SANE Science

Calories Are Not All That Matter

Calories Are Not All That Matter: Hormones Matter Too


“The ‘classical theory’ that fat is deposited in the adipose tissue [body fat] only when given in excess of the caloric requirement is finally disproved.”– E. Wertheimer, in Physiological Reviews

Calorie quality (SANEity) influences the hormones which control our set-point weight which controls the amount of fat we store. More simply, hormones play a critical role in our long-term body fat levels.

Calories Are Not All That Matter

The critical effect hormones have on body fat has been well known in scientific circles for a long time. Especially the hormone insulin. Most of us know insulin only in reference to diabetics. They need insulin shots. Yet a true understanding of how hormones generally—and insulin specifically—work in relation to body fat reveals the cause of, and solution to, weight gain and related diseases such as diabetes.

At the risk of being gross, one way scientists discovered the important relationship between hormones and weight is through the procedure known as parabiosis. Parabiosis occurs when researchers cut two live animals open and then join them so they share the same blood supply and hormones. In other words, researchers create Siamese twins.

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Before Parabiosis


After Parabiosis


Why would researchers create a Franken-rat with one set of hormones but twice as much of everything else? Because it allows them to conduct studies showing the impact hormones have on body fat. For example, when researchers join an obese rat to a lean rat, the lean rat gets leaner regardless of the quantity of calories it eats. How is that possible? Think back to how the set-point works.

The obese rat’s metabolism is producing a massive amount of body-fat-burning hormones in an effort to get the obese rat back to normal automatically. But because the obese rat is clogged and cannot respond to the body-fat-burning hormones effectively, it stays heavy. However, the lean rat is not clogged. The clog-free rat is able to respond to all of those body-fat-burning hormones. Lots of body-fat-burning hormones plus the ability to respond to them equals burning body fat despite eating the same quantity of calories.


In a similar manner, when researchers stitch a normal rat and a starved rat together, the starved rat’s body-fat-storing hormones make the normal rat get fatter regardless of the quantity of calories the normal rat eats. The starved rat is producing body-fat-storing hormones in an effort to get back to its set-point. These body-fat-storing hormones enter the normal rat, and its unclogged metabolism does exactly what the hormones tell it to do: the normal rat stores body fat without eating any more or exercising any less.


Besides the horror of joining living animals together, these and hundreds of other experiments clearly show that hormone levels strongly influence weight gain or loss. In the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, J. Le Magnen captures the importance of healing our hormones before we are free of body fat: “Humans that become obese gain weight because they are no longer able to lose weight.” Le Magnen’s statement is brilliant.

Gaining body fat because we lost the ability to burn body fat thanks to a hormonal clog is totally different than gaining body fat because we eat too much or exercise too little.

If we are gaining body fat because our body has lost the ability to burn fat, then what good is pushing harder to eat less and to exercise more? That’s like pushing harder on the gas pedal of a car with no wheels. The solution is not to push harder. The solution is to restore the car’s ability to burn rubber…and to restore our body’s ability to burn fat. Once we give our body “wheels” and get rolling with high-quality food and exercise, we’ll be surprised and delighted with how little we have to push and how far that gets us. We’ll be working smarter instead of harder and we’ll be slimmer and healthier because of it.

  1. Accurso A, Bernstein RK, Dahlqvist A, Draznin B, Feinman RD, Fine EJ, Gleed A, Jacobs DB, Larson G, Lustig RH, Manninen AH, McFarlane SI, Morrison K, Nielsen JV, Ravnskov U, Roth KS, Silvestre R, Sowers JR, Sundberg R, Volek JS, Westman EC, Wood RJ, Wortman J, Vernon MC. Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: Time for a critical appraisal. NutrMetab (Lond). 2008 Apr 8;5:9. PubMed PMID: 18397522; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2359752.
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Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
health and business

Health and Business: The Big Business of Bad Health and Failed Fat Loss


“There is a lot of money being made…feeding both oversized stomachs and feeding those enterprises selling fixes for oversized stomachs…And both industries—those selling junk food and those selling fat cures—depend for their future on the prevalence of obesity.” – W. Weis, in the Academy of Health Care Management Journal

Health And Business – Are You Shocked?

We all know that Washington, DC is the home of lobbyists. We lament that they have too much influence over our elected officials. Yet it never occurs to many of us that some of the largest lobbying efforts in the country are made by firms representing the food industry. The days of the nice farming family growing their crops are long gone. Today our food is grown by huge agribusiness concerns. According to a 2007 report by Mary Hendrickson and William Heffernan at the University of Missouri, 83.5% of beef, 80% of soybeans, and 55% of flour are produced by the top four firms in those industries. A single company supplies the seeds for 90% of genetically modified corn and soybeans.

Or consider the dairy industry.


That’s why we need to watch where we get our nutrition information. Is the source driven by science or profits? When the answer is profits, we hear things like this from the Grocery Manufacturers of America—the people responsible for ensuring grocery stores are as profitable as possible: “Policies that declare foods ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are counterproductive.” The Sugar Association agrees: “All foods have a place in a balanced diet.” A similar platitude is offered by the National Soft Drink Association:“As refreshing sources of needed liquids and energy, soft drinks represent a positive addition to a well-balanced diet.”

None of these statements are backed by science. While we will not immediately become diabetic if we treat ourselves to inSANE starch and soda occasionally. But does that mean starch and sweets should be recommended as part of a balanced diet? Food corporations know better than anyone what the facts are, but they are not going to condemn themselves. Quite the opposite. Food companies aggressively fight any scientific information that threatens their bottom line.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

Government Involvement in Money-Motivated Dietary Guidance

Sadly, the crowding out of sound science by money doesn’t stop there. Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, of the members of national committees on nutrition and food receive compensation from food companies.  David Willman at the Los Angeles Times reported:



Both the food industry and our government are paid to keep profits high, not to teach us about nutritional science. A famous quote puts it plainly: “It is hard to get someone to believe one thing when they are paid to believe another.”

health and business


Marion Nestle, Michele Simon, and Michael Pollan have all written excellent books detailing how the food industry harms our health. I highly recommend reviewing their work. In the meantime, one short example is all we need to show how wellness stacks up against profits for the food industry.

Science, millions of years of evolution, and common sense tell us that mother’s milk beats out formula as the best food for babies. Basic human decency tells us that it would be wrong to persuade mothers who cannot afford sufficient quantities of formula to buy it anyway. Neither of these stopped the food industry from marketing infant formula to mothers in developing countries. This led to formula being diluted and contaminated, and, tragically, increased infant mortality. No matter. The food industry continued their promotional campaign, which included an advertisement distributed in Africa that depicted an African baby holding a container of formula with the caption: “The very best milk for your baby.”


1975 South African Formula Ad


Dr. Cecily Williams, a pediatrician who spent years working with African infants, reported: “Statistics have been collected to show that the death rate among artificially fed babies is much greater than that among breast-fed babies. And this is a death rate that shows a very marked class prejudice…. Misguided propaganda on infant feeding should be punished as the most criminal form of sedition…these deaths should be regarded as murder.”

In a world with more socially responsible corporations, we would have dietary guidelines focused on health instead of profits. They would look something like this:


A SANE Scientific Pyramid



A SANE Scientific Plate


Why has the food industry moved so slowly to answer the concerns of many nutritional scientists? At the risk of being repetitive, it’s because the people generating the guidelines the industry adheres to—the USDA—are not responsible for nutrition. They are responsible for a profitable food industry. That is why they are called the Department of Agricultureinstead of the Department of Health, Nutrition, and Fat Loss. Dr. Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics, tells us:



Lest you think I am engaging in conspiracy theory, take a look at this chart. Note how the worse we do health-wise, the better the food industry does money-wise:


Food Quality/SANEity vs. Profitability


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  3. Cannon G. The Politics of Food. London: Century Hutchinson, 1987.
  4. Cauchon D. FDA Advisers Tied to Industry. USA Today, Sept. 25, 2000.
  5. Hays CL, McNeil Jr. DG. Putting Africa on Coke’s map. New York Times. May 26, 1998.P. D1.
  6. Hendrickson, M. and Heffernan, W. (2007) Concentration of Agricultural Markets April 2007. Greenwood Village, CO: National Farmers Union (
  8. Nestle, Marion. Food politics: how the food industry influences nutrition and health. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Print.
  9. Sugarman C, Gladwell M. U.S. drops new food chart. Washington Post, April 27, 1991: A1, A10.
  10. The National Institutes of Health: Public Servant or Private Marketer? – Los Angeles Times.” Featured Articles From the Los Angeles Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <>.
  11. Weis W. Academy of Health Care Management Journal, 2005.
Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

So How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

Jay: Hey Jonathan, Jay here. I got a question for you about weight loss, fat, body fat, the dreaded thing that we are all afraid of on the scale. Here’s 5 pounds of fat and Jennifer and I are really excited because on the Smarter Science of Slim we have both lost 20 pounds, so that’s like 5, 10, 15, 20 pounds of body fat, but the thing is I know you are not a big fan of weighing on the scale, you say we should really measure ourselves by tape measure or how we feel in our clothes, which I get that — the clothes are looser, I can’t say that I have really been using the tape measure and I use a scale, I don’t use it all the time, but where I have a little bit of a trouble with you with the book is that your whole book is based upon science.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

I think that’s what critical that everybody understands it, there are real formulas and metrics and things of what we need to be able to pay attention to about our health and fitness, but if you are going to be about science then how do you kind of not talk about the scale or let me be a little bit more fair, you do talk about the scale, but give us all better idea of how we can kind of balance that up because I know a lot of us are slave to the tale of our scale every week and I know for us on the Biggest Loser was a big factor in our success and how we are measured, how we are rated and it’s in everybody’s head what they think about it.

So, really we would like some of your thoughts on how we should kind of balance the scale in the scheme of our health and the rest of our lives to live the best of our lives.

Jonathan: To be clear, just like with anything else, if weighing yourself is helping you to achieve your long-term health and fitness goals then keep it up by all means. The reason I advice against the scale is because studies in the science has shown that for over 95 percent of us, these traditional eat less, exercise more make the number on the scale go down are counterproductive fail and actually lead to fat gain for about 95 percent of us.

Should I Weigh Myself?

So, the key thing to keep in mind if we want to measure progress, is to use measures that actually reward what we are after, right? So, when we talk about health and fitness, what we are after is health and fitness. We are not after some number on the scale. If I told you, I have a friend and she weighs 160 pounds, what does that tell you about her health or what does that tell you about her fitness levels? Nothing, absolutely nothing, but if I for example told you what size clothing she wears, maybe that gives you a better insight or that she is an awesome energetic delightful and that her skin is radiant, that tells you something or even if I told you what her body fat percentage was, that would tell you something.

So, we have all these other measures available to us that are so much more accurate, like how your clothes are fitting, how you feel, what’s your body fat percentage is and even more important, they measure what we are after, right? The scale actively doesn’t. If we dehydrate ourselves, the scale says we are doing something good. If we burn off our muscle tissue, the scale says we are doing something good, but in both of those cases, we are doing something terrible for our health. We would be better off doing nothing than we would be dehydrating ourselves or burning our muscle tissue or after fat loss and improved health.

So, we have got to make sure that the metrics we use to measure that help us along that path and don’t hinder us and don’t tempt us to take shortcuts or quick-fix that may drop the number on the scale, but also drop our health, drop us down into dehydration and drop our muscle tissue levels and lead us to that horrible 95 percent failure rate that we see for traditional approaches.

So, again if the traditional approach is working for you, that’s great, keep it up, but if you are one of the 95 percent of us that studies have shown it doesn’t work for, stick to how you feel, stick to how your clothes fit and stick to your body fat percentage and if you do want to measure your body fat percentage, make sure you do it at most maybe once every other week because it’s naturally going to fluctuate and make sure you do it at the same time of day on the same day of the week that you are comparing apples to apples. Doing it on Monday at 9 a.m. and then again on Friday at 6 p.m. not a good comparison, once at the beginning of the work week, once at the end. So, make sure you do it at the same time every other week at most and then just enjoy your health and your fitness.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES