How We Get Fat

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+2

No this is not a book review of Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat.  Rather, this is a post about the reality of how people pack on extra weight minus Taubes’s incorrect and shortsighted assessment of biochemistry.

A question I get as often, or more often than any other, is “Well then, what does cause people to become fat?”  Believe it or not, this question involves more than just a one-word response, such as “carbs” or “fat” or “junk” or “stress” or “calories.”

I’m finding it difficult to coax some people who really need a dense calorie supply in order to normalize their metabolic rate into eating common foods.  It seems that many people who gravitate towards strange diets find a lot of comfort in the strangeness of their diet because there are a lot of people that eat “normal” and are obese and sick.  Eating abnormally provides a feeling of security that, because you don’t eat like Uncle Diabetes, you therefore cannot ever have diabetes – as if food is the only factor, or even the primary factor, in diabetes… and it probably isn’t.  Hence the frequency of hearing the “How do we get fat?” question when I recommend stocking the freezer with Haagen-Dazs.

For starters, there is no one macronutrient – be it carbohydrates, fat, or protein that causes us to become fat.  One is not really better than the other.  Although there are a few errors, Lyle McDonald lays out a pretty fair summary of the equality among macronutrients when it comes to fat storage in his very own article entitled How We Get Fat.

I thought I would share some common ways that people gain fat in the first place.  Like anything intelligent, it won’t pin it all on one villain, but will take an honest look at what is a multifactorial process.  Here are 10 of the biggest contributors to an increase in body fat…

1)      Binge Eating – Eating a ton of food doesn’t always cause fat gain.  I have some followers that report eating in excess of 8,000 calories per day without following a structured exercise program that have been in fat balance (storing and burning the same amount of fat, and thus not increasing total body fat levels) for a year or longer.  My girlfriend’s daughter who I mention a lot, is just finishing up the equivalent of a 5,000 calorie meal for a full-sized adult.  Eating a ton doesn’t cause fat to accumulate outright.

Binge eating only seems to be particularly fattening when done in a reduced metabolic state, frequently, and/or done while on a restricted diet.  For example, if you are on a low-fat diet that suppresses fat oxidation, and binge on ice cream, you’ll probably store a lot more fat than you burn until that becomes your normal way of eating and your metabolism adjusts to the higher fat and higher calorie intake.  Of course, the gaining of weight and increase in metabolic rate that accompanies the fat gain is your body’s way of healing itself from a suppressed metabolism.  For many, some short-term fat gain is necessarily to achieve peak function.

I think this is why dieting is so fattening long-term, as dieting increases the tendency to binge eat, particularly on foods you have restricted.  This is particularly problematic, as eating a low-carb diet for a long time can make carbs additionally fattening.  Likewise, eating a low-fat diet for a long time can make fatty foods additionally fattening.  You could further break this down to say that eating in any way that reduces the tastiness of the food will cause a return to better food to be fattening in the short-term.  So be careful about eating a diet that you can’t continue.

You can imagine the redundancy with which I am told that “adding ‘x’ food back to my diet makes me gain weight.”  Dietary restriction causes self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you believe that “x” food is making you fat, taking it out of your diet and then putting it back in later will often make you gain weight – one of the reasons I look at dietary restriction as a last resort unlike most nutrition gurus.

But you have to ask yourself a question.  Is it the binge eating or the restriction that actually causes the fat gain?  Without prior restriction, eating a ton of food isn’t nearly as fattening, nor is the desire to binge present.  A gun must be loaded for it to actually kill someone when you pull the trigger.  I’ll let you answer that one for yourself, as it is obvious that I view the restriction, not the calories one consumes, as the primer for fat gain.

2)      Chronic Stress – Acute stress doesn’t seem to have a fattening effect.  Stress of any kind often has a short-term fat lowering effect.  But there’s something about chronic stress, day after day, month after month, that has a fat accumulating property for many people.  My mom, for example, has gained 20 pounds in the last 10 years.  She gained 10 pounds in a month when switching to a new job without noticing any other changes to her diet and lifestyle.  A few years later she switched to a new job again and put on another 10 in a month.  Thus, she gained 20 pounds in 10 years, despite remaining perfectly weight stable for 118 out of the last 120 months.

This is how most people accumulate fat – in quick bursts followed by a stabilization of weight at a slightly higher set point.  This weight comes during stress, or immediately after stress – similarly to what would happen to people if they cycled on and off of amphetamines.  This is because immediate stress decreases appetite and stimulates metabolism, but it does damage to the thyroid gland so that when the stress is finally removed, or the body adjusts to the stress, the metabolic rate is lower and appetite is higher.

Stress can be psychological or physiological due to inflammation, injury, or otherwise.  Humans will probably always have the worst obesity problems because of our complex psychology and complex interaction with food.

3)      Lack of sleep – For similar reasons as stress, the declining amount of time of the average night’s sleep over the past couple of centuries is a big factor in weight problems.  Lack of sleep, like any stress, decreases metabolic rate and often increases appetite along with it.  It only takes a few nights with little sleep to trigger pretty severe insulin resistance, a metabolic state typically seen with obesity.

4)      Television – Television, as well as the use of computers, video games, etc. causes a large reduction in brain wave activity and non-exercise physical activity (NEPA).  Television in particular, which the average American watches 4 hours of daily, puts the brain into a low-alpha wave, high serotonin state – putting the body into a fattening state similar to a bear right before hibernation.  The sort of iconic portrait of obesity would be mindless eating in front of a television, and this is probably somewhat accurate – as engulfing lots of food in a metabolically-suppressed state can certainly add body fat.

5)      Erratic exercise patterns – In my own personal history, I have found erratic exercise patterns to be the single biggest source of cumulative fat gain.  Going from exercising a lot to exercising very little often triggers some short-term weight gain before the body acclimates to the change.  And this weight doesn’t spontaneously come off in any hurry.

6)      Pregnancy – Men and women during pregnancy gain over 10 pounds on average.  Many women eventually have a surge of weight gain with pregnancy that doesn’t resolve itself afterward, especially in the mid to late 30’s and beyond.

7)      Age – Age is of course the greatest stimulus for fat gain, related primarily to the decrease in metabolic rate that occurs with aging.  It certainly isn’t related to increased fat, carbohydrate, or calorie consumption – as consumption of all three of those decreases with advancing age.

8)      Food – The food we eat does have an impact on long-term metabolic rate and thus proneness to store excess fat.  Of all the foods I’ve investigated, the most likely to cause a long-term worsening of metabolic rate are foods containing a large quantity of unsaturated fats.  So our modern junk foods like potato chips, French fries, doughnuts, fried foods, mayonnaise, salad dressings, margarine, and most commercial packaged foods – as well as a high consumption of pork and poultry, certainly appear to contribute.

9)      Heredity – Many of the above factors impact the metabolic programming of a young child during pregnancy and during the early developmental period.  Heredity is obviously the biggest of all factors when it comes to the propensity for storing excess fat in the modern environment.  Obesity researchers estimate that heredity is more than half of the contribution to any individual’s weight.  Studies of identical twins make this the most abundantly clear, as most twins will gain the same amount of fat, stored in the same parts of the body in the same proportions, and gain the fat at the same age even if they are reared in different households.  Certain ethnic groups are a lot more prone to fat gain as well.  Generally-speaking the whiter you are the less obesity prone you will be, which is even true when controlled for socioeconomic status (another well-known fattening factor).

10)  Medication – Medications like anti-depressants, corticosteroids, and birth control pills, just to name a few, are very fattening.  Many gain a great deal of excess fat while taking these medications.

Remember that this is just a list of contributing factors looked at in isolation, and there are dozens of others.  The bigger picture that I want people to see is more the interaction with several factors at once, creating sort of a perfect storm for fat gain.  And even when there is a perfect storm for fat gain, in my experience most people still gain their fat in brief periods of a month or two, while spending most of their lives perfectly weight stable whether retreating to some harsh diet or not.  Hope it helps some to better understand their own personal fat fluctuation history.  YOU can become weight stable.  And you can probably do it eating just about whatever the hell you want.  In other words, you don’t have to drink 1 percent milk. You could drink whole if you wanted to.

Feel free to leave your own “How I Got Fat” story in the comments to add to our understanding…

 

181 Comments

  1. I think everyone looks a lil’ better with some fat. Come on, guys!

    Reply
    • I agree with you john, the current trend of ultra skinny actresses don’t have anything on stars of the past when it comes to beauty.

      How I got fat : ( Yes dutchie I was a legit fatass :) )

      Heredity (thanks ma!), mixed with living the typical north american lifestyle (matrix mode ) thats full of chronic stress and lacking a lot of sleep etc
      equals : what I call CFS ( chronic fatass syndrome not to be mistaken for simple weight gain. )

      how I got unfat and eventually fat-proof :
      Since I was geek,( thanks ma ! )I had to know why so I decided to read a shitload of books and figure this thing out, Realized a lot of people were completely stupid and had no clue what caused obesity. So I threw the whole thing out the window and started from scratch started asking elders question, doing crazy experiments and researching all soerts of shit. I went from being unable to drop the weight for the life of me to being unable to gain a pound regardless how many buffets I plowed through!

      In all of this I came to the conclusion that it does not matter what your heredity is. Genes only express themselves with certain environmental triggers therefore they go hand in hand. Fix the environment, fix the issue. (insert dieting, chronic stress food and television and a bunch of other shit here.) Don’t let the fact that your parents, grandparents or siblings are fat prevent you from succeeding. Your not doomed.

      Reply
      • Right on Chief! Agreed on all counts! As I age, I am starting to see family traits emerge.. but hey, I’m still kicking so if I look like an old lady, so be it! I am What I am, like Popeye. toot toot. :-)

        Reply
        • Debbie, are you fishing for compliments, because you are about to catch one from me. I wish all women your age looked as fine as you!

          Reply
          • You are too kind and I am too critical of what I see in the mirror. No fishing just facts from my point of view. Thanks Thomas :-)

      • Chief I still can’t imagine you were a fatass :)
        I do still think there are certain foods for people that trigger eating too much,or maybe not even so much eating too much,but the body not being able to use it for energy effectively. Then there’s also things like Candida/yeasts/funghi/parasites and other shit that can disrupt a body&hormones totally…..and it seems like men are a lot less prone to hormonal imbalances or reversing it and keeping balance than women. (yes,I get it,it’s bc of the evolutionary fertillity thing….however I never planned on having babies/going through birthing process so that makes it even double ‘unfair’ that I still have to deal with that shit!)

        I know matt has done vids on Candida&such in the past,however he never adressed if keeping Candida at bay by feeding it also automatically heals leaky gut. And if not how to do that,according to GAPS by eating lots of broth/gelatin,however I still can’t stand to undertake another chance to make broth.

        Reply
        • as far as the body not being able to use the energy, yes this is possible but this would not be in a fat persons case most overweight people are using the energy maybe not all of the elements of food but they use the energy just fine.
          there are not any foods that make people “overeat” if you haven’t read this post
          http://www.chiefrok.com/blog/?p=187 … then read it if you did read it, then re-read it cuz you missed something.

          I totally disagree with you on women having a tougher time. I get better results with women in the fat loss department.

          Reply
          • Hey Chief, do you have all your clients do the day time fast and feast for dinner? Do any of them get cold during the day while fasting, then warm up after the dinner mega-meal? That’s what happens with me, but I only do a daytime fast once a week, so the entrainment factor isn’t there.

          • Hey Cameron, I do not do blanket suggestions at all in my consulting that would depend on their individual goals. I usually spend a lot of time looking over their case, where they are coming from, their issues, lifestyle indicators of health etc before making any kind of suggestion and fasting and or feasting is rarely something I start with when I consult.

            I wouldn’t go with a once a week fast especially not a newbie, your body will use yesterday as a baseline and expect a meal in the same schedule as yesterday. A better approach for a newbie to test the waters would be to slowly move breakfast ahead with all 7 days at the same time little by little looking to see if you get any negative feedback such as feeling cold or hungry. I doubt you could ever get a rhythm going doing a once a weeker..

          • Thanks, that’s all good info. My current once a week mini-fast supports a couple things that I’m working on, so I’ll probably keep it for a while longer.

          • Yes,I’ve reread the post :) …..but I think there’s still some factors missing such as gutdisbiosys,parasites/yeasts etc. that can lead one towards certain foods too and the person will never lose the taste for it,probably increase eating it.

          • Hey dutchie I’m trying to help so if I poke fun a little
            whether or not someone has a parasite or not is irrelevant when you think about it when it comes to cravings. if it is living in a symbiotic relationship with a human host and it causes you to eat more, its doing that to acquire calories for itself, calories that don’t even become available to dutchie’s cells so worrying about it causing fat gain is kinda pointless. Western foods and the industrial revolution did not create any new life forms humans never had to deal with before so I’m certain your body can kick its ass if your running at an optimal level. You can win whether or not you have any parasitic homie, yeast overgrowth or perhaps even if you feel like you have one of those Exenomorphs Ellen Ripley is constantly hunting living inside of your body. I’m sure if you work on other factors your body will either kick it’s ass if it’s actually there or if it is imagined it will prove to be not an issue to you after focusing on what is certain and rectifiable. start by doing a week long all you can eat foray into one of your favorite food eating nothing else I’m sure you will hit a wall long before a week is up. Everyone hits the wall eventually brownies, ice cream, chips celery sticks if your a high level vegan athlete. it doesn’t matter what it is! if you don’t hit a wall then call to be featured on My Strange Addiction, take the money and get some help because its not a parasite if your eating drywall all day :)

          • oops accidentally, deleted a piece it should have read
            if I poke fun a little don’t take it personal :)

          • No I dont take it personal,I know you’re trying to be helpful :)
            I really wish I was one of your clients bc I’m getting into deeper shit by the day,yet still not getting anywhere.

            Well I’m not sure about parasites/yeasts ‘eating for themselves’ leading to no fatgain. About 13years ago I was definitely at my heaviest(in a way I was kinda leading more of a life however I was also always tired/sluggish,jointpain in knees/bouts of depression/mooddisorders etc.),gained a lot at a short time,this was also when the Lyme&co started which I didn’t know back then. So one can definitely gain weight bc of this I think,probably bc you start to eat more&more bc they keep the important nutrients to themselves.

          • Well dutchi I can tell you this you are not the first person to tell me they think they have something living inside of them making them eat but I have yet to actually find one that is not imaginary yet. Only 2 possibilities ca exist. Either focusing on what I mentioned kills em off almost instantaneously or they were just imagined after looking at crazy pictures online and googling parasites.

          • thought of a third possibility, it might be really rare and maybe I’ll finally come a crossed it one day. It is certainly not 50% of the population or I woulda seen it by now.

          • I can tell you for sure that mine wasn’t imaginary. Not to critisize or attack you,but a lot of people here jump on the bandwagon of high metabolism kills these things by itself yet no one seems to adress my question in regards to ‘leaky gut’. Does it cure the gutlining too? bc one might keep the critters at bay,but basically nutrients would still leak through within the blood,causing food intolerances/overactive immunesystem/stressed adrenals and whatnot…. And how can you heal the gutlining without having to consume broth?

            However,normally I don’t take/believe much of these things,it has been said by various people and even a life’s horoscop made when I was about 8years old.That a (lacto)Paleo lifestyle over the course of my life would be best for my health. That is what just hurts me so much,bc I’ve actually know(&experienced) it’s true yet I want to ‘close my eyes’(by now going everyday to the wokbuffet restaurant bc I can’t handle eating ‘anxiousfree’ at home anymore for some reason.Though it’s really leading me into financial trouble) and just be like everybody else however I experience with even a greater vengeance that this is not gonna be the case for me anymore.
            I dont think anymore its bc of Lyme/yeasts etc. I think it’s more that I’m probably born ‘malnourished’,weak adrenals/thyroid/bad gut….who knows,apart from probably hereditary.

            Like I said,I’m not trying to attack you,I actually would love to be your apprentice!getting to know all your knowledge,also your weightloss journey/story in regards to how you found out all the things you know by now (and yes,also out of some curiosity as to how an obese Chief might’ve looked like;))

          • Chief, this makes sense. You have a bunch of people running around thinking they have Chronic Lyme Disease. That makes no sense. If it were so, we should expect to see LESS Lyme disease than 75-100 years ago. After all. people spend much less time nowadays in proximity to deer who are the major carriers of the tick.

          • Yep Thomas, considering I’m around deer all the time and most of the people in my circle are often in the wilderness, you would think I’d see at least one case. Not saying it doesn’t exist but my observations definitely do not match the hype of the internet.

          • I find that incredibly insulting to myself and others with lyme disease. Lyme can be carried by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks, and probably can be sexually transmitted. There are tests that show antibodies to lyme bacteria. The “Hype” is real. You can be a perfectly healthy person, get a tick bite, and bam, debilitating symptoms of lyme. Don’t go around talking s#@t about lyme, it can happen to anyone, healthy or not. You have obviously never seen the people with severe, crippling, neurological symptoms.

          • Hey Chief,do you perhaps have links to scientific studies about Candida/funghi etc. feeding themselves on certain nutrients and that these don’t store in the body just like you’ve said?bc I can’t find any info on that…..only obesity linked with all these critters.

            @Thomas Lyme doesn’t have to come from tick bites as there are numerous species of Borrelia.

          • Hi Dutchie, I have only found unscientific studies on it being a cause of obesity, just websites selling a cure for it or someone with good intentions regurgitating the same info found on those sites. If you could share the info you have linking the critters to obesity, It’ll help me put the nail in the coffin and help people dealing with that or debunk it in a post I’m working on. Again I do believe it exists only I don’t think they have anything to do with obesity.

          • Hey Chief,I too can only find unscientific studies claiming so. However I have found some stuff that explains they lead to weightgain/obesity in an indirect way (causing hypothyroidism,estrogen dominance,insulin resistance etc.)

            http://www.gilbertssyndrome.com/candida.php

            And here’s another one that mostly talks about the Acid/Alkaline connection. (That might explain the urine/temp stuff in the post Rob did?)

            http://www.gilbertssyndrome.com/candida.php

          • Oops,the second link should be:

            http://www.dldewey.com/columns/parasf.htm

            (LOL…I dreamed about you last night btw though I don’t even know you,just seen your avatar pic:p They were making a movie about you and the actor playing you did not match at all…..took some blonde scrawny guy and I was like “no no no,this isn’t right!” :p )

  2. Interesting viewpoints here. What especially resonated with me is the ‘don’t start eating a diet you can’t sustain’. I am having success on a low(er) carb diet, but for how long?

    Unfortunately articles like these leave me with more questions than answers, and do not make me feel warm and fuzzy that there is a way to become ‘normal’. yet society views me as inferior and wants me to just eat less and exercise more.

    Reply
    • I have a lot of pet peeves. But I think the biggest is the widespread belief that people who have some extra weight got that way as a result of overeating and being lazy without any understanding of the complexity of the issue. Sorry that you have had to deal with so much flack from clueless people.

      More questions than answers may not feel good. But it is good to have more questions than answers. Trust me. It’s a sign of intelligence.

      Reply
  3. I think it’s a combo of things, but not listening to your body would be my biggest one. I managed to make it through an eating disorder (hello starvation, binge eating, excessive exercise), the subsequent weight gain, and then evened out and lost weight gradually and just maintain it easily now. I listen to my body, eat balanced meals and avoid the junk. But a huge part of that is just tuning in and asking, am I hungry or just tired/sad? Do I really want those cookies – and if I do it’s fine, but often I really just want a nap. Make friends with your body, and it gives you what you want. Even just doing things like nice facial care, wearing clothes that make you feel good, positive and soothing self talk are slimming.

    I’m convinced chemicals are fattening, too. MSG and the like.

    Age, eh, somewhat, but I am around the same weight I was in college (pre-ED), almost 15 years later, and I know a 65 year-old who’s been the same weight since 20 (after gaining 30 pounds in her late teens and then slowly losing it). Definitely not inevitable.

    Reply
    • From the book “Mastering Leptin” (Byron Richards)–

      “Ingestion of MSG by a pregnant or nursing mother can seriously compromise the infant’s appetite-control center. Scientists have been sounding the alarm on this for a while; nobody is listening.” The author includes citations.

      Reply
    • Yes MSG……but what does startle me is how come the Chinese use ve-tsin in virtually all their traditional dishes,as with sugar and eat lots of PUFA/N6, yet they seem to be ‘immune’ towards all these things in regards to overeating,obesity,health decline etc.

      Reply
      • My guess is that it’s because they drink green tea and eat foods that inhibit the effects of glutamates.

        Reply
      • They’re not immune to the health decline. Their health is declining. But there is some resistance to obesity. It’s changing with the young generation, though, getting fatter. It may be that MSG causes epigenetic changes that affect offspring more strongly (as Gina A. references).

        Reply
      • White Man’s myth their Dutchie: Lots of pudgy Chinese and ones that are Skinny fat. Also the myth of the healthy Chinese is just that, a myth. Middle class Chinese are really hooked-in to blind consumerism and the rat race, and so, overwork. As a result, a lot of them are super stressed-out. With the rise of processed food there, they are eating a LOT of crap. And when I say crap, I’m not just talking about Xantham gum. Lots of mystery ingredients in their processed food.

        Reply
        • I was going to say almost exactly that Thomas, glad I refreshed my screen before posting.

          Reply
        • In other words this has begun when Western foods made their introduction. Their traditional diet contains lots of veggies,rice(no gluten….or even potato I thiink. They only seem to consume fruit when used in a dish and mostly sauces/marinades but not fruit on its own),proteine,some ve-tsin(I also wonder if their ve-tsin is kinda like the same as the MSG in most of Western products or that it’s also chemically altered) and apparently soy is something the Japanese use more.
          Maybe thats why theyre not that affected by Glutamate , bc there are not too many glutamic products thrown into one mix. As far as PUFA goes…..I heard part is absorbed by the food but parts of it evaporates bc of the high heat in the wok…..and if O3 is in the body enough in relation to O6 it wouldn’t cause that much of harm. Salmon is one of their stape foods too.

          Reply
          • Not true Dutchie. I have a friend who is Chinese, from Shanghai, and now practices Acupuncture, OMD, here in San Francisco. He complains that Chinese suffer lots of liver ailments due to the abundance of MSG in their diets.

            There were plenty of problems with the Chinese diet before the advent of processed food, but of a different order. Now it’s not only processsed foods that are the problem, but restaurant owners trying to cut corners. I recently read about some restaurant owners in China being caught using sawdust as one of the ingredients in baozi, which is a type of bun commonly served in eateries, especially for breakfast.

            Soy is everywhere in the Chinese diet. Some of it is fermented. A lot of it is not.

            Salmon is not a staple food in China. If you’re in Beijing, you can only find it in the frozen section of Walmarts.

        • I don’t know much about the Chinese, but a few years ago I travelled in Vietnam quite extensively, all parts of the country, saw thousands of people, crowds, and I saw exactly one fat person the whole time, and even he was only slightly overvweight. I guess the staple diet there is rice, soups, vegetables, fish and sometimes pork, chicken or goat.

          Reply
          • I went to Vietnam too, and saw the same thing on the obesity front. Wicked bad teeth though. And didn’t necessarily see anyone with an impressive physique either. Just not any blatantly obese folk. Same in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia

  4. Yes, I defenitly gained my weight very fast, at different times also. I gained 10 pounds one month becoming a bad vegetarian, then 6 months later I gained another 10 pounds in one month being depressed and eating a ton of junk. Now things are better ie. I am happier and eat a well rounded diet. But I am stuck with the 20 pounds. It seems so hard to lose, not sure what to do about it. Im waiting for my thyroid results to come back. I defenitly feel a slow down in my metabolism. Im only 24 so I am hoping I can still get it back and get things working properly again. I am never going on a diet again. Just going to eat what makes me feel the best. Now it seems that I am sensitive to way for foods, I hope that goes away when I fix my thyroid. Fingers crossed.

    Reply
  5. Thanx Matt! Id like to take up some space in the comments section to talk to people who might be having trouble with this topic as i have been following this discussion for about a year now..

    I came upon this through going low carb and was “lean”. And also very unhappy with my diet and had so many beliefs about food that were causing me great anxiety.

    I decided that Matt had similar experiences to me so i decided to go balls to the wall and try his ideas for myself .

    I gained weight initially as he said i would. I stuck with it and gradually my tastes and desires also changed as he said they would.

    I began to yearn for activity and i take pleasure in my weight lifting. I rest when i feel like it.

    I started eating the foods that made me feel good , period. And i keep my mind open about how that will change in the future.

    My bodyfat is going down and muscle is going up slowly, as it should.

    All my markers of metabolism covered in the last article are improving as well.

    Above all, my mind is clearer and my social life is better :)

    Again im sorry for the short novel but for anyone who is having a hard time, this website is very informative and supportive. Please give it a try and trust that you can live a normal life without being on some weird diet. Even if you gain weight the chances of you gaining some great insight on what is important to you in life are high. You may even figure out a good balance you can be happy with. And THEN you will have the tools to go ahead and make incremental gains in muscle or strength and other fitness goals in the future. But you gotta be smart about it and treat your body with respect FIRST. Anyway this is long enough but like i said, dont give up ! Peace!

    Reply
    • Word!

      Reply
    • I’m glad it’s been working out for you as expected. Hasn’t for me. I’ve just gained weight without feeling significantly more energetic on a consistent basis or any other markers for improved metabolism.

      Reply
  6. I won’t go into too much detail here, I will wait till our future phone call, but I pretty much had zero luck on not being fat. While fatness is no longer a focus of mine, I was obsessed when I was younger. I already had hereditary in my bucket, then added sexual abuse as a child, which I continue to deal with at 31(Not as bad now), then a life threatening illness at 21, then a life threatening ectopic pregnancy at 25, something that I still deal with today and to top off the stress, I was recently diagnosed with lumbar scoliosis where the doctor said there is nothing he can do for me. So yea, stress is probably the number one cause of my fatness as well as everything else you mentioned.

    I try to stay hopeful, but some days I want to throw my hands up in the air….great now that song is stuck in my head. By the way, is that supposed to be Chris Farley in the picture? It does not look like him…I miss him.

    Reply
  7. One word: Estrogen
    ok two, Estrogen Dominance. It happens to the best of us.
    In a Van.
    Down by the river.
    The life of a motivational speaker is a hard one.

    Reply
    • Yeah, and they end up “THRICE” divorced!! LOL!

      Reply
    • Yeah, I grew up in that Van, down by the river. Good memories from the old SNL :)

      Reply
      • Thanks Kendahl, I do my best to bring the funny. :-)

        Reply
  8. I’ve never dieted and I think the attitude towards food in my family was pretty reasonable–an emphasis on home-cooked food and meals with all food groups; junk food was allowed in moderate portions; nothing was absolutely forbidden. We ate chips, we ate dessert. No food dogmatism of whatever variety.

    I’m 5’5″ and graduated from high school around 135 lbs. Always felt sort of “fat” compared to my really skinny friends but I would love to be that weight again!! I gained the freshman fifteen but spent most of college and the few years after around 150-155. Was pretty content with my figure though, considering being a woman in 21st century America.

    Honestly, the weight I’ve gained started after reading this website. That may or may not be a coincidence. I had been caught up in WAPF ideas and started to let go of that a little bit. I gained probably 15 pounds in the winter two years ago, at 25. Outgrew all my pants, skirts/dresses and most tops. That year I was working a little more than I had the previous year, but still less than 50 hours a week and was a lot less stressed/anxious about my job than I had been a couple years before. Influenced by 180d health I was trying to eat big breakfasts that year (home fries, sausage and eggs) even though I didn’t have much of an appetite at 6:45 am. Couldn’t eat much at lunch either since my break was rushed and had to supervise students while eating; also packed lunches aren’t that appealing. By the time we got home my husband and I would be pretty tired and we ate a lot of chips and ice cream while watching 30 Rock that year (again, also influenced by 180d ideas about getting over cravings by not restricting foods; that was around the time you posted about the girl carrying around the bag of candy at all times). We ate out a lot that year too.

    The next “growth spurt” was over this past summer, although that one’s a little harder to explain since I’m a teacher and get plenty of rest and outdoor time over the summer. We were eating out again more often than usual but that’s the only explanation I can think of. (Still, “often” only means maybe 2-4 times per month for us!) Now I’m probably over 180 pounds and getting stretch marks on my stomach for the first time ever, and starting to not be able to find pants in regular sizes. It’s really upsetting to me and I wish I knew what to do. For the first time I feel truly FAT. Start to wonder if people judge me eating in public, etc. After the first gain when I went up to about 170 I felt pretty confident it would just stop there; I was about the size of my mom and that seemed like my genetic potential. But now I worry that I’ll just keep gaining and gaining until I’m one of those people that can’t live a normal life. I’m trying not to stress about it or give in to “eat less exercise more” mentality but it’s almost impossible when ALL the women I know are on diets or actively trying to lose weight, and getting a lot of positive affirmation for it. No one affirms you for trying to do what’s truly good for your health in the long run.

    Reply
  9. The one compensation is I’m wearing a 36DDD now but I can’t exactly brag about that on facebook like a friend did about having bought a pair of pants in a single digit size.

    Reply
      • Ummm…no thanks! sorry haha

        Reply
  10. Well, I just thought I’d share my experience of how I DIDN’T get fat.

    I’ve always been very thin, lacking especially in upper body mass (close to Marfans but not quite). I pretty much starved myself in highschool, and also have periodically done binge eating my whole life, able to eat almost a whole pizza or tub of icecream, and of course holidays. Despite this, I never gained weight.

    I exercized a lot as a kid, but after highschool PE was over, I did little else but sit in front of a screen. I’ve had periodic jobs that required a lot of physical activity, but for the last few years I mostly sit around. People see me as lazy. Despite this, I’ve never gained weight.

    I live in constant stress. I’ve always been a stressed out person. In highschool, I had to go to the doctor for ulcers (they weren’t full-blown ulcers, but still, they were bad enough to go). I’ve been on about 25 prescription anti-depressants, some of them long-term (over a year). I also had a severe lack of sleep in highschool. Despite all this, I never gained weight.

    I did extreme low carb for about a year. Now I eat whatever sugar or fast food I desire. Despite this, I never gained weight. Also, both my parents are fat, though I suppose at my age (27) they weren’t.

    I’m just sharing my story to show that this weight issue is complex. A lot of it is just hereditary (including the influence the mother’s chemistry has on the fetus). I don’t know if it can be changed. In my opinion, overweight people should just eat well and be healthy.

    Reply
    • I have a similar story. Researchers need to study you and I! and how we have stayed lean despite a lot of triggers that would cause lots of other people to gain weight. But I have a lean father and an average Mother (used to be skinny though). I have never exercised a lot though. Intuitively I am not into that, and prefer to rest when stressed. If I was fat I think I’d still have the same attitude, I just don’t think stressing the body through exercise is the way to achieve a healthy body. But anyways, This whole weight issue is so mysterious, it may very well be hereditary. And what about thyroid status? Are those that gain weight just have really compromised thyroid glands? I don’t know how I was blessed with a good one then.. even though I still have hypothyroid symptoms. Maybe the thyroid will go the opposite direction and cause you to barely keep weight on. We are the paradox.

      Reply
      • You’re only 27. Just wait until you hit 40.

        Reply
        • 40 was good for me, it was 50+ that brought the stomach armor.

          Reply
  11. 10 pounds during pregnancy? Wow. I gained 40-50 pounds for all 6 of my babies, and I always lose it. I think it’s because I breastfeed and don’t restrict calories. I have never dieted, ever, so I guess I never ruined my metabolism.

    Reply
    • Yeah I meant NET gain of more than 10 pounds.

      Reply
      • This happened to me. I had 4 babies, gained 40-50 lbs. Breastfed them all for 2 years and never had a problem losing all the weight. Then I had my 5th, gained an extra 10 lbs and never lost it. I still wasn’t overweight. Now is another story…..

        Reply
      • Forgot to mention that I had the first 4 babies in my 30s. The last one, after 40.

        Reply
  12. I drink heavy cream. I just don’t give a shit. ;-) 1% milk is like white water.

    Reply
    • Comment of the year!

      Reply
      • Thanks, had some in my tea this am. Tasty! Now give me your tots!

        Reply
  13. “Again im sorry for the short novel but for anyone who is having a hard time, this website is very informative and supportive. Please give it a try and trust that you can live a normal life without being on some weird diet”

    Yeah, I decided to try Matt’s way too because I was seduced by the idea of being able to eat just about anything I wanted. Over the course of 6 months I gained 50 pounds and climbing, and felt like complete crap. I began to wonder why eating the way I had eaten that got me well over 300 pounds in the first place was somehow now going to make me thin. So I finally went back to the “weird” diet that I had been perfectly happy on, and which had enabled me to lose 125 pounds, and I’m slowly starting to feel like a human being again.

    Reply
    • I certainly can’t speak for Matt ( I will anyway!), but think it may be hard for some people to get the point of 180 unless they are veteran internet, diet & health minutia armchair scientists. I have to admit when I read your post I wondered how you didn’t know how prone a dieted body is to a fast and furious weight rebound? That has nothing to do with 180 eating and everything to do with the fact that you can’t even return to ‘normal’ eating once you’ve ‘starved’ your body into a reduced weight (via low calories, low carb, vegan). Of course, I only know that because I have spent WAY too much time reading about health and diets. Still, if I had worked that much weight off, I would have a very hard time doing anything– even if ultimately healthy– that would intentionally put the weight back on. All I would suggest to you is that if, despite your best efforts, you do regain the weight– that may be the best time to take another look at 180 degree health. I hope that doesn’t happen, of course. Also, it certainly couldn’t hurt to incorporate the non-diet aspects of the health recommendations: sleep, relaxation, less screen time and just trying to enjoy your life even if the 50 pounds doesn’t come off. If you haven’t checked out Jon Gabriel, I would say that he might be worth a look for you. Best of luck!

      Reply
    • What ‘weird diet’ is that?:)

      it seems like most men here are reaping the benefits of it,yet women not so much.
      i think it is indeed complicated as there are so many factors at play and some of them not even mentioned in the article,such as estrogen dominance/obstructed liver? certain foods causing to eat more/beyond satiety,parasites/yeasts,foods that obstruct the thyroid(such as gluten and soy) etc.

      Reply
      • Dutchie, that seems to be an accurate observation. The feeling I get when reading ‘reviews’ on HED is that those who have experienced positive results seem to be overall more positive people. And those with negative results appear to be more emotionally beat. And this is mostly just reading between the lines, cause obviously, someone with a not so good experience, will not rave about it.

        Women in general, tend to be harder on themselves, than men. I think health has a lot more to do with your emotional well-being and outlook on life, than with diet.

        Reply
        • Yes that’s certainly a big piece of the puzzle. However, I can also tell from experience that certain foods cause certain moods/behaviours afterwards,probably not the food itself but damaging/unbalancing something in the body.Which has it’s effect on emotions too,however I do agree that there are lots of other factors at play too.

          Reply
  14. So, one thing I’m wondering about. The idea that you might gain weight initially as you adjust, but it’s sort of a temporary thing, like mentioned in number 1. How can you know if it’s just temporary? Is there a limit to how much you would gain or how long you would keep it before you would know that it’s not temporary anymore? What would that be?

    Reply
  15. I would also recommend “French Women Don’t Get Fat” (and the follow-up book French Women For All Seasons) for any of the ladies here – it really explains why “eating for pleasure” is the way to go. It’s life-changing. I don’t think she would advocate overfeeding, but she absolutely shuns restrictive diets and advises people not to diet or starve themselves. Tells people to take care of themselves, find a mild form of exercise they enjoy (like yoga or walking) – nothing extreme of any sort. Eat real food and balanced diet. She also gained weight as a teen in high school and then lost it by following some really basic methods (not dieting, but just not sitting around eating pastries all day like she did when she got fat) – and has kept it off for decades. It really helped me a lot with understanding moderation, tuning into your body, and also why you need to be a little selfish (i.e., make taking care of yourself a priority).

    Rachelle, you might benefit from the book. Personally, I would not do Rrarf if it has that effect. At some point, feeling good about yourself becomes more important, and you need to listen to your own body. Eating chips and ice cream at night on a consistent basis will always be an effective way to gain weight. A balanced dinner with a small dish of ice cream for dessert may ultimately be more satisfying for you.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I’m not RRARFing and not eating chips and ice cream at night on a consistent basis! Even at the worst point it was one or the other (not both) a couple nights a week. More like late afternoon and then we would make supper.

      I’ve always eaten with moderation, I eat when I’m hungry and I’m really not capable of stuffing myself. Plenty of meals I stop even before I’ve finished what’s on my plate.

      Reply
    • Yes! I just wrote about this book and philosophy of the French on my blog. No matter what anyone says about their politics, the French have eating figured out!

      Reply
  16. How I got fat, over the course of 7 years:

    A.) Develop Hyperthyroidism, seek treatment from endocrinologist who FAILS to check if you have Hashimoto’s autoimmune antibodies. Take anti-thyroid pills for 2 months until Dr. says, “Hmmm, you seem a little low now, let’s stop.” +10 pounds

    B.) Eat to recover metabolism, feel fantastic. +5 pounds

    C.) Mom’s long term battle with cancer coming to a close, father-in-law dies, elderly cat dies, WORST job in the world, multiple antibiotic treatments for skin staph infections, all within the same calendar year. +10 pounds

    I shouldn’t beat myself up for being a matronly 145 on a 5’4 small framed woman, but I do it anyway. My husband consoles me by saying that many other people gain 50 pounds under similarly stressful conditions. I just keep my chin up and reduce what stress I can. I quit the crappy job, got a new cat, paid off a credit card. Life is better lived than worrying whether I fit into a size Large or Small.

    Reply
  17. I probably got fat by every reason on that list. I was over 10lbs at birth. My dad has a big gut. My mom’s side of the family has a history of hypothyroidism. I always had an insatiable sweet tooth for junk food and zero tolerance for stress. I was a chubby kid who wasn’t popular and took an extreme interest in computers and had no liking for sports whatsoever.

    When I hit puberty, though, everything went off the rails. For no real reason I feel into deep depression and developed terrible insomnia. I’m convinced I had some kind of massive endocrine disturbance but I can’t yet prove it. I was put on Prozac which largely numbed out my emotions and despite being off it for almost a decade, I haven’t regained them. I became a sugar fiend and steadily put on weight year after year. I also developed digestive problems.

    By the time I graduated college I was huge. I went on to a series of extremely stressful jobs which I medicated with junk food. The digestive problems became excruciating painful. Eventually I totally broke down and got dragged back to the psychiatrist by my parents and put on more anti-depressants. I didn’t weight myself (I didn’t want to know) but I’m sure I was well over 250lb. I had to shop at “big and tall” shops to find stuff my size.

    Things finally changed when I was prescribed stimulants for my ADD. Drugs never did much for me and soon I was up to 80mg of Adderall per day. I got back my interest and motivation somewhat but it wasn’t the same. I lost a hell of a lot of weight though and ate far too little (which took care of the digestive issues). I thought it wasn’t working out and decided to ask to try other drugs. I think even then I already wasn’t in my right mind. When I was prescribed Modafinil, though, that was the worst. I became extremely anxious and agitated and ate pretty much nothing. I tried a slew of drugs and yo-yo’d for a few months. I finally asked to back to the only drug that gave me any relief only to find it now had the same effects the Modafinil did.

    When the Adderall was still doing it’s thing I took an interest in health for once. I started eating more protein and less and less sugar and I think that coincided with the anxiety setting in. Basically while I was on an inadvertently low calorie diet, I decided to go low carb too. Protein shakes still make me feel neurotic and cold, just like the stims did (but not as much) even though I’m off them.

    So that’s how I got fat and thin. Now I’m off the speed and trying out RRARF. So far all I’m getting out of it is more fat. I’m worried I’m going to be huge like I used to be. I’m trying to do what I can and figure this stuff out but I feel I’ve done so much damage that I might just be screwed.

    Reply
    • Wow that’s a lot of drugs. Personally, I would explore accupuncture or classicalhomeopathy. You likely need a major rebalancing. I doubt Rrarf will be enough.

      Reply
      • Indeed. I’ve started seeing naturopathic doctor in addition to my GP so we’ll see how it goes, I guess.

        Reply
    • sa230e!! OMG! I had the same thing happen where the Adderall was concerned only my experience was much more traumatic. In a nutshell, my doc put me on it when I was “suspected” of being ADHD. I wound up at 60mg per day and after several months was admitted into the hospital for psychosis at a whopping 96lbs. The drug was obviously removed and within 24 hours I was perfectly fine mentally but still recovering 2 years later physically. I’m just starting to see signs of improvement after first trying a horrific vegan diet followed by strict Paleo – both HUGE mistakes
      although Paleo did help me rebuild somewhat and like so many others for several months I became one of those seriously annoying staunch advocates of Paleo (embarrassing! oy!). So many lessons over the years but I’m always searching and questioning.

      Because of all of these mishaps, I am now the opposite of many women and severely deficient in estrogen and progesterone and now need to take Armour Thyroid. My hormones are in bad shape for a “healthy” 37 year old. It sucks big time but getting better everyday. I don’t know if my hormones will ever bounce back on their own but I’m always looking for ways to improve the situation.

      These days, I’m working out (CrossFit) regularly not so much to lose weight but because I really enjoy it. I scale my workouts and just have fun with it. I feel a ton better when I go! Where food is concerned, I’ve largely chucked Paleo and moved into a more diverse eating style that seems to be working well for me so far. Kinda sucks that I’ve spent years trying to fix problems that didn’t exist via diets that made things worse only to settle on eating the way I did before i was properly “educated”. lol. Live and learn eh?

      Reply
  18. Thanks for another good article.

    I’m surprised to see that fructose didn’t make the cut here in the top 10. I have to recommend UC’s Dr. Robert Lustig in “The Skinny on Obesity” Episode 2 (about 9 minutes). http://www.uctv.tv/skinny-on-obesity-sickeningly-sweet/

    I believe obesity isn’t really getting at the issue, as a lot of people who will die from metabolic diseases won’t be obese at all, but even skinny. It’s laid out well in the video here.

    Reply
    • Matt actually hosted a fructose eating contest in Dr. Lustig’s honour not too long ago.

      Reply
    • The reason fructose did not get a mention is because Fructose is not inherently fattening.

      Matt says, “there is no one macronutrient – be it carbohydrates, fat, or protein that causes us to become fat. ”

      Chemical formula for fructose: C6H12O6…. Formula for Glucose: C6H12O6
      *Note that while glucose and fructose have the same formula, Fructose differs in that it has a keto group in position two of its carbon chain.

      They are both carbohydrates…now I am aware that they are metabolized differently. Fructose going 100% to the liver and glucose being directly shuttled into the blood stream with a little bit goin to the liver…However fructose does not produce significant VLDL or significant increases in hepatic DNL in the liver under normal physiological conditions and when the model of measurement changes from rats to humans.

      –http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20086073
      –http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/crdweb/ShowRecord.asp?LinkFrom=OAI&ID=12012009179
      –http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10365981

      Robert Lustigs Presentation is very arbitrary and misleading at times because he cites studies where consumption is above the 95th percentile of consumption in the united states and in some cases not even applicable to the discussion at hand (i.e 60% of the diet coming from fructose)

      Case and point: fructose can be fattening when consumed in excess beyond the calories your body needs at any given time, but that can be said about any macronutrient as countless overfeeding studies have shown. Couple that with low thyroid, general in activity, smoking and alcohol abuse and of coarse we would see failure to thrive in certain sectors of the general population….so to put all the blame on fructose is not top 10 worthy given the wealth of information pointing towards more relevant factors.

      Reply
    • LOL. Thanks for the Paleohacks flashback Zachary.

      Reply
      • ditto What Thomas said. Ha ha!

        Reply
    • Thanks for all the flack everyone.

      I have a few things to say on why I think fructose should be mentioned here as a top 10: A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, before we industrialized food, where is the only place you could you get fructose? (answer = fruit, mainly). Now, how often would you have access to that fruit, before we learned how to grow and ship it year round? (answer = 0-3 months tops depending where you lived, unless of course you dried it and snacked year round).

      I think this says something, paleo or not, that fructose consumption is not something we’ve done as a species much, if at all, before we learned to refine and ship it around the world. There’s very little that’s natural about consuming fructose in any more than trace amounts, let alone the amounts in which many people do.

      Second, we’re talking about obesity here, not every person. Many can eat fructose in moderate amounts and not gain weight, just like alcohol. Even though it’s not proven that obesity is caused solely by one thing (in this case fructose), I don’t think there’s many obese people who wouldn’t benefit greatly from cutting fructose from their diet. For one, it’s not a required nutrient — I’m not talking about cutting carbs, just stuff that has no known required physiological use, like fructose. It couldn’t hurt. I think it deserves a top 10 spot. In my book, let’s put it at #3 biggest cause of obesity.

      So, I’m not calling out one “macronutrient” as a source of obesity. The no-carb paleo people take that kind of far. But fructose? It’s not necessary in the diet, not even useful, not very natural to consume any more than trace amounts, and might be a large piece of an obese person’s puzzle to losing weight.

      Can I get a big “non-alcoholic fatty liver” anyone??? :-)

      Reply
      • There are over 400 species of primates, and most of them get most of their calories from sugar. Most as in 50% or more. Fruit is repeatedly found to be the most leaning of all foods. The fattening effects of soft drinks and juices I agree with. But it’s not necessarily because of the fructose content. And getting fat from fructose isn’t necessarily fructose’s fault either. I don’t think it can be said that fructose is bad outright. One of the points of this post is to take attention away from food, as there are way too many food-centric obesity theorists out there.

        Reply
      • Have you seen Robert Lustig? I have in person and let me tell you, I don’t think he’s missing any meals. Fructose laden or otherwise. Sort of makes you wonder does it not?

        Reply
        • HA HA Deb, gotta love fat doctors giving advice on obesity.

          Reply
          • I dunno. I think you have to become fat to know what causes someone to become fat. The one’s I don’t trust are guys like Mark Sisson, Lance Armstrong, or Paul Chek, pro-level athletes who have never had an ounce of fat on them.

          • I agree with you on that one Matt. Even worse than those guys is Doug Lisle skinny as a rail for life telling people what makes them fat. I know you have experienced being a chubster growing up so don’t think I’m referring to you when i say this. I think a lot of people misunderstand the difference between weight gain and obesity. Simply pulling a Drew manning (force-feeding and gaining fat then counting calories to lose it) won’t make them understand someone going to them for help that have dealt with true obesity and lost the battle over and over again.

          • Cannot tell you how much I agree. My rule: never take advice from anyone who has never been more than a few pounds overweight and therefore may not have any humility Humility often comes attached to adipose tissue I think.
            (I’m excluding the skinnies who comment here totally from that statement!) Though just because you won’t take their advice, don’t think they won’t give it – shove it down your throat like their low fat ,high fibre, muesli and fruit with yoghurt ‘healthy’ ‘light’ meals – whatever it takes to make you see the light, you poor misguided dense and perhaps just contrary -minded fatty who secretly wants to stay fat …

          • That I wholeheartedly agree with. I hate the “who would take nutrition advice from a fat person” thing.

        • “One of the points of this post is to take attention away from food, as there are way too many food-centric obesity theorists out there.”

          “Have you seen Robert Lustig? I have in person and let me tell you, I don’t think he’s missing any meals.”

          I’m detecting some cognitive dissonance here

          Reply
          • Right. I meant to say “I don’t think he’s missing any mixed drinks.” or meals.

      • Zachary,

        First and Foremost did you even read the studies I linked to before posting a response??? Luc Tappy, Mar Hellerstein, James Rippe, etc??? It might help to read the actual studies and not just the often biased interpretations.

        I suppose the reason you may be receiving so much “flack” is because you are basing your arguments on biased/outdated theories that have been tried and tested in the medical/nutritional community and have been found to be failed hypothesis over and over again.

        Fructose is not as fattening as Dr. lustig makes it out to be. I will admit that fructose is more lipogenic then Glucose but not by much given different contexts of consumption. If you read Luc Tappy’s paper you will notice that up until recently it was very hard to track the metabolic fate of different carbohydrates in the body. However with recent developments in technology we see the following:

        The fate of Fructose summarized:
        50% turned into glucose
        25% into Lactate
        17% into Glycogen
        8% left for DNL(de novo lipogenesis) or to metabolized directly into Co2 via the TCA cycle

        In the typical american Diet fructose is consumed in a ratio of 5 parts glucose to 1 part fructose, 5:1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511004327#

        So if we put that into a meal with 240 kcal of glucose mixed with 120 kcal of Sucrose (remember 5: 1 Ratio) The Total amount of calories being turned to fat via DNL based on Luc Tappy’s model would be 1.8 kcal. Not Signifiant… You have to over-consume calories beyond your metabolic needs to produce a substantial amount of fat from DNL. Marc Hellerstein said it best in reference to carbohydrate consumption:

        “Thus, the addition of excess carbohydrate energy to a mixed diet so that total energy intake exceeded total energy expenditure (TEE) increased body fat stores, but not by conversion of the carbohydrate to fat. Instead, the oxidation of dietary fat was suppressed and fat storage thereby increased.”http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/6/707.full

        Matt even alluded to this in the beginning of his post where he mentions Lyle Mc’Donald’s post on energy balance. http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/

        As for overweight people limiting fructose, you should read Dr. sevenpippers meta-analysis on fructose consumption and adipose tissue:

        “Fructose did not seem to increase body weight when it was substituted for other carbohydrates in diets that provided similar calories. Free fructose at high doses that provided excess calories moderately increased body weight, an effect that may have been due to extra calories rather than fructose.” http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/crdweb/ShowRecord.asp?LinkFrom=OAI&ID=12012009179

        This is why Matt is taking the attention away from food, specifically macro nutrients, because it is dead end no matter which way you look at it.

        **In reference to the statement “trace amounts” of fructose not being essential or natural is a very broad statement and you asking asking for a lot of backlash and hypercritical discussion points when presenting such a general statement.

        Reply
        • Thanks for the response Scotty. I don’t always have time or the interest anymore to explain these things in such detail. It feels like old news. I appreciate you stepping in and taking the time to lay all this out though. Let me know if you are ever interested in presenting more on fructose in a guest blog post or something.

          Reply
          • Hi Matt,

            I sometimes feel it necessary to share arguments in great detail, makes for less confusion when the studies are cited, logic builds the premises to a solid conclusion and anecdotal evidence is kept to a minimum ( that rarely ever happens)…but yes I completely agree it is time consuming.

            I have actually written quite a lengthy discussion on fructose already http://theskinnywhitebuddha.blogspot.com/2012/09/james-rippe-and-last-fructose-crusade.html

            Not sure if you want me regurgitating the same argument to your audience… let me know,

            -Scotty

      • I used to have an eating disorder and I ate a ton of fruit to stay slim and drop weight. Who have you ever seen get fat off of eating too much fruit? Plus, in this day and age, who actually gorges on fruit, as opposed to all of the fast food and the like?

        Reply
  19. My mother ate nothing but skinless chicken, lean ground beef, salad, fat free Rold Gold pretzels, pasta and margarine. Sometimes ice cream. Didn’t drink coffee, alcohol or soda. Only water, and a ton of it. She worked long hours at underpaid jobs, and in the summer she swam. She was easily 350 pounds and eventually died of undisgnosed pancreatic and liver cancers after fighting a lifetime of estrogen dominant conditions and mysterious hypoglycemia. She had a tremendous amount of emotional stress about body image, thanks in part to a mother who called her ugly and had an eating disorder in college. So there are certainly a ton of ways to get fat. I really hate smug thin people who scoff at all fat people, as waves of superiority wash over them: those people must just be lazy…fuck off.

    Reply
    • Don’t know for sure but I suspect:
      1. In the womb: skinny mom who always ‘watches her weight’
      2. Lots of dieting from young when I wasn’t even fat (yet!) – why? see 1 above :(
      Worst offenders: 1. low fat and 2. low carb because 1. low fat gave me unbelievable crashes and cravings for sugar, hence binges and 2. low fat quenched cravings but ultimately crashes got worse, along with stuffed up adrenals, thyroid, hormones (wish it hadn’t ‘worked for me’ so well for the first year or two)
      3. Lots of stress, hated my soul destroying job but tied to it for much too long. Worked through nights and learned to ignore my body’s signals (and my soul’s…)
      4. Being of extreme personality type not given to doing anything in moderation, sadly …
      5. And sorry Matt but presumably it has to be helpful to see that rrarf does not work for everyone, there is something else going on, another couple of pieces to fit into the puzzle first – 50-60 pounds on rrarf- result 14 months later – gym ball with limbs, some metabolism improvement but overall I’m fatter, sicker, sorer, tireder (scuse spelling), socially and mirror-phobic and of course, rounder and without a wearable wardrobe – though I could raid my hubbie’s hiking stuff and wear his tent…
      I do believe that this road has further to go, Matt, keep going, it’s not over yet.

      Reply
      • It’s a nice shade of neon orange and has breathable mesh inserts which I can try align with my underarms … plus the emergency flares could be handy if I get hopelessly entangled with a lamp post in windy weather.

        Reply
        • At least you still have your sense of humor…

          Yes, it does seem that RRARF is backfiring for a lot of people. I never truly did RRARF but I did focus on getting as much rest as I could and eating freely (just couldn’t overfeed; couldn’t stuff myself).

          I wasn’t coming off of a diet either; hadn’t lost any weight before starting. Just coming from a year or two when I was trying to eat really “healthy” a la Weston Price Foundation. Wasn’t low fat or low carb.

          Reply
        • The tent poles would not really make a nice belt i guess :)

          But seriously, which flavor of rrarf did you try ? I agree with the majority of Matt’s ideas. Some things I dont agree with, for example the whole fructose lustigs experiment. So when you say rrarf did not work for you, I wonder which version of rrarf you tried? I think version 1 was no sugar, no pufas and focussed on carbs and fat. Also, I was confused by the 14 month thing – why rrarf for so long ? I guess the problem for most people is knowing when to shift gears and stop rrarfing.

          Reply
          • I didn’t overfeed hard all that time. Not at all. Very quickly you just don’t want to anymore.It was a month or so. After that I ate to appetite and just aimed at not cutting out anything (other than PUFAs) and reintroducing carbs and sugar . Less (but still enough) fat and protein than low carb days. Trying to be a normal person (if there is such a thing)!

        • These days if I can’t get a person’s body temp up in a few weeks we stop the overfeeding, and I’m relying less on overfeeding with the powerful insights on salt, concentration of body fluids, etc. In other words, the more I learn, the more efficient the process becomes.

          Reply
          • I think the only problems people hit with Rarrf is 1.) extending rest past achieving a restful state
            2.) Proper body function as Matt talked about above with electrolytes and balance.

            and of course the main problem 3) : force-feeding
            There is a huge difference between eating a lot and eating more than your subconscious dictates. all the benefits of Rrarf can be had without force-feeding but in the short term force-feeding can help a lot of people.

          • That’s interesting! I’ve been RRARFing for about 5 months and still can’t get my temps to stabilize at 98.6 (although they are more stable than when I started). I hit 98.6 every now and then, but generally I’m between 98 and 98.4. I’d love to be able to stop the overeating, but I already drink hardly anything and eat lots of salt and sugar. Should I just up the salt and sugar even more?

          • Anything over 98 is good enough to stop being so fixated on body temperature. Especially if you feel well and are functioning more or less correctly in the big categories of sleep, stress, digestion, menstruation, warm fingers and toes, etc.

          • Thanks for the reply, Matt. I sleep a LOT (but usually from about 2am-12pm – can’t seem to get back into a “normal” routine). My digestion is better but not 100%, my menstrual cycle is still terrible (possible endometriosis), and my hands and feet are still cold 80% of the time, despite my temperature being mostly over 98. I still have a disproportionate stress response. There are definite improvements (finally able to sleep through the night without waking at 3/4am in a panic, higher blood pressure, less temp fluctuation, etc.), but I’m not sure where to go from here.

          • Oh and I was wrong, it’s usually between 97.5 and 98.4 – I’m converting from Celsius and made the mistake of using my brain instead of a calculator.

          • You should just call me. I think you’ll need to rewire your daily rhythms. That would help. And I don’t think you’ll have to purposefully overeat. That’s becoming an increasingly outdated tactic for increasing metabolic rate. Just eating something calorie-dense and salty when you are cold, and not even in excess, is all most people need to keep the hands and feet warm throughout the day.

          • Thanks for the info. I’ve been wanting to call, but have held back on account of my lack of finances. But I’ll see what I can summon! Definitely need to get my daily rhythms back on track – missing the entire morning is kind of depressing!

          • That’s why it’s donation only you dufus. Call me.

          • Yeah, that’s one part I do not get, why is everyone doing rrarf for so Long? I thought it was a 30 max deal. Too much of anything is maybe not so great, as Mattie pointed out above

          • 30 day max I meant to type.

          • A few weeks??? Ugh. I’ve been following your advice (not overheating but eating sugar, starch, fats, salt) for 5 months and my morning temps are still hovering around 97.7. I’ve only gotten my afternoon temp above 98.0 twice. I’ve gained ten pounds and I’m starting to question my sanity in doing this!

        • I for one find tents attractive :-)

          Reply
          • Ha! Me too when pitched in remote and gorgeous places. But not so much when worn …
            Did not do it that long – a month or two – but the weight kept climbing though I eat like a normal person.

        • Lol, Sue…..you sound justn like me!

          Reply
  20. I’d always pretty much eaten whatever I wanted and had various minor weight fluctuations through adolescence and college but stayed consistently between 135-150lbs. At age 23 I married a WAPF freak and jumped on the bandwagon wholeheartedly and felt better than I had done (probably due to cutting out vegetable oil). We did eat a ton of carbs and a fair amount of honey and rapadura, so I wasn’t really deprived of sugar, and I definitely ate to appetite.

    I got pregnant age 24, and had a great pregnancy with only a normal amount of weight gain. and was all set to get back to pre-preggo weight by breast-feeding. Then I had horrific breastfeeding problems with huge stress, no sleep and ending in a week long case of mastitis with high fever. I persevered with breastfeeding (and still nurse my 15 month old) and things resolved themselves.

    But two months later I’d gained around 50lbs with absolutely no change in diet whatsoever. My body was clearly storing up fat just in case I had another crisis with a baby to feed. On top of that, my little guy is a terrible sleeper and is up pretty much every two hours at night still! (And yes, we’ve tried everything. The only thing that keeps him sleeping is being “earthed”, but we’ve been having technical difficulties with our earthing sheet for a while now) My son is now 15 months old so that makes for over a year of terrible sleep (even though I nap with him most days)

    I currently weigh 235lbs, and I’m only 5 ft 4 in. I’ve been slowly gaining weight for a while, probably because of sleep problems and stress.

    We’ve really loosened up on our diet over the past year and are comfortable eating sugar (in fact my milk supply doubles if I have a chocolate bar or two each day.) But I’m really uncomfortable being this weight. Practically it’s hard work to haul around all my extra weight as well as a toddler, and it’s tough to get up and down off the floor and run around at the park. I’m really hoping that once I wean him and maybe he starts sleeping better my body will relax enough to drop some of this weight. I certainly don’t want to get pregnant again while I’m this heavy.

    Reply
    • Sarah, have you checked your home for geopathic stress? Google it. You can check for free (some people will do it for free, or you can find instructions online to do it yourself – easy, although it seems kind of woo woo). Then you can move your/your son’s bed if it’s an issue, and his sleep issues should hopefully resolve. The fact that he’s having these issues, that the earthing worked, and then that the eathing sheet is having issues (breaking down) are all clues that he may be in a hot spot.

      Reply
      • Amy, thanks for the suggestion. Coincidentally, we just moved to a new house on Tuesday, and the earthing works perfectly at our new house! So apparently it did have something to do with the location… how weird.

        Reply
        • That’s awesome, so glad you moved!

          Reply
  21. Ps. Anyone else feel awkward eating candy in public?

    “Yes, I know I’m overweight but I just have to take my health supplement…This candy and coke will help me lose weight, or at least prevent me from putting on more weight!”

    Reply
    • Hell No! I eat candy wherever I want. don’t fear the sugar haters.

      Reply
  22. With so many women on the pill, you should do a post about birth control!

    Reply
  23. So what? Does it really matter if we gain weight? Fat isn’t a problem, the fear and vilification of it is.

    Reply
    • It does suck being physically limited by truly excess fat though. Nobody wants to carry full suitcases around with them if they don’t have to.

      Reply
        • Me too, the joints hurt, I can barely run, I feel awful.

          Reply
    • I agree in the sense that some people mean by “overweight”–like according to the BMI chart, or like just not being skinny. But yeah like Matt said, I think really being FAT still would diminish people’s well-being and ability to enjoy life even if there wasn’t so much stigma attached.

      Reply
    • I’m about 30 lbs “overweight”, of which 15-20 pounds is probably actual fat I need to lose, since I am stronger and have more muscle mass than an average person. So I am moderately fat. Not obese, not unhealthy–quite fit, actually–just moderately fat.

      Which means I have a muffin top, so pants fit badly, and my belt buckle rubs on my belly and irritates my skin. I get hot really easily even if it’s pleasant outside, and I sweat buckets doing even mild exercise. I have to carry around a bunch of weight that I otherwise wouldn’t, which means any exercise I do that involves moving my body weight around is 10-15% harder than it “should” be, and presumably I could run or climb or whatever that much faster/further/longer than I can now, if I weighed the 180-190 lean pounds that I “should” weigh. My thighs chafe and so I frequently get rashes there.

      Not to mention that being fat makes you less sexy–and come on, that’s not just culture talking, especially for men. I don’t think there’s a culture on the planet whose women would rate, on average and all else equal, a guy who is 25%-30% body fat as sexier than a guy with a nice healthy level of body fat at 10-15%. Just doesn’t compute. And that’s not a poor reason to want to be lean.

      I totally agree that we shouldn’t fear or vilify fat or fat people, but the notion that there’s nothing inherently negative about being fat is just wrong IMO.

      Reply
      • 10 % is a bit too skinny. Not all women want stick figures.

        Reply
        • I used a healthy male range instead of a single number for a reason. 15% leaves a little cushion for those who prefer that look, and 10% is definitely too lean for some but gives a healthily ripped look without dipping into the kinda-scary single-digit, semi-starved range that starts looking unnatural, IMO. :-)

          I for one would be overjoyed to see what 15% felt like.

          Reply
      • Well I don’t know how the ratios of bodyfat you’re talking about would look like,but just wanted to mention the following:

        At the voluntary jobplace I work 1day a week there’s this guy,staff member, who also has a belly and some more bodyfat than the average male, however you can also definitely see that he has muscly arms though they’re not that defined/ripped looking. To me he looks like a big teddybear.
        He has awesome humor and a good personality. He’s much older than me&married, but I’d take him over any ripped guy when given the choice.
        So,please don’t feel too bad bc not all women want a ripped guy;)

        Reply
        • I agree. Warmth. Sense of humour (the sexiest thing about a man, by far – didn’t you guys know you can laugh a woman right out of her clothes? Surely some of you know that? I’m looking at you, Matt … ) Humanity. Kindness. Loving children. Really loving them, not stuck-with-them-for-the-weekend-poor-me-missing-sacred-gym-time . I walk into lampposts when I see guys with kids in their arms. (And it’s not even the tent.)

          Reply
          • I’m sitting next to a 7-year old watching Barney on youtube right now. Does that make you horny Sue?

          • If it was Bob the Builder, Yes. Just because he can fix stuff.

          • Deb, what do you need fixed?

          • The list is endless :-)

          • Ha ha! Way more than the perfect looking guys who take themselves soooooooo seriously! I like domesticated men who can laugh at themselves … it could be Darwinian – if I understand Richard Dawkins, the humour indicates intelligence and presumably women choose men for intelligence otherwise we wouldn’t have grown these big brains; and then keeping men pinned to the sofa with cuddly little kids means they stick around to help raise them – it’s worked for me ;)

        • Dutchie, I tend to gravitate towards ‘sexy’ personalities more so than a ripped body, also. In fact, I’ve never been attracted to a ripped body! For some reason it’s very unsexy to me, I think because it tends to go hand in hand with overly self-conscious men. It seems impossible that someone who puts a lot of effort into looking good, either with fancy clothes or working out at a gym just to be able to show off their toned muscles, have anything valuable on the inside.

          Reply
        • I agree generally- it’s important not to villify fat people, and lots of things help make someone sexy. That said, a lean body is, on the aggregate, attractive for people. Of course there are unhealthy lean people, and plenty of healthy ‘overweight’ people, and the 1:1 relationship between leanness and vitality is not exactly there these days. But it’s there in the subconscious for most people, and I don’t think that’s wrong, or really even re-programmable.

          Also Josefina and SueW, maybe you’re overestimating the time it takes to get and stay healthy. Upcoming post today from me about adjusting our expectations to a longer scale, but that still doesn’t mean I’m spending hours and hours in the gym. My ‘training’ takes a total of about an hour a week, less if I set things up efficiently. It doesn’t take much when you exercise wisely. That said, I get a lot more than that in, but it’s because I enjoy playing basketball and like moving my body. That in itself is important in building attraction- having some practice that engages and challenges you makes anyone a better, more attractive person I think.

          As for dressing well, putting effort into one’s appearance- again, doesn’t have to take much time or effort. And anyway, I think it shows respect for oneself and for the people around you, it shows that you’re the type of person that pays attention to details. Doesn’t matter what sot of style you adopt, but to me it indicates mindfulness in practice. Of course some people end up being arrogant and overly attentive to the superficial, but I think a healthy level of self-care is different, and attractive.

          Reply
  24. The pattern that often repeats itself in the comments of health and weight loss blogs seems to be one of subtle depression. That’s not an insult. But I bet 50% of the posters are likely on one or more depression meds, and are, or will soon be diagnosed with chronic fatigue, depression, and/or fibromyalgia.

    Reply
  25. I don’t have any idea where my fat came from. I have always had it, and it continues to hang around and multiply like a hutch full of hyper-sexed rabbits. At 52 all I can say is that it seems highly unlikely I will ever see a number lower than 300 on the scales again.

    I spent the first 19 years hovering in the numbers just under 200 lbs., but two pregnancies assured me I never saw those numbers again. I have never been on the pill, have never tested positive for any sort of thyroid issues, have pretty much eaten whatever I wanted except for the last 12 years, and never taken an anti-depressant in my life. I am not diabetic that I know of, although I am sure I have sugar issues–who wouldn’t at my weight?

    When I reached 40 years of age I had a misdiagnosed medicine induced health crisis and when I came out on the other side alive and aware of a desire to remain that way, I decided to do some “serious dieting and exercise” to try to stop the run-away train. I worked out Curves 6 days/week for three years, tried Weight Watchers, Advocare, HCG, and a few other short term experiments including RBTI. I shopped at Whole Foods exclusively for a couple years, and hardly ate any sugar. I have done Tapping, meditation, muscle testing and chiropractic care, and even the John Gabriel thing. I don’t suppose there is any alternative method I haven’t tried. Needless to say all that got me was a small taste of victory followed by the horrid taste of defeat when the fat came back and brought friends.

    RRARFing has helped alter my mindset, but has piled on the fat until I am bigger than I have ever been before. Eating to appetite is just not a lot of food because I am so rarely ever hungry. I am sleeping fine other than the multiple night time visits to the bathroom, and have an extremely low stress lifestyle. I am happy with every other aspect of my life except for my weight. I would jump on any bandwagon destined to cure that issue if I was assured it would not kill me before my time.

    This is not how I envisioned spending my “golden” years — too big to leave the house, unable to drive, embarrassed to be in public, barely able to walk around my house without taking a break, and uncomfortable in clothes that don’t resemble circus tents. I read these posts thinking that one day I will find the secret key to unlocking the normal body inside this cage. Maybe one day.

    Reply
    • You may have been down this road already, but its practically impossible to get mainstream docs to diagnose and treat thyroid and adrenal issues because the normal ranges actually reflect normal ranges for our sick-ass population rather than optimal. If RRARF hasn’t worked you might want to revisit thyroid and adrenal testing and the multiple controversies that keep people from being diagnosed, basically most dr.s are too dumb to even run the right tests. There are tests for everything, you could even get your leptin tested, but you have to fight for those test or order your own. Also the peeing at night thing can be either low aldosterone or high aldosterone, mine was high despite haver super low blood pressure which makes no sense, fortunately since starting thyroid my mult-mid-night trips to the potty have dropped to one and my doc still says my thyroid dose needs to be increased so I’m crossing my fingers that my aldosterone will normalize all by itself. That said frequent urination (and/or a feeling of constant thirst) that isn’t resolved with less water intake and increased salt is a sign of endocrine disruption (like an adrenal tumor, I’m not kidding, and there is treatment for this sort of thing) I think this sort of thing is under investigated and dismissed as a normal part of ageing by thoughtless doctors. Basically I think there are answers for you, and lets be real at your age (no offence) it may not be possible to cultivate a normal metabolism without really getting comprehensive tests to figure out where things are breaking down.

      Reply
      • Is it always at certain times at night that you have to get up and pee? bc,I think in Chinese medicine, certain hours stand for caertain organs. I know if you have to get up/wake up between 3 and 4 at night,thats the tie of the liver,meaning the liver is overburdened……and between 5 and 6 are the adrenals.

        Reply
        • I have heard that as well, and I can only say that it varies. Some nights it starts at 10:00 and I awaken every two hours, other nights it is random and as few as one or two times in the night. I have thought about various foods as to whether or not they are the cause, but when I try to replicate the diet/times, I do not have the same results.

          Reply
      • If you have the funds, you may want to explore some of the hormone docs Suzanna Somers has worked with – they do bioidentical hormone replacement, major nutrient and hormone testing, etc. and fix major hormone issues supposedly. But they do not come cheap, and doesn’t sound like their treatments do either. But if you have ample money might be worth exploring…

        Reply
    • Have you ever tried gymnema sylvestre? I don’t work for Nature’s Way, but I do prefer that brand. Its called ‘The Sugar Destroyer’. It has really helped me with sugar cravings, its not that I think you have those, but I wonder if you have a yeast infection gone undetected. A yeast can occur anywhere in the body. Often people end up with these problems as a result of antibiotics (I did). If its a yeast, the gymnema will starve it. It binds to the sugars that you eat and basically, the yeast starves. A low sugar diet doesn’t seem to be nearly as effective at killing it. I have an Aunty that used it to great effect on a yeast infection that the doctors were unsuccessful at killing with several rounds of antibiotics. Within about 30 minutes (which is what it takes for the pill to dissolve, btw don’t take it on an empty stomach, it can be hard on the tummy.) her pain had subsided.

      I’m not a dr. I don’t even play one on the internet. I just have had success with this one. I’m currently doing a course of it to get my sugar cravings back in check. I have put on 20 pounds this year, and well, it sucks. I’m hoping my gymnema does the trick.

      Reply
      • I have tried gymnema sylvestri, and have done numerous yeast cleanses through the years. Thank you for the suggestion, though. :)

        Reply
  26. Acute or chronic stress: your mother’s example sounds more like acute stress associated with the taking of a new job??????

    Reply
    • Well darn! Reading my post over it sounds like a plug for the website , which i didnt mean it to be :). I just noticed that Matt had some ideas about things i was experiencing like: cold hands, peeing all the time, lusterless skin and hair, bad sleep etc. And all i really did was take the time to REST, eat FOOD maybe a little extra :) quit the workouts for a while and stop pounding 8 glasses of water a day. Once i felt better i eased off the pizza and hit the gym again and things are taking care of themselves because im in my 20s still and i assume my hormones bounced back.

      Reply
      • Woah this comment was supposed to post way up the thread somewhere else woops

        Reply
      • I think guys are a lot more blessed as in it being easier for them to reset hormonal balance and keep it that way.

        Reply
  27. “What ‘weird diet’ is that?:)”

    My “weird” diet is the low carb one. I’ve been a nutrition freak since I began following various diet-related usenet groups back in the 90s. Matt’s is just one nutrition blog I follow, one among dozens. I’ve been low-carbing for nearly 8 years this time around. Lost well over 100 pounds and maintained that loss for nearly 3 years eating as much as pleased and whatever I pleased as long as it was low carb. I felt fantastic. But I did get seduced by the idea of trying RRARF. It seemed too good to be true, and for me it was. Gaining back “a little” weight doesn’t mean 50+ pounds to me. Felt terrible all the time, no clothes fit any more. Blood sugar went through the roof and kept climbing and climbing and climbing. I finally decided to go back to what I felt good on and returned happily to low carb. I miss some of the foods I was enjoying, but I DON’T miss sky-high blood sugars, no energy, brain fog, no fitting clothes, depression. All that has vanished since I returned to low carb. Well many of the clothes still don’t fit, LOL. But I’m slowly getting back into some of them. :-)

    Reply
  28. Can you elaborate on why chicken/pork would make you fat?

    Reply
    • Tryptophan in poultry, polyunsaturated fats in both the poultry and the pork. Pork fat is the richest source of arachidonic acid, a trigger of inflammation.

      Reply
      • butter has arachidonic acid

        Reply
      • I would be interested to know what it is about traditional diets which include lots of pork that protects them against an overload of arachidonic acid. The polyunsaturated fats is understandably only a problem for westerners who have consumed too much of it.

        Reply
        • From what ive once heard is that a pig is the only animal that doesnt store its toxins in the fat but in the tissue. So that would mean that fattier parts such as bacon are healthier than leaner cuts such as ham. Ive always liked the lean parts,so there you go…. i for some reason always seem to love all that is detrimental to me:s not just foodwise,but even as a kid for instance i loved smelling everything toxic,such as gasstations,paintdamps etc. I wonder where that came from….

          Reply
  29. Wow, this post is dead-on, for me anyways. I’m in my 20s was always thin (eating whatever I wanted and no exercise) until I decided I wanted to be thinner (stupid), starved myself for periods of time, then developed bulimia. Before the bulimia I could eat a ton and stay the same weight, but after restriction d/t starvation and paleo, I’d binge like crazy and gained weight for the first time ever. So for me, my 15-20 extra pounds are thanks to binge eating from restriction, stress from the bulimia, and I worked night shift for 7 months at a very stressful job while I was bulimic, which can really screw with your sleep (obviously). Looking back I’m amazed that I thought I could pull that off and NOT gain weight. Also, I did gain the weight quickly like Matt said- after I stopped the binging and purging, I gained 10 pounds overnight it seemed like. As someone who used to be thin this sucks, but its leveled off and I’m not gaining anymore.

    My advice is to realize that rrarf and binge eating are not the same, and that was the mistake I made at first- I used it as an excuse to binge, and it was a nightmare. Now that I’m in recovery I’m not “addicted” to food anymore; I can have cookies and stuff in the house without thinking about it all day long. Get some help with your eating issues, if you have them, maybe before trying to heal yourself metabolically. And absolutely do not diet. But that’s just my 2 cents, maybe this will help someone else .

    Reply
    • I’ve been there. It sounds like you’re in a great place now and in tune with your body, and the extra weight should slowly come off over time as your metabolism heals. That’s what happened with me anyway

      Reply
      • The Real Amy,

        Thank you for the response, its very encouraging to hear from someone whose been through it. I’m just so happy to be in a place where there are no more urges and I can eat like a normal person again. Hopefully I’ll slowly lose the weight and grow some hair back :)

        Reply
        • It took me years (4 total, but I had some relapses during that time) so don’t get discouraged if it takes some time. My nutritionist said it takes about a year of normalized eating for metabolism to heal. that’s probably about accurate for me once I had truly healthy, normal eating habits consistently for a year.

          Reply
          • That’s such a relief to hear…since I’m only a few months into recovery. Thanks so much again.

  30. I have almost everything on the list, but I’m becoming increasingly more clear on the fact that the major issue for me is chronic stress. I am currently in treatment for abuse-related injuries, and the thing I keep seeing is just how much energy and stress it takes to be hypervigilant in the face of extreme abuse (my unfortunate experience). I’ve tried so many things to stay thin, and then to get thin after pregnancy. But the only thing that really works is being at peace with my body as it is. The weight may come off, or it may not, but I am so DONE with being chronically stressed. It’s time to live instead of survive!

    Reply
  31. I have been very underweight my whole adult life. Even before my digestive problems that currently make eating high numbers of calories in a day difficult, I was still very underweight. Even with a lot of “junk food” and whopping numbers of calories. The only times I ever gained substantial weight (which still only brought my weight up to a more “normal” number for my height) was during the madness that accompanied the first months of a new relationship… falling “madly” in love. Does that fall under the stress category? Even if it’s perceived as good stress?

    Reply
  32. It seems like Bob Dean is the only one here who enjoys and even tries to get fat on purpose.

    Reply
  33. I also RRARF’d probably way past its time (Jan to Aug), but it felt good. I don’t consider myself fat (Shut Up Mom!) but I did go from 2 years + low carbing at size 4 (5’0 around 118lbs – had two early miscarriages 3 yrs apart and had continually lost hair/libido/mental sharpness/stable moods) with a belly (should have been a sign!) to about 137 lbs at size 8-10 (belly there but not as disproportionate). I can get away with curvy type outfits, but anything that hinges at the waist or right below the bust (belt) will cause a buildup of bile or something and land me a few days in bed w pain in my abdomen. RRARF eliminated all my cravings as well as my obsession over cookbooks and buying only ‘certain’ foods. What I think it excaserbated is the fact that my digestion has blunted, particularly w fat.

    I am doing Douillard’s Colorado Cleanse (now at day 2) to test if it does sharpen the digestion capabilities. And am taking Matt’s philosophy w me, lots of salt, not as much water as recommended, eating LOTS of allotted food (which is a lot in the pre and post part of it), and primarily staying calm (he recommends this over following the cleanse to the letter). My basal temps did increase this year to a thing of beauty, but the during the day temps tended to be lower, especially after meals.

    Anyway, I think nutrition food science looks way too closely at food and misses the big picture.

    Reply
  34. Nice article, but I think Ricky Smith or Chunk would have made a better introductory picture.

    But I guess there’s a limit to the number of 80′s references you can make in a blog that’s supposed to attract a wide audience. Which is sad-face. :-(

    Reply
    • I don’t think Ray Peat would be impressed.

      Reply
  35. Growing up my parents were/are both deathly afraid of getting fat (they are both pretty skinny, but had both done some pretty extreme diets like Atkins, Lettuce Diet, Stillman’s Water Diet, Nutrisystem, etc. to lose 10 pounds here and there). So growing up, us kids had weird relationships to food. Never really knowing what was healthy, thinking that eating a bowl of peanuts for supper was a good choice, or having one piece of toast for breakfast was a good start to the day. My dad was the kind of dad who would make hurtful comments all the time. “i don’t know why you eat that shit, it’s gonna make your ass fat!” etc. So my whole young life, i was convinced I was fat, even though looking back, I was not fat at all. But I obsessed about it and hated my body.

    When I left home, I ate whatever the hell I wanted, and gained about 20 pounds. Then in college I had my appendix removed and lost a bunch of weight, my parents were so proud of me and the way that I looked!

    My older sister developed bulimia, and told my parents it was their fault, they denied that and made her feel really bad. She’s doing much better now, hasn’t binged in years.

    I got married, was super skinny (the way I achieved this was just to not eat much at all, ate like a bird), and stayed that way until I got pregnant with our first child. I suddenly HAD to eat much more, I was hungry/tummy rumbling hungry all the time during that first pregnancy, and gained 80 pounds. the doctors were not happy. I breastfed baby for 8 months, and lost some weight but was still about 165 (I’m 5’2″ and usually 125). Then two years later I got pregnant with our second baby, and went up to about 210 pounds. I couldn’t breastfeed with her, so the weight came off much more slowly, and now, she is almost three, and I’m still 180 pounds. I might lose 7 pounds here and there, but it always comes back.

    I’ve tried strict WAPF, anything low carb I pass out, so I have to eat plenty of carbs, but I also need plenty of protein as well. In the last year, I’ve developed food allergies or sensitivities to eggs, avocados, and coconut oil. I get really sick if I eat those foods, and eggs make me break out in a full body rash.

    I’m not dealing with back problems… my back goes completely out every three months like clock work. My doctor said, “how long has it been since you had your last baby? don’t you think it’s time to stop using that as an excuse and just go ahead and lose the weight?”

    So yeah, i do want to lose this weight, but for some reason it is stuck.
    So that is my “how I got fat” story!

    Reply
    • Correction: “I’m NOW dealing with back problems”

      Reply
  36. I think there are a lot of contributing factors to why some people put on weight while others don’t. For me (this is not my real identity), it was simply low self-esteem about my body, and fear of getting fat like my mother. I also compared myself to the fashion and popular girls of the day, and came up short in my own estimation.
    I put myself on every kind of starvation diet – although I was THIN! and I rebounded, and gained extra weight each time. I went through that process for 4 decades. Now I have a very small appetite, and have to push myself to eat breakfast, and every meal after that. I do eat (I’m not anorexic, never binged), but I just can’t fit a lot of food in my big stomach! I am now 55 pounds overweight. The Paleo plan, the Atkins, vegan, vegetarian, detoxing… NOTHING got the weight off, and kept it off. I started regaining while still on the under-eating and over-exercising.
    I believe my mindset created my diagnosed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I am practicing stress relief, working on my body image. I have at least 25 symptoms of hypothyroid – and finally just found a doctor who is treating me with dessicated thyroid. It’s not getting my temps up. In fact, they’ve gone down since I started the Rx.
    I heard Matt first time on the Paleo summit when that diet was failing to help me lose weight. What you said made sense. But I am frightened to gain more weight. I have been gluten free, and started increasing starchy vegetables. I’ve always cooked, making my own salad dressings, eat organic, have no toxic cleaning products or personal products and avoid PUFA however possible.
    When I eat, the food sits in my stomach for hours, and I have terrible digestion. It’s hard to go to sleep at night because the food is still sitting there, and I feel like I’ll choke when I lie down. I actually HAVE had that experience one time, and it was incredibly frightening!

    Because I’m now in my 60s, I’m very concerned because my LDL, triglycerides and total HDL are high. I’m just so scared to gain more weight – and know that if something doesn’t change drastically, I’m going to die from heart disease. And as you can probably ascertain, I’m feeling pretty anxious and sad…

    Reply
  37. Well, I’m new here and feeling a bit (okay, a lot) confused and overwhelmed. I am about 60# overweight after 8 babies, my last one is 17 months old and I turned 45 yesterday. I can’t seem to get down more that 5-10 pounds and then in comes right back. I can gain 4 pounds eating a restaurant meal and take 2 weeks to lose it. I have been doing the GAPS diet since Sept. 1 with my 15 year old daughter because I have hormone issues and we are trying to heal her from ulcerative colitis. I have hair loss and dry skin. I haven’t slept through the night in over 5 years, and my littlest still wakes several times a night. She is still nursing as well. My temps are about 96.2-96.6. I’ve done Makers Diet, Lemonade Cleanse, Raw Foods Diet, and a short stint on HCG (homeopathic) in the last 10 or so years. Was never heavy until my 4th pregnancy, which is when I began having hair loss and never lost that weight. I’m nervous about gaining weight overfeeding, but now it sounds like you aren’t really recommending that anymore. I also don’t want to cause another flare in my daughter, who is very thin and hasn’t been able to regain the weight since her flare ended in May. I feel like I am swimming through mud most days. I fall asleep any time I sit still, lol. Driving too is very hard because I get so sleepy. I bought the 180 metabolism ebook & am working my way through it. Just feeling overwhelmed and not really sure where to start…

    Reply
    • I would definitely eat very calorie-dense yummy food, especially at times of day where you feel the coldest, urinate most frequently, etc. That will make you even more tired and allow you to sleep much more than you probably are able to currently. You don’t need to “overfeed” all day, or really make a conscious effort to overeat if you are eating freely of all foods and not trying to stick to some spartan whole foods diet (which I wouldn’t recommend).

      Reply
  38. Oh, and I should add that we have eaten primarily in a WAP way for several years, and that since my 4th child I have only been able to conceive while on Vitex, and I have had several miscarriages since then.

    Reply
  39. I got fat from dieting. Thanks, dieting!

    Reply
  40. Food restriction from earliest childhood, dieting, restricting types of foods (10 years of Radiant Recovery, then 18mo of paleo), bingeing, pregnancy x 4, Chronic stress, sleep deprivation, chronic illness, gluten intolerance.

    Reply
  41. Weight gain is not an easy task for everyone because not everyone knows how to get fat fast. It does not simply take a moment of silence and thought and then grumble upon anything edible you see; people having problems on how to get fat need to have a plan in order to be effective.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Diet-Haunted World - [...] Sometimes, we get so focused on microscopic issues (calories, carbs, grams of sugar) that we miss real solutions that …

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>