Despite my tall and generally stick-like appearance, I can stack on the weight – in fact at this height (6’4″), my weight has varied by 56 pounds (25kg, or the weight of a good sized springer spaniel). I maintain in fact three ranges of trousers, ‘thin’, ‘medium’, and ‘fat bastard’. At the moment, after 8 weeks of constant eating in South Africa and the far east, I am in the middle category, moving to fat bastard. Sadly the usual weight-loss method of going on a trek has not worked in the case of the Otter trail due to the copious quantities of food and wine consumed (of which more in a forthcoming post).
Scanning the thraiposphere I am possibly therefore more than usually attuned to diet stories, and this one (in the ‘inform’ category) caught my eye the other day. I am in general not at all sympathetic to diet books or fads despite having followed many myself, and prefer these days, to only take on board properly structured research. A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, by Mozaffarian et al falls into this category.
The key chart is shown on the left. The gist of the study is that a very large cohort (cf 100k US female nurses – NHS, and 22k male health professionals – HPFS) was followed over 20 years, and a detailed study was made of their diet choices. The interesting conclusion is that despite the common scientific assumption that ‘all calories are the same’, it seems that some foods cause a great deal more weight gain than others. In particular, from the graph at the left, while potato crisps are unsurprisingly at the top of the list, they are followed by just ‘potatoes’. And red meats have a powerful impact for men, only just behind potatoes. On the other side of the line, cheese promotes weight loss, as do nuts, fruits (but not fruit juices), and yoghurt. Steak and chips out, muesli and yoghurt in! Think I’ll stay fat then.
Now for the revolting part. I am not in the habit of buying tinned mushrooms on a regular basis, but I have done so in the past. Did you know that in the US (and I therefore assume in the UK also) up to 19 maggots and 74 mites are allowed in the tin before it is deemed unacceptable? This fact and 14 other very troubling ‘gross food’ tidbits are revealed in a great piece on the Rodale web site. This useful guide also helps you to determine whether your vanilla or raspberry flavoured drink actually contains Beaver Anal Gland Juice. This could be helpful if you find yourself starting to wear furry underpants and stacking logs at narrow points on rivers (I may add this to my top tips section as useful furry rodent stories are hard to come by).