Review: The Smarter Science of Slim

      108 Comments on Review: The Smarter Science of Slim

Over my holiday break, I read an excellent new book on weight loss titled The Smarter Science of Slim.  Jonathan Bailor, the author, has (according to the preface) been researching the science of weight gain and weight loss for 10 years, and it shows:  the index of references at the back of the book runs more than 70 pages. Despite immersing himself in heavy-duty nutrition science while writing this book, Bailor had the good sense to explain what he’s learned clearly and simply.  In other words, the book passes my “Aunt Martha” test.

In a nutshell, the book’s message comes down to this:  Most of us will never lose weight and keep it off by simply restricting calories. Permanent weight loss requires changing your body’s set-point, and your body’s set-point is largely determined by hormones.  To shed body fat, we need to clear what Bailor terms a hormonal clog in the fat-metabolism system.  Clearing the clog is, of course, a matter of choosing the right foods and the right kind of exercise, not just eating less and moving around more.

I believe we can’t emphasize that point often enough.  Yes, you can starve yourself and lose weight.  But losing weight without changing your set-point – the amount of fat your body wants to maintain – is a bit like pulling a big ol’ rubber band into a stretched position and trying to hold it there forever.   Sooner or later, you’re going to tire of the effort and let go … and then that rubber band will snap back to its original size.  That’s why most low-calorie diets fail over time.  It’s why so many contestants from The Biggest Loser have regained the weight they lost.  (Many have also ended up with depressed metabolisms for their efforts.)

Early in the book, Bailor takes on the calories-in/calories-out view of fat loss and shreds it with data from several studies.  In one study, for example, researchers had thin people and fat people stop eating completely -– call it a zero-calorie diet.  Then the researchers determined what the subjects’ bodies burned for energy. The results were, as Bailor notes, depressing:  The thin subjects obtained 61% of their calories from stored body fat, while the fat people only obtained 39% of their calories from stored body fat.  Worse, they burned up more of their own muscle mass than the thin people.  Lose muscle, and all you’re doing is slowing your metabolism.  As Bailor writes:

Think about that for a second.  Despite having more body fat, the heavy people burned less body fat.  In the words of the researchers, “… obese patients could not take advantage of their more abundant fat fuel sources.”  The heavy people burned what relatively little muscle tissue they had rather than burning the excess body fat they were drowning in.  They needed to burn body fat, but did not burn body fat effectively.  This is where the idea of a clog comes into play.

In a subsequent chapter, Bailor reviews the scientific literature on exercising more to lose weight.  You can probably guess what he found:  In study after study, exercise has failed to produce more than a few pounds of weight loss … not exactly the result an obese person hopes to achieve.

The key to lasting weight loss, Bailor writes, is to focus on consuming SANE foods.  SANE is his acronym for the qualities of a food that affect weight gain:

  • Satiety – how quickly calories fill us up and how long they keep us full
  • Aggression – how likely calories are to be stored as body fat
  • Nutrition – how many nutrients (protein, vitamins, minerals, essentially fatty acids, etc.) the calories provide
  • Efficiency – how many calories can be stored as body fat

As he explains:

The more Satisfying, unAggressive, Nutritious and inEfficient a calorie is, the higher its quality.  The more SANE it is.  The more body-fat burning hormones it triggers.  The more it clears our clog and prevents overeating.  The more it restores our ability to burn body fat and maximizes our need to burn body fat.

The more unSatisfying, Aggressive, not Nutritious and Efficient a calorie is, the lower its quality.  The more inSANE it is.  The more body-fat-storing hormones it triggers.  The more it creates a clog and encourages overeating.  The more it destroys our ability to burn body fat and removes our need to burn body fat.

The next four chapters explain each of these four factors in detail.  You won’t be surprised to learn that the most inSANE foods are sugars and refined starches, while the most SANE foods are non-starchy vegetables, meats, eggs, seafood and some dairy products.

High-protein foods are a perfect example of SANE foods.  Research has shown that protein is satiating –- we eat partly to satisfy our daily protein requirements, so if we’re eating low-protein foods, our bodies tell us to keep eating.  Protein is also the macronutrient least likely to be converted to stored body fat.  Bailor takes the reader through a brief bit of biochemistry in one chapter to demonstrate that if we consume 300 calories of protein, at most 105 of those calories can be converted to fat.  The rest is lost in the conversion process.  In other words, protein is low on the Efficiency scale.

By contrast, 211 calories from 300 calories of refined starch can potentially end up as body fat.  Starch is twice as high on the Efficiency scale as protein, and also high on the Aggression scale because it triggers high blood sugar and high insulin levels that encourage our bodies to store fat.  I was pleased to see that there’s an entire chapter in The Smarter Science of Slim on how insulin and other hormones affect weight gain, all explained pretty simply.

In other chapters, Bailor reviews how our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, where today’s lousy standard dietary advice came from, why the “cholesterol kills!” theory is full of bologna, and how starchy/sweet foods ended up becoming our dietary staples.  Then he moves on to how we can eat smarter and lose weight without starving ourselves.

Given his SANE scale, it’s no surprise that the diet he recommends is pretty close to a paleo diet:  lots of vegetables, plenty of protein, a bit of low-sugar fruit, some nuts now and then, and perhaps a few dairy products.

Where he separates himself from the low-carb crowd is in the proportions of protein, fats and carbohydrates he recommends.  While he does a nice job of debunking the theory that saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for us, his SANE diet still limits dietary fat in favor of extra protein and carbohydrates (compared to most low-carb diet plans, that is) as a means of promoting weight loss.  Consequently, he suggests consuming egg whites and low-fat dairy products instead of the full-fat varieties.  He also recommends getting about a third of our calories from carbohydrates, with the caveat that we get those carbohydrates from SANE fruits and vegetables instead of sugars and refined starches.

While I believe the diet he recommends is a good one — far better than what most people consume — I’m not convinced that a ratio of one-third fat, one-third protein and one-third SANE carbohydrates is necessary to lose weight.  It certainly hasn’t been the case for me.  Bailor has agreed to do a written interview for a post next week, so I’ll ask him to explain why he recommends those specific proportions.

The last section of the book is dedicated to exercise.  Even though Bailor describes early in the book why most exercise does little for weight loss, he’s certainly not opposed to exercise … he just wants us to engage in exercise that actually helps.  The key is to work our muscles briefly but intensely, then give them adequate time to recover.  In that regard, what he recommends is a lot like Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn program.  The main difference is that Bailor favors working the muscles with negative resistance … that is, exercising the muscles to the point of failure while lowering heavy weights instead of while lifting them.  (Tim Ferriss makes the same recommendation in The 4-Hour Body, at least as an alternate workout.)

Once again, Bailor describes the crucial role hormones play in our body composition.  In one surprising (to me, anway) study he recounts, researchers divided subjects into two groups:  the first group exercised only one arm, while the second group exercised the same arm, but also both legs.  At the end of the trial, researchers measured how much the subjects had increased their arm strength.  The result:  the subjects who exercised just one arm were 9% stronger on average in that arm.  But the group that also exercised both legs were 37% stronger on average – in the arm!  The reason?  Hormones.  As Bailor writes:

Leg-training worked more muscle and therefore triggered more whole-body-transforming hormones than arm training.  All those whole-body-transforming hormones benefit seemingly unrelated muscles more than exercising those muscles directly.

Body composition is largely determined by hormones.  What we choose to eat –- not how much — and how we choose to exercise – now how often or for how long — has a huge impact on the hormones our bodies produce.  That’s the message of The Smarter Science of Slim.  It’s a message people struggling to lose weight and get fit need to hear.

I have a list of questions for my upcoming interview with Jonathan Bailor, but feel free to post your own in the comments.  I’ll pick a few to add to my list.


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108 thoughts on “Review: The Smarter Science of Slim

  1. Barbara Angele

    I appreciate these opinions on what works and what does not for healthy eating and how to function in our world of plenty. I want to find a way to eat that will improve my body function over time. It is so much trial and error and just when I think I am on the right track I get sick and have to start all over. Why not ask healthy older athletes in their 90’s what is best or is there no such thing?

    I’m afraid some trial and error is necessary, since what works for me may not be ideal for you and vice versa.

    I wouldn’t ask an athlete for advice on losing weight since most of them don’t share my tendency to gain weight. Our local paper just ran an article on one of the Tennessee Titans (who I happened to meet; he lives in the apartment complex where we resided during our renovations), detailing how he has to eat like a madman to keep his weight UP during the football season.

  2. Lynda NZ

    Sorry Tom – what you wrote was too good to not share so I have “stolen” some of it (with reference to your site, of course). I hope this is OK? I’m looking forward to your questions with Jonathan. Everything I wanted to ask has been covered already.

    Steal away. I’m certainly not opposed to being quoted.

  3. Dwatney

    If anyone wants to check out how this book reads, a large chunk of it is viewable via Amazon’s Look Inside feature.

  4. Chris

    I would be curious to his thoughts on stuff like Zumba. My GF swears up and down it’s the best exercise ever… however, I have absolutely no rhythm and would much rather hit the weight machines. As a compromise I have reluctantly agreed to walk/run with her on occasion (but I pretty much try to avoid that too, lol). I don’t get to the gym as often as I should, but as a 28yo guy coming in at 5’10” I am down from 255 to 182 in ~9 months mostly from diet alone (since the first time watching Fat Head on netflix). So – weights, running, or cadio-type classes like zumba?

  5. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    “Leg-training worked more muscle and therefore triggered more whole-body-transforming hormones than arm training. All those whole-body-transforming hormones benefit seemingly unrelated muscles more than exercising those muscles directly.”

    Mark Rippetoe, who wrote the excellent book Starting Strength, pretty much says the same thing. He emphasizes that there is no better whole body exercise that increases overall strength than the properly performed squat.

  6. curtis

    at the very least it is a huge step i the right direction.
    was dairy product a natural human food to begin with? did we evolve with the intention of drinking milk every day? i don’t think so so i understand where that comes from a bit.

    in any case. i have an overweight friend who is still convinced saturated fat is bad for you. but recommended this book to him since he likes to read.. will he read it.. doubt it

  7. josef

    I have read two books that subscribe to the set point theory: “The Dieter’s Dilemma: Eating Less and Weighing More” by Joel Gurin and William Bennett M.D., and How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat by Dennis Remington M.D.

    Both books contended that to lower your set point you needed to:
    1. Avoid sugar
    2. Avoid fat
    3. Exercise one hour daily at 75% or more of your age adjusted maximum heart rate.

    When I was younger, I used to play tennis (single) 1.5 to 2 hours daily and I could literally stuff myself and my weight was always 145-148 lb. at 5’9″.

    Today, a retired neighbor in his 70s, skinny as a rail, walks 4 to 5 HOURS daily and eats like a horse.

    Due to work and family obligations right now I’m unable to work out as long.

    However, based on the above examples, I believe everyone has an individual activity threshold that will lower and keep their body fat at an acceptable level, just like Gurin, Bennett and Remington stated.

    Tom, ask Mr. Bailor about this.

  8. tracker

    @Brian “I have gone on low carb binges for a month at a time eating less than 20 carbs per day only from green veggies and can’t lose weight doing it.”

    Did you get overweight/obese in a month? No? I suggest trying it for at least a year, that’s how long I’ve read it took other people to lose *most* of the weight. You can’t have cheat days on low carb, it doesn’t work that way. You might, if you’re young and especially male, get away with a small cheat meal once in a while, but even that might stall weight loss. And notice I said “most.” You’ll probably plateau with 30 or so pounds left to lose. I say at that point go to a maintenance type phase where you add in a few more carbs so long as you don’t gain weight, probably best from vegetables or nuts. Then after you’ve done that for a while take a stab at it again.

    Personally, I’ve decided to do lowish carb paleo type eating forever. I feel better, whether I ever lose these last 25 pounds or not. 25 pounds over weight is a lot better than being the hundred plus pounds obese that I used to be.

    Of course, I’m not addicted to wheat or sugar (or at least my gut bacteria aren’t!). If you have gut bacteria that are thriving off wheat and sugar, it could take a very long time to overcome that. It might not be you or even a lack of “willpower” but rather the little buggers in your stomach screaming for what you shouldn’t have.

  9. Denise Zapf

    This comment is for Brian and Michelle who are having difficulty losing weight. I agree with Bailor that hormonal issues can completely stall weight loss. I was low carb for a long time and not getting results. Last April, I started taking a Vitamin D supplement AND completely eliminated all sources of soy from my diet. Okay, so this was not a scientific experiment where only one variable was manipulated, but since that time I have lost 30 pounds. There are probably some tweaks like this that Brian and Melissa can make that will have a positive effect.

  10. Barbara Angele

    I appreciate these opinions on what works and what does not for healthy eating and how to function in our world of plenty. I want to find a way to eat that will improve my body function over time. It is so much trial and error and just when I think I am on the right track I get sick and have to start all over. Why not ask healthy older athletes in their 90’s what is best or is there no such thing?

    I’m afraid some trial and error is necessary, since what works for me may not be ideal for you and vice versa.

    I wouldn’t ask an athlete for advice on losing weight since most of them don’t share my tendency to gain weight. Our local paper just ran an article on one of the Tennessee Titans (who I happened to meet; he lives in the apartment complex where we resided during our renovations), detailing how he has to eat like a madman to keep his weight UP during the football season.

  11. Lynda NZ

    Sorry Tom – what you wrote was too good to not share so I have “stolen” some of it (with reference to your site, of course). I hope this is OK? I’m looking forward to your questions with Jonathan. Everything I wanted to ask has been covered already.

    Steal away. I’m certainly not opposed to being quoted.

  12. curtis

    at the very least it is a huge step i the right direction.
    was dairy product a natural human food to begin with? did we evolve with the intention of drinking milk every day? i don’t think so so i understand where that comes from a bit.

    in any case. i have an overweight friend who is still convinced saturated fat is bad for you. but recommended this book to him since he likes to read.. will he read it.. doubt it

  13. Debbie

    Since he mentioned hormones, and I am going through “perimenopause” I am curious about how the female hormones effect weight lose. I read Gary Taubes’ book and if I understood that part correctly, I’m sort of doomed to be on the slightly chubby side because of my hormonal issues. Can exercise help? What kind of exercise? I’m not asking that my female hormones be restored to that of a 20-year-old. I know that won’t happen with out HRT, which I won’t do…I’m just wondering if I can lose those extra 15 pounds that just won’t go away not matter how few carbs I eat. I’ve even eaten just meats, eggs, etc. no plant products at all and I still can’t get rid of the extra fat. 🙁

    The right type of diet and exercise can offset the hormonal changes to a degree. Dr. Mary Vernon even had women who thought they were menopausal become pregnant after changing their diets.

  14. Firebird

    It sounds like he tweaked the Zone Diet and is pushing Heavy Duty/High Intensity Training, perfected by the late Mike Mentzer.

  15. Denise Zapf

    This comment is for Brian and Michelle who are having difficulty losing weight. I agree with Bailor that hormonal issues can completely stall weight loss. I was low carb for a long time and not getting results. Last April, I started taking a Vitamin D supplement AND completely eliminated all sources of soy from my diet. Okay, so this was not a scientific experiment where only one variable was manipulated, but since that time I have lost 30 pounds. There are probably some tweaks like this that Brian and Melissa can make that will have a positive effect.

  16. Debbie

    Since he mentioned hormones, and I am going through “perimenopause” I am curious about how the female hormones effect weight lose. I read Gary Taubes’ book and if I understood that part correctly, I’m sort of doomed to be on the slightly chubby side because of my hormonal issues. Can exercise help? What kind of exercise? I’m not asking that my female hormones be restored to that of a 20-year-old. I know that won’t happen with out HRT, which I won’t do…I’m just wondering if I can lose those extra 15 pounds that just won’t go away not matter how few carbs I eat. I’ve even eaten just meats, eggs, etc. no plant products at all and I still can’t get rid of the extra fat. 🙁

    The right type of diet and exercise can offset the hormonal changes to a degree. Dr. Mary Vernon even had women who thought they were menopausal become pregnant after changing their diets.

  17. Firebird

    It sounds like he tweaked the Zone Diet and is pushing Heavy Duty/High Intensity Training, perfected by the late Mike Mentzer.

  18. Edwood

    One more thing: I clipped this to show you in case you missed it:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2080591/Statins-cut-prostate-threat-Medication-cholesterol-reduce-risk-cancer.html

    Read the comments if you want to see what people think of statins these days.

    Love the comments! More and more people are apparently catching on to the side effects.

    The association the researchers found is probably meaningless. People who dutifully take their statins are, like the women I mentioned in Science For Smart People who took oral estrogen, probably more health-conscious overall. Outside of a clinical trial, we can’t possibly determine that statins reduce any type of cancer.

  19. Greg

    Thanks for the review, Tom. I just downloaded the kindle sample and am recommending it to family members who haven’t yet been swayed by Taubes and others. I’m hoping Mr. Bailer’s presentation and approach will hit home.

    On another note, I find it interesting that all this research on caloric intake and ‘energy balance’ seems to only be done in regards to losing weight. I’m one of those that the bodybuilding community terms a ‘hardgainer’. When I was in my late teens, I could never seem to eat enough to ‘bulk up’. I was 5’11” and couldn’t get over 175lbs (at ~6% body fat). Thus, I never believed in the whole energy balance bs.

    Even today at 43, knowing much more about diet and exercise, if I eat close to 4,000 calories a day, I don’t gain nearly as much weight as the calories in/out people would suggest. Now if I try to bulk up, I may be able to get up to 195 or so, but my body seems to prefer hovering around 180-185.

    Keep up the good fight.

    You’re like my son. He ate like a horse in high school, trying to bulk up while playing basketball, and didn’t gain a pound.

  20. Edwood

    Hi Tom,

    I am reading “Perfect 10”, which is free for Kindle version right now on Amazon. Have you read it? It is basically about balancing the the 10 main hormones that control weight and metabolism. I am on chapter 3 and so far it is similar to WWGF but gives “typical day on the diet” menus. Not sure if it will stay helpful, but it is free.

    BTW, what do you think about rebounding? I need an indoor exercise that is easy on my joints and won’t tempt my kids to hurt themselves (i.e. no elliptical or treadmill). Thank you!

    Haven’t seen Perfect 10 yet. I don’t have a Kindle.

    I haven’t looked into rebounding.

  21. Edwood

    One more thing: I clipped this to show you in case you missed it:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2080591/Statins-cut-prostate-threat-Medication-cholesterol-reduce-risk-cancer.html

    Read the comments if you want to see what people think of statins these days.

    Love the comments! More and more people are apparently catching on to the side effects.

    The association the researchers found is probably meaningless. People who dutifully take their statins are, like the women I mentioned in Science For Smart People who took oral estrogen, probably more health-conscious overall. Outside of a clinical trial, we can’t possibly determine that statins reduce any type of cancer.

  22. Ton

    For Pete’s sake: are we not getting lost in all the assorted teachings, dogmas, paradigms, methods, … whatever? Is it still not clear enough that you only have to eat just as your forefathers of a a century or more ago (provided they were not too poor) ate?

    I believe people with metabolic damage may need to tweak their diets beyond simply mimicking what our great-great-grandparents ate.

  23. Underground

    “His concern isn’t that fat causes heart disease — he doesn’t believe that at all — but that consuming too much fat inhibits our ability to burn body fat.”

    It probably does to some degree, but certainly not anywhere near as much as carbohydrates do.

    I would also lean toward getting your exercise outside rather than on a stationary bike, other than just as a supplemental exercise. The variations in intensity and position that you get from riding or hiking outdoors (NOT on pavement) can help prevent repetitive motion injuries.

    Go cut some wood and split some logs. From what I’ve observed the key to real benefits from exercise are intensity and duration. Regardless of what it is. If you don’t have some of both you’re not getting the full benefit. 30 minutes at a moderate pace on the treadmill isn’t cutting it.

  24. Suze

    Would this book also be helpful for people suffering from hypothyroidism? I went from fit to fat with no diet changes when I got an auto-immune thyroid, and even with hormone replacement the weight keeps piling on – despite experimenting with various diets, including Ferriss.

    It’s not really a book on solving thyroid issues.

  25. Greg

    Thanks for the review, Tom. I just downloaded the kindle sample and am recommending it to family members who haven’t yet been swayed by Taubes and others. I’m hoping Mr. Bailer’s presentation and approach will hit home.

    On another note, I find it interesting that all this research on caloric intake and ‘energy balance’ seems to only be done in regards to losing weight. I’m one of those that the bodybuilding community terms a ‘hardgainer’. When I was in my late teens, I could never seem to eat enough to ‘bulk up’. I was 5’11” and couldn’t get over 175lbs (at ~6% body fat). Thus, I never believed in the whole energy balance bs.

    Even today at 43, knowing much more about diet and exercise, if I eat close to 4,000 calories a day, I don’t gain nearly as much weight as the calories in/out people would suggest. Now if I try to bulk up, I may be able to get up to 195 or so, but my body seems to prefer hovering around 180-185.

    Keep up the good fight.

    You’re like my son. He ate like a horse in high school, trying to bulk up while playing basketball, and didn’t gain a pound.

  26. Ton

    For Pete’s sake: are we not getting lost in all the assorted teachings, dogmas, paradigms, methods, … whatever? Is it still not clear enough that you only have to eat just as your forefathers of a a century or more ago (provided they were not too poor) ate?

    I believe people with metabolic damage may need to tweak their diets beyond simply mimicking what our great-great-grandparents ate.

  27. Jeanne

    I had no trouble with my weight til my late 30’s when I was prescribed Paxil. I started craving carbs and sugar, put on 40 lbs in a year. (My doc didn’t think the Paxil had anything to do with it). Years later, long off of SSRIs, I’m still fighting the 40 lbs.

    I think I wrecked my metabolism. I eat strict Paleo, with some heavy cream and cheese (I’ve heard Gouda is the best natural source of K2 if you can’t stand Natto), no processed food, no sugar, and I still struggle.
    I wish I could get a solution for undoing the damage the drug did.

  28. AndreaLynnette

    Suze, I have hypothyroidism as well. I got very good results from using a liquid vitamin and mineral supplement. My thyroid function improved and I wasn’t so tired and cold all the time. My email is andrealynnette at gmail dot com if you want to talk.

  29. Brian

    @tracker: Thank you for you insight, it is greatly appreciated. I have been on/off the low carb way for about a year, and I can definetly tell a difference for the better (weight/focus/feeling wise) when I am eating like I should. My biggest issue is being consistant. I am interested in where I can read more about what you mentioned regarding bacteria in the gut and the wheat/sugar addiction. Any references from you or Tom would be helpful.

  30. Jeanne

    I had no trouble with my weight til my late 30’s when I was prescribed Paxil. I started craving carbs and sugar, put on 40 lbs in a year. (My doc didn’t think the Paxil had anything to do with it). Years later, long off of SSRIs, I’m still fighting the 40 lbs.

    I think I wrecked my metabolism. I eat strict Paleo, with some heavy cream and cheese (I’ve heard Gouda is the best natural source of K2 if you can’t stand Natto), no processed food, no sugar, and I still struggle.
    I wish I could get a solution for undoing the damage the drug did.

  31. Galina L.

    @ Suze,
    I am hypo-thyroidal as well, with the autoimmune type of the disease. I noticed the real difference in my condition when I started to use the natural desiccated thyroid. I am using LC diet diet to keep myself healthy and to lose weight. Actually I am at my not ambition goal, but it take me almost 4 years to drop over 30 lb.

  32. Galina L.

    @Suzy,
    I get a hypo-thyroidal condition autoimmune in origin. It really helped me A LOT when I changed the Synthroid medication on the natural dessicated thyroid. It even less expensive. I was able to loose more than 30 lb on LC diet . It took me almost 4 years, and my diet was striker than usual LC message – eat as much as you feel like eating till the food is low in carbs. I eat till I am full, but limit the amount of time when I am eating to two a day, no snacks at all. It is not difficult on LC.

  33. AndreaLynnette

    Suze, I have hypothyroidism as well. I got very good results from using a liquid vitamin and mineral supplement. My thyroid function improved and I wasn’t so tired and cold all the time. My email is andrealynnette at gmail dot com if you want to talk.

  34. Brian

    @tracker: Thank you for you insight, it is greatly appreciated. I have been on/off the low carb way for about a year, and I can definetly tell a difference for the better (weight/focus/feeling wise) when I am eating like I should. My biggest issue is being consistant. I am interested in where I can read more about what you mentioned regarding bacteria in the gut and the wheat/sugar addiction. Any references from you or Tom would be helpful.

  35. Jennifer Snow

    @ josef:

    The research does not at all back up the idea of EVERYONE having a certain set activity level that will keep them lean. For those who overproduce insulin in response to high levels of carbs/refined carbs (i.e. everyone who is a candidate for type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome), all activity does is increase the desire for food. Forcing themselves to exercise will not in ANY way help them stay lean, in fact, it may increase their appetite so much that they begin to gain enormously more than they would if they stayed relatively sedentary–because all those extra calories they intake get shoved into fat instead of being used for cell fuel.

    The only real way for the insulinemics to lower their set point is to (somehow) lower their insulin levels–induce a hormonal change. Now, some forms of exercise may help induce this hormonal change or ones that compliment it in various fashions. But for a large and increasing proportion of the population, more or less physical activity is meaningless.

    In my Science For Smart People speech, I mentioned a study in which middle-aged women took up aerobics, five days per week for a year. They only lost six pounds compared to the group that didn’t exercise.

  36. Galina L.

    @ Suze,
    I am hypo-thyroidal as well, with the autoimmune type of the disease. I noticed the real difference in my condition when I started to use the natural desiccated thyroid. I am using LC diet diet to keep myself healthy and to lose weight. Actually I am at my not ambition goal, but it take me almost 4 years to drop over 30 lb.

  37. Galina L.

    @Suzy,
    I get a hypo-thyroidal condition autoimmune in origin. It really helped me A LOT when I changed the Synthroid medication on the natural dessicated thyroid. It even less expensive. I was able to loose more than 30 lb on LC diet . It took me almost 4 years, and my diet was striker than usual LC message – eat as much as you feel like eating till the food is low in carbs. I eat till I am full, but limit the amount of time when I am eating to two a day, no snacks at all. It is not difficult on LC.

  38. josef

    @ jennifer snow

    I’ll concede that there are always exceptions. However, not only is my personal and my neighbor’s experience that high levels of activity – which are not a half hour aerobic class – automatically reduced our fat set point.

    I’ve seen numerous endurance athletes that were slim during their training days, even though they ate tons of junk food, and are now obese due to lack of activity.

    The biggest loser contestants lose weight when they are forced to perform high volume of exercise.

    In the two books I mentioned above – “The Dieter’s Dilemma: Eating Less and Weighing More” by Joel Gurin and William Bennett M.D., and “How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat” by Dennis Remington M.D. – there are multiple pages of references that the authors assert validate their point.

    I do not have the ultimate answer. That’s why I asked Tom to ask Mr. Bailor about this issue. Based on my personal experience and observations it seems to make sense.

    However, since I’m intellectually curious, always open minded and you claim to have the answer, please provide me with links to your references that nullify the exercise lowers setpoint theory as presented in the above mentioned books

  39. Dan

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the review. Downloaded the kindle version last Saturday, about half way through.

    Skipped through to the exercise section, sounds like he is basically advocating cheats/force reps ! Going to give it a try tonight.

    It makes a lot of sense to me, can’t wait to here the clarification on fats though.

    Cheers

    I focused on negative reps at the gym yesterday. I’m feeling it today, trust me.

  40. Dan

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the review. Downloaded the kindle version last Saturday, about half way through.

    Skipped through to the exercise section, sounds like he is basically advocating cheats/force reps ! Going to give it a try tonight.

    It makes a lot of sense to me, can’t wait to here the clarification on fats though.

    Cheers

    I focused on negative reps at the gym yesterday. I’m feeling it today, trust me.

  41. Nick S

    I’m a little concerned about his advice to focus on negative repetitions; they’re considered quite dangerous due to their tendency to cause rhabdomyolysis… perhaps he’s recommending a light enough workout regimen that there’s less danger?

    Negative weight exercises cause extremely rapid breakdown of muscle tissue, which is both their value and their danger; when depleted of ATP while also inflamed due to the stress of muscle breakdown, muscle tissue can enter a state of uncontrolled calcium uptake, leading to rhabdo.

    While most people don’t train hard enough to experience the effect, it’s an important consideration for anyone attempting heavy negative-resistance training.

    I went with negative-resistance training on Sunday. I was definitely sore on Monday, but I consider that a sign of a deep workout. I’ll see how it goes.

  42. Nick S

    I’m a little concerned about his advice to focus on negative repetitions; they’re considered quite dangerous due to their tendency to cause rhabdomyolysis… perhaps he’s recommending a light enough workout regimen that there’s less danger?

    Negative weight exercises cause extremely rapid breakdown of muscle tissue, which is both their value and their danger; when depleted of ATP while also inflamed due to the stress of muscle breakdown, muscle tissue can enter a state of uncontrolled calcium uptake, leading to rhabdo.

    While most people don’t train hard enough to experience the effect, it’s an important consideration for anyone attempting heavy negative-resistance training.

    I went with negative-resistance training on Sunday. I was definitely sore on Monday, but I consider that a sign of a deep workout. I’ll see how it goes.

  43. Jamin

    Seeing anyone recommend a relatively narrow range for “acceptable” carb:protein:fat ratios across the human population always amuses me. As was explored in Fat Head, it varies immensely for everyone. I like to get back to basic principles of macro nutrients in times like this:

    1) Protein is required by your body.
    2) Fat is required by your body.
    3) Carbohydrate is not required by your body (“there is no such thing as an essential carb”). We all tolerate them to different degrees.

    Now, the other macro nutrient energy source for your body is alcohol, but I won’t even begin to get into a discussion about whether this is an essential macro nutrient. 🙂

    I don’t know if alcohol is essential, but it’s played a major role in the propagation of the species.

  44. Jamin

    Seeing anyone recommend a relatively narrow range for “acceptable” carb:protein:fat ratios across the human population always amuses me. As was explored in Fat Head, it varies immensely for everyone. I like to get back to basic principles of macro nutrients in times like this:

    1) Protein is required by your body.
    2) Fat is required by your body.
    3) Carbohydrate is not required by your body (“there is no such thing as an essential carb”). We all tolerate them to different degrees.

    Now, the other macro nutrient energy source for your body is alcohol, but I won’t even begin to get into a discussion about whether this is an essential macro nutrient. 🙂

    I don’t know if alcohol is essential, but it’s played a major role in the propagation of the species.

  45. timmah

    Jamin: Alcohol is the primary fuel, your body metabolizes it as an energy source before it metabolizes carbohydrates. So since it’s the primary fuel, your body prefers it. So drink up!

    Hey, it makes about as much sense as “carbohydrates as the primary/preferred fuel” myth, and for the same reason.

  46. timmah

    Jamin: Alcohol is the primary fuel, your body metabolizes it as an energy source before it metabolizes carbohydrates. So since it’s the primary fuel, your body prefers it. So drink up!

    Hey, it makes about as much sense as “carbohydrates as the primary/preferred fuel” myth, and for the same reason.

  47. Erika

    I’m anxious to know what recommendations he has (if any) for vegans? Are there enough acceptable proteins in dense leafy-greens to supply the needed nutrients to change one’s set-point?

  48. Erika

    I’m anxious to know what recommendations he has (if any) for vegans? Are there enough acceptable proteins in dense leafy-greens to supply the needed nutrients to change one’s set-point?

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