Will cutting portions and increasing exercise help reduce body mass? Yes, for the short term. But there is a cost to this approach; a cost which they do not tell you about. Body Mass Index is managed by the health of the endocrine and microbiome systems, not by calories.
Something was introduced into our food starting in 1995 which is costing American health dearly. In addition, recent studies have confirmed that our food phytonutrients are being diluted by farm technologies deployed over the last 25 years. Our current national obesity and health crisis is the horrid version of the future we all hoped would not occur way back in the days of dreaming about flying cars. Now we must fight the fight. But we will win, as it is our lives, our health and our families which are at stake – all they have at stake is money and corrupt politics.
As a science professional and enthusiast, rather than flout my memorization of pat socially correct answers, I instead choose the track of actually putting the scientific method into action inside both my personal life as well as my professions. Observe, observe, observe – measure, measure, measure – log, log, log – think, think, think – test test test and test again and again. These are disciplines which are essential to my nature. There is no try at this – there is only do. Pseudoscience thrives in a culture of the ‘try’ as we will see poignantly herein this blog.
So when the appeal to authority medical wisdom was handed to me by my doctor in the 90’s – that I needed to ‘increase my workouts and cut out desserts’, I took it as an acceptable hypothesis to test. After all, my best friend from college merely has to cut out his favorite dessert, moose tracks ice cream, for a month, and he is comfortably back into his college pants again. You see, weight and body mass is simply a matter of moral discipline. Right? Most people do not have the gumption nor the persistence to test such common wisdom, especially when doled out by doctors (and there are large industry food players who rely financially on this foible of human nature).
But unfortunately, I have this nasty habit of skeptically testing that which I am told is truth.
‘Keto Flu’, ‘Macrocytic Anemia’ and ‘Thyroid Myxedema’ are modern health phenomena – they are not natural facets of normal body weight management – and are indicative that people today are having to go to extremes in order to keep their weight in check. Extremes of caloric reductions, endocrine remediation and intense physical activity – all of which our ancestors never had to even broach, ironically to live with much leaner body structure than we now possess.
Myth as the Key to Persistent Failure
Increasingly, health advisors are beginning to agree with what we common folk have been observing for decades: Calories In Calories Out (CICO) approaches to body mass management are not effective past anything but the short term. As well, obesity and ‘being overweight’ are unrelated conditions.
For most of the last century, our understanding of the cause of obesity has been based on immutable physical law. Specifically, it’s the first law of thermodynamics, which dictates that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. When it comes to body weight, this means that calorie intake minus calorie expenditure equals calories stored. Surrounded by tempting foods, we overeat, consuming more calories than we can burn off, and the excess is deposited as fat. The simple solution is to exert willpower and eat less.
The problem is that this advice doesn’t work…”
~ Dr. David Ludwig and Mark Freedman; New York Times, Editorial: “Always Hungry? Here’s Why” May 16, 2014
They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.
~ Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, Vol. 10, Issue 3; May-Jun 2016
And what we are combating is the pseudoscience of averages and old common wisdom, promoted by pseudo-skeptic preachers who are incompetent at understanding statistics or the disciplines of theory, hypothesis testing and risk. For example below:
Can someone please explain to me why, if we are unquestionably eating more as a country, we need to look further for the cause of the rising obesity rates? … Sorry, but some en masse (sic) hormonally induced horizontal growth disorder is not possible, nor is it explained by any honest accounting of all of the evidence. … Americans are eating more. We weigh more as a result.
~ “Evelyn” at “Carbsanity” Blog; Oct 16, 2015, http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2014/07/calories-and-taubes-nusi-ludwig-co.html
Ah, the ‘simplest explanation’; such a wonder that trick. I can smell the stench of lazy-agenda permeating the room. This scientifically pregnant boast concerning one poorly grasped, single summary statistic is exactly the problem: we have NOT had an “honest accounting of all the evidence” precisely because of the Evelyn’s of the world. A recent Pew Research Study1 found that on average, adult Americans consume 2480 calories per day – yet the average man burns 3100 calories per day and the average woman burns 2400 calories. What then do we say from averages and summary data (see medium fallax error below)? A significant majority (mathematically 55-70% of us under a chi-squared distribution function depending upon degrees of freedom) of us would be also chronically starving ‘skin and bones’ by now if these statistics were causally critical in path to an outcome; employing the very same methodology by which Evelyn has amateurishly misconstrued causality above (albeit our method involving more variable input data and two more resolved equations than she possessed).
As well, a 2015 study has shown that calorie for calorie, activity for activity, when the two are compared to those in the 1970’s/80’s to those in the 2000’s – individuals who exercise as much and eat the same caloric content as did their 1970’s/80’s counterpart, on average possess a 2.3 kg/m² higher body mass index (BMI) than did their 1970’s/80’s counterparts. Moreover, the study showed that, while overall US body mass indexes continue to increase – the level of leisure time physical activity has risen 47–120% as compared to the 70’s/80’s. So something is not making sense, or in the least – an outside influencing factor is beginning to show inside statistics such as these.2
Perhaps even more alarming is Ms. Evelyn’s reliance upon calories consumed as representative of ‘eating’. Curiously the same scientific mistake committed by those pushing their monopoly farm technologies in order to ‘feed the world’. We do not produce food to eat simply calories. We produce food to consume essential triglycerides, 16 proteins, 70 minerals and micro-nutrients, 11 B-vitamins and a series of other phytonutrients – of which even the most jaded cynical journals, seeking to defend farm technologies under assault, admit there has been a recent generational dilution. Astonishingly, even a March 2017 propaganda study by the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, specifically a priori commissioned so as to impugn nutrient decline research, admitted in the conclusion of the study that
Contemporaneous analyses of modern versus old crop varieties grown side-by-side, and archived samples, show lower mineral concentrations in varieties bred for higher yields where increased carbohydrate is not accompanied by proportional increases in minerals – a “dilution effect” 3
~ Journal of Food Consumption and Analysis, March 2017
In agreement, a May 2018 Scientific American article entitled “Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?” agreed that, because of soil depletion, our food is much higher in calorie to nutrient ratio than in the past:4
The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal,found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.
~ Scientific American: Sustainability, May 2018
In other words, the vast majority of all our caloric intake and 85% of grain based caloric intake US agriculture has undergone significant phytonutrient dilution. Please note that ‘higher yields’ is the politically correct code word for ‘plant growth hormone accelerant’ or ‘glyphosate’. Just two small bits of context framing there. No big deal. To complicate things, this decline is on top of – after the decline already documented from the period 1950 – 1999, before the really significant introduction of glyphosate to all grains (by 2004), and 85% of our caloric intake (see graph developed by organic-center.org above). 5
What is even worse is that you will find that most doctors (like both my allopath and integrative medicine physicians) know this already and privately caution their nutrient dilution vulnerable patients to change their diets.
But they cannot speak up, precisely because of the heavy handed bullshit and social pressure from the ‘Evelyn’s’ of this world.
Evelyn’s understanding of this issue is over 60 years aged, is failing to be successfully predictive or effective in application; and yet this pseudo-wisdom is still enforced by cadres of lazy blog-ranting researchers, just like Evelyn. Many of us, despite the data claims, are not “eating more as a country” – in fact significantly less for a large part of the population. See my stats below – which millions of Americans have replicated, albeit in not as much detail. People like Evelyn at Carbsanity count on the fact that individuals will not test their pablum with actual study and persistence. This is a habit of social skeptics. Gargantuan proclamations based upon shallow data and common wisdom from another age of toxin-exposure altogether, along with the realization that the average citizen will never hold them to account for their claims. Thus these myths persist as a consequence of absurd levels of ego, dishonesty and no ‘skin in the game’ on the part of the claimants themselves (save for some anecdote about losing 5 lbs by cutting out sodas).
Besides, an en masse hormone disorder factor is not only possible, but scientifically compelling in this case – if it is induced by an agent which was recently added to 60%+ of our dietary caloric consumption, and into every meal of every single day of our entire lives – commensurate with a discrete change in critically risk-dependent statistics. Ockham’s Razor demands exactly an examination of just such an influence, when old predictives fail miserably, …as a first priority, and especially when this suspect new impacting risk mechanism is not tracked at all. This is how a research lab is run in the real world – it is just that with social skeptics – we effectively embargo real ethical scientific study by talking loudly about ‘science’, and a lot.
Since 1990, obesity prevalence among U.S. adults has soared from 12% to 42%. The commonly accepted explanation is pervasive overeating: ever-increasing energy intake as the population gains weight, year after year. However, evidence does not support this hypothesis. Rather, the data suggest that Americans are eating relatively less, for their larger body sizes, over the last 2 decades.
Dariush Mozaffarian, Obesity – an unexplained epidemic, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2022
Not only does Evelyn’s diatribe suffer from a good dose of anchoring bias, but it features amateurish understandings of statistical inference, hypothesis testing and complex systems modeling as well. It ironically constitutes a scientific appeal to not conduct any science at all. Much more intelligence (not just data – a distinction which the poser does not understand) is required than this shallow statistic in order to imply sequitur causality. I don’t even have time inside this blog to go into the other errors this statement features: Filbert’s Law, ingens vanitatum, Simpson’s Paradox, fallacy of relative privation, Semmelweis Reflex, law of large numbers fallacy, and finally the coup de grâce of the statistical inference dilettante:
medium fallax error
/philosophy : pseudoscience : misrepresentation/ : the tendency to regard or promote the mean (μ) or other easily derived or comprehensive statistic as constituting an equivalent descriptive of the whole body of a set of data or a closely related issue – assuming immunity from the burden of identifying a causal critical path or developing testable mechanism to prove out the contention made (critical elements of scientific theory); or the process of misleading with statistical indications as to the makeup and nature of a body of data. I’ve got my head in the oven, and my ass in the fridge, so I’m OK.
This is why I am so adamant about incorporating at least 4 semesters of statistics, distribution arrival and simulation theory, hypothesis reduction theory and probability/confidence interval theory into the curricula of budding scientists and doctors. Otherwise they fall prey to exactly the prescriptive dosages of bullshit which ‘Evelyn’ is promoting here.
What I Learned Through Direct Observation and Testing
So, when my body mass skyrocketed starting in 1996, I was perplexed – and very concerned. You see I had already ‘cut out desserts’, ‘cut down on the pizza’, ‘ate smaller portions’, and ‘consumed a more balanced diet’. In fact, from 2001 until 2008, I cut a grand total of 2000 calories from my average daily diet and increased my average exercise by over 400 calories per day. I studied nutrition fervidly, and do still. Did my weight respond? Yes it did. But only for a while – then my BMI regressed. As well, there was a cost buried inside this response. An unavoidable (yes, mathematically deduced unavoidable) quality-of-life reducing cost in nutrition, about which the Evelyns of the world fail to inform us.
1. Calorie intake and burn – CICO – only manages body mass over the short to (questionably) medium term. Cutting out 200 – 400 calories per day in my diet made no difference whatsoever in my body mass over the short, medium and long term. Calorie physiology does not follow a black box, salary and bank account paradigm. That model will not work when your endocrine, autoimmune and microbiome systems have been harmed.
2. The techniques you practiced in the past to keep your body mass in line, will begin to fade in their effectiveness over time or will not work after that success and going forward. This is a progressive condition.
3. A ‘balanced western diet’ cannot deliver the nutrient your body needs unless you consume well in excess of 3100 calories per day (see The War Against Supplements Continues to Revel in Harmful Pseudoscience).
4. Consuming American grains over the medium term or longer will harm your health:
Endocrine Diseases, Skin Maladies, Bowel Diseases, Thyroid Disease, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver, Mental Dysfunction & Degradation and Diabetes/Metabolic Disorders
5. Limiting calories to lower than 2400 per day (as a response) over the medium term or longer eventually results in chronic diseases of malnutrition:
Macrocytic Anemia, Digestive and Endocrine Atrophy, Decline in Health and Wellbeing, Anxiety, Depression, Muscle Atrophy, Bowel Disorders, Kreb’s Cycle and Ketogenic Illnesses
6. None of my great grandparents nor grandparents nor parents suffered with these challenges – regardless of their level of physical activity. And they ate a lot more (3 full meals a day and a snack).
7. My challenge started in the Fall of 1995 and escalated rapidly during the 1995 – 2001 timeframe (when Glyphosate was introduced inside US food agriculture – 1995 – 2001: first wheat, then soy/canola, then finally corn).
8. My kids suffered with these challenges starting in their teens, and suffered them worse than did I. And no, they did not ‘eat more’.
9. These challenges export to nations other than the US, only when they begin to significantly import grains from the US. I have measured this in national strategies I have conducted, and advised governments quietly on this issue.
10. Body Mass Index is managed by the health of the endocrine and microbiome systems, not by calories (within reason).
11. In a modern toxic diet condition: Supplementation is Essential for Health & Well Being.
and finally the pièces de résistance
Something added into our food starting in 1995-2001 is harming American health severely, and the damage is showing up on our bathroom scales and in our endocrine and intestinal healthcare bills (see rise in thyroid disease and IBS).
We are saving $millions in the cost of producing food, and paying $trillions in the harm enacted from this corruption in pseudoscience.
The Polluted and Diluted Food Odyssey
Don’t ever give me a bullshit line of authority and expect it to go untested. Below, one can examine my record of testing the claim that ‘cutting portions and eating a balanced diet along with moderate exercise’ is the solution to polluted and diluted food. The result: This claim set is false. I underwent such severe anemia from malnutrition, that I was eventually forced to begin to increase my food intake – and importantly, begin methylfolate, stomach acid, humic acid, magnesium, protein and B12 supplementation along with a number of other nutrient additions. I never did get to the weight my doctor wanted. I fired that doctor, and the doctor I visited after that said ‘stop now, we have to find another approach’. Thank god for these supplements as well, they were a godsend. And where did I find all this critical (life-saving?) information on supplements? Not at ‘science based medicine’ ironically; rather through medical professional whisper, ‘quackery internet sties’ and friends. My quality of life improved dramatically. Thankfully I never got diabetes in this timeframe either. My hard work and study may have paid off there; averting a disease which has ravaged a good 25% of my family. Or perhaps I just got lucky in the genetic wheel of fortune in that regard, I do not know.
Just as in the old movie westerns, where the good guy always magically wins – even so common skeptical wisdom affords a ‘western diet’ the magical ability to deliver our 103 nutrients no matter how many calories one consumes. The stark reality is, given the amount of nutrient-diluted food, and metabolic suppression in Americans, we must supplement and exercise every single day, in order to be healthy.
Below you will find an outline of my caloric intake mapped versus body mass index; along with the serious life and health degradation I experienced by adhering to a caloric restricted ‘balanced western diet’ and exercise. Agri-food and pharmaceutical companies depend upon the reality that most Americans will not test this for themselves.
Exhibit 1 – Over the Long Term CICO is Not Effective for Health nor Weight Management as It Causes Chronic Malnutrition
note: workouts involved running 3 to 5 times a week, logging over 6,000 miles on treadmill and additional on asphalt, use of a weighted workout bar for 15 minutes of calisthenics and 10 minutes of lifting, pressing, rowing, situps on a Bowflex resistance machine.
Mitochondrial Suppression – Some People Burn Fewer Calories Over the Same Active Day
The key I believe, resides in this – that in certain individuals the number of calories burned by the body per day is suppressed from a normal average of 3100, down to 2450. This is called mitochondrial suppression. And there are a couple of candidates on the suspect list of causes – the intestines, the liver and the brain – as impacted by external factors. Below, examine the chart which I developed by recovering from my mitochondrial suppression – through extreme measures and ketosis each day – and my suspect below as to what is causing this chronic malady in Americans.
Mitochondrial suppression renders one’s metabolism such that if you eat less in order to maintain your weight, over time you will suffer from chronic diseases of malnutrition. And if you eat enough to resolve that malnutrition state, then you will have to burn 650 calories per day in exercise, each and every day – just to keep your weight at the same level. Much more exercise if you desire to lose weight.
Exhibit 2 – Mitochondria, the energy centers in the human cells, can be suppressed so as to reduce daily caloric burn, when the body is under duress
This condition has existed with me, since 1995 – when I observed it first starting.
This much is clear to me now. In order for me to keep my weight in check,
I must burn 650 calories more, or eat 650 calories less, than my healthy-weight peer.
This means that I will each and every day, intake 35% less nutrient than my healthy-weight peers
and inherit the incumbent chronic diseases of malnutrition, in order to stay at a ‘healthy weight’.
What Did They Do to Us in 1995?
So this testing has led me to examine elsewhere for solutions and means by which to improve the endocrine and microbiome health of myself and my family. Thankfully, my kids are aware of the mistakes our agri-food industry has made over the last 25 years and are taking the steps to head off the resulting micro-biome destroying, nutrient dilution and toxin based maladies in their teens and early 20’s (see graphic to the right outlining recent diabetes trends in the US). 6 They too are cutting out grains and grain derivatives grown in the United States, unless organic (even then limited) – and supplementing with methylfolate, methylcobalamine, NADH, Vitamin D, collagen, pea protein and humic acid.
I should not have to be living with years of chronic macrocytic anemia and keto flu, just to keep my weight (not to mention health) in check. There is something wrong with this picture. The ‘Evelyns’ of the world cannot continue to enforce upon us the same old ‘smaller portions’ and ‘balanced western diet’ bullshit. That practice does not work and the tired old wisdom itself is failing Americans miserably …and harmfully so.
If our so-called ‘skeptics’ would get off their asses, quit armchair pontificating about bigfoot, UFO’s and homeopathy, and study the real scientific questions we face – that might, just might help.
Regardless of the denial and arm waving technicalities – Ockham’s Razor plurality has been surpassed, and mine is not the only probative case anecdote that exists. Millions exist; and like mine, under doctor advisement too. Doctors are listening to their patients and are calling for new research. We the victims are calling for ethical scientific action.
This is the horrid version of the future, we all hoped would not occur way back in the days of dreaming about highways filled with flying cars. Now we must fight the fight. But we will win, as it is our lives, our health and our families which are at stake – all they have at stake is money, arrogance and aphorisms.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Calorie-Diet Pseudoscience Proves False” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 25 Aug 2017, Web; https://wp.me/p17q0e-6Hu
- Pew Research: What’s on your table? How America’s diet has changed over the decades; 13 Dec 2016; http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/12/13/whats-on-your-table-how-americas-diet-has-changed-over-the-decades/
- R.E Brown, A.M. Sharma, et. al., “Secular differences in the association between caloric intake, macronutrient intake, and physical activity with obesity”; Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, Volume 10, Issue 3, May–June 2016, Pages 243-255; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871403X15001210
- Journal of Food Composition and Analysis: Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains: The context of reports of apparent historical declines; Volume 56, March 2017, Pages 93-103
- Scientific American – Sustainability: “Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?”; May 2018; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/
- Davis DR, Epp MD & Riordan HD; Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999; J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6):669-82.; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15637215
- Nancy L. Swanson, Andre Leu, Jon Abrahamson and Bradley Wallet; Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America; Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014; http://jeffreydachmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Genetically-engineered-crops-glyphosate-deterioration-health-United-States-Swanson-J-Organic-Systems-2014.pdf
Keeping body fat down is all about metabolism. It stands to reason that one’s “idle speed” throughout the entire day and night can completely overwhelm any regular activities one can maintain without breaking down. I have the metabolism of a roadrunner on crack, and would hardly be surprised if I burn more calories when asleep than the average American does in a day. Mental activity counts, too. I’ve heard that chess players can burn 6,000 calories in a match. I’ve no simple way to verify that, but it makes sense. Competitive chess players need to train. My diet is similar… Read more »
Just ran across this and it’s really fascinating. I’d love to know what your typical day of eating looks like, foods you avoid (other than grains) and foods you emphasize.
My daily diet
Grains = rice
Veggies = asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potato
Meat protein = salmon, chicken, turkey
snacks = almonds, sunflower seeds, organic corn tortilla chips, turkey, rice bread
oils: coconut, sunflower, grassfed cow butter
Avoid 100% – these foods make me physically sick
Wheat derived preservatives & starches
Fructose/Sugar (use dextrose as sweetener)
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Thank you. That’s pretty similar to mine. My biggies I stay away from are grains other than rice (and normally brown rice) and any industrial seed oils. Grass fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil and sometimes avocado oil are used liberally. Lucky to have a friend who is a farmer and he sells pastured beef, pork and chicken.
I share a couple of links where I explain why the CICO theory is pseudoscience:
On the false causality of the CICO theory
The CICO theory is a conceptual mistake
I note you cite American grain in particular, and then go on to provide an (unreferenced) link to what I think is a paper by Nancy Swanson et al on disease increases associated with Glyphosate.
I am sure that glyphosate residues are one of the big problems but there is great difficulty in finding out how widespread these residues are. In short the question is: do you have any information about the safety of non American grains?
I conducted a food strategy in a country where 100% of the wheat consumption was from heirloom traditional varietals. GM tech when only for profit and glyphosate were banned. The level of diabetes and obesity was 1%. This country used many varietals of ancient to 150 year old grains. I conducted another strategy in another country which employed a mixed set of practices. 65% of the country imported and consumed US grain, 35% lived a lifestyle where they did or could not consume US grains. Of the urban population who consumed US grains, the rate of diabetes/pre-diabetes was 50%+ in… Read more »
Well said TES. It’s now also in the scientific literature that something known as “obesogens” are also potentially causing obesity. The fat accumulation is initially protective as it keeps toxicants (like POPs) away from organs and tissues, but overtime these obesogens are released into the bloodstream and still cause harm. “Fat people are just lazy and inactive” is overly simplistic and does not apply to every case of excess weight gain. It’s being documented that maternal nutrition also influences eating behaviors and hunger through epigenetics. This is something out of the individual’s control yet it leads to behaviors that influence… Read more »
Thanks Pragmatic Skeptic! 8)
And thank you for the notice on the Scientific American article as well!