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SCIENTIFIC: Medical Foreword, Preface, & Note
There is no hypothesizing or empty prediction in THE CALORIE MYTH; there is detailed analysis of the science underlying these principles, principles that—when properly and consistently applied—achieve heights of functioning, weight loss, and provide relief from the myriad health conditions of modern life.
Had “official” agencies and other sources of conventional dietary advice gotten the nutrition and health message right to begin with, there would be no need to have so many books on the topic. But they got it wrong—colossally wrong.
Ever since the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the first U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980, the dietary and healthcare communities all synchronized their message for nutrition and health: cut total and saturated fat, eat more “healthy whole grains,” watch calories, and increase physical activity.
They advised us that the human body is a vessel that behaves according to the physical laws of thermodynamics: the human body transacts energy currency just like any other energy-consuming vessel—no different, say, from an automobile or furnace. We are thereby subject to physical laws such as “calories in, calories out,” regardless of whether in the form of carbohydrate, fat, or protein. According to this line of thinking, it does not matter what hormonal or metabolic environment a calorie enters; the end result is the same.
We were also told that weight gain was a simple matter of consuming more calories than we burned. We were advised that weight loss would occur, predictably and mathematically, when we cut calories in or burn more calories out, the basis for the “eat less, exercise more” mantra for maintaining healthy weight. By this line of logic, cutting back, for instance, on the 238 calories in two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in your salad while maintaining an unchanged level of physical activity should predictably yield weight loss of one pound every two weeks, or 25 pounds over a year. Alternatively, performing housework, such as vacuuming and sweeping the house 30 minutes per day, without altering calorie intake should burn in the neighborhood of 110 calories, yielding just under 12 pounds lost over one year. Easy, eh?
As the nationwide experience has demonstrated, this doesn’t work. While there are surely people who are indeed gluttonous and lazy and could be illustrative examples of the calories in, calories out concept, there are plenty of people who have followed conventional advice to reduce fat, consume more whole grains, etc., yet now hold an extra 30, 50, 150 pounds on their frame. If there has been a miscalculation, it has been a miscalculation of epic proportions. Could the 1 in 3 Americans now obese, another 1 in 3 overweight, all be gluttonous and lazy? Or is there something fundamentally wrong with the concept of calories in, calories out?
1980 is the year that marks this astounding turn of events for the American public: the start of an unprecedented and dramatic increase in calorie intake, weight gain, and overweight and obesity. We now have the worst epidemic of obesity and all the diseases that accompany it, such as hypertension, diabetes, “high cholesterol,” degenerating joints, and other conditions, on a scale never before seen in human history. There surely have been periods in human history when widespread illness plagued us, but those periods were due to mass starvation, war, and disease. In contrast, we have our modern epidemic during a period of virtually limitless abundance.
It doesn’t take an astute student of modern culture to see that conventional wisdom is not just inaccurate, but devastatingly wrong. Of course the human body follows the laws of physics and energy, but not by the overly simplistic rules offered by conventional dietary thinking.
Anyone who has had some false starts and stops in weight loss learns some tough lessons acquired through the school of hard knocks. For one, cutting calories makes you hungry and miserable, while unconsciously reducing the level of physical activity. Conversely, increasing physical activity creates hunger and increases calorie intake. Combine the two—decreasing calorie intake while purposefully increasing physical activity—is an especially unpleasant experience, an effort that requires monumental willpower to follow, as it generates ravenous, intense hunger. This last painful strategy, by the way, typically results in dramatic reductions in metabolic rate and loss of muscle mass, both of which further booby-trap any genuine effort at fat loss.
In THE CALORIE MYTH, author Jonathan Bailor recounts the wealth of science we already have that 1) should cause us to reject the miserably incorrect “calories in, calories out” misconception, and 2) shows us how to use the very same science to understand the real ways that the body responds to calories and physical activity. He educates the reader on why the human body protects its set point as a fail-safe survival mechanism and that the only way to manage weight is to manage your set point, not just cut calories or burn off more energy.
What is magical about THE CALORIE MYTH is the easy-to-grasp, step-by-step way he tells the story, taking the reader by the hand and showing us why this one nutritional insight was misinterpreted and led to catastrophically misguided dietary advice, and how new insights can be key to unlocking hidden wisdom. He creates a new language and framework that allows the reader to put her arms around these concepts without getting bogged down in science, detail, or dogma. Knowledge is power and, in this instance, the proper understanding of just how the human body transacts energy empowers the reader to regain control over metabolism, health, and weight, even after a lifetime of being led astray.
But there is much more here than an unemotional recounting of the nutritional science that makes the case against “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.” Mr. Bailor captures the essence of effective nutritional arguments in his own clear, succinct, and uniquely clever way, introducing us to his useful brand of terms, such as “SANE” and “clogged” versus “unclogged.”
The same no-holds-barred, incisive thinking goes into Bailor’s analysis of exercise, educating the reader on why “less is more” once the principles of hormonal correction and high-intensity bursts of exercise are understood using the revolutionary insight of eccentric exercise.
This book is appropriately titled: It does indeed bash the myths underlying how the human body manages energy. There is no hypothesizing or empty prediction here; there is detailed analysis of the science underlying these principles, principles that—when properly and consistently applied—achieve heights of functioning, weight loss, and provide relief from the myriad health conditions of modern life.
William Davis, MD
Author, #1 New York Times Bestseller, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health and The Wheat Belly Cookbook