Why are we trying to accept the unacceptable: being fat? When you search for the term ‘accept your weight,’ 132 million results pop up.
“Accepting Your Body at Any Size,” “How To Respect Your Body,” “The Real Reason You Can’t Accept Your Body,” “The Secret To Loving Your Body” are the top search results on Google. Which means that we prefer content that helps us accept and justify however fat we may be.
It’s not just about the weight. An industry of self-development books and courses exist around the concept of accepting all kinds of nonsense about ourselves. We’re even taught early on in primary school that we’re at the top of the food chain, or God’s chosen creatures, or at the peak of the evolutionary ladder, or unique, and precious in every way.
The Industry of Self-Acceptance is an easy sellout, because currently at least 2/3rds of us are in fact overweight, living drastically below our optimal energy and mental capacity, in chronic illness, rife with low self-esteem issues. All these factors are interconnected, which makes us by definition not only fat, but also ugly and stupid.
“OK, so even if I’m fat, doesn’t mean I’m ugly or stupid,” is a great counterargument, but also ipso facto untrue. By having low self-esteem, we’ve already accepted that we’re ugly. And if we don’t accept that being overweight is ugly, we’re even stupider, because it means accepting a substandard version of ourselves. Would you knowingly buy a car with a substandard engine? That would be stupid.
Here is an alternative approach: let’s quit accepting who we are, and focus on the possibility of who we can be.
If you dig an inch below the noise produced by the Industry of Self-Acceptance and Self-Glorification, you’ll find an easy path to transformative answers. It begins by dispelling three basic myths that we’ve been taught about nutrition for over half a century.
The Calorie Myth
The first calorie controlled experiment was made by Francis Benedict in 1917. All of the subjects in his experiment who lost weight gained the weight back within a few weeks — with extra pounds. A 2007 study that compared 80 studies and over 26,000 people, came to the same conclusion. Less calories do not translate into long-term weight-loss.
One of the reasons for this odd phenomenon is the body’s ability to self-adjust energy consumption. It may respond to starvation and endless treadmill hours by attempting to save energy in other body parts. It will lower the thyroid function (gland which regulates our metabolism, fat-burn, and hormonal production) to reduce calorie burn, which means it will store relatively more fat from the diminishing resources.
When we’re starving, biochemical sensors also deprioritize the reproductive system. In survival mode, the body hardly needs to get laid. That’s a bummer. In women, this means irregularity of periods, in men it’s an unstudied, or should we say unreported, phenomenon.
Then there is the brain, which is only two percent of total body weight but uses 20 percent of our so-called Base Metabolic Rate (the base energy you need when you have little or no activity, like watching Game of Thrones). Have you ever tried to focus on work, for example, while starving? You feel stupid, right? That’s what the brain does to you during a calorie-restricted diet.
The very last thing the body wants to give up is fat. It equates fat, however plentiful it may be, as your last energy reserves.
Bottom line: calorie restriction, even when combined with extensive exercise, marathon runs, and daily gym routines, is ultimately programmed to fail in calorie-focused weight-loss programs.
The Low-Fat Myth
“A calorie is not a calorie,” says Zoe Harcombe, a mathematician from Cambridge University, with a Ph.D. in Public Health Nutrition. Meaning, the type of foods we eat have a much bigger impact on our health and weight than the amount of food we eat.
Her book The Obesity Epidemic explains the primary reason why obesity rates have tripled since 1975. The main reason is the second law of thermodynamics that basically states that in an open system like the human body, energy gets used up to create energy. Because carbs only use six to eight percent of their total energy to make it available to the body (the comparable “thermic effect” of proteins is 25 to 30 percent), most of it (92 to 94 percent) becomes available as excess energy to convert into fat.
Combine the second law with the fact that the body needs different type of calories for different activities. The energy that comes from carbs does not get used by the Base Metabolic Rate, which only utilizes fats and proteins. Depending on your activity level, your BMR could be anywhere between 50 to 80 percent of your total energy needs. If you’re doing heavy exercise, like working out twice a day, it’s closer to 50 percent. A couch potato is closer to 80 percent (you can determine yours with the Harris-Benedict equation).
The key to understand is that carbs only serve the extra energy requirement over and beyond the BMR rate, with activity-related burn like excercise.
Dr. Harcombe demonstrates the difference between two women who both eat 2,000 calories worth per day. One winds up fat and sick, the other slim and healthy. How is that possible? The critical difference is the intake of carbs, which is set at 10 percent for the slim woman, and 55 percent for the fat woman. They are both doing light exercise, which means that they require approximately 500 calories above their average 1,500 calorie BMR rate (see TABLE).
Magically (and scientifically), the slim woman ends up burning her fat reservoirs, while the fat woman ends up storing more, with the identical calorie intake. The energetic difference between types of calories explains the bulk of the modern obesity phenomenon. Too many carbs, folks.
There is another reason we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about our weight-loss failure. When we eat the standard American “Cafeteria Diet,” (high in carbs) it creates a craving for more of the same junk in our brain’s reward center, like with crack cocaine. Even if we try to placate the chronic deficit of (BMR) calories by plunking down 5,000 calories worth of pizza and Coca Cola, we only keep growing the BMR deficit. All the carbs wind up as fat, while critical functions of the body and brain are compromised. That’s a big part of the fat and stupid causality cycle.
Add to this the fact that carbs like fructose, causes leptin resistance (the hormone that regulates your appetite), which makes you want more junk and also inhibits your ability to burn fat. That’s when the cycle becomes complete, and obesity a modern plague that is killing more than all the wars, famine, and genocides put together. Which is incredibly stupid.
The Saturated Fat Myth
According to Einstein’s relativity equation (E=MC2), if we could actually directly convert fat into energy, we’d blow up in a supernova. Fortunately, there is a much more benevolent way to burn fat in a natural metabolic process, which is … by eating more fat.
Trans fats are industrially engineered vegetable oils that exist in about 40 percent of the products on our supermarket shelves. By adding hydrogen atoms into vegetable oils we get trans fats like margarine. This shit will really kill you, mostly with a heart attack. Trans fats can be found in crackers, cereals, candies, baked goods, cookies, granola bars, chips, snack foods, salad dressings, fried foods, and most processed foods.
Saturated fats, in turn, can be found in foods like meat, egg yolks, dairy products, salmon, nuts, avocados, coconut oil and olive oil. Because of the confusion with trans fats, the Standard Diet recommendations instructed us to cut down on saturated fats, which are highly beneficial and essential to our health. Even Tim Ferris raves about the effects of saturated fats.
- Saturated fats reduce lipoproteins (correlated with heart disease).
- Increase HDL (aka the good cholesterol which, contrary to the cholesterol myth, is also essential to our health).
- Feed your brain (which is made out of fat and cholesterol) with its primary fuel, thereby also influencing proper functioning of metabolism by enhancing nerve signaling.
- Improve the immune system by fueling white blood cells that fight invaders like pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- Reprograms liver cells to dump their fat content.
Most importantly, when used in conjunction with low-carb intake, saturated fats help you burn off excess fat reservoirs, because it acts as a solid fuel for both BMR type energy and the energy you need for any extracurricular activities, like exercise, thinking, and procreation.
Imagine that. Losing fat without going supernova, or having to go Spartan with your diet or exercise.
We were not designed to be fat, ugly, and stupid. We are innately and perfectly well-oiled machines with an inbuilt self-healing mechanism, void of chronic illnesses and chiseled down to our prime potential. Once we realize how critical the type of nutrition we consume is, the path to reach our potential is much easier and much shorter than we imagined.
- Cut your carbs to minimum in every form, especially fructose
- Eliminate processed foods (not only do they contain trans fats, but industrial toxins)
- Drink a LOT of (pure water), never soda or sweet drinks.
- Go Miss Piggy on high-quality saturated fats (coconut oil, olive oils, fats in organic meats, eggs, organic butter, avocado, nuts, fish).
The Harcombe Diet is an excellent place to start. The Ketogenic diet is more extreme, but also kicks in faster (there are also multiple advantages of having ketone bodies in your system, especially your brain will dig it).
When nutritional myths are dissolved, we can finally start accepting ourselves. Other myths follow, as the fog clears. We discover facts about supplementation (yes we need it, and lots of it, because the food supply is scarce of nutritional value), exercise (you actually only need 20 minutes high-intensity 2-3 times per week), antibiotics (they spawn superbugs), other prescription drugs (they address symptoms, not causes), and industrial toxins (there is about 88,000 of them in our personal care products, air, food and water, and we need to eliminate a bulk of them in order to stay healthy). The list goes on but is easier to handle with a mindset that is oiled by saturated fats, instead of soda.
The right nutrition is the sine qua non for the body and mind we need to start tackling life’s more important questions. Like for example dark matter. What the hell is it, and why does it constitute 95 percent of the universe?