"You Are What You Eat" (It's on Netflix and I'm watching it)

I'm writing about this show today because it's relevant to my blog topic, weight loss.  The show is labeled as 'entertainment and informative" and not meant to be taken as medical advice.


It's a documentary that follows several sets of twins who were part of a research experiment at Stanford University last year. Since identical twins are pretty much the same genetically, they wanted to examine how eating two different types of healthy diets would impact the same person.  One twin is placed on a healthy omnivorous diet. The other twin is placed on a healthy vegan diet.  They ran the twins through a battery of testing beforehand (some of them were fascinating) and then randomly picked which twin would do which diet.  They also put the twins on the exact same training program to see how their 'fuel' impacted their workouts. 


In the first episode, I was vindicated about one of my biggest annoyances with the medical profession. The absurdity of using Body Mass Index (BMI) as an indicator of whether or not you are at a 'healthy' weight for everyone.  This formula uses two measurements to determine your health: height and weight. That's it. BMI does not consider what your body mass is made up of. It only assumes what your body fat is based on your height and weight, using studies that have been previously conducted. 


The CDC also promotes this as a measurement of health. So, a 120-pound woman who has virtually no muscle mass and 30% body fat is deemed healthier than a 175-pound woman who has 15% body fat with lots of lean muscle. This measurement may be an indicator of health for some segment of the population, but not all segments. It is this measurement that my endocrinologist used to tell me I needed to lose 15 more pounds.  This was very frustrating to me.  I have muscle mass from strength training and cycling. That I may have lean muscle mass was not even a consideration in determining what weight I should be.  Five pounds of muscle weighs the same as five pounds of fat BUT muscle mass is much healthier than fat.


I don't understand why the medical profession has not moved forward on changing this or at least has come up with a better measurement.  I remember when people first started getting their cholesterol checked. At first, all they cared about was the whole number. Finally, they started looking at HDL versus LDL.  Because, just like body mass, there was a good element and a bad element in the make-up of the total.


In the second episode, the program gets environmentally preachy.  I'm not going to blog about environmental policies because this blog is about weight loss.  I'm only mentioning it because I really don't like being preached at about anything (including dietary stuff) in my entertainment these days and I wanted you to be prepared. I think the information on where our food comes from, and how industrial agriculture has been impacting our environment is interesting.  There are brief talks given by farmers, vegan chefs and environmentalists.  I learned things I did not know.  The most surprising was that cheese is physiologically addictive!! That explains a lot. 


In the third episode, the emphasis continues the earlier suggestion that people stop eating meat and stop supporting industrial farming.  It was almost as if the twin study was an after-thought in this episode. Expect to be shown horror after horror of industrial agriculture in all segments. This episode is full of it. No judgement. Just what I'm being shown. Unfortunately, I wanted to see more about what the twins were eating and cooking, what their workouts were like, so I am mildly annoyed at this episode.  I actually fast-forwarded past the salmon farming segment (I don't eat salmon, so I was okay with that). Finally, they did throw in a few twin segments, but that was not the focus of this episode.  The emphasis was certainly on "Don't Eat Meat..."  They ended with very brief segments of the twins getting an eight-week evaluation of their fitness and hinting at surprises in the next episode regarding blood tests.


I understand that this is all part of the concept that you are what you eat.  If you are a vegan, I love that for you! I am a meat, chicken, dairy and sometimes fish eater. That probably won't change any time soon unless I have zero choice in the matter. 


The final episode, episode 4, starts out with street food cart in Brooklyn selling plant-based breakfast sandwiches. Then they switch to the twins. The twins are now on week eight. They are now doing their battery of tests. Then back we go to promoting plant-based foods. Then more scanning for the twins.  The results of their testing at week eight were interesting and worth a look.  Most of the twins featured that were on the plant-based diet lost muscle mass. The only one that gained muscle was the 22-year-old man who they told to make sure he ate more. The explanation was that the others were not eating enough calories, so their bodies used muscle for fuel. It was hard to eat enough calories when you are just eating plants, some of the twins said.


They also performed a pilot study on dieting and women's sexual health. Ladies, diet and exercise caused an increase in sexual arousal. Everyone's ability to become aroused increased after eight weeks of diet and exercise. They measured this by measuring genital temperature through arousal from watching pornography before and after the diet. (i.e. blood flow). The women they showcased showed increased arousal of at least 280%.


I really like the 'cheese' lady, who makes plant-based cheese out of cashews. She was interesting.   She and the vegan chef in Manhattan are featured on all episodes. They did a blurb about pizza with plant-based cheese which was interesting.  There is much emphasis on transitioning from industrial agriculture to other agricultural products like mushrooms.  They do go over the complete results at the end, with all participants in a classroom. 


I'm glad I watched it, and I learned some things I wasn't aware of.  If I posted anything factually inaccurate based on your own viewing, let me know in the comments and I will correct it. 


I think it's worth a watch, if you are interested.


Taking stock of day Five:

Did not exceed my daily calorie allowance.

Spent one hour and forty-five minutes doing some strength and resistance training at the gym.

Used my new fitness watch (it's only okay).

Watched the last two episodes of this show.


NOTE: I know I said I would post something every day for a few weeks to keep us motivated but that was before my niece passed away. I might not be able to put a post up tomorrow. Our extended family is gathering at our home for a meal tomorrow for the first time since our niece passed away and her parents will be here. I may not get a chance to put up a post, tomorrow but will definitely post the next day.  Stay with me on this journey!


(photo courtesy of Paula)




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7th Decade Redhead
7th Decade Redhead

I'm 60+ years old female retiree who is finally figuring out why she's been struggling with losing weight her whole life. I want to share the lessons I learned so others can help themselves with their own weight loss struggles earlier in their lives.

60 Pounds by 60 Years
60 Pounds by 60 Years

My final weight loss attempt after 40 years of different diet failures. No shakes, no supplements, no surgery, no crazy food, no purchased meal plans, no fasting. Creating a healthier relationship with food and facing the painful truth about my relationship surrounding food. No BS, just common sense. And it worked.

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