How A Fit Trainer Got Fat

      116 Comments on How A Fit Trainer Got Fat

I’ve got a podcast interview coming up in less than an hour, so time is short tonight, but I wanted to share this:

A personal trainer is making himself obese – on purpose.  (And to think most obese people sort of stumble into it … sheesh.)  As an online article explains:

Since May, Drew Manning has gained about 70 pounds on purpose. And he’s not done yet.

Drew is a personal trainer and has always been the “fit guy.” He’s now on a journey he calls Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit where he spends six months (he has about 4 weeks left) eating  unhealthy food and not exercising, then he will take six more months to get fit again. Why? To experience for himself what it’s like to be overweight, how tough it is to lose weight, and ultimately show others how to get fit.

I admire Mr. Manning for making the effort to understand what his clients go through, but I’m not sure making himself fat for six months will do the trick.  He may, unlike many of his clients, still lose weight easily once the experiment is over.  It’ll be interesting to see if there are any follow-up stories once he starts trying to shed the pounds.  Maybe Jimmy Moore can get him to talk about it on a future podcast.

The most interesting part to me, of course, is how Mr. Manning is making himself fat.  Here’s what he had to say:

To some extent, all of these foods that I’m eating (sugary cereals, granola bars, juices, white breads, white pastas, sodas, crackers, chips, frozen dinners, mac n cheese, etc.) taste delicious. But then I feel like crap later on and I get hungry again and crave those same foods.

What, no bacon?  No sausage?  No cream?  Replace the sodas with 1% chocolate milk, and the diet that put 70 pounds on this guy could pass for the lunch menu at your local public school.

I wonder if Michelle Obama and the other obesity experts are following this story …


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116 thoughts on “How A Fit Trainer Got Fat

  1. chuck

    this is a get fat experiment done by someone who knows how to get fat. unfortunately, this same knowledge isn’t used by many to people to lose fat.

  2. Boyd

    I think the milk is mandated to be skim now. Chocolate or white.

    Now than you mention it, I believe those are the new mandates. Sugar for chocolate milk is okay … just no fat.

  3. Jeff C.

    As a former too-fat (not obese) person, who feels and looks 10x better doing IF and quasi-Paleo, I still find myself fantasizing about binging the way this trainer is binging. Drakes Coffee Cakes! Waffles with syrup and butter! English muffins! The power of food reward is strong.

  4. A @ Grain Free Diet

    I tried to get onto his site, but I got a bandwidth exceeded error message. Does anyone know if he’s also checking his bloodwork while he’s doing this? I’d be interested to see how that changes while he makes the transition.

  5. Drew @ Willpower Is For Fat Pe

    Whenever I see those diet pill ads with the before and after photos, I wonder, “How did she know before she lost the weight exactly what size bikini she’d be needing after?”

    Am I cynical to believe that they take fit people and have them gain weight for the photos? Even if the after photos really are after they take the weight back off, like this guy is doing, that’s still not the same as people who have gotten fat slowly finally getting fit.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he shows up in before/after photos for some supplement, pill or program.

    Let’s hope that’s not why he’s doing this.

  6. Ernie

    “Replace the sodas with 1% chocolate milk, and the diet that put 70 pounds on this guy could pass for the lunch menu at your local public school.”

    Wow! Drive it home Tom! You hit the nail on the head there.

    BTW. I’ve lost 70 lbs now eating fat and cutting carbs and grains. You have forever changed my eating habits. Thank you so much for your work.

    Thank you for reading. That’s what makes this fun.

  7. the cottage child

    That’s disturbing. I hope this isn’t another (eat 62 million gross things/ throw up/ gain weight stunt) misguided attempt at documentary film making. I do appreciate how he makes plain the feel bad/still want more dynamic of the SAD. It’s SAD.

    The last public school lunch my children ever ate was the day I saw the nice lunch lady pouring blue sugared powdered drink mix over the applesauce. When I asked why, she answered that 1) it was a required dietary element for calories and vitamin C, and that 2) the kids would eat more of it because it was blue. When I picked my girls up from school that day: blue teeth. I guess the lunch lady was right. We home school now, including lunch.

    Good lord …

  8. Galina L.

    Granola bars and cereals are good choices. I can also attest the effectiveness of substituting red meat with some soy products if you want to gain weight as I did while trying to follow Dr.Weill’s advice. Looks like it also works on Dr. himself as well ,keeping him in the Santa Claus shape.

  9. Patricia

    Holy crap! Why would he do that to himself?! It wouldn’t take me six months to get like that . . . I’m much more efficient at getting it done! All I have to do is eat the RECOMMENDED amount of whole healthy grains and I’m there practically overnight.

    I agree, Tom, he probably won’t have much of an issue getting it off. If he’s been fit and lean all his life, his body’s going to want to return to that state a.s.a.p. Getting fat for a short period of time is not going to make him appreciate what his overweight clients go through if he doesn’t struggle to get it off.

    Hmmm, I wonder if he’s going to publish a more specific list of what he’s eating to put on the weight with breakdown of calories, carbs, fats, etc. Wanna bet that when it comes down to it, it’s probably a fairly low saturated fat diet? (With a high level of those healthy polyunsaturated fats.)

  10. Liz

    That’s some pretty gutsy move–I don’t wish frustratingly slow weight loss on anyone, but there are so many people who don’t know what that’s like. So in a weird way I’m glad he’s going to experience just how long it takes to get fit when you were fat first. It’s def going to make him a more compassionate trainer. I sure hope he is openly honest about the food that helped make him fat, as well as what helped make him fit.

  11. C

    Omg, I just read that article. Ikr! I was expecting to see a bunch of fatty foods, but that was surprising. If only he did it with a diet of whole grains, non-fat dairy, and stuff. Still, granola bars, juice, and cereal are generally considered “good”. IN YOUR FACE, USDA!

  12. Keith

    I know some bodybuilders, including one who is 66, who has been doing it for 45+years and owns his own gym. He has always eaten very low carb, and instructs his members to do the same. He has known for a very long time that carbs can make us fat more than anything else, including things like whole grain bread and the things others thought were healthy. I just thought that was interesting, although there may be more to it.

    I knew a couple of body-builders in college, and they restricted carbs when they wanted to get cut.

  13. Simon

    It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. It’s nice to see even the trainers agree that Fat is not the evil culprite.
    I have to agree, grains and stuff do not keep me feeling full for long and I get a massive “UGH” feeling not long after, like something’s missing.

  14. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    That’s an admirable effort to demonstrate how a low fat, sugary diet can make you gain weight, but he’s probably going to end up permanently hardening his arteries as a result. Some things just can’t be reversed, even with a ketogenic diet.

    Let’s hope the damage is minimal.

  15. Kati

    Love it!! I always felt so hungry after eating these very foods and would even start feeling cold in my extremities, and then wonder why I couldn’t seem to get away from eating these things before switching to a whole foods/low carb (an est 50 grams/day) way of eating. I am appreciative of this guy packing on pounds and crediting it to his bad, refined carb-laden diet, and not merely the semi-slowed metabolism he’s probably temporarily given himself by not exercising and eating the junk.

  16. Tim

    “…..the diet that put 70 pounds on this guy could pass for the lunch menu at your local public school….” Very impacting statement. Thanks again for your blog/movie/interviews!

  17. Beowulf

    I’m mixed on my view of this one, and it would be very interesting to get a detailed post about exactly what he was eating before he launched this experiment. One downside is that he’s implementing white bread and white pasta as if eating whole wheat versions of those are somehow spectacularly better for you. Same goes for the crackers and sugary cereals. Most people would agree that cheeze-its and trix are bad for you, but those same individuals would proclaim the benefits of kashi multi grain crackers and shredded wheat. When you body breaks that stuff down, there’s not much difference.

  18. chuck

    this is a get fat experiment done by someone who knows how to get fat. unfortunately, this same knowledge isn’t used by many to people to lose fat.

  19. Boyd

    I think the milk is mandated to be skim now. Chocolate or white.

    Now than you mention it, I believe those are the new mandates. Sugar for chocolate milk is okay … just no fat.

  20. Jeff C.

    As a former too-fat (not obese) person, who feels and looks 10x better doing IF and quasi-Paleo, I still find myself fantasizing about binging the way this trainer is binging. Drakes Coffee Cakes! Waffles with syrup and butter! English muffins! The power of food reward is strong.

  21. A @ Grain Free Diet

    I tried to get onto his site, but I got a bandwidth exceeded error message. Does anyone know if he’s also checking his bloodwork while he’s doing this? I’d be interested to see how that changes while he makes the transition.

  22. Drew @ Willpower Is For Fat People

    Whenever I see those diet pill ads with the before and after photos, I wonder, “How did she know before she lost the weight exactly what size bikini she’d be needing after?”

    Am I cynical to believe that they take fit people and have them gain weight for the photos? Even if the after photos really are after they take the weight back off, like this guy is doing, that’s still not the same as people who have gotten fat slowly finally getting fit.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he shows up in before/after photos for some supplement, pill or program.

    Let’s hope that’s not why he’s doing this.

  23. Ernie

    “Replace the sodas with 1% chocolate milk, and the diet that put 70 pounds on this guy could pass for the lunch menu at your local public school.”

    Wow! Drive it home Tom! You hit the nail on the head there.

    BTW. I’ve lost 70 lbs now eating fat and cutting carbs and grains. You have forever changed my eating habits. Thank you so much for your work.

    Thank you for reading. That’s what makes this fun.

  24. the cottage child

    That’s disturbing. I hope this isn’t another (eat 62 million gross things/ throw up/ gain weight stunt) misguided attempt at documentary film making. I do appreciate how he makes plain the feel bad/still want more dynamic of the SAD. It’s SAD.

    The last public school lunch my children ever ate was the day I saw the nice lunch lady pouring blue sugared powdered drink mix over the applesauce. When I asked why, she answered that 1) it was a required dietary element for calories and vitamin C, and that 2) the kids would eat more of it because it was blue. When I picked my girls up from school that day: blue teeth. I guess the lunch lady was right. We home school now, including lunch.

    Good lord …

  25. Galina L.

    Granola bars and cereals are good choices. I can also attest the effectiveness of substituting red meat with some soy products if you want to gain weight as I did while trying to follow Dr.Weill’s advice. Looks like it also works on Dr. himself as well ,keeping him in the Santa Claus shape.

  26. Patricia

    Holy crap! Why would he do that to himself?! It wouldn’t take me six months to get like that . . . I’m much more efficient at getting it done! All I have to do is eat the RECOMMENDED amount of whole healthy grains and I’m there practically overnight.

    I agree, Tom, he probably won’t have much of an issue getting it off. If he’s been fit and lean all his life, his body’s going to want to return to that state a.s.a.p. Getting fat for a short period of time is not going to make him appreciate what his overweight clients go through if he doesn’t struggle to get it off.

    Hmmm, I wonder if he’s going to publish a more specific list of what he’s eating to put on the weight with breakdown of calories, carbs, fats, etc. Wanna bet that when it comes down to it, it’s probably a fairly low saturated fat diet? (With a high level of those healthy polyunsaturated fats.)

  27. Liz

    That’s some pretty gutsy move–I don’t wish frustratingly slow weight loss on anyone, but there are so many people who don’t know what that’s like. So in a weird way I’m glad he’s going to experience just how long it takes to get fit when you were fat first. It’s def going to make him a more compassionate trainer. I sure hope he is openly honest about the food that helped make him fat, as well as what helped make him fit.

  28. C

    Omg, I just read that article. Ikr! I was expecting to see a bunch of fatty foods, but that was surprising. If only he did it with a diet of whole grains, non-fat dairy, and stuff. Still, granola bars, juice, and cereal are generally considered “good”. IN YOUR FACE, USDA!

  29. Keith

    I know some bodybuilders, including one who is 66, who has been doing it for 45+years and owns his own gym. He has always eaten very low carb, and instructs his members to do the same. He has known for a very long time that carbs can make us fat more than anything else, including things like whole grain bread and the things others thought were healthy. I just thought that was interesting, although there may be more to it.

    I knew a couple of body-builders in college, and they restricted carbs when they wanted to get cut.

  30. Simon

    It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. It’s nice to see even the trainers agree that Fat is not the evil culprite.
    I have to agree, grains and stuff do not keep me feeling full for long and I get a massive “UGH” feeling not long after, like something’s missing.

  31. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    That’s an admirable effort to demonstrate how a low fat, sugary diet can make you gain weight, but he’s probably going to end up permanently hardening his arteries as a result. Some things just can’t be reversed, even with a ketogenic diet.

    Let’s hope the damage is minimal.

  32. Kati

    Love it!! I always felt so hungry after eating these very foods and would even start feeling cold in my extremities, and then wonder why I couldn’t seem to get away from eating these things before switching to a whole foods/low carb (an est 50 grams/day) way of eating. I am appreciative of this guy packing on pounds and crediting it to his bad, refined carb-laden diet, and not merely the semi-slowed metabolism he’s probably temporarily given himself by not exercising and eating the junk.

  33. Tim

    “…..the diet that put 70 pounds on this guy could pass for the lunch menu at your local public school….” Very impacting statement. Thanks again for your blog/movie/interviews!

  34. Beowulf

    I’m mixed on my view of this one, and it would be very interesting to get a detailed post about exactly what he was eating before he launched this experiment. One downside is that he’s implementing white bread and white pasta as if eating whole wheat versions of those are somehow spectacularly better for you. Same goes for the crackers and sugary cereals. Most people would agree that cheeze-its and trix are bad for you, but those same individuals would proclaim the benefits of kashi multi grain crackers and shredded wheat. When you body breaks that stuff down, there’s not much difference.

  35. Slade

    It’s difficult to predict how easily he’ll lose the weight. He’s not dealing with the same emotional issues that may cause some of us overweight people to seek out comfort foods. I hope he doesn’t have family members making negative comparisons or comments. “I lost 20 lbs in 4 months. Why can’t you do it?” “You have a M.S., went to private schools. How can someone of your intelligence let your body get this way?” (That last one is almost an exact quote for me.)

    However, he may demonstrate how difficult it is even without that emotional junk. There could be additional factors we aren’t aware of. Since he’s actively choosing this experience, he could end up being more aware of what’s going on with himself and compare the experience to his times being a more healthy weight.

  36. Scott C.

    This guy will start his weight loss campaign with his knowledge of fitness / diet that worked for him in the very first place. That is nothing like what his clients / most of us have gone through. And when the weight slips off him effortlessly (i’m guessing there, but looking at his jacked fig1 i suspect so) that will give more powa to the ‘sloth / gluttony’ brigade.

    Unfortunately this just smells like a self-promo stunt. On the positive side Tom, you are correct in that his ‘fat’ diet may raise a few eyebrows!

    I suspect he’ll lose weight more easily than people who’ve been fat for years, but it’ll still be interesting.

  37. Txomin

    Indeed. It is interesting that the diet does not involve drinking liters of olive oil or eating pounds of lard. That, surely, would be the simplest and quickest way to fatten up… according to convention, nowadays.

    I wonder, though. Since it is in our genes to gain and lose weight with the seasons (so-called metabolic flexibility), what would be reasonable, healthy parameters? He clearly overdid it. Also, what would be the best gain/loss window?

    Anyway, his is just a gimmick. Under the fat, he still has the muscles and the strength. He didn’t waste away and his condition will never be that of truly obese people. And he knows HOW to work out, something that is not at all trivial.

    It’s a worthwhile experiment, but I don’t think it will exactly give him the metabolism of someone who struggles to lose weight for years.

  38. Jimmy Moore

    Just secured an interview with him. We’ll see how he takes off that carb belly. 😉

    You da man, Jimmy! Looking forward to that one.

  39. Alexandra

    I wish he had decided to gain the weight using whole grain cereals and whole wheat pastas, etc. I think the message would have come across more clearly that carbohydrates, even those considered “healthy whole grains” are the problem.

    From that food list, he is clearly eating moderate fat and very high carb but I will guess that the media will still say he gained the weight with a “fatty” diet.

    Just the same, I hope he gets lots of attention and that he keeps talking about what he ate to gain: carbohydrates.

    Yeah, going for whole-wheat starches would have been illuminating.

  40. Italian follower

    *What, no bacon? No sausage? No cream?*

    I love the blog and agree with most of it.
    There is only one problem: I still can’t understand why you and other low carbers think fat doesn’t make you fat.

    Looks obvious to me that eating enough protein is the easiest way to keep oneself lean.
    There migth be quite a difference of personal sensitivity towards one or another.
    But as standard, beginning with healthy people, both the other 2 macronutrients do. I wouldn’t even think it should be necessary to try to persuade about it. Pointing out the diet of figure skaters (or others similar, for need of leanness) through decades, or who knows what.

    It’s not that one should necessarily strictly eat what MelissaMc. called “the Faileo Diet” (love it), but especially if you want to be “abs lean” one must keep also an eye to the fat (at least for 85% of those older than 17-22).
    I agree on the pasta and pizza (sob) but it’s not like most guys that look like Mr. Manning usually eat “proportionally” big quantities of bacon or sausage either. C’mon.

    For me, once the ratio of protein is high enough I don’t worry that much between the others for fear of fattening: I don’t know between fat and glucose witch makes (not “deranged”) people fatter. Might even be fat. Might be a wash. Dunno. Ok, fructose on the other side…

    It’s a bit crazy for me that the debate is still on weight loss. I thought that was done: begin to bring protein ratio up, then experiment on yourself.
    I’d suppose the only debate last would be on health or even things like performance or mood (if you don’t put them in “health).

    I personally eat VLC (or at least if I don’t keep myself under 80gr. on a sedentary day i feel guilty), LC, mostly for health reasons.
    Said one cannot eat 90% protein (and I doubt anything above a much lower % would be healthy either), we have to choose.

    So, if I had to bet today on who is the villan (or more of a villan) between the 2, for health, I’d pick Carbs ( but, again, as we know, Fructose “uber alles” ;D , glucose to a lesser extent). For all the reasons also discussed on the low-carb community and the Paleo one too etc.

    But personally, at the end of the day, I still think one of the stongest points remains the old and plain simple “tooth decay”.

  41. Stingray

    Wow, I bet this guy is having a tough time of it. 6 months of eating that way? Ugh. I eat what I like while on vacation and after a week I feel like CRAP. While it is hard to start the low carb again because of the cravings after too long I feel so terrible that I have to start it or my hands and knees start to hurt, my stomach gets so bloated that my clothes don’t fit, etc, etc. I bet this guy can’t wait until the next four weeks are done.

    I think the hardest part of starting the low carb way of life is that when you are that big, you often truly don’t realize how awful you feel. It is not until you’ve been at it for a months that you feel a huge difference and then are shocked at it. Many people simply never make it to that month mark to be able to feel the remarkable difference.

    Kind of like not knowing what normal feels like until you finally stop hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.

  42. Peggy Holloway

    A facebook friend posted a cute picture of a plate of bacon with the caption “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy bacon.” I started to comment “Amen to that!” when I decided to read the thread of comments. First comment “Looks like a heart attack to me.” The poster replied “I had my fiber cereal bar for breakfast, but a girl can dream.” The poster is an extremely overweight woman who looks diabetic (don’t know for sure, but highly likely). So I added to my comment without getting preachy that it is not bacon or fat that cause heart disease, but carbs, and suggested “so go for bacon.” My retired physician friend and I are seeing more and more opportunities to get the word out. I just posted a link to this story on my Facebook page. Thanks, Tom.

    Keep spreading the word.

  43. Andrea Lynnette

    I think it’s at least a nice idea for this guy to want to put himself through the frustration of being overweight. I do wonder what will happen to him. I mean, if his body never really had to deal with that kind of insulin roller-coaster, it could end badly for him. I hope he doesn’t give himself diabetes.

  44. Slade

    It’s difficult to predict how easily he’ll lose the weight. He’s not dealing with the same emotional issues that may cause some of us overweight people to seek out comfort foods. I hope he doesn’t have family members making negative comparisons or comments. “I lost 20 lbs in 4 months. Why can’t you do it?” “You have a M.S., went to private schools. How can someone of your intelligence let your body get this way?” (That last one is almost an exact quote for me.)

    However, he may demonstrate how difficult it is even without that emotional junk. There could be additional factors we aren’t aware of. Since he’s actively choosing this experience, he could end up being more aware of what’s going on with himself and compare the experience to his times being a more healthy weight.

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