In my last post, I wrote about some advice my college physics professor gave during a guest lecture in a humanities class: “No matter what field you plan to go into, learn math. Math is how you know when you’re being lied to.” I listed some examples of how researchers use math to bamboozle. Understand the math, and you are de-bamboozled.

But that’s assuming you want to be de-bamboozled. Some people – I call them “boozlers” – refuse to abandon their cherished beliefs, no matter how clear you make the math. I came to this conclusion some time ago, after I uploaded the “Spurlockian Bologna” clip to our YouTube site.

You can watch the clip in the About the Film section of this blog, but in brief, it demonstrates that Morgan Spurlock couldn’t possibly have followed the rules he laid out at the beginning of Super Size Me. The numbers just don’t add up. We’re talking about simple math here, so I didn’t expect this clip to generate much of a debate.

How wrong I was.

As it turns out, Spurlock has legions of fans who are boozlers. Whether it’s because they loved Super Size Me, they hate McDonald’s, or they have a big, gooey crush on Spurlock, they simply will not believe he cheated, no matter how clearly or logically you explain it to them.

After wasting a lot of time in fruitless online debates, I realized boozlers don’t think like the rest of us. Most people (I hope) think like this: If it’s a fact, I believe it. If it’s not a fact, I don’t believe it. In other words, we find math and logic convincing.

But a boozler thinks like this: If I believe it, it’s a fact. If I don’t believe it, it’s not a fact. Logic has no effect on them.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I actually discovered that the more logical I was, the nuttier they became. They produced rationalizations that were so convoluted, merely reading them put me in serious danger of pounding my head on my desk. (And if I remember correctly, one of the boozlers offered that exact suggestion.)

I now refer to a “I refuse to believe it” rationalization as “a boozle.” Just for fun, I’m going to share some of the boozles I received after the Spurlockian Bologna clip went online. But first, let’s recap the facts and the math.

Spurlock laid out these rules for his McDiet:

  • I must eat three square meals per day.
  • I must eat everything on the menu at least once.
  • I can only super-size a meal if they ask me.

He was asked to super-size nine times. Since 3 meals/day * 30 days = 90 meals, that means he could only super-size 1 meal in every 10, or about twice per week. So the majority of his meals would’ve been limited to large combinations. Put together a day’s worth of large combinations at McDonald’s, and you get maybe 3,500 calories. And yet, Spurlock’s nutritionist told him at two different points in the film that he was consuming more than 5,000 calories per day.

In other words, at some point he realized his rules wouldn’t allow for a Sundance-worthy weight gain, so he ignored them. And yet all I ever heard about Super Size Me (before I finally saw it) was that it demonstrated what would happen if you just ate just three meals per day at McDonald’s.

Let’s look at some of the boozles. I’m quoting where possible, but some of the language was a bit colorful, so I’ve substituted symbols.

Boozle: The nutritionist could have had the wrong info on how many calories the foods in his log contained. It’s simple.

Logic: Ah, I see. He didn’t really consume 5,000 calories per day. His nutritionist, whose job is all about counting, couldn’t do simple addition. And since she repeated this miscalculation twice in the film, it must’ve sparked an interesting conversation during post-production:

“Hey, Morgan, she keeps chiding you for consuming more than 5,000 calories, but you really only consumed about 3,000. Should we do a little voice-over or a subtitle so people know she’s got the math all wrong?”

“Goodness, no. I’m too nice of a guy to embarrass her like that. I don’t think it matters if people think I ate twice as much as I actually did.”

And if she did get the math wrong, how in creation did Spurlock manage to put on 25 pounds in 30 days? A pound of fat = 3,500 calories, which means Spurlock consumed 87,500 calories more than he could burn. That’s 2,900 extra calories per day. Since he’s a tall (6’3″) young male, he probably burns at least 2,000 calories … even if he spends the entire day admiring his moustache in a mirror. Obviously, he did average at least 5,000 calories.

Boozle: How the $%#@ does this prove he broke his rules? He said he’d eat three meals per day, he didn’t say he’d only eat three meals per day.

Logic: He said “three meals per day.” In fact, he specifically named them – “breakfast, lunch and dinner” – for viewers who don’t know what “three meals per day” means. If he did eat four or five meals per day, then 1) he was obligated to say so, considering this was supposed to be a documentary, and 2) his entire thesis – look what happens if you eat three meals per day at McDonald’s – is kaput. All he proved is that eating four or five big meals per day is a bad idea.  I think most people knew that.

Boozle: He never said I’m only gonna have one hamburger a meal with one frie too, you @#$%ing moron. If you actually watch the movie, then you see him eating a couple of burgers and a couple orders of fries. So maybe double some of those numbers and see what you get.

Logic: You got me there. He never said he’d only have one sandwich or one order of fries. Just one little problem … he stated specifically, “I can only super-size a meal if they ask me.” If he ordered two sandwiches and two orders of fries, he was super-sizing his meal without being asked. Doubling your order increases the calorie count even more than super-sizing the drink and the fries.

Boozle: He said he would eat everything on the menu, and shakes are part of the McDonald’s menu, and at about 1110 calories for a large, adding one of them to a meal easily puts the count above the 5,000.

Logic: Yes, the 32-ounce shake is on the menu, and it’s 1110 calories. But “at least once” doesn’t mean every day. The menu also includes a 12-ounce shake, and it’s only 440 calories. What happened on the days where he ordered one of those? The grilled chicken salads provide fewer than 500 calories, including the dressing. Let’s look at a day where he ordered these items – which he had to, according to his rules.

I’ll stack the odds in his favor by starting with the Deluxe Breakfast at 1150 calories. For lunch we’ll have the grilled chicken salad at 430 calories, and the 12-ounce shake at 440 calories. Heck, I’ll let him toss in a large order fries to add an additional 500 calories.

Guess what? Mr. “three meals per day” has consumed 2,520 calories so far. To get over 5,000 for the day, he will now have to consume 2,500 just for dinner. Once again, I’ll stack the odds in his favor by assuming he ordered a double quarter-pounder with cheese and this was one of the nine times they asked him to super-size it. The whole dinner adds up to 1,790 calories. He’s still 700 calories short.

Boozle: A shake is listed on the McDonald’s USA menu as dessert, but in Canada it’s listed as a beverage. So he could’ve ordered them without ordering extra desserts, as you claim.

Logic: Well, that makes perfect sense. He ate his meals in the U.S., but rabid hockey fans who say “eh” a lot believe if you pour ice cream into a cup, it’s no longer a dessert – it’s a beverage.  So now he’s justified in pounding them down without telling us, and that means he wasn’t cheating on his rules. If this is all true, it means Super Size Me proved that it’s a bad idea to drink a lot of milkshakes. Funny how most people didn’t understand the the true, anti-milkshake message.

Boozle: He may not have told us he was eating extra meals, but he didn’t have to because the intelligent viewers understood.

Logic: (after banging head on desk) I never heard a single fan of the film – including the reviewers – describe Super Size Me as a documentary about what happens if you eat four or five meals per day. Roger Ebert is an intelligent viewer. Let’s take a peek at his review:

He does have a policy that whenever he’s asked if he wants to “super size it,” he must reply “yes.” But what he orders for any given meal is not uncommon, and we have all known (or been) customers who ordered the same items.

Mr. Ebert apparently believed Spurlock was simply super-sizing when they asked him, and otherwise eating “not uncommon” meals – which makes me wonder which McDonald’s Mr. Ebert patronizes. I’ve been going to McDonald’s for decades, and I have yet to see anyone put away 2,500 calories for dinner.

In fact, when I re-read Ebert’s review, I was annoyed all over again. Read the following paragraph:

It’s amazing, what you find on the menu at McDonald’s. Let’s say you start the day with a sausage and egg McMuffin. You’ll get 10 grams of saturated fat — 50 percent of your daily recommendation, not to mention 39 percent of your daily sodium intake. Add a Big Mac and medium fries for lunch, and you’re up to 123 percent of your daily sat fat recommendation, and 96 percent of your sodium. For dinner, choose a Quarter Pounder with cheese, add another medium order of fries, and you’re at 206 percent of daily sat. fat and 160 percent of sodium. At some point add a strawberry shake to take you to 247 percent of sat. fat and 166 percent of sodium. And then remember that most nutritionists recommend less fat and salt than the government guidelines.

Let’s set aside the fact that Mr. Ebert apparently believes the government’s recommendations for fat and sodium intake are based on something resembling science – they’re not. What annoyed me was that he went to all the trouble to do the math on the fat and sodium, but apparently not on the calorie counts.

The items Mr. Ebert listed add up to 2,820 calories. (My son could easily burn that off in one day, by the way.)  Did it simply not occur to him to ask himself how Morgan Spurlock managed to consume more than 5,000?

But I digress.

Boozle: u r the biggest retard in the world! cant u c mcdonalds is bad for u! jeez even if he wasnt following his own rules he still ate it if u watched the movie u would understand.

Logic: If he didn’t follow his rules, then 1) he’s a liar, and 2) the entire premise of his film is bogus. All he proved is that consuming 5,000 calories per day will make you fat and screw up your health. The same thing would happen if you ate that much at home, or at your grandmother’s, or your favorite vegan restaurant.

Boozle: YOU ARE A #@$%ING MORON! all your $#*& is wrong, you’re just trying to prove something that i true. eat $#*& and die, i don’t see you making a difference in the world like morgan spurlock. so do us a favor and up and die.

Logic: (Hmm … better not try logic on this guy.  I could inadvertenly incite a wife-beating incident.)

Fortunately, I also discovered that Spurlock has some fans who aren’t boozlers. One of them left a note on our site:

“Super-Size Me” was one reason among a long litany of influential reasons for me deciding to become a vegetarian. I think it was great film for helping a lot of people to re-think their food choices, but I am disgusted that he was so loose and misleading with his calculations.

Bingo! That’s exactly what disgusted me. That, and the fact that he refuses to show anyone his food log – which should, all by itself, convince anyone but a boozler that the guy has something to hide.

My food log, by the way, is posted on our site.

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26 Responses to “Spurlock’s Boozler Fans”
  1. TonyNZ says:

    Boozle: How the $%#@ does this prove he broke his rules? He said he’d eat three meals per day, he didn’t say he’d only eat three meals per day.

    Is that >, < or =? I don’t have the ascii codes for less than or equal to and the like, but they are pertinent. Lets say I’m staying at a motel for a week and ask how much a morning paper is. 20c they say. Fine, book it to my bill. You leave one week later and get the invoice “Newspapers: $400″. “I didn’t say only 20c.

    That is akin to you saying to the boss “I’ll hand you your report on Thursday”. Roll round Friday, boss wants his report… “I didn’t say which Thursday.” Well you’d get fired wouldn’t you? Too bad this is the internet where arguing semantics is like macing yourself. Pepperspray or spikey hammer, either fits.

    Oh, and this article on swine flu hysteria seemed right up your alley.

    He’s spot-on about these overblown panics. Eighty people (perhaps) died in Mexico? Does the media have an idea how many people die in Mexico every day?

    Bird flu, swine flu, killer bees … and let’s not forget that AIDS was supposed to explode into the straight community and kill everyone roughly 10 years ago, according to predictions made 20 years ago.

  2. Matt says:

    I always figured Spurlock was blowing up his meals by basically doubling them. AFAIK, he never actually said that all he’d be eating was a combo, which is all he ever said he’d super size; i.e., he never said “I won’t get two hamburgers and three orders of fries and a shake.” Additionally, I don’t recall him ever mentioning anything about drinks, which can add up fairly quickly if you drink enough of them. Of course, this is all misleading on his part and would completely destroy his reputation if it ever got out.

    My friend asked me yesterday if I was worried about swine flu; he said it’s killed a bunch of people. My response was, “Yeah, it’s killed a bunch of people in Mexico, where the regular flu still kills a ton of people each year.”

    I think he’s been very careful about sidestepping the issue of exactly what he ate and drank. But if you go to McDonald’s or anywhere else and double up on your meals and drinks, it’s kind of stupid to blame them for making you fat.

    As I told one boozler, I could go to a vegetarian restaurant every day, each huge portions, get fat, then make a movie called “Super Rice Me” that blames vegetarianism for obesity … and my film would be just as honest as Spurlock’s.

    Naturally, the boozler remained unaffected by logic.

  3. nonegiven says:

    Is it possible the nutritionist was just exaggerating and they edited out the real calorie count? He ate way less than 5000 cal/day but still gained the weight because of being insulin resistant? That would still blow the calorie is a calorie theory out of the water. I would gain weight eating bread, fries, sugared sodas, etc even the same amount of calories i usually eat lower carb. I would also be hungry all the time and probably have to order more food to get through the day because of the hypoglycemia it would give me. I probably couldn’t have gotten more than 3 hours out of regular meals, less when they were light on protein, like one of those regular hamburgers.

    I don’t agree with the “calorie is a calorie” theory, either. But I suspect the nutritionist had no trouble doing the math. Between weeks 3 and 4, Spurlock lost a pound, so he actually gained more than 8 pounds in each of the other three weeks. That takes a lot of food, insulin resistant or not.

  4. Mike says:

    It seems you are pretty hard and fast on your “logic” that Spurlock couldn’t have consumed enough calories to gain 25 pounds in 30 days. One potential problem is that your logic is based on the pretense that weight gain is based on a simple calories in v. calories out model. Is the human body that basic that calories in minus calories out equals weight gain? Do you consider the effects that type of diet has on blood sugar, insulin levels, glucagon, or other correlated factors? I’m not saying your logic is wrong, but maybe the model you base it on isn’t adequate or contemporary.

    I believe Spurlock did indeed gain 25 pounds, and I also believe there’s more to weight gain than calories alone.

    But Spurlock was very lean going into the diet, so if anything, his body probably resisted getting fat. My son is lean and consumes way too many carbohydrates for my taste, but doesn’t gain an ounce. Note that Spurlock lost a pound between weeks 3 and 4, despite all he was eating.

    No matter what the macronutrient content, I think it takes an enormous about of food for a lean young male to put on 25 pounds in 30 days. Since his nutrionist mentioned the 5,000 figure twice and he didn’t correct her either time, I believe he did in fact consume that many calories.

  5. Matt says:

    True. Though your film would likely leave you far more bloated and, in likelihood, a great deal of pain in order to consume the portions that are required to cause the kind of weight loss he saw. Whether or not he was honest, he did make a good point that it’s easy to overeat the low-fiber, low-protein, calorically-dense food that fast food chains did provide. Unfortunately he went about it in a way that was purely intended to scare people straight, using dishonest tactics and smoke and mirrors.

    My thoughts exactly. Those were the good points in the film. But he also kept harping about all the fat, which annoyed me. And I think the dishonest tactics undermined the good points he made.

  6. Matt says:

    In order to cause the kind of weight gain* he saw, that is.

    I interpreted.

  7. Nancy LC says:

    “Boozle: u r the biggest retard in the world! cant u c mcdonalds is bad for u! jeez even if he wasnt following his own rules he still ate it if u watched the movie u would understand.”

    Isn’t it wonderfully ironic how the people who try to insult your intelligence are the ones who can’t spell, capitalize or otherwise punctuate at more than a 3rd grade, if that, level.

    I’ve noticed the pattern. I’ve seen sentences that were so poorly written, I had to read them a few times to figure out the approximate meaning.

  8. Randy says:

    Tom, this is so easy to figure out! Spurlock just didn’t feel it was necessary to list his condiments:

    Day 1: 6 quarts of mayonaise on his burgers…..Oh you like ketchup with your fries? He prefers dropping them into a gallon of vanilla milkshake.

    Day 2: Hard to beat a Sausage McMuffin with a wheelbarrow full of gravy.

    You get the idea. Did you really think he should list the condiments? Puhhleeze!

    Well, sheeooot, why didn’t I think of that? Those 32-oz cups he was carrying around were just the side order of ketchup!

  9. TonyNZ says:

    Nancy, what’s worse is people that try to correct your spelling in some way. I don’t mind the odd typo and spelling mistake, as long as the person has tried to coherently convey a message. I know myself I always mispelt “necessary” for a long time, but people would know what I meant.

    We had an election recently, where a new prime minister, John Key, was elected. Well any election leads to fierce debate online, though a number of people refered to him as “John Keys”. Fine, add an s. Whatever mental block is causing you to do that, I can get around, because your message still makes sense. Dyslexia and related disorders in whatever form do not mean you aren’t intelligent. Only one day, someone used “Keys” and got this in response.

    wtf[sic] dude its key[sic] not keys!![sic] wtf[sic] do u[sic] xpect[sic] us 2[sic] listen 2[sic] u[sic] bout[sic] poltics[sic] wen[sic] u[sic] cant[sic] even spell his name properly!!

    I was a bit overzealous on the [sic]s, and to this day I pray that this was a joke. Only the same person made numerous posts and this was too common for me to believe it was a one off…

    My favorite is when I receive a comment or reply that reads, “Your an idiot.” So I reply, “No, you’re an idiot. Look it up in the dictionary.”

    The response is usually something like, “Why would I be in the dictionary?”

  10. TomW says:

    From above: “amout of food for a lean young male to put on 25 pounds in 30 days. Since his nutrionist mentioned the 5,000 figure …”

    I don’t remember the context when this appeared in Spurlock’s movie. Is it possible the nutritionist worked backwards like above? E.g., “For a lean young male to put on ~1 lb/day he (must have) consumed >5000 cal/day.”

    Hope this question doesn’t make me a Boozler :) For me the above conjecture would support a belief that mainstream nutritionists are using a “calories in less calories out” theory that is almost as outdated and invalid as the “grains” basis of the food pyramid.

    No boozling inferred at his end. His nutritionist was holding his food log in her hands when she told him he was consuming more than 5,000 calories per day. That’s one reason I doubt she got the math wrong. The log, briefly as it went by, appeared to be a computer prinout. I suspect the totals may have already been listed, as they were in my own food log.

    But since Spurlock won’t show it to anyone, we’ll never know for sure.

  11. Max says:

    Tom, I think you’re exactly right.
    However I don’t think you can prove anything by trying to tear Spurlock down, it’s kind of making you look petty (and possibly sponsored by Ronald M).
    The premise of Supersize Me was some suit at McDonald’s said you can eat nothing but Maccers* all the time and stay healthy. This is obviously a big pile of garbage.
    You say in your movie that a fast food diet is not a good one, and I would say that ‘technically’ you didn’t eat McDonald’s food as you altered it (discarding buns and fries) from what McDonald’s intends to serve.

    There are a couple of holes I could pick in your documentary, but I won’t because I get your point, too many carbs are bad for us. But the point I took away from Spurlock’s film is we are sticking too much cr@p in our mouths. The two messages are not mutually exclusive.

    As for the ethics of him lying or not, I don’t care, I know people who eat regularly at Maccers and their weight is ballooning, no matter what the calorie count.
    Peace! Let people believe what they want, it’s their lives (short lives, perhaps).

    * NZ** slang for McDonald’s.
    ** In New Zealand we have luncheon meat instead of bologna, I’m not even sure how it is pronounced… baloney?

    I actually ate quite a few burgers with the bun as well. It depended on what else I’d eaten that day.

    I don’t think most people could live on fast food without suffering some effects eventually, but that guy Gorske, the guy who lives on Big Macs, was a hoot.

    What annoyed me about Super Size Me is that it was presented to the public as “look what happened to a guy who just ate three meals per day at McDonald’s.” People who told me “you have to see this!” always described it that way. So did a lot of reviewers.

    But he did have some good points about how much junk we eat. That guy who was underdoing gastric bypass, for example. He said he usually drank four Super Big Gulps of soda every day. That made me sick just hearing about it.

    “Bologna” is the food, at least here in the U.S. “Baloney” is nonsense. But we were using bologna packages as a graphic element, so we stuck with the one spelling.

  12. Matt says:

    We pronounce it “Baloney” in the South, despite spelling it the same way. Just FYI. =D

    We pronounced it that way in Iowa as well. Considering how often I ate it as a child, I could’ve just pronounced it “lunch.”

  13. zbig says:

    I guess in your computations you simplisticly assumed linear time flow and that one cannot fall into a time loop – so that may have caused some deviation, too.

    I did, in fact, leave the theory of relativity out of my equations. Probably an oversight, in retrospect.

  14. PaleoRD says:

    I love the point you made about the dietitians in your movie. I know exactly what you are talking about. For some reason, a lot of the people who are drawn to that profession are naturally skinny people, and that clouds their thinking about how easy it is to lose weight. They never consider, because they have never had to, that some people have a metabolic disorder that causes fat accumulation. Anyhow, what would have really helped us to understand Supersize Me would have been a body composition chart. Not just overall weight gain, but a breakdown of the gains/losses in fat mass, muscle mass, water retention and so forth. I would imagine that he, living with a vegan wife, must have also put on some serious muscle mass, especially with all of that anabolic insulin flowing through his body on a daily basis. FYI, you can all watch “Supersize Me” for free now that it has been posted on http://www.hulu.com, which is a legal internet television site. I watched it after seeing Fathead, and I appreciate your criticism of the movie.

    I’ve heard plenty of thin people, who’ve never been fat a day in their lives, try to tell fat people how to lose weight. It’s usually something brilliant like, “Try eating less.” This is coming from people who always eat when they’re hungry.

    It would be interesting to know if Spurlock gained any muscle. I also thought it was hilarious that it took him so many months to lose weight on his girlfriend’s vegan diet. That was weight he’d just gained and should’ve been easy to lose.

  15. TonyNZ says:

    Maybe he became addicted (he did talk about the food being addictive) and was sneaking McMuffins between his spirulina and tofurkey.

    If I had to eat tofurkey, I’d be sneaking in some McDonald’s food as well.

  16. Laurie says:

    Boozlers fear math, arithmatic, graphs, calculus (and science, reason and common sense) but this picture from Dr Eades blog may be easier on them. The link has a photo of Jack LaLanne juxtaposed with the infamous Ancel Keys of the whole low-fat,
    low-cholesterol disaster with his fraudulent 7 countries,
    cherry picked ‘study’. Jack (in case you didn’t know
    about his diet apart from him being an exercise guru)
    still eats (at like 95) NO sugar and lots of protein.

    http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/low-carb-diets/jack-lalanne-vs-ancel-keys/

    I remember that post. I also remember my mom watching Jack’s show and exercising along when I was a wee lad.

  17. Laurie says:

    I am still stunned at the Eades’ photo of Ancel Keys
    (father of the low-fat, anti-cholesterol
    recommendations fraud campaign) and
    Jack LaLanne. So why do people give Keys credit for
    living to 100?
    I think it comes down to what is optimal and what
    is the best diet for us. There is definitely a lot
    of leeway about what we can eat and still survive,
    even to very old age. THRIVING is another question
    though. “It isn’t the years in your
    life that matter, it’s the life in your years”. Dr.
    Weil, the integrative medicine guru, introduced me to
    a concept I really like. We all will die of something,
    obviously, but his goal is to help us have ‘compressed
    morbidity’. Which means you stay very healthy, vital and well
    right up until you expire. That beats being old, infirm and wishing you were dead.
    In “Good Calories,Bad Calories”, in the hardback on page 361, is a photo of a woman with a very rare syndrome called lipodystrophy. The
    woman is anorexic above the waist and obese below. The
    reason Taubes included this is to show that a hormone
    imbalance (most likely insulin) must be the cause of
    this. Before I read the book, I had NO idea there was
    NO research confirmation of the ‘eat-less-fat’ dogma
    and I had never heard of lipodystrophy. Photographs, and documentaries,
    are so powerful. My hypothesis of why LaLanne looks so vital and healthy at 93 and Keys doesn’t look good is because Keys espoused low-fat and
    most likely was poisoned by massive long-term insulin
    production. It didn’t kill him, but IT WOULD KILL ME
    if I ate like he recommended.!
    (I’m a biochemist, a mom, a lover of humor and a VORACIOUS reader, and much happier since I read Taubes’, GCBC, last year because now I eat more brain enhancing FAT)

  18. Matt says:

    It’s available on YouTube as well. I’m watching it right now, and I have it frozen on the food log for the brief second or two the itemized list is visible. I can only see breakfast and part of lunch, but…

    Breakfast:
    1 Egg McMuffin
    1 Coffee
    1 Half and half creamer
    1 Hash Brown
    1 Sausage Biscuit
    1 Orange Juice

    Lunch:
    1 Big Mac Hamburger
    “2.18 Servings” Fries, Small (Probably used to indicate a larger size)
    1 Chocolate Milkshake, Small
    1 Coke

    The last part visible is my favorite part…

    “Afternoon Snack”

    Interesting. That puts him at about 2800 for the day so far. A QP w/cheese, large fries and large coke for dinner would put him just over 4100. So to surpass 5000, he’s going to need a heck of a snack, or an extra sandwich + dessert with dinner, or a big milkshake, which be his second milkshake of the day.

    Once again, it adds up to super-sizing without being asked.

  19. Dana says:

    He could have eaten 3500 calories a day and gained all that weight. The carb intake, remember? Most of the McD’s menu is sugar and starch. I notice that when people are complaining bitterly about the fat and sodium, almost none of them have anything to say about the potatoes, the bread, the milk (for its lactose–and there is no whole milk served at McD’s), or the sugar.

    You can’t use simple math to tell what’s going on with human metabolism because we simply don’t know enough about that yet. For instance, either people don’t understand what calorie theory actually states or calorie theory is based on nonsense, because you never burn every “calorie” you eat. (A calorie isn’t even a real food ingredient. It’s a human-invented measurement, like an inch.) Fat and protein go into things like cell membranes, DNA synthesis, hormone production, and so on. If you use those “calories” for building, you will not burn them for energy. And we have no way of knowing how much of a given meal goes into rebuilding and how much into energy.

    Except the carbs. They aren’t used for anything but energy. If we can’t use them for energy, they wind up in fat tissue or they wind up in the toilet (as with fiber). You can’t leave all that glucose floating around in your bloodstream or you will go the way of the untreated diabetic. So the body does something with it as quickly as possible.

    This is why the LC diet gurus tell us to count carbs. That’s where you will really see a difference if you lower the count.

    Dietary fat, as far as I can tell and probably as far as anyone knows, is only going to be stored as fat if you’re intaking enough sugar to make enough glycerol to turn that fat into triglycerides. Drop the carb intake and you have no central axis for the triglyceride and either your body does something with the dietary fat or excretes it–there is virtually no storage. This is why traditional Inuit didn’t get fat–they had round faces and they wore bulky clothes, but Steffansson said that under the bulky clothes they were of a normal weight range. And most of what they ate was fat!

    Maybe he could gain that much weight on 3500 calories, but I doubt it. He was a healthy young male going into it, and also lived on his girlfriend’s vegetarian meals, which means he probably consumed a lot of carbs before. I think it’s unlikely his basal metabolic rate dropped to 500-600 calories per day, which is what would be required to store 25 pounds of fat in 30 days on a 3500-calorie diet.

    And it still doesn’t explain why he didn’t correct the nutritionist when she told him — twice, on camera — that he was consuming more than 5,000 calories per day.

  20. TonyNZ says:

    I don’t recall, did he do any fat tests, to see what his weight gain was?

    Plenty of fat goes through the digestive system. You get more “floaters” when you eat lots of fat.

    I don’t recall anything in the movie that would indicate how much of his weight gain was fat, as opposed to muscle or water.

  21. Paco Wové says:

    “Whether or not he was honest, he did make a good point…”

    “As for the ethics of him lying or not, I don’t care…”

    Comments like this boggle my mind. “It’s ok if he lies to me, as long as he says what I want to hear.”

    I guess people have gotten so used to seeing facts twisted in news shows and documentaries, it doesn’t even bother them anymore.

  22. Pascal says:

    It often goes together. If they would not be incompetent, they would be aware of it. And it is not restricted to the net. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    Very good article. I guess it’s like people who are so tone deaf, they don’t know they can’t sing.

  23. John Paul says:

    My favorite part of “Super Size Me” is when the vegan gf starts to complain about Spurlock’s performance in bed. She blames how saturated fat is blocking penis blood flow and negatively affecting erection. Jesus, yesterday, saturated fat is clogging our arteries and now it can clog your penis veins too disallowing you of an erection. Talk about “Fox News” science.

    The irony is that saturated fat raises your testosterone.

  24. C says:

    LOL some of those cracked me up. However, I have to say, not necessarily all of them liked Super-Size Me or even really disagree with you. I’m a debater myself, and if I saw an opening to debate you I would even though I totally agree Morgon Spurlock is a moron. Although I’d probably say so, like that I agree with you but there’s this loophole here or whatever.

  25. Becky says:

    My favorite part in the whole debacle is how they glossed over the part where the nutritionist clearly tells him he’s drinking too many calories. Unless he’s putting cheeseburgers in a blender, obviously doesn’t have anything to do with what he’s drinking. Even the die-hard lipophobs have to admit that. Off for a lovely marbled- steak and broccoli dinner!

    PS
    I got my dad your wheat is murder t-shirt for Father’s Day. Best.Present.Ever.

    Outstanding. I hope he likes it.

  26. Rebecca Foxworth says:

    I’m new to all this “high fat/low cal” thinking, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Gary Taubes’ books, which are referenced in the Recommended Reading section, essentially state that “calories in=calories” out is a bad and incorrect equation.

    In the movie (which shocked me, which I loved, and which my CHILDREN have begged to watch twice in two days), you yourself lost twice as much weight as the “calories in=calories out” equation said you should have expected to lose.

    If the excess consumption of carbohydrates can trigger excess insulin to block many of those calories from being burned as energy, and instead store a greater percentage of those calories as fat, couldn’t the high carbohydrate consumption (and FAST burning carbs, as opposed to the slower whole carbs he was used to processing) combined with the extra calories he was eating from fat (which he likely didn’t eat much of on a low-fat, vegan diet) have produced greater weight gain than expected? Isn’t the whole premise of lower-carb, higher-fat eating that the composition of your food DOES matter?

    I have no idea if Spurlock cheated or not. I’m just wondering, if the math doesn’t “add up”, couldn’t it be because, as Taubes and others have explained, the “calories in=calories out” equation is vastly oversimplified.

    Truly curious. Not disagreeing with you. Just curious whether that could be a possible explanation.

    If we were going only by his weight gain, that could figure in. But his nutritionist told him twice on camera that he was consuming more than 5000 calories per day.

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