Thursday, December 30, 2010

Foot-Type Determines Running Shoe?

Another myth perpetrated by the podiatric profession.

P.S. If you think I'm being unfair to podiatrists, here's a podiatrist perpetrating the foot-type myth:

"I am Dennis Shavelson DPM, the doctor named in Dr. Kornfeld’s article.

"I am not against barefoot running (I am a Vivobarefoot Shoe dealer in practice in NYC),

"Feet are not made equal (The Foot Typing System that was mentioned). Some make excellent heel strikers, some excellent forefoot strikers, some neither, some both. I believe that’s what Dr. Kornfeld was alluding to.

"Once foot typed, advice, direction and mentoring can be given as to ways to walk, run, what shoes to wear including heel heights, what contact positions, what muscle engine training, the use of foot centering trainers (temporary orthotics weaned away as you strengthen, if you want to barefoot run (or backwards run, or walk sideways or forward..."

Here's my reply.

P.P.S.  I'm upstaged:

"With all due respect, reading statements like this on your FootHelpers website ( is what makes people wary of those in your profession:

"'Simply send your Next Set of Casts (plaster, fiberglass or foam) and your Current Lab Rx to The FootHelpers Lab.

"'Dr. Shavelson will call you personally with your casts in hand to discuss and mentor you through the quick and profitable learning curve of Neoteric Biomechanics.'

"It's pitched as something not to be done for the good of the patient, but because it is 'profitable.'...

"Snake Oil: ...However, the most common usage of the phrase is as a derogatory term for quack medicine. The expression is also applied metaphorically to any product with exaggerated marketing but questionable and/or unverifiable quality or benefit."

Wow.  Hey, as they say, "If the shoe fits..."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Is Alcohol Paleo?

Apparently so. 

Poor critter.  I wonder when the first human figured out he could make himself feel like this whenever he wanted to?

Happy Holidays. ;)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Instapundit Finds "The Heart Scan Blog"

Another Instalanche.  First Stephan Guyenet, now William Davis.  The Ancestral diet is going mainstream, and not a moment too soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"The Primal Blueprint Cookbook Receives Illustrious Award"

Mark's right.  This is quite the feather in his cap.  I've always thought a man should be judged by his enemies, and by that standard, he's doing well.

So Congratulations.

And yes, I do have a copy of this book, and the recipes, while not haute cuisine, are quite good.

Altra Adam Review

Harry's a fan.  Good to hear.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Enlightened Heart Surgeons and Cardiologists"

"Now, how do you think Dr. Gundry became enlightened? He tells the story in the first part of the interview, but let me just recount it to wet your appetite. It was about 7 years or so ago that a male patient in his 40s came to him, had already had several heart attacks, and had been pronounced inoperable, as every single artery was 95% clogged. In essence, he had been given a death sentence, and it was only a matter of time.

"About a year later, the gentleman returned to see the doctor and begged him to do another angiogram. Guess what? The 95% blockages had been reduced to 50% blockages."

Wow. I'm going to listen to these interviews now.

P.S.: The links to Jimmy Moore's interview with Dr. Gundry posted on Richard Nikolai's blog no longer work.  The correct links are here:

Dr. Steven Gundry, Part 1

Dr. Steven Gundry, Part 2

P.P.S.: OK, finished the interview.  Fascinating stuff.  A leading heart surgeon who realizes he can do more good for peoples' hearts by having them go on a paleo-style diet than by having them visit him for surgery.  The really alarming part of the interview is when he describes what happens to peoples' skin tags when they go on his diet.  He calls insulin "Miracle-Gro" for cancer cells.

P.P.P.S.: The other remarkable part of this interview is when Dr. Gundry discusses Stephen Guyenet's favorite heart-disease and diet study, The Lyon Diet-Heart Study.  This study pitted the American Heart Association recommended diet against a "Mediteranean", low-linoleic acid diet.  According to Dr. Gundry, they stopped the study because so many people on the AHA diet were dying.  Yikes.

Footcare Products For Barefoot Runners

Too funny.  I guess we're now officially a "market":

"As the debate over the pros and cons of barefoot running continues among runners, podiatrists and sports trainers, Carol J. Buck, CEO of Xenna Corporation ( looks at the problem from a different angle. Buck says, 'From a strictly cosmetic standpoint, it’s rather amazing that some of these runners’ feet look pretty good in spite of the stress placed on them.'"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

"'These are young McCarthy's feet.  Twice he was walking, and once he ran swiftly, so that the soles are deeply marked and the heels hardly visible."
Yes, that's right: up until he invention of the sneaker, running on the balls of your feet was expected, the norm.

The stories of Sherlock Holmes invented the science of forensics, by the way.

("The Boscombe Valley Mystery", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

U. of Delaware Barefoot Runners' Survey

If you're interested...

Friday, December 17, 2010

"What Frog Science Can Teach Us About Global Warming"

Fascinating post.  To be scientific is to be skeptical.  That's too easily forgotten.

Running On Ice

I agree with this:

"Why is ice such an effective teacher? It’s slippery. It requires great balance, coordination, and proper form to prevent slippage."
I did a run on snow and ice last year that illustrated this perfectly for me.  My foot moved on ice like a center of force diagram: it moved back, and then forward, but not out-from-under me. 

Good form will go a very long way towards eliminating falls on ice and snow, and ice and snow are the best teachers of good form.

Montrail Rogue River Review

Rogue River
Back before I read Born to Run and decided to go minimalist full-time, Montrail Mountain Masochists were the latest in a long line of Montrail sneakers that I just loved.

This is their toe-dip in the minimalist fray.  It seems designed to compete with the MT100/101, (as the comments on iRunFar indicate), which is a fine starting point.

It also looks like it would be a fine candidate for zeroing, as are the Mountain Masochists.

Hopefully they'll come out with something even more minimalist after the Merrells hit the market, as Montrails have always fit my feet exceedingly well.

Here's Montrail's post on these shoes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Altra Adam: First Review?

From Harry:

"I received a pair of Adam's from Altra to test out. This is just my quick initial impression. I walked a lot in them yesterday and they feel awesome. They actually are more comfortable than the KSO (in my opinion) and I really like the KSO. I haven't run in them yet but I'll do so this Saturday. I would run in them sooner but I don't want to do speed work in a new shoe so Saturday is my next easy run day."

Discussion here.

Vegetables In The Eskimo Diet

Interesting post.  Yes, Eskimos ate fruits and vegetables.  Not a lot of them, naturally; but they seem to be a critical component of a healthy diet.

Good News From Inov-8

"Just had a look at the new Inov-8 Autumn Winter 2011 workbook and there's a couple of new models that may interest people.


"Based on the new Inov-8 anatomical last with ZERO cushioning, 7mm midsole with ZERO differential. Weight 150grams (UK8). Uses a new sole made of rubber and EVA foam with limited durability of 300 miles.

"Obviously, this shoe is marketed as a pure racer.

"BARE-X 200

"Pretty much same as above but with an additional 3mm layer of rubber bonded to the sole to increase durability (hence extra weight). This is being marketed as the training version of the 150.

Thanks to Terry the Tortoise, who confirms this is not the "performance" last that I tried before, but a truely anatomical last.

Hopefully this will turn out to be the "great option" from Inov-8

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Blog I'll Be Following: Gary Taubes

Here he is.  If you don't know who he is, then this is required reading.  His book is Good Calories, Bad Calories, which I've not yet read.

"Because it’s quite possible that the only meaningful way to lose fat is to change the regulation of the fat tissue, and the science of fat metabolism strongly implies that the best way to do that, if not the only meaningful way, is by reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed and/or improving the quality of those carbs we do consume."

Fascinating stuff.

Uh-Oh... Now It's Senators?

"U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and the missus, Gail Huff, buying a pair of Vibram Bikila FiveFingers shoes at the new D.C. branch of Boston's City Sports store..."

Barefoot-style running is definitely getting too mainstream.

Vibram Flow Trek Review

Looks pretty good to me.  I've kayaked in the winter (complete with icebergs) and neoprene works pretty darn well.  I'm going to give these a shot.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Podcast: The Paleo Solution

This is one of the more eccentric podcasts that I've discovered.  Andy Deas and Robb Wolf get together once a week and Andy picks Robb's brain on topics related to paleo diet and fitness. 

Robb occasionally intersects with the English language, descending from (seemingly) his native surfer-talk, but he's got some interesting things to say.

They've got an extremely practical approach to the paleo diet, although I'm still mystified by what Robb's got against beef tallow.

In their latest episode, Andy and Robb interview some guy named Tim Ferris, who has a very interesting-sounding book out called the Four-Hour Body. It's a pretty fascinating discussion, and for anyone interested in biological auto-hacking, I'd say it's a must-listen.

iTunes link to The Paleo Solution podcast.

Erwan Le Corre Interview

MovNat man speaks his mind.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Brain Food

It's not sugar:

"The researchers found that those eating the ketogenic diet, compared to the other group, saw significant improvement in their ‘verbal memory’ (memory of words and other abstractions involving language). Also, generally speaking, the higher their ketone levels, the better their verbal memory tended to be. The suggestion here is that ketones provide ready fuel for the brain, and may enhance ‘cognitive function’."

Another Review of "Natural Running"

Runblogger this time.  The previous review I linked to is here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Settling a Beef With American Cattle Productions"

Good news for Grass-fed Beef in New England.  The farmers I buy my food from are all on the older side.  It worries me: we need a new generation coming into the business...

My main supplier had to go to France for chickens, for instance, since the American breeds have such large breasts that they cannot walk. (!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

RSS Funnies

"ArtsBeat: Winfrey Picks 2 Dickens Novels
"from NYT > Home by By JULIE BOSMAN
"The author is not expected to appear on her show."

Too funny. The article is here.

Friday, December 10, 2010


It's one of my favorite spices, also. 

"Flat Feet Versus Fallen Arches"

I think "collapsed arches" is a better, more descriptive term, but other than this I agree with almost everything in this post.

"So, can walking and running barefoot fix a flat foot? No. But can it fix a fallen arch? Almost assuredly. Will it raise the arch? Maybe.

"Obviously, as any physical therapist can tell you, using a previously inactive body part will strengthen it. It will not only strengthen that part, but all the other parts associated with it. Muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons will all respond to the greater use. I can see how it would be possible that toning all those parts could raise the arch as they are all strengthened. Obviously, there is some anecdotal evidence that this is so, but I’ve not seen studies that demonstrate it.

"However, as the Hoffman study shows, who cares? It doesn’t matter! It’s not the height of the arch that matters, it is the underlying physiological structure, and you get that from going barefoot whether your arch rises or not."
There is one study: it's Dr. Munson's, and the link is under "Links" on the right.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Women Who Sunbathe Live Longer

News from Sweden, and I'll copy Instapundit, from whom I got this post, and include the picture.

"'Our studies show that women with active sunbathing habits live longer,' said chief physician Håkan Olsson at the division of oncology at Lund University, to the local Göteborgs-Posten (GP) daily.

"Studies of the sun exposure habits of 40,000 women in southern Sweden have found that the health benefits of spending extended periods in the sun outweigh the negatives, such as the increased risk for skin cancer.

"Olsson argued that he was not alone in claiming 'that there can be other factors other than the sun which affect the risks for developing malignant melanomas', and that exposure to the sun could help protect against a slew of other conditions.

"Researchers claim that exposure to the sun is attributed to helping against blood clots, which are twice as common in the darker periods of the year than in the summer, the newspaper reported.

"Furthermore the incidence of type 2 diabetes also shows seasonal variations, with the winter boom in cases attributed to a lack of vitamin D..."

I feel somewhat vindicated...  And you can be sure I'll continue with my sun exposure next summer.

Bosu Balls And Other Unstable Surfaces

Just came across this post by Steve Magness again.  It's a classic:

"[Unstable Surface Training] can lead to improper recruitment patterns and ruin motor skills, so it certainly should not be combined with anyone trying to improve a sports skill on a stable surface (Willardson, 2004)."
Well, well.

As I posted in the conversation that caused me to rediscover this post:

"We have a bosu ball in our gym. As I ski, I was a diligent user of it prior to starting barefoot-style running and hiking. What I found was I had such an enormous increase in strength and balance from going around in Vibrams (which I also wear in the gym on the Bosu ball, of course), that it dwarfed whatever little gain I was getting from the bosu ball. It made a huge difference to skiing, which observation I've had confirmed by one of my converts who's also a skiier.

"So I don't use the bosu ball anymore. Whatever incremental improvement it might offer me just really isn't worth the time, IMHO. I'd rather be running. ;) Even on the dreadmill.

"I have been doing ankle-strengthening exercising, including balancing on one foot on the floor. As said in that link, it really does hit the soleus muscles, which seem to be the ones I injured when I sprained my ankle."

I will note that lots of top skiiers and snowboarders use bosu balls as part of their training; but they are often operating on an unstable surface, so bosu balls may offer some value.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove: First Review?

Wow, these must be just about to hit the street:

"Tester’s Take: 'I love lightweight shoes, but these are something else. There is nothing to these shoes. I mean nothing. If you want to go out there and feel everything, these are the shoes for you.'"

"If the Vibram FiveFingers is a glove, the Trail Glove is, despite its moniker, a mitten."  Too funny.

Animals Getting Fatter, Also


I'll note that all the animals in this study are eating diets provided by humans, or derived from human diets (feral rats).

What about wild animals eating traditional diets?

Scientists can be so dense...

After going paleo/primal myself, I did the same for my dog, after noting most of the available dog foods are all grain, soy, and veggie oils.  He doesn't overeat, and doesn't have an ounce of fat on him.

Via John Durant.

VivoBarefoot Brooklyn Review

They sound very nice.  This is a winter minimalist boot, which is an extremely short list of products. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More News On Merrell Barefoot

Trail Glove
"And speaking of trends, Merrell plans a February launch for a so-called 'barefoot' line. Barefoot refers to thin-soled, flexible footwear like the Vibram Five Fingers shoes that have grown in popularity."
Can't wait.  I'm hearing that these are very, very nice.  Here's the lineup on Merrell's site.  Nothing in stock yet; I tried.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Paleo Fitness

Jimmy Moore's latest interview is with two body builders (who are also husband and wife).  The interview's nice, but you really need to see the pictures at their website to appreciate what they're telling you.

He's 58, and she's 53.  Wow.

Interestingly, they first teach their clients how to shop and eat before they teach them how to work out.  Makes a lot of sense to me.

Lots of people note that paleo and low-carb typically go hand-in-hand, and then say that you can't be an athlete on a low-carb diet.  There's little science one way or the other, so we're left with anecdotes...  The anecdotes seem to be pretty clear: you sure can be a paleo athlete, just like your paleo ancestors were.

Are Fruits And Vegetables Paleo?

Nope.  Yuk, yuk. 

Great post by Mark Sisson:

"Does this mean grains and legumes are perfectly fine since they’re products of human manipulation? No, but the fact that we bred them isn’t the problem. It’s the demonstrably pervasive and deleterious anti-nutrients present in even the most modified of the grains (extra gluten, anyone?) that we avoid."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Follow-Up to "Olympic Gold-Medalist Lindsey Vonn Goes Low-Carb"

Doing OK so far:

"LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (Reuters) - Beaten by Maria Riesch in the previous two downhills on the same course, Lindsey Vonn struck back to win the Lake Louise World Cup Super-G on Sunday, lifting the gauntlet from the towering German."

Original post.

Review of "Natural Running"

An interesting review of the book by Danny Abshire, the founder of Newton Running.  I'm not mad about Newtons, but some of their more minimalist shoes are good for folks looking to transition to barefoot-style running. 

I'll snarkily add that the book should be called "Nearly-Natural Running", but he's definitely on the right side of the shoe battle, for the most part. ;)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"The Effect of Fructose on Renal Biology and Disease"

It's not a good effect, you may not be surprised to hear.

Via Mark Sisson.

"Flying Barefoot"

No, in a plane.

That's right, you have to take your shoes off to get on the plane, but you have to wear them (or at least have them) to fly.  It's the Government: expecting it to be rational is expecting too much.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stupid "Science"

"But recently some scientists wondered whether the creature was too big to fly. A pair of papers recently asserted that the biggest pterosaurs may have been too heavy to get off the ground.

"That seemed implausible to Habib. After all, the biggest birds often have the longest flight range. And Quetzalcoatlus, with its 35-foot wingspan, certainly fits the bill for gigantic."

So these 35-foot-wide wings were for what, exactly?  This is like the story that according to aerodynamics theory, bumblebees can't fly.
Science 101: if your theory doesn't comport with reality, your theory is wrong.

Irene Davis Moves To Harvard

Irene Davis
Big news for the minimalist running community!

"Barefoot running advocate accepts position at Harvard

"11:16 a.m., Dec. 2, 2010----Irene Davis, professor in the University of Delaware's Department of Physical Therapy, is retiring from UD after 21 years and has accepted a position on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, where she will help to launch the Spaulding National Running Center.

"A runner herself, Davis has become nationally recognized for her research on the biomechanics and benefits of running barefoot or with minimal footwear.

"'It's always been a vision of mine to have a center focused on running and running injuries,' Davis says. 'Boston is a mecca for runners, and I'll be immersed in one of the nation's hubs of science and medicine -- it doesn't get any better than that. The resources for collaboration are amazing, and I'll have access to a large population of potential subjects.'

"Davis believes that people were born to run but are often sidelined by injuries, some of which result from changes in our natural gait induced by modern running shoes...."
Very exciting.  With Dr. Davis and Dr. Lieberman in close proximity, hopefully the research to justify minimalist running is just around the corner.

Of course if you participated in Barefoot Ted's Minimalist running group, you would have known this 10 days before the world:

"Also managed to catch this tidbit - Professor Davis is transferring to Harvard to work with Lieberman. Should be interesting."

Veggie Oils and Heart Disease

Stephen Guyenet is getting confirmed.  Congrats: it's well-deserved.

"In other words, [linoleic-acid]-rich seed oils do not prevent heart attacks (and may actually promote them), but correcting an omega-3 deficiency and reducing industrial trans fat intake may be protective. This is similar to what I've been saying for a while now, based on my own interpretation of the same studies and others. However, Dr. Ramsden and colleagues have taken the idea to a new level by their thorough and sophisticated detective work and analysis."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Podcast: Geeks In Running Shoes

Pete the Runblogger turned me on to this podcast. They're definitely geeks, as advertised, and they've also beginning runners which gives them a good perspective on things, as they're still exploring the beginning issues of running, which is cool.

They've not gotten on the barefoot/minimalist bandwagon yet, although they did recently have a coach on who's big into Newtons, so they're getting there, hopefully. Although if you want to hear a bunch of silly comments about barefoot running, go listen to that coach. :) (Sorry, Coach.)

For their latest episode, they've outdone themselves: they've got a nice interview with Scott Jurek.  They're good interviewers, too: they ask lots of intelligent questions and allow the interviewee to answer at length.  Since they're beginning runners, they ask lots of basic questions, which really adds to the quality of the interview, IMHO.  ("What do you think about on a 100-mile run?")

Jurek has lots of interesting stuff to talk about: How he got into running, how to get into ultra-running, and how he handles a vegan diet are some of the things I found of interest.

While this isn't on the A-list of podcasts that I listen to just yet, this is a really interesting episode, and I recommend it highly.

Definitely give this episode a listen.

"Geeks in Running Shoes" on iTunes.

A Daily Dose Of Aspirin?

Fix your diet instead.  I'll continue to skip the aspirin.

"Low-Tech Running Shoes In High Demand"

Follow-up to this morning's "The Rise of Barefoot Running".

Pretty basic overview of minimalist shoe options.  But pretty significant for a medical journal...

More Barefoot FUD Spread By Podatrists

Infectious Fears, thanks to Dr. Howell.

"The fear of getting infections by going barefoot is irrational though understandable given the cultural ‘brainwashing’ we receive throughout childhood – doctors, camp counselors, teachers and parents constantly tell kids that going barefoot is dangerous. It’s an irrational fear however because it’s not based in fact or human experience, and I’m starting to get perturbed at chronically-shod people (like Dr. Crane) infecting the populace with erroneous ideas about barefooting. If you really want to know the hazards of going barefoot, wouldn’t it be best to ask a barefooter?"

I completely agree about being barefoot in gyms.  The locker room is the most dangerous place you're likely to go, and is where I've gotten athelete's foot and plantar warts.  Go walk in some nice, clean dirt and you're likely to be completely fine.

"The Rise Of Barefoot Running"

In the Canadian Medical Association Journal, no less!

"Critics of barefoot running, including many podiatrists, note that there is no scientific evidence that indicates running barefoot is better than running in shoes, and say that even if running barefoot reduces some types of injuries it may cause other types of harm, such as puncture wounds on the soles and stress fractures in the metatarsals.

"Dr. Michael Nirenberg, a podiatrist who practises in Crown Point, Indiana, is not among those critics. Nirenberg has been a runner off and on throughout his life, and has suffered from plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the main ligament in the foot's arch. This led him to conduct research on ways to strengthen the muscles in feet, which in turn led him to become a fan of going barefoot.

"'I started reading about our feet and shoes and supportive shoes. I became intrigued with the idea that once you support the arch of the foot, you don’t use your foot muscles as much,' says Nirenberg, who writes about barefoot running and other topics on his blog ( 'If you start doing barefoot activity, be it running or walking, you start to build up the muscles in your feet.'

"His views aren't common in his profession, which tends to focus on using orthotics to correct foot problems. Orthotics do relieve pain quicker, Nirenberg acknowledges, but he recommends that people with foot problems transition over time to less-supportive footwear, and eventually incorporate some barefoot activity into their lives. As for barefoot running, Nirenberg agrees with the critics that there is no proof of its benefits ― at least, not yet.

"'Right now, there is no proof that running barefoot is better for you, but there is a lot of research that is leaning in that direction,' he says.

Nicely done.  Some of our other friends from the less-enlightened side of the podiatric profession are also present, including Dr. Kirby, who's moved atop the fence, and the idiotic Dr. Payne.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Marathon Running and Weight Loss

The prior post aside, no, you can't run yourself thin:

"Runner's World: Why did you do this study?

"Mary Kennedy: I got the same question so often from people in marathon-training groups: 'Why aren't I losing weight?' Usually I'd give the standard response: 'You must be eating too much.' It was also possible that people weren't moving as much as normal after their workouts–they were 'compensating' for their workouts–so maybe their calorie output didn't actually increase. Eventually I realized, we don't really know the answer, and there's no good data to work from. So I thought we should devise this simple study to begin the data collection.

"RW: Did the results surprise you?

"MK: I wouldn't say there were any big surprises. More women tended to be weight gainers. I think I might have guessed that, though the reasons aren't clear.

"Also the subjects' 'eating habits' appeared to be very important. The ones who were very diligent about what they ate were less likely to gain weight. That's not a big surprise either...."
This was my experience.  I didn't lose the extra 15 pounds I was carrying around until I fixed my diet.  No amount or frequency of running or other exercise made a meaningful difference.

Running is great for you, and a terrific complement to the sort of healthy diet I advocate here, and it apparently has many other health benefits.  Plus it's a heck of a lot of fun, IMHO.

But it's not a reliable way to lose weight.

"My 120 Pound Journey"


"Wheat One-Liners"

Dr. Davis is firing on all cylinders....

Follow-Up To "Vitamin D Foolishness"

Dr. Davis writes the statement the Institute of Medicine should have released.

Original post.

P.S. Dr. Davis is still annoyed about this.

Olympic Gold-Medalist Lindsey Vonn Goes Low-Carb

Low-carb, high energy
"Vonn has also sought the advice of a nutritionist, hoping for an energy boost to get her through the nearly 40 races of the World Cup season.

"'I always ate healthy, but it wasn’t scientific,' she said. 'Now it’s a high-protein diet and no carbohydrates. I have more consistent energy and I don’t get tired after a meal. It does take a very detailed meal plan.'

"Thomas Vonn, a retired ski racer who given the opportunity might prefer beer and pizza, has gotten used to his wife weighing her specially designed meals beforehand."

Makes perfect sense to me.

Via John Durant.

Pro Golfer's "Foot Fault"

No, I have no idea who Oliver Wilson is, but I do like his shoes.

"Oliver Wilson's Foot Fault": what a great title.

My Vitamin D Experiment

As you'll note from this picture, I'm not well-adapted to the sun. ;) 

My ancestors pretty clearly lived mostly in the woods in an area with little annual sunlight, and consumed a fair amount of wheat.

For years this has been my bane: any lengthy sun exposure, say an hour or more, would leave me roasted.  To top it off, I hate sunscreen.

So I developed an extensive collection of hats, and learned to wear long-sleeved shirts on hot days.

Then at the end of last winter I read this post by Stephan Guyenet:

"There's a mouse model of skin cancer called the Skh:HR-1 hairless mouse. When exposed to UV rays and/or topical carcinogens, these mice develop skin cancer just like humans (especially fair-skinned humans). Researchers have been studying the factors that determine their susceptibility to skin cancer, and fat is a dominant one. Specifically, their susceptibility to skin cancer is determined by the amount of linoleic acid in the diet."

He has a number of other posts on the joys of linoleic acid, which had prompted me in March to make a concerted effort to avoid linoleic acid, but this post sprung to mind one day in late March when we had a rare blue-bird day of skiing.  As usual I forgot to wear sunscreen.  My face was exposed for a good 6-7 hours not only to the sun, but to the suns' rays reflected off the snow.

This occurred to me that evening.  I turned to my wife, and I said, "Look at my face!"  "What", she said, "you look perfectly normal."  Exactly!  I was out in the sun all day, and I did not get burned.

Shortly afterward we went to Barefoot Ted's Barefoot Running Clinic in Central Park in New York City.  As usual, I "forgot" to bring sunscreen along.  Since the trees had not yet shown their leaves, my wife and I found ourselves standing in the early-spring sun for 2.5 hours.  That evening my wife pointed out the sunburn she had gotten, and I pointed out that I had not burned. 

To understand the significance of this, you need to realize that my wife is Colombian.  Unlike me, she gets nut-brown in the sun, a trait she has happily passed along to our children.  My tendency to become a lobster in the sun has been a constant cause of concern to her.

She was incredulous.  In our 13 years together, it had never once happened that she had burned and I had not.  Moreover, we were standing side-by-side together for the entire time.

My experiment with eliminating extraneous linoleic acid was going extremely well for other reasons, but this was a happy side-effect.

A month after Ted's clinic, we went to Disney World.  For five days we tromped around the Magic Kindom.  One afternoon my hands started to feel a bit tingly, so I put sunscreen on my hands and forearms.  But for the rest of the time, nothing.  Shirts, hats occasionally, and shorts, but no sunscreen.  And no burn.  I would get red, but then wake up more tan (for me) the following morning.  Pretty incredible.

So the summer continued, with me spending increasing amounts of time out in the sun with no sign of a sun burn.  People began to comment on the nice tan I was developing, and how blonde my hair had gotten.  This was entirely out of the ordinary.

I finally discovered what it took for my new skin to get a sunburn.  We went to Colorado in August, and I decided to spend a day running and hiking up and down Pike's Peak.  I spent about 9 hours in the sun at altitudes varying from 10,000 to 14,000 feet.  I finally got a sunburn.  The picture above is me the day after.  All of me got a bit pink, but the only part that really got "burnt" was the back of my calves.  They peeled, lightly, but nothing like what I would have expected to experience.

This would have been a fine day to actually wear sunscreen.  Anyone would have burnt after being in the sun for hours at altitude, but for me it was pretty incredible that I got only a "normal" burn.

My wife, who had been getting more and more prone to burning, was convinced by our experience at Ted's clinic to join me in my dietary experiment.  She has also recovered her ability to tan, although it happened more slowly than it did for me.

I call this post my vitamin D experiment because I had been taking D supplements for the previous winter.  After I figured out that I could stand the sun, I decided to stop taking them, and see if I could, through regular sun exposure, get my D levels up to something approximating "normal" through sun alone.  That experiment was also a success.

And I'm not the only one who's experienced this phenomenon:

"9. Near-immunity to sunburn. Throughout my life, a half-hour’s direct sun exposure left my skin looking and feeling like it had been scalded with boiling water, and it took weeks to recover. Now, I spend hours in the sun shirtless without even a patch of tender skin afterwards. I can only conclude my body has become orders of magnitude better at protecting and repairing tissue. To me, this suggests many startling implications, not least among them the prevention of cancer and senescence."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Diabetes And Cancer

Interesting stuff:

"Diabetes and cancer are common diseases that have a tremendous impact on health worldwide. Epidemiologic evidence suggests that people with diabetes are at a significantly higher risk of many forms of cancer. Type 2 diabetes and cancer share many risk factors, but to our knowledge, potential biologic links between the 2 diseases are incompletely understood....

"The association between weight loss and subsequent cancer risk is less clear. Most evidence has been derived from breast cancer studies, in which weak or null associations were observed. Because the weight loss definition and the referent groups differed across studies, these studies are difficult to compare. Weight loss categories tend to have small numbers, and many women who do lose weight do not maintain their weight loss beyond 1 year. In the Nurses' Health Study, a statistically significant inverse association between adult weight loss and postmenopausal breast cancer was found only when the weight loss had been maintained for 2 survey cycles, or 4 years."

So you'd better keep the weight off...  I was happy to see this (emphases mine):


"A majority of studies (despite different study designs and differing study populations) suggest that diets low in red and processed meats and higher in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are associated with a lower risk of many types of cancer. Diets that are low in red and processed meat but high in monounsaturated fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals, and dietary fiber may protect against type 2 diabetes, possibly through improving insulin sensitivity. Low-carbohydrate diets (which often include a greater consumption of red meats and fat) have also been associated with weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity and glycemic control. However, to the best of our knowledge, randomized controlled trial evidence of dietary interventions and diabetes prevention exists only for low-fat, low-calorie, plus/minus high-fiber diets.

"Several studies have suggested that diets high in foods with a high glycemic index or load are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, evidence of their associations with cancer risk is mixed. Regardless, to the extent that energy-dense and sugary foods contribute to overweight and obesity, the American Cancer Society, the World Cancer Research Fund, and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend limiting consumption of these foods. "

Given where the science is on this, I would say this is a totally fair summary.  Kudos to the researchers for giving the low-carb option fair mention.

Of course the NY Times buries any mention of the dietary options:

"People with Type 2 diabetes tend to have a higher risk of getting certain cancers. And preliminary evidence suggests that metformin, the most widely used diabetes pill, might be effective in treating or preventing cancer.

"It is still not clear if high blood glucose is the reason diabetics have a higher cancer risk. A more likely explanation is that people with Type 2 diabetes have high levels of insulin, a hormone that is known to promote growth of certain tumors, according to the consensus statement.

"Similarly, metformin might fight cancer by lowering insulin levels, not blood sugar levels. But there is some evidence that the drug works in part by inhibiting glucose metabolism in cancer cells.

"Even if blood sugar levels fuel tumor growth, however, experts say that trying to lower the body’s overall level of blood sugar — like by starving oneself — would probably not be effective. That is because, at least for people without diabetes, the body is very good at maintaining a certain blood glucose level despite fluctuations in diet."

So keep piggin' out until the Doctor gives you a pill. This message brought to you by Big Pharm.

Given what I've read about diabetes and cancer and the emergence of both as widespread diseases since the adoption of the Modern American Diet, I'd run screaming away from the Modern American Diet ASAP.  Oh, wait, I already have...

Unfortunately the phrase "linoleic acid" does not appear in the link above.

While you're pondering all this, go for a run:

"Physical Activity

"Evidence from observational epidemiologic studies consistently demonstrates that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk of colon, postmenopausal breast, and endometrial cancer. Physical activity may also help prevent other cancers, including lung and aggressive prostate cancer, but a clear link has not been established to date. Some evidence also suggests that physical activity after diagnosis may improve survival for some cancers, including those of the breast and colorectum.

A protective role for increased physical activity in diabetes metabolism and outcomes has been demonstrated. Data from observational and randomized trials suggest that approximately 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, at least 5 days per week substantially reduces (approximately 25-36%) the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Analyses of the effects of different components of the intensive lifestyle intervention in the Diabetes Prevention Program have suggested that those who did not reach weight loss goals still significantly reduced their risk of diabetes if they achieved the physical activity goals, although weight loss was the only component found to be independently associated with diabetes prevention on multivariate analyses.

Vitamin D Foolishness

The NY Times reports on a new study about the level of vitamin D we should ingest. 

The problem with the aproach taken, which seems to be the usual "take this much a day", is that it doesn't address what the natural level of vitamin D ought to be. 

That's not entirely correct.  They do address the "natural" level of vitamin D, and admit that they have no idea whatsoever what it might be.

The report is essentially taking a "take this much because we know it prevents rickets" aproach, and the recommendations are all based on someone who gets "minimal" sun.  They mention several times the imaginary link between sun exposure and skin cancer as a justification for this approach.

I don't find this compelling.  What the report boils down to is: "In 100 years, since we started adding vitamin D to food, we've never bothered to figure out what the "natural" level should be."  So keep taking our advice.

I'll continue avoiding linoleic acid, which has a clear link to skin cancer, and getting regular doses of good, old-fashioned sun.  I supplement in the winter.  I'll note that, excluding sun exposure, I supplement probably less than what they recommend on a year-round basis, but my sun exposure over the summer put my serum vitamin D levels at more than four times this report's recommendation.  (52 ng/mL vs. 12 ng/mL.)  In fact, my body's natural production of D over the summer when I did not supplement at all leaves me in the category they describe as, "There may be reason for concern at serum 25OHD levels above 125 mnol/L (50 ng/mL)."  So I guess my body is trying to poison itself with vitamin D.  How unfortunate.

I think that following this report's advice is a good path to a far-lower than "natural" level of vitamin D in your system, which does not strike me as a conservative approach.

You take the risk that they're wrong:

"The established function of vitamin D remains that of ensuring bone health, for which causal evidence across the life stages exists and has grown since the 1997 DRIs were established (IOM, 1997).  The conclusion that there is not sufficient evidence to establish a relationship between vitamin D and health outcomes other than bone health does not mean that future research will not reveal a compelling relationship between vitamin D and another health outcome."

P.S.: My vitamin D experiment.  I think letting your body do what it's supposed to do is generally the wiser course than trying to tweak it based on the medical professions' grossly imperfect knowledge.

"How to Get More Vitamins from Your Produce"

Fascinating post:

"Last year, a USDA research plant physiologist by the name of Dr. Gene Lester conducted a fascinating study on the phytochemical metabolism of two types of spinach. He wondered if, since spinach growing in the field relies so heavily on visible sunlight exposure for producing the phytochemicals that make humans want to eat it, perhaps exposing the spinach to light post-harvest continued to affect its phytochemical composition. And so he found out."

A good argument for going to the market every day for your produce, rather than buying a bunch and letting it sit in the fridge...

Cool Blog In The Netherlands

She's wearing Speeds
Barefoot farm girls.

Nice shoes!  (They seem all to be wearing Vibram Speeds.)

Glenn Reynolds has a theory that any successful social movement has to include beautiful woman... Let's hope he's right!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Future American Olympians

"Hannah Oneda is still surprised at what she accomplished in cross country this fall even though her coaches and fellow Winters Mill runners can’t imagine why.

"Oneda went from wowing WM coach Kelly Gruber on the first day of practice to almost winning the Class 2A state championship Nov. 13. Oneda put together a three-month stretch for the ages, winning eight of her 10 races and creating some excitement on the county’s girls cross country scene en route to being named Times Girls Runner of the Year.

"Maybe it was the junior’s impressive two-mile interval times back on Aug. 14. Or her methodical dominance on courses around the region. It could have been her beating Century senior Maura Linde, perhaps the greatest female runner in Carroll history, four times in six matchups.

"Maybe it was the weird shoes....

Sounds like she's got a great coach:

"...On Sept. 4, Oneda won the Clear Spring Invitational by 35 seconds. The finish and time took her aback. It didn’t faze her coaches. Oneda remembers boys coach Dan Replogle talking with her before the race.

"'He was like, "I hope you know the last mile, right?" I was like, "Yeah, why?"' she recalled. 'He said, "I wanted to make sure you know where you’re going the last mile, because you’ll probably be ahead of everyone." I was thinking, "Are you crazy? No way!"'

"'After the race, I came back and said, "Why is he always right?"'

VivoBarefoot Evo II Review And Give-Away

And yes, I was going to post this anyway.

Barefoot Running Survey From The University Of Virginia

I'll just quote Pete:

Hey All - Jay Dicharry at the UVA Speed Clinic is trying to collect some data about barefoot runners via a short survey he has posted on-line (one page - very quick). He's the guy that was featured in the recent videos on Running Times about fixing broken runners.

If you are interested in helping out, here's the link: You don't have to be a full time barefoot runner, just someone who incorporates some barefoot running into their training.


I just did the survey.  Quick, as advertised.

Pete's post about it is here, with more info.

Comparing The Claims Of A Vegetable Based Diet With The Science

AKA: "Bill Clinton's Diet":

"Ornish, Campbell, and Esselstyn are all certain that they have found a dietary solution for coronary artery disease, but they have not found the same solution. If you look closely you will realize that their programs are far from identical. And the evidence to support any of their programs is pretty skimpy. And others disagree strongly: Gary Taubes wrote the huge, extensively referenced tome Good Calories, Bad Calories to debunk the alleged certainty that dietary fat has anything to do with cardiovascular disease, and also to expose the colorful history of nutrition science and how surprisingly little good diet research has actually yet been done.

"A systematic review found that

"3 dietary strategies are effective in preventing CHD: substitute nonhydrogenated unsaturated fats for saturated and trans-fats; increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, fish oil supplements, or plant sources; and consume a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains and low in refined grain products. However, simply lowering the percentage of energy from total fat in the diet is unlikely to improve lipid profile or reduce CHD incidence.

"A 2010 systematic review concluded

"The evidence base for multifactorial lifestyle interventions is weak."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Caveman Returns To Harvard, Visits Relatives

Great post.  I would have loved to have tagged along.

Russell Moc. Review

Damien Tougas reviews his second pair:

"From a minimalist standpoint, the design is solid. The soles are a little thicker and stiffer than some other minimalist shoes on the market (from insole-to-outsole mine measured 10mm), so if you are looking to feel every pebble, then these shoes probably aren't for you. Despite the thicker sole the flexibility of the shoe is excellent, and in my opinion, allows the foot to function naturally as designed."

When I started looking for minimalist shoe options, Damien's site had the best list of options.  It was a big help to me, so spend some time there.  He's got a lot of great info.

My review of the prototype of these shoes, Russell's minimalist line.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Kabloona: Among The Inuit"

Sounds fascinating:

"He’s also amazed by the endurance of the Eskimos. The nutritionists who parrot their textbook knowledge that 'you need carbohydrates for energy!' should read this book. Poncins recounts running along trails with Eskimos for hours – he was fatigued and panting, while they barely seemed to notice the effort. After a year in the Arctic, Poncins finds he is beginning to prefer their diet, even though he had supplies of 'white man' food on the sled carrying his belongings. As he explains in one passage, boiled rice could warm him up temporarily, but then he’d feel colder an hour or two later. By contrast, raw meat or raw fish was cold going down, but then he felt warmer for the rest of the day."

New England Winter Forecast for 2010-2011

From the Single-Chair Weather Blog.
Good news and bad news, depending on your perspective. ;)

The Wacko In The Office

Too funny:

"By now, most people have heard of the barefoot running movement. You probably even know some wacko at your office whose got a pair of “the feet gloves” or better yet, those Born to Run-style huaraches."

I am the "wacko" at my office.  And I have a bunch of happy converts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Artificial Intelligence Just Got Pushed Back...

"A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth."

That's pretty remarkable.

My Thanksgiving Present From My Doctor

He emailed me a link from the New England Journal of Medicine of an editorial about this study:

"Diets with High or Low Protein Content and Glycemic Index for Weight-Loss Maintenance"

Basically, they starved people for a bit, and then put them on a bunch of different diets to see how they did.

Dr. Briffa commented on this study this morning:

"However, the truly interesting part of this study concerned what happened next. Each of the study participants was randomised to eat one of five diets. These were:

1. a relatively high-protein, low-glycaemic index (GI) diet

2. a relatively high-protein, high-GI diet

3. a relatively low-protein, low-GI diet

4. a relatively low-protein, high-GI diet

5. a ‘control’ diet

"For each of the diet, individuals could eat as much as they like. This phase of the study lasted 6 months."

As Dr. Briffa notes, and I'll paraphrase: If you've been reading about or eating in a Paleo, Primal, or Low-Carb manner, nothing in this study will come as a surprise. It works, it works better than the alternative, and you'll be quite happy eating this way for the long term.

Of course, if you listen to Jimmy Moore's excellent "Living La Vida Low-Carb" podcast, you would have already heard this interview with Dr. Ludwig, the author of the editorial in NEJM:

Dr. David Ludwig: Are Carbs Turning Your Kid’s Liver Into Foie Gras?

What's really fascinating about this study is that it involved entire families, not just individuals:

"Investigators observed that in families where the participating adult was randomized to the high-protein/low GI diet, the percentage of overweight/obese children in those families actually fell over the course of the study."

I think a good label for it would be the "Cheating Diet": you eat great, you feel great, and as a happy side-effect, you lose weight.

First Primal Thanksgiving

Yesterday we had our first Primal Thanksgiving.  It went extremely well.

(I didn't offer the typical "Happy Thanksgiving" post because I was too busy living life.  So, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all.)
Celeriac Soup
For an opener, we had this Silky Celeriac Soup using a recipe from Mark Sisson.  Celeriac soup was a vegetable with which I was unfamiliar.  But I'd starred this recipe in Google Reader, and when I went to the farmer's market to pick up our turkey, I saw that it was available, and decided to wing it. (Pun intended.)

One of the attributes our Paleo ancestors would have had in spades was flexibility.  You eat what you find, not what you'd like.

After being appalled by the added mystery ingredients in the whole cream at Stop & Shop, I drove to Whole Wallet and bought some Sky-Top Farms pastured, unhomogenized (but pasteurized) cream, which featured prominently in this soup and in several other dishes.  (I doubled the portion of cream in the soup, replacing some of the optional water.)

I also made Nell Stephenson's brussell sprout recipe.  I hate brussel sprouts, but for some reason when I saw them at the farmer's market, I craved them.  I had also starred this recipe in Google Reader.  The sprouts turned out reasonably well, but I think they were a bit undercooked.  I would steam them for longer, or cut them in quarters, so they'd be a little less chewey.  As advertised, they were quite tasty.  I used dates but not pecans, as my older daughter has a nut allergy.  Bacon would also have been a good addition, and I think cooking them in lard or bacon grease would have been a good route to go.  Nell's recipe suggests using olive oil, but since we know that's not paleo, I felt free to replace it with another "not paleo", but more tasty and nutritious oil: pastured butter.  This is produced from May to September; I have a freezer-full of it for the winter months, since we use it liberally.  My occasionally-lactose-intolerant younger daughter does just fine on it, thank you very much.

I made mashed potatoes for the traditional aspect, with lots of raw milk, cream, and pastured butter included.  Note to self: do not use power tools when making mashed potatoes next year.  They rapidly became glue-like, and while the addition of dairy products rescued the taste, the texture was a bit lacking.

We had a salad, two different gluten-free stuffings, gluten-free corn muffins, and, of course, a pastured turkey, which was easily the tastiest bird I've eaten in my life.  Not to mention some cranberry sauce, and acorn squash.  And gravy, of course.  Skimming the turkey fat off the top of the gravy is key, by the way.  I omitted this step last year, and regretted it.  Turkey fat is high in linoleic acid, which is prime amoung the "bad fats", I've noticed that poultry fat with too much linoleic acid in it leaves me feeling out-of-sorts.

One of the stuffings' ingredients called for Campell's cream of celery soup, which is listed as "Heart Healthy" and approved by the American Heart Association.  Paranoid that I am, I read the ingredients anyway, and was horrified to note that this "cream" of cerery soup listed "vegetable oil" as the second ingredient, after celery.  "Truth in advertising" includes lies, apparently.  A high concentration of linoleic-acid-rich vegetable oils and it's metabolites are well-correlated with heart disease.  So I wound up making a quick cream of celery soup in the morning to be included in the stuffing, following an old recipe from Fannie Farmer.

For desert we had gluten-free brownies, ice cream, and, for our guests, a couple of pies with a wheat crust.

Strict observers of the Paleo or Primal diets will notice that we did not strictly follow either one.  A bit of grain (like corn) now and again isn't going to be harmful, IMHO.  Even my daughters appear to do fine with the occasional bit of wheat; my wife and I do not, however.  I think that regular, long-term consumption is what causes harm that the body cannot repair; as even celiacs who do not eat wheat for a period can tolerate it once in a while without symptoms.  This meal was more in line with Stephan Guyenet's research or Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet, therefore.

This meal involved a fair amount of work and research, as you may gather.  But it was worth it.  Really the only fiasco was the potatoes.

What was fascinating to note was our guests' reactions.  They all loved it, and cleaned their plates.  But no-one went back for seconds, and one guest who had piled her plate particularly high was unable to get through it.  It was a very satiating meal, in other words, even with all the carbs.  Neither my wife or I had any of the bad effects that we've now come to associate with a meal including wheat or vegetable oils: we felt great after this meal.

This is in line with the theory that the harmful stuff in the Modern American Diet isn't the carbs, but wheat and vegetable oils.

I weighed myself after returning from my nine-mile Thanksgiving trail run prior to all the cooking and eating, and then again the following morning: zero weight gain, but I nevertheless skipped breakfast due to still feeling full.

I will note that if I was the only one planning this meal, it would have been more Primal, but marital concerns dictated some of the menu. ;)  I don't think that the meal would have been any less well-recieved if it had been more Primal.

Can Barefooting Cure Flat Feet?

Yes.  As we already know.

I complain a lot about podiatristsDr. Nirenberg, however, is the very model of a modern podiatrist.  We should have a lot more like him.

Now you'd think that 100 years of evidence that barefoot-style shoes or barefooting can cure this condition would have some effect on medical practice, wouldn't you?

Thanks to Andy Southerland.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Police State

Raw Foods Raid – The Fight for the Right to Eat What You Want.

Just insane.  Although I should say their police state.  Fortunately in Connecticut where I live it's perfectly legal to sell and consume raw milk.

Lee Saxby on Barefoot Running

 “That's great,” says Lee. “You look like the average jogger. You’re running really badly.”
Via Terra Plana.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ignore The "Experts"...

Wait for the data:

"Even the researchers themselves, however, were surprised by the results. 'We expected there to be virtually no fish out there based on all the reports we were getting about the toxicity of the dispersant and the toxicity of the hydrocarbons, and reports that hypoxia [low oxygen] had been created as a result of the oil and dispersant,' says John Valentine, who directed the study. 'In every way you can imagine, it should have been a hostile environment for fish and crabs; our collection showed that was not the case.'

"Also surprising was how quickly the populations grew. 'In the cosmic scheme of things, a matter of four or five months led to this huge difference in everything, sharks, fish of all forms, even the juvenile fish found in sea-grass beds. That’s a pretty interesting and unanticipated outcome, I would say,' says Valentine. The surge is so robust, he says, that it may be impossible to determine whether the oil spill has had any effect on sea life at all."

Newton Natural Running...

Yikes.  What's natural about that?

Merrell Barefoot Trail

The Holy Grail.

Thanks to Pete.

More info from Merrell's blog:

"With that in mind, Merrell created the Barefoot collection. We know that when you’re outside running, playing with your kids, or cruising the farmer’s market that you want feel connected to the experience. So we partnered with Vibram to bring you a shoe that is the next best thing to being barefoot. Super lightweight, flexible, low profile, beneficial and stylish. That’s the collection in a nutshell. But there’s so much more, too. The Barefoot collection helps to strengthen your feet and legs, re-align your posture and stimulate your senses. All of these benefits in one pair of shoes, the fun is an added bonus."

Marketing-speak, blech. But at least they're saying the right things.

More News From Podiatry

"Dr. Gregory Clark, head of podiatry at Scripps Clinic Medical Group in Rancho Bernardo, concedes that the conceptual advantages of barefoot running may have some valid benefits for elite runners who are in tune with their bodies and able to alter their gait and running style. But Clark cautioned the average or beginning runner that the laundry list of potential injuries is extensive, ranging from stress fractures to skin lacerations and infections.

"'The foot, which is the body’s primary shock absorber, is an absolutely amazing anatomic structure,' Clark said. 'Unfortunately, the majority of people are not in good enough physical condition or have not trained appropriately to take advantage of these things.'"

Doc, we're not all cripples out here, you know.

Believe it or not, I feel bad about indicting an entire profession.  But I keep reading things like this coming from podiatrists, and I happen to know that they're entirely lacking in any grounding in reality.

So, to the podiatrists, please stop making fools of yourselves.  This guy is a podiatrist, and he got it, so it's possible.  And he wrote this book in 1961.  You've got no excuse.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Twinkie Diet

This was a ridiculous bit of theatre; a professor of nutrition, Mark Haub, putting himself on a diet of Twinkies, among other things, to lose weight.

So it's somehow fitting that the best take-down of this bit of theatre comes from a comedian, Tom Naughton, who does a better job of debunking the "diet" than the pros, IMHO:

"Now, 173 grams of carbohydrate per day certainly isn’t low, but it’s not high either. Depending on whose figures you use, that’s about half as many carbohydrates as an average American male consumes per day. It’s also at least 1,000 fewer daily calories than an average male consumes. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that Professor Haub lost weight on a “Twinkie Diet” that is actually moderate in carbohydrates and very low in calories. I’d lose weight on that diet, too. (I’d hate it, but I’d lose weight.)

"I would also lose muscle on such a low protein intake, and according to his health assessments posted on Facebook, Professor Haub did in fact lose 6 pounds of lean body mass over the 10 weeks. So we’re looking at a fat loss of 20 pounds in 10 weeks, or two pounds per week...."

So the takeaway from this foolishness is that if you starve yourself, you will lose weight.  Duh.  What point the professor thought he was making by this is beyond me.  As Dr. John Briffa put it:

"While I do not buy into the ‘it’s only calories that count’ school of thinking, I do believe that inducing a caloric deficit of several hundred calories each day is likely to being about weight loss. I don’t know anyone, in or out of the ‘low-carb community’ who would dispute this (though I accept some people may hold this view). The point is Professor Haub has demonstrated through personal, anecdotal experience that the vast majority of people would not dispute. He has, in effect, demonstrated what most people would be regarded as something entirely predictable. Nice work Professor Haub."
So why was Naughton's takedown the best?  Aside from the fact that he made a movie, Fat Head, about a similar bit of theatre, he actually tracked down Haub's menus:

"November 12
Pumpkin Spice Donut
Protein shake
Onion Rings
Macaroni and Cheese
Baked potato casserole
Dynasty Lychees
Baby carrots
Peanut butter cookies
2% milk"

What's missing?  Twinkies!  That's actually a far better diet than most Americans probably eat.

Stephen Guyenet (one of the pros) also has an excellent post on this farce:

"Well, then why did Dr. Haub's diet allow him to lose weight? The body can only maintain body composition in the face of a calorie deficit up to a certain point. After that, it has no choice but to lower fat mass. It will do so reluctantly, at the same time increasing hunger, and reducing lean mass***, muscular strength and energy dedicated to tissue repair and immune function. However, I hope everyone can agree that a sufficient calorie deficit can lead to fat loss regardless of what kind of food is eaten. Dr. Haub's 800 calorie deficit qualifies. I think only a very small percentage of people are capable of maintaining that kind of calorie deficit for more than a few months, because it is mentally and physically difficult to fight against what the hypothalamus has decided is in your best interest."

By the way: Tom Naughton's Fat Head movie is excellent, and extremely funny.  I recommend it highly.

P.S.: Jimmy Moore interviewed Dr. Haub.