Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dana Carpender: Food and Thought

I'd like to introduce you to someone I've added to my blog list: Dana Carpender at Hold the Toast. She's written several low-carb cookbooks and once struggled with a weight problem. In her book How I Gave up my Low-fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, Carpender describes eating a high-carb, low-fat diet: "hungry enough to eat the carpet" and unable lose weight doing cardio four or five times a week. As a kid, she stole money from her parents to support her sugar addiction. A low-carb diet got her out of reverse.

The book begins with an introduction by one of her Internet friends who wanted to prove her (or any other woman) wrong. He goes on, sounding like a real piece of work, but tells a compelling story of how a low-carb diet saved his life. Then Carpender tells of her own experience with different diets and sneaks up on you with science backed up with a 17-page bibliography and her own experience and that of friends and family--and even a few complete strangers she chatted up.

What I like most about Carpender is that she's a thinker.
  • On moderation: "Yet a person who ate only half the sugar of the average American would still be eating more than ten times the sugar that the average American ate in 1800, and more than four times the average American's sugar intake post-Civil War times. So what's moderate?"
  • On the much-touted quick energy of carbohydrates: "By the way, the only thing your body can use carbohydrates for is fuel." Fat and protein are used as fuel and for repair and maintenance of your body. "Why should a population that is sedentary and obese get most of their food as pure fuel?"
  • On the fat-burning zone: In a blog comment she left some time ago, on the Protein Power site I think, Carpender mentioned that everyone talks about getting to that fat burning zone. Why, she asked, don't people just use fat as fuel, then?
  • On complex carbohydrates: they're sugar molecules holding hands. Aka starch.
  • On the real reason people diet: to be sexay.

I don't know whether she thinks clearly because she writes clearly or vice versa, but she makes more sense than some professional researchers whose work isn't standing up to scrutiny.

I like Carpender's recipes, too. Her salmon with lemon-dill-butter sauce is packed for tomorrow's lunch, and her tangy mustard dressing is practically a staple at my house.

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