…or whatever number I’m up to.
(Aside: I’m briefly on vacation, so blogging volume might reach its previous levels for the next day or three. One of the nice things about having a real job rather than a contracting gig is that “vacation” doesn’t always come prepended with “unpaid”.)
You might recall a study coming out a while ago claiming that eating eggs was as bad for you — in terms of measured incidence of atherosclerosis — as smoking. Turns out that, no, getting old is highly correlated with increased rates of that particular kind of heart disease, and (shockingly) older people tend to have eaten more eggs over their lifetimes than younger people. Mark Sisson has the skinny.
As badly-designed studies go, the egg paper is pretty hard to top, but over at Suppversity Prof. Dr. Andro draws our attention to a study claiming that eating red meat increases cancer risk by zOMG 40% — only, well, it doesn’t (except maybe if you’re Hispanic — red meat is racist now? — and eat an exclusive diet of hamburgers). Bonus WTF identified by Prof. Dr. Andro:
Without knowing exactly how the scientists processed their data, which is by the way based on assessments of photographs of the food the study participants ate (make up your own mind about that!?)
Yeah, I’m bringing in some image-macro backup for this one.
If you’re wondering how scientists can get such inconsistent conclusions out of epidemiological studies on cholesterol and heart disease, it might be because the mechanisms involved in atherosclerosis are a bit more complex — that was understatement — than the hypotheses being tested. I’ve ranted about this before on a number of occasions, but lately Peter Attia has been writing a number of articles on the subject, which he summarized in two posts over at Mark’s Daily Apple:
- The straight dope on cholesterol: 10 things you need to know (part 1)
- The straight dope on cholesterol: 10 things you need to know (part 2)
Good reading all the way through. I’m amused by the comment sections — it’s another one of those “two kinds of people” jokes, some who say “Thank you for the clear and straightforward guide!” and others who say “OMG too much science went way over my head, any chance of a layman’s version?” Well, in deference to the folks who don’t know what ApoB is off the tops of their heads and aren’t inclined to look it up on Wikipedia, here’s my shot at a summary of Peter’s message:
- You need cholesterol to live
- Cholesterol levels in your blood are only glancingly related to cholesterol levels in your food
- LDL and HDL (and a bunch of others) are lipoproteins that carry around fatty molecules like cholesterol
- Atherosclerosis happens when too many lipoproteins get stuck in artery walls for the immune response to clear
- The more lipoprotein particles you have in your bloodstream, the more likely you are to get plaque buildup; particle size doesn’t seem to matter
- Metabolic syndrome makes it worse
- Triglycerides need lipoproteins to carry them around the bloodstream — lower your TG count to lower your risk
You can address 6. and 7. with a low(ish) carb intermittent fasting diet. Lifting like you mean it helps, in which case Cheat Mode.
You might be looking at a low(ish)-carb diet plan, marvelling at the vast expanse of butter, bacon, eggs, and steak, and wondering just exactly how your body’s expected to deal with all that fat. The answer, as usual, is “it depends”. Among other things, it depends on sex:
- Gender [sic] differences in fat metabolism (Mark’s Daily Apple)
It also depends on what you’re eating alongside that fat:
- Does eating a low-carb diet increase insulin resistance? (Mark’s Daily Apple)
(Short version: If you take it far enough, yes, and at that point it’s a good thing: When your blood glucose levels are low enough that your brain’s scarfing up every available particle for fuel, you don’t want your fat cells to be too eager about responding to insulin.)
Finally, a classic from Hyperlipid: