Meet The Fatheads: Tom Monahan

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Several people have mentioned in discussion groups that they can’t stop humming that “Sugar” song from Fat Head. Well, why should they? It’s catchy as all get-out. My daughter sang it for weeks after hearing it. (Although my daughter also eats bugs, so her taste isn’t always impeccable.)

Tom Monahan with some cute girls I know.

Tom Monahan with some cute girls I know.

Today I’d like to introduce the man responsible for that catchy tune and the rest of the music in Fat Head. This will be part of an occasional series of posts in which people who were influenced by the film tell their own stories. I know many of you who bought the film were already singing from the low-carb hymnal – and I love you all, believe me – but it was a real kick to hear from people who changed their diets after seeing it.

Tom Monahan, the film’s composer, was one of them. I met Tom in Chicago many years ago (we both had hair at the time) when he auditioned for a band I was trying to put together with a talented guitarist who was, as I realized later, a couple of cards shy of a full house. Tom called later to say he’d be happy to work with me, but the guitarist gave him a bad feeling – thus demonstrating his intuition.

We worked on some songs together, performed together now and then (mostly then) and became great friends. When I started working on Fat Head, I called and asked if he’d be interested in composing music. I knew this task would be challenging but not daunting for Tom, because at one time he was the composer for a Chicago children’s show titled “The Magic Door,” which won an Emmy.

Tom agreed and soon began sending me MP3 versions of various mood-music and transition-type compositions. At the time, I still planned on using pop songs to introduce some sections of the film. The section on blood sugar, for example, would’ve been introduced with a bit of “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies.

I say would’ve because I was informed that licensing the songs I’d selected – and we’re talking about little snippets – would cost more than $300,000. After the smelling salts were administered, I told Tom about my troubles, and he got busy writing songs, including his own “Sugar” song and the opening “Fat Head” theme – which I must say, I love.

By the time Tom flew to L.A. and his compositions got the full treatment by a talented music producer named Martin Blasick, I was glad the pop songs were too expensive. The film is 100% original, and Tom’s theme music ties it all up in a neat little bow.

So, with my long-winded introduction out of the way, here is Tom’s story in his own words:

In 1972 I graduated high school at a strapping 5’ 8”, 135 pounds. My introduction to nutrition didn’t begin until the late ‘70s, with Linus Pauling’s megavitamin therapy. In theory, flooding the body with an array of nutrients would correct health imbalances, with vitamin leftovers excreted by the body in what some critics called “expensive urine.”

I was experimenting with all kinds of concoctions, such as vegetable juice, wheat bran and brewer’s yeast, all mixed into a thick, blended shake. The taste was medicinal, and there was enough fiber to make a king-sized quilt, but it didn’t matter; I was a starry-eyed baby boomer out to reinvent myself and discover the fountain of youth.

These elixirs left me feeling incredibly high, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that in addition to all of the dense nutrients, I was flooding my system with natural sugars. Afterwards, I’d crash into a bed of fuzzy thinking and eventually sleep it off.

My exploratory urges dwindled considerably when my friends believed that I was jaundiced, when in fact my skin had turned orange from all the carrot/beet/celery juice that I was guzzling. To counteract such an otherworldly appearance, I began fasting for days to clear away any hint of my saffron hue.

Tens years later, my father reluctantly revealed that he had volunteered as a military guinea pig for the Nevada atomic-bomb tests in the 1950s — six months before I was conceived. My dad now lay dying, and I was left to wonder whether I had somehow inherited damaged DNA due to indirect radioactive fallout.

To compound matters, I was exposing myself to powerful toxins by handling work-related industrial pesticides and solvents over a two-year period. These cumulative poisons took an unimaginable toll on my system. I eventually collapsed.

I was now 122 pounds, utterly exhausted, and unable to work. I experienced flu-like symptoms for eighteen months. Conventional doctors were baffled by my condition, and I felt hopeless. I had hit rock bottom.

A holistic MD later diagnosed me with Environmental Illness/ Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. He prescribed a series of glandulars to restore my depleted endocrine system, and a macrobiotic diet to gently clean the toxins from my system.

Macrobiotics is an organic, low-protein/ high-complex-carbohydrate discipline that mainly consists of beans, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and occasional fish. The theory is that the lack of saturated fat restores clogged arteries, similar to removing bacon grease from a kitchen sink drain.

At the time, such a metaphor made perfect sense to me, considering I was the kind of child who believed that fixing the television set meant that a qualified technician would put the smoke back in.

Magical thinking aside, it took about ten years to recover my basic health, but I still tired easily and was always hungry. After ballooning to 170 pounds, it slowly dawned on me that macrobiotics wasn’t working in the long run. Besides, I had been eating whole grains for years, only to learn that my cholesterol was now 245. How could this be? I was a vegetarian! I was eating almost no saturated fat!

Thus began another round of dietary investigation. In 2000, I came across Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions,” which describes the benefits of saturated fat and explains how the insulin response to grains and sugar raises cholesterol. I began experimenting with small amounts of meat and felt stronger every day, with newfound vigor.

Tom Naughton later asked me to compose the soundtrack for Fat Head. I was absolutely thrilled because music is my passion, and because Tom and I had both been vegetarians for years but independently came to the same conclusion: the current theories about fat and cholesterol were questionable at best.

But it wasn’t until finishing the soundtrack that I became fully committed to the high-fat/low-carb approach. Until then, I still believed I could get away with eating carbohydrates and sugar as long as I ate meat to slow down the process. Silly me.

The first day we were producing the music for the film, Tom, Martin Blasick and I took a lunch break at a nearby fast food restaurant. Everyone ordered cheeseburgers without the bun, but I was the only one who added fries and a soda to my order.

Two hours later I was exhausted. Not even an iced tea could revive me. Meanwhile, Tom and Martin were still going strong. “Why am I so sleepy?” I wondered aloud, to which Tom replied, “It’s the starches and sugar from the fries and the Coke. Your blood sugar is crashing.”

He went on to explain how the insulin response to all those carbohydrates was driving the available fuel into my fat cells for storage, even as my blood sugar was dropping. Now I finally got it. I made the commitment to drastically cut back on sugar and starch.

Over the next eight weeks, I lost 20 pounds. My energy levels rose. After years of feeling tired, I now feel strong enough to take a full load of college classes on the way to finishing my degree in theater, and I work out at the gym three days a week.

And I look forward to even greater creative challenges ahead.


Tall Tales About Exercise

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I haven’t found NBA basketball worth watching since the Michael Jordan era, when I lived in Chicago and couldn’t help myself.  But last night, as sort of a “bye-bye to L.A.” experience, I decided to watch the Lakers in the finals, and the more I watched, the more I couldn’t help but notice something peculiar:  almost all the players are very tall – much taller than the average man.

This got me thinking back to my college days, when I last attended basketball games in person.  The college players were tall too, although not as tall as the Lakers.  Then I thought about my high school team.  As a bunch of white Catholic kids, they weren’t exactly human skyscrapers, but they were still some of the tallest guys in our school. 

So after carefully thinking through all the evidence, I came to the obvious conclusion:  playing basketball makes you tall.  And the longer you play, the taller you become.  Nothing else can explain why the players become taller as they move from high school, to college, to the pros.

Therefore, I’ve decided to add a few hours of rigorous basketball to my weekly workout regimen.  My goal is to grow to about 6 ft. 2 inches, which would make me as tall as my son – who did play high school basketball and thus outgrew me.  However, if Fat Head sells to the point that I can be sure I’ll be flying first class from now on, I may keep playing until I reach 6 ft. 5 inches.

There’s nothing wrong with my current height of 5 ft. 11 inches, you understand.  I certainly don’t feel vertically inadequate.  But I can see some definite advantages to being taller.  I’ve read, for example, that tall men tend to earn higher incomes, so after my basketball program does its magic, I’ll be able to raise my software-programming rates.

I’ve also read that tall men have an advantage in the dating market and are more likely to be happily married.  I’m already happily married, but I figure when I start packing on the extra inches, my wife may sense the growing competition and work on improving her already-sparkling personality.  (I would say she’ll work on becoming better-looking, but there’s really no room for improvement.)

If my plan sounds a bit ridiculous – which it is – keep in mind that it’s only slightly more ridiculous than the “exercise makes you lean” theory.  While researching Fat Head, I came across study after study that compared fat people to thin people and concluded that because the thin people moved more, it was the extra movement that made them thinner. 

And truth be told, this theory has been pounded into our consciousness for so many decades, I bought into it.  I quoted some of those studies in an early version of the film.  It was Dr. Mike Eades who warned me I was about to repeat the error made by the researchers themselves:  confusing an association with a cause. 

Yes, people who are active and bouncy tend to be thinner than people who aren’t.  But that doesn’t mean the lean people are lean because they’re active.  It’s just as likely – more likely, I believe – that they’re active because they’re lean.

This was one of the truly eye-opening revelations in Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes.  As Taubes explains, your body is constantly working to reach homeostasis, the point at which the internal environment is in balance.  Your blood sugar, for example, must be balanced, and so a whole series of biochemical processes interact to keep it within a narrow range.

Your body’s fuel supply also needs to stay in balance – which means maintaining exactly as much fat as you need.  Yes, you need your fat.  You may even need a lot of it, depending on your hormonal balance.

Your fat cells are not little bank accounts that only take deposits when you eat too much.  They’re more like rechargeable batteries.  When you eat, you charge them up with fatty acids … even if you’re skinny.  When you’re not eating and begin to run low on available energy, the fat cells release fatty acids to provide fuel for your muscles and organs.

If your fat cells don’t release fatty acids efficiently – that is, if they’ve become akin to weak batteries – your body will work to make bigger batteries.  You’ll feel hungrier and eat more.  Your metabolism will slow down.  You’ll produce less heat.  You’ll feel lethargic and lazy. 

Guess what?  People who feel lethargic don’t move as much – exactly what your body intended.  And this process will continue until you reach homeostasis, the point at which your slow-leak fat cells are big enough to provide the fuel your body needs when you’re not eating.

The opposite is also true.  As Taubes explains, people like Lance Armstrong (or my lean, bouncy son) have fat cells that are constantly releasing fatty acids.  With the body awash in fuel, there is a strong impulse to move.  Their bodies don’t want to store fat, and so they’re driven to burn it.  They’re active because they’re naturally lean.

So do I believe exercise is worthless for losing weight?  Nope.  If you work out and put on extra muscle, the bigger muscles will burn more fuel and raise your basal metabolism.  More importantly, a good, hard workout can increase your sensitivity to insulin, so you won’t need as much of the stuff to keep your blood sugar level.  Lower insulin means you’re more likely to burn fat and less likely to store it – which in turn means you’re more likely to have the impulse to move.  So exercise can lead to the desire to exercise.  I know it does for me.

But if your insulin is elevated and you don’t change your diet to bring it down, exercising will most likely just deplete your body of fuel – and your body will fight to hang onto those big batteries it needs by conserving fuel any way it can.  Taubes recounts stories of people who’ve trained for and run marathons without losing weight.

The bottom line is that I think the right type of exercise is great for your muscles and your overall health.  When I see people in their seventies or eighties clinging to a walker and inching down the sidewalk, it breaks my heart.  I’m determined to keep working out and make sure that doesn’t happen to me.  But without the right diet, I don’t expect exercise to keep my weight down. 

I also don’t expect it to make me any taller.  But I think the Lakers can live without me.


The Alzheimer’s Project

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Last week my wife and I finished watching “The Alzheimer’s Project,” a four-part series on HBO.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it; the episodes are informative and often touching.  You may find yourself moved to tears.

I certainly was, but that’s mostly because I was thinking about my dad, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago and has declined markedly in the past six months.  I always expected to lose my father someday, but not like this.  I thought he’d be here one day and gone the next.  I would say goodbye, grieve for awhile, and miss him forever.  Instead, we lose a little bit of him day by day.

For most of my life, my image of my dad was largely defined by his high intelligence and quick wit.  He left a comfortable corporate job in his mid-30s to buy his own business and did well.  He devoured books and magazines and remembered everything he read.  When we played Trivial Pursuit, he’d run the table in about a half hour, then the rest of us would play on as if he hadn’t been there.  Some friends of his who saw my standup comedy act commented that they saw a lot his style of humor in mine, and they were right.  I tell stories on stage, and my dad was always a gifted story-teller. 

In retrospect, we realize something began going awry in his brain at least a few years before the official diagnosis.  He stopped reading and spent hours vegetating in front of the TV.  His once-competent golf game went south.  He began missing stop signs and making wrong turns in the neighborhood were he’d lived for more than 30 years.  But most of the time, he still seemed like himself.

Nowadays, he can’t follow a normal conversation. He rarely knows what day it is.  He tries to put his legs into the sleeves of his shirt when he’s dressing.  When my parents have friends over for dinner, he’ll tell my mom he’s tired and wants to go home.  In recent weeks, he’s had to ask both my mom and my sister who they are.  I haven’t seen him since the holiday season, and I know the next time I go home to visit, there’s a good chance he won’t know who I am.

I’ve read quite a bit about Alzheimer’s in the past year, and I know now that my dad was a walking bundle of risk factors.  His mother died of the disease, although she was in her mid-eighties, not early seventies.  He took Lipitor for 20 years.  Despite being touted as wonder drug that may even help with Alzheimer’s, the truth is that memory problems are a known side-effect of statins.  Dr. Duane Graveline, a former NASA astronaut, suffered bouts of extreme confusion and memory loss until he identified Lipitor as the culprit and stopped taking it.

(And by the way, Dad still ended up with stents put in his arteries, which were 98 percent blocked.  So much for the wonders of statins.)

Dad was also a heavy smoker until he quit at age 58 – and then, like many people who give up nicotine, he developed a fondness for sweets and starches.  He gained a lot of weight.  He suffered from sleep apnea.  He showed all the signs of someone developing insulin resistance.

Which brings me back to The Alzheimer’s Project.  In one episode, they named insulin resistance as a major risk factor.  Diabetics are four times more likely to develop the disease, and people who are insulin-resistant are at three times the usual risk.  Many doctors are now referring to Alzheimer’s as Type III Diabetes.

I was pleased at that point.  But then some goofy doctor cited a study which demonstrated that people who consume a diet high in sugar and saturated fat produce more insulin than those who consume a diet low in sugar and saturated fat.  I nearly jumped off out of my chair, yelling, “What the @#$% does saturated fat have to do with insulin?!  Fat is the only macronutrient that doesn’t raise insulin!”

This is akin to comparing people who consume a lot of whiskey and carrots to those who consume almost no whiskey and very few carrots.  Turns out the key to sobriety is a low-whiskey, low-carrot diet.  (Don’t order the side of carrots if you’re driving yourself home.)

Meanwhile, as my wife and I watched the scenes that showed Alzheimer’s patients and their families struggling at home, we couldn’t help but notice their meals were a parade of mashed potatoes, pies, cookies, sodas, and other carbohydrates.  This proves nothing, of course; you could step into most American kitchens and find those foods on the table.  But it certainly adds weight to the theory that Alzheimer’s may be a form of diabetes.

Some months ago, we watched another documentary about a woman’s personal struggles dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s. She noted that rates of Alzheimer’s are increasing, and since she grew up in a town polluted with industrial waste, she guessed that pollutants may be largely to blame.

Perhaps so.  But I think it’s more likely that the rise in Alzheimer’s is being driven by the same factor that’s driving the rise in obesity and Type II diabetes:  high-carbohydrate diets.  Nature simply didn’t intend for human beings to rely on high levels of insulin to smack their blood sugar down several times per day. 

The last episode, which was presented in two parts, featured some brilliant and dedicated researchers who are working to develop drugs to stop the disease.  They believe they’re close. That’s good news, but if Alzheimer’s truly is Type III diabetes, then prevention is (as always) the best medicine.  That means ignoring the stupid advice we’ve been fed by the USDA , the FDA, and countless other nutrition “experts,” and getting off the sugar and the starch.

I just wish I could go back in time and warn my dad.  I’d also like to tell him I love him a few more times without having to explain who I am.


Dietary Confusion at MSNBC

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I know I’ve made fun of nutritionists and health writers in the past, but I have to admit most of them possess an unusual skill: they can listen to a true-life story about weight loss and hear exactly what they want to hear, instead of what actually happened.

That skill became apparent after I read this story on the MSNBC web site and watched the accompanying video clip from The Today Show. Before we get into the details, let me summarize the how the story was covered:

“Today we’re talking to Cindy Dominick, who lost 130 pounds and went from a size 24 to a size 6. Cindy, how did you lose such an amazing amount of weight?”

“I walked a lot and cut all the sugar and starch out of my diet.”

“Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen … proof once again that a low-calorie diet and exercise will make you thin!”

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Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad. Cindy Dominick didn’t state directly that she’d given up sugar and starch, but it’s pretty obvious if 1) you listen to her describe her new diet and 2) you have a functioning brain. But as usual, whoever wrote the story managed to pound a round peg into a square hole and blame fatty foods for causing obesity. Take a look at this quote:

At 285 pounds, Cindy was certainly aware of her size, but felt hopeless about controlling her eating habits. She never felt satisfied by three meals and she’d often catch herself snacking on fatty fast food like fried chicken, McDonald’s fries or take-out pizza. She’d then top it off with a king-size Snickers bar.

Are those fatty foods? Yup. But they’re also loaded with refined carbohydrates.

If you eat a 12-inch pizza (which isn’t difficult for a fat person; I’ve done it many times) you can easily consume 200 grams of starch. A large order of fries delivers 25 grams of fat, but more than 60 grams of carbohydrates. Fried chicken isn’t particularly starchy, but if you snarf down three pieces of KFC extra crispy, you can still end up consuming 50 grams of starch from the batter.

And I found this part of the quote rather illuminating:  She never felt satisfied by three meals …

I can assure you from both personal experience and from the research I read while producing Fat Head that anyone who isn’t satisfied with three meals is almost certainly consuming a lot of carbohydrates. The insulin spike that results from a high-carb meal causes your body to store calories, either as glycogen or fat. With the calories locked in storage, you soon run out of fuel and feel hungry again.

This doesn’t happen with meals that are mostly protein and fat. Or as Dr. Mike Eades put it during our first interview, “Nobody ever binges on steak. Nobody ever binges on eggs.”

This quote was also interesting:

Soon she was taking medications for blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol and acid reflux. Tired from being overmedicated – and concerned after her home state had been named the fattest in the nation – Cindy put on her sneakers and started walking.

Let’s see … high blood pressure, asthma and acid reflux.   What could possibly cause those conditions?

Acid reflux can have a number of causes, including food allergies, but sugar and starch will do the trick for a lot of people. In fact, starch alone can cause reflux. When I was a starch-eating vegetarian, I didn’t consume sugar at all (I at least knew that was bad for me), but I still had acid reflux now and then. I also had asthma, which disappeared – along with the reflux – when I cut back on starch. And chronically high insulin is known to cause chronically high blood pressure, along with a host of other horrors.

To her credit, Joy Bauer of the Joy Fit Club pointed out the high amount of sugar Cindy Dominick consumed when she was 130 pounds heavier. But of course, she also had to bring out the butter sticks to demonstrate the high fat content.

Fat doesn’t make you hungry. Fat makes you feel full – unless you mix it with carbohydrates, which causes the fat to be stored instead of burned for fuel. 

(I always wonder what they do with the butter props after they tape a segment like this. Since the hosts seem to think butter is the nutritional equivalent of a loaded gun, I’m pretty sure they don’t take it home. One of the kids could find it and suffer a tragic butter incident – like taking a bite and realizing it’s delicious.)

Fortunately, Cindy Dominick herself provided a clue to the real cause of her admirable weight loss when she described her current diet as “grilled and green.” Unless she’s grilling bread and potatoes, that means she’s living on a low-carb diet. Her insulin levels have surely plummeted since the time when she was filling up on pizza and French fries, so when she takes those long walks, her body can burn fat for fuel.

Too bad nobody at MSNBC or The Today Show managed to figure that out. The readers and viewers might’ve learned something useful.


Calorie-Count Menu Laws – A Load Of Bologna

In my last post, I mentioned that several states have recently enacted laws that will require restaurants to list the calorie counts of everything they sell – right on the menu, or on the menu board in the case of fast-food joints.  These laws are, of course, being promoted as a tool to help battle the obesity epidemic.

This menu is supposed to help cure obesity.

This menu is supposed to help cure obesity.

Confronting people with calorie counts isn’t going to make them lose weight, and I’ll explain why shortly.  But first, I want to talk about the politics behind these idiotic laws.  I usually save my political opinions for my other blog – I’m perfectly aware that people who share my beliefs about nutrition may be annoyed by my libertarian political beliefs – but I can’t help it in this case.  We are, after all, talking about politicians trying to legislate behavior.

So if political discussions aren’t your cup of tea, skip down to the END OF POLITICAL RANT and pick up the nutrition discussion from there.


As a libertarian, I believe government’s primary function – one of its few legitimate functions – is to prevent people from harming each other, whether by force or by fraud.  (This was also the clearly-stated belief of The Founders, by the way.)  But in the past century, this beautiful, freedom-promoting concept has become so mangled, people now believe government’s job is to force other people to give them what they want.

If a restaurant doesn’t share nutrition information with you, you are not being harmed – you’re just not getting what you want.  If you believe you can’t make healthy choices without that information, you are free to take your business elsewhere.  The restaurants know this, so it’s in their interest to keep you happy. That’s why nutrition information is easily available online and in pamphlets – because enough customers demanded it, not because politicians did.

But most customers are not clamoring to have the calorie counts shoved in their faces when they visit McDonald’s … and that’s exactly the problem:  the nutrition nannies have realized that – gosh darn it! – many people don’t care about calorie counts and don’t bother to look at them, no matter how little effort it takes.  So now the politicians want to force you to view the calorie counts, whether you like it or not. 

In other words, while this battle is usually presented in the media as a case of the caring politicians cracking down on the evil, calorie-hiding restaurants, these laws are not actually aimed at the restaurants – they’re aimed at you.  They’re nothing more than an attempt to control your behavior.  The restaurants are simply the tool of control. 

Meanwhile, these laws force sit-down restaurants with large menus to conduct a lot of expensive lab tests on their food to determine all the calorie counts, which will drive up prices.  The end result:  you’ll pay more for your restaurant meals …  and fat people will still be just as fat, long after these laws take effect.  But gee whiz, the politicians will get to feel good about themselves, and that’s all that really matters.


These menu laws aren’t going to make us any thinner, because they’re based on a theory that simply isn’t true:  if you just cut back on calories, you’ll automatically lose weight.  With this theory embedded in their busy-body brains, here’s how the politicians and the nutrition-nannies believe those calorie-count menu boards will make us thinner:

  • Fat Customer waddles into McDonald’s, intending to order a Double Quarter Pounder value meal.
  • Fat Customer is confronted with the calorie count, right there on the menu board where he can’t possibly miss it.
  • Fat Customer says to himself, “Oh my gosh!  I had no idea there were so many calories in this meal!  I’m going to order a Filet-O-Fish and a bottle of water.”
  • Fat Customer is satisfied with this low-calorie meal and, thanks to the menu board, begins eating low-calorie meals at restaurants from this point forward.
  • Fat Customer loses weight, as do millions of other fat customers.
  • The obesity epidemic is solved.  Rates of heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes plummet.  Medicare expenditures drop by 50 percent. 
  • Millions of formerly-obese citizens march on Washington to express their gratitude.  Hallelujah, hallelujah!  All praise the wise and wonderful politicians and Kelly Brownell and CSPI for saving us from our ignorance and gluttony!
Kelly Brownell, the obesity expert at Yale, who thinks these menus will make you eat less.  Please note hes obviously obese.  Why doesnt he simply eat less?
Kelly Brownell, the obesity expert at Yale, who thinks these menus will make you eat less. Please note he’s obviously obese. Why doesn’t he simply eat less?

The trouble with this happy scenario, of course, is that calorie-restricted diets have been a colossal failure.  They lead to long-term weight loss about 1 percent of the time, and many people actually end up fatter after trying them.  Here’s why:

Fat people don’t eat “too much” because they’re unaware of how many calories they’re consuming, nor because they’re gluttons.  They eat “too much” because if they don’t, their bodies run out of fuel and begin to starve at the cellular level.  In fact, from an energy-balance standpoint, they’re not eating too much at all – they’re eating exactly the right amount.

Most fat people are insulin-resistant, so their bodies have to produce a higher level of insulin to keep their blood sugar down.  Unfortunately, the elevated insulin also commands their bodies to store calories as fat, which means those calories are not available as fuel for the muscles and organs. 

As a result, fat people have to eat more to avoid running out of fuel.  If they simply eat less, their cells begin to starve.  The urge to eat eventually becomes overwhelming – that’s Mother Nature doing her job, protecting the organism.  If fat people ignore this powerful, primal urge, their bodies respond by slowing down their metabolisms, which means when they finally give in and eat more, their bodies will store even more fat than before.

Still with me?  Good.  Now let’s return to that calorie-count menu board and predict what will actually happen when we harass a fat person into eating less:

  • Fat Customer waddles into McDonald’s, intending to order a Double Quarter Pounder value meal.
  • Fat Customer is confronted with the calorie count, right there on the menu board where he can’t possibly miss it.
  • Fat Customer says to himself, “Oh my gosh!  I had no idea there were so many calories in this meal!  I’m going to order a Filet-O-Fish and a bottle of water.”
  • Fat Customer eats the lower-calorie meal.
  • Fat Customer’s chronically elevated insulin causes his body to store a disproportionate share of the Filet-O-Fish calories as fat.
  • Fat Customer’s cells run low on fuel and send a telegram to his brain that reads:  “Dear Ass#%&*:  WHAT THE @#$% ARE YOU TRYING TO DO, KILL US?!!  WE’RE @#$%ING STARVING DOWN HERE!!  EAT SOMETHING, YOU DUMB @#$%!!”
  • Fat Customer stops at 7-11 on the way home for a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a pint of Chunky Monkey, which he consumes in front of the TV within minutes after walking through the front door.
  • Feeling disgusted with himself and depressed, Fat Customer watches a re-run of Oprah and learns from Dr. Oz that he’s overeating because he has unresolved issues from childhood.
  • Fat Customer swears he will eat less tomorrow.  He does, and his cells soon run low on fuel.  They send another telegram to the brain, but Fat Customer grits his teeth and ignores the message. 
  • Fat Customer’s body protects itself from starvation by lowering his body temperature and slowing his metabolism.
  • Still hungry and still fat, Fat Customer yells at the kids and kicks the dog.

Here’s an even more likely scenario:

  • Fat Customer waddles into McDonald’s, intending to order a Double Quarter Pounder value meal.
  • Fat Customer is confronted with the calorie count, right there on the menu board where he can’t possibly miss it.
  • Fat Customer says to himself, “I don’t give a @#$%.  I’m famished, and I want the Double Quarter Pounder value meal.”

So how can the restaurants help us lose weight?  They can’t, and it’s not their job anyway.  It’s ours.

Last week, my wife and I had dinner with Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades at a lovely restaurant high in the hills near our home.  We had crab-stuffed mushrooms for appetizers, salads, steaks or fish for our main courses, with steamed, buttered asparagus on the side.  (There may have been one or two adult beverages in there, too.)

We said no thanks when the dessert tray came around.  But I’m guessing if we’d loaded up on insulin-spiking bread or potatoes, those desserts would’ve looked pretty darned tempting.

It was a big, delicious meal.  So how many calories did I consume?  I have no idea; I didn’t ask, and the restaurant didn’t tell me.  I also don’t care.  Despite the high calorie count, this was not a fattening meal, because I didn’t consume any sugar or starch.  I kept my insulin down and therefore didn’t send my body into fat-storing mode.

That was my choice.  If everyone made the same choice, there would be far fewer obese people and far fewer health problems.  But you can’t legislate people into making those choices – and the politicians should stop wasting their time and our money by trying.

p.s. – You can look up nutrition information for hundreds of restaurants on this web site, which somebody took the time to create without any interference by politicians.


The Labelizers – Bonus Clip

      19 Comments on The Labelizers – Bonus Clip

A restaurant sells the burger you see pictured here at a minor-league baseball stadium in Michigan. Naturally, this has a wing of The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life very upset. I mean, look at that thing! It’ll kill you!

Oh, yeeeaaaahh!!

Oh, yeeeaaaahh!!

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine wants the restaurant to label the burger a “dietary disaster” that will cause heart disease and cancer. Boy, that’ll help with sales.

Well, actually, it won’t help with sales … which is the whole point. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is 1) a vegan activist group, not a bunch of concerned doctors, and 2) comprised of annoying, self-appointed nutrition-nannies who think it’s their job to tell the rest of us how to eat. (Dr. Mike Eades wrote about them recently on his blog.)

Like their brethren (and sestren?) at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, PCRM believes people eat junk food because they’re too stupid to realize they’re eating junk food. But by gosh, slap a warning on that artery-clogger and people will gratefully order something more appropriate for a ballgame, like a cup of sprouts.

When I saw this photo, my first thought was that I’d love to take in a game at that park and split one of these monsters with a couple of friends. It’s a $20 concoction that includes five burger patties, five slices of cheese, a cup of chili and some chips and salsa. Yuuuuummmmeee!

And yes, if you ate one of these every day, it could give you heart disease. But if you tried it once, you’d probably just have to drive home with the windows down.

PCRM’s demand for a warning label reminded me that new laws are about to take effect in several states that will require restaurants to list the calorie counts of everything they sell — right on the menu board. No more asking you to do something insanely difficult, such as walking a few feet to read the nutrition chart posted on the wall, or flipping over your placemat to read the chart printed there.

Nope, the high priests of The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life are convinced that if you are confronted with calorie counts, whether you want to see them or not, you’ll finally stop eating so darned much.

There’s a whole lot wrong with this theory, which I plan to dissect in another post soon. But for now, I decided to piece together a video editorial of sorts, using some extra interview footage, some footage from the film, and some schtick that we cut from an earlier draft.