October 3, 2019
If President Trump made a public statement about diet, what would it be?
It would probably be a jumble of unrelated things, and then a declaration that everything else was “fake news”…
But let’s have a look at what he typically eats in a day.
Breakfast: an Egg McMuffin and a Diet Coke.
Brunch: Vienna Fingers and a Diet Coke.
Lunch: Two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish, ketchup, a chocolate shake and a Diet Coke.
Snack: Oreos, potato chips and a Diet Coke.
Dinner: Well-done steak, tureens of gravy, salad with Roquefort dressing and a Diet Coke.
Dessert: Chocolate cream pie, vanilla ice cream and two Diet Cokes.
You see, the real fake news is that, in order to lose weight, President Trump should just eat smaller portions of this ghastly food and drink.
In fact, it’s the standard advice. It’s all an energy balance problem, people say, you take in less energy and you store less as fat.
And yet, 66 percent of Americans are obese, and it’s getting worse. How is that advice working out for you?
What if caloric surplus was actually the effect and not the cause of obesity?
Yes, everyone has got this in reverse, and here’s why…
Calories are overrated
You may think your food intake is under your conscious control –and to some extent you’re right. You can, theoretically, eat less.
But your drive to eat is powerful, in fact it’s so powerful people can and have eaten friends and family in dire circumstances.
It’s because hormones control hunger, and as we know hormones can radically alter mood, thoughts and behavior. Ghrelin, leptin, insulin, and a host of other hormones interact in complex ways that regulate your weight.
A healthy human being, even in a place with abundant food, doesn’t become obese. But Americans are becoming obese by the millions.
So what’s happening?
The standard American diet causes dysregulation of hunger and fat-storage hormones –and that prompts us to eat more.
This is a well-known scientific theory called set-point theory. The idea that the brain and your body’s hormonal system has a built-in weight that it tries to maintain.
But when you eat foods rich in processed carbohydrates and sugar that your body is not designed for, it destabilizes this system.
Cue overproduction of insulin to handle the amount of sugars. You eat a certain amount for your daily needs, and your body stores the rest as fat.
Then you run out of energy, and because you produce so much insulin, your body can’t use the fat it stored earlier as energy. Spike, crash, spike, crash.
So how do you get energy to recover from crashes? You eat more. And the cycle continues…
How to break the cycle of eating more
After struggling with obesity for decades, I finally learned how to manipulate my own ‘set-point’ downward.
First, I had bariatric surgery, and it dropped my set point by 70 pounds.
But I was still husky and unhappy with my appearance. That lasted for years, years where I didn’t count calories and didn’t even watch what I ate.
Why? I couldn’t physically eat more than a certain amount as the good surgeons removed part of my stomach. But bariatric surgery also causes hormonal changes like increased insulin sensitivity and decreased ghrelin levels.
This is the reason why 70 pounds stayed off while I worked 80 hours a week in medical residency.
Then, I discovered intermittent fasting and low-carb diets. My life changed radically, and I dropped to a normal weight pretty quickly.
I don’t count calories, but I make damn sure not to put processed carbohydrates into my mouth. And I practice regular intermittent fasting.
My detractors will tell you that nowadays I eat fewer calories. They’re right, but almost nobody simply decides to eat fewer calories and succeeds. A calorie is not a calorie.
I eat fewer calories because I don’t eat in a way that forces me to eat more.
The standard American diet is made up of a set of harmful foods that hit your hormonal system like the opening shot in a game of pool. The inevitable result is a disease state that causes you to overeat.
Next time someone tries to shame you by claiming you lack willpower, tell them to go to hell.
Doctors and nutritionists have been singing the same stupid tune for decades: eat fewer calories. That advice has fallen flat on its face because it addresses the effect and not the cause.
It’s a common thing, but people often get cause and effect mixed up. Calorie restriction completely misunderstands the problem: people who eat too much do so because their diet makes them.
If you advocate calorie restriction, you just put people into starvation mode. This will just cause misery and hunger, and most importantly, not even make them lose the weight. Instead, you need to radically change what people eat, and the calories will take care of themselves. Want to know more? Check out my lecture, Why your last 10 diets failed and what to do about it…