‘Cliffy’ Explains Why Kids Get Fat

“Cliffy, if a little knowledge is dangerous, you’re a walking time bomb.”

“Well, thank you, Diane!”

If memory serves, that exchange occurred in an episode of Cheers after Cliff Clavin, the know-it-all postman, explained to Diane that DNA stands for Dames are Not Aggressive.

“No, Cliffy.  DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.”

“Irregardless, there, Diane, my point is still moot.”

Last week, I broke my own Arguing With Idiots rule and engaged in a long online debate with a body-builder I eventually began referring to as “Cliffy,” in honor of his belief that since he’s lean and has big muscles, he knows absolutely everything there is to know about why people become fat.  Here’s what he explained to me (you may want to take notes):

People get fat because they’re lazy and eat too much.

I know, I know … it’s a tough one to wrap your head around.  You may need to read it couple of times before it sinks in.

I argued that people get fat because hormones signal their bodies to store a disproportionate share of the calories they consume as fat, which creates a fuel shortage at the cellular level, which ramps up appetite, which leads to eating more.  Hormonal imbalances are the cause; eating more is the symptom.

Cliffy countered by explaining that I’m an idiot (as well as a fat, lazy old man) and that he knows for a fact that being lazy and over-eating are the cause of obesity, because he doesn’t over-eat and exercises regularly and has very little body fat.

I haven’t seen a picture of Clffy, but I’ll take him at his word.  I’ll also bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) he’s never been fat.  Good for him.  Unfortunately, some naturally-lean people can’t help but assume they’re not fat because of their superior character and discipline.  Metabolically, they were born on the finish line, but think they won a race.  Worse, some think being born on the finish line qualifies them to teach others how to win the race, too.  (But enough about Jillian Michaels.)

I asked Cliffy a question Dr. Robert Lustig raised in his interview with Jimmy Moore:  if gluttony and sloth are the cause of obesity, how do we explain the rise in obesity among six-month-olds?  Are today’s babies lazier and more gluttonous than babies in previous generations?  Are babies even capable of gluttony and sloth?

Cliffy then explained – no, I’m not making this up – that their mothers are obviously feeding them too much.

That was the reply that prompted me (after slapping my hands on my desk and laughing my head off) to nickname him “Cliffy.”  From that point forward, every time I read one of his replies, in my head I was hearing the words spoken aloud by John Ratzenberger in his comedic Boston accent.

“Well, ya see there, Diane, some of these mothers haven’t been properly instructed by their pediatricians as to the proper duration of a nursing session.”

Since Cliffy clearly doesn’t know diddly about babies and nursing, I explained how it works:  Baby cries.  Mommy offers breast.  If baby is hungry, baby nurses.  Baby continues nursing until baby has had enough.  Now we burp baby.  No sane mother in history has ever pulled a baby away from her breast and said, “Woah, that’s enough, baby!  Daddy and I don’t want you getting fat!”

Cliffy replied by explaining that I’m an idiot (and a fat, lazy old man) and that if more babies are obese these days, it’s because they have hormonal problems, and he wasn’t actually talking about babies anyway, because what he actually meant was that if kids are overweight – kids, not babies! – it’s because their parents are over-feeding them.

When I pointed out that he’d just admitted hormonal imbalances can cause obesity among babies and wondered why he still insisted obesity among kids is strictly a matter of being lazy and eating too much, Cliffy explained that I’m an idiot (and a fat, lazy old man) who is stupidly blaming “evil carbohydrates!” for making kids fat, when everyone knows if kids get fat, it’s only because their parents are over-feeding them, period, end of story.

So let’s look at Cliffy’s explanation and see if it makes sense.  I think you parents especially will appreciate Cliffy’s logic.

My daughters are both lean.  According to Cliffy, this means Chareva and I are not over-feeding them.  Kudos to us.  We must be great parents.

Just one little problem:  I have no flippin’ idea how we manage to avoid over-feeding them.  When the girls tell me they’re hungry, I feed them.  If they’re still hungry, I feed them again.  I’ve never once told them, “Nope, you’ve eaten enough food today.  I don’t want you getting fat.”

If Alana (soon to turn six) is in a growth spurt, she’ll even wake up and come downstairs well after midnight to ask for a snack.  I give it to her.  Sometimes after the snack, she’ll ask for another.  I give it to her.

But that’s me.  My wife is charge of their meals most of the time.  So after Cliffy explained to me that kids become fat because their parents over-feed them, I talked to her about it.

“Honey, how many calories do the girls burn off in a day?”

“Calories?  I have no idea.”

“You’ve never looked it up to get an estimate?”

“No.”

“Well, how many calories do you feed them in a day?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve never counted.”

“Never?”

“No.”

“Then how do you know when to cut them off for the day?”

“Cut them off?  What are you talking about?”

“You know, to keep them from getting fat.  When do you know it’s time to stop so you don’t end up over-feeding them?”

“I never stop.  If they’re hungry, I give them something to eat.”

“Always?”

“Yes, always.  What kind of mother doesn’t feed a hungry child?”

Aha, so it isn’t just me.  My girls are lean, so we’re clearly not over-feeding them … and yet we accomplish this remarkable demonstration of parental responsibility by giving them something to eat every single time they tell us they’re hungry.

My parents did the same.  I ended up fat, but my brother didn’t … so they somehow managed to over-feed me, but not him.  (I could’ve sworn we had the same-sized portions on our plates.)  My sister was skinny until she started taking Ritalin, which apparently prompted my parents to start over-feeding her as well, because she got fat soon afterwards.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I bumped into another parent from our girls’ school at the grocery store.  She told us she’s going to push her son to engage in more outdoor sports activities this summer because he’s started getting fat – at age seven.  Naturally, I couldn’t help but sneak a peek into her grocery cart.  It was full of the kinds of foods that would make the American Heart Association proud:  cereals, whole-wheat bread, pasta, fruit spreads, potatoes, and big jugs of apple juice.

I’m guessing this mom, who struck me as a sweet person, feeds her kids whenever they’re hungry.  According to Cliffy, this means she’s over-feeding her son, because he’s getting fat.  Our girls are lean, which means we’re not over-feeding them, even though we also feed them every time they’re hungry.

Utter hogwash.

We avoid “over-feeding” our girls by deciding what to feed them, not how much.  We don’t keep candy, cookies, donuts, waffles, cereals, breads, juice boxes or sodas in the house.  When they’re hungry between meals, they can take their pick of lunchmeats, eggs, cheeses, olives, carrots, tomatoes, sardines, sausage links, full-fat yogurt, home-made whipped cream, fruits or nuts.  They can even have low-carb ice cream.

The difference is, they just don’t crave all that much food.   Funny how when you stock your cabinets and refrigerator with full-fat, low-sugar, real foods, you can feed kids as much as they want, and yet somehow avoid over-feeding them.

But irregardless there, Diane, Cliffy’s point is still moot.


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119 thoughts on “‘Cliffy’ Explains Why Kids Get Fat

  1. Eliza

    Cliff is a total idiot. While my sister snacks on a few chips and a small lollipop, I go for 2 scrambled eggs smothered in cheese. Guess which one is thinner.

  2. Dawn

    On the news lastnight they were talking about ‘the bacon diet’ for controlling epilepsy. This kid is on an extremely high fat diet, he went from over 100 seizures a day to under 6. I can’t imagine this kids life if his parents (or the hospitals that administer this treatment) hadn’t been willing to go against the fat-phobic ideas of today

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/magazine/21Epilepsy-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

    Yup, ketogenic diets have been known to have that effect.

  3. Peggy Cihocki

    @LisaF, You say you are on the South Beach Diet. You might want to rethink that? Yes, it’s low on the carbs, and so does work, but I believe there are problems with it that you might want to consider. Just to be fair, I’ll admit I haven’t personally tried it or read deeply into the books–my information is second hand, but from what I consider a reliable source. In their book “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”, Mary Enig and Sally Fallon called the South Beach Diet possibly “one of the more dangerous diets out there. Because it is high in protein and excludes animal fats, it can rapidly deplete vitamin A stores, resulting in numerous health problems…” Also, because it “denies the dieter any source of saturated fats, which the body needs in order to work properly”. The diet’s creator is “firmly wedded to the lipid hypothesis” and believes saturated fats are bad. If you’ve come to this site, you know or will soon learn that they are not only not evil, but totally necessary for good health.
    Tom, thanks. My kids, no thanks to me, did make it to adulthood without becoming insulin resistant or fat, though both put on some weight while in college (son) and Vet school (daughter), but a return to healthier eating with no limiting of fats, saturated or otherwise, after graduation (by that time, I knew better) fixed that for both. They continue to maintain healthy weights now, thankfully. At least I didn’t do what Jatina’s mom did to her! That’s horrible.

  4. Fred Hahn

    Good one Tom. Keep it up my good man. Eventually people will listen – they’ll have to. Kids are smart. When I tell them this they get it instamatically.

    Thank you, Fred.

  5. Rebecca Latham

    I have four sisters. We all ate the same things (high carb, high fat 1960s food) in the same portions. As children and teens, we were all different weights, from fat to painfully thin. And we all got the same amount of exercise, too – running around, playing baseball, riding bikes, swimming and at school, calisthenics.

    I raised two children and fed them what I thought was healthy (high carb, low fat 1960s food) in equal portion sizes. They got the same amount of exercise. My son is now 34 and has been thin to normal his whole life. My daughter started getting plump when she was 12 and never stopped. By the time she was 18, she was around 30 pounds overweight. We lost her at that age, and I have always suspected that she was headed toward obesity.

    I also have guilty feelings about how I fed both the kids, although it didn’t seem to hurt my son much. I did the best I could with the available knowledge at the time.

    I saw the same thing with my friends. One was as lean and cut as any body-builder, but ate like a horse. His brother, a year older, was pudgy and didn’t eat any more as far as I could tell.

    I’m sorry to hear about your daughter.

  6. Jess

    Funny this should be your post today; I just finished reading this bit of nonsense:

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705371017/Study-Pregnant-women-who-cut-carbs-could-affect-childs-DNA.html

    Having just had a baby myself, I take major issue with such horrible science being directed at a group of women who will do ANYTHING they believe is best for their unborn babies. Disgusting.

    Apparently, it was more a matter of bad reporting, from what other readers have pointed out.

  7. Charlie Shaughnessy

    Yeah, youtube commenters are often the worst. Fairly frequently, I get lots of hilarious comments that have nothing to do with the video on my youtube channel shortly after I post it. And don’t even try arguing with the person, because their identity is forever going to be unknown so they can say whatever dumb shit they want.

    Anonymity does breed a certain brand of false courage.

  8. Jack

    Tom, Do you have any tips for keeping sane in a world full of idiots? Since becoming more active on facebook, I’ve discovered that I know a LOT of them. I guess having a general rule of not arguing with them might help but they keep sneaking up on me. Any tips you can share would be appreciated.

    I’ve just had to admit that it’s impossible to use logic to persuade an illogical person. So I keep my sanity by laughing at them.

  9. Brad C. Hodson

    Hey Tom. Your resident meathead here. (Pun intended) First off, most of the strength and conditioning world, including bodybuilders, have gone away from the high carb diet and recognize the effects of insulin on weight gain. Many weightlifting and nutrition strategies they use are geared toward manipulating these at the appropriate times to burn fat and build muscle. While an incredibly active person who is already lean can get away with more than someone else, Cliffy is a moron and, I’d guess, a very unsuccessful bodybuilder if he doesn’t understand how hormones play a very big role in weight gain. What cause muscle gain, after all? Just protein? No, testosterone and growth hormone regulate muscle growth (well, it gets more complicated, obviously, but that the gist of it).

    And because of these things, many (equally idiotic) bodybuilders take insulin, growth hormone, and steroids (testosterone) to boost their gains. Why does Cliffy think they do that if hormones play no role in weight gain?

    Furthermore, Cliffy should post some pictures of himself. There are a lot of idiots on the internet throwing around nutrition and exercise advice that look like crap but get away with it because they’re behind a keyboard. 5 bucks Cliffy has a paunch but still thinks his way is right and will get rid of his paunch and so pretends he already has, or he’s juiced up on steroids himself which changes how his body processes nutrients. Regardless, it sounds like he picked up all of his info from back issues of “Muscle and Fatness” magazine. You should remind him that conventional thinking also tells us protein will destroy our kidneys and cause cancer and then ask how much he spends on protein shakes in a month.

    All I can say is that, after watching “Fathead,” I cut out all grains and upped the fat in my diet. I feel GREAT all the time, my skin and my hair look better, I’m never sick or even sore after hard workouts anymore, and I’ve dropped nearly fourteen pounds of bodyfat (while gaining four pounds of muscle) in a little over a month with absolutely NO CHANGES to my workout. I’ve also gotten stronger and have increased my endurance. I know mileage may vary but, for the first time in my life, I realize that this is how I’m SUPPOSED to feel. And my wife can see her abs now and barely even exercises! We can’t thank you enough, Tom.

    Send Cliffy my way sometime. I’d LOVE to talk to this moron.

    According to Cliffy, you couldn’t possibly have lost fat and built muscle at the same time. If you ever come across him, believe me, he will insist over and over that you didn’t actually experience what you experienced.

  10. Falzy

    “No sane mother in history has ever pulled a baby away from her breast and said, ‘Woah, that’s enough, baby! Daddy and I don’t want you getting fat!'” I wouldn’t be surprised if the USDA started telling unaware mothers to do this. I also wouldn’t be surprised if mothers actually started listening to them. And lastly, I’m surprised that the USDA, the FDA, and the American Heart Association isn’t trying to ban breast milk due to its “saturated fat content.” Goodness, these lefties are making life depressing. 😛

    They’re doing the next best thing using schools to track BMI scores. All we’ll end up doing is creating kids with eating disorders.

  11. Dan

    Very Funny exchange… Seems to me Cliffy’s head is stuck in the clouds.

    I’ve just come off of a carb binge (3 days) after 3 months of low carb eating.. it’s been a nice little reminder… have been suffering (heart Burn, indigestion… wife has not been happy with me 🙂 )… back on the meat today… gut feels a lot better… when will I learn!

    One advantage of the occasional indulgence is day is that it reminds you how much better you feel when you skip the junk.

  12. Melissa Martell

    Funny I’ve got at thin son too and shucks we feed him when he’s hungry!
    I think Cliffy needs to have some kids and “real” experience beyond his own limited mentality!

    As soon as Cliffy explained that I’m an idiot (and a fat, lazy old man) and that mothers must over-feed their fat babies, I knew he couldn’t possibly have kids.

  13. Rip

    This reminds me of another key issue concerning parents and feeding…forcing their children to finish their meals when they’re full or just not hungry. Why do we do this? To prevent food from being wasted? Maybe if we didn’t put so much on our children’s plate in the first place, it wouldn’t be wasted. Give them a small amount and a little more if they’re still hungry after that. This behaviour can only damage their relationship with food throughout their lives.

    We should let appetite be the guide. The only time tell we tell our girls they have to finish dinner is they want a dessert afterwards. We noticed one of them in particular would pull the “I’m not hungry” routine and then expect dessert 20 minutes later. So we had to explain that if you’re too full to eat dinner, you’re too full for dessert.

  14. Cindy

    I have an obese friend who is a pharmacist. She truly believes that eating low carb will destroy the kidneys and she tells her customers that. She keeps trying the low-fat/high-carb diet and hits the gym 4 times per week. It isn’t working, but she refuses to look into the medical literature when we get into debates. She flat out will not do any research because she knows what she knows.

    Luckily my husband is also a pharmacist and tells his customers the exact opposite. He is an unapologetic proponent of the low-carb diet.

    I feel sorry for your friend. One of these (if she’s lucky) she’ll figure it out and then realized how many years she wasted.

  15. Peggy Cihocki

    @LisaF, You say you are on the South Beach Diet. You might want to rethink that? Yes, it’s low on the carbs, and so does work, but I believe there are problems with it that you might want to consider. Just to be fair, I’ll admit I haven’t personally tried it or read deeply into the books–my information is second hand, but from what I consider a reliable source. In their book “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”, Mary Enig and Sally Fallon called the South Beach Diet possibly “one of the more dangerous diets out there. Because it is high in protein and excludes animal fats, it can rapidly deplete vitamin A stores, resulting in numerous health problems…” Also, because it “denies the dieter any source of saturated fats, which the body needs in order to work properly”. The diet’s creator is “firmly wedded to the lipid hypothesis” and believes saturated fats are bad. If you’ve come to this site, you know or will soon learn that they are not only not evil, but totally necessary for good health.
    Tom, thanks. My kids, no thanks to me, did make it to adulthood without becoming insulin resistant or fat, though both put on some weight while in college (son) and Vet school (daughter), but a return to healthier eating with no limiting of fats, saturated or otherwise, after graduation (by that time, I knew better) fixed that for both. They continue to maintain healthy weights now, thankfully. At least I didn’t do what Jatina’s mom did to her! That’s horrible.

  16. Rebecca Latham

    I have four sisters. We all ate the same things (high carb, high fat 1960s food) in the same portions. As children and teens, we were all different weights, from fat to painfully thin. And we all got the same amount of exercise, too – running around, playing baseball, riding bikes, swimming and at school, calisthenics.

    I raised two children and fed them what I thought was healthy (high carb, low fat 1960s food) in equal portion sizes. They got the same amount of exercise. My son is now 34 and has been thin to normal his whole life. My daughter started getting plump when she was 12 and never stopped. By the time she was 18, she was around 30 pounds overweight. We lost her at that age, and I have always suspected that she was headed toward obesity.

    I also have guilty feelings about how I fed both the kids, although it didn’t seem to hurt my son much. I did the best I could with the available knowledge at the time.

    I saw the same thing with my friends. One was as lean and cut as any body-builder, but ate like a horse. His brother, a year older, was pudgy and didn’t eat any more as far as I could tell.

    I’m sorry to hear about your daughter.

  17. Charlie Shaughnessy

    Yeah, youtube commenters are often the worst. Fairly frequently, I get lots of hilarious comments that have nothing to do with the video on my youtube channel shortly after I post it. And don’t even try arguing with the person, because their identity is forever going to be unknown so they can say whatever dumb shit they want.

    Anonymity does breed a certain brand of false courage.

  18. Falzy

    “No sane mother in history has ever pulled a baby away from her breast and said, ‘Woah, that’s enough, baby! Daddy and I don’t want you getting fat!’” I wouldn’t be surprised if the USDA started telling unaware mothers to do this. I also wouldn’t be surprised if mothers actually started listening to them. And lastly, I’m surprised that the USDA, the FDA, and the American Heart Association isn’t trying to ban breast milk due to its “saturated fat content.” Goodness, these lefties are making life depressing. 😛

    They’re doing the next best thing using schools to track BMI scores. All we’ll end up doing is creating kids with eating disorders.

  19. Dan

    Very Funny exchange… Seems to me Cliffy’s head is stuck in the clouds.

    I’ve just come off of a carb binge (3 days) after 3 months of low carb eating.. it’s been a nice little reminder… have been suffering (heart Burn, indigestion… wife has not been happy with me 🙂 )… back on the meat today… gut feels a lot better… when will I learn!

    One advantage of the occasional indulgence is day is that it reminds you how much better you feel when you skip the junk.

  20. Walter

    I haven’t gotten any further than:

    I’ll also bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts)

    That’s my phrase! I’ve never heard/seen anyone but me put the parenthetical “and you can keep the donuts” after “I’ll bet you dollars to donuts” before.

    Sometime I’ll also use the parenthetical “without checking the price of donuts”.

    Back to reading the post.

    Great minds thinking alike.

  21. Walter

    Whether you argue depends on the context. I posted this in the Gary Taubes comments not to convince the poster ahead of me that “all things in moderation” is wrong, but to give those reading a different perspective:

    As someone who changed his diet 11 years ago and greatly improved his health, I’d just like to say that everyone who advocated a balanced approach or moderation did me no favors.

    I have no time for all things in moderation or balance. I have no time for a calorie is a calorie. Calories matter and macronutrient content also matters. Frankly I think macronutrient content matters more and that not all members of a macronutrient class are the same i.e. a carb is not a carb, fructose is different from glucose etc.

  22. Cindy

    I have an obese friend who is a pharmacist. She truly believes that eating low carb will destroy the kidneys and she tells her customers that. She keeps trying the low-fat/high-carb diet and hits the gym 4 times per week. It isn’t working, but she refuses to look into the medical literature when we get into debates. She flat out will not do any research because she knows what she knows.

    Luckily my husband is also a pharmacist and tells his customers the exact opposite. He is an unapologetic proponent of the low-carb diet.

    I feel sorry for your friend. One of these (if she’s lucky) she’ll figure it out and then realized how many years she wasted.

  23. Lisa Sargese

    My pediatrician told my mother I was a few pounds overweight when I was 5 years old. He told her she should put me on skim milk. This led to enforced dieting and my mother actually saying the words, “that’s enough now, you want to get fat?”

    I got fat anyway.
    I sneaked food whenever I could.
    I developed a binge eating disorder.

    I’ve been death fat (morbidly obese) since I was 23 which is the age
    when I moved out of my parents’ house and began to make my own food choices.

    Three weight loss surgeries later, I’m still death fat.

    What would life have been like for me if I had been able to eat to appetite
    with no guilt, no shame, no judgment?

    I’m sorry to hear that.

  24. Walter

    I haven’t gotten any further than:

    I’ll also bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts)

    That’s my phrase! I’ve never heard/seen anyone but me put the parenthetical “and you can keep the donuts” after “I’ll bet you dollars to donuts” before.

    Sometime I’ll also use the parenthetical “without checking the price of donuts”.

    Back to reading the post.

    Great minds thinking alike.

  25. Walter

    Whether you argue depends on the context. I posted this in the Gary Taubes comments not to convince the poster ahead of me that “all things in moderation” is wrong, but to give those reading a different perspective:

    As someone who changed his diet 11 years ago and greatly improved his health, I’d just like to say that everyone who advocated a balanced approach or moderation did me no favors.

    I have no time for all things in moderation or balance. I have no time for a calorie is a calorie. Calories matter and macronutrient content also matters. Frankly I think macronutrient content matters more and that not all members of a macronutrient class are the same i.e. a carb is not a carb, fructose is different from glucose etc.

  26. Lisa Sargese

    My pediatrician told my mother I was a few pounds overweight when I was 5 years old. He told her she should put me on skim milk. This led to enforced dieting and my mother actually saying the words, “that’s enough now, you want to get fat?”

    I got fat anyway.
    I sneaked food whenever I could.
    I developed a binge eating disorder.

    I’ve been death fat (morbidly obese) since I was 23 which is the age
    when I moved out of my parents’ house and began to make my own food choices.

    Three weight loss surgeries later, I’m still death fat.

    What would life have been like for me if I had been able to eat to appetite
    with no guilt, no shame, no judgment?

    I’m sorry to hear that.

  27. Christine Davis

    Very happy for this post, becuase since I’ve seen your documentary and read WWGF, in less than 40 days I feel like a new person. I liked the dialouge between you and your wife about not counting calories, just not eating stupid tlivestock feed we’ve been told. It’s actually easy to keep the sweet tooth in check- When Your Not Hungry and Grumpy all the Time!
    I just want to clarify one more time, because I really think you know what you’re talking about, but my friends don’t think I know what I’m talking about. So, a couple sausage patties with melted cheese for breakfast, about a 2 cup chef salad for lunch with homemade italian dressing (olive oil & spices)eggs, olives, lunchmeat, and a little more cheese, maybe some leftover meatballs with it, some avocado, planters peanuts for a snack, and pork chops and green beans cooked with bacon for supper……That’s not “Too much Fat”, is it? I mean, I don’t look for lean meat, and we eat the fat. And I feel great. It just seems like normal eating to me, something I haven’t done in about 35 years. I just don’t want someone TO listen to me, and my thinking is a little skewed, like it’s supposed to be “fat IN MODERATION” or something. And I don’t mean spooning up a bucket of butter sitting on the couch. Thanks if you reply.

    No, that’s not too much fat. If you stick to natural fats, they’re good for you.

  28. Jeanne

    I’m one of 4 sisters. Me and my 3 older sisters were fairly lean, growing up, but my youngest sister had weight problems her whole life. It was a puzzle to me, since Mom fed us all the same, but, looking at pictures of her when she was pregnant with #4, made me wonder if she had gestational diabetes and passed on insulin resistance to my youngest sister, thereby, unintentionally, for a life time of weight problems.

    That’s entirely possible.

  29. Christine Davis

    Very happy for this post, becuase since I’ve seen your documentary and read WWGF, in less than 40 days I feel like a new person. I liked the dialouge between you and your wife about not counting calories, just not eating stupid tlivestock feed we’ve been told. It’s actually easy to keep the sweet tooth in check- When Your Not Hungry and Grumpy all the Time!
    I just want to clarify one more time, because I really think you know what you’re talking about, but my friends don’t think I know what I’m talking about. So, a couple sausage patties with melted cheese for breakfast, about a 2 cup chef salad for lunch with homemade italian dressing (olive oil & spices)eggs, olives, lunchmeat, and a little more cheese, maybe some leftover meatballs with it, some avocado, planters peanuts for a snack, and pork chops and green beans cooked with bacon for supper……That’s not “Too much Fat”, is it? I mean, I don’t look for lean meat, and we eat the fat. And I feel great. It just seems like normal eating to me, something I haven’t done in about 35 years. I just don’t want someone TO listen to me, and my thinking is a little skewed, like it’s supposed to be “fat IN MODERATION” or something. And I don’t mean spooning up a bucket of butter sitting on the couch. Thanks if you reply.

    No, that’s not too much fat. If you stick to natural fats, they’re good for you.

  30. Western Sky

    Loved your line about ‘being born on the finish line.’ I have lived for several years now with guys that can pound down cake, pastries, beer, chips, bread, and pasta without ever gaining a singe pound and looking pretty generally incredible. Oh to have been born on the finish line.

    They are also vegetarians…meat ‘brings them down spiritually’. Sigh….. But cake, pastries, beer, chips, bread, and pasta apparently help them maintain some kind of advanced spiritual existence. Blah.

    One of my good friends in Chicago was born on the finish line. We were both single at the time and met for dinner frequently. He matched me burger for burger, burrito for burrito, beer for beer. He’d often order dessert, while I rarely did. I worked out more often then he did. He was lean, I wasn’t. And yet he assumed his physique was a testament to his discipline. I could only respond by kicking his skinny butt every time we played golf.

  31. Jeanne

    I’m one of 4 sisters. Me and my 3 older sisters were fairly lean, growing up, but my youngest sister had weight problems her whole life. It was a puzzle to me, since Mom fed us all the same, but, looking at pictures of her when she was pregnant with #4, made me wonder if she had gestational diabetes and passed on insulin resistance to my youngest sister, thereby, unintentionally, for a life time of weight problems.

    That’s entirely possible.

  32. Western Sky

    Loved your line about ‘being born on the finish line.’ I have lived for several years now with guys that can pound down cake, pastries, beer, chips, bread, and pasta without ever gaining a singe pound and looking pretty generally incredible. Oh to have been born on the finish line.

    They are also vegetarians…meat ‘brings them down spiritually’. Sigh….. But cake, pastries, beer, chips, bread, and pasta apparently help them maintain some kind of advanced spiritual existence. Blah.

    One of my good friends in Chicago was born on the finish line. We were both single at the time and met for dinner frequently. He matched me burger for burger, burrito for burrito, beer for beer. He’d often order dessert, while I rarely did. I worked out more often then he did. He was lean, I wasn’t. And yet he assumed his physique was a testament to his discipline. I could only respond by kicking his skinny butt every time we played golf.

  33. dave

    Lmao this is ridiculous you basically said “being hungry is the symptom but hormonal imbalance is the cause.” Ok you might be right. However the point still stands even if you crave food if you choose not to eat you will not gain fat. So how do you simply choose not to eat? By not eating. I used to be 21-22% Bodyfat from age 14 (the first time we got it measured) till age 19 at which point I began a rigorous weight lifting and dieting routine. I dropped to 11% Bodyfat where i am currently. My body is constantly hungry even though I eat at a maintenance level of about 2500 calories a day. You’re right my body does signal me to eat more and i absolutely CRAVE food. But you know what I do? I just ignore the pain because having abs but being hungry is far better than being fat but being full.

    So cliffy said it incorrectly and he was a little insensitive but at the end it comes down to your ability to withstand hunger pain. If you have the guts to withstand it, you will be lean no matter what. In fact I am on the way to cutting down to 8% Bodyfat because I want fitness model abs. Yes, that’s me, a person who has been in the low 20s% bodyfat and had a 34 inch waist from as far back as I can remember who now has a 28 inch waist. Was it hard? Yes. Do I go to sleep craving food and very hungry? Yes. Is it worth it? You bet it’s worth it.

    Please respond to this comment.

    Again, you are absolutely right, people crave different amounts of food and have different metabolisms. So what? Suck it up and eat less. You will be starving, so what? If you want to look like the men in the magazines you do what you have to.

    If only it were that easy. Create a fuel shortage that you cannot fill by burning your own body fat, and your body has two choices: 1) use less fuel (slow the metabolism) or 2) find alternate fuel (digest muscle mass). That’ll happen even if you horsewhip yourself into withstanding the hunger pains. You work out frequently, which improved your insulin sensitivity and increased glucose uptake, so (fortunately) you have solved the hormonal issues. Based on your results, you can clearly tap your body fat, even if you feel hungry while doing it.

    But that doesn’t mean what worked for you works for everyone. Many, many dieters who’ve forced themselves to endure hunger have ended up with slower metabolisms and smaller muscles as a result. A recent study of former “Biggest Loser” contestants found that many of them now have depressed metabolisms. That’s the last thing a fat person needs.

  34. dave

    Lmao this is ridiculous you basically said “being hungry is the symptom but hormonal imbalance is the cause.” Ok you might be right. However the point still stands even if you crave food if you choose not to eat you will not gain fat. So how do you simply choose not to eat? By not eating. I used to be 21-22% Bodyfat from age 14 (the first time we got it measured) till age 19 at which point I began a rigorous weight lifting and dieting routine. I dropped to 11% Bodyfat where i am currently. My body is constantly hungry even though I eat at a maintenance level of about 2500 calories a day. You’re right my body does signal me to eat more and i absolutely CRAVE food. But you know what I do? I just ignore the pain because having abs but being hungry is far better than being fat but being full.

    So cliffy said it incorrectly and he was a little insensitive but at the end it comes down to your ability to withstand hunger pain. If you have the guts to withstand it, you will be lean no matter what. In fact I am on the way to cutting down to 8% Bodyfat because I want fitness model abs. Yes, that’s me, a person who has been in the low 20s% bodyfat and had a 34 inch waist from as far back as I can remember who now has a 28 inch waist. Was it hard? Yes. Do I go to sleep craving food and very hungry? Yes. Is it worth it? You bet it’s worth it.

    Please respond to this comment.

    Again, you are absolutely right, people crave different amounts of food and have different metabolisms. So what? Suck it up and eat less. You will be starving, so what? If you want to look like the men in the magazines you do what you have to.

    If only it were that easy. Create a fuel shortage that you cannot fill by burning your own body fat, and your body has two choices: 1) use less fuel (slow the metabolism) or 2) find alternate fuel (digest muscle mass). That’ll happen even if you horsewhip yourself into withstanding the hunger pains. You work out frequently, which improved your insulin sensitivity and increased glucose uptake, so (fortunately) you have solved the hormonal issues. Based on your results, you can clearly tap your body fat, even if you feel hungry while doing it.

    But that doesn’t mean what worked for you works for everyone. Many, many dieters who’ve forced themselves to endure hunger have ended up with slower metabolisms and smaller muscles as a result. A recent study of former “Biggest Loser” contestants found that many of them now have depressed metabolisms. That’s the last thing a fat person needs.

  35. Picky

    Reading your post I saw that you mention “Full-fat yogurt.” Can you tell me what kind of yogurt you get, because I’ve looked in two local grocery stores, and the ONLY full fat yogurt I can find is “Stonyfield Farm” plain yogurt (no flavors offered). And that yogurt was loaded with carbs, too. Can you recommend a brand?

    It’s some Greek-style yogurt my wife picks up. There’s none in the fridge at the moment and she (unlike yours truly) goes to sleep at a reasonable hour. I’ll ask her to let chime in and let you know.

  36. David H

    As someone strangely born on the finish line as part of a mostly overweight family I can’t testify any weight loss from eating more meat. But my mood is great and I’m full on Two meals a day. Tons of eggs and butter for breakfast, and usually a meaty stew for dinner, compared to usually a Mountain of rice I needed to feel full. For those not on the finish line, i can totally see the mountain of rice being the problem. I’m especially worried about an uncle using a new powder that blocks fat absorbtion, that just means he’s gonna eat more starch and sugar. I know exactly how you feel when you suggest fat isn’t the problem you’re called an idiot. At least I got my dad and grandma to lose weight, now if only i could get my mom’s side to listen. (How do you convince people Tom? HOW??? I really don’t want my uncle to be eating that poison that blocks fat absorption, my cousins deserve a dad that will live long to see them at graduations and weddings)

    That’s a tough one. I’m afraid we just have to bless some people and let them go. I have friends with health problems who still believe their low-fat, grain-based diets are good for them and can’t possibly be the cause.

  37. Rose

    I am heading down this road with my son and I really don’t know what to do. From the second he was born, he was ALWAYS hungry. He was breastfed exclusively until 5 months old, then had a combination of solids and breastmilk until he was 13 months old. I followed the advice of letting his appetite guide him, until at his two year old check up, when I had strips torn off me by the nurse for ‘letting’ him become obese at such a young age. Now at this stage we were eating similar to a SAD, although with much less sugar and processed food (ie we didn’t eat cookies, juice, ‘packet’ food etc). So, since then (he is now 5) I have monitored everything he eats. I too, tell him he’s had enough (just like Lisa’s mother above) and I don’t let him eat every time he gets hungry (he is still ALWAYS hungry). I don’t want him to become someone who eats in secret or develops binge problems, but I don’t know what to do. I feel like I am damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Either I go back to letting his appetite guide him (which I am terrified of doing, as I worry he’ll get bigger and bigger and I don’t want him to go through school being a fat kid like I was), or I continue to monitor and control what he eats, in which case it sounds like he’ll still be fat, but with an eating disorder. In the last year, we have switched to eating a mostly paleo type diet. My son is no longer considered obese, but still overweight.

    Sorry to hi-jack your thread with this Tom, but you have such a wide range of readers that I thought someone may have advice / thoughts they could share with me.

    It’s not hijacking; this is an important issue. My advice would be to stick to the paleo diet and see if his appetite normalizes. Other parents who’ve been through this, please chime in.

  38. Rose

    I am heading down this road with my son and I really don’t know what to do. From the second he was born, he was ALWAYS hungry. He was breastfed exclusively until 5 months old, then had a combination of solids and breastmilk until he was 13 months old. I followed the advice of letting his appetite guide him, until at his two year old check up, when I had strips torn off me by the nurse for ‘letting’ him become obese at such a young age. Now at this stage we were eating similar to a SAD, although with much less sugar and processed food (ie we didn’t eat cookies, juice, ‘packet’ food etc). So, since then (he is now 5) I have monitored everything he eats. I too, tell him he’s had enough (just like Lisa’s mother above) and I don’t let him eat every time he gets hungry (he is still ALWAYS hungry). I don’t want him to become someone who eats in secret or develops binge problems, but I don’t know what to do. I feel like I am damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Either I go back to letting his appetite guide him (which I am terrified of doing, as I worry he’ll get bigger and bigger and I don’t want him to go through school being a fat kid like I was), or I continue to monitor and control what he eats, in which case it sounds like he’ll still be fat, but with an eating disorder. In the last year, we have switched to eating a mostly paleo type diet. My son is no longer considered obese, but still overweight.

    Sorry to hi-jack your thread with this Tom, but you have such a wide range of readers that I thought someone may have advice / thoughts they could share with me.

    It’s not hijacking; this is an important issue. My advice would be to stick to the paleo diet and see if his appetite normalizes. Other parents who’ve been through this, please chime in.

  39. Charise

    This REALLY hit home with me:

    “Unfortunately, some naturally-lean people can’t help but assume they’re not fat because of their superior character and discipline. Metabolically, they were born on the finish line, but think they won a race. Worse, some think being born on the finish line qualifies them to teach others how to win the race, too.”

    When I chose to do CrossFit for 4 months (stupidly without changing my eating habits) I promptly GAINED fat and inches and my 115-pound 15% bodyfat 5’8″ female coach promptly told me “if you really wanted to lose weight, you would conquer your sugar cravings.” I don’t have a problem with the advice, but her accusing me of “not wanting it enough” to fight sugar cravings that were worse than a cocaine addiction really pissed me off! She’s NEVER had to struggle with weight, and my husband is the same. They seem to think that just because they’re not fat or ever struggled with food, that they somehow have discipline.

    Sorry. Sore spot!

    I feel ya. Those people annoy me. At least my wife and son both know they’re lean because their bodies resist putting on fat.

  40. tracker

    @Sierra, “Just a note: Jillian Michaels was a heavy teen so I don’t think that she was born at the finish line.”

    That’s Jillian’s story and she’s sticking to it. I saw a picture of her (or rather supposedly her… I know too much about how photoshop can make someone look completely different to believe anything I see), she was 12 and would be what I call a bit chubby and out of shape. She was definitely not obese. It’s bullshit. She doesn’t have a hormone imbalance. She was also probably on the cusp of puberty at the age of twelve which makes whatever she was going through absolutely irrelevant to most everyone who is not currently going through puberty, what with the raging hormones and all.

  41. LS

    Rose, my son is a bit younger (2), but he sounds very similar to your son. I nursed exclusively for 6 months, and even then, he wanted to eat *constantly*. It was exhausting lol. I continued nursing (w/ solids) until 1.5 years.
    Now, he wants to eat all day. Literally, this morning, he ate half a crustless quiche and half a loaf of coconut bread. Then he asked for a snack a few hours later. People are always commenting on how much I “let him eat”. He’s hungry!! I oblige 99% of the time (sometimes I think he’s just bored or sees something that he thinks looks good). I justify it because I make EVERYTHING from scratch, and we don’t eat grains and very little dairy (he gets homemade yogurt and cheese sparingly). He has so much energy, more than any of the other kids his age and is very smart (I know, all moms say this about their kids 😉 ). He is average in size, even on the small side. I am not particularly thin nor is his father naturally thin, so I don’t *think* it is genetics. I literally think he just eats that much to meet his energy needs. He never stops moving! Anyway, I guess my advice is to try and allow him to eat to his appetite on a paleoish diet and see if it regulates itself (same suggestion as Tom gave). Maybe you’ll find that he’ll have extra energy to burn off, or that he can’t consume as much. I guess it can’t hurt to try for maybe 3 months and see how it works out for you…? Even adults find they often self regulate their intake on a lowish carb, real food diet. Good luck!!

  42. Charise

    This REALLY hit home with me:

    “Unfortunately, some naturally-lean people can’t help but assume they’re not fat because of their superior character and discipline. Metabolically, they were born on the finish line, but think they won a race. Worse, some think being born on the finish line qualifies them to teach others how to win the race, too.”

    When I chose to do CrossFit for 4 months (stupidly without changing my eating habits) I promptly GAINED fat and inches and my 115-pound 15% bodyfat 5’8″ female coach promptly told me “if you really wanted to lose weight, you would conquer your sugar cravings.” I don’t have a problem with the advice, but her accusing me of “not wanting it enough” to fight sugar cravings that were worse than a cocaine addiction really pissed me off! She’s NEVER had to struggle with weight, and my husband is the same. They seem to think that just because they’re not fat or ever struggled with food, that they somehow have discipline.

    Sorry. Sore spot!

    I feel ya. Those people annoy me. At least my wife and son both know they’re lean because their bodies resist putting on fat.

  43. LS

    Sorry, just came back to add really quick that I don’t do structured “meal times”, so, though it may sound like he’s gluttonous, we will sometimes skip lunch or dinner, or some days he may eat a ghastly amount of food, and not eat much the next. All in all, I think he does probably eat quite a bit more than most kids his age/size, but he also never stops moving, so it evens out.

  44. LS

    Rose, my son is a bit younger (2), but he sounds very similar to your son. I nursed exclusively for 6 months, and even then, he wanted to eat *constantly*. It was exhausting lol. I continued nursing (w/ solids) until 1.5 years.
    Now, he wants to eat all day. Literally, this morning, he ate half a crustless quiche and half a loaf of coconut bread. Then he asked for a snack a few hours later. People are always commenting on how much I “let him eat”. He’s hungry!! I oblige 99% of the time (sometimes I think he’s just bored or sees something that he thinks looks good). I justify it because I make EVERYTHING from scratch, and we don’t eat grains and very little dairy (he gets homemade yogurt and cheese sparingly). He has so much energy, more than any of the other kids his age and is very smart (I know, all moms say this about their kids 😉 ). He is average in size, even on the small side. I am not particularly thin nor is his father naturally thin, so I don’t *think* it is genetics. I literally think he just eats that much to meet his energy needs. He never stops moving! Anyway, I guess my advice is to try and allow him to eat to his appetite on a paleoish diet and see if it regulates itself (same suggestion as Tom gave). Maybe you’ll find that he’ll have extra energy to burn off, or that he can’t consume as much. I guess it can’t hurt to try for maybe 3 months and see how it works out for you…? Even adults find they often self regulate their intake on a lowish carb, real food diet. Good luck!!

  45. LS

    Sorry, just came back to add really quick that I don’t do structured “meal times”, so, though it may sound like he’s gluttonous, we will sometimes skip lunch or dinner, or some days he may eat a ghastly amount of food, and not eat much the next. All in all, I think he does probably eat quite a bit more than most kids his age/size, but he also never stops moving, so it evens out.

  46. Me

    I’d say a bunch of crap from the cliffy guy.. As well as the writer.
    I mean, sure you are absolutely right that people are different by the how-easy-do-i-get-fat scale, but there’s not a person who has the right to say “I can’t get lean because this is what I am and this is my body style, it’s impossible for me to lose weight”. Sure people who have been balancing and fighting with their weight for their whole life are getting pissed at people who can eat anything and still be lean, while telling others how lazy they are when they are fat. I understand this. Let’s say for most of my friends as well as some of my relatives, they can eat anything they like, as much as they like and they won’t gain weight even if they don’t excercise even the slightest bit.
    With me, on the other hand, it’s the quite opposite. If I don’t excercise and I eat even a little treats – or even if I just eat a little too much meat and vegetables (and other so called good food), I’ll instantly gain weight. This is me, I cannot change it and I’ve accepted it.
    And the baby part. I was overweight as a baby and always the “big” one. Before I could even walk, the doctors told my parents that I should be put on a diet because I was so fat. Well whatcha know, not a week later I started walking – and weight problems? Not anymore. I got lean(er) because I just walked and sprinted everywhere and didn’t stay foot one second.

    So; due my fattening if i don’t do sports or excercise, I “instantly” start gaining weight. But I am fit right now. Why? The same thing as the baby part. I excercise. I’ve accepted the fact that I gain weight if i don’t excercise even when eating pretty normally. So I excercise 1-3 hours a day normal things like going for a walk or walking dog or etc. And every single day I do weightlifting and swimming or I go to my american football or wrestling or mixed martial arts or any other training I have. This will quarantee me burning those calories. And yeas, hence i can eat as much as I want, while staying in a perfect shape and fit.
    And yeas, it takes most of my whole day but so-fucking-what. It’s your life on the line, it’s your job to do 🙂 No one else is going to do it for you.
    So here you have it. An overweight baby to a grown up with weight problems when eating even the most healthiest food —> to a persons in a shape of his life even when eating as much as I want. Just with simple plain old excercising.

    There is no shortcut to this: burned calories(your own metabolism as well as the amount of calories you burned while excercising) – consumed calories = weight loss/gain.
    This is as simple as it gets.
    You eat more what you burn = weight gain
    You eat less what you burn = weight loss

    So why can some people eat much more without getting any weight than other people ever could? Because as stated before, burning calories varies from the calories burned excercicing and from their own metabolism. Some people have a fast metabolism, some have slower (as I have). Just deal with it and for crying out loud don’t go “this is just me I am naturally big, I can’t lose weight easily”.

    I had a lot of other stuff to discuss about the things you’ve written as well as the Cliffy guys words, but I came to a sudden point or aknowledgeing (is that even a word?) of me spending my precious time writing this when you have google.

    So that’s my two cents. Do a flip.

    Well worth the two cents.

  47. Tangerine

    You know there’s a Jillian Michaels advertisement on your page, right?

    Google places some rather inappropriate ads in those spaces.

  48. Sarah

    One of my kids favorite snack is whipped cream with a little bit of vanilla in it. They love it and so do I. A few months ago, I remember whenever I would make pancakes and whipped cream, I was always so concerned with how much whipped cream they would put on top of the pancakes. I’d say, “ok, enough cream…no, you can’t have anymore…that’s too much.”

    Now I realize that it should have been the other way around. “That is enough pancakes, why don’t you just eat cream.”

    Now when they have pancakes made with coconut flour, I let them have as much whipped cream as they want.

    I used to eat pancakes with no butter, but of course extra syrup to make them edible. I shudder to think …

  49. Me

    I’d say a bunch of crap from the cliffy guy.. As well as the writer.
    I mean, sure you are absolutely right that people are different by the how-easy-do-i-get-fat scale, but there’s not a person who has the right to say “I can’t get lean because this is what I am and this is my body style, it’s impossible for me to lose weight”. Sure people who have been balancing and fighting with their weight for their whole life are getting pissed at people who can eat anything and still be lean, while telling others how lazy they are when they are fat. I understand this. Let’s say for most of my friends as well as some of my relatives, they can eat anything they like, as much as they like and they won’t gain weight even if they don’t excercise even the slightest bit.
    With me, on the other hand, it’s the quite opposite. If I don’t excercise and I eat even a little treats – or even if I just eat a little too much meat and vegetables (and other so called good food), I’ll instantly gain weight. This is me, I cannot change it and I’ve accepted it.
    And the baby part. I was overweight as a baby and always the “big” one. Before I could even walk, the doctors told my parents that I should be put on a diet because I was so fat. Well whatcha know, not a week later I started walking – and weight problems? Not anymore. I got lean(er) because I just walked and sprinted everywhere and didn’t stay foot one second.

    So; due my fattening if i don’t do sports or excercise, I “instantly” start gaining weight. But I am fit right now. Why? The same thing as the baby part. I excercise. I’ve accepted the fact that I gain weight if i don’t excercise even when eating pretty normally. So I excercise 1-3 hours a day normal things like going for a walk or walking dog or etc. And every single day I do weightlifting and swimming or I go to my american football or wrestling or mixed martial arts or any other training I have. This will quarantee me burning those calories. And yeas, hence i can eat as much as I want, while staying in a perfect shape and fit.
    And yeas, it takes most of my whole day but so-fucking-what. It’s your life on the line, it’s your job to do 🙂 No one else is going to do it for you.
    So here you have it. An overweight baby to a grown up with weight problems when eating even the most healthiest food —> to a persons in a shape of his life even when eating as much as I want. Just with simple plain old excercising.

    There is no shortcut to this: burned calories(your own metabolism as well as the amount of calories you burned while excercising) – consumed calories = weight loss/gain.
    This is as simple as it gets.
    You eat more what you burn = weight gain
    You eat less what you burn = weight loss

    So why can some people eat much more without getting any weight than other people ever could? Because as stated before, burning calories varies from the calories burned excercicing and from their own metabolism. Some people have a fast metabolism, some have slower (as I have). Just deal with it and for crying out loud don’t go “this is just me I am naturally big, I can’t lose weight easily”.

    I had a lot of other stuff to discuss about the things you’ve written as well as the Cliffy guys words, but I came to a sudden point or aknowledgeing (is that even a word?) of me spending my precious time writing this when you have google.

    So that’s my two cents. Do a flip.

    Well worth the two cents.

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