Why Thin People Aren’t Fat

      132 Comments on Why Thin People Aren’t Fat

You may recall that Gary Taubes recounted some over-feeding studies in Good Calories, Bad Calories. The upshot was that naturally thin people don’t gain as much weight or extra bodyfat from over-consuming food as the “3500 calories equals a pound of fat” equation says they should.  Their bodies adjust.  The same works in reverse:  people who cut calories often don’t lose as much weight as the calorie equation says they should.  Their bodies adjust as well.  The calories in affect the calories out.

Someone on YouTube suggested I watch this BBC documentary about a researcher who conducted a similar experiment:  a group of naturally-thin young adults doubled their normal caloric intake for four weeks.  Sure enough, some gained about what you’d expect, but others gained significantly less.  One barely put on any extra bodyfat at all.

Most of them reported easily losing the weight they’d gained once they stopped the experiment — and no, they didn’t count calories.  They didn’t need to.   Their bodies are geared to resist becoming fat, so they just returned to their normal eating behaviors and dropped the weight.  That’s what happened to Chareva after both of her pregnancies.  A month after delivery, you’d never know she’d been pregnant to look at her.

As if to demonstrate just how pig-headed people can be about this topic even after the evidence from a controlled study is presented to them, some genius left this in the comments section for the documentary:

this is the most moronic documentary ever.

eat more than your body burns = gain weight, vice versa

END OF STORY

The genius is probably one of those people who never gains weight and thinks it’s because of his superior discipline.  Or as I’ve put it before, he was born on the finish line and thinks he won a race.  (He no doubt believes he’s qualified to tell others how to win the race as well.  But enough about Dr. Oz.)

I trust you’ll come to a less simple-minded conclusion after watching.  Enjoy.


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132 thoughts on “Why Thin People Aren’t Fat

  1. Galina L.

    Hot-smocked eels are unbelievably delicious and quite fat. Sometimes I buy cooked eel in Chinese store in frozen section.

  2. Becky

    I’m currently reading “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It” by Gary Taubes and it’s really given me perspective on how instilled the “eat less move more” theory is in our culture. Just about everyone who sees me reading tht book repeats that theory to me as a ridiculously obvious answer. It’s gotten to the point that I stop trying to explain it and I just nod and smile. And my RN sister told me I was silly for getting a glucometer because I wasn’t sick– the point being, of course, that I want to stay that way.
    Oh, btw, eel tastes like chicken. If you’re ever carb cheating at a nice sushi place, give it a shot sometime!

    If your toilet overflows, you can accurately state that more water is entering than exiting. But that doesn’t tell you anything useful.

  3. Ray Kelley

    I’ll watch this when I have time, but first off, I’m glad to see you call out the calories in/calories out guy as a “moron”. I think of all the effort I put into getting my extra weight off over the years, and how smug and superior some people were about it. I just didn’t have the proper information. It’s not like I wasn’t trying.

    On a related not, a cousin of mine who’s apparently gotten to over 300 lbs and is having some blood sugar problems, went to a doctor recently. To my amazement, my Mom told me that his doctor put him on a low carb diet. There may yet be hope. Thought you might like to hear that.

    That’s good news indeed.

  4. Jana

    It’s too bad they focused only on quantity of calories rather than on quality of calories. They would most likely have found that over eating carbohydrates easier than over eating protein or fat (especially fat). It’s also a shame that they did the same thing on losing weight, rather than seeing if you can reprogram your genes to be happy with higher quality food. I bet that Asian guy ate a lot more fat and protein in his calories than the others who gained more fat. Too bad they won’t look at that angle.

    It was a worthwhile experiment, but I’d like to see many more of them with different types of foods.

  5. Carolyn Gillham

    As someone who has been over weight all my life this is depressing stuff. I do question how the study would have gone if the participants had to eat the same amount of calories from foods other than sugar and starches.

    I am on the Smarter Science of Slim plan. I have lost 13 pounds. I am now at a weight that I usually plateau at on any weight loss plan. According to Jonathan Bailor I can change my body’s set point.

    The next few months will tell.

    Regardless, this plan has other health benefits and is extremely easy to stick to. So much so that I am planning on staying with it no matter what the fat loss is.

    It’s about health more than anything.

  6. Ann Patterson

    Dearest Tom,

    Watched this a while back! Amazing how impossible it is to shift people’s thinking about this whole subject, and by the way, still wish that I had been born “naturally thin”!

    Recently, I spoke with a nurse in her mid-50s who has just been diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. She was absolutely gorgeous, fit and charming. She has had celiac disease for years and never eats grains. Her brother, no celiac disease, has been diabetic for the past 16 years. Still, her focus was on the evils of fat and especially butter. She didn’t think for one minute that the absence of grains in her diet had contributed to her later diagnosis. She is a card carrying member of the ADA and an educated and experienced health care worker. UGH!

    There is just so much misinformation and money behind it that keeps people sick. Seems overwhelming at times. However, I just watched “Ingredients” and love the message in the film the people are beginning to be much more aware of where their food comes from….Sorry for the rant, and thank you again for all of your wonderful posts. XXOO

    I believe more and more people are looking to put real food back into their diets. Let’s hope.

  7. LCNana

    Very interesting, Tom. But these people were all young as well. Fast forward 30 years and we’ll see. I, too, was thin, and lost all pregnancy weight while under 30. Add in middle age, menopause and you’ve got 15 lbs around the middle which is harder to lose.

    I’m not complaining, mind you, as I know now what I have to do – i.e. intermittent fasting, reduced calories, and following the proper diet for my body.

    But all in all it is useless to treat everyone the same, and suggest that we should all follow the “food pyramid” – and to blame fat people for being fat, and lauding skinny people for being skinny.

    It would be interesting to see what happens in their later years. Dr. Eades told me he was one of those young people who ate everything he wanted and never put on any extra fat, but then in his 30s (I believe), he got fat all in one year.

  8. Emma

    What the hee-haw??? A virus might be the cause of some people’s obesity? So, does this mean that they can start testing the general population for this and possibly provide a solution for those who have this form of obesity? I mean, since antibiotics can’t get rid of viruses, what can be done? Apparently, it’s a long term type of virus, because logic tells you that if it were a short term virus, once the virus has passed (like a cold), the person who had it would lose their weight and go back to their normal size, but that’s not happening.

    There’s probably a drug being tested as we speak.

  9. Chris

    First, thanks for posting this documentary. Many good comments here. I think the comment by Cate about overweight people fighting the urge to eat after losing weight is likely true. Starchy and sugary carbs make you hungry. Human nature is to go back to you lifelong eating habits after you achieve your weight goals. Go back to moderate to high carb and the weight goes back on.
    As far as middle age folks, at least men, getting fat, it’s simple. When a man hits 28, he is usually at his peak skeletal muscle growth. From that point on he begins to lose muscle mass. This annual lose increases year by year. Muscle mass affects your base metabolic rate. Less muscle, the slower your metabolism, except in a small percentage of the population where genetics dominate. Why does low carb work? High protein intake tends to lead to lean body mass gain, even if you are less active.
    Another clue in this doc. All the extra calories came from carbs. No one sat down and ate a 3 lb porterhouse, half a ham, etc.

    That’s certainly part of it, but production of hormones that encourage fat accumulation also goes up in many people as they enter middle age.

  10. Dave, RN

    I’m confused. We all know that there are a lot more obese people than there used to be. When did more thin people start getting fatter to contribute to that if thin people stayed thin?
    It seems that thin people don’t always stay thin. Some of them are getting fatter and staying that way to contribute to the greater numbers of fat people.

    I believe most people can be pushed over a biological threshold that results in going into fat-accumulation mode. Lousy diets have pushed more and more people over that threshold, but some (lucky) people are still quite resistant to becoming fat.

  11. Emma

    I was thinking the same thing as I was watching the video, Chris…I wonder what the results would have been if the people were only fed meats/fats, vegetables, and fruit. It would be so interesting to see the results of that type of study.

  12. Tom C.

    Tom, I too have read that fat cells can die off, despite the common “knowledge” that they don’t. My personal theory (with no scientific backing) is that it’s probably a time related thing. The studies that say they don’t die off weren’t long enough. If a person can maintain a body fat % for a certain time, when the cell finally dies, it doesn’t need to be replaced. I think the “knowledge” is based on the problem that most people lose weight and regain it before that happens.

    Once again, just my personal theory, based on my own observations of my body composition and my struggle with weight.

  13. BA

    The notion that the increase in adipocyte number cannot be reversed is some kind of perverse fairy tale steeped in complete ignorance of the basics of cellular biology.

    Fat cells are not cancer. Just like every other normal cell in your body, adipocytes respond to programmed cell death signalling (apoptosis). The rate at which they die off is simply not as impressive as the rate at which they are prone to empty their contents into the bloodstream in response to removing the stimulus of hyperinsulemia.

    Two obvious examples that highlight the cognitive dissonance of this oft-parroted, internet-ubiquitous pseudo-science —

    – The role of the hormone Leptin in signalling adipocyte apoptosis
    – The possible role of EGCG (catechin found in green tea) in signalling adipocyte apoptosis

    It is complete out-of-date quackery to imply that adipocyte number can never decrease.

    I’ve read that they can die off, but there are quite a few factors involved. I doubt everyone has the same ability to “kill” fat cells.

    According to this study, leptin does more to inhibit the growth of new fat cells than to kill off existing ones:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006295206006289

  14. Richard

    For me way back when I was a kid I was very thin, my parents actually thought I was dangerously thin.

    So they insisted I eat more (IIRC the more was more bread), then I gained weight and when I stopped being as active I gained weight really fast and was over 200lbs in high school.

    So imo some are born thin others get forced out of being thin and once you’re past some point it seems like the body just forgets how to crank up the metabolic rate.

    Then I have an older brother who has always been in shape so these people that can’t gain weight I think they have genes and luck too.

    What the rise in obesity rates suggests to me is that most of us can be pushed into fat-accumulation mode with enough lousy food. Some are more resistant than others.

  15. Firebird7478

    They absolutely vilified chocolate in this piece. Chocolate is calorie dense? Nope…the amount of sugar used to sweeten it, the amount of grains to make that muffin are the reasons, but we won’t mention that.

    Curious to see what would have happened if they made themselves the coconut oil/chocolate “Fat bomb” instead of eating the garbage they were eating.

    Totally reckless eating plan.

    Without the sugar, I predict many of them couldn’t have packed away the calories.

  16. TonyNZ

    Apparently, People who love chocolate weigh less than other people!

    There are most things wrong with this study, as you will see. The most interesting comment, however, was “The researchers found that people who ate chocolate with greater frequency tended to eat more calories overall, including more saturated fat, than those who went light on the candy. But even so, chocolate lovers tended to have a lower body weight.”

    Well damn. Back to the drawing board folks.

    Sounds like the mirror-image of the observation that fat people are more likely to drink diet sodas than thin people. Of course they are. Fat people go on diets.

  17. Galina L.

    Hot-smocked eels are unbelievably delicious and quite fat. Sometimes I buy cooked eel in Chinese store in frozen section.

  18. Becky

    I’m currently reading “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It” by Gary Taubes and it’s really given me perspective on how instilled the “eat less move more” theory is in our culture. Just about everyone who sees me reading tht book repeats that theory to me as a ridiculously obvious answer. It’s gotten to the point that I stop trying to explain it and I just nod and smile. And my RN sister told me I was silly for getting a glucometer because I wasn’t sick– the point being, of course, that I want to stay that way.
    Oh, btw, eel tastes like chicken. If you’re ever carb cheating at a nice sushi place, give it a shot sometime!

    If your toilet overflows, you can accurately state that more water is entering than exiting. But that doesn’t tell you anything useful.

  19. Ray Kelley

    I’ll watch this when I have time, but first off, I’m glad to see you call out the calories in/calories out guy as a “moron”. I think of all the effort I put into getting my extra weight off over the years, and how smug and superior some people were about it. I just didn’t have the proper information. It’s not like I wasn’t trying.

    On a related not, a cousin of mine who’s apparently gotten to over 300 lbs and is having some blood sugar problems, went to a doctor recently. To my amazement, my Mom told me that his doctor put him on a low carb diet. There may yet be hope. Thought you might like to hear that.

    That’s good news indeed.

  20. Rob

    Tom,

    You are a true scientist. Thank you for your dedication to analysing the scientific method used in the studies to support the saturated fat good/bad argument. You have a level head on your shoulders, and I hope you keep up this fight to expose poor science and falsification of data.

    I hope you write a book at some point.

    I’m not a scientist, but I’m a fan of good science. A book is on our to-do list, probably with a DVD companion.

  21. Ricardo

    I actually watched this online a long time ago it was really interesting. I use to be like them but unfortunately i don’t have the same healthy metabolism as i did when i was younger. It also reminds me of Jon Gabriel of the Gabriel Method where he mentions that some of us are turning one our fat switch.

    Sure, it’s about gene expression. Bad diets turn on the fat-accumulation genes.

  22. BA

    The notion that the increase in adipocyte number cannot be reversed is some kind of perverse fairy tale steeped in complete ignorance of the basics of cellular biology.

    Fat cells are not cancer. Just like every other normal cell in your body, adipocytes respond to programmed cell death signalling (apoptosis). The rate at which they die off is simply not as impressive as the rate at which they are prone to empty their contents into the bloodstream in response to removing the stimulus of hyperinsulemia.

    Two obvious examples that highlight the cognitive dissonance of this oft-parroted, internet-ubiquitous pseudo-science —

    – The role of the hormone Leptin in signalling adipocyte apoptosis
    – The possible role of EGCG (catechin found in green tea) in signalling adipocyte apoptosis

    It is complete out-of-date quackery to imply that adipocyte number can never decrease.

    I’ve read that they can die off, but there are quite a few factors involved. I doubt everyone has the same ability to “kill” fat cells.

    According to this study, leptin does more to inhibit the growth of new fat cells than to kill off existing ones:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006295206006289

  23. Rob

    Tom,

    You are a true scientist. Thank you for your dedication to analysing the scientific method used in the studies to support the saturated fat good/bad argument. You have a level head on your shoulders, and I hope you keep up this fight to expose poor science and falsification of data.

    I hope you write a book at some point.

    I’m not a scientist, but I’m a fan of good science. A book is on our to-do list, probably with a DVD companion.

  24. Ricardo

    I actually watched this online a long time ago it was really interesting. I use to be like them but unfortunately i don’t have the same healthy metabolism as i did when i was younger. It also reminds me of Jon Gabriel of the Gabriel Method where he mentions that some of us are turning one our fat switch.

    Sure, it’s about gene expression. Bad diets turn on the fat-accumulation genes.

  25. Koala

    Well if these results were not published in a peer-reviewed journal, I would take them with a grain of salt.

    Its amazing really, something I never see discussed in these ‘calories are a myth’ circles is the 20+ metabolic ward trials that show a caloric deficit is required for weight-loss and that iso-hypocaloric regimens yield the same rate of weight-loss, despite macronutrient composition.

    If Tom is a “fan of good-science” then he would give due consideration to the substantial literature that clearly shows CALORIES DO MATTER.

    If you run the professor’s name (Fredrik Nystrom) in Google Scholar, you’ll see he’s published quite a few peer-reviewed papers on over-feeding experiments.

    I’ve said many times that a calorie deficit is required for weight loss. I’ve also said that a calorie deficit can lead to a slower metabolism as the body tries to match the lower intake, just as the body can raise the metabolism to match a higher intake. Calories in and calories out are not independent variables. They affect each other.

    The same average rate of weight loss among study groups doesn’t translate to the same rate of weight loss in individuals. Nor does “weight loss” mean the same as “fat loss.” I’ve seen studies in which groups experienced the same average weight loss, but people on a lower-carb, higher-protein diet lost more body fat and less lean tissue.

    Here are a three isocaloric studies you my have missed.

    1. Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
    The average daily losses on the 1,000-kcal, isocaloric diets were:

    High-carbohydrate/low-fat diet – 49 grams
    high-carbohydrate/low-protein – 122 grams
    low-carbohydrate/high-protein – 183 grams
    low-carbohydrate/high-fat – 205 grams

    “The most striking feature . . . is that the losses appear to be inversely
    proportionate to the carbohydrate content of the food. Where the
    carbohydrate intake is low the rate of loss in weight is greater and
    conversely.”
    Lyon DM, Dunlop DM. The treatment of obesity: a comparison of the effects of diet and of thyroid extract. Quart J Med 1932; 1: 331

    2. Middlesex Hospital, London
    Dietary trial which included four different composition, but isocaloric
    diets from 1000kcals to 2,600kcals also found that overweight patients lost the most weight on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, lost the least weight on a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet , even lost weight at 2,600 calories a day – but only on a high-fat diet.
    Kekwick A, Pawan GLS. Calorie intake in relation to body-weight changes in the obese. Lancet 1956; ii: 155-160.

    3. Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut
    And a more recent study: Not quite isocaloric, as the low-carb subjects had a 300kcal higher caloric intake than the low-fat group – yet still lost more weight.
    JS Volek, MJ Sharman, AL Gómez, et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004; 1: 13.

  26. Eric from Belgium

    Here is another good show from Horizon: The truth about exercise
    link : http://youtu.be/tyQSzx0ofto

    This show is interesting, but the argument of the big scottish breakfast does not stand up, as the majority of the plate the reporter consumed is mostly carbs!!! Loads of potato mash, beans, and sausages made mostly of flour… and the scientist still believes that he measures fat consumed, not carbs…

    What is interesting is that the argument of short bursts of exercise and insulin sensitivity are explored later on in the show.

    I’ll give it a look later.

  27. Koala

    Well if these results were not published in a peer-reviewed journal, I would take them with a grain of salt.

    Its amazing really, something I never see discussed in these ‘calories are a myth’ circles is the 20+ metabolic ward trials that show a caloric deficit is required for weight-loss and that iso-hypocaloric regimens yield the same rate of weight-loss, despite macronutrient composition.

    If Tom is a “fan of good-science” then he would give due consideration to the substantial literature that clearly shows CALORIES DO MATTER.

    If you run the professor’s name (Fredrik Nystrom) in Google Scholar, you’ll see he’s published quite a few peer-reviewed papers on over-feeding experiments.

    I’ve said many times that a calorie deficit is required for weight loss. I’ve also said that a calorie deficit can lead to a slower metabolism as the body tries to match the lower intake, just as the body can raise the metabolism to match a higher intake. Calories in and calories out are not independent variables. They affect each other.

    The same average rate of weight loss among study groups doesn’t translate to the same rate of weight loss in individuals. Nor does “weight loss” mean the same as “fat loss.” I’ve seen studies in which groups experienced the same average weight loss, but people on a lower-carb, higher-protein diet lost more body fat and less lean tissue.

    Here are a three isocaloric studies you my have missed.

    1. Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
    The average daily losses on the 1,000-kcal, isocaloric diets were:

    High-carbohydrate/low-fat diet – 49 grams
    high-carbohydrate/low-protein – 122 grams
    low-carbohydrate/high-protein – 183 grams
    low-carbohydrate/high-fat – 205 grams

    “The most striking feature . . . is that the losses appear to be inversely
    proportionate to the carbohydrate content of the food. Where the
    carbohydrate intake is low the rate of loss in weight is greater and
    conversely.”
    Lyon DM, Dunlop DM. The treatment of obesity: a comparison of the effects of diet and of thyroid extract. Quart J Med 1932; 1: 331

    2. Middlesex Hospital, London
    Dietary trial which included four different composition, but isocaloric
    diets from 1000kcals to 2,600kcals also found that overweight patients lost the most weight on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, lost the least weight on a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet , even lost weight at 2,600 calories a day – but only on a high-fat diet.
    Kekwick A, Pawan GLS. Calorie intake in relation to body-weight changes in the obese. Lancet 1956; ii: 155-160.

    3. Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut
    And a more recent study: Not quite isocaloric, as the low-carb subjects had a 300kcal higher caloric intake than the low-fat group – yet still lost more weight.
    JS Volek, MJ Sharman, AL Gómez, et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004; 1: 13.

  28. Eric from Belgium

    Here is another good show from Horizon: The truth about exercise
    link : http://youtu.be/tyQSzx0ofto

    This show is interesting, but the argument of the big scottish breakfast does not stand up, as the majority of the plate the reporter consumed is mostly carbs!!! Loads of potato mash, beans, and sausages made mostly of flour… and the scientist still believes that he measures fat consumed, not carbs…

    What is interesting is that the argument of short bursts of exercise and insulin sensitivity are explored later on in the show.

    I’ll give it a look later.

  29. Elena

    I would love to see what he ate, the guy who put on MUSCLE while overeating and slothing. 🙂

    It wouldn’t surprise me if he gorged on sugary foods as well. Some people can get away with eating almost anything. My son has gone paleo now, but he used to fill up on sodas and chips and beer, but still had the ripped look.

  30. Craig

    “eat more than your body burns = gain weight, vice versa”

    That simple-minded comment is somewhat true. Of course, how much your body burns is directly determined by metabolism. And metabolism is greatly influenced by leptin, insulin and your cells response to those hormones. When I ate a low-fat, grain heavy diet, I never tried to overeat. I just ate until I was full when I got hungry. My weight kept creeping up and my waistline kept expanding. Exercise like riding a bike only helped a little.

    After dumping grains, sugar and vegetable oils I’ve dropped 25 pounds, going from overweight to trim looking. But I still eat until I’m full when I get hungry. A few months ago I did a month-long test using organic coconut milk to intentionally force more calories into my diet, mostly from saturated fat. It made no change to my weight or waistline. So now my body will readily burn extra fat calories instead of storing them. Add a few servings a day of hearthealthywholegrains to my diet and all those extra calories are going to get stored.

    Bingo. No one is suggesting that calories just disappear into thin air. But diet can have profound effects on what our bodies decide to do with the calorie we consume.

  31. Bob Johnston

    Hi Tom,

    I watched the video and don’t have much to say about it that others already have but you mentioned diet sodas in a reply to TonyfromNZ and that reminded me to mention my experience with the stuff.

    I was until early February a habitual user of the stuff, drinking upwards of 250 oz of Diet Pepsi a day. Pretty much the more I drank the more I wanted, I was hooked. And then I went cold turkey off the stuff and after suffering a few days with a massive headache I was over it. But the headache wasn’t the only thing that went away; in the next 6 weeks I lost 14 lbs of fat and gained 6 lbs of muscle mass w/o any changes to my diet or exercise program. I know that aspartame doesn’t provoke an increase in blood sugar but I also noticed I’d get very drowsy in the afternoons after a low carb lunch accompanied by a heavy intake of diet soda. Why was I getting drowsy even though I wasn’t eating carbs at lunch? I couldn’t explain it but the drowsiness went away after I dropped Diet Pepsi.

    But a couple of weeks ago I started playing around with a glucose meter as I was very curious as to what my numbers were. My fasting numbers looked good; ranging from 80 – 94. But what was weird is that after a breakfast of eggs, bacon and sausage my glucose would drop 15 points an hour later. I wouldn’t have expected the number to move at all as I ate no carbs whatsoever. I’m beginning to wonder if my years of abusing aspartame at every meal has screwed up my metabolism so I overproduce insulin when I eat something, an attempt to overcome a blood sugar elevation anticipated by my body that never materializes. It would explain my drowsiness after lunch (low blood sugar) and it would explain my subsequent weight loss after ditching the stuff (elevated insulin levels).

    Anyhow, I thought it was interesting and wanted to share. And I am going to stay away from artificial sweeteners from here on out.

    I think that’s a good idea regardless of whether or not those sweeteners affect weight gain.

  32. Craig

    I realized after making my previous post that it could be misinterpreted as me saying that anyone can have a fast metabolism if they change their diet. I was naturally thin until my early 20s when I started gaining weight. So when I dropped the extra weight in my early 30s, I was just using real food to return to my original, naturally fast metabolism.

    Some people never had a fast metabolism and never will. And some people who had a fast metabolism while young but went through decades of insulin and leptin resistance later in life instead of a few years may not ever be able to completely turn things back around.

    Just wanted to make sure no one thought I was guilty of the smug, “Just do what I do and you’ll get the exact same results as me. I know because it works for me.”

    I didn’t take it that way.

  33. Elena

    I would love to see what he ate, the guy who put on MUSCLE while overeating and slothing. 🙂

    It wouldn’t surprise me if he gorged on sugary foods as well. Some people can get away with eating almost anything. My son has gone paleo now, but he used to fill up on sodas and chips and beer, but still had the ripped look.

  34. John

    There is no doubt in my mind that fat people and thin people are different in the way they handle excess calories or carbohydrates. And I’m sure that genes play a role, but I’m not sure that it’s necessarily the main difference. Obese people have been found to have lower vitamin D levels, lower K2 levels, and lower Magnesium levels than naturally thin people. What about vitamin A? The B vitamins? The other minerals? What about a carnitine deficiency? CoQ10? I also believe their gut flora tends to be different as well. Could these factors be trumping genes? I certainly believe so. My sister was always naturally thin while I was not. Although anecdotal, siblings responding differently to excess calories (or their natural level of hunger) argues against genes being the primary determinant of bodyfat, not for it.

    As Gary Taubes mentioned in Good Calories, Bad Calories, certain strains of mice are bred to be fatter than others, but scientists can make lean rats obese by performing thyroid surgery. In that case, it was the surgery that made the rats fat, not their genetics.

    My point in all this is that fat people are different from thin people, but maybe not genetically so. It may have been something we’ve overlooked, or something yet to be discovered. This would also mean it’s a problem we could correct, as you can’t change your genes, but you can supplement vitamins, minerals, and alter gut flora. In addition to cutting out all the refined sugar and flour, and lousy vegetable oils, of course.

    I don’t believe genes are the whole story, but they certainly play a role. As Taubes also pointed out, animals are bred to be fatter or leaner depending on their purpose.

  35. Saultite

    I agree that it isnt all about the genes, I used to be naturally thin. Then I started the birth control pill and was in a stressful and emotionally abusive relationship. I ate more, mainly carbs, and everything changed. Now i have a set point that is higher, and as long as I avoid most grain, starch and sugar it comes down but I don’t expect I will ever be at the point I was before all this started. And I’m ok with that.

  36. Kindke

    Tom,

    Fredrik Nystrom has an even newer video out with the BBC about obesity, link below. In it he talks about the incretin affect. Obese people generally are not “that” hungry, but once they start eating, they find it difficult to stop. This describes perfectly what alot of obese people experience, including myself.

    The problem, that Fredrik highlights in the video, is that obese people have a severely reduced incretin response to food, ( glp-1, PYY, CCK, bile acids ). What people dont realise is that these hormones dont just “make you feel full”, they all control various parts of your metabolism including energy expenditure and nutrient partitioning.

    Is it any coincidence that people undergoing RYGB surgery experience rapid remission of diabetes? No, because this surgey also causes dramatic increases in glp-1 and bile acid signalling. Below is the video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAjVWpkoJJs

    Looks interesting. I’ll try to watch it later.

  37. Firebird7478

    Something else that I took from this documentary was the level of frustration of the subjects in getting to their caloric goals…force feeding themselves, and going to extremes such as liquid calories. They were sick and tired of eating. The certainly didn’t enjoy any of this, which goes back to Spurlock and others blaming our obesity problems on food addictions and sheer gluttony. I think we all pretty much agree that obesity can be blamed on the crappy foods that are cheap and readily available to us.

    Last night, the news aired a piece that suggested that autism is linked to overly processed foods. Wonder when the “experts” are going to make that link with obesity.

    The fact that these subjects were nearly gagging while trying to eat enough to get fat says a lot. Their bodies resist gaining weight and also resist over-eating.

  38. cndnrose

    I’m glad the video also included a bit about epigenetics. The conditions in the womb have an effect, but it gives me hope that future generations can be helped if mothers are more aware of how their diet will affect their children.

    Let’s hope.

  39. Craig

    “eat more than your body burns = gain weight, vice versa”

    That simple-minded comment is somewhat true. Of course, how much your body burns is directly determined by metabolism. And metabolism is greatly influenced by leptin, insulin and your cells response to those hormones. When I ate a low-fat, grain heavy diet, I never tried to overeat. I just ate until I was full when I got hungry. My weight kept creeping up and my waistline kept expanding. Exercise like riding a bike only helped a little.

    After dumping grains, sugar and vegetable oils I’ve dropped 25 pounds, going from overweight to trim looking. But I still eat until I’m full when I get hungry. A few months ago I did a month-long test using organic coconut milk to intentionally force more calories into my diet, mostly from saturated fat. It made no change to my weight or waistline. So now my body will readily burn extra fat calories instead of storing them. Add a few servings a day of hearthealthywholegrains to my diet and all those extra calories are going to get stored.

    Bingo. No one is suggesting that calories just disappear into thin air. But diet can have profound effects on what our bodies decide to do with the calorie we consume.

  40. Bob Johnston

    Hi Tom,

    I watched the video and don’t have much to say about it that others already have but you mentioned diet sodas in a reply to TonyfromNZ and that reminded me to mention my experience with the stuff.

    I was until early February a habitual user of the stuff, drinking upwards of 250 oz of Diet Pepsi a day. Pretty much the more I drank the more I wanted, I was hooked. And then I went cold turkey off the stuff and after suffering a few days with a massive headache I was over it. But the headache wasn’t the only thing that went away; in the next 6 weeks I lost 14 lbs of fat and gained 6 lbs of muscle mass w/o any changes to my diet or exercise program. I know that aspartame doesn’t provoke an increase in blood sugar but I also noticed I’d get very drowsy in the afternoons after a low carb lunch accompanied by a heavy intake of diet soda. Why was I getting drowsy even though I wasn’t eating carbs at lunch? I couldn’t explain it but the drowsiness went away after I dropped Diet Pepsi.

    But a couple of weeks ago I started playing around with a glucose meter as I was very curious as to what my numbers were. My fasting numbers looked good; ranging from 80 – 94. But what was weird is that after a breakfast of eggs, bacon and sausage my glucose would drop 15 points an hour later. I wouldn’t have expected the number to move at all as I ate no carbs whatsoever. I’m beginning to wonder if my years of abusing aspartame at every meal has screwed up my metabolism so I overproduce insulin when I eat something, an attempt to overcome a blood sugar elevation anticipated by my body that never materializes. It would explain my drowsiness after lunch (low blood sugar) and it would explain my subsequent weight loss after ditching the stuff (elevated insulin levels).

    Anyhow, I thought it was interesting and wanted to share. And I am going to stay away from artificial sweeteners from here on out.

    I think that’s a good idea regardless of whether or not those sweeteners affect weight gain.

  41. Craig

    I realized after making my previous post that it could be misinterpreted as me saying that anyone can have a fast metabolism if they change their diet. I was naturally thin until my early 20s when I started gaining weight. So when I dropped the extra weight in my early 30s, I was just using real food to return to my original, naturally fast metabolism.

    Some people never had a fast metabolism and never will. And some people who had a fast metabolism while young but went through decades of insulin and leptin resistance later in life instead of a few years may not ever be able to completely turn things back around.

    Just wanted to make sure no one thought I was guilty of the smug, “Just do what I do and you’ll get the exact same results as me. I know because it works for me.”

    I didn’t take it that way.

  42. Brandon

    I don’t understand why people, especially those in sciences, can believe the calories in calories out stuff. Since a calorie is a unit of energy, saying that one gets fat from eating an excess amount of calories means that your body converts excess energy into mass. And last time I checked, the human body is not a nuclear reactor.

    Here’s Dr. Feinman’s take on that issue:

    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/3/1/9

  43. John

    There is no doubt in my mind that fat people and thin people are different in the way they handle excess calories or carbohydrates. And I’m sure that genes play a role, but I’m not sure that it’s necessarily the main difference. Obese people have been found to have lower vitamin D levels, lower K2 levels, and lower Magnesium levels than naturally thin people. What about vitamin A? The B vitamins? The other minerals? What about a carnitine deficiency? CoQ10? I also believe their gut flora tends to be different as well. Could these factors be trumping genes? I certainly believe so. My sister was always naturally thin while I was not. Although anecdotal, siblings responding differently to excess calories (or their natural level of hunger) argues against genes being the primary determinant of bodyfat, not for it.

    As Gary Taubes mentioned in Good Calories, Bad Calories, certain strains of mice are bred to be fatter than others, but scientists can make lean rats obese by performing thyroid surgery. In that case, it was the surgery that made the rats fat, not their genetics.

    My point in all this is that fat people are different from thin people, but maybe not genetically so. It may have been something we’ve overlooked, or something yet to be discovered. This would also mean it’s a problem we could correct, as you can’t change your genes, but you can supplement vitamins, minerals, and alter gut flora. In addition to cutting out all the refined sugar and flour, and lousy vegetable oils, of course.

    I don’t believe genes are the whole story, but they certainly play a role. As Taubes also pointed out, animals are bred to be fatter or leaner depending on their purpose.

  44. Rachel

    Alyssa’s post made me smile. We are like sisters. I was around 300lb this time last year (I’m now 195lb!). My partner weighs around 130lb, which is what he’s weighed for the past twenty years, since he was 21. He CANNOT gain weight.

    On holiday a few weeks ago we had buffet breakfasts and dinners, and he hates buffets because he just can’t stop. He’d pile his plate up and go back for more, every morning and evening for 8 days. Not a single solitary extra pound gained.

    Meanwhile I was sticking as best I could to low carb foods, but was forced to eat rice and bread once. Just once. I got sick and ate nothing for 36 hours too. The result? I returned home 2lb heavier. Water weight, and it went, but really?! How is that in any way fair?! Half a plate of rice, a miniature airline-meal roll and croissant, and I’m up 2lb. Several tons of everything he can fit in his mouth, washed down with beer and fruit juice, and he’s as scrawny as ever!

    Unbelievably, despite 10 years of him stuffing his face in front of me, I still believed in CICO up until last year. Duhhhh!

    Sounds as if we can dismiss the possibility that he’s lean because of superior discipline.

  45. cTo

    These videos were fascinating, and very well produced (as British documentary-type things so often are). However, I found watching them to be very upsetting. Why? Because although it easily proves half of CW false, it does so by idolizing the OTHER half of CW: You Are The Way You Are And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It (since the take-home messages from it seem to be that if you were fat as a kid, oops too bad, thats screwed you over as an adult, and oh hey if youre fat now that means your body has set itself to be fat so you’re stuck with it).

    My entire life, my self esteem and body image was pummeled back and forth by these two ideas on weight and body health (the You’re A Fat Lazy Loser With No Willpower camp and You’re Genetically Inferior So Get Used to It camp). I ricocheted back and forth between them, with seemingly no escape. Luckily, of course, I have FOUND the escape (paleo lifestyle! wholesome real foods! eat more fat!!), but it still upsets me to remember when I was trapped.

    Still, thank you for sharing them!

    I ricocheted between the same self-defeating ideas back in the day.

  46. Saultite

    I agree that it isnt all about the genes, I used to be naturally thin. Then I started the birth control pill and was in a stressful and emotionally abusive relationship. I ate more, mainly carbs, and everything changed. Now i have a set point that is higher, and as long as I avoid most grain, starch and sugar it comes down but I don’t expect I will ever be at the point I was before all this started. And I’m ok with that.

  47. Kindke

    Tom,

    Fredrik Nystrom has an even newer video out with the BBC about obesity, link below. In it he talks about the incretin affect. Obese people generally are not “that” hungry, but once they start eating, they find it difficult to stop. This describes perfectly what alot of obese people experience, including myself.

    The problem, that Fredrik highlights in the video, is that obese people have a severely reduced incretin response to food, ( glp-1, PYY, CCK, bile acids ). What people dont realise is that these hormones dont just “make you feel full”, they all control various parts of your metabolism including energy expenditure and nutrient partitioning.

    Is it any coincidence that people undergoing RYGB surgery experience rapid remission of diabetes? No, because this surgey also causes dramatic increases in glp-1 and bile acid signalling. Below is the video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAjVWpkoJJs

    Looks interesting. I’ll try to watch it later.

  48. Firebird7478

    Something else that I took from this documentary was the level of frustration of the subjects in getting to their caloric goals…force feeding themselves, and going to extremes such as liquid calories. They were sick and tired of eating. The certainly didn’t enjoy any of this, which goes back to Spurlock and others blaming our obesity problems on food addictions and sheer gluttony. I think we all pretty much agree that obesity can be blamed on the crappy foods that are cheap and readily available to us.

    Last night, the news aired a piece that suggested that autism is linked to overly processed foods. Wonder when the “experts” are going to make that link with obesity.

    The fact that these subjects were nearly gagging while trying to eat enough to get fat says a lot. Their bodies resist gaining weight and also resist over-eating.

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