I’ve spent rather a lot time this week answering questions from viewers who just discovered Fat Head on Netflix. Since the questions are often the same, I believe it’s time for another Frequently Asked Questions post.
Would you mind letting me see a copy of your fast-food diet log?
I don’t mind at all. It’s been online since I started this blog, with a link under Helpful Links.
A few people have commented that if you multiply the carbs and protein by 4 calories per gram and add them to the fats multiplied by 9 calories per gram, the total doesn’t exactly match the calorie totals I posted. That’s true, but it’s because food labels use rounded numbers. If a lab determines the average Quarter Pounder contains 44.2 grams of protein, it’ll be listed as 44 on the label, but the all of the calories will still be counted.
Also, the 4 calories/gram and 9 calories/gram figures aren’t exact. Fat actually contains a teeny bit more or less than 9 calories per gram (can’t remember which). So my log lists the macronutrients and the calories provided by the restaurant nutrition guides.
Could I see your food log for the month when you ate all those high-fat food?
I didn’t keep a food log for the saturated-fat pigout month. I cut all sugar and starch from my diet and ate a lot of foods high in fat, but I didn’t count the calories or macronutrients specifically. I’m sure the daily carb count was below 30, though.
Did you lose any weight during the saturated-fat pigout month?
I wasn’t trying to lose weight; I was trying to stuff myself with saturated fat to see what would happen to my cholesterol levels. I made no effort to limit my portions and ate quite a bit. Nonetheless, I lost another two pounds that month.
Is it possible to get a copy of the spreadsheet program you used to track your calories and macronutrients?
It wasn’t a spreadsheet. It was a little Access database program I threw together. It doesn’t even work correctly in the newer versions of Access. But I’ve had so many requests for a copy of the program over the past two years, I may just put a new one together and sell it for a small donation.
You never mentioned the Atkins diet by name, but weren’t you following the Atkins diet during that second month?
Low-carb diets have been around for a long, long time, under various names. I didn’t see any reason to label the saturated-fat pigout experiment specifically as The Atkins Diet — especially since I tried that experiment at the suggestion of Dr. Mike Eades, who calls his program The Protein Power Diet.
How many carbs per day should I eat if I want to lose weight? Is 100 per day the magic number?
There is no magic number for everyone. Most people go into a ketogenic state (meaning they deplete their stored glycogen and begin using more fat for fuel) if they limit their carbs to 120 per day, so I chose a number below 120. If we could convince everyone with metabolic issues to go at least that low, a whole lot of health problems would go away.
However, it ultimately depends on how sensitive you are to carbs and what type of carbs you’re eating. That’s why most low-carb diet books instruct dieters to start very low, then gradually raise the carb count until weight loss becomes more difficult or stalls.
How many carbs per day do you consume now? / What is your diet like now?
I don’t count carbs these days, but my daily total is well below 100 and probably below 50 on many days. I live on an almost-paleo diet — mostly meat, eggs, seafood, low-starch vegetables, nuts, and a bit of low-sugar fruit. Once in awhile I’ll eat beans or sweet potatoes, but not often. I say it’s almost paleo because I still consume some dairy products. I like cream in my coffee and cheese on my burger patties.
I don’t eat grains at all anymore, mostly because after shooting the film I learned more about the lectins in grains and how they can provoke autoimmune reactions. When I cut out the grains, my occasional bouts of arthritis went away and never came back. That was pretty convincing.
Aren’t you concerned about ketosis? I read that ketosis can damage the brain and the kidneys.
People who claim ketosis is dangerous are either misinformed or trying to scare you away from low-carb diets for some reason. (Ketosis kills! seems to be a favorite strategy among the radical vegans, so that should tell you something.)
Ketosis is often mistaken for ketoacidosis. They’re not the same. Ketoacidosis is an extreme form of ketosis that affects untreated diabetics and can lead to a dangerous pH imbalance in the blood. Ketosis simply means you have ketones in your bloodstream, since burning fat releases ketones.
Your brain, heart, and many other organs will happily use ketones for fuel. If you eat dinner at 5:30 PM and don’t eat again until morning, you probably wake up in a state of mild ketosis — which means the people warning you about the dangers of ketosis are probably in ketosis rather often.
I want to try a low-carb diet, but don’t want to eat meat for ethical reasons. Is that possible?
More difficult, certainly, but still possible. If you go to Amazon and search for “low carb vegetarian” you’ll see several books listed. You can also find recipe sites online. I found this one pretty quickly.
Hmmm, I love meat, but I may have to try one of those recipes … as a side dish, of course.
How can I convince my wife/husband/sister/parents/friends to go low-carb?
You can’t. Enjoy your low-carb diet and the results. If they notice the positive changes and ask what you’re doing, tell them. If they reply that you look good but will probably die of a heart attack from all that fat, tell them there are plenty of books that explain the science if they’re actually interested. Then let it go.
How can I get my spouse to stop warning me that my high-fat diet is going to kill me?
Move to another state. (What? Oh, I see; you like your spouse.) It’s probably futile to ask a doubting spouse to read Good Calories, Bad Calories or another book that explains the science, but if you scroll down and find the Recommended Reading links on the left sidebar, you’ll find some articles that might do the trick. (That reminds me: I need to update those links sometime.)
Why didn’t you cover (insert topic here) in the documentary?
If I’d covered every topic I found interesting while doing my research, it would’ve been a six-hour miniseries. I had to let some stuff go. The distributors suggested limiting the running time to 1:30. I got it down to 1:44. They were okay with that.
Have you ever heard from Morgan Spurlock?
No, but I’ve heard from plenty of Spurlockian True Believers. Those are interesting conversations.
Is there going to be a Fat Head II or another follow-up documentary?
I don’t think so, but you never know. Perhaps some simple productions, not as complicated as Fat Head but more involved than the Big Fat Fiasco speech.
Have you considered taking all the research from your film and your blog and putting it into a book?
I certainly don’t want to write anything along the lines of the books by Gary Taubes, Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades, Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, or Dr. Malcolm Kendrick. They’ve already been there and done that, and I couldn’t do it as well anyway.
However, my wife and I are kicking around the idea of producing an illustrated book to explain to parents and children how various foods affect our health. The idea would be to present the biochemistry simply and visually, kind of like the blood sugar/insulin sequence in Fat Head. I write, she draws, we have a marriage that’s happy and secure enough to survive working together, so why not?
You mentioned several books in the film and list several more on the Recommended Reading page of your blog. I don’t have time to read them all, so which one should I read first?
Wow, that’s a tough one. It would depend on what you most want to learn. If you’re looking for a low-carb diet program to follow, I like A New Atkins For A New You. There are also some good study references in there.
If you’re looking to go a little more radical on the diet to jump-start your weight loss and then ease into a permanent low-carb diet, I’d suggest The 6-Week Cure For the Middle Aged Middle.
If you want to understand the science — why the Lipid Hypothesis is wrong, why insulin promotes weight gain, etc. — you can’t beat Good Calories, Bad Calories. It’s pretty dense on the biochemistry, though. Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It covers much of the same territory, but it’s written for a lay audience and is easier to follow.
If you want to know about paleo diets and why they’re probably the best for humans, I’d suggest The Primal Blueprint.
Is there a Facebook fan page?
I admit to being Facebook-challenged, mostly because I think the interface is awful and refuse to deal with it any more than I have to. However, my wife created a Fat Head group awhile back. She also created a Fat Head fan page yesterday, since so many people asked. (I don’t understand the difference between the two. No, don’t try to explain it to me. That would require me to actually think about Facebook.)
I found a 42-point puzzle in the book of Matthew, I grew up Jewish and didn’t realize everyone did not know the puzzle was there, nor that it split the Gospels into tools for the human mind to see through time with accuracy. So, from 2000 years ago, Bush had to the False Prophet. So, with the help of the German Chancellor, I rose to True Prophet so I could @#$% BUSH in a way he couldn’t touch me.
The BIGGEST ROLE in Bush’s version of Armageddon was TRUE PROPHET. I managed to get the Chinese to not pull the loans nor the Russians to attack during Bush because the German Chancellor realized my argument that the Bush family double-crossed Hitler using computer game design logistics they pulled from the Torah. Thus, when I found Bush using these logistics in his behavior, and the USMC did not see it, I had to do something. Can you help me with this project?
Okay, that’s not actually a frequently-asked question. But when your film goes on Netflix and the emails start piling up, you never know what somebody will ask you next.
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