Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, 2

Some of you may remember a previous post, where I directed you to the website of Sam Feltham. Mr. Feltham conducted a little personal experiment whereby he over-ate an incredible number of calories worth of fat for twenty-one days straight. He did not eat carbohydrates, and he ate sufficient, but not excessive, protein. He changed nothing else about his lifestyle for those twenty-one days.

By “overeat” I mean that he consumed more than 5,700 calories a day.

The Gospel According to Nutritionist Fatphobes says that he should have put on more than 16 pounds. What actually happened is that his mean weight on day 21 (he weighed morning and evening and averaged the two, to try and get around the up-to-5 pound daily weight shift that everybody sees) was 2.8 pounds higher than on day 1. Not only that, but his waist shrunk by 1.18 inches.

The only thing Mr. Feltham did by overeating thousands and thousands and thousands of calories worth of fat was put on some lean muscle tissue.

Well he’s just finished another twenty-one day experiment, overeating around the same number of calories for the same number of days. He again changed nothing else about his lifestyle. He continued all his regular exercise. The only difference was that what he gorged himself on was carbs.

This time he gained 15.6 pounds and his waist size increased by 3.64 inches. That was the “official” measurement on the official last day. The next morning when he started day 1 of rehab, he was heavier and fatter around the waist than he’d ever been.

You can see his diet on line. It wasn’t Twinkies and Mars bars all day, either. He had bran flakes and skim milk for breakfast, with crumpets and strawberry jam. For a snack he had a mini cheese and tomato pizza, 0% fat yogurt (healthy!) and a can of Coke. For lunch it was two slices of “healthy” wholegrain bread and chicken tikki with a chocolate muffin. His second snack was cheese and onion chips, reduced fat! rice pudding and another can of Coke. Dinner was cheese and pepperoni lasagna and garlic bread. His final snack was a chocolate bar and more 0% fat yogurt.

Aside from the quantity, it sounds pretty much like a diet any nutritionist would be happy for you to eat. Maybe make that Coke diet, they’d tell you, but all that reduced fat rice and whole grain bread and 0% yogurt? HEALTHY!

To undo the damage he’s done to himself with all that skim milk and bran flakes, Mr. Feltham has returned to a diet much like his original experiment, only without overeating. That means lots of eggs, bacon, cream, cheese, fish, nuts, spinach, avocados and lamb chops. He’s already quite a few days into his rehab diet and has reported three important things. At least I consider them important:

1. He started losing weight almost immediately, even though eating 3,600 calories a day.
2. He started losing circumference almost immediately, even though eating 3,600 calories a day.

3. He started having strong sugar cravings about 4 days in.

It’s pretty amazing, really. Five days into recovery, on a very calorically generous diet full of fat, he was already down five pounds and 1.2 inches. Eleven days in and he is down ten pounds and 2.4 inches.

And I find the sugar craving very interesting. He didn’t eat all that much sugar on his carbo-gorge. I mean, you and I know that all the bread and pasta he ate was just sugar in disguise, but compared to the average American “healthy” diet recommendations it wasn’t bad at all. When he started, he never reported struggling with terrible cravings for fat. Yet four days into this rehab, and he’s fighting cravings for sugar.

My favorite thing so far has been to see people try to explain this. Back when he failed to put on any weight eating fat, there were a few people trying to explain that “obviously” Mr. Feltham had a superfast metabolism and had underestimated his caloric needs and needed the 5,800 calories he was eating each day.

How do these people not fall down more?

That was insanity. If Mr. Feltham needed 5,800 calories a day, how is it that he hadn’t wasted away to nothing in all those years before the experiment when he ate 2500 fewer calories a day? That same insanity is shot down again here: if Mr. Feltham had a superfast metabolism that needed 5,800+ calories a day, how is it that he gained almost 16 pounds on a 5,400 calorie diet full of healthy whole grains?

That sound you hear is me tearing my hair out. The tearing isn’t all that loud, but the screaming can be.


Plato says he’s hungry

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