NBC Goes SANE & Escapes Calorie Myths

Interviewer: If somebody said to you “Eat more, exercise less, forget the calories, and you will lose weight,” you would probably think that was pretty nutty, but Jonathan Bailor, a nutrition and exercise expert and author of the new book The Calorie Myth argues just that. He is here to share his years of scientific research that goes directly against much of the conventional weight loss wisdom. Welcome. How are you?

Jonathan: It’s a pleasure to be here, exciting.

Interviewer: I am happy to meet you. So, what do you think is the biggest myth we have out there about dieting and weight loss?

Jonathan: The biggest myth is without question that we need to consciously count calories. The more we focused on counting calories instead of eating high quality food, the food we have eaten for generations which helped us avoid obesity effortlessly is the biggest myth out there.

Interviewer: Okay, tell me what those foods are stat, I need to know. What you are essentially saying is not all calories are equal, right?

Jonathan: That’s exactly right, but the message we hear is just eat whatever you want, just don’t eat too much of it, don’t exceed 1200 calories or 1400 calories, that’s nonsense. No one even knew what a calorie was let alone count them prior to the obesity epidemic. So, the sooner we can get back to that approach, just eat food, things found in nature until you are full and satisfied, the happier and healthier you will be.

Interviewer: Okay, so where do I start if I am trying to work that diet and I use diet in the big way like meaning what I eat not some weird thing where it’s all around grapefruit twice a day or something like that. So, how do I go about starting this?

Jonathan: First, forget about math. This isn’t about math. This is about food and enjoyment.

Interviewer: Fantastic.

Jonathan: The dinner table is not a place to do math.

Interviewer: Okay, good.

Jonathan: It’s a place to eat food and remember what food is. Food is something that we have had on this earth for generations, things that our grandmother told us were healthy, things you find on the perimeter of you grocery store, think non-starchy vegetables, nutritious protein, whole food fats, and lower sugar fruits.

Interviewer: Does this mean that I can’t have dessert?

Jonathan: Absolutely not. It’s not about not eating sweets, it’s about practicing safe sweeteners.

Interviewer: Safe sweeteners. Okay, what does that mean?

Jonathan: That means, you are going to want to focus on sweeteners that have minimal impact on your hormones such as xylitol, erythritol, stevia, and a new one called luo han guo. These are all natural, very sweet and they don’t clog up your metabolism.

Interviewer: Stevia, I actually really like, and that’s pretty easy to use. The other ones I hadn’t heard of, but we will put all that on the website so people can take a look at that. All right, let’s talk about the idea of eating more, exercising less, and losing weight. How does that work from a scientific point of view and where do I [indiscernible 02:28]?

Jonathan: Weight struggles are not a moral failing, it’s not as if 70 percent of Americans have spontaneously become lazy gluttons, although that is what we are told and it’s very sad. What obesity is, it’s a disease. It’s a dysfunction in a metabolic dysregulation and we need to see food, whole healthy foods as therapeutic. Once you see the right kinds of foods as therapy that can cure the underlying cause of obesity, eating more of them versus being afraid of them or counting calories makes a lot of sense.

Interviewer: It does and I don’t know if you saw the earlier segment about eating whole, eating local, eating organic, that all kind of fits together. Some of this has to do with learning how to do it. I know that’s part of my problem is I see these things that I know I am supposed to eat it, but I don’t know quite what to do with that. So, if me or anybody else sort of trying to do better about this, this year, where would you start to learn how to make delicious food because part of the reason people eat junk is that it’s Cheetos are good.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Interviewer: They just are.

Jonathan: Absolutely, the first thing we need to do is overcome this false fear of fat that’s been put upon us because, for example, green leafy vegetables are fabulous for us, but we think we can only eat them raw, a lot of people aren’t going to do that because frankly that’s not very delicious.

Interviewer: Right.

Jonathan: But if you know that you could take some collards and some kale sautéed in some bacon drippings, maybe add some salt to it, that’s quite delicious.

Interviewer: Yes, I am speechless and so that little bit of fat also is part of what makes us feel like we ate something, correct?

Jonathan: Absolutely, this is why I eat just a little piece of chocolate. It might not make you feel full, but it makes you feel satisfied. Fat has an interaction with your brain, gives you the sense of satiety which is so critical to long term health and happiness.

Interviewer: Why is it so hard to get great information? I am glad your book is out, but it seems to be like I am bombarded on my Facebook page and other places with this — here’s this magic berry, here is the secret to this or that, but it’s tough just to get real scientific information. And so I don’t know. It’s Atkins, Paleo, it’s always something and I am not sure how it works. How do we know what to trust?

Jonathan: I would recommend never focusing on extremes and in the challenges it’s not really sexy to preach a moderate approach. So, we hear a lot about these extreme approaches because they are so controversial, but when you look at the breath of scientific knowledge out there, it’s quite common sense and frankly it might even be a little bit boring. It’s about eating things found directly in nature until you are full whenever you are hungry and then stop.

Interviewer: Wow! That sounds like something even I can do. All right so if I do that then what you are saying is I will feel full with less bad things in my system. I won’t have to exercise as much to lose weight.

Jonathan: Absolutely. You will do what every single person in every civilization did prior to the previous three, which is not know what a calorie is, eat until they are full, and avoid obesity.

Interviewer: …and they had no drive-throughs.

Jonathan: Exactly.

Interviewer: Either way you look at it plus or minus, and in terms of if you want a little guilty treat, guilty pleasure, what are the things that we can introduce to sort of help you feel like “Okay, I had something to eat and this is cool and I didn’t deprive myself.”

Jonathan: You can’t deprive yourself. This is about substitution rather than deprivation. So, using things for example like an almond flour or a coconut flour, coconut cocoa. Again using these fats instead of using starches to create healthy cookies, healthy cakes, healthy pies, is a wonderful, wonderful option. There are many recipes available in my book.

Interviewer: I wish you were here for a month, I would like to talk to you everyday and get encouragement. Thank you so very much. I really appreciate it…

Jonathan: My pleasure.

Interviewer: I can’t wait to read more, but that makes perfect sense and I am telling you, this is my year, I am getting myself together. Jonathan’s book The Calorie Myth is available online and in stores now and we will link you to his website after the show plus Jonathan is sticking around to answer questions on our Wellness Wednesday panel right after this. Thank you so much.