The Secret of Longevity
The Garden of Wisdom #12: Logic Flunks the Test

Body Politic

Modern fad diets resemble Israel's leftists - they both lead to surrendering strategic and vital areas.

A lot of the fad diets have penetrated the Observant Jewish world, which is infamous for unhealthy eating especially on Shabbat - after services Kiddush of liquor and pastry, followed by a meal of white Challa, potato and noodle kugels and cholent, with a desert of more cakes, roasted nuts and parve ice cream.

Sure, many "victims" of the fad diets have lost tons of weight. But they don't exercise. Their bodies therefore look like big empty burlap sacks draped on bone. At least when they were fat, their muscles had to work to carry the extra weight. But now, nothing. No muscle tone, just empty flab.

Modern society has become so focused on weight loss, that any weight loss seems to be good. It certainly is not. You look better and feel better when you increase your muscle-to-fat ratio. In other words, by exercising and increasing caloric intake - especially with quality protein and good HDL-producing fats - you gain weight big time without adding a millimeter to your waist or hips. In fact, your trousers or skirt fits better than ever.

The impressive initial weight loss of the "effortless" fad diets comes from losing the strategic and vital area of your body - your muscle mass. Therefore, the goal of dieting should be to improve body composition, the percentage or ratio of muscle to body fat, like we said. You do that by losing fat without losing muscle tissue. Maintaining and even increasing muscle mass is critical to weight control, because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. What's more, as you exercise and add resistance/strength training to your routine, you can actually look thinner and have a smaller waistline, but the scale shows that you gained weight! How can that be? Simple - muscles take up less space in your body, so body weight may stay the same or even go up as you add compact, tight muscle mass. In density, muscle is 22% more dense than fat. In other words, if you've been doing strength /resistance training, your waist is thinner, your skirt or trousers fit great, you look and feel great, but you weigh more! Maybe at 145 lbs, you could only do 20 pushups, but now at 155, you can do 50! Yes, you weigh more but you're much more healthy. Keep on liftin', bro and sis, and put the bathroom scale in the closet!

That's what I call "Body Politic". So, forget about your weight and just be strong and healthy. When you eat right - as natural as possible - and exercise, you'll burn fat and build muscle anyway. G-d willing, Racheli and I hope to post more body-health and fitness pointers in the near future. Meanwhile, stay healthy!

Stay tuned to the Beams for some future exciting posts on fitness, coming soon, G-d willing


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Elisheva Klein

Check out Dr Joel Fuhrman "Eat to live", nutritarian way of eating.He makes the most sense of anybody I've come across.
Thanks for your insights which always encourage and inspire.


Shalom Reb Lazer. I would like to emphasize that while exercise is important, especially as one ages, it actually has very little to do with weight gain or loss.

I would even say it is impossible to lose weight solely through increased exercise. For example, swimming, widely considered to be in the top tier of caloric expenditure, burns roughly 500 calories per hour. If a person swims non-stop for seven hours, he will lose a grand total of one pound of fat...then promptly regain it to satisfy incredible hunger.

The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change one's diet. It isn't even that hard. I myself have lost, and kept off, nearly 20kg. I could regularly lose 1/2 kg per week, solely through minor dietary changes. My LDL-HDL ratio is beyond excellent too.

Diet even affects muscle mass, as this just published NY Times article on low-carb diets (what you would call a "fad" but I would say is more correctly a total lifestyle adjustment) that low carb diets not only are good at losing weight, but simultaneously add muscle mass.


I forgot the link to the article:


@Shimhon -- See Dr. Lustig's comments on exercise and obesity:

Yaakov B

Well said Rav Lazer.
True, exercise alone will not reduce weight & Rav Lazer did not say it would. He did say it must go together with a proper diet. That is what the Ramba'm said.
As a veteran health care giver (45 years) & nutritionist I must say that Rav Lazer's point is correct.
I will add that in most cases obesity is triggered by a subconscious fear level etc causing the body to build a "defensive wall".
By treating this under the carpet fear base the system will pretty much on its own reduce volume/weight.
Classical Homeopathy (especially the methods developed by Dr Sankaran et al) combined with Guided Imagination is likely the most successful safest way to go for this.


Kol HaKavod Rav Brody for posting! Can't wait for more health and fitness info! I learned from Rav Brody, as much as we need to keep a 'healthy neshama', we need a 'healthy guf' to be it's partner! Toda Raba!

Dr. Reuven Rosenberg

The atheist scientists go through cycles of accusing one of the three macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) as being THE culprit for your health problems. Now we have two main camps, vegans who follow T. Colin Campbell and The China Study even to the point of eliminating all fats, and those who follow Weston Price which recommends a high animal protein and fat diet. They are directly opposed to one another. Confusing, huh? It doesn't have to be.

My opinion is that Hashem created protein, fats, and carbs for us to eat. None of them are bad. The question is how much of each one do we need. That depends on the individual. Read the classic book Biochemical Individuality by Dr. Roger Williams. Follow the chochmah of the Rambam for the best advice.

Today we can even run a simple genetic test which tells a person how to break down the three macronutrients, how much and what type of exercise to do, and optionally which supplements may enhance results.

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