(Pardon the lack of a vlog…I forgot to bring home the battery charger for my camera over Christmas break. Arrgh! Here is the script of what I hope to shoot as a vlog at some point.)
Could eating plain white sugar and yummy dessert foods actually be healthy for you? I’m on my semester break right now and I finally can do some of the reading that I normally don’t have the time for during the semester. A couple guys I’ve been reading a lot of lately are John Kiefer (goes by Kiefer) and Danny Roddy. Both of which advocate sugary sweet stuff as a part of a healthy diet.
Kiefer has written a couple books called Carb Nite and Carb Backloading. Carb Nite suggests following basically a ketogenic diet which relies primarily on fat as an energy source (i.e. not carbs/glucose) for 6 ½ days of the week but then on the evening of the seventh day, eating massive quantities of carbs. And not just any carbs but high glycemic “junk” carbs like pizza, cookies, ice cream and cherry turnovers…stuff that spikes your insulin levels. Using food like sweet potatoes, bananas and raisins work as well but the junkier the better it seems. Basically, everything that the Paleo/Ancestral Health/Primal folks think is really, really bad for you. And you do it, not over just one meal but over the space of about 6 hrs. Kiefer believes, and he has extensive research to back it up, that this is a very effective plan for losing excess fat. Seriously… today is not April 1st. It’s pretty fascinating stuff.
His other book Carb Back Loading, integrates eating large amounts of carbs during the week primarily in the evening post resistance training. He feels this is highly beneficial not only for burning fat but for building muscle at the same time. Over the last couple months I’ve been experimenting with Carb Back Loading and have noticed the additional benefits of having more energy during the day when avoiding carbs during that time. You’re just fresher. Then, eating the carbohydrates later at night, when your body is slowing down anyway, seems to be helpful in terms of sleep quality. Kiefer is on to something here. As you read his E-books and his blog postings you can’t help but come away impressed with the thoroughness of his research and his passion for the subject.
If you’re curious you can check out Kiefer’s work here…
I haven’t read as much of Danny Roddy’s writings on his blog The Peat Whisperer (also the name of his e-book) but from what I have read he also seems to be very comprehensive in his research and well thought out in his conclusions. He subscribes to the philosophy and teachings of Dr. Raymond Peat. Basically, his main focus is metabolic health and the oxidation of your body’s cells or the ability of your body to utilize energy (if I messed that up someone please let me know). He advocates consuming carbohydrates in the source of orange juice and among other things pure white sugar.
Dunh, dunh, dunh! Yes, you read that correctly – PURE – WHITE –SUGAR.
I nearly failed biology in high school and I am just beginning to fully understand insulin sensitivity but I gather he believes that sugar helps people maintain a healthy metabolism and more importantly combat or eliminate the harmful effects of stress on the body.
I’ll be trying to read his e-book hopefully soon and may eventually vlog more about that but in the meantime I highly recommend checking out his really interesting and well-organized blog…
and his E-books…
http://www.hairlikeafox.com/ (really compelling stuff on preventing or slowing down the loss of hair)
http://www.dannyroddy.com/main/2012/2/27/sugar-pure-white-awesome.html (link to his article on sugar)
Based on self-experimentation and the thoroughness of their research I believe they are onto something. In particular through my attempt at Carb Back Loading I’ve noticed significant muscle growth but just as importantly, I feel emotionally really good on those days following a “carb back load”. It’s not a “wired” type feeling but I seem to have a good mood for 24 hours following one of these feedings. There is truth in their conclusions and recommendations.
Keep in mind that both of these health experts are very specific about their use of carbohydrates in the diet. Kiefer in particular is very specific about the time of day, circumstances and types of carbohydrates that can be eaten. It’s not simply a matter of eat carbohydrates and good things will happen.
What to Believe: Why Can’t Things Just Be Simple?!?!?
As you can imagine, someone who has just discovered Paleo or a low carb diet might be a bit confused by this. “I thought I had figured out healthy eating. Avoid, gluten, vegetable oils, wheat, grain, processed sugars and load up on veggies, high quality meat and the occasional sweet potato and I’m good shape nutrition wise, right?” But these men have come up with some really compelling arguments for eating, at times, in a manner quite contrary to this way of thinking. If you’re a person of faith like myself you might be thinking, “Why can’t God just make it simple? Why isn’t there some universal perfect human diet that if you eat a certain way you’ll be healthy? We just got to figure it out and then do it. God wants us to be healthy and happy, right? Why is this so complicated?”
The Importance of Pleasure and Stewardship
As always I try to take a theological perspective (i.e. How does God fit into the picture?) with just about everything. Two things first come to mind: pleasure and stewardship.
Pleasure…God doesn’t make an activity extremely pleasurable unless on some level that activity is beneficial for us. Eating in general is a pleasurable experience. We wouldn’t stay alive and maintain health if we didn’t do it and hence the reason for it being a high-reward (i.e. enjoyable/pleasurable) activity. Sex is pleasurable. If we didn’t continue to do it, we would cease to exist as a species. Hence, God wants us to have sex or otherwise He would’ve made man and woman in a different way.
So it makes sense that the eating of something like carbohydrates or sweet foods, which is a highly pleasurable experience, is actually good for us in some way beyond the temporary feelings. God isn’t going to tease us by giving us something awesome to experience, while at the same time always making it bad for us. There must be something good about these foods otherwise we wouldn’t desire them so much but the consumption of them needs to done in a certain manner. If you eat carbs all the time, of any type or in too great a quantity bad things will happen. I don’t think either of these guys will deny that. Sexual intercourse is an extremely pleasurable experience however, if one just has sex with whomever and whenever they want to (i.e. in this analogy… eating carbs/sweets all the time), bad things will happen. We just weren’t made to live our lives that way. If we do, we may experience temporarily pleasurable experiences but over time that behavior leads only to emptiness in the case of sexual intimacy. (In the case of carbs obesity, type 2 diabetes and overall crappiness) We were made for long-term committed relationships (i.e. marriage) in a foreshadowing of the eternal heavenly marriage we hope to have with God someday. The stewardship of our sexual desires and capability needs to be moderated with the virtue of temperance so as to achieve true joy. The same is true for our diet. There has to be stewardship over what we consume.
Human Beings: Rational Animals (Not Just Animals)
And just because someone can prove that paleolithic cavemen didn’t eat sweet stuff and were super healthy by doing so doesn’t mean that eating that way now can’t have certain benefits. Human beings are not simply animals. We are rational animals, meaning we don’t act on instinct alone but instead use our rational minds to make choices. It’s what separates us from all the other animals.
So, given that now, we have at our disposal new resources to draw upon to make conclusions about what we should eat and an entirely different food supply accessible to us we should (and do) take advantage of that. Now, there seems to be a great deal of evidence that eating in some way like cavemen ate (i.e. Paleo) has many significant health benefits but that does not mean that closes the case on how we are suppose to eat. We are constantly learning and experimenting just as the cavemen were probably doing (in a limited manner) with the big difference being we have amazing access to information, the amazing ability to let others know about our discoveries (i.e the internet) and a couple millennia of science to draw upon. We’d be foolish to not utilize those resources to come up with the best way to be stewards of our bodies.
God calls us to be stewards of all the gifts He gives us. And very often that doesn’t make things easy. We have certain responsibilities and that isn’t always an easy thing. Most specifically we have a responsibility to be good stewards over the most precious gift God has given us: human life and more specifically our bodies.
Stewardship and Scripture
It’s a very clear teaching of the church and sacred scripture that when God entrusts us with gifts, whether that be relationships, wealth, natural resources or talents, He intends for us to participate in His kingship by being good stewards of those gifts. The first book of Genesis verses 26-31 make this quite clear…
26 Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” 27 God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” 29 God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; 30 and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened. 31 God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. (NAB)
“Let them have dominion over…”, “fill the earth and subdue it” and “I give you every seed bearing plant” are phrases that clearly emphasize the importance of stewardship. God certainly wants to bestow some responsibilities upon us and desires for us to respond. It’s sort of like a father letting his young son drive the boat for the first time but standing nearby in case he starts heading for the dock too fast.
Another great example is in the gospel of Luke in Chapter 19 with the “Parable of the Ten Gold Coins”. Jesus tells of a master who before leaving to seek kingship in a far off country, gives his three servants separately gold coins in the quantity of ten, five and one asking them to ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’ (Luke 10:14 NAB). When he comes back, he is pleased with the first two servants who have taken their ten and five gold coins and earned ten and five gold coins back. However, the other servant who was given one gold coin and has not risked losing his coin simply returns the coin back. His master is not at all happy:
22He said to him, ‘With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; 23 why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’ (NAB)
Yep, God is demanding. God desires us to be fruitful with the gifts He has given us. Doing so, isn’t always easy but it is always worth it. Most importantly, God wishes to be right there with us in our stewardship. He will help us if we ask and He desires us to seek His almighty assistance.
The analogy that I think of here is that God is like the father who gives his child a gift but longs to sit there with them on Christmas morning as they put it together and play with it. He doesn’t hope they just take it off to their room and play with the toy on their own. He also doesn’t want the child to leave it in the box and let it accumulate dust in the closet. He longs for that child to pull the toy out of the box, go through the instructions, take it apart and put it back together again, play with it and then do it all over again. HE WANTS FULL RECEPTIVITY OF HIS GIFTS, not half hearted acceptance or disinterest. He wants us to take an interest and care for the gifts He has given us. He wants us to take care of our bodies.
And because He is the ANTI-BORING (i.e. The“Passion”) He doesn’t make it easy. He wants to challenge us and deep down, we want a challenge (the growing popularity of Crossfit has to be a testament to that). God wants to see us overcome difficulties through perseverance, seeking His assistance and in this case being really curious and passionate about the gift He has bestowed on us: our bodies.
Yes, figuring out what the optimal way to eat for ourselves isn’t clear cut. It’s not simple. It takes some investigating and experimentation amidst all the conflicting opinions available but I think God wants us to fully embrace the stewardship of our bodies by trying to take care of them as best we can.
Not Just About Getting Ripped or Being Cancer Free
So, when I read the work of Kiefer and Roddy that’s what I see. I don’t see solely a way to get lean, ripped and healthy. I see stewardship of the human person. I see the stewardship of the gift that God has given us. They both utilize their own God given rationality to take care of their bodies and I very much admire that. I think it’s pretty cool even if they may not believe in God in the same manner as I do.
As I read all these postings and great books on nutrition/health and wellness I realize that most likely we’ll never get a completely perfect picture of the ideal human diet. We’ll get good ideas and we may get close but we’ll never totally figure it out. There will always be exceptions, adjustments and tweaks we’ll need to make. God will always keep us on our toes. I think that God doesn’t want to make it so easy to figure out the human body. Otherwise why would we need Him. I think he’s teasing us in a loving way. He wants us to keep seeking Him. He wants us to engage Him and seek His wisdom. He wants us to love Him. Going back to the marriage analogy, God is playing a little hard to get. He flirts with us. The Trinity is after all a mystery. However, in the end He is there for us when it really matters. He is there for us eternally.
The fact that every person is different adds an extra level to the complexity of health and wellness. Instead of becoming discouraged by the complexity we should draw closer to the source of all joy, love, peace and happiness. We should draw closer to God and ask for his assistance in making sense of our bodies and all their weird peculiarities. We should embrace our uniqueness as signs of our infinite dignity as being created in the image and likeness of God who is our creator. We should do so with the same enthusiasm as the young boy on Christmas morning who takes apart his new toy to figure out how it works and then puts it all back together again, with his father sitting close by taking it all in.
Pray that God may bless us all with the wisdom to be better stewards of all the gifts He has given us. Most especially our bodies!