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7 Graphs That Explain Why People Are Fatter Than Ever

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7 Graphs That Explain Why People Are Fatter Than Ever

Why are so many people so fat these days? Is it all the sugar we eat? Fast food? High-fructose corn syrup? GMOs? A bit of each or something else altogether? Let’s find out…

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That’s not a pretty graph. It represents untold amounts of frustration, misery, and death–an epidemic of damn near Biblical proportions.

One that’s responsible for 18% of all deaths of adults aged 40 to 85. That’s adding about $190 billion in medical costs every year. That’s robbing the economy of over $160 billion in productivity

Divine retribution aside, why is it happening, though? Why are so many people so fat, and what can be done about it?

There’s no question that obesity is a complex, multi-faceted issue. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on obesity research over the last several decades, giving thousands of smart scientists the time and resources to explore every nook and cranny of the problem.

And the bigger picture is finally coming into focus.

Fortunately, the 50,000-foot view of obesity is much simpler than many people once believed. Physiologically speaking, the process of becoming and staying obese is fairly easy to understand and, in most cases, fairly straightforward to undo.

It would be impossible to address every nuance of the problem in a blog article, so instead I want to touch on the 7 “guiltiest” culprits–the agents most responsible for our exploding waistlines.

1. We’re eating more food away from home than ever.

 
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Food-away-from-home spending has risen from 25.9% in 1970 to an all-time high of 43.1% in 2012.

In terms of calories, food prepared away from home has increased from 18 to 32% of total daily calories, and as of 2010, fast food accounted for 11.1% of the average adult’s total daily calories.

The problem here?

Food prepared away from home provides more calories per meal than home-prepared foods and is higher in nutrients we overconsume and lower in those we underconsume.

This makes it easier to overeat while also creating or exacerbating micronutrient deficiencies, which not only impairs general health but general satiety as well, which can lead to further overeating.

This problem is particularly relevant to fast food: it’s incredibly calorie dense and nutritionally sparse, which is why research shows that the more someone eats fast food, the fatter they get, and that wherever fast food restaurants go, obesity rates rise.

The Solution

Prepare as much of your daily food at home as possible. This allows you to control your calorie intake and ensure you get the majority of those calories from nutrient-dense foods.

2. We’re eating more sugar than ever.

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Anti-sugar hysteria is at an all-time high these days, with many “health experts” denouncing it as destructive to our health as smoking and alcoholism.

Well, the truth is sugar can’t ruin your health unless you eat like an idiot and refuse to exercise…which, unfortunately, describes a large percentage of the population.

You see, long-term consumption of simple sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, but there’s more to consider. Namely, the effects of these sugars varies greatly depending on body composition and activity level.

The leaner and more physically active someone is, the better his body deals with simple sugars; and on the other hand, the more overweight and sedentary someone is, the more harmful high levels of sugar intake becomes.

As far as weight gain goes, we have to remember that both weight gain and loss are regulated by the principles of energy balance, which boils down to this: if you regularly feed your body more energy than it burns, whether from sugar or another form of carbohydrate or protein or dietary fat, you’ll get fatter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as a corollary, simply eating sugar can’t cause you to get fatter. To quote researchers from the University of Hawaii, who conducted an extensive review of sugar-related literature:

“It is important to state at the outset that there is no direct connection between added sugars intake and obesity unless excessive consumption of sugar-containing beverages and foods leads to energy imbalance and the resultant weight gain.”

Overconsumption and energy imbalance are the keys here. The real problem with foods that contain added sugars is they make it easier to overeat.

One other health-related concern is the fact that eating a lot of foods with added sugars can reduce the amount of micronutrients your body gets and thus cause deficiencies. Many foods with added sugars just don’t have much in the way of essential vitamins and minerals.

The bottom line is lean, physically active people can regularly eat sugar (in moderation) with absolutely no negative side effects in terms of weight gain and metabolic health. I should know because I’m one of them!

The Solution

Get the majority of your calories from unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods, but feel free to include a bit of daily sugar in your meal planning if you so desire and you’ll be fine.

Personally, I never get more than 10% of my daily calories from added sugars simply because I cook my own meals and don’t have a sweet tooth. Considering how much micronutrient-dense food I eat and how much I exercise, this low level of sugar intake will never cause me any problems.

3. We’re drinking more caloric beverages than ever.

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Here’s a simple dietary rule of thumb: if you love caloric beverages, you’ll probably be fat forever.

The major problem with caloric beverages, ranging from soda to sports and energy drinks to fruit juices, is they don’t trigger satiety like food.

You can drink 1,000 calories and be hungry an hour later, whereas eating 1,000 calories of food, including a good portion of protein and fiber, will probably keep you full for 5 to 6 hours.

Here’s a quote from researchers from Purdue University, who investigated the influence of meal timing and food form on daily energy intake:

“Based on the appetitive findings, consumption of an energy-yielding beverage either with a meal or as a snack poses a greater risk for promoting positive energy than macronutrient-matched semisolid or solid foods consumed at these times.”

That is, people that drink calories are much more likely to overeat than those that don’t. This is why research shows a clear association between greater intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain, in both adults and children.

The Solution

Cut back on or cut out altogether caloric beverages, and you’ll be better for it.

Learn to drink plain water and you’ll not only reap the many health benefits of staying hydrated, your body will burn more calories too.

4. Our diets are fattier than ever.

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Dietary fat intake has been steadily rising for the last five decades and has simply exploded in the last 15 years.

This isn’t all bad.

The move away from low-fat foods has helped people increase the amount of home-prepared, unprocessed foods in their diets, and dietary fats play a vital role in the body–they’re used in processes related to cell maintenance, hormone production, insulin sensitivity, and more.

The problem with high-fat dieting, however, is the fact that fats are so damn tasty and energy dense but not filling.

A gram of fat contains about 9 calories whereas a gram of protein or carbohydrate contains about 4 calories, but the fat isn’t as satiating as the other twoThis is why research shows it’s easier to overeat on a high-fat diet and that obesity is greater among high-fat dieters than low-fat.

The Solution

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults should get 20 to 35% of their daily calories from dietary fat, and if you exercise regularly, there’s no good reason to eat more than this.

Instead of a high-fat diet, you’ll be much better served by a high-carbohydrate diet, even when the goal is fat loss.

5. We’re sleeping less than ever.

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There are two reasons why getting adequate sleep is an important part of preventing weight gain.

Your body burns quite a few calories while you sleep.

A 160-lb. person burns about 70 calories per hour, and much of it must come from fat stores because your body is in a fasted state, which means there’s no food energy available and insulin is at a baseline level.

Much of your body’s growth hormone is produced while you’re sleeping.

Growth hormone is a powerful lipolytic hormone, meaning it stimulates fat loss, and your body produces a large amount while you sleep.

Thus, it’s not surprising that research shows the amount we sleep affects our weight-loss efforts in addition to our overall health.

In a study conducted by the University of Chicago, 10 overweight adults followed a weight-loss diet (caloric restriction) for 2 weeks. One group slept 8.5 hours per night; the other, 5.5. The 5.5-hour group lost 55% less fat and 60% more muscle than the 8.5-hour group, and on top of that, they experienced increased hunger throughout the day.

This correlation has been observed elsewhere as well.

Research con­ducted by the National Center for Global Health and Medicine associat­ed shorter sleep duration with increased levels of body fat. There’s also evidence that acute sleep loss causes insulin resistance to a level similar to someone with type 2 diabetes, which can increase the rate at which your body stores carbohydrates as fat.

The Solution

Sleep needs vary from individual to individual, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night to avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

6. We’re burning less energy working than ever.

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In the early 1960s, almost half of the jobs in the private sector required at least moderate physical activity. Today, only 20% of jobs are equally demanding.

Accordingly, Americans’ average daily energy expenditure has dropped by over 100 calories since the ’60s, and if that doesn’t sound too bad to you, consider this:

Eating 100 calories more than you burn every day, for a year, will add about 10 pounds of fat to your body.

That said, burning 100 calories less per day wouldn’t be a big deal if we also reduced our calorie intake accordingly. People aren’t doing that though, which we’ll talk about in a second…

The Solution

Sedentary living is incredibly unhealthy. If you live a sedentary lifestyle–if your average day takes you from the bed to the car to the desk to the car to the couch and back to the bed–you’re probably going to have serious health problems one day. It’s that simple.

A big part of staying lean and healthy is regular physical activity, and the best way to incorporate this is regular exercise, whether in the gym or through physically demanding hobbies.

7. We’re eating more calories than ever.

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I thought I would end on a bang, so here’s the bottom line to this entire article:

The amount of calories we eat on a daily basis has dramatically increased over the last several decades, and this alone is enough to explain the equally dramatic rise in obesity rates.

When you look over the previous six points, the picture is abundantly clear: people just eat too damn much and move too damn little, and if they flipped that around–ate less and moved more–they would “magically” lose the excess weight and avoid the many health risks that come with being overweight.

All the mainstream fear mongering about wheat and grains, carbohydrates in general, sugar, GMOs, and the rest of it obscures this basic truth, and sends people off on unproductive dietary witch hunts.

The key to weight loss and maintenance is, and always will be, balancing energy intake with energy output.

What are your thoughts on why people are fatter than ever? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Chris Parsons

    Mike, a great review of the problem and the clear and simple solution. I’ve seen people that drink 1000 calories a day and then wonder why they can’t lose weight and the amazing difference it made when they cut out that alone. If you pay attention to all these points then there really is no excuse. Unfortunately for some people sugar is quite addictive, and kicking sugar is almost as difficult to stopping smoking.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Chris! You’re exactly right.

  • Ian

    Mike
    Great article highlighting the obvious, why can’t so many people see it?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Mainly because it’s not the answer they want. They don’t want to be told they can’t eat whatever they want whenever they want, and that they have to exercise regularly.

      • leslie landberg

        People behave like passive children. This society infantalizes them on purpose. People who are in control of their destinies and health cannot be controlled or exploited for profit.

  • Paul B

    As always on point

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks brother.

  • Eugenio

    I’m learing a lot from you.

    Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

  • Christopher John Daniels

    I think a lot of the obesity comes from bad dieting advice given to children. They end up starving themselves and sabotaging their metabolisms. I pose that the problem is undereating rather than overeating.

    • Michael Matthews

      Poor childhood eating habits are definitely a big contributor to obesity. This has been studied. It’s not undereating that’s the problem though–it’s familial overeating.

  • Ruben L. Dante

    I love this article Mike! Thanks for all the research and stats that you check out for us! I also love reading studies and statistics and dig myself into a subject rabbit hole lol! So thanks for putting in the time and sharing it with us 😀

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Glad you liked it!

  • Dan

    i think we also live in a very stressful era and many people turn to comfort eating.

    p.s I like how you have provided a solution to each of the problems! nice article.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s very true. Thanks!

  • Poppy

    An excellent summary thank you.

    • Michael Matthews

      Glad you liked it!

  • Steve Crook

    Wouldn’t argue with what you say except #4 where I’ve got a few quibbles…

    In the USA at least there’s been an (unhealthy?) obsession with dietary fat and unsat animal fat in particular. Recent years have seen a recovery from an all time low so no-wonder perhaps that fat consumption has risen.

    Part of the problem (big IMO here) is that the insistence of a low fat regime resulted in people eating more refined carbs. Once it was decided that a low fat diet wasn’t working and everything went Mediterranean we started to use more fat but didn’t cut back on the refined carbs.

    Incidentally, your link http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53550/ is a really interesting read and points up just how difficult it is to isolate the effects of one dietary component…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Steve and you’re absolutely right that the low-fat dieting trend was an abysmal failure, just as the current low-carb trend is going to be. And that’s because, as you said, people don’t account for calories and love to overeat.

  • Theron Yantes

    Another great article, I’ve been following you for about two years and have bought all your books. I have to ask what motivates you to continue to try to help people? I get asked for advice on training and dieting quite often ( even more so since I’ve done 2years of bls, thank you Mike ), I take the time to point them on the track, give them your web site or even borrow them your books… Check back a few weeks later to see how it’s going and it’s usually the same grab bag of excuses. It really frustrates me, I admire your perseverance because I’m sure you get that on a much larger scale then me. Keep up the good work.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much Theron. I really appreciate the support and I have a lot more good stuff coming in 2015. Keep up the good work and keep me posted.

    • leslie landberg

      People are terrible, lol. But you can’t give up on them…well, not if you’re like me. I enjoy encouraging people and want to see them enjoying their lives healthy, not sick and sad. It is an uphill battle.

  • Great article

    I think what would help people to loose weight and improve their metabolism is: eat 5 small meals a day at the SAME (or almost the same time), never skip breakfast, eat 50% of the total calories at lunch and do not have a dinner later than 7:00pm because by evening the digestion slows down. Go to bed on empty stomach will promote better sleep. it works for me….
    Me and my husband stopped going to restaurants. I cook everything from scratch.. Because when I cook(it is my big hobby) I know what is in it. It is so sad tha the vending machine serve such a unhealthy food. It would be better for the kids in school to have fruit or nuts for snack than crackers, chips(empty calories), sweet soda?

  • Charlotte Grøftehauge

    Great article. And a little scary too. We don’t have quite as many obese people in Denmark where I live because we havn’t fully adapted the sedentary way of life, and we don’t have fast food restaurants on every corner, nor are the portions as big as in the US. I hope that we will learn not to go down the same path as the US.
    I think that education is key. People need to know what is making them fat, and why so they can make healthier choises for themselves. You have a great website and super to-the-point articles. Thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Charlotte! Yup I’ve been around Europe quite a bit and it’s very noticeable.

      You’re absolutely right–proper education is the key.

  • Mazen Zeinni

    Dear Michael,

    I have a serious problem. It has been a while accompaniment me which is overeating at night only, especially before I go to sleep from food and chocolate and thats ruining my diet and damn I can’t lose weight effectively. I am struggling with my dietitian, also I am suffering a lot from that, however I feel helpless toward it. So what should I do? Any strategy? Thank you.

    • Chris

      I’m not sure it’s the late eating that’s the problem, more likely the overall daily calories?

      • Mazen Zeinni

        Well, it is the dinner time, it should be double the portion that my dietitian gave me and it should be late in order to be satisfied, also I eat chocolate and chips. For example, I feel safe, happy, once I eat my dinner. And when I want to eat, always 1 sandwich is not satisfying me, instead I need two. However, I follow 100% the diet for the breakfast and lunch. What shall I do? I need to lose weight and keep on track with my dietitian. Thank you.

        • Michael Matthews

          A double portion of dinner is fine if you plan for it but the chips and chocolate will probably have to go as they’re just too calorie dense.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm the easiest solution would be to work with your tendencies and not against them by eating light throughout the day and saving the majority of your calories for the night.

      This will help you:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • Mazen Zeinni

        Thank you Michael, awesome article. Wel, do you have Kik ?

        • Michael Matthews

          YW. No sorry I don’t.

      • leslie landberg

        Wow, I never thought of that! I struggle with the same bad habit, and I know that little bit of belly fat and the difference between 12% and 16% body fat for me, is staying up too late and eating late. How come a bowl of cereal tastes so good just before bed?!😵😜

  • Anthony

    Well written article. Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks. 🙂

  • Thomas Myers

    I’m not sure I agree. You are certainly right about more exercise and less food, but only to a certain extent. We all deal with diminishing returns from “sweating” and “starving.” We don’t think much about how exercising less and eating more “only” puts on a few pounds–far less than the simple energy balance would suggest. We don’t think about how some carbs (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, and sweets) turn into body fat so readily while other carbs (leafy greens, legumes, etc.), well, not so much. I still think hormones we make in response to the foods we eat or, like beer, contained in them, play a larger role than the simple “energy balance” model allows. Insulin works to limit the surprisingly small amount of glucose our bodies can tolerate by tucking excess in fat cells. If you eat high glycemic foods in moderate to large quantities, you overload the insulin system and become pre-diabetic and, without changing diet, become diabetic. That’s the most important hormone but there are, I’m told, dozens of hormones doing their best to keep us “lean.” We are supposed to be eating low glycemic carbs–essentially all the spinach you want; eating high quality proteins–chicken breasts, salmon filets, and steaks; and eating fats that come with vegetables and proteins supplemented by tree nuts. When we deviate–which is so easy to do in the modern world, we get fat. We can exercise more and eat less, but we’ll never blow past “skinny fat” till we stop eating what’s in center of the supermarket and eat, almost only, some of what’s sold on it’s perimeter. Then our general inflammation goes away and our hormones can get back to keeping us lean as they were intended to. Testosterone and growth hormones are produced in response to exercise. If you want to look like a man, you need to eat right and exercise right. That’s what your success stories all seem to have in common.

    • Dave

      Quit complicating things. People are fat from overconsumption. End of story.

      • Dave Hogan

        I have studied dieting for many years (B.S. degree in Science) and know that most doctors now agree that dieting is NOT a SCIENCE! What works for one person may not work for others. I’m an active 250-lb man and have been on just 1,400 calories per day for 4 months, but I have lost NO weight. (zero). However, I recently discovered that many people CAN’T lose weight because they are being poisoned by all the toxins that are in our water & food that CAUSE their metabolism (thyroid) to STOP working! These toxins include chlorine, flouride, bromine, and mercury. (Found in Teflon, tap water, flour, fish) The worst, however, is BPA from plastics — especially microwaving food in plastic containers! Scientists also know that cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and spinach, also cause our metabolism to DECREASE. There are over 1,000 web pages that PROVE that these toxins cause our thyroids to STOP working–leading to NO weight loss! I finally started losing weight the first day I eliminated Teflon, plastics, broccoli/spinach, and tap water from my diet. YES, tap water and vegetables can make you FAT! (Just do a google search and you will see that I am telling the TRUTH!)

        • Michael Matthews

          Most doctors don’t know the first thing about nutrition, though. It’s a minuscule part of their education.

          If you’ve been planning/tracking every calorie and never overeating and you’re not losing weight on 1,400 calories per day, something is seriously wrong. I would get a full metabolic panel done ASAP…

        • leslie landberg

          You sure are! Microwaves denature food and alter the cells to be mutagenic when consumed by the body. Food stored in plastic or cooked on Teflon has very high levels xenoestrogens. Tap water contains 6000 carcinogenic compounds, as well as massive amounts of medical waste, notably birth control pill residues, but also heart medication and statins. All will suppress metabolic function. Goitrogenous vegetables such as cruciferous forms are best well cooked, as they can cause goiter. Every man woman and child in this nation needs to have comprehensive metabolic and organ function panels on an on- going basis. No one size fits all medicines or protocols! BTW, get all your vitamins checked…you are probably low in D and that can effect your thyroid. Seek testing in the functional medical community and don’t count of clueless AMA docs to do their job right.

    • kevin

      Id like to hear what Mike has to say on this because their is some logic to whats being said

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment Thomas!

      Research does show that the body adapts to exercise to burn less energy, but this is really only an issue with low-intensity, steady-state cardio. Basically, walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes per day is an activity of diminishing returns. Regular intense exercise, whether resistance training or HIIT cardio, is another story, though.

      I’ve read a LOT of papers on the subject and energy balance explains 95% of weight fluctuations. This really can’t be argued at this point.

      Ironically carbs aren’t converted to body fat as efficiently as dietary fats. They’re just not a problem unless over-consumed. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/low-carb-diet/

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-insulin-works/

      You can get just as fat eating low-GI carbs as high-GI carbs, which many people that try an “all-you-can-eat” approach to Paleo dieting quickly learn.

      Avoiding the skinny fat look requires a lot more than following arbitrary diet rules:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/skinny-fat-solution/

      High levels of T and GH are associated with leanness but, again, eat too much and you’ll still be fat.

    • LowEnd31st

      You’ve been reading too many pseudo science phony baloney calorie denying websites.

      • leslie landberg

        That is an absurd comment notable for its complete lack of supporting evidence. Thomas assertions are valid scientifiacally and are not of any out of the way, unusual statements, but simple fact. In fact, based on a plethora of studies conducted at Universities in the past 20 years, the consensus among dietitians is to shop only the perimeter of the grocery market, if one wishes to avoid sugar, salt and chemicals and the concomitant inflammation which comes with them.

  • Philip W.

    Great article – well researched as always. Your first graph shows the unhappy situation where we (well, hopefully not “us”) are continuing to get fatter. However, it also shows that the rapid increase in obesity (vs. just being overweight) occurred between 1978 and 1999, or so. To look at obesity, we should look at what was happening at that time. All of the factors you describe are excellent at keeping the population fat, but they all tend to change relatively consistently over time. Great for keeping people fat, but not for the rapid increase in obesity. Now, you correctly state that weight is a multifaceted issue, and I would not attempt to put the blame on just one issue … but … if you look at the increase in non-diet soda it tends to fit the role. It increases from 1978 (start of graph), to 1999 where it levels somewhat – great match with the increase in obesity. Putting the cause and effect discussion aside for now, it looks like the culprit. You have correctly driven into all us regular readers that ultimately weight is about calories in and calories out. Considering that human metabolism across the population will not have significantly changed, we need to consider the source for the excess calories in. If one is able to easily consume 1000 calories and not feel full, and often not even include them in their thoughts of what they have consumed that day, it would be an easy match. Even diet sodas are shown to alter the body’s chemistry so that ultimately people consume more. If we could prevent soda from being consumed, I wonder what the impact would be. Keep up the great work, it is very appreciated.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Philip!

      You bring up a good point on the obesity explosion that occurred doing that period and it’s generally recognized that drinking caloric beverages is a MAJOR culprit.

      Diet sodas are “good” in that they don’t provide the calories but yes, the artificial sweeteners and dyes cause other issues.

      • leslie landberg

        Soda gets its name from the huge amount of sodium in every can. Diet included!

  • Lee

    “Healthy and physically active people can eat plenty of sugar with no negative side effects” This statement wasn’t true for me, nor several other individuals I have come across in my vigilant research on the topic of diabetes. I’ve been lifting weights, road cycling, walking, and sprinting among many other sporting activities from puberty to present age of 48 years. Most people perceive me as being in my early thirties, but despite best efforts I ended up with a fat inactive person’s disease.
    My dietary choices over time were always based upon the standard recommendations of the American Diabetes and Heart Associations. I’d indulge in a little desert once a week, didn’t eat white anything otherwise…just fruit two or three times per day, and whole grains…darn if it didn’t happen anyway. Sure, I’d have hamburgers or hot dogs with French fries twice a month.
    To get off the blood sugar and medication roller coaster, I had to abandon grains, fructose, caffeine, alcohol, and lactose. I’ve eliminated one pill prescribed for insulin production, and down to one dose daily on the one intended to help with insulin resistance. I started at 355, spiking in the 400 to 500 range, as of this evening my reading after dinner is 86.
    Switching over from running on glucose to ketones and fat is an unusual journey, but thank gosh that evolutionary back-up system, which ironically used to be the primary fuel for humanity is still there. If a person’s family has a history of diabetes, suggest keeping the carb count under 100 each day, even the alleged low-glycemic ones.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment Lee!

      I’ve worked with thousands of people of all ages and circumstances and my statement is generally true based on both research and personal experience.

      That said, there are definitely people that simply don’t do well with a lot of carbs. They’re generally overweight though. Do you know your body fat percentage?

      • leslie landberg

        Everyone’s pancreas is different. But following those approved dietary guidelines wouldn’t do anyone a favor: they are pseudo s ience at its finest. Glad you found your way to sanity!

  • superbeth

    I absolutely love this article. The conversation regarding it is also great!

    I became obese when I started eating very low carb and was constantly doing cleanses. I would live on very little food and carbs and then binge. Plus because I was not eating very much, I was very sedentary.

    After I stopped eating very low carb, I did a bit of binge eating for awhile…I was very hungry for food! I also craved a lot of palatable, dense foods. I gained more weight.

    After I got all that out of my system, I started craving healthier, whole foods and now I eat mostly healthy foods.

    I also lost about 25 pounds last year when I started consistently exercising. This year, I’ve been lifting more (compound movements) and I have lost inches.

    I still have a little problem with binge eating. If I eat enough during the day, it’s more manageable. Also going to sleep earlier at night helps. Not getting enough sleep or trying to stay up late makes me crave dense, palatable foods.

    It would have probably been better for me to get help for my eating behaviors. I let things run their course though, and life is good! Thank you again for a great article!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Beth! I really appreciate it and I’m really glad to hear you’re moving in the right direction.

      I’m going to write an article soon on how to stop overeating. I think you’ll like it!

      • superbeth

        Thank you! I look forward to reading it!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • Dani Bock

    I’ve been trying to figure this out. I didn’t change my diet, didn’t change my activity level and gained 50 lbs in 3 months. I don’t drink soda, I consume hardly any refined sugars, I don’t eat red meat.

    • Michael Matthews

      Have you seen a doctor? If that’s truly the case then something is seriously wrong. Not trying to scare you but I would definitely get checked out ASAP.

      • Dani Bock

        Because of multiple medical conditions I see my doctor about every other month. Nothing has been found.

        • Okay. It HAS to be related to water retention but I highly doubt you could gain that much through dietary changes alone…

        • leslie landberg

          See a naturopathic doctor, also called a functional medical specialist. The tests you have taken are either inadequate, out of date or haven’t been ordered. Seeing any doctor regularly, if they are unthorough and incurious, means nothing by itself. Find other doctors and don’t stop looking. Take a pregnancy test. Hard to believe, but many people don’t know they are pregnant until they deliver.

    • LowEnd31st

      It doesn’t matter, you can get fat and gain weight eating broccoli and chicken breast if you overeat.

    • leslie landberg

      Unexplained weight gain is very serious. I Hope you had a full comprehensive blood and endocrinological work up. Organ enlargement, metabolic imbalances precipitated by hormonal fluctuations and yes, cancer, must all be ruled out. Where you are gaining weight also provides clues. If around your ankles, it may be gout, if it’s around your mid-section, it may be organ toxicity and inflammation, if in adipose areas, it might be endocrinological. Get your kidneys checked, as well. 50 lbs is a lot.

  • RHammarlundblogg

    My angle on this, and I do not try to blame anyone here just trying to state a few facts. If you would go to a average normal convenience store, grocery store or supermarket and would add up the space taken up by the candy, the snacks, ready made pastries and stuff like that I bet it would overpower the vegetables and fruit sections by far. Thinking of it that is a bit nuts, no pun intended. So can not people think for themselves and make their own choices? Of course but it seems hard. I myself used to be a far more regular shopper at the candy shelves than the fruits and vegetables sections but have crossed over and never really looked back. So who’s fault is this? The stores or the customers or both? I really do not have a straight up answer for that one. Supply and demand or demand and supply? That is the big question really.

    • Very true!

    • leslie landberg

      The point you make is a crucial one. There is an emerging consensus, borne out by trial and error, that simply providing healthy food in so-called food deserts, does not mean that anyone will buy it. Levels of obesity remain consistent even when food markets are brought into low income communities. This is a public health crisis exactly on the scale of cigarettes, and, like cigarettes, I believe nothing short of a massive public health campaign, coupled with the passage of generations, will correct this durable trend.

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  • Etown Red

    This is awesome information. I believe there is simply too much carbs in the North American diet, and over-all portion sizes are too large as well. I rarely go out for a steak dinner but the last time I did I ate half of the potatoes, half of the meat, and all of the vegetables and took the rest home. Sometimes I am in a real rush and (sigh) hit a McDonalds for lunch on the road. I order a small fries, a hamburger, a diet coke and a “kids size yogurt” for lunch. Compare the carbs, fat and trans fat of that particular combination of food compared to a double-something-with-bacon and super-sized fries and a super-sized regular pop. It’s just scary. Another big one is the salt… canned soups, processed foods and eating out can result in a person taking in 2 to 3x the daily allotted sodium content. People also don’t drink enough water anymore – and even the most natural of fruit juices are loaded with natural sugars: CARBS. I also have a rule of thumb for seconds at meal time if I am still hungry. A little bit more protein, a lot more salad and vegetables and NO more carbs. Ever notice people who go for seconds usually pile on more rice or potato or pasta? I really believe in carbohydrate addiction. Ever since I stopped mass loading on carbs I not only avoid those horrible post-meal sugar crashes but I am losing weight. Oh, and the weight lifting might be helped a bit too. When eating out, I try to eat salads with grilled chicken breast, grilled chicken sandwiches (no cheese or bacon), or better yet, fish. When I’m in an Asian restaurant I try to order steamed fish, steamed rice and steamed vegetables, all with no extra MSG. I get strange looks from people, but once you get used to healthier food the greasy salty stuff makes you feel sick, bloated, gaseous and worst of all: guilty!

    • Thanks! I’m glad you liked the article.

      You bring up good points. The bottom line is most people need to dramatically change their lifestyles, not try random fad diets.

    • LowEnd31st

      Sodium really has nothing to do with fat loss. Or carbs. Just calories!

  • Jenny Hudson

    Great article. See here for very quick and healthy weight loss. http://www.amazingaus.com/best-foods-to-eat-when-losing-weight/

  • Steve Gershwin

    Hey Mike, great article!

    In terms of point #3, your image cited only caloric drinks. As a recovering diet-soda drinker, I found even diet sodas take some blame for us getting fatter: I found that diet soda often triggered a hunger response in me, making me hungrier. This isn’t backed up by scientific evidence–it’s only anecdotal–but it’s still telling. In other words, even though the diet soda wasn’t affecting my energy balance, it would have indirectly by making me want to eat. If I weren’t conscious of my BMR and TDEE, I’d have some weight gain just from Diet Coke. People who aren’t conscious of their numbers could be getting fatter off diet soda simply because it’s prompting them to get hungry if their bodies respond the same way.

    There might be a scientific study or blog article in there somewhere.

  • LowEnd31st

    The “eating more calories” should be first!

    • Although this isn’t a ranking, #1 is essentially “eating more calories”. You’re right!

    • leslie landberg

      According to an article in the daily mail, 90% of obese people do not believe they are overweight! PUT DOWN THE FORK. They don’t practice proton control, in addition to doing everything else wrong: careless about what they are eating, sedentary lifestyle, stress, lack of sleep. It all plays a deadly role. I can look at a person and tell you what they eat, how much, their level of activity and their stress level. People are in complete denial.

      • Yup! Those are all huge factors when it comes to the obesity epidemic.

  • Anon1234

    I like the adequate amount of info. However, it’s a simple equation; calories in and calories out.

    If you notice that your body isn’t good at book keeping the calories, you’ll have to restrict it consciously and you’re back to normal.

  • leslie landberg

    This article is good but the info is a bit out of date…makes sense, it’s four years old now. Studies have proven conclusively that high intake of carbohydrates is to be studiously avoided. Cutting down on potatoes, snack foods of all kinds, flour products, beans, rice, pasta and juice is crucial to avoid type II diabetes. But there’s more: the glycemic index of a carbo is an important matrix to consider when ingesting carbohydrate rich foods. Starches equal sugar and enter the bloodstream and are treated in precisely the same manner as sugar. The exception to this is the simple sugar found in fresh fruits, which are digested in the mouth and are high in essential nutrients. Glycemic index is the rate a which sugars enter the bloodstream. Whole grains and whole fruit are superior to fruit juices and white rice is inferior to brown rice because the skin of the fruit and the intact bran of he rice contain what is known as cellulosic fibre and is indigestible, therefore significantly slowing down the rate at which the sugars enter the bloodstream and thus putting significantly less stress on the pancreas.

    Studies have also indicated that a diet high in fish, chicken and beef keeps people lean and provides nutritionally dense calories that provide satiety and that a high fat diet composed of raw, unprocessed, unfiltered, in heated and organic fats is essential. GMO’s are rampant in our foods and must be avoided, which is much easier to do if you buy all your food and prepare it at home.

    In sum, many studies at universities are funded by agribusiness concerns and serve mainly to obscure the truth and to promote findings which promote the products, rather than uncover the truth for the general public.

    Much of what we think we know is false. Did you know that raw salt (Celtic Salt) is a superfood and can bring high blood pressure down and normalize it if consumed regularly? Did you know that the myth of cholesterol is mainly pseudoscience and those on low salt, low fat diets are in grave danger? The scientific evidence in studies not funded by the AMA and big pharma are clear. Doctors know not to ever take the cholesterol lowering drugs they regularly prescribe to their patients and chairman of Monsanto know not to consume their own corn, lol.

  • leslie landberg

    Here is the ugly truth, it is not politically correct, so be warned. We all acknowledge that obesity is highly correlated with poverty. No dispute there.

    Poverty also correlated strongly with IQ, specifically much lower IQ on average than the middle or upper classes. the median IQ for the working class is 85, while for the middle class it is 100 and for the upper class it is 115.

    Lack of impulse control, as well as the notable lack of facility for higher reasoning, is strongly correlated with lower IQ.

    Although this is not politically correct or widely acknowledged by the do-good era in our society, it is nevertheless, established scientific fact well supported by numerous clinical tests over the last 100 years. This is why there are so many unwanted pregnancies, STD’s, murders, domestic disputes in poor areas. Lack of impulse control, correlated with low IQ.

    If we are to get a handle on obesity, and poverty itself, we have to look at installing much better behavioral and mental habits in those populations most at risk. This will be a multi-generational endeavor and must involve strictures upon the food industry. incentivizing healthy purchases with food stamps, punitive taxes such as those on cigarettes, and a massive long-term re-education campaign of the young. Fortunately, inroads are already being made in these areas, but much more remains to be done.

    • It is certainly true that vast changes are needed in terms of increasing access to actually healthy foods, lowering their prices, improving health education, etc. You’re right that there are many variables to consider.

  • leslie landberg

    My comment disappeared. Did you get it? Correlating poverty, obesity, IQ and impulse control.

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