Friday, February 28, 2014

Food Reward Friday

This week's lucky "winner"...  Kirkland Signature Cashew Clusters!!

WHS reader Brad Dieter mentioned these on Facebook the other day:
Nutrition tip of the day. Do not buy Cashew Clusters from Costco. You will eat an entire bag in one fell swoop. Sweet, salty, crunchy, and calorie dense, the perfect storm in Stephan Guyenet's model of overeating. I have n=1 data as proof.
n=1 quickly turned into n=6 as other people chimed in, including myself.  I can attest to the fact that Cashew Clusters are like crack.  Here's more evidence from their Amazon reviews:
"Addiction with less guilt!"  These things are SO freaking good!!!... I'm eating some right now and I am having trouble keeping my hand out of the bag long enough to write this review!
"Delicious".  I gave this as a gift to my girl friend... She loved it ! Heard there wasn't much sugar either. Seems the nuts were crispy and the clusters were very addicting, in a nice way. It lasted only for 6 days. [SG- each bag contains 4,800 calories]
"Buy these and you will be hooked for life!"  One word "NUMMY!"...  Very addicting.
Cashew Clusters are only about 11 percent sugar by calories, with the other 89 percent of calories coming from whole nuts and seeds.  They're probably a healthy snack if you can eat them in moderation.  Can you?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Snacktime in My Kitchen

Here is a photo of all visible food in my kitchen:
Along the back wall, we have glass containers of raw nuts, unsalted roasted nuts, grains, and legumes.  It's easy and attractive to organize your dry foods using inexpensive 2 quart Ball jars.  They also have the advantage of being moth-proof.  On the left, we have fresh fruit and a few onions.  On the far left in the background is our hand-cranked conical burr grinder, for occasional coffee (Skerton).
If I walk into my kitchen between meals, the only food available to eat without doing any cooking or reheating is unsalted nuts and fresh fruit.  There is no other snack food in the kitchen.  No chips, cookies, bars, popcorn, snack mix, candy, or anything else that's tempting and easy to grab and devour. 
When it's mealtime, we eat good home-cooked food.  When it isn't mealtime, we don't have anything available that we would eat without feeling genuinely hungry.  If we do feel genuinely hungry, fresh fruit and unsalted nuts make a satisfying snack.

This is the way of my people. 

What's the point?  Eliminating tempting food cues from our surroundings and creating small barriers to food consumption decreases the quantity of food we eat while increasing the quality.  Engineering a food environment that discourages eating for reasons other than hunger helps match food intake to the body's true energy needs, favoring leanness and health.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why Do We Overeat? A Neurobiological Perspective

I just posted a narrated Powerpoint version of my talk "Why Do We Overeat? A Neurobiological Perspective" to YouTube.  Here's the abstract:
In the United States, the "obesity epidemic" has paralleled a gradual increase in daily calorie intake.  Why do we eat more than we used to, and more than we need to remain lean-- despite negative consequences?  This talk reviews the neurobiology of eating behavior, recent changes in the US food system, and why the brain's hardware may not be up to the task of constructively navigating the modern food environment.
This is the same talk I gave at the University of Virginia this January.  I had a number of people request it, so here it is:
This is one of my favorite talks, and it was very well received at UVA.  If you find it informative, please share it!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mindless Eating

You think you're in control of your eating behavior-- but you aren't

In 2005, Brian Wansink's research group published a remarkable study that demonstrates the powerful unconscious influence of the food environment on our consumption (1). 

Volunteers were invited to a test kitchen to eat bowls of tomato soup for lunch.  Each person was given a bowl containing 18 ounces of soup-- but there was a catch.  Half the volunteers were given custom-made soup bowls that partially refilled as they ate, such that the soup level dropped more slowly.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5 Easy and Effective Ways to Eat Less

Why do we overeat?  Why is it hard to lose fat once we've gained it?  Is there a way to comfortably and sustainably eat less and lose fat? 
I recently did an interview with Armi Legge of Evidence Magazine that gives an overview of my thinking on these topics-- based on a large and compelling body of research that rarely reaches popular media sources in useful form. 
At the end of the interview, Armi asks me to list my top five tips for reducing calorie intake.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mysteries of Energy Balance and Weight Loss

How to Lose Weight Effortlessly
You've probably seen this claim many times: a pound of fat contains 3,500 kilocalories (kcal).  A slice of toast is 80 kcal.  All you have to do is forego one slice of toast per day-- just a few percent of your total calorie intake-- and you will lose 8.3 lbs of fat per year.  Fat loss is so easy!
This reasoning is extremely common both in the popular media and among researchers.  Here's an example from the book Mindless Eating, by researcher Brian Wansink:
...the difference between 1,900 and 2,000 calories is one we cannot detect, nor can we detect the difference between 2,000 and 2,100 calories.  But over the course of a year, this mindless margin would either cause us to lose ten pounds or to gain ten pounds.  It takes 3,500 extra calories to equal one pound.  It doesn't matter if we eat these extra 3,500 calories in one week or gradually over the entire year.  They'll add up to one pound.
This is the danger of creeping calories.  Just 10 extra calories a day-- one stick of Doublemint gum or three small Jelly Belly jelly beans-- will make you a pound more portly one year from today.  Only three Jelly Bellys a day.
According to this reasoning, if I reduced my calorie intake by 80 kcal per day, I'd become skeletal in two years and vanish in a puff of smoke within 10 years*.  All from a meager 3 percent reduction in calorie intake! 
What's wrong here?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

NutriScience Seminar in Lisbon with Lindeberg, Fontes, and Bastos

My friend Pedro Bastos has asked me to spread the word about a seminar he's organizing in Lisbon titled "Evidence and Evolution-based Nutrition".  It will include Staffan Lindeberg, Maelan Fontes, and Pedro Bastos-- three quality researchers in the area of evolutionary health-- I'm sure it will be interesting.  Here's the flier: