Tall Tales About Exercise

      24 Comments on Tall Tales About Exercise

I haven’t found NBA basketball worth watching since the Michael Jordan era, when I lived in Chicago and couldn’t help myself.  But last night, as sort of a “bye-bye to L.A.” experience, I decided to watch the Lakers in the finals, and the more I watched, the more I couldn’t help but notice something peculiar:  almost all the players are very tall – much taller than the average man.

This got me thinking back to my college days, when I last attended basketball games in person.  The college players were tall too, although not as tall as the Lakers.  Then I thought about my high school team.  As a bunch of white Catholic kids, they weren’t exactly human skyscrapers, but they were still some of the tallest guys in our school. 

So after carefully thinking through all the evidence, I came to the obvious conclusion:  playing basketball makes you tall.  And the longer you play, the taller you become.  Nothing else can explain why the players become taller as they move from high school, to college, to the pros.

Therefore, I’ve decided to add a few hours of rigorous basketball to my weekly workout regimen.  My goal is to grow to about 6 ft. 2 inches, which would make me as tall as my son – who did play high school basketball and thus outgrew me.  However, if Fat Head sells to the point that I can be sure I’ll be flying first class from now on, I may keep playing until I reach 6 ft. 5 inches.

There’s nothing wrong with my current height of 5 ft. 11 inches, you understand.  I certainly don’t feel vertically inadequate.  But I can see some definite advantages to being taller.  I’ve read, for example, that tall men tend to earn higher incomes, so after my basketball program does its magic, I’ll be able to raise my software-programming rates.

I’ve also read that tall men have an advantage in the dating market and are more likely to be happily married.  I’m already happily married, but I figure when I start packing on the extra inches, my wife may sense the growing competition and work on improving her already-sparkling personality.  (I would say she’ll work on becoming better-looking, but there’s really no room for improvement.)

If my plan sounds a bit ridiculous – which it is – keep in mind that it’s only slightly more ridiculous than the “exercise makes you lean” theory.  While researching Fat Head, I came across study after study that compared fat people to thin people and concluded that because the thin people moved more, it was the extra movement that made them thinner. 

And truth be told, this theory has been pounded into our consciousness for so many decades, I bought into it.  I quoted some of those studies in an early version of the film.  It was Dr. Mike Eades who warned me I was about to repeat the error made by the researchers themselves:  confusing an association with a cause. 

Yes, people who are active and bouncy tend to be thinner than people who aren’t.  But that doesn’t mean the lean people are lean because they’re active.  It’s just as likely – more likely, I believe – that they’re active because they’re lean.

This was one of the truly eye-opening revelations in Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes.  As Taubes explains, your body is constantly working to reach homeostasis, the point at which the internal environment is in balance.  Your blood sugar, for example, must be balanced, and so a whole series of biochemical processes interact to keep it within a narrow range.

Your body’s fuel supply also needs to stay in balance – which means maintaining exactly as much fat as you need.  Yes, you need your fat.  You may even need a lot of it, depending on your hormonal balance.

Your fat cells are not little bank accounts that only take deposits when you eat too much.  They’re more like rechargeable batteries.  When you eat, you charge them up with fatty acids … even if you’re skinny.  When you’re not eating and begin to run low on available energy, the fat cells release fatty acids to provide fuel for your muscles and organs.

If your fat cells don’t release fatty acids efficiently – that is, if they’ve become akin to weak batteries – your body will work to make bigger batteries.  You’ll feel hungrier and eat more.  Your metabolism will slow down.  You’ll produce less heat.  You’ll feel lethargic and lazy. 

Guess what?  People who feel lethargic don’t move as much – exactly what your body intended.  And this process will continue until you reach homeostasis, the point at which your slow-leak fat cells are big enough to provide the fuel your body needs when you’re not eating.

The opposite is also true.  As Taubes explains, people like Lance Armstrong (or my lean, bouncy son) have fat cells that are constantly releasing fatty acids.  With the body awash in fuel, there is a strong impulse to move.  Their bodies don’t want to store fat, and so they’re driven to burn it.  They’re active because they’re naturally lean.

So do I believe exercise is worthless for losing weight?  Nope.  If you work out and put on extra muscle, the bigger muscles will burn more fuel and raise your basal metabolism.  More importantly, a good, hard workout can increase your sensitivity to insulin, so you won’t need as much of the stuff to keep your blood sugar level.  Lower insulin means you’re more likely to burn fat and less likely to store it – which in turn means you’re more likely to have the impulse to move.  So exercise can lead to the desire to exercise.  I know it does for me.

But if your insulin is elevated and you don’t change your diet to bring it down, exercising will most likely just deplete your body of fuel – and your body will fight to hang onto those big batteries it needs by conserving fuel any way it can.  Taubes recounts stories of people who’ve trained for and run marathons without losing weight.

The bottom line is that I think the right type of exercise is great for your muscles and your overall health.  When I see people in their seventies or eighties clinging to a walker and inching down the sidewalk, it breaks my heart.  I’m determined to keep working out and make sure that doesn’t happen to me.  But without the right diet, I don’t expect exercise to keep my weight down. 

I also don’t expect it to make me any taller.  But I think the Lakers can live without me.

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24 thoughts on “Tall Tales About Exercise

  1. Josh Goguen

    It really bothers me that it took this long for me to find information like this. Since I was 11 years old, I’ve been working out as a means to get into better shape. I did get in better shape, but I was still fat.

    I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights, but I thought the lack of cardio was my problem. So, I’d add more cardio and I’d lose a little weight but ultimately, I was just getting better at the elliptical or running 3 miles.

    Once I took the leap of faith and switched my diet, fat dropped off like magic. This is weight I’d almost resigned myself to being genetically cursed with. The weirdest part to me was, if anything, I was exercising less as this happened.

    Now, I’m the leanest I’ve ever been and am kinda ticked that it had to happen when I’m married with a kid and not when I was 18.

    I’m not saying this to endorse your point of view, I’m genuinely amazed that the low fat dogma that I grew up with was so wrong (at one point, I’d actually get angry when people would do Atkins because it was “wrong” according to the experts). The more I read Gary Taubes, the more enraging it is that the information was there all along, but almost no one looked at it.

    I’m with you. I didn’t figure it out until I was well into middle age. For awhile when I was in high school, I ran six miles three days per week and lost some weight, but the love handles and the boy boobs wouldn’t go away.

    Sometimes I think back on the girls I didn’t ask out (she’s too pretty for a fat guy like me), the activities I didn’t participate in (naw, they’re playing shirts and skins; I could end up on the shirtless team) and I want to strangle someone. Going through your school days with a bad body image totally sucks.

    Taubes also reported that when he finally cut out the carbs, he lost 20 pounds that wouldn’t come off before, no matter how much he exercised.

  2. TonyNZ

    Speaking of correlating data, this is one of the most awesome comics I have ever seen.

    It’s not just activity, I’m one of these people that just stays thin. I’m also a lot more resistant to cold than others. People will be in jackets and thermals and I’ll be there in shirtsleeves, quite comfortable. I reached the conclusion a few years ago that it is my body getting rid of excess energy from my rather high calorie diet.

    That’s a great comic, and sadly, too true.

    Interestingly, I also don’t feel the cold easily. But my body temperature when I’m healthy is 97 degrees.

  3. Jason Sandeman

    Tom, I am now inclined to get the book, Good Calories Bad Calories. I want to read it to see what it entails. I am thinking that the carbs are to blame for my weight. Thing is, I am a chef, and I taste a lot of stuff. Stuff sometimes includes carbs.

    I am living proof that more movement does not mean beans. I am on my feet all day, running like a horse. (I work in a kitchen! I get deliveries that would make most men whimper! I lift, cut, jog, spin and do all sorts of things.) Yet, I am still packin the weight. So, moving more is definitely not the answer!

    What would you suggest about my predicament?

    GCBC is the most enlightening book I’ve ever read on nutrition. I understood that insulin is involved with weight gain, but Taubes delves deep into the biochemistry, which is the reason it’s not a best-seller … too scientific for most of the public. I loved it, because concepts like homeostasis finally made it clear to me what is happening in the body.

    He also writes about cultures in which the well-to-do work sedentary jobs, eat lots of protein (mostly meat) and are lean, whereas the poor have manual-labor jobs, eat lots of cheap carbs, and are fat. It’s definitely not all about movement.

    You’re in a pickle with your career. I wish had some sterling advice, but if the job requires you to eat carbs … can you limit them to a little taste? I did consume 100 grams on average on the fast-food diet and still lost weight.

  4. Sam

    Tom, your deftness with metaphor is astounding and a huge contribution to the low-carb community. People need to have a way to wrap their heads around concepts that are incompatible with what has been inculcated…and no one does that as well as you.

    I appreciate the compliment, Sam. If I can simplify difficult concepts and toss in some humor while I’m at it, I’m a happy guy.

  5. Willa Jean

    Very well put. I remember Taubes’ comment about the 20 lbs. I also remember what Oprah looked like when she ran the Boston Marathon. I’m not picking on her here; she’s wrong about a lot of things, but finishing that marathon is a HUGE accomplishment. It didn’t make her thin, though. I noticed the same thing during the L.A. marathon. There were a pretty fair number (how’s that for scientific?) of chunky people running, and you know they’ve been exercising, because they’d never have finished the race otherwise. They didn’t get thin, and I’ll bet you that a) they won’t keep running because their bodies really don’t want to and b) they’ll gain weight as soon as they stop, especially if they’ve been “carbing up” for running.
    Like you, I sure wish I’d known all this when I was younger and my confidence was tied to my body-image. What a waste.

    When I take the long view of things, I remind myself that if I’d figured it out decades ago, there wouldn’t have been a Fat Head. Of course, if the nutrition experts had figured out decades ago, there wouldn’t have been a NEED for Fat Head, or GCBC.

  6. Nay Jo

    ‘Playing basketball makes you tall.’ seems almost true looking at all the lanky players. Something in the motions involved while plying basketball must be doing the trick.
    I was pretty short before I started playing basket ball for my class, I must have played only for a couple of years but I gained 4″ in those days. Now I am average 5’4″ had I played longer may be would have gained another 2-3″.
    Still one can add inches to your height in any age with the right exercise and eating.

    Now that I think about it, my son did shoot up in high school, when he was playing a lot of basketball.

  7. looper

    Used to dread shirts and skins. I was a fat kid growing up. By today’s standards? Not so much but always heavy. At 35 it’s still my dream to have a summer I can take my shirt off without being self-conscious. Hoping low carb and body by science will do the trick.

    I don’t think people who’ve never been fat understand the frustration. I used to attend a lot of Cubs games at Wrigley field when I lived nearby. My friends would peel off their shirts on sunny days and get a tan. I envied them, sometimes even resented their easy-breezy love-my-body confidence. I wouldn’t peel off that shirt for anything.

  8. Dave

    Great post. Here’s a living-room elephant along the same lines:


    Summary: genetically leptin-resistant mice become spontaneously obese, diabetic, and inactive. Restoring leptin-sensitivity to the arcuate nucleus, a tiny area of the hypothalamus, leads to fat-loss and spontaneous increase in activity. Arrow of causality, anyone?

    Fun fact: wheat germ agglutinin a) enters the brain, and b) binds to insulin receptors.

    And a nice quote:

    I believe that every human has a finite number of heart-beats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.
    – Buzz Aldrin

    Another reason not to eat wheat.

    But if we have a limited number of heart-beats, I’m in trouble. Every time I look at my three girls (one wife, two daughters) my heart beats faster.

  9. Ellen

    Here’s my two cents from the view of experience. As a young person, I also didn’t know any better and ate a high carb diet with the result of extra poundage and a vicious case of insulin resistance, now that I’m in my 40s.

    But after doing the research and writing my website, I am convinced a low carb, whole foods diet is the best for health. On average, I stay below 50 carbs per day. It’s a great way to live, because I am NEVER hungry, the food is wonderful, and I am slowly losing weight. I eat a high fat breakfast, and can go hours without eating again. It’s very liberating for a person who’s been food obsessed most of her life.

    However, I started a new job two weeks ago, and have been WAY more active than I usually am.. walking at least a mile every day, lifting stuff, climbing ladders, etc. And this extra activity is NOT helping my weight loss. I have not lost an ounce since I started my job. Why?

    Because I am HUNGRY all the time. The extra exercise should mean I’m burning more calories, but instead of that resulting in fat loss, all my body wants to do is replace the missing energy. This tells me that my insulin levels are still high, and my body is not giving up it’s extra battery storage for nuthin’. And it certainly blows the myth that exercise curbs hunger.

    But this is what happens to us overweight, insulin resistant people. The message is that to lose weight, you just need to eat less and exercise more. Well, back in 1996, I got “serious” about my exercise program. For a year, I was totally disciplined. I worked out regularly 4-5 hours a week, including both aerobic and weight lifting. But I was hungry all the time, and at the end of the year, I had actually gained weight. I looked better, but I was still heavier. Talked about pissed off.

    So I decided to cut desserts from my diet. I was too hungry all the time to cut more than that. Two weeks later, I’d lost 15 pounds. But I’m kinda dumb, so it didn’t occur to me to figure out why that happened. I just assumed that the loss happened because I was eating less calories.

    After a while, all the hard work and deprivation with so little result got frustrating, and I stopped. If I had known then what I know now, and not been brainwashed by the exercise/calorie dogma, I would have started eating a low carb diet permanently, and cut the exercise routine to a little weight lifting and some slow walking. I could have avoided the struggle I’m experiencing now.

    Great post, Tom!

    If simply cutting back on calories and exercising more led to weight loss, we’d hardly see any fat people at all. Just look at the comments from all of us who remember being ashamed of our bodies during our school days. No one wants to be obese. And still the dingbat “experts” think we simply didn’t try hard enough.

  10. Tim

    Quoting “But if your insulin is elevated and you don’t change your diet to bring it down, exercising will most likely just deplete your body of fuel – and your body will fight to hang onto those big batteries it needs by conserving fuel any way it can. Taubes recounts stories of people who’ve trained for and run marathons without losing weight.”

    And I’d like to add for clarity, preaching to the choir, that:


    And the reason I’d like to add that is so that when I send this singularly enlightening post to my many many friends and family that it is abundantly clear that this is all about


    Tom, thanks a lot for this blog, your movie, and putting this all out there. My mother and father visited this past weekend, and I reviewed Fat Head with my mother over breakfast (bacon and eggs) as she took her statins and other meds. She asked to take the movie with her to watch again, took down the different links to Mark Sisson, your blog, Dr Eades’ blogs, Jimmy Moore, et al. There’s hope that she will read up. That’s all I can do for her.

    Here’s hoping your mom gets the message. When I hear Fat Head helped someone finally “get it,” it makes my day.

  11. Dave

    Doh! Should have said wheat germ agglutinin binds to leptin receptors (though it also binds to insulin receptors).

  12. Tony K

    Hi Tom,

    I love your ability to communicate on these issues.

    I agree with the fundamental premise, but want to add a little twist. I do believe that exercise can help you lose fat, but only if you have your diet (hormonal environment) right in the first place.

    So a person eating the standard American diet (SAD), might go onto the treadmill, run for three hours, refuel halfway with some Gatorade. Then when they don’t lose weight reason that they need to amp up the intensity. It’s the “cardio bunny” syndrome, where young ladies go to the gym and workout 2 hrs per day just to stay at their current weight. The duration increase happens over time though. It starts at 20 min per day and slowly ramps up as their bodies become more and more insulin resistant over time. They aren’t burning their fat though; they’re just burning their last meal and their muscle glycogen. Then they go home after the workout and refill the glycogen and, with luck, don’t eat much more than that, because the extra calories will go into fat.

    It works kind of like a ratchet. As long as each day you hit that balance between eating and activity you won’t gain weight, but one bad day and you add a little bit of extra fat. (Maybe even just 10 or 15 grams of fat.) But over a year where you have, say 70 days with a little over on calories (you workout only 4 out of 5 days instead of every day), you add 2 – 3 pounds. Do this for 10 years, and you wonder how you put on 25 pounds since college.

    Compare that with a person doing fasted low intensity cardio with a hormonal environment that supports fat mobilization. 70% of their burned calories will come from fat, not glycogen. They’ll extract energy from their fat cells, and not feel a burning need (hunger) to replace it.

    Lyle McDonald over at http://www.bodyrecomposition.com has done a lot of work on fat mobilization, mainly focused on athletes. His stubborn fat book has a lot of detailed information about the hormonal environment, including differences between men and women.

    I wrote a little about it on Emotions fro Engineers as well. http://www.emotionsforengineers.com/2008/08/take-care-of-black-box-exercise-for.html

    I am working on a post about why you should exercise anyway, even though it may not have a big impact on weight loss.

    Thanks for your efforts in educating people. I think it will make a difference eventually.


    We’re very much on the same page. If weight loss requires a calorie deficit, exercise can help create that deficit — providing the body is able to burn stored fat for fuel. If the body isn’t able to tap stored fat, then exercise and/or cutting calories will simply deplete the body of available fuel, and the body will fight to conserve calories to avoid starvation.

    On the flip side, I know people who run or use a treadmill for at least an hour a day and don’t eat much — but when they do eat, it’s low-fat, grain-based vegetarian swill. They work so hard and eat so little, but barely keep the weight at bay. I’m afraid they’re convinced it’s supposed to be difficult. A kind of Puritan attitude is at work: being thin is a reward for discipline and deprivation.

  13. Michael

    While you are on the topic of basketball and the Lakers, I might as well bring up Lamar Odom. He is very tall (he obviously has been playing basketball since he could crawl) and also very good at basketball. He also subsists off candy. Obviously, his candy is fueling his athletic performances this post-season.



    I saw those videos. He’s going to end up like my father-in-law: a lean, strong, athletic type II diabetic. (We could start a new sitcom … The Athletic Diabetic. The audience would tune in to see which body parts our protagonist will lose as the series progresses.)

  14. Val

    Yes, another great post Tom! (thanks, I really needed the laugh)
    How about that old canard, “Diet soda makes you fat!”?!? My ex-husband (one of those dastardly naturally-skinny types, no wonder we were doomed!) used to love to spout off about that, not to mention ye ol’ “Eat less/Exercise more”…
    But I DO know my former MIL has ruined HER health via bariatric surgery – sure, she lost a ton of weight, but is quite literally disabled now. It’s even ruined her cognitive abilities.
    I’d like to hold onto as many of my brain cells as I can, but I have an ethical dilemma: I don’t like to support our traditional abusive American factory-farming system – guess that means I plan ahead, for trips into town for organic meats (at least the local HEB carries free-range eggs), or shop on-line.
    Any other suggestions for us whackos who would sorta-toe the vegetarian line?

    I seem to recall Eades & Eades had some suggestions in their books for eating low-carb on a vegetarian diet. I of course eat lots of meat, knowing it would be better if it were pasture-fed, but it’s still preferable to loading up on carbs.

    When we move into a bigger house, I want to get a big freezer and buy grass-fed meat from one of those co-ops. If enough of us (or McDonald’s) start voting with our dollars for grass-fed meat, we’ll see more of it.

    Sorry to hear about what your former mother-in-law did to herself. I read once that a stunning percentage of people in a survey that they’d rather sacrifice two years of life than be obese. Looks like they’re getting the chance to prove it.

  15. Tracey

    As another Kiwi it’s kinda bizarre to think there is anything BUT pasture-fed meat available – just another reason to be grateful for living Down Under I guess.

    This post is of particular interest to me, as I’m very seriously considering heading back to school to learn to be a personal trainer. Having lost around 50kgs last year by eating low carb (27kg before I even started to exercise) I think the section I’m going to have the most trouble with is the nutrition section. Not just in the classroom either – I have trouble reining in my nutritional opinions and suspect I may be a little over enthusiastic at times. People get that wide eyed look like possums caught in headlights and you can see they are truely sorry they asked how I did it LOL.

    So how do you ‘spread the word’ without being seen as some kind of zealot?

    As an aside, was heading to the supermarket today so grabbed a recipe book to get some ideas of low carb treats to enjoy over the week. The particular recipe book was one of my Type 1 husband’s, called ‘Food for Every Body: Cooking for diabetics the low GI way’.

    Withing seconds I was wanting to poke my eyes out with forks, discovering such gems as “glucose is the only type of food our brain cells can use”, “long gaps between food intake mean we become over-hungry, then we overeat. Small frequent eating controls hunger and shrinks the stomach” and the classic “by eating 10% less food than you are now eating will shed tummy fat. Try cutting crusts off sandwiches or leaving 10% of that dessert”.

    Naturally, the recipe categories are potatoes, rice, pasta, grain, legumes and desserts. Yup, all the carb you can shake a fist at. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

    Our government has found all kinds of ways to help screw up our health. Subsidizing corn and thus making it the cheapest feed for livestock was just one of them.

    The “eat your starch” advice for diabetics drives me up a all. I saw an informational video for diabetics in a doctor’s office recently, and of course it demonstrated balancing your little serving of meat with a potato.

  16. Robbie Trinidad

    From 39m18s to 42m45s mark of Fat Head, when you were showing that children these days are inactive and adults “practically inert”, I got the impression you were making the case for the lack of activity being a contributor to expanding waistlines. So I thought you and Gary Taubes differed on the effect of exercise on weight loss.

    I remember reading an interview by Taubes when he was still doing GCBC that because of his research, a lot of his own long held beliefs about nutrition, obesity, and weight loss got questioned. A lot of what he believed when he started the book, he now longer held as true by the time he finished GCBC. Was it the same for you while making Fat Head?

    BTW, I live in the Philippines, and the DVD regional coding on Fat Head is a bit of an annoyance.

    Our international distributor is still working on DVD deals in non-U.S. markets, but nothing yet. That’s the hazard of being an independent filmmaker; there’s no studio pushing your product.

    My beliefs about health and nutrition very definitely evolved as I worked on the film. I no longer believe in the simple calories in/calories out theory, including the notion that if you move around more, you automatically lose weight.

    I now believe weight gain or loss is a complicated process with interacting variables, and exercise is merely one of those variables. If your insulin is elevated to the point where you can’t burn your own body fat, then exercise will probably do little or nothing for weight loss. Most fat adults have elevated insulin, so exercise doesn’t do much.

    On the other hand, if you can tap your fat stores for fuel, I believe exercise can help create the need for that fuel. I also believe vigorous activity helps keep your insulin down. In GCBC, Taubes writes that studies of exercise for weight loss have produced wildly differing results: weight loss, no loss, even weight gain. We’re probably seeing the results of exercise on people with differing levels of insulin resistance.

    Since kids are less likely (for now) to have elevated insulin than adults, I think lack of activity has a more dramatic effect on kids. When my family moved to a different city and I stopped playing outside for two hours before dinner, I began putting on weight — but I was also snacking more. I think both were contributing factors.

  17. Holly

    I played basketball for many years (for fun) but quit when I was in 8th grade. I’m 5’4″ – if I had just played a bit longer I could be taller like my siblings (5’7″ female and 6’2″ male)… Oh well.

    As far as the exercise goes – I used to eat “low fat” and I exercised twice a day. I wouldn’t recommend that as a way to stay thin because it was hard and not a whole lot of fun. Oh, and you really don’t have much of a social life because you’re constantly at the gym… unless your friends like going to the gym too (mine did not). When I visited my parents for a month (I was in the military) I didn’t exercise at all (lots of family to visit, friends to see – and I think I was burned out). My dad was on Atkins, my mom stopped serving and purchasing carb laden food to support his choice. I was in the military, so to save money I had what they had for food. When I went back to my duty station at my lightest weight since 10th grade. I think I lost 20 or 30 lbs. I thought for sure that I would have gained something – bacon and eggs, steak, salads with full fat dressing, cheese! Nope. A lot of exercise gurus say that the way your body looks is 80% diet… I’m thinking it’s probably more.

    Also, I read Jimmy Moore’s (first) book and it was the first time it dawned on me that people say generally 20 minutes to a fat burning zone – but when you’re eating low-carb you’re already burning fat! That should have been a big duh! but I was so astonished I didn’t realize that before. Now that’s motivation to eat low-carb if I’ve ever heard any!

    I was exactly 6’0″ when I graduated college, but I’ve shrunk a fill inch in the past 27 years. Clearly, it’s because I gave up playing driveway basketball.

    Your experience is a perfect example of how I think the diet/exercise equation works: sure, you can horsewhip yourself into losing some weight by exercising furiously while eating a starvation-level lowfat diet — the “Biggest Loser” contestants do that — but losing the fat is much easier on a low-carb diet for most people because the fat cells are open for business.

    And of course, most of the “Biggest Loser” contestants have regained the weight, now that they’re no longer being horsewhipped.

  18. Anand Srivastava

    A contestant on “the biggest loser” contest on Paleo diet, would be an ideal person to take the low carb ideas ahead.

    This guy would not be exercising too much, except on Paleo Principles. But will still lose a lot of fat, possibly much more than others, if Fasting is used a lot, when reduction slows down after a couple of months.

    That would be cool to see.

  19. mrgjr

    Over the last couple of seasons on the biggest loser they have been covertly emphasizing low carb high protein and eating. If you watch the breaks they have to talk about nutrition, you will see them, bob especially, talking about eating more protein and eating less carbs. I watch the show because it gives me motivation when I’m exercising. When I hit those last two reps and I want to stop, I think about those fat people who push on and finish. I’m not sure if it’s clever editing or not, but it does help me with the mind games I play while lifting.

    I suppose that’s progress, but it’s kind of shame they have to be covert about cutting the carbs.

    When I was high school (pre-McGovern Committee), I knew some body-builders who worked out at the YMCA. When they wanted to get cut for a contest, they eliminated carbs totally. The wrestling coach told his wrestlers to do likewise when they needed to drop weight. If only we’d kept doing what we already knew worked …

  20. TonyNZ


    They do tend to lend support to that hypothesis, but as someone who has had a bit of experience in this area, their reasoning would be the following:

    “Eating protein helps build muscle mass, which has a greater metabolic rate than fat, helping to burn calories and lose fat”

    Which tends to go with the calories in-calories out theory, which is only part of the story at best. They don’t tend to look for alternate explanations.

    I happen to have a good trainer. I don’t know that he quite believes as we do, but he told me when I was working out (because I was/still kind of am scrawny) that I should up my fat intake so that my body didn’t attack muscles for energy. He also said don’t stock up on carbs because in his experience, lots of carbs led to reduced endurance in exercises. Anecdotal, but fits with a lot of the other stories here.

  21. TonyNZ

    Oh Noes! My unborn children is at risk!

    Mendiola et al recently published a paper in Fertility and Sterility that I think fits into bad science. It’s a crock, but here is the pre-article summary.

    To compare dietary habits in normospermic and oligoasthenoteratospermic patients attending a reproductive assisted clinic.

    An observational, analytical case-control study.

    Private fertility clinics.

    Thirty men with poor semen quality (cases) and 31 normospermic control couples attending our fertility clinics.

    We recorded dietary habits and food consumption using a food frequency questionnaire adapted to meet specific study objectives. Analysis of semen parameters, hormone levels, Y microdeletions, and karyotypes were also carried out.

    Main Outcome Measure(s)
    Frequency of intake food items were registered in a scale with nine categories ranging from no consumption to repeated daily consumption.

    Controls had a higher intake of skimmed milk, shellfish, tomatoes, and lettuce, and cases consumed more yogurt, meat products, and potatoes. In the logistic regression model cases had lower intake of lettuce and tomatoes, fruits (apricots and peaches), and significantly higher intake of dairy and meat processed products.

    Frequent intake of lipophilic foods like meat products or milk may negatively affect semen quality in humans, whereas some fruits or vegetables may maintain or improve semen quality.

    Key Words: Semen quality; food frequency; xenobiotics

    So what happened to the potatoes?

    I guess that explains why humans failed to reproduce in the million or so years before agriculture.

  22. Christina Stone

    I’ve read in one of the Weston A Price magazines or maybe Sally Fallon herself talk about diet being related to height. Its fuzzy, but I think she said a high protein low fat diet made kids get taller. Its an interesting idea. Once countries become more affluent, height often jumps, maybe more access to meat?

    I doubt she’d attribute height or any other benefit to a low-fat diet … high-protein, high-fat maybe. We know from anthropological evidence that when humans went from being hunters to farmers, they shrank. Affluent people do tend to eat more meat and protein, and yes, I believe that contributes to height. Protein is, after all, the macronutrient used for building new tissue.

  23. Walter Bushell

    Worse than the sluggish physical behavior, high insulin deprives the brain of energy, hence sluggish thinking.

    It is to scream.

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