Why Eating More Doesn’t Cause Long-Term Fat Gain

Hey, everybody, Jonathan Bailor, back, with another awesome entheos class. This is a multi-part series where we are just busting calorie myths and offering SANE solutions that are pretty shocking, so we always want to come with the data, and always want to come with the new science. But the good news is that when you think about it, pretty much every innovation that has happened in history was surprising at one time or another. So, we shouldn’t be surprised to be surprised by innovation because that is the definition of innovation, and that’s why I love sharing it here on entheos because we’re all about optimizing our lives and innovating, so it is a warm and receptive audience. So, without further ado, let’s talk about Part 3.

We’ve had two classes already where we have talked about how exercising less, believe it or not, but smarter, has been shown to be better in every way, when it comes to a metabolic healing perspective, than the conventional exercise methodology. Again, that is not to say that conventional exercise methodology is stupid, or bad, or wrong, but rather, that we have the specific goal of, for example, avoiding diabetes, or reversing obesity, or resolving metabolic syndrome, or even being a conscious member of society. And believe it or not, McKinsey and Company actually just came out with a report that is now showing that obesity had a worldwide economic toll of two trillion dollars, which is obviously a large number, but let me put that in perspective really quick. The global economic burden of all armed conflict, put together, is 2.1 trillion dollars.

So, obesity is right on par with all of armed conflict in the world, in terms of the economic burden that it is putting upon us, so if we can exercise less, but smarter, and help turn those tides, or as we are going to talk about in these shows, how we can eat more, but smarter, and help turn the tide, we’ll really be doing a lot, not only for our health, and for our well-being, and those of the people we love and our families, but also for the world as a whole. And for me, that is exciting, and that is about the furthest thing from vanity in the world, so let’s talk about how we can eat more and exercise less, but smarter.

Jumping right in to the top ten big ideas, following up on our first two shows where we talked about how, again, exercising less, but smarter, doesn’t cause obesity, there is a second part to this, which is eating more, but smarter. And then, the initial thought is, “Well, if I’m going to be eating more, I’m going to be gaining more. That’s just the way it works, right? Your body works like a balance scale, so more food in means more fat stored. Holy Moly, the global economic burden of obesity is going to be three trillion dollars if everyone listens to what Jonathan is saying here.”

Let’s quickly pull that apart. That is actually not at all true. It is intuitive, but it is not true, and I want to make a quick distinction about trusting our intuition versus trusting that which is proven. Intuition is a great thing, to start with. It is a great thing to check against reality. But let’s keep in mind, as I am sure a lot of the entheos fans know, that our minds can sometimes play tricks on us. If you have read, for example, Predictably Irrational, or any of these types of books about cognitive and behavioral psychology, our mind and our intuition isn’t always spot-on. This is why we have to rely on testing, and we have to rely on data, and also use our intuition in conjunction with that.

One simple example: It is intuitive as heck that the earth is flat. We can agree with that, right? If you look outside the window it looks like the earth is flat. It really makes a lot of sense to think that the earth is flat, because heck, if the earth wasn’t flat, wouldn’t the people on the bottom fall off? It just makes sense. But then we learn science, we learn about gravity, we learn all the different laws of the universe and physics and we learn that, actually, no the earth is round, and it is actually spinning at a very fast pace, but somehow we don’t fall off and we don’t fly around because, yay! Science to the rescue. Same kind of thing here, so this idea that eating less is the key to losing weight is basically the flat earth theory of weight loss. Makes a lot of sense, but it has never been borne out by the science.

So, what is the science actually showing? What the science shows is that, very similar to exercise, food is all about quality. Metabolic health is all about quality. So, less, but higher quality exercise, and then more, but higher quality food. So, let’s be very clear. The message here is not to take the conventional, nutrient-poor, hormonally damaging starch and sugar and processed fat-rich Western diet, and to eat more of that. That is not the take-away here. But the take-away is also not to just eat less of those toxic foods. The take-away is to eat more of high-quality foods. Eating more of the wrong foods certainly won’t slim you down. Eating more of the right foods, absolutely will. So we have to delineate high versus low quality food.

And then we also have to understand that calories really aren’t the be-all, end-all, here. In fact, a Dr. King over at King’s College, London tells us point blank that in his clinical research he has found highly significant inverse correlations between food energy intake and adiposity, or body fat, and part of the reason for that is when we just starve our bodies of nutrition and calories we actually set ourselves up for fat gain long-term, something we don’t have time to talk about in today’s show, but suffice it to stay that certainly eating more fattening, toxic, addictive edible products absolutely will make us gain fat. That’s not what we are talking about. We are talking about eating more healing, healthy, whole, affordable and delicious nutrient-dense SANE foods. Allright, so that is big point number one.

Big point number two is really to myth bust, right out of the gate, because that’s still, “Okay, I understand, Jonathan, eat more of the right foods, but if I eat more of the right foods, I have been told for 40 years that is going to make me fat, so I need something more. I need something more to even continue to big idea number three, because this is hard to believe.” So big idea number two is, let’s just talk about some research really, really quickly, so that you will at least stick with me through the rest of the class. For example, the most interesting studies we have in the field of nutrition are first of all, clinical studies, so these are not where we just go and observe people and then imply causality from correlation. For example, you go to California and you see that it is really sunny there, and you see the people wearing sunglasses, so you think, “Clearly, wearing sunglasses makes it sunny.”

That’s not the way the world works, but a lot of times epidemiologists do exactly that, that is where a lot of our nutrition research comes from, but that’s not what we want to focus on. We want to focus on clinical controlled good science and some of the coolest studies in that arena are what are called isocaloric studies. These are studies where they take two groups of people and feed them the exact same number of calories. Group A eats 2000 calories, group B eats 2000 calories, but they vary the quality of those calories. According to conventional wisdom that would be a waste of time because all that matters is the quantity of calories you are consuming when it comes to weight and well-being. Well, that is bunk.

Here are some examples. A study at the University of Connecticut had a, let’s call it, “eat more high-quality food” group, and then a “just eat the same number of calories but from lower-quality sources” group. The individuals in the “higher-quality but same number of calories” group actually ate 300 more calories per day, and lost more fat over the course of the study. Let’s move on to the University of Pennsylvania, a similar study, but in this study, by the end of it, the individuals – I’m sorry, these are not isocaloric studies as defined by what I just said, because we’ve got people eating more calories than the other people, so quick correction, we do have some isocaloric studies we’ll touch on, but these are not isocaloric studies. These are what is called ad libitum studies. Ad libitum is a scientific term for, we just let people eat as much as they want. We just say, “Hey, you’ve got these foods to choose from. Eat as much as you want.” We don’t say, “Gorge yourself.” We don’t say, “Starve yourself.” We just say, “Eat until you are comfortable.”

So, the “eat more high-quality food” group in Study Number One was allowed to eat. They ate more calories and they actually lost more weight, which is very interesting. A similar thing happened at the University of Pennsylvania. In this study, individuals ate 9500 more calories over the course of the study, nearly 10,000 more calories, but by the end of study they had lost 200% more weight. And keep in mind that this isn’t a multi-variant study, meaning they are not exercising more. The only variability is the quality of food they are eating, and then, of course, the quantity of calories they are consuming, so again, in this study, almost 10,000 more calories, but almost 200% more weight lost. This is a study from the Journal Obesity Research. It gets even more exciting. The individuals in the “eat more, but high-quality” group ended up eating over 25,000 more calories over the course of the study and they didn’t gain any additional weight. So, while they didn’t lose more weight than the other group, they ate 25,000 more calories and didn’t gain weight. So, it certainly doesn’t prove anything, necessarily, but a lot of these studies disprove this mythology we have been given.

And then, finally, from the Journal of Adolescent Health, this is a study that was done on obese children and teenagers, which is really, really interesting, especially in a world today where we have over 40 million children under the age of five who are struggling with being overweight. Over the course of this study, again, kids given higher quality food, another group of kids given lower quality food. The kids were told, ad libitum, probably didn’t use that word because that isn’t going to make sense to anyone, especially kids. They just said, “Kids, eat as much as you want, but of different qualities of food, and in this study, by the end, the kids who ate as much as they wanted of higher quality food, ended up eating over 65,000 more calories than the low quality food group, and ended up losing 141% more weight.

Let’s repeat that really quick. We have kids all eating an unlimited amount of food based just on their appetites. One group is eating higher quality food, one group is eating lower quality food. The group that is eating higher quality food ends up consuming 65,000 more calories than the group who is not, and they lose 141% more weight. That is pretty amazing, that is pretty promising, so let’s keep going to big idea number three, because hopefully, by now, you are willing to believe big idea number three which is that this isn’t all about the calories. There is a lot of other stuff going on here. And it may just seem like a defiance of physics to say that someone can eat more calories and burn more, but let’s keep in mind that saying that eating more causes us to store more is ignoring many, many other things that our bodies can do with calories.

There are a bunch of different ways we burn calories and we store calories, other than just this overly simplistic metabolic math equation that we have all been fed, and what I want to focus on for the rest of this class is explaining how this is even possible, how you can have a study where individuals eat 65,000 more calories and lose 141% more weight, and also to give a quick disclaimer that the point here is not to say, hey, let’s all go buy Weight-Gainer 3000 powder from our local supplement store and just eat that, because the key to losing more fat is just to eat more nonsense. That is not the case, but it is the case to rattle the cages of the people out there who are telling us to starve ourselves, as if starvation somehow became healthy, which of course, it is not.

So, how can our metabolism actually be trained to burn rather than to store calories? That is the key thing we are talking about here. Are we storing calories? Are we burning calories? And is there a way we can make our bodies better at burning rather than storing calories. Let’s talk about how that could be possible and let’s talk about different ways our bodies can handle the calories that we consume. And there is no better place to look for research than the Mayo Clinic, one of the most prestigious research institutions in the world, and that is where we are headed next. There was a study done at the Mayo Clinic and this study actually fed individuals surplus calories. They fed them 1000 additional calories per day over the course of this study which totaled to feeding these people 56,000 surplus calories.

This is what is called an over-feeding study, they are done very frequently, and they wanted to see how bodies reacted when overfed. Again, a really cool study. They measured everyone’s base metabolic rate, they figured out how many calories everyone in the study needed precisely to maintain their body weight, and then they just added 1000 calories. Pretty clearly, this study, based on everything we have been taught, should have just resulted in a bunch of people gaining a bunch of weight. And let’s be very specific, if they were consuming 56,000 surplus calories at the Mayo Clinic over the course of this study, and if there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, and we just do some quick metabolic math, we see that every single person in this study, according to metabolic math, should have gained approximately 16 pounds.

What did the study actually show? Did every single person in the study gain the same amount of weight since they ate the same amount of additional calories, and was that amount of weight what we would predict by metabolic math – 16 pounds? Absolutely not. In fact, that is 100% wrong. Zero percent of the people gained 16 pounds. What actually happened is that the most anyone gained was about half that – eight pounds. And some people, after eating 56,000 surplus calories, gained less than a pound. In fact, it was not even really statistically significant, so one could say some people in this study consumed enough calories to, theoretically, gain 16 pounds of fat, surplus calories, but gained no fat. And this isn’t some N = 1 fringe Internet chat room. This is the Mayo Clinic. So how is that even possible? If you come away from this study just having your mind opened a little bit, that is what I want. You are not going to necessarily understand everything you need to do to unclog your metabolism yet, but at least, hopefully, you can see that maybe what you have been told is not right, and it is time to question, and it is time to innovate.

Again, how is this even possible? What this Mayo Clinic study uncovered, and what is actually looked at, were a bunch of different ways that our bodies can handle surplus calories other than storing them. One of the most common ways we can handle excess calories rather than storing them is just to burn them off. There is, again, a mythology that if you eat more you just store more. That is not true. What this study showed, and what many other studies show, is that if your metabolism is functioning properly, when you eat more calories you just burn more calories. Much like if you drink more water you just go to the bathroom more, it is not as if you just store a bunch of water in your body. You might retain some water, but over time your body is going to balance you out. And this is put really well by the medical journal, QAM, which tells us, verbatim, “Foods in excess of immediate requirements can be easily disposed of, being burnt up and dissipated as heat. Did this capacity not exist, obesity would be almost universal.” So, we have to look at metabolism in terms of how we can train it to burn and handle calories that are in excess of our daily needs, in a healthy way, rather than just storing them.

So, we can burn more calories, but how are we actually burning more calories? How is that happening? Does a magic wand just wave? Well, there are at least three ways that researchers looked at in this Mayo Clinic study. There are many more, but let’s focus on these three. And those are, our base metabolic rate, which we are pretty familiar with, that is just the baseline number of calories our body burns being us, per day. Most people don’t realize this, but also about 10% of the calories you burn in the course of the day are spent just digesting food. This is called dietary-induced thermogenesis, or DIT, also studied in this Mayo Clinic examination. And then there is something called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or burning calories through involuntary movement, and this doesn’t mean that your arm just starts flailing uncontrollably if you eat more calories, but our muscles are constantly twitching and moving without our awareness, and that can burn a heck of a lot of calories over the course of a day, and that is actually what researchers found. What researchers found in this study was how it is possible that some people can eat 56,000 (too many) calories and almost gain no weight. These individuals had a sharp increase in their base metabolic rate, they had a sharp increase in the amount of calories they burned every day just digesting food, and they had a sharp increase in the number of calories they burned through involuntary activity.

So, it was a bit like their body saw that they had a surplus of calories, and think about it in terms of, they just started wasting it, so if your body sees that there is a shortage of calories it is going to use them very precisely, just like if you lost your job, and you didn’t have a lot of money coming in, you are going to be very meticulous and deliberate about how you spend your money. But if someone just starts dumping money on you, you’re going to be saying, “Whew! Make it rain!” I mean, you’re just going to start spending money all over the place. So, imagine your body making it rain with calories. You are getting calories dumped into your body, your body is saying, “Hey, I’m just going to waste calories because I have an abundance of them.” That is basically what happened in this study. So, it is not magic. It is not something turning into nothing, it is calories, which are a source of energy, just being used more generously by the body and then burned off as heat. This is called thermogenesis. So, it seems like magic, but it is not really magic, it is actually hardcore science. So, the question is, then, how do we get our bodies to do this? What is the magical answer to ending obesity, if you could think about a theoretical world, what if everyone’s bodies could respond to more calories in with more calories out? It would just take care of the problem. Imagine if you could make your body, when it comes to weight and energy, work like it does with water. We don’t have a bloating epidemic because drinking water just stores water on people’s bodies and they can’t do anything about it. No, if you drink more water, you urinate more, you don’t need to think about it. Well, what we see is, with healthy individuals, when they have unclogged metabolic systems, this is exactly how energy works. You eat more, you burn more automatically. It is borne out in myriad clinical studies, so what we need to focus on is training our metabolisms to do that, and the way we do that is not starving ourselves, it is not by eating less.

So, bringing it all the way back to the beginning of the study, eating less is not going to change the way your system works, it will only give it less fuel. So, think about it like your car. Putting less gasoline in your car’s gas tank doesn’t change the way your car works. It is the quality of what you put in your gas tank that changes the way your car works. So, if your car was working really poorly and you realized that the reason it was working poorly was because your child was putting apple juice in your gas tank, the solution would not be, “Hey, little Jimmy, would you just put less apple juice in the gas tank?” No, no, no, no, no. The solution would be to put more high-quality, unleaded, hopefully eco-friendly fuel, into the gas tank.

Same thing applies here, we have to eat SANE whole, high-quality foods to train our metabolisms to burn calories, rather than to store them, to keep us healthy automatically, and we can’t cover all of that in one session, but we have a lot more classes coming up, and of course, if you want to learn about these SANE high-quality foods, you can always hop over to sanesolution.com, sign up for your free plan, and you are going to be burning calories like a mad person.

This is Jonathan Bailor, it is always a pleasure to chat with you. I hope you had as much fun as I did, and remember – stay SANE.