Truth be told, I’m a little bit of a Don Gorske groupie. In November, on a trip to visit Aurora’s extended family in Wisconsin, I did go so far as to have a Big Mac in Gorske’s home of Fond Du Lac. I looked for the Mac Daddy, did not see him unfortunately, but took great comedic pleasure in enjoying my first Big Mac in about a year at a location in which perhaps the most prestigious fast food eater on earth has eaten literally thousands of Big Macs.
But Spurlock does state one thing about Gorske that could be very significant. Gorske rarely eats the fries.
Gorske rarely eats the fries.
Gorske rarely eats the fries.
Now, I can only assume that Gorske is healthy, and that he also is NOT an anomaly (I’m always hesitant to believe in anomalies). The guy, although not exactly as attractive as Mark Sisson, is going on 57, has a full head of un-gray hair, and is 6’2” tall and only 185 pounds. He claims to have a cholesterol level of 140. Every doctor in America would give Gorske a clean bill of health, and few 57-year-olds in the United States could compete with those stats. In the modern world, there are several theories about the greatest dietary and lifestyle evil. A couple months ago I even put up a poll, in which fructose and polyunsaturated fat took Gold and Silver respectively. Let’s examine each of the most prominent theories:
1) The glycemic load theory suggests that the greater the overall load of rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates, the greater the propensity to develop insulin resistance and associated ills. Since 90% of Gorske’s fluid intake is Coca Cola, and each of the 24,000 Big Macs Gorske has consumed are layered with highly-leavened white flour buns, this theory isn’t supported by Gorske’s apparent good health on such fare.
2) Another theory, and one that I’ve long been a proponent of, is that most modern ills can be traced to excessive fructose consumption and refined carbohydrates in general (a hypothesis of T.L. Cleave, John Yudkin, Gary Taubes, and others). This too gets crushed by Gorske’s reaction to his diet, which currently includes tons of Coca Cola and two Mickey D’s Parfaits per day.
3) Another is the cholesterol and saturated fat content of the diet. Gorske obliterates that idea with great ease as well.
4) Then there’s the gluten hypothesis. Gorske has eaten 24,000 gluten-laden sesame seed buns. Sorry wheat haters.
5) Then there’s the belief shared by guys like T. Colin Campbell or Joel Fuhrman that animal protein is harmful. Sorry guys, Gorske gets plenty of that and nearly 100% of his protein is animal-derived.
6) You also have the belief that enzymes found in raw foods determine the overall health and longevity equation. Gorske’s food is virtually enzyme-free.
7) The general prevailing wisdom that most nutritionists would agree on is that the diet should be balanced, varied, and contain lots of fruits and vegetables. Gorske’s is none of the above – except balanced in regard to macronutrients.
8) Another sect believes that lack of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet is responsible for many of the modern world’s health problems. Gorske consumes almost no omega 3, an interesting detail considering that the prevailing nutritional wisdom asserts that humans can’t live without omega 3.
The above are eight common health theories that Gorske more or less refutes. The following are 4 theories of health that Gorske’s diet and lifestyle support:
1) Some scientists believe that eating a low-calorie diet like the French or the Okinawans is the secret to health. Although I believe that eating a low-calorie diet could be one long-term result of health and not a cause, and low-calorie eaters like the citizens of Mexico are some of the world’s most overweight and unhealthy people, Gorske’s diet does support this strongly. Gorske eats far fewer calories than a typical 57-year old American male.
2) Many believe that exercise is the key to health and longevity. Gorske walks, at a reasonable pace, for hours every day and spends quite a bit of time being active and on his feet. Again, I think physical energy and activity is a result of good health, and not a cause, but Gorske’s activity level certainly supports the exercise theory.
3) Many believe that health is really a state of mind and of communion with the food that you eat. Although I have serious doubts that one can turn their food into healthy food simply by believing it is nourishing, Gorske appears to love and enjoy his food in a way that is unprecedented. He certainly doesn’t stress about his food choices, quality, or any other constituent. He just eats what he wants for every meal and enjoys it. This could certainly be one of the keys to Gorske’s success.
4) And finally, one going theory that we’ve recently been exploring in detail is that consuming excess omega 6 polyunsaturated fat – and polyunsaturated fat in general, is the scourge of modern man. Although Ronald McDonald does not report the overall omega 3 and 6 content of Big Macs, it is about as close to zero as one can get without eating a fat-free diet. This would also explain the significance of the fact that Gorske has only eaten McDonald’s fries an estimated ONCE PER MONTH for the last 2 decades. I also believe this is more likely to give Gorske better overall appetite and energy regulation, leading to ingesting an appropriate amount of calories and having great zest for physical activity in addition.
Only one nutrition-oriented person on earth would condone a diet with lots of ice cream (think Gorske’s parfaits), refined sugar and caffeine (found in Gorske’s beverage of choice), plenty of saturated fat, eating an amount of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that mainstream science considers deadly and dangerous, and generally disregarding food quality. That man is Ray Peat. Peat, of course, seems to have had similar results. He is an elderly man with a full head of dark hair, a lean body, and very few health complaints even though he is reported to be in his 80’s.
Anyway, I believe Gorske will continue to baffle the mainstream healthy nutrition and lifestyle status quo. One by one, I predict Gorske to outlive many health gurus. He’ll outlive Dr. Weil. He’ll outlive Ornish. He will outlive “The Bear.” He will outlive Thomas Cowan. He will outlive Dr. Richard Schulze. He will outlive Aajonus Vonderplanitz. He will outlive Schwarzenegger, once the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He may outlive Michael Pollan. He’s even got a decent shot at Mark Sisson.
My Gorske Big Mac Prediction, at 2 Big Macs per day, will be that he will easily reach 40,000. He has a remote chance at hitting 50,000 – but seeing as he’s not even halfway there, his likelihood at hitting that mark is slim to none. My prediction is that his last Big Mac will be #41,268. Just gonna throw that out there. The 3 reasons I think he’ll get there are:
1) Excellent heredity. Gorske obviously has some good nutritional reserves (grew up in cow country and didn’t eat fast food until age 18 evidently), is in great health and spirits for a 57-year old, and has a lot to screw up health-wise before he dies of old age or a degenerative disease.
2) When it comes to life, and his diet, it appears by all accounts that “he’s lovin’ it!” He doesn’t seem to shed years off of his lifespan counting fat grams, carbs, calories, or micronutrients or wondering about where his food came from.
3) His diet is as low in omega 6 as any modern humans – and omega 3’s as well, which only appear to be helpful to those with excessive omega 6 intake, and in other circumstances show little or no benefit. The basic assertion of Peat is that PUFA intake is by far the most important factor when it comes to low free radical load, inflammation, and health and longevity in general. If Peat is correct, which he might be, Gorske’s got a lot of Big Macs ahead of him.
CLICK HERE TO SEE GORSKE’S ESTIMATED NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS
*Note, the saturated fat content seems to be off in my software (should be more like 50 grams I believe), and look to the total PUFA content to estimate his total omega 6 and omega 3 consumption.