Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview on Super Human Radio

Today, I did an audio interview with Carl Lanore of Super Human Radio.  Carl seems like a sharp guy who focuses on physical fitness, nutrition, health and aging.  We talked mostly about food reward and body fatness-- I think it went well.  Carl went from obese to fit, and his fat loss experience lines up well with the food reward concept.  As he was losing fat rapidly, he told friends that he had "divorced from flavor", eating plain chicken, sweet potatoes and oatmeal, yet he grew to enjoy simple food over time.

The interview is here.  It also includes an interview of Dr. Matthew Andry about Dr. Loren Cordain's position on dairy; my interview starts at about 57 minutes.  Just to warn you, the website and podcast are both full of ads.


Meg said...

Hi Stephan,

I've been following and slowly digesting all your posts on this topic. I just have a question.

Someone, a few posts ago, made a comment that they personally found that eating a meal with lots of flavours was more satisfying than eating a bland one. My personal experience has been the same - lots of flavours feel somehow satisfying and a meal without those feels kinda unfinished. It usually prompts me to seek out something with lots of flavour (often something junk food-y) to get to that point of satisfaction.

My question is to do with traditional diets in Asia. Countries like Thailand and India have highly flavoured food and until really modern times people from these countries tended to have very good general health, and low rates of obesity.

I don't know how this fits with your theory.... views?

Diet Pills said...

Hi Meg,

I don’t know how it all fits into the theory, but there are some obvious differences between traditional Indian and Thai meals compared to modern foods.

For one thing, consumption was constrained by economics. People could only afford so much food no matter how much they would have liked to eat more. Today, a handful of pocket change will buy a candy bar or small bag of chips.

And that’s the other thing – no matter how flavorful traditional Indian food is, I am not going to walk over to the pantry and pull out some and start eating when I am not really that hungry. It won’t be setting in the pantry ready to go, and if I am not really hungry I will first grab the candy, chips, popcorn, twinkee, etc…

I think it is kind of the key – we have an abundance of ultra-cheap, ultra-convenient food that has been engineered so that we will eat it when we are not even hungry. And we are so addicted to it, that when someone suggests a diet without it, many people immediately call it unrealistic.

I think one could reasonably speculate that a need for some junk food to “finish” off a meal could point to this kind of addiction.

Anna said...

Meg -

The similarity matrix between "bland" diets and Asian cookery is repetiveness. Like my foodie brother says, "Most everything ends up tasting like curry (or hot sauce, etc.)."

The same spice patterns, high volume of food/low caloric density, same staples of grain or starch product all add up to a flavorful "bland" diet. Novelty seeking is less because there isn't any novelty to be had or afforded very often.

gunther gatherer said...

Great interview Stephan.

There's one point where the interviewer asks you about the salivation response and how this is linked to all this. Could we say basically that an ideal low reward diet would be that all foods are to be avoided which create a salivation response just from thinking about it?

You were cut off by the interviewer while talking about bodybuilder diets. They seem to get to superlow bodyfat levels by using both bland food diets and lowered calories. Do you recommend deliberately cutting calories in addition to bland food if already lean people are looking to get to low BF? Indigenous people don't intentionally cut calories yet they are about 10% BF, which is pretty low compared to westerners.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Meg,

Yes, eating a variety of highly palatable foods is satisfying, and we're accustomed to it. That's precisely the problem. If someone smokes one cigarette after dinner every day, they won't be satisfied unless they have their cigarette (even if that's the only cigarette they have each day and they are not addicted to tobacco-- I know people like this). But that doesn't mean they can't learn to stop smoking, and it doesn't mean they won't be better off without it.

It's just a question of adjusting, and adjusting takes time. You can't judge the long-term results of a diet by how you react to one meal.

The question of Asian diets has come up a number of times in the comments. The average (non-affluent) Asian person 30-100 years ago would have eaten 75+ percent of their food as a plain starch (rice, sweet potato, taro, or some other grain), with a small amount of vegetables, fish and/or meat as an accompaniment. The accompaniments were not necessarily heavily spiced. This continues to be the case in many rural areas throughout Asia. I think it's important not to get misled by restaurant food and affluent food. The average person wasn't eating green curry and pad thai every night.

As people have become more affluent in Asia, and the food has become more varied and palatable, body fatness has increased rapidly.

Hi Gunther,

About salivation, I don't know. I'd have to look into it.

Cutting calories will decrease fat mass and lean mass, so yes it can be useful for reducing fat mass if you have the discipline. But bodybuilders cycle their food choices, and only temporarily restrict calories. The distinction between short-term and long-term is critical. In the long-term, the hypothalamus will win in most cases. It just requires too much resolve to fight hunger every day.

Charles L. Peden said...


Imagine you and I are playing catch with a softball. I throw it to you and you catch it. After you catch it you scream and dance like a little girl. Everybody is amused.

So now the whole neighborhood is wanting to see Stephan scream and dance. They are throwing softballs and golf balls and tennis balls and spoons and socks and grapefruits. But you are only allowed to catch softballs. Do you think you might get a little fatigued dealing with all of the false softballs being thrown at you?

Insulin is a protein. Leptin is a protein. Wouldn't it make more sense that we become insulin and leptin resistant (fatigued) because of an excess of non-insulin and non-leptin proteins in our system? Wouldn't reducing protein in the diet cure that? It is only a theory.

Kirk said...

Great interview. Incredibly annoying ads. I was reminded me why I no longer listen to commercial radio.

His personal story about eating bland foods was compelling, and it was the first time I'd heard about bodybuilders also using the bland food tactic.

I was also struck by his description of obese people going to a restaurant. I saw that several months ago when we ate at a Ruby Tuesdays (we were traveling, normally we don't eat out); ten adults in a family sat together at a long table, and their eyes sparkled as they searched the menu, and their faces were animated as they waited for the food, and then, after the food was delivered, as they ate, they calmed down. Until, at the end, they were almost lethargic.

Chris said...

The adverts are hilarious! Why do I want to turn my muscles into rock hard granite?

It makes you think that the listeners are only interested in steroid substitutes and things that give a hard on.


Chris said...

Too often our shaker bottle backfires on us! What?

Another great advert!

V-man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Chris,

Yeah, the ads were hilarious!

Hi V-man,

I'm nearly always referring to fat loss, even if I say weight loss. It's tougher for me to use the correct terminology consistently when I'm doing an interview in real time.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading your blog ~ thanks for posting such useful content./Nice article and great photos. Very nicely done!

Good Health

TCO348 said...

Cool. I e-mailed him and suggested that he get you on. I like his show. He has a lot of interesting and smart guests and its not all focused on weight training. There are a ton of ads though. But its his living, its not a hobby for him.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Taylor,

Thanks, you're probably the person who got me invited. He mentioned that listeners had requested me.

Ken Leebow said...

I just listened to your interview. Interesting, but two points I disagree with:

1. you can eat a healthy diet that is very delicious. No doubt, food is meant to enjoy. Out with the bland, in with the delicious.

2. Snacking ... by eating a healthy diet, you can snack frequently ... snack should be between 100 - 200 calories. Very easy to do.

Ken Leebow

Rodney said...


You've inspired me to do an experiment in which I try reducing food-reward over the next few weeks. It'll be interesting to see if it results in weight loss for me.

mich@el said...

Hello Stephan, can we change the link of the interview to the updated one which is: http://superhumanradio.com/781-all-dairy-bad-plus-reducing-food-effects-obesity.html


SHR Webmaster

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Michael,