The Food Taliban
Telling you how much and what you can and cannot eat: obey or be fined or punished
In England, the Food Taliban have taken the Nanny State to the next level of wussiness: in an effort to thwart societal obesity, the nutritional mullahs have decreed the portion sizes are to be regulated and legislated, i.e. limited and reduced. This by royal decree, the unelected, faceless, soulless Ministers of Health and Wellbeing have decided what is best for you and they are informing us, not asking our opinions. To control caloric consumption, these “health experts” are instructing food manufacturers, supermarkets, restaurants, fast-food outlets, pizza and ice cream stores to reduce the calories via reduced portion sizes – or else. Here is a short-list of targeted foods…
Savory biscuits and crackers, specialty breads, cooking sauces and dressings, French fries, savory snacks, egg products, potato products, meat products including pies, pastries, sausages and burgers, pasta, rice and noodles, ready-made meal4s, fast-foods, dips, pizza, food-to-go such as sandwiches and soups….
To quote Dana Carvey’s Church Lady when confronting Satan. “Well isn’t that special!” Imagine sneaky plain-clothes inspectors eating delicious ethnic food at a neighborhood institution, food prepared perfectly by an old momma slaving away in the kitchen – and then slapping her with a hefty fine because the deliciousness served was larger than allowed.
It would be one thing if the strategies and policies set forth by the orthodox nutritional policy makers actually worked: far from it, all their approaches and solutions have been dismal, miserable failures. This despite decades of dominance and enforced adherence. Governmental health Nazis have been telling us what to eat and what not eat for decades. They have no clue about how to lean-out an obese populace – yet they allow no questioning of their “settled science.” No deviation from their moronic, ineffectual dogma is allowed. Their institutionalized conclusions and solutions are sacrosanct.
Currently, anything calorically-dense is targeted. The grand strategy is based on something called the Energy Balance Equation. This simple-simon strategy is easy: eat more than you burn (on a daily basis) and the excess becomes body fat. Further, the caloric cost of exercise can be taken into account. A man the eats 2,000 calories and burns 250 calories during a 40-minute stationary bike session, he has reduced his net caloric intake to 1,750.
If his caloric “breakeven” point is 2,000 calories (daily caloric expenditure) then our hypothetical individual loses body fat. If his caloric breakeven is 1,500, then he adds to fat stores. The problem is, short of going into a laboratory for a series of extensive and exhaustive tests, no one knows what their caloric breakeven point is. The “estimates” and “guess-ti-mates” are wildly inaccurate.
The mainstream solution to every weight-related problem is always the same: eat less, exercise more.
Further, all calories are lumped together without differentiation. How ridiculous. The athletic elite have different take on calories, differentiating between “clean” calories and “dirty” calories. The athletic elite understand (from empirical experience) that calories derived from lean protein are preferentially partitioned to build muscle or used for energy. Conversely, calories derived from refined carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol are preferentially partitioned into creating body fat. A child knows this.
Only the simpleminded lump all calories together, only the unsophisticated make no differentiation between 700-calories derived from three slices of pecan pie and 700-calories derived from a half-pound of perfectly prepared filet of beef. Yet the dietary Taliban, the legislators and regulators, insist on lumping all calories together.
Their solution to all our health and obesity ills is to reduce calories. This flawed premise has given rise to an entire industry catering to reduced calorie foodstuffs. It would be bad news for this powerful anti-fat industry if the public saw there were no clothes on the Emperor.
Until very recently, the # 1 enemy of the nutritional Taliban had been saturated fat, long-chain triglyceride, LCT fat. For decades dietary fat was the favored nutritional villain. The powers-that-be related that “By exorcising and removing all fat from our diet, humans would grow thin and heart disease would be eliminated.” Rubbish. Unadulterated horse manure.
Those that succeeded in eliminating dietary fat found that they still stayed fat – how could this be? No one mentioned or pointed out that all those lite and fat-free products spiked insulin through the roof. Until very recently, the Food and Drug Administration’s fabled Food Pyramid virtually eliminated fat consumption while allowing “nine to eleven” servings per day of pasta or whole grain bread. Insane.
Because they allow and encourage the consumption of insulin-spiking foods, weight loss, even when existing on starvation-level calories, was problematic. The insanity of this approach was exhibited at the highest levels: one documentary followed four obese individuals that were full time patients at one of the nation’s leading medical schools. The fat-loss proscribed procedure had these unfortunate folks existing on 650-1400 calories per day (everyone weighed in excess of 300) with zero fat in their starvation diets. The folks spent hours riding stationary bikes in a quest to create an even bigger caloric deficit.
The results were predictable. Each one was exhausted, over-worked, starving, slightly delirious and weak as kittens. This was “prison camp fitness.” What do they do in concentration camps or gulags? Over-work and underfeed the inmates. What is the result? Skinny, emaciated, weakened, barely alive individuals. Which is exactly the results attained by the documented foursome. While they all lost bodyweight, because of the starvation tactics, the body went catabolic.
In order to preserve fat in the face of starvation, the body will eat its own muscle to fuel caloric shortfall. This catabolic state creates muscle cannibalism. Those that starve to lose weight will lose as much or more muscle as fat. This has horrific physiological consequences: a person can reduce from 300-pounds bodyweight to 200-pounds bodyweight and still be obese.
Rather than look at the facts on the ground, the Nutritional Taliban are doubling down. The war on the calorie proceeds apace with no chance of letup, reflection or recalibration. To the contrary, the powers-that-be are looking to enforce their ill-advised policies to the full extent of the law and they seek to extend and expand their powers of enforcement. Clerks gone wild, these faceless regulators, with zero fitness backgrounds, are making decisions that impact our choices. The Japanese have a saying, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered.” The food Taliban like to hammer any and all opposition; and since their science is settled, they are not really interested in your puny opinion or any facts that contradict their sacrosanct premise: calories are evil.
About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of numerous books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.