Sunday, April 28, 2013

Food Variety, Calorie Intake, and Weight Gain

Let's kick off this post with a quote from a 2001 review paper (1):
Increased variety in the food supply may contribute to the development and maintenance of obesity.  Thirty-nine studies examining dietary variety, energy intake, and body composition are reviewed. Animal and human studies show that food consumption increases when there is more variety in a meal or diet and that greater dietary variety is associated with increased body weight and fat.
This may seem counterintuitive, since variety in the diet is generally seen as a good thing.  In some ways, it is a good thing, however in this post we'll see that it can have a downside.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: Salt, Sugar, Fat

Michael Moss is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who has made a career writing about the US food system.  In his latest book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, he attempts to explain how the processed food industry has been so successful at increasing its control over US "stomach share".  Although the book doesn't focus on the obesity epidemic, the relevance is obvious.  Salt, Sugar, Fat is required reading for anyone who wants to understand why obesity is becoming more common in the US and throughout the world.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Glucagon, Dietary Protein, and Low-Carbohydrate Diets

Glucagon is a hormone that plays an important role in blood glucose control.  Like insulin, it's secreted by the pancreas, though it's secreted by a different cell population than insulin (alpha vs. beta cells).  In some ways, glucagon opposes insulin.  However, the role of glucagon in metabolism is frequently misunderstood in diet-health circles.

The liver normally stores glucose in the form of glycogen and releases it into the bloodstream as needed.  It can also manufacture glucose from glycerol, lactate, and certain amino acids.  Glucagon's main job is to keep blood glucose from dipping too low by making sure the liver releases enough glucose.  There are a few situations where this is particularly important:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Are Animal Crackers Paleo?

Warning -- Satire -- April Fool's Post

Every child loves animal crackers, those sweet and crunchy animal-shaped biscuits.  But are they compatible with a Paleo diet?  Some people might think they already know the answer, but consider this: our ancestors evolved on the African savanna, eating the plants and animals found there.  Inside each box of animal crackers is an assortment of tiny savanna creatures such as giraffes and elephants.

To get to the bottom of this, I interviewed Robert Pearson, CEO of Animal Cracker Products Inc., who explained to me how these crackers are made.