Naturally Fit Guy Getting Fat on Purpose: A Flawed Experiment

Just came across this interesting story about a misguided personal trainer:

Flawed experiment, but helluva PR stunt!

So this guy has purposely eaten a boat-load of food (really carbohydrates (see below)) in order to gain weight. He’s eating like crazy and putting on as much weight as he can for 6 months, and then will attempt to “work” his way back to his previous weight. On the surface it sure sounds like an interesting little experiment, and it is perfectly designed: if you are a personal trainer looking to drum up business.

The problem I have with what he is doing is that it won’t prove anything other than the fact that a naturally fit guy (who also works out like crazy, hence the muscles), who gains some weight can ‘normalize’ back to being naturally fit, once he stops eating more than he would have naturally (i.e., what his body is naturally causing him to eat). Wow! What a surprise! What determination and self-restraint he must have! What willpower!

Of course, he’ll tell everyone that, after he loses all of the weight that he gained during the 6 months, and I have no doubt he’ll lose it quickly (faster than he gained it), he will start spouting off something to the effect of, “If I can do it, even you naturally fat lazy slobs can do it!” He’ll of course leave out the words “naturally” and maybe “lazy slobs” from the proclamation, though he may use some other coded insults.

People who have been naturally fit their entire lives are the ones who are predisposed to being fit, even if they eat some carbohydrate. Their bodies process them efficiently. Fat people’s don’t. And as fat tissue grows, IT is the culprit that naturally causes the fat person to eat more. Unfortunately, the misconception is that it is the other way around: fat people are fat because they are lazy and/or eat too much. Of course, research has shown conclusively that the cause is in fact the opposite:

Fat people are lazy and/or eat too much BECAUSE they are fat.

This is a big paradigm shift that, until people accept, and the Dr. Oz’s of the world quit ignoring, will always cause the flawed prescriptions of ‘eat less, workout more’ as the cure for obesity, when we know that doesn’t work long-term.

Alas, all is not lost on this personal trainer’s ‘experiment’ – there is one cool thing about the interview that I liked seeing. When he was asked about ‘unhealthy foods’, he told the truth:

FFTV: Are you enjoying eating all those unhealthy foods?

DM: Yes and no. To some extent, all of these foods that I’m eating (sugary cereals, granola bars, juices, white breads, white pastas, sodas, crackers, chips, frozen dinners, mac n cheese, etc.) taste delicious. But then I feel like crap later on and I get hungry again and crave those same foods. 

Notice what all of those foods have in common? If you said they are carbohydrates, then give yourself a round of applause! All he needed to round out the list was to add “low-fat yogurt.” Or “rice cakes.” And if he really wants to put on more weight, then add on some “healthy whole grains” to his plate while he’s at it.

What this guy is doing is akin to Fabio shaving his head and then proclaiming that if he can grow his hair back then anyone can do it.

Problem is, his body naturally does it. Not everyone else’s does. Those of us (ahem…) who are naturally predisposed to baldness have a medical problem. We’re bald not by choice. We’re not bald because we’re lazy. We’re not bald because we “overbrushed”. Being fat is the same damn thing – we’re naturally predisposed to being fat, and the primary culprit that triggers the storage of the fat tissue is carbohydrate. We’re not fat by choice. We’re not fat because we’re lazy, or “overeat” (in terms of pure calories-in). We’re fat because our bodies are not able to process the now common diet that consists of carbohydrate as the dominant macronutrient.

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13 comments so far

  1. Dergo on

    What is a “naturally fit” person? He’s working out very hard, that’s why he’s fit. I watch everything I eat and I spend plenty of time in the gym and doing exercice in general. I’d be annoyed if someone would just call me “naturally fit”, like if I was not putting any effort into it.

    It’s also great that you can guess what he’s going to say when he’s out. We’re talking about a guy with a great body and health who is risking both to FEEL the issue he’s trying to fight from first hand…and according to you, the first thing he’ll do when he’s back to his former self is insult fat people.

    “Naturally predisposed to be fat” is a fallacy unless you have medical issues (thyroids) that complicate things, but your comment about “naturally fit” already tells me that this is just an excuse and self-denial.

    I can get 4000 kcal in with just 85g of carbohydrates (far enough to even do exercices). A person dieting is probably going to be consuming a lot less than this and even less carbohydrates. Where’s your excuse now?
    Oh, and it’s not more expensive unless you consider eggs, steak, chicken and milk to be expensive.

  2. Mark on

    Dergo,

    First off – I appreciate the comment. A healthy (no pun intended) debate is what this blog is all about.

    By “naturally fit” I’m not referring to muscles/fitness level, so my choice of words is poor. What I meant was he was naturally not fat. This guy’s body is not naturally predisposed to accumulating adipose tissue. This guy was not fat before he started hitting the gym. If he didn’t go to the gym, he’d still not be fat. “Fit” was a poor choice of words on my part because fitness has nothing to do with fat tissue. There are plenty of overweight people who hit the gym daily, can run circles around most, yet are still fat.

    “Naturally predisposed to be fat” is not a fallacy. How do you explain why so many people can eat tons of calories yet not get fat (competitive eaters is an obvious, extreme example – many of them are skinny!)? While many people have learned, through trial and error, that eating more than just 20g of carbs per day causes them to gain weight.

    When you say “I can get 4000kcal in with just 85g of carbohydrates (far enough to even do exercises)” that tells me you have no knowledge of or understanding, or completely disagree with, the fact that you do not need to eat carbohydrate for energy. That is a fallacy. Carbohydrates are not necessary building blocks of other molecules, and the body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats. This is not conjecture but fact. Of course, if the majority of your caloric intake is carbohydrate, then the body will use it for energy. And those carbohydrates will spike blood sugar, which causes a spike in insulin, which triggers adipose tissue to accumulate. This is not conjecture – this is fact and has been confirmed and known as such since the 60′s, through our ancestors have known it prior.

    Yes,, the brain needs carbohydrates – but our liver/kidney produce plenty enough through the process of gluconeogenesis.

    The part about “Where’s your excuse now?” is coming out of left field – my post was not about ‘excuses’. Your sentiment is clearly based on the false paradigm that our bodies work on simple calories-in/calories-out, as if we are banks. Unfortunately, we’re more complex than that, and everyone’s body is different. Many can process carbs fine. Many cannot.

    How do you explain the ‘obesity epidemic’? The rate of obesity in the USA has increased in perfect alignment with the change from the USDA to a high-carb diet in the early 1970′s.( Incidentally, that was also the beginning of the ‘fitness boom’). More people work out now than ever before, and there are more “low fat” foods and “low cal” foods out there than ever. Yet the population is getting fatter and fatter.

    We can agree to disagree. But the whole purpose of this guy’s faulty ‘experiment’ is obvious: he thinks he is going to prove how easy it is to lose weight by doing it himself. The fault with his ‘experiment’ is that he is naturally not predisposed to being fat in the first place, so his body will bounce back to his natural weight in no time.

    I applaud what this guy is doing for his business. It’s a perfect play on the common misconception that the problem is simply that fat people are fat because they overeat and aren’t active enough. Science says otherwise, but that has largely been ignored since the 60′s. Our grandparents and ancestors had diet right – they cut out the bread and pasta and sweets (carbs) when they wanted to lose weight. They knew it was carbs. And they knew that working out just “worked up an appetite”. But that doesn’t work for the USDA, whose sole responsibility apparently is to protect the grain farmers and ensure that the cheaply grown grains keep selling. At the expense of many.

    Lastly, your last sentence is also “coming out of left field”, but I’ll play along: yes: steak, chicken, and milk are more expensive than pasta, bread, etc. Particularly the healthier cuts of meat. If they are cheaper where you live, great. But in the USA, it is more expensive to eat healthy. By “healthy” I mean with a diet that is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrate. The exact opposite of the USDA’s recommendation.

    mark

  3. Frank Hagan on

    Great post! I’m always amused at young healthy males giving diet advice. Talk to any bariatric physician and they will tell you weight loss is highly variable. Young men, with plenty of testosterone, gain muscle and lose weight the fastest in response to exercise. Men over 50, with reduced levels of testosterone, have a harder time. Women respond to exercise plans even more slowly, and post-menopausal women have the hardest time of anyone. That’s why diet studies report the sex and age of the participants: it matters.

    And every study, except for starvation studies, show that people respond very differently to a iso-caloric diet; some participants lose weight, some stay the same weight, and some lose weight.

    Some people enjoy exercise. They get “high” from running. Or they love to put on funny looking body suits and tear drop helmets and ride bikes. It suppresses their appetite. Others loathe exercise … and I am in that category. I do not get “high” from exercise, I get nauseated. And hungry.

    I think “naturally fit” is a good shorthand for “some people are more inclined to exercise, and are more efficient at metabolizing food.” They don’t suffer from the nearly debilitating hunger pains that fat people get with their compromised fat tissue regulation problems and leptin resistance.

    The trainer may have a harder time than he thinks. But, if he’s the type that loves to exercise, does not have leptin resistance (or high triglycerides), and cuts the carbs, he will lose the weight. He should try the test again when he’s 58 years old.

  4. chuck on

    it is arguable whether anyone is predisposed by being fat. my contention is, overweight people didn’t gain 70 poun ds in 6 months. they gain the extra body slowly over many years. that slow process also damages a person’s metabolism and hormonal balance. i doubt this guy is doing this type of damage to his body. he should snap back to place pretty quick.

  5. Steve on

    I think this post is showing way to much jealousy on your part Mark! You go way overboard in your obvious dislike of this guy based upon only his having taken care of himself.

    I have followed what he is doing, and while he certainly is doing it in large part for the publicity, and he’s getting a bunch of it, he seems quite sincere in his desire to experience what its like from the point of view of his clients. He has in fact made it clear, that while he feels he will learn a lot through this experience, he understands he will not fully understand after 12 months what many have struggled with for a lifetime.

    I feel you post here is an unfortunate addition to what is an otherwise nice blog!

    Steve

    • Mark on

      Jealous? Of a guy in shape getting fat on purpose?

      It’s not jealousy, it’s calling bullshit when I see it. This guy’s premise is clear – he’s going to lose the weight and then say it was due to eating fewer calories than expended through exercise, which is bullshit.

      • Steve on

        Its not bullshit, expend more energy then you consume and you lose weight. Yes, we know there is more to it then that and whether he points this out we won’t know until he is in his getting fit phase.

        But bottom line, you are claiming to read this guys mind and know his intentions are bad. Its just pathetic!

        Grow up and quit being so damn bitter!

        • Mark on

          Calories-in/Calories-out is bullshit. It sounds right. It seems right. But it’s not how our bodies work. Read the science and you’ll see. Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories would be a good start for you.

          The whole point of my post was simply this: that this guy’s intentions are pointless. Regardless of whether he’s doing it to prove that fat people are lazy or even if he truly is doing it to ‘walk in their shoes’ for awhile. The fact is, it’s not going to prove anything.

          As for the ‘grow up and quit being so damn bitter’ snipe….I think you have this idea that I’m a bitter fat guy. I’m not. I’m a happy, fit guy, who is sharp enough to see that what this ‘personal trainer’ is doing is pointless. When I see horseshit I call it. Don’t like it? Don’t read my blog! I’m no longer fat and am in excellent shape. I did it by learning the science and applying it, not by blindly believing the ‘expend more energy than you take in’ theory that has never been true.

          Adios!

  6. Seank on

    The fact that he gets fat so easily is the biggest evidence that he is not in fact ‘naturally fit’ even if that was meant to be naturally thin. He’s NOT one of those guys that can eat what he wants, he puts on weight if he doesn’t eat properly or go to the gym. It also gives massive hope to people like me who have let themselves go to get back in shape and feel good. In my eyes it’s a perfect experiment that applies to millions upon millions of people. What’s more he’s doing it for free. Very courageous from him seeing at this wont be doing his love life or confidence any favours. Poor blog my friend.

  7. Jay on

    The only thing I really agree on is that “calories in – calories out” is crap. There are lots of things that play into body composition and calories are not the main culprit.

    I don’t really agree that people with low levels of body fat are “naturally fit.” Or “naturally slim” or whatever. Some people can eat anything and stay trim, but lots of FIT people (like this trainer and myself) gain weight very easily if they don’t eat very healthy and exercise. When I couldn’t exercise for a couple months, I fell into the bad habit of eating crappy foods and gained a lot of weight (fat). I LOVE exercising but that doesn’t mean that lowering my body fat is going to be oh-so-easy. It’s not “natural.”

    So if there’s naturally thin and naturally fat, what are all the people in the middle who gain and lose weight based on their lifestyle choices?

  8. Mark on

    Jay,

    I used “Naturally fit” improperly – I meant “naturally slim”. This blog is about weight loss (and maintenance) so I always come at it from that perspective.

    Everyone has a natural homeostasis in regards to their body weight. Some are naturally slender and athletic ‘looking’, even though they may not be fit. I know many of these people. Yes, they typically gain some visceral fat as they age, but it’s not enough that it is noticeable to anyone other than them.

    I come at this both from my own experience, and from the research I have read, initially via the meta-research guide “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, “Why We Get Fat”, many of the full research articles themselves, the work that Mark Sisson has done, etc. Armed with that knowledge, it was extremely easy for me to personally achieve natural bodyweight/homeostasis – and I’ve maintained it easily for many months now. Am I “fit”? I’m fitter than most folks in their 40′s, but I’m no athlete. My goal, and assumed readers of this blog, are not looking to get “ripped” or “tone” – they are looking to not die of a heart attack by age 60. They are looking to not have to buy an extra airplane ticket because they are obese and can’t fit into one seat. Or they are not obese but overweight and looking for the best way to lose weight.

    mark

  9. Naturally Fit System on

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