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RANT :) Why What You’ve Been Told About Calories is a Lie

Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor back with another Smarter Science of Slim show. Very excited for today and the coming weeks because we are going to start to free ourselves from the calorie myths which, of course, is the title of my new book, which is coming out with HarperCollins, December 31st — so yes, shameless plug. Please forgive me, but also it is a noble cause because these myths, as we’ll see over the coming weeks and months, have been the source of so much suffering for so many that freeing us from them is something that wakes me up every single day, wakes up thousands of researchers — actual experts — around the world, and will hopefully wake up our respective cultures and governments and corporations to take a bit more of a responsible approach to obesity, diabetes, and all these other conditions which are plaguing us these days, which are fundamentally caused by these myths around calories.

So first of all, just for anyone out there who may have a little alarm bell going off in their head, saying, “Wait a second, Jonathan Bailor. I’ve heard things like this before — this whole “calories don’t count” message.” Good news. It’s not what we’re talking about here. We are not talking about calories not counting or calories not existing. When we say “calorie myth,” we are talking about the myth; not that calories exist. That is not a myth. Of course, calories exist.

Rather, there are deeper myths, more insidious myths. There is the myth that we need to consciously balance calories in with calories out. Again, it’s not that “calories in and calories out” don’t exist; they absolutely exist. The myth is that we need to spend our conscious time and energy, not with our family, not serving others, not on some noble purpose, not contributing to the workforce, not creating art, not creating poetry, not doing those things that are uniquely human and uniquely tapping into our mission and purpose, but instead that we’re supposed to spend our conscious time and energy doing metabolic math, consciously counting calories in and consciously counting calories out, being a slave to the treadmill, being a human rat on one of those little rat wheels on the treadmill.

Interestingly enough, everyone knows that is an absurd proposition for everything else involving things in and things out of our body. For example, we know vitamin C is important and required for health. However, no one says we need to consciously monitor the vitamin C we take in and the vitamin C we excrete out and that we need to manually balance that, or vitamin D, or vitamin E, or thiamine, or riboflavin, or phosphorus, or oxygen. None of these other things need to be consciously regulated. That’s because no baseline biological function needs to be consciously regulated.

Conscious activities are performed by the neocortex portion of our brain. This is the front portion of our brain, the part of our brain that is uniquely human. This is the part that allows us to do all those wonderful, artistic, noble actions we talked about earlier. Basic biological functions — for example, blinking, going to the bathroom, breathing, beating your heart; not starving, which again is a basic biological function, not something we should need to worry about consciously — these are controlled by our amygdala, or our animal brain or the portion of our brain that we share with animals. And interestingly enough, you all notice that animals in their natural habitat do not count calories in, do not calories out, and somehow amazingly are able to stay at a healthy weight and avoid diabetes automatically. How does that work?

And in people — in fact, prior to the current three generations that are alive, the rates of diabetes were 100,000 percent lower than they are today. One in every 4,000 people was diabetic in the past, about 100 years ago. Today, one in four of us are diabetic or pre-diabetic; from 1 in 4,000 to 1 in 4. Similarly, about 100 years ago, the rates of obesity from the earliest records that we have were about three percent. Today the number of us that are overweight is nearly seventy percent and the rates of obesity are nearly thirty-three percent. Again, that’s a ten times increase in the rates of obesity and dramatically higher than that for the rates of overweight.

So not only is conscious calorie monitoring absurd and ignoble and dehumanizing and taking our time and energy away from contributing to this earth and making it a better place but, seriously, how could it possibly be required for long term health and fitness and disease aversion if every other animal continues to do it without knowing a darn thing about calories and that all of our ancestors across every culture that ever existed had less incidents of all of these problems that are plaguing us today without any idea of what a calorie was?

A calorie didn’t even enter the mainstream. The concept of a calorie didn’t even enter the mainstream until the ‘70s and ‘80s. And that’s really when this problem started. So how could consciously monitoring something we were not even aware of before we even had the problem be required to solve the problem?

That is a myth and it is absurd and it is diabolical, frankly, because once we are convinced that we need to do this, we go down this rabbit hole of nonsense — this rabbit hole of nonsense that says, “Eat whatever you want as long as you don’t eat too many calories of it.” And we get into a rabbit hole of nonsense where not only are we consciously spending our time balancing calories in with calories out but we hear things like, “A calorie is a calorie so, again, just eat whatever you want; just eat it in moderation.” And that a can of coke which is 140 calories clearly isn’t that bad for you because it’s only 140 calories and it’s basically the same as 140 calories of spinach because, again, a calorie is a calorie.

So should you eat 200 calories’ worth of spinach or should you eat 140 calories’ worth of Coca-Cola? Well, if you’re counting calories and trying to stay under 1,200, you should go with the can of Coca-Cola. And why would you be worried about it anyway because if you just go jog for a little bit, it will cancel it out; right? Because not only are all foods basically the same when we equivalence class them in terms of calories but then we can also equivalence class everything that’s edible with physical movement and say, “You know what? Don’t worry about eating [sic] that 140 calories of Coca-Cola because all you need to do is go jog at this speed for this duration and it cancels it out,” which is simple, but wrong, deathly wrong.

It’s like saying, “Smoke a pack of cigarettes. That’s okay because you can go jog and it will cancel out what the cigarettes do.” Cigarettes are bad for us; not because of anything caloric. And Coca-Cola is, frankly, not bad for us because it has 140 calories in it. It’s not about the calories at all. It’s about everything else. But again, when we’re focused on the calories, edible product manufacturers can start to play these little games with us. And we can walk into a McDonald’s and see their, quote, unquote, “healthy choices” under 300 calories. Friends, anything can be under 300 calories. You just shrink the serving size. Do you see how diabolical this is? I could literally —

Cocaine has no calories in it. It’s a calorie-free thing. Well, that doesn’t make it good for us. Heroin is a low-calorie option. That doesn’t make it good for us. It’s not about calories; it’s about food. And we clearly don’t need to consciously balance them. That is silly. Just like we don’t need to consciously, manually regulate breaths in and breaths out, or our blinking rate, or how often we go to the bathroom. Basic biological functions do not need to be consciously monitored. Rather, we need to keep the system, our metabolic system, the system that is designed to balance us out automatically to keep us in homeostasis, a term we all learned back in high school biology class. We need to maintain that system and keep it functioning properly. And the way you keep any system functioning properly is by not putting things in the system that break it down.

A good high-quality car will run for years and years and years if you change the oil and put high-quality gasoline in the tank. But if you start to put lighter fluid or kerosene in the gas tank, even in moderation, the car might run but after a while it’s going to start breaking down. And that’s what’s happening to us. We’ve been told to equivalence class all foods — not even foods; anything that’s edible. We’ve been told, “Just think about them in terms of calories.” And because of that, we’ve been duped into putting the wrong quality of things into our metabolic system. And like any other system in the world, if you put kerosene in your car’s gas tank or you stuff paper towels down your toilet or you stick a bunch of hair in your sink — if you put things in a system that it is not designed to handle, it breaks down and bad things happen. And then just putting less paper towels in your toilet and less hair in your sink and less kerosene in your car’s gas tank will never solve the problem, ever. In fact, it could cause even more problems.

The answer is not to touch the stove less hard; the answer is to not touch the stove. It’s not to burn your hand in moderation; it’s to not burn your hand. And people sometimes hear this and they say, “Well, Jonathan, we have to eat. Jonathan, you frequently use all these analogies. One of the analogies you use is smoking and you can say to people, “If you don’t want lung cancer, just don’t smoke.” But, Jonathan, you cannot say to people, “If you do not want obesity and diabetes, just don’t eat.” Well, yes, friends, that is absolutely correct. And thankfully, we’re saying the exact opposite of “don’t eat.” We’re saying “eat more, but smarter.”

People who advise us not to smoke so that we can avoid lung cancer don’t say “don’t breathe”; they say “don’t breathe low-quality air.” And it’s not just about tobacco smoke; it’s about pollution. We know that breathing in low-quality stuff causes problems. Similarly, it’s not about not eating. In fact, the exact opposite is true. It’s about filling our bellies with so much high-quality, non-starchy vegetables, vegetables you could eat raw, nutrient-dense protein. We’re talking high-quality, non-toxic seafood and meats, natural whole food fats like nuts and seeds, and low-fructose fruits like berries and citrus fruits. Filling our stomachs with so much of those that we are too full for low-quality edible products like trans fats, processed starches, and processed sweets – all of these edible products which we know aren’t food, which our grandmothers wouldn’t recognize, and that are marketed to us as low-calorie convenient options.

Friends, you know what’s the least convenient thing in the world? Being overweight and diabetic. Ask anybody who is struggling with overweight or diabetes how convenient or cost-effective living that way is. Ask any teenage girl what it feels like to be overweight. Ask a 5-year-old boy how the playground dynamic works when he’s carrying an extra 30 pounds.

It’s not about calories. It’s about so much more than calories.

In fact, I’m so excited to share this report with you. A recent report came out, to close today’s show, from Credit Suisse — and this is actually from a financial institution — and they wrote this report to describe the economic and financial impact that these calorie myths — and there are more we’ll be getting into over the coming weeks — have on the global economy. Because like we said, this is not about the scale anymore, friends. This is not about vanity. This is about life and this is about freeing ourselves and this is about having a world and a culture where we can all manifest the purpose and the glory that we were all put here to do. And I promise you, none of us were put here to count calories.

So in this report — which you can read online for free, just type in Credit Suisse. So, some amazing and startling facts. So in this report, they’re estimating that the global obesity epidemic is putting a 600 billion dollar economic burden on the world. Six hundred billion dollars. And that type 2 diabetes, which is distinct from type 1 — type 1 is things people are born with; type 2 is one that is brought on by lifestyle decisions around what we call inSANE edible products, a.k.a. starches, sweets, and trans fats. Type 2 diabetes is now affecting 370 million people worldwide and the costs are estimated to be putting a 470 billion dollar burden on the healthcare system. In fact, the International Diabetes Federation has stated that type 2 diabetes alone can account for over ten percent of all healthcare costs — that’s worldwide. In the US alone, healthcare costs tied to just, to just, type 2 diabetes are estimated at 140 billion dollars.

Friends, to put that in perspective, obviously 140 billion dollars — lots of money. We could all probably find quite a bit to do with 140 billion dollars. But really let this sink in. Guess what the estimated healthcare costs associated with tobacco is? Remember we said, for type 2 diabetes, it’s 140 billion dollars. What do you think it is for tobacco? Something that we would never give to our children; something that we keep out of our schools completely and, in fact, if anyone proposed putting them in our schools, we would cry out in justice; something that we would never advertise to children ever. It’s against the law to advertise it to children. What are the healthcare costs associated with this social pariah, tobacco? Ninety billion.

Certainly a high number, but not nearly the 140 billion associated with type 2 diabetes, which is a function of the quantity of processed garbage we are being fed. And these numbers are growing at a rate of four percent a year for type 2 diabetes. And again, to put in perspective the severity of that problem, we know obesity is a problem. The rates of obesity are growing at about one percent to two percent a year. So the rates of this potentially fatal disease, diabetes, are growing at 100 to 200 percent the rate of obesity. And by 2020, it is estimated that the annual cost to the global healthcare system will be 700 billion – again with a b, friends – 700 billion dollars and affect nearly 500 million people.

Now, this is not, in any way, shape, or form, meant to be a downer show. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Because before any significant personal, societal, and cultural change happens, we have to have that fire within us. We have to have that motivation to change. You and I both know that we live in a culture that’s saturated with secondhand sweeteners and secondhand starch, right? You go to the office and people just bring in all this garbage but if you don’t eat it, you’re stigmatized. You’d never be stigmatized if someone offered you a cigarette and you said “No, that’s okay, I don’t smoke.” But if someone offers you a slice of cake at a birthday party and you say, “Oh, no, that’s okay,” you might get looked at oddly. We need to change that.

This is not about vanity. This is not about weight. This is about the exact opposite. This is about life and health and setting our culture and our society on a path that is sustainable. Seven hundred billion dollars of healthcare costs on type 2 diabetes alone and another six hundred billion totaling over, well over, a trillion dollars because we’re being fed a load of calorie myths is unacceptable and now is the time for us to mobilize.

A scale — a number on a scale — will never move us and never mobilize us because we know that that is degrading and that no one’s value and no one’s purpose is to weigh a certain amount. And counting calories is, of course, ridiculous. We know that that’s not why we’re put here. But ending suffering, creating a society in a culture that’s sustainable for generations beyond us, and having a body and health that enables us to manifest the glory that’s within us — that is motivational and that feels better than any of these addictive, poisonous edible products could ever taste. And that’s why freeing ourselves from these calorie myths, which we’ll continue to do over the coming weeks, far from being scary or a downer is actually the most joyous, uplifting, and motivating thing we could ever experience.

So, friends, join me in doing less math and eating more food, whole natural healthy foods, and together we can free ourselves from these calorie myths and make healthy actually healthy again and make slim simple again. I’m Jonathan Bailor. See you next week.