The 7-Day Crash Course in Nutrition and Health

Yours truly. Climbing some mountains and feeling awesome!

I have been studying this nutrition, health and fitness stuff for about three years now. During that time I have read dozens of books on the subject, watched and attended at least as many lectures, and read hundreds of blog posts. When you start learning something new, the first few months are easily spent acquiring knowledge every single day. After that the pace starts to get slower and what you read begins to repeat itself. I am in no means saying that I would somehow know everything there is to know – far from it – but that I have reached a point where stumbling on an insightful article or presentation happens maybe once every month instead of on a daily basis.

Due to the exposure I’ve had, I feel confident that I can put together a pretty decent collection of articles and online lectures that will teach you more about health and nutrition in a few hours than what most people learn in their whole lifetime. This information should also be pretty applicable and useful when it comes to improving your own health and well-being.

In fact, I guarantee that if you spend 1-2 hours every day for a week watching these lectures and reading the articles, and then proceed to implement what you learn, your health, well-being and quality of life will improve dramatically. Unless, of course, you’re already shoulder-deep geeked out about this stuff like I am :)

 

Monday

Why We Get Fat: Adiposity 101 by Gary Taubes

Gary is the author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. He is also one of the most prominent science writers in the world. This is a convincing presentation about different factors that refute the caloric balance hypothesis, and how hormones are the primary regulators of fat accumulation.

Among other things he also explains how glucose affects the hormone insulin which regulates fat storage, and how dietary carbohydrate is required to be able to gain significant amounts of fat.


Watch the remaining parts on YouTube: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Update 26.6.2014: The original YouTube videos seem to have been taken down, but this link works at the time of this update.

 

 

Tuesday

Sugar: The Bitter Truth by Robert H. Lustig

This lecture has gained more than 1.5 million views on YouTube which is absolutely amazing considering that it’s a University of California lecture, rather heavy on science, and even goes into explaining the biochemistry of glucose and fructose metabolism. There is some overlapping with this and the Gary Taubes lecture but both are definitely worth watching with care. Where Gary’s lecture is more about nutrition research and carbohydrates, this lecture is big on sugar, how our bodies effectively handle fructose as a toxin.

 

 

Wednesday

A Metabolic Paradigm Shift, or Why Fat is the Preferred Fuel for Human Metabolism by Mark Sisson

Today’s lesson should not take more than 15 minutes. It is a short and straight-to-the-point article by one of the heavyweights in the paleo community; Mark Sisson – author of The Primal Blueprint and a perfect specimen of what a man should look like when he’s close to 60 years old. Here Mark reveals some of the issues behind the assumption that glucose would be the primary fuel source for our bodies with a nice Darwinian, evolution by natural selection undertone.

The reason I added this article as a part of the course is that it brings together some of the key points from the previous two lectures nicely and fits them into the context of evolutionary biology.

Read the article here: A Metabolic Paradigm Shift, or Why Fat is the Preferred Fuel for Human Metabolism

 

 

Thursday

How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days) by Robb Wolf

So far we have been mainly focusing on macronutrients; carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Now it’s time to go deeper. Ignore the provocative title of this article. The content is solid.

Robb is the author of The Paleo Solution and runs a free podcast with the same name. This article was published on Tim Ferriss’s blog and explains one of the most important missing pieces when it comes to solving the puzzle of optimal nutrition and health; food sensitivities. More precisely, how grains, legumes, and dairy can cause inflammation of the small intestine, leaky gut, and lead to various autoimmune diseases.

The real kicker is that these issues are far more common than you would believe.

Read the article here: How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)

 

 

Friday and Saturday

9 Steps to Perfect Health by Chris Kresser

I cannot give enough credit to Chris for writing his Perfect Health series. This is also the perfect way to end our course because it brings together and summarizes everything we have learned earlier, while also adding information on certain important factors that tend to get overlooked but can be of huge significance when health and well-being are concerned: handling stress, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a balanced ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

 

 

Sunday (advanced topics)

Intermittent Fasting for Health and Longevity by Todd Becker

Even The Dude would rest on Sunday – and probably on all the other days, too – so this it not really required learning anymore. I would also advise that intermittent fasting is not for everyone; it can be a stressor and do you more harm than good. However, for some it works beautifully and when it can help you live longer, maintain insulin sensitivity, and effortlessly lose body fat, what’s not to like?

If you’re curious about IF and want to know more about it, this lecture by Todd Becker is a great place to start. I should also say that I have an extensive guide to intermittent fasting brewing, and that I have been fasting on average 6 days a week for the past 4 months so I can also share some personal experiences on this blog.


Watch the remaining parts on YouTube: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

 

Now that the course is over it’s time to shake hands, deal diplomas, and congratulate ourselves. However, there is always more to learn. I can wholeheartedly recommend that you start reading more of the authors mentioned in this article. Also, if you want to spend your commutes smartly, check out The Paleo Solution podcast on iTunes and start listening to it from the beginning.

Cheers!

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Comments

  1. Don’t forget Stephan Guyenet – a must read regarding Gary Taube’s opinion.

    http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

    • Hi Bridget!

      Funny thing, I just read that article a few minutes AFTER tweeting about this course and was like “oh shit, here I am recommending folks to watch Gary’s lecture” and Stephan is making a convincing case that in some parts Gary was wrong, too.

      However, what is Stephan really saying? My takeaway from reading the article was that dietary carbohydrate does not cause obesity. Yet there is no explanation about what does, and no matter the cause of obesity, restricting carbohydrate and sugar tends to be an effective way to help people lose weight and reverse metabolic syndrome – even when there might be some controversy about the actual mechanisms involved.

      It will be interesting to see which hypothesis proves to be true, and nevertheless I think Gary’s lecture is a good starting point for this course because it really explains the sorry state of nutrition research for the past decades, and how the dietary recommendations are based on rather poor evidence.

      I also hope that by going through the other parts of this course people will learn that there’s more to health and well-being than just avoiding a specific macronutrient.

      //sami

  2. Hi Sami!

    Really enjoy your site, and this 7-day-crash-course info. I know the players well, except for Todd Becker, and applaud your choices.

    I’d like to add to your crash course William Davis, M.D. and his just-published Wheat Belly. Tom Naughton recently reviews the book and then interviewed Dr. Davis over at his, TN’s, blog. I found in the interview that Dr. Davis is very well spoken (not some nutty obsessed non-mainstream doctor, as I’d feared).

    Besides wheat, an issue that is interesting is stomach cancer and low carb – AND stomach cancer and HIGH carb (but low sugar). At http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=1077 Paul Jaminet has a post called “Dangers of Zero-Carb Diets, II: Mucus Deficiency and Gastrointestinal Cancers” and he writes:

    “Optimal Dieters have been dying of gastrointestinal cancers at a disturbing rate. Recently Adam Jany, president of the OSBO (the Polish Optimal Dieters’ association), died of stomach cancer at 64 after 17 years on the Optimal Diet. Earlier Karol Braniek, another leader of the OSBO, died at 68 from duodenal cancer.

    “A Polish former Optimal Dieter who has now switched to something closer to the Perfect Health Diet [Jaminet’s diet] noted that gastrointestinal cancers seem to be common among Optimal Dieters…”

    Jaminet’s post shows a picture of what H. Pylori does to stomach mucosa (diminishes it), and seems to be saying that too-low-of-starch may do the same thing.

    I asked Gary Taubes about this and he wrote that Jaminet may be right [re Jaminet’s solution of adding more starch to the diet] “but then you have to explain why the Japanese have such high rates of stomach cancer.”

    As we know, the Japanese are high starch but low sugar.

    We all know (the story is told well in Le Fanu’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine’) about Barry Marshall, M.D.’s discovery in the mid-1980s that H.Pylori is THE cause of stomach ulcers (not stress, etc.), and it is estimated by some researcher or other that Le Fanu quotes, that H. Pylori is also responsible for two-thirds of stomach cancers…

    Whatever you can make of the above…

    IMHO THE FEINMAN/LUSTIG QUARREL IS MUCH MORE INTERESTING THAN THE TAUBES/GUYENET QUARREL: I think Prof. Richard Feinman is, at his blog (where I discovered YOU via the comments under Prof. Feinman’s anti-Dr. Lustig or shall I say “corrective-of Dr. Lustig” posts!!!) posing the most interesting questions lately — about Dr. Lustig’s poor biochemistry etc. (I’m not wholly down on Dr. Lustig by any means, but Dr. Feinman is MOST illuminating, AND he’s posting a series of YouTube videos explaining where he differs with Dr. Lustig — he only has 2 done, but they’re up!)

    Dr. Feinman writes, “Sugar, HFCS are carbohydrates. We need to be informed as to what the problems with high carbohydrates are and when and if, sugar has a unique effect compared to starch. Lustig’s YouTube is pure propaganda and thoughtless. No biochemist would present anything like that to a class. Because it contains a mixture of truths, half-truths, falsehoods and howlers, it is hard for us to quickly pick it apart. There are thousands of papers on fructose. The sad thing is that, from my conversations with him, Lustig actually knows a lot but what he is doing is not responsible science.”

    He also writes, “What we know works well for obesity and the metabolic syndrome is carbohydrate reduction. It could be that that is because of the de facto removal of the fructose in the carbohydrates but the burden of proof is on those who say that. Lustig has not even begun to meet that burden of proof.”

    I think S. Guyenet is a complete sideshow. No two people can really agree on what the heck he’s saying. Not a good sign.

    I KNOW from personal experience that Taubes/Atkins have the most important things right.

    Here I am, a woman in my mid-50s, and look what happened to me after reading GCBC (same with my husband, read it too, lost 25 lbs in 4 mos without exercise; lost his GERD he’d had for decades in 2 days and it never came back, etc…)

    Me BEFORE reading GCBC in 2010:
    Weight 168, TGs 105, HDL 52

    Me AFTER implementing GCBC’s wisdom:
    Weight 150 (no exercise done, not that I’m proud of that), TGs 48, HDL 67

    Dr. Feinman pointed out to me that my TG/HDL ratio is under 1, when all it has to be is under 3.5.

    ANOTHER INTERESTING ISSUE — non-meat eaters doing as well as meat-eaters, as long as you keep in the eggs, fat and low carb: After GT posted his own lipids on his blog, Frank J. Spence, Jr., M.D. posted and GT answered:

    frankjspencejr

    Gary, this is spooky. As you know I have also been on the 3 eggs a day, high fat, very low carb diet about 2 years. Just yesterday I had my lipids checked, with almost identical results as yours:
    T Chol 192, TG 65, LDL-C 114, HDL-C 65.3, VLDL 13, Chol/HDL 2.9
    Weight staying mid 180s. Thanks again for your good work.

    garytaubes

    Hi Frank,
    Spooky it is, since you don’t eat any meat at all and I live on it. Nice numbers and nice to hear from you, as ever.
    gt

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