Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Veritas

The Rational Diet?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Since Objectivist use life as the standard of value shouldn't what we eat reflect that life is indeed the standard of value (or ultimate value)?

Can there be such a thing as a rational diet? Wouldn't the rational diet be eating only those things that promote Loire and rejecting the things things that cause death?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can there be such a thing as a rational diet?
Yes, there can be. The debates hinge around the science: i.e. what type of diet works best to promote life, enjoyment and health. I reckon most non-Objectivists share that general philosophic objective on diet. Again, the science is what's in question: low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie, paleo, etc. And the choice or one or the other is the realm of biology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Carbs have had a bad rep for a long time.

But a low-carb diet is not healthy.

It will be ok to loose weight on a low-carb diet but

for health you will eventually have to return to a normal diet.

Any diet that demonizes a certain food usually is not supported by the evidence.

*In fact you do not really get unhealthy food.*

You can have a cola every now and again.

But if you drink 2litres a day you are looking for trouble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for health you will eventually have to return to a normal diet.

1. What health reasons would force one to switch away from a low-carb diet?

2. Why are certain traditional hunter-gatherers such as the Inuit able to do fine on extremely low-carb diets?

3. What is this "normal diet"? Just one that has carbs? Carbs from what foods?

Note: I don't prescribe to a low-carb diet myself.

Edited by brian0918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even if you drink 15 liter of water a day you are in big trouble. However, the rational diet is a scientific, not philosophical problem. As far as I know, there is no such a thing yet, and I'm not sure it ever could be. The rational, healthy diet should be customized to the individual metabolic features of each organism. Since we all different, I don't think it's possible to develop one healthy diet for every one. I temped to say that moderation is a key-word, but even that could be proved wrong by people with high metabolism and high energy expenditure. I'd say-avoid obvious harmful products ( like poison) and listen to your body. Or go for very comprehensive ( and expensive) physiological study to calculate a diet which fits your needs and metabolism.Don't forget that food is also one of the big joys in life and an enjoyable life from the Objectivist point of view is not less important than long life. In other words, good food-even if not very healthy-adds life to years, even if it takes few years from life. Everybody should make his own choice.

Edited by Leonid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the commonly-cited "moderation" guideline is just an empty suggestion - it doesn't actually prescribe any specific action.

If I wanted to know approximately how much I should have of certain nutrients, calories, etc, "moderation" doesn't tell me anything. It's only after I experience a specific problem, such as a vitamin deficiency, that "moderation" can tell me to get more of that vitamin.

"Moderation" doesn't even consider the possibility that the contents of the diet are a problem, just the various amounts. If I consume the standard American diet, I am likely to become obese and/or develop some form of heart disease or cancer. What does "moderation" have to suggest? For obesity, it only suggests consuming fewer calories, but the evidence clearly shows that simple calorie restriction - without changing the contents of the diet - does not result in long-term sustainable weight loss. So simple "moderation" fails.

Edited by brian0918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ I agree. I think the key to rational weight loss/gain is just knowing how your body works (how many calories you need to cut out to lose/gain a few pounds). I think a lot of this also has to do with your attitude on calorie counting and dieting in general. A lot of people don't consider this an important priority, or use the excuse that they 'don't have enough time' to research and find a plan that will suit their lifestyle. I think the trick is to make eating/exercise a priority that's just as important as your daily work.

"Take the number of calories you burn per day, roughly the same for everybody of your sex, height, build, and level of activity. Subtracting the calories burned from the calories eaten gives excess calories per day. This number times thirty is excess calories per month. A pound of fat is equivalent to about 3500 calories. If you eat 3500 calories more in a month than you burn, you'll gain a pound that month. If you burn 3500 calories more than you eat, you'll lose a pound. All the weight you gain or lose is the consequence of these simple numbers." -The Hacker's Diet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I've said, studies clearly show that calorie restriction does not work long-term, if it is not combined with a change in the contents of the diet. Your body will defend that higher weight, and you will end up gaining the weight back, if not more. This is called the "body fat setpoint" - neurobiologist Stefan Guyenet has written extensively on it.

Now, most people who are actually trying to lose weight do not simply cut calories - they also cut out a lot of sweets and delicious, highly-processed foods (providing a variety of flavor, mixing sweet/fat/salty with texture, spices, and other flavor enhancers), in favor of less-processed foods. Guyenet considers one factor in the reduction of the body fat setpoint to be the reduction in the "food reward / palatibility" of these diet foods.

Edited by brian0918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I figured it would be as easy as sticking to a primarily fruit and vegetable (raw as possible) with the no more than 2 servings of meat if necessary.

This has been the latest medically popular trend anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I figured it would be as easy as sticking to a primarily fruit and vegetable (raw as possible) with the no more than 2 servings of meat if necessary.

This has been the latest medically popular trend anyway.

My only recommendations, if you go with such an approach, are to strive to find nutrient-dense foods. Lots of popular fruits that people go for on diets have been bred to be artificially high in sugar, to make them sweeter (e.g. apples, bananas, and many large fruits). I would just stick with berries. For vegetables, avoid lettuce and other fillers, and go for kale, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, and anything else dense in nutrients.

As for meat, do not buy into the lipid hypothesis - i.e. that increased fat intake causes increased cholesterol, which causes heart disease. Dietary animal fat is a vital component for mental and physical health. Your body regulates fat intake - it doesn't simply store whatever fat you consume. And cholesterol buildup is a repair mechanism - it is a symptom of a greater problem (inflammation), not a problem in itself. Meat, fish, eggs, liver and organs are particularly dense in a variety of nutrients, and were a part of the hominid diet throughout our evolution. Why people think these foods should no longer be in our diet after a million years, I am not sure.

Edited by brian0918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Without going into too much detail, my wife and I have had huge success with the "paleo" lifestyle. I've dropped 30lbs and am leaner and more defined than I ever was in my very active high school physique, and my wife is nearing 20lbs off with the goal of losing 40 more by August. We never get the afternoon lulls or that "I'm-so-hungry-I-feel-sick" feeling and feel overall way better than we did before starting it. We definitely have an improved sense of life and are better able to enjoy it.

I started it after Diana Hsieh had a lot of success with it, and I've been reading everything I can about the topic from various sites since then. I tend to think that if you want to be in "optimal" health, then you should eat the types of food we ate throughout our evolution. If you want to break it down to morality, that depends on context: some food is better than no food when one is starving. Cheap food is better than expensive food when one is on a tight budget. Then there are factors for taste, allergies, location, access and season. Now that I really understand how food affects my body, I choose not to eat all the foods I used to eat that contributed to my weight gain. However, if I know my next class is really boring and I'll fall asleep, I'll cram a couple donuts for a 3hr sugar rush. Or at the theatre I'll get M&M's and a pop, or a brownie for dessert, because I love the taste of all of those things and they're treats rather than staples. Also: hamburgers. Delicious.

We're also having a ton of fun cooking and experimenting with real foods. Once you get off the only-sugar-tastes-good train, there's a whole world of delicious foods that get ignored by everyone that you probably don't even know or think you'd enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding low carb diets I think this is controversial I quote wiki:

http://en.wikipedia....rbohydrate_diet

"American Heart Association

The official statement from the AHA regarding these diets states categorically that the association "doesn't recommend high-protein diets."[107] A science advisory from the association further states the associations belief that these diets are "associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease."[33] The AHA has been one of the most adamant opponents of low-carbohydrate diets. Dr. Robert Eckel, past president, noted that the association supported low-fat and low-saturated-fat diets, but that a low-carbohydrate diet could potentially meet AHA guidelines.[108]"

If you have to follow a low carb diet I could suggest the slow carb diet by Tim Ferriss.</p>

Edited by Superman123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding low carb diets I think this is controversial I quote wiki:

http://en.wikipedia....rbohydrate_diet

Please understand I am fully aware of the evidence. The purpose of my 3 questions was only to try to get you to question your assumptions.

Feel free to attempt to answer my original questions, but linking to the views of an organization (funded primarily by government-subsidized and -influenced manufacturers of anti-cholesterol drugs and low fat / high carb foods) whose conclusions are based solely on very weak correlation studies, is a poor argument.

Here are those three questions again, for your convenience:

  1. What health reasons would force one to switch away from a low-carb diet?
  2. Why are certain traditional hunter-gatherers such as the Inuit able to do fine on extremely low-carb diets?
  3. What is a "normal diet"? Just one that has carbs? Carbs from what foods?

Edited by brian0918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×