Eat More, Slim Down, and The Truth About Thermodynamics
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Jonathan: Welcome to Living the Smarter Science of Slim, where we provide a scientifically proven lifestyle for long-term health and fast lost by eating more and exercising less, but smarter.
Carrie: Eat smarter, exercise smarter, live better – I am so ready for that. This is Carrie Brown. I’m here with the poster child for eating more and exercising less – Jonathan Bailor.
Jonathan: Thank you Carrie for that lovely introduction. Alright, folks. Here we are. Living the Smarter Science of Slim – picking up where we left off. Today we’re going to cover the last of the four of the fat lost fallacies. And that is the fallacy that eating more causes long term fat gain. And then we’ll talk a bit about thermodynamics. I know, again, this might sound odd just like the previous three fallacies before we showed that they were fallacies. And just to recap, the first one – we showed how eating less does not cause long term fat loss. We showed how exercising more does not cause long term fat loss. We showed how exercising less does not cause long term fat gain. And what you’re about to see is that eating more also does not cause long term fat gain.
Carrie: That makes me so very, very happy.
Jonathan: So let’s get started with Dr. King over at King’s College London. London, Carrie.
Carrie: London! Wahooooo!
Jonathan: Shout out to old Carrie.
Carrie: Something good came out of London.
Jonathan: Lots of good things come out of London, including Miss Carrie Brown.
Carrie: Including me!
Jonathan: Exactly. So listen closely to this quote, because again, it’s so counter to what we’ve heard. “We found highly significant inverse correlations between food energy intake and body fat.” Okay, let’s play that back in English.
Carrie: Yeah, say that again.
Jonathan: We saw an inverse relationship between the amount of food people ate and the amount of fat they had on their body.
Jonathan: Okay. So we’re going to have a bunch more data around that. But the key distinction here – folks, remember in the last episode we talked about exercise and all that fund stuff. It’s all about exercise quality. We talked about how this moderate quality exercise is not helpful. It’s actually harmful. But high quality exercise is great for us. Same thing here. Eating more low quality food absolutely does cause us to gain body fat. It causes hormonal havoc in our bodies. It raises our set point. We’re not in a good position. However, that does not mean eating more food, like actual food, high quality food, natural, real food does not produce the same result. In fact, it produces the opposite result. It clears our clog. It kind of acts a bit like a metabolic Drano and it restores our body’s natural ability to burn fat.
Carrie: So I get to, as long it’s the right food, I get to eat more in order to lose body fat. Is that right?
Jonathan: That’s absolutely right. We’re almost going to perceive food as medicine. And the more of these non-starchy vegetables, lean protein and natural fats we consume, the more we will heal our metabolism and lower our set point. And Carrie, I’ve got just a slew of studies because I know this sounds so ridiculous. If you eat more – I’m telling you, you can eat more and burn more. It sounds like an infomercial.
Carrie: Am I going to have to reel you in then? You’ve got this slew of studies.
Jonathan: Well I’ve got them kind of bullet-pointed here. So let’s go through them in a bit rapid fire. So let me actually preface these studies. So in all of these studies, there’s two groups of people. There’s people that ate more but higher quality food. And then there’s people who ate less but of lower quality food. So they all have that same kind of setup. So the first one – Dr. Volek’s study at the University of Connecticut – people in the eat more but higher quality food group ate 300 calories more per day and burned more body fat.
Second study – Samantha’s study at the University of Pennsylvania – people in the eat more high quality food group at a total of 9,500 more calories and loss 200% more weight.
Dr. Green’s study from the Obesity Research Journal found that people who ate more but higher quality food and consumer 25,000 more calories gained no additional weight than the normal group.
And then, finally, Dr. Sondike in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that people who ate more but higher quality food, who consumed 65,000 more calories over the course of this study, lost 141% more weight.
Carrie: I want to be in that group!
Jonathan: And I think this kind of goes back to some studies we talked about earlier, even the woman’s health initiative study where we showed that in nearly 70,000 women over the course of 8 years. We had one group of women that consumed about 350,000 more calories than the other group. Using calorie math, that means they should of gained 100 more pounds. They gained less than a pound that that’s really nothing when you look over the course of 8 years. So, how is this possible, Carrie? This is mind-blowing. How can this even happen?
Carrie: Well I must admit, it does sound a bit mad given what we’ve been taught for the last 40 odd years.
Jonathan: So the reason it sound mad is because there’s this assumption – which we will completely demolish using science in the next 4 or 5 podcasts, but that’s – we’re told that a calorie is a calorie. If you eat more food – I don’t care what food it is. We’re just told if you eat more food, you’re going to gain more fat. That is not true. A calorie is not a calorie. And the other thing – we’re basically told that if we take in more calories, we have to store more fat. That’s not true. Studies have shown that there’s all kinds of other way that a properly functioning metabolism can deal with more food. For example, it can just burn more calories rather than store those calories.
Jonathan: So let’s dig into that study. Before we get into that study – it’s a study performed at the Mayo Clinic, which is just fascinating. It’s a bit complicated so we’re just going to have to dig into it. It really illustrates this model of just because you eat more food – one, a calorie’s not a calorie, so different calories are going to cause different things in our body. But two, just because you consume more food, doesn’t mean you have to store more fat because instead, your body may just burn it off for you. Think about that, again, going back to that sing analogy, Carrie. If a sink is clogged, only if a sink is clogged, will pouring more water in it cause the water level to rise and stay risen. If a sink is unclogged, if it’s functioning properly, if we pour more water in, the sink just drains more water.
Jonathan: It keeps itself at equilibrium. And that equilibrium is low. The equilibrium only rises when it loses that ability – becomes clogged. And we know that happens in us by eating low quality food. And the solution is eating more high quality food – a bit like Drano in the sink.
Carrie: Got it.
Jonathan: Alright, Carrie. So jumping right into the study – this was a study performed at the Mayo Clinic. And in this study, researchers feed the participants 1,000 extra calories per day for 8 weeks. Now, let’s talk briefly about what this study “should” have shown according to conventional wisdom. So according to conventional wisdom, we’ve got 56,000 extra calories. So that’s 1,000 extra calories a day for 56 days – 56,000 extra calories – 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. So, everyone in this study must of just gained 16 pounds of body fat. Right?
Jonathan: By now, we should now that’s not actually what happened, but that’s what we’re all led to believe. In fact, nobody in the study gained 16 pounds. No one. Zero. The most anyone gained was a little over half that. And the least that anyone gained was basically nothing. So here we have groups of people. Everyone’s fed 56,000 extra calories. The most anyone gained is not what the calorie math would predict. It was half of that and there were some people that basically gained nothing. The key question to ask here is “How can eating 56,000 extra calories amount to gaining no weight?”
Carrie: That’s a very good question.
Jonathan: So, it’s what we said earlier, Carrie. Extra calories do not have to turn into body fat. They don’t. It’s a fact. Researcher Lion in the Medical Journal QJM reported, “Food in excess of immediate requirements can easily be disposed of by being burnt up and being dissipated as heat. Did this capacity not exist, obesity would almost be universal.” And again, eating more and gaining less is possible because an unclogged metabolism, a properly functioning metabolism has all sorts of ways to process excess calories rather than storing them.
In fact, in this Mayo Clinic study, Carrie, they looked at three of them. They looked at base calories we burn daily, or our base metabolic rate. It looked at the calories burnt digesting food and it measure the calories burnt on what’s called neat or unconscious activity – non-exercise activity, thermogenesis. So – and what the researchers found, Carrie, is that individuals, when they were fed extra calories just increased their base metabolic rate. They increased the calories the burned digesting food. And they increased the calories they burned via unconscious activity.
Carrie: So our bodies are way cleverer than we give them credit for. There’s a lot more going on than what we’ve been taught.
Jonathan: Exactly. Our bodies want to keep us at homeostasis. However, when that ability breaks down, because we put the wrong quality of food into our body, Carrie, it still keeps us at homeostasis, just at a higher set point. So if we eat more, one, we help to unclog ourselves metabolically, we’ll also just respond by burning more calories. So this idea that eating more causes us to store more is simply false. And study after study after study shows that.
Carrie: But when you say eating more to unclog, you mean eating more of the right foods.
Jonathan: Exactly, yes. It’s not as we – as I sometimes say – it’s not magic. It’s not just exercise less. It’s not, you know, just go on the treadmill for 10 minutes instead of 60 minutes. No. It’s do a different higher quality of exercise for less time. And eat more but higher quality food. But we can be confident in doing that, knowing that eating more food has been proven time and time and time again not to cause long term fat gain and in fact, cause fat loss if it’s the right kind of food.
Carrie: I love that.
Jonathan: But it’s funny. This is so not what we’re told. What we hear from the USDA – these are the people that produce the My Plate and the food guide pyramid and all of these guidelines. Here’s what they tell us. Folks, this is it. This sentence summarizes what we’ve all been taught. During the time period where everything go worse, this is what we’ve been taught. So this is from chapter 3 of the USDA’s dietary guidelines for Americans. “Since many adults gain weight slowly over time, even small decreases in calorie intake can help avoid weight gain.” Carrie, here’s their basic misunderstanding. If small decreases in calorie intake lead to gradual weight loss, then does that mean if you accidently 50 fewer calories per day, you’re eventually going to weight nothing?
Carrie: That is what it says.
Jonathan: We know that’s wrong because we all know intuitively that our body regulates our weight. Our body will never let us weigh nothing. But here’s the problem, Carrie. The same thing in our body that prevents us from – that prevents small decreases in calories in or even small increases in calories out – the same thing that prevents those things from making us weigh 0 pounds also work to prevent us from just burning 10 pounds.
It’s an elevated set point. It’s our body trying to regulate our weight and we need to train and enable our body to regulate our weight around a lower point. It’s not that too many calories are blocking our weight loss and that our body wants to lose weight. It’s that our body doesn’t want to lose weight and when we give it fewer calories, be that from eating less or exercising more, it fights against us. We need to get our body to want to weigh less. And once it does, it will on its own.
Carrie: That’s an interesting point about, you know, just eating a few less calories will help you lose weight. Because I don’t think if the opposite were true, I don’t think if I added say an apple everyday to what I currently eat, I don’t think at the end of 6 months I’d be 10 pounds heavier because of that apple every day.
Carrie: I just don’t – I can’t believe that it works that way. It makes no sense whatsoever.
Jonathan: No sense. Another example is that basically ever physician that I’ve ever met, and I’m sure if you ask your physician, “Hey, should I take fish oil?” – very popular supplement, very high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are wonderful for you. But it’s a fat. So let’s say you were to consume 100 calories of fish oil per day. Every physician in the world, dare I say, would say that’s a good idea. All things being equal. And that amount of calories – that’s not going to fill you up. It’s not going to change the amount of food you eat in a day. So over the course of a year, you’re going to be consuming 36,500 more calories that you would have than if you hadn’t taken that fish oil supplement. So what, you’re going to gain 11 pounds a year. So let’s say you do that for 10 years. So because you’re taking 100 calories of a fish oil supplement, you’re going to gain 110 pounds in 10 years and your physician recommended that. What? That doesn’t make any sense.
Carrie: Hey, you’re good at math. It’s a good job it doesn’t work that way.
Jonathan: It’s good that it doesn’t work that way. And Carrie, the ubber objection that individuals who have not seen the science will pose at this point. So if listeners go out and they tell people, “Listen this podcast – I learned that eating less doesn’t necessarily burn fat. Eating more doesn’t make us gain fat. Exercising less doesn’t make us gain fat. They will hear the following: “The law of thermodynamics proves that eating less and exercising more burns body fat.”
Carrie: I have huge issues with the law of thermodynamics.
Jonathan: Well as you should because the challenge, Carrie, is that it’s reasonable. It’s reasonable but it’s a misunderstanding of the laws of thermodynamics. So let’s break this down. First of all, there’s four laws of thermodynamics. Two of them have nothing to do with fat loss. They have to do with things like finding absolute zero and things like that. There are two that do apply to weight loss. And those two basically tell us that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms.
So the thinking which is reasonable goes like this, “The applicable laws of thermodynamics tell us that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only change forms. Therefore, if we eat less and exercise more, we enter a state of caloric deficit. And energy can’t disappear. It’s got to come from somewhere. So our body’s going to burn body fat. We have a caloric deficit. Our body will burn body fat.”
Okay. There’s a huge assumption in that argument. Yes, energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms. Yes, if we’re in a state of caloric deficit caused by eating less and exercising more, our body must do something. But that right there, Carrie – that, what I just said, is all the laws of thermodynamics prove – that our body must do something. They say nothing about what our body has to do. And in fact, Carrie, you and I know that when our body’s starved, first thing it does is slow down. Second thing it does it burn muscle tissue. If and only if those two things are not sufficient, then it will burn some fat. So what the laws of thermodynamics actually prove is that if we eat less and exercise more, our metabolism will slow down. We’ll burn off a bunch of muscle tissue and we may burn off fat. That’s what the law of thermodynamics proves.
Carrie: So for the last 40 or so years where they’ve been telling us that it’s calories in versus calories out, they’ve just been wrong about the something that happens as a result of the law of thermodynamics.
Jonathan: And that’s why it’s so important, Carrie, for us to get away from weight loss. Because if our goal is weight loss, then two of those three things – burning muscles – fine. If you burn muscle, you’re going to lose weight. But that’s terrible in terms of a long term fat loss. Because you have less muscle, you’re going to burn less calories. You’re going to be less healthy. You’re going to look broken down rather than tight and toned and firm. But you’re going to weigh less.
But we’re after long term fat loss. And if our metabolism slows down, well from a weight loss perspective, who cares? The scale says a lower number. The problem is now our body is running slower. So if we ever go back to not starving ourselves, we’re going to take all that muscle we burnt off, put it back as fat, and we’re going to put it back on extremely fast because our metabolism slowed down. So again, if the goal is weight loss, the law of thermodynamics kind of applies. And it’s kind of helpful. But if our goal is the long term fat loss and health, the law of thermodynamics proves that eating less and exercising more is harmful rather than helpful.
Carrie: So I need to throw my scale away by the sounds of it.
Jonathan: Throw it away.
Carrie: And I need to focus on reducing my body fat, not losing weight.
Jonathan: In fact, I’ll add something to that. You’re going to reduce your body fat and you’re also going to build lean muscle tissue. I’m going to be specific here to women here because women are by far in our society the most critiqued for their appearance. This idea of thin – I’m so over that and I hope to God for any men listening: strong is the new thin. Toned is the new skinny.
I want a woman who is firm and healthy and has radiant – her eyes are glowing. Her skin is glowing. She’s healthy and she’s got curves and she looks like a woman – not someone who’s a bag of bones. If you want to be a bag of bones, eat less and exercise more. Your rates of depression will rise. You’ll burn off all your muscle tissue. Your health will go down the tubes, but you’ll lose weight. But who cares? That’s not what we’re after. It’s terrible for your health and it’s just – it doesn’t yield a smarter, sexier you. It just doesn’t.
Carrie: Well I know what I want and it’s not to be a bag of bones.
Jonathan: Bag of bones – Carrie is no bag bones.
Jonathan: So I want point of clarification. In hearing what we talked about so far, it’s easy to potentially draw the conclusion that calories in and calories out doesn’t matter. That’s not true either. Here’s the key distinction. Folks you may start to see part of the problem here is that the current model kind of has bits of truth in it. Like eating less and exercising more is and effective way to lose weight. It’s just that losing weight is the wrong goal.
Jonathan: And calories in versus calories out – it does matter in the sense that when our body is functioning properly, it will automatically ensure that we eat the proper amount of calories and it will automatically ensure that we burn off the proper amount of calories to stay healthy and fit. So it’s not that calories in versus calories out doesn’t matter. It’s that the concept that we can or should consciously control it is ridiculous. That is like thinking we need to control breaths in versus breaths out. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, of course calories in, calories out matters.
But our body will take care of it automatically if we take care of our body. And the way we take care of our body is by flooding it with nutrients – natural healthy food. Never making it thinks it’s starving and not putting it under an immense amount of stress. And Carrie, going out in the hot sun on the pavement and banging your body up and down on a jump rope or running around for 60 minutes is a massive amount of stress on the body. We want to heal the body. We want to flood it with nutrition. We don’t want to stress it out. And when we take care of our body, it will take care of us automatically.
Carrie: I love the sound of that.
Jonathan: It’s just such a healthier approach and it’s such a long term approach and fundamentally it’s a science-backed approach rather than a sound bite or a theory or a gimmick approach. And folks, taking the biggest step back of all – you know, what could of gotten us into the position we’re in today? It’s not that we’re exercising too little. Right? Exercise really wasn’t even a concept until recently. It’s not we’re too inactive. We already talked about data showing that we’re plenty active. It’s not that necessarily we’re eating too much. Because eating more of the right kinds of food for us is good. But what has changed? What’s changed is what we’re eating.
Jonathan: What we eat – the quality of the food we eat today is unequivocally different from what we ate in years pasts. In fact, we’ll dig into this data in a later podcast but Dr. Cordain over at the University of Colorado has shown that 72% of the calories we consume today were not consumed by our ancestors.
Carrie: That’s a huge difference.
Jonathan: It’s a huge difference and it’s kind of funny. With about 70% of us being overweight or obese, we have about 70% of our calories coming from unnatural sources. Obviously those two numbers aren’t supposed to be the same but if we flip our body on its head and we feed it with the wrong quality of fuel, our body’s going to run differently and it’s going to give us the results we’re seeing today. So please don’t eat less. Don’t starve yourself. You don’t need to exercise more. The science shows we eat more, smarter. We exercise less, smarter. And in the next few podcasts, Carrie, we’re going to start talking about how we do that.
Specifically, we’re going to talk about how we eat more but smarter. We’ll see that the quality of food – so first of all, a calorie’s not a calorie, and we’ll see that the quality of a calorie is determined by 4 factors: satiety, aggression, nutrition and efficiency. We abbreviate that by using the acronym S.A.N.E. So you hear us talking about sane and insane foods. Sane foods are high quality foods. Insane foods are low quality foods. And the more sane food we eat, the lower our set point falls. We heal our hormones. We feel and look better. We burn fat. We maintain muscle and we improve our health. And that’s really the key.
Carrie: And we don’t necessarily lose weight.
Jonathan: We don’t necessarily lose weight. In fact – so, a couple things. If you have a massive amount of fat on your body, you will lose weight because while you may gain 5 pounds of compact, toning, skin-firming muscle, you’ll probably also lose like 60 pounds of fat. So you will lose weight. However, if you are, for example, quite fit like Carrie is – I mean, if Carrie lost 10 pound of body fat and put on 10 pounds of compact lean muscle tissue, her physical appearance would be dramatically difference. However, her weight would be the exact same.
Carrie: And that’s exactly what I’m finding. And you’ll notice these pants that I’m wearing today are all kind of baggy now but I haven’t lost any weight. My number hasn’t gone down in the last two weeks, but the way I kind of shoost around in these pants has certainly changed.
Jonathan: Yeah so folks, please throw away your scale. It’s a terrible measure. I think I’ve said this before. I’ll probably say this again. I am obese according to my weight. And I have about 9 of 10% body fat. I’m not obese. But according my scale, I am. It’s not about the scale. It’s about how you feel. It’s about how you look. It’s about your numbers like your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol – things like that. And the answer to all of those things is to eat high quality food and to do a bit of high quality exercise. We’ll talk about how we can go sane and eat more high quality food starting next week. Carrie, what do you have to say?
Carrie: I’m interested to talk about eating more. I must admit that one of the things I find hardest about his program – most of it is not hard at all – but the thing that I struggle with most is eating enough, which is a very interesting problem to have.
Jonathan: It is a very interesting problem to have. And the good news Carrie is that this is one of those things that we can learn and we adjust. They key is we never want to feel starved. We never want to feel hungry. We never want to feel deprived. Again, once our body is healed, it will guide us in the right direction. Again, think about it like sleep. We don’t have to be like, “Well, you know, this week I need to get this many hours of sleep.” Our body gets tired and then it wakes up. That’s how the body works. It takes care of these things for us so that we can do other things like our jobs and communicate and higher level brain functions. We don’t need to worry about these fundamental bodily functions. That’s what our body does for us.
Carrie: If we get it to the state where we allow it to do that, that’s what it will do.
Jonathan: Another analogy – sorry, I’m throwing so many analogies out – but think about our heart. Our heart automatically pumps blood. But what happens if we eat the wrong quality of food? Well our heart stops pumping blood. In fact, we may need to put something in our body that artificially does it for us. Like, when we put the wrong quality of stuff in our body, our body loses its natural ability to do all kinds of stuff, including keep us slim and healthy. But other things such as our sleep can get disturbed if we take certain kind of substances. Our heart rate can get disturbed. The point is fundamental metabolic healing. The body want to be healthy and fit. We just need to get out of its way.
Carrie: I’m excited.
Jonathan: I’m excited too. Hopefully everyone listening is excited. Folks, we’re just getting started. It’s good stuff. Jonathan Bailor. Carrie Brown. Eat more. Exercise less, smarter. See you next week.