There is a paradox. It is possible to lose a lot of weight thru semi-starvation and extreme physical activity–there is a TV show that documents the possibility. Those same show contestants now know that it is impossible to keep the weight off by continuing to do the same thing. Nobody wants to starve forever, and if you do not continue to lower and lower your consumption for some mysterious reason you will begin to gain weight once again. A paradox is a situation that combines contradictory features or qualities. Simply stated in this case it is that you can eat less calories than you consume and gain weight too. Want proof? Read this report that follows alumni of “The Biggest Loser” as they utilize the hard-won knowledge gained in their reality show to regain all of the weight they lost, no matter what they do.
Danny Cahill stood, slightly dazed, in a blizzard of confetti as the audience screamed and his family ran on stage. He had won Season 8 of NBC’s reality television show “The Biggest Loser,” shedding more weight than anyone ever had on the program — an astonishing 239 pounds in seven months.
When he got on the scale for all to see that evening, Dec. 8, 2009, he weighed just 191 pounds, down from 430. Dressed in a T-shirt and knee-length shorts, he was lean, athletic and as handsome as a model.
“I’ve got my life back,” he declared. “I mean, I feel like a million bucks.”
Mr. Cahill left the show’s stage in Hollywood and flew directly to New York to start a triumphal tour of the talk shows, chatting with Jay Leno, Regis Philbin and Joy Behar. As he heard from fans all over the world, his elation knew no bounds.
But in the years since, more than 100 pounds have crept back onto his 5-foot-11 frame despite his best efforts. In fact, most of that season’s 16 contestants have regained much if not all the weight they lost so arduously. Some are even heavier now.
Here is the “energy balance” equation that your doctor or dietician might use to show you what you need to do to lose weight.
E(stored)=E(eaten) – E(used)
The idea that they expect you to take away from this is that you have control over the right side of this equation, eating and exercise. If you do less eating and more working that the energy balance will force energy from your storage to keep both sides equal. This is true. If it is the ultimate truth though, then why do the “Biggest Losers” gain their weight back and to maintain it they constantly have to lower and lower the eating or raise and raise the exercise? If they keep doing what they did the day the show ended they gain it all back. Why doesn’t diet and exercise work for the rest of your life? Well it doesn’t work, for anybody.
It doesn’t work because what we are trying to describe in that equation is not as simple as a teeter totter, where you can store energy by pushing down on one side. What we are describing is the human system. What is happening to the Biggest Losers makes sense if you don’t try to make the equation work like you think it does, but instead look at how it works and learn the lesson that that Law of Physics is teaching you. The Left Side of the equation is not a static thing that only moves if you manipulate the Right Side of the equation. In fact, as the Biggest Losers can attest, it is possible for your body to change the Left Side and manipulate the arguments on the Right Side to make that happen. Their bodies are changing the E(used) value to force their E(stored) back to it’s starting point and beyond.
Answer this question from your own life experience. Think of the skinny friend you have that can eat everything in sight and never gain a pound. When you think of that person and why they are like that don’t you think “they have a higher metabolism?” So you already know that metabolism is a thing that can make up for someone eating an amount of food that would turn you into a Thanksgiving float. It does not explain why their metabolism is like that and yours is not, but it does exemplify how a human body could deal with excess food energy and not be forced, like a simple machine, to store that energy in their thighs or belly fats. The body decides if it will store it or ‘burn’ it thru the metabolism. Science knows and can track that the biggest losers, after their show experience, all had significant changes in their ‘basal metabolism’. When you diet you do, too. It’s why diet and exercise are not the way to lose weight. By diet I mean ‘semi-starvation’ diet.
It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.
Researchers knew that just about anyone who deliberately loses weight — even if they start at a normal weight or even underweight — will have a slower metabolism when the diet ends. So they were not surprised to see that “The Biggest Loser” contestants had slow metabolisms when the show ended.
What shocked the researchers was what happened next: As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower, and the pounds kept piling on. It was as if their bodies were intensifying their effort to pull the contestants back to their original weight.
Your body can change the energy you burn without you moving a muscle. This paradox is solved. If you want to lose weight then you have to keep the energy out of storage to begin with, by eating foods that do not have to be put into storage before they can be used. I learned reading Gary Taube’s great book “Why We Get Fat” that if you get fat the body will defend it. Your fat will be used last for energy. Being fat causes you to produce insulin even if you are not eating carbohydrates. Having insulin in your blood will keep you from using fat stores. All of this is proven in the lab and has been known by biochemists since the 1960s, fifty years ago. When you eat fructose it must be converted to fat before any muscle, organ or brain cell can use it. When you eat carbs they get turned into fat to protect you against high blood sugar, then insulin keeps it there.
The way to lose weight is to not put any more fat in storage.
Don’t eat carbohydrates for a long time. Three weeks would do the trick. This depletes your blood of insulin and forces your cells to being using ketone bodies for energy. Once that is happening then your cells will utilize fat from storage. This does not require exercise or starvation. Hunger is a symptom that you are not doing it right. Eat all the calories you want, and if very few of them are in the form of carbohydrate no energy will be put into storage.
You will not lose weight quickly. You won’t win a reality show this way. The weight will come off though. It won’t be a struggle, you fighting a losing retreat against your own metabolism and hunger. You will have plenty of energy in your blood when you are eating and when you are not your body will not jealously guard the fats you have put away. The first to go will be the fats that determine your pants size. Because you are eating plenty of fat and protein you will trade muscle for fat. You will not lose a lot of weight but you will lose waist inches as your organ fat melts first. Many people will lose an inch of waist every month until the organ fat is gone.
Next you will begin to lose subcutaneous fat, the kind the ladies hate and that the majority of men never get. It will go away because the body has no choice. What you are doing is resetting your basal metabolism downward. You are going to be eating less and less, burning less and less, weighing less and less. The answer is to not eat sugar. Not only sugar, but even things that taste sweet, like diet sodas. Your body will secrete insulin at the thought of something sweet. Its proven by your reaction to the sights in the cake case. Seeing food can make your body sweep all energy out of your blood in preparation for a flood of sweets to come. Insulin cannot make you fat in this case, but it can keep your fat right where it is.
E(stored)=E(eaten) – E(used)
If E(stored) goes up because the body is intentionally trying to gain weight–it will lower E(used) of it’s own accord. It will give you intense hunger of it’s own accord. You will gain weight despite your intentions, because you are not in charge of this process. You are in charge of the kinds of energy you give it though. You can give it things that cannot be put into storage, things like natural fats–lard, butter, tallow, olive oil, natural meats like fatty cuts of beef and pork, green leafy vegetables that don’t have any carbohydrates in them.
At the bottom of the article is a video of my food science hero, Gary Taubes, trying to convince scientists to conduct a study that will prove these ideas in humans. It is 38 minutes long and parts of it are trance-inducing and extremely technical. He is very smart and very knowledgeable, as is his audience. The takeaway here is that it is difficult to get science departments to study the equation, because it seems to say “diet and exercise” MUST work. To study the equation from the fat storage side back seems like scientific lunacy, but to a mathemetician it would make sense to see which side of the equation are variables and which are results. Here is the same equation written another way…
E(used) = E(eaten) – E(stored)
In this version of the equation you have less energy for activity because your body is putting everything you eat into storage. Conversely if your body is helping you lose weight then you aren’t hungry, and very little is being put into storage. This is what happens when you quit and stay away from sugar. Your body begins to help you lose weight.
Most people who have tried to lose weight know how hard it is to keep the weight off, but many blame themselves when the pounds come back. But what obesity research has consistently shown is that dieters are at the mercy of their own bodies, which muster hormones and an altered metabolic rate to pull them back to their old weights, whether that is hundreds of pounds more or that extra 10 or 15 that many people are trying to keep off.
It is not your fault you can’t keep it off, because you didn’t know why. Now you do. Keep eating sweet foods and drinks, keep eating the bun on that hamburger and you will keep being fat. Now you know. The most dangerous thing in your lunch is the sweet drink. The second most is the bun, not the fat they cook the fries in. Lastly is the potatoes in the fries. If you ate the meat patties and the cheese with the salad, pickles and onions on the sandwich, heck have a second or third one, you would not gain a pound from it.
Losing a Key Hormone
Slower metabolisms were not the only reason the contestants regained weight, though. They constantly battled hunger, cravings and binges. The investigators found at least one reason: plummeting levels of leptin. The contestants started out with normal levels of leptin. By the season’s finale, they had almost no leptin at all, which would have made them ravenous all the time. As their weight returned, their leptin levels drifted up again, but only to about half of what they had been when the season began, the researchers found, thus helping to explain their urges to eat.
“What was surprising was what a coordinated effect it is,” Dr. Proietto said. “The body puts multiple mechanisms in place to get you back to your weight. The only way to maintain weight loss is to be hungry all the time. We desperately need agents that will suppress hunger and that are safe with long-term use.”
There is more than one way to lose weight and the way I am describing does not involve being hungry all the time. We know which agent causes hunger and we know that there is a diet that does not. Just quit eating carbs. They are looking for a drug you can take so you can keep eating the foods that they are selling. The obesity epidemic, the need for ‘biggest losers’ was created by and exactly tracks the rate of sugar consumption in America. I am not talking about snack cakes and candy or soda pop. I am talking about hidden sugar in all the processed foods. When they took fat out they put sugar in. Quit eating those things and you will lose weight without hunger. Your metabolism will adjust to your natural weight, not the constantly upward tilting weight you have been accumulating.
Here is the Taubes video I was talking about. He is looking for scientists to conduct experiments at the end. Be your own scientist. Try what he is suggesting. Save yourself first, then tell your friends and neighbors like I am doing here. I did it.