Slow carb danger of chemical fat gain

The slow carb diet is not only a convenient replacement for more traditional diets, but also one that promotes better health and better long term results. What then could be dangerous about it’s methods, and how could they contribute to long term fat gain?

It came as a shock to me to learn about exactly how the slow carb methods could actually make losing fat more difficult, and even more difficult over the long term. But, the science is clear about it – and if you didn’t know, you could get a nasty surprise one day in the future.

What do you think? Remember to leave a comment below!

Some background please.

Our world is filled with modern day conveniences, and many of them make our lives a lot easier than they otherwise would be.

Take, as an example, canned beans. As we pop open a can of black beans, or kidney beans today, we don’t pay much thought to the alternative, though some people do take the time to rinse, soak and cook their beans from dried. The time saved adds up quickly, and the convenience of a portable container could be a make-or-break for some of us.

The same goes for tinned tuna, bottled water, pre-cut vegetables, plastic microwave food containers, meat from the grocery store, microwave popcorn, and nonstick cookware. The convenience is beyond compare, and in our busy lives, all of these timesavers allow us to get more done in the time we have.

It’s no wonder then that most people are very happy to make the most of our convenient options.

In fact, those who talk about goal setting and productivity talk about finding the shortest path to the result you want – and Tim Ferriss definitely maintains this philosophy.

So it came as a surprise to me the other day when I learned the real truth behind a lot of those convenient options.

The Surprise.

Without sounding like I’m raising alarm bells for no good reason, there’s a good chance that some of these convenient options are contributing to holding onto fat, having a hard time with cravings, and other unseen but troubling changes in your body.

The simple explanation is plastic, pesticides and other chemicals called obesogens.

Things that finds their way into your body, and alter how your hormones, bodily systems and cells function. They specifically target three places – fat cells, the liver, oh, and your brain.

The long answer is that there’s some well documented research on some specific kinds of plastics that have a particular bad effect on the human body, but these are still permitted to be used in products around food. What’s more is pesticides creep into food, and water, due to their use in farming.

What bothers so much about this is how little is known about the long term effects on you, me, and anyone else who understandably thinks they’re being smart by going with what is the most efficient option. I remember in the book where it was suggested going with all canned food if you were a bachelor, and unlikely to make any great strides into the world of gourmet cooking. I’m not so sure about that recommendation now.

Ask me though if I’d prefer to soak, rinse, and cook beans, at a high time-cost, vs pop open a can and drain it, and I would answer that the can sounds like the better option. So does a can of tuna (though too many will give you mercury problems). Likewise, using nonstick cookware that’s easy to wash up, and buying my ground beef where I buy the rest of my groceries both sound like intelligent decisions.

These small decisions shouldn’t affect whether or not you gain or lose fat, but because of the products involved, there’s a good chance they do.

What’s the deal?

The deal is that chemicals in our environment can get into our body. They are fat soluble, and that means we can store them.

When they get in, they have an affect that’s a little like a spy getting on the inside of a corporation. They can start to stick their nose into the regular processes that keep things running well, and start to really disrupt the balance.

Another way to think about it is like a computer virus, that hacks into your email account, bypassing your password and creates all kinds of problems in your inbox. Our cells have ‘codes’ on them, so that only the correct message can get given to them, through the correct process. This process is changed, or bypassed by these chemicals, and that’s why fat gain and storage is on the cards – many of them act on how we store fat, how we use fat and the messages we give to our brain about fat storages in our body.

There’s more to it than this, however, and for that reason I’ll be writing more on this topic over the coming weeks. Right now, many products at your local store feature these particular plastics in their packaging, or in their food product.

The bottom line

Put simply, there’s a range of items to be avoided, if better health, and fat loss (and maintenance) is on your mind. And considering the advice in the book about keeping routines simple, this all came as quite a jarring revelation.

Firstly, we’ll start with those things that might affect you during the week:

  • Farmed salmon (a lot of canned and salmon filets)
  • Meat fed on corn (most meat)
  • Most animal meat fat
  • Meat wrapped in industrial cling wrap
  • Cans of any food – particularly acids, fats (like tuna, salmon, tomatoes, etc)
  • Many reusable water bottles – especially if exposed to warm/hot water
  • Microwave containers – especially if expose to hot foods
  • Other food storage containers
  • Take-out containers (plastic ones)
  • Nonstick cookware
  • Vinyl shower curtains
  • Air fresheners (with ‘fragrance’ on the label)

This sounds ridiculous!

I know. That’s what I thought too. So I did some further research, because I didn’t want to trust TV as my only source. But, sure enough, there’s books, research papers and more available online about this topic. Search for ‘endocrine disruptors’ if you’d like more information.

How on earth is this legal?

My thoughts exactly. I’m not too sure how something like this becomes known, and nothing gets done about it. Authorities have even banned certain plastics from baby food products, like bottles, but haven’t done anything about the baby food in cans, that are lined with plastic.

Is that the worst of it?

Well, not exactly. On cheat days, we most likely get exposed to more of these ‘disruptors’ through some of our favorite treats – pop/soda drinks, fatty meats, pizza boxes, microwave popocorn, and our old favorite enemy, High Fructose Corn Syrup, which makes an appearance in so many foods its dizzying. Soy products fall into this category, and this is mentioned in the book, for its effect on lowering testosterone. But many other disruptors have the same effect. That said though, cheat day is but a snippet of the week, compared to all those slow carb meals.

So now what?

The effective one-two punch on these nasty chemicals is to avoid them, and tell someone else about them. That way, knowledge of them will spread, and more and more products will be made without them.
If you’re thinking that it sounds like we have to return to living like it’s the 1950′s, it may interest you to note that women’s fat levels went up remarkably from the 60′s onwards. Food for thought. However, I don’t think we have to be so dramatic about it.
Here’s my hit-list of changes which aren’t going to destroy my life, but will help me sleep at night:
  • switching plastic food containers to glass with BPA-free plastic lids – Anchor Hocking comes highly recommended – Name Your Link Slow carb danger of chemical fat gainCheck out their products by clicking here
  • only microwaving food in glass or stoneware (no lead! And make sure it’s microwave-friendly glass)
  • avoiding plastic items with a ’3′ or a ’7′ in the triangle symbol on the bottom
  • switching to cooking dry red split lentils for more meals, rather than canned beans (precooking a batch at a time)
  • keeping a keen eye on my nonstick cookware and trashing it the second the surface looks imperfect
  • switch to wooden cookware
  • throwing out air fresheners
  • buying meat from a butcher – grass fed if possible
  • avoiding canned tuna, canned tomatoes
  • batch-cooking more meals from whole foods (not canned)
  • washing vegetables more thoroughly (to avoid pesticides)
  • dodging the High Fructose Corn Syrup monster on cheat days
  • no more reusing water bottles, or plastic drink bottles – using a glass bottle for water (stylish)
  • using an activated carbon water filter (cheap)
  • telling a friend about this (you)
This looks like a long list in a blog post, but I dare you to print it out and see how hard it is to actually cross off these items (hint: easier than you would imagine).
The by-product is that in fact I will now be surrounded by higher-quality homewares, and probably better tasting food – not a bad price to pay for a healthier body in the long-term and knowing that I’m not a walking chemical-storage facility.
Got some ideas? Or think this is outrageous? Maybe you think it’s all a storm in a (chemical) teacup? Leave a comment below!

You might be interested in reading these too:

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  2. Slow carb warning – stalled fat loss We work with many people each week who have challenges with stalled fat loss, and many of them have a common problem with the slow carb diet that is the cause of their...
  3. Slow Carb Fat Loss – Secret Weapon Number 2 This secret weapon isn't exactly a food, but it's definitely not a supplement. It's dosage is more like something you'd see on a medicine bottle, but it's totally natural. Recently it's been hyped...

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25 Responses to Slow carb danger of chemical fat gain

  • Justin says:

    Tuna while high in mercury is also high in selenium see

    Some cans are now bpa free but very few.

    For cooking, cast iron is usually recommend as the healthiest choice. Adds the much needed iron to your food.

    • Luke says:

      Fascinating article on Selenium – thanks for the link. So, it seems that the mercury warnings may be a little over-hyped about tuna then.
      Also you might be interested in:

      I see a day where all cans are BPA free, and where other products don’t contain known obesogens. It’s going to take massive consumer action, but more likely government regulation to achieve this. The good news is that both the US EPA and the US Government has increased funding to investigate the effects of obesogens on the population.

      Cast iron – an oldie but a goodie! Makes sense that cooking food on heated plastic (teflon) isn’t the best move.


  • Jennifer Mitchell says:

    Hi Luke,

    thank you for all the valuable information. I plan on doing my best to change the above items you spoke to. I already use a pressure cooker to make our beans and veggies ahead of time (batch cooking) We are on our 2nd week and I’ve only lost 3 pounds. but i feel better and thinner. I had a question about winter squash, is that allowed, I was thinking of spaghetti squash in particular to make some old fashioned spaghetti with meatballs for a great meal without the pasta, and of course no bread crumbs in the meatballs.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Jennifer, you’re very welcome!

      3 pounds in week one, believe it or not, is actually a great result! It’s a little annoying that the book mentioned such extreme results, because that’s not what most people get. You can expect a couple of pounds a week, though, however if you’re not measuring with a tape measure, don’t be surprised if some weeks the scales don’t change, but your body continues to do so.
      Spaghetti squash might be ok for a treat once in a while, however it doesn’t pack the protein or the fiber of legumes, but does have quite a bit of carbohydrate, including sugars. So it’s not in line with the slow carb principles. I’d recommend keeping it for cheat days, and enjoying as much as you like!
      Winter squash in general has more carbs, and less fiber, with barely any protein, so it’s not an adequate replacement for legumes on the slow carb diet.

      All the best,

  • Hector says:

    Luke, thanks for the follow article on this topic. I could say a lot more but know that i really appreciate you taking the time to do more research and put together this article. peace.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Hector, you’re welcome!
      This won’t be the end of my writing on obesogens. I think they’re a particular important topic that everyone deserves to know about!

      All the best,

  • Mikki says:

    Hi Luke,

    Wonderful article! Another Item to mention is most store bought butter. They may contain fillers/dyes/colors to make them more appealing. Raw butter is the the best choice to use if one can find it in their area. From our experience, It Illicits no adverse reactions in those with severe lactose intolerance. Furthermore, the taste cannot be beat!

    • Luke says:

      Thanks Mikki! Great tip – so many foods have colors and artificial additives, and it’s well worth thinking about switching if you can find an alternative – this is a great example!

  • Dee Evans says:

    mmm think you’ve been reading Jillian Michaels book “master your metabolism” very interesting read. If we buy New Zealand made i think most of the food here is ok, and our meat even the supermarket brands are from mainly grass feed animals. To tell the difference between grass fed and grain fed, is the amount of fat running through the meat. If there is no fat running through the meat it is grass fed. What people also need to look out for is what part of the world food is coming from. Since the Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster, no one should consume food from the north heisphere as the radiation is and has travelled across that way. google helen caldicott re the chernobyl and the effects that has had on europe and how japan is 100 times worse. Apparently Japan wants to put there nuclear waste in Canada, I think due to Canada supplying uranium to Japan (dont quote me on this, but think so), these are also the hidden dangers cause no one talks about it – secret squirrel stuff!! and all the comments you made a definately true, we need to read everything we buy. I would be interested in getting feed back on the Helen Caldicott as you guys are in Canada and should be concerned.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Dee, thanks for your comment.
      In fact I haven’t heard of that book! Sounds interesting, though I didn’t think much of Jillian Michael’s training techniques on TV.
      You’re right about meat that is grass fed – no ‘marbling’ of fat through the muscles. For those reading this comment, you may be disgusted to learn that marbled meat is in fact a sign of insulin resistance in the muscles, therefore leading to fat storage in and around the muscle tissue.
      I appreciate your suggestions on looking more into food sources. I think this is important regardless of overseas disasters, etc, but it’s good to be aware of what’s happening, and potential affects.
      All the best,

  • Thanks Luke for bringing this awareness to the slow carb diet. I’ve been doing my best to avoid these chemicals for a few years now, not for fat loss reasons but for health reasons.

    I cook with cast iron pans, prepare bags of beans at a time and I always avoid artificial sweeteners even on cheat day.

    And to make the switch is a lot easier then you think at first. You just have to go for it and it becomes easier and easier to maintain.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Michelle, thanks for your comment.
      I think you’re right about just getting on with it, and then it becoming easier as you go. Much like changing from eating sandwiches for lunch, to lentils and chicken can be an awkward change to make at first, after a little bit it’s just easy.
      Hopefully soon, we won’t have be play such active roles in avoiding such toxins, and the world will be an easier place to navigate!
      All the best,

  • Mike says:

    I saw the warnings about BPA many years ago and thought it was one of those urban legend scare stories you don’t want to pay attention to. But with time, it appeared this is a genuine concern. Your article gave me pause about my own habits, so I started looking into the BPA content of what I use based on your notes of caution. As it turns out, reusing the plastic bottles that water comes in is not dangerous because BPA is not used in these bottles. (Check the recycle number to be sure, but on all the ones I looked at, they were all “1″s; “7″ usually indicates BPA content.) I was more concerned about the plastic containers I use to store/cook/reheat much of my food in. Turns out BPA is not used in these either, at least not in Glad brand and Ziploc brand. Also not used in Saran brand wrap for those who cover their food and worry about the wrap passing BPA to the food it’s touching. So I feel better now knowing these things I use daily are safe in that respect. For the amount of cans my beans and tomatoes come from, I am not that concerned. It’s not a perfect world, and I can do only so much, but at least it’s something. Thanks for the article.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Mike, thanks for your comments.
      I want to congratulate you for checking the items you commonly use.
      The numbers to watch out for BPA are in fact ’3′ and ’7′ – so keep an eye out.
      Remember too that its not just BPA that is an obesogen. Pesticides from meat, fish and water (like atrizine and tributyl 10 which affect thyroid and stimulate fat cell production respectively); PFOA (nonstick coatings on pans, pots, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn); and PVCs which are in industrial seran wrap, vinyl shower curtains, and also air fresheners and any product with ‘fragrance’ in the ingredients.
      As you say, it’s not a perfect world, and dodging all of the above is very, very difficult. But I still like people knowing rather than not knowing! Hopefully one day everything produced can be less harmful to us humans, and more supportive to our health!

      All the best,

  • Linds says:

    I just wanted to share with those people who can’t cook their own beans, that Eden Organics does not use BPA or pesticides (organic) as well as Amy’s brand. Amy’s just announced that they are totally switched out from the old BPA lined cans.

    • Luke says:

      Great tip Linds! Really good news. People may want to check on Amazon for case lots, as these cans tend to be very expensive as individual purchases at grocery stores.

  • Kristie Stevens says:

    Once you get the rhythm down, cooking dried beans does not seem time consuming. However, for storing them I divide the batch into single servings in ziplock bags. How are they with chemical toxins?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Kristie,
      Thanks for your comment. I think once you’re in the routine it would be quite easy. I would suggest an alternative container. Though I haven’t found much information on ziplock bags, small glass containers might be a better option if you want absolute peace of mind.


  • RJ says:

    nice article, 20 years ago when I worked in the Environmental industry we talked about “Plasticizers”. Plasticizers are used to keep plastic fluidity of plastic,. All plastics have them. There was talk about the bad effects of these chemicals then. I will have to look up to see if BPA is considered a plasticizer.

    My wife and I think that one of the reasons people lose weight when they drink a lot of water is the flushing effect that it has on toxins. I am becoming more and more convinced of this as I try to reduce toxins in my diet. I am looking for a way to filter water and limit its contact with plastic

    • Luke says:

      Hey RJ,

      Very interesting. I think there’s a lot of industry knowledge about all sorts of chemicals – having spoken with some people who have worked in industrial food prep, it appears that the chemicals, and some of their effects have been known for a long while. It is very difficult to know how widespread the effects truly are. Not sure if we will every know, but eating more whole foods is one way to avoid some of those packaging chemicals. Have you looked into RO water filtration? It’s slow, but might be a good option, into a glass container.

      All the best,

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