Back in June, I wrote a post about Sam Feltham’s n=1 experiment in which he consumed more than 5,000 calories per day of low-carb/high-fat foods for 21 days. In a post on his Smash The Fat blog introducing that experiment, he spelled out exactly what he would eating: lots of meats, eggs, greens and nuts. The macronutrient breakdown on a typical day looked like this:
Feltham estimated his daily calorie expenditure to be around 3,128. (He’s an active cyclist.) So according to the simple calories-in/calories-out theory, he should have gained nearly 13 pounds in 21 days. But he didn’t. As he reported at the end of the 21 days, he gained less than three pounds – while losing an inch around his waist. In other words, he gained a bit of lean mass but apparently didn’t get any fatter.
I wouldn’t suggest people who’ve battled a weight problem repeat that experiment, of course. If you check the pictures on his blog, you’ll see that Feltham looks like a naturally lean guy. His body probably resists gaining fat.
Ahhh, but what if he consumed more than 5,000 calories per day on a diet high in refined carbohydrates? Would the hormonal effects of all those excess carbohydrates overcome his natural resistance to getting fatter?
In a word: Yup.
Feltham recently completed yet another n=1 experiment that lasted 21 days. This time the diet looked like something Morgan Spurlock would try (assuming he could eat all these foods at McDonald’s while pretending to only consume three meals per day) … cereals, breads, jam, pasta, desserts and sodas. Here’s the breakdown:
Wow. My glucose is rising just looking at those figures. Let’s look at Feltham’s results from his blog:
As it was the last day I also weighed myself this evening at 97.3kg, giving me a mean for day 21 at 96.8kg, which is a massive +7.1kg up from the start and +0.1kg above the calorie formula on a 53,872 k/cal surplus.
So he gained almost 16 pounds. And it wasn’t lean tissue this time, either. He also gained three inches around his waist. (He had small waist to begin with, so nobody will be asking him to wear the Santa suit at this year’s holiday party.)
What’s interesting to me is that on the high-carb overeating experiment, the calorie equation held up. Unlike with his LCHF diet, Feltham did, in fact, gain a fraction more than one pound for every 3,500 extra calories he consumed.
I’d say the same about Morgan Spurlock’s sugar-fest month at McDonald’s. Spurlock gained 24 pounds in 30 days, which means he was probably overeating by around 2,800 calories per day. (We of course don’t know for sure, since he won’t show anyone his food log. But his nutritionist cautioned him twice in Super Size Me that he was eating more than 5,000 calories per day. And unlike Feltham, who continued his exercise routine during his experiment, Spurlock intentionally moved as little as possible.)
As I mentioned in my post about Feltham’s first experiment, the calorie freaks immediately tried to explain away his inability to gain more than a few pounds on 5,200 daily calories of LCHF foods by insisting he must have a super-fast metabolism. Funny how that super-fast metabolism didn’t help him when he switched to a diet full of refined carbohydrates.
By the way, Feltham has already gone back to a LCHF diet (which he’s calling his rehab diet) to undo the damage. He’s 10 days into a diet consisting of meats, greens, butter and nuts. His average daily intake is 3,622 calories, 313 grams of fat, 170 grams of protein and 34.38 grams of carbohydrates.
He’s lost just over nine pounds as a result. A good chunk of that is likely water weight, but I suspect he’ll be back to his original weight and body-fat percentage soon enough.