantly learn new things. When I look back over the last 14 months, I have gone from a typical westernized India diet built on bread, sugar, grains-beans-legumes curries to a diet of whole foods like vegetables, salads, meats, eggs etc. In fact, food is only a small part of this primal\bulletproof lifestyle equation. Sleep, stress, inflammation, fitness, movement, primal connection with nature are equally important aspects of the equations.