Saturday, April 28, 2012

OBESITY: My Unexpected Final Conclusion On The Cause And Cure

I would like to thank Brad Pilon for his wonderful book EatStop Eat.  It is full of very good information.  I do not believe that his method is complete or useful for someone who is obese, but I do recommend reading it for some excellent background on this topic.  It is not necessary to buy it, but it helps dispel some myths of what causes us to get fat.

Two more books that I think have very important information (but I believe ultimately veer off course) are Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes and The Gabriel Method by Jon Gabriel.

I have never seen or read of someone explaining the cause and cure for obesity in a USEFUL way.  But the cause and cure for obesity is actually pretty simple.  Here is why it was such a puzzle to me.

We have two cats.  The older one is named Alex.  He also has two nicknames.  We refer to him as Baby and (ironically) The Old Man.  He is a purebred Tonkinese and is lean.  I would say he is even a bit small for an adult cat.

The second cat is Katie.  She was born on a farm.  She is a combination of Calico and Tabby.  She is overweight.

We have raised both of these cats since they were kittens.  Now how is it that one cat is obese and the other one is not?  Is it due to breeding?  Is it due to the TYPE of food we feed them?  Does one cat just have no sense of self-control?  Is the obese cat just lazy?  Keep in mind that I have NEVER heard a satisfactory explanation for this.

What about children?  How is it that CHILDREN become obese?  Is it from FRUCTOSE?  Is it from eating too many carbohydrates?  Is it from a lack of nutrient dense foods?  Are obese children just lazy?

Here was another puzzle.  Why is it that someone who eats their native diet comes to a Western country and suddenly becomes obese and begins to suffer western diseases associated with obesity?  Were their native foods healthier?  Are Western foods making us obese?  Did they just become lazy in our society?

How about this puzzle.  How is it that a person can weigh 325 lbs and MAINTAIN that weight?  What causes that phenomena (set-point)?  Is there some magic elixir to fix it?  Is it a brain defect?  Did that fat person who is so out of control as to have become obese suddenly become able to count calories like a savant?  Why is it that people GAIN weight after losing it?

And why is it that there was a sudden alarming rise in obesity rates in the United States?  Was it due to the new low-fat diet recommendations?   Was it the rise in usage of high fructose corn syrup or high polyunsaturated fatty acids?  Was it an increase of fast food restaurants?  Did we suddenly become lazy?

What the hell is causing all of this obesity?  Is it caused by eating too many carbohydrates?  Eating too much fat?  Eating too much protein?  Too much laziness?

The solution to all of this obesity is very simple and unexpected.  But first let me explain how the body gains fat.

When you eat a meal, the food in your stomach raises your insulin level.  Insulin is a hormone that causes us to store fat and stop burning it.  While your insulin level is jacked up, you are using carbohydrates OR proteins for energy.  When your insulin level drops low enough, you begin burning fat.  Very simple.

I’m going to give you a rule of thumb that will help you understand obesity better:


It doesn’t matter what kind of a diet you follow; low-carb, low-fat, raw vegan, low-calorie, etc.  Food (carbohydrates OR proteins) make your insulin levels rise.  You will not burn fat until your insulin levels drop low enough to allow it.  The longer you wait to eat while your insulin levels are low, the more fat you will burn.


So why is one of our cats obese and the other isn’t?  Baby and Katie had a pecking order at dinner time.  Baby would not eat until Katie had eaten.  Why, I don’t know.  It’s a cat thing.  We would put out a can of cat food for the cats once a day.  We also had some dry cat food out at all times, but Baby doesn’t like dry food.  So here is why Katie got fat:

Katie can eat whenever she gets hungry.  Baby doesn’t eat dry food so he will only eat when we put canned food out ONCE a day.

From this I concluded that people and animals can feel hunger before their insulin levels drop low enough to burn fat. 

So what caused the sudden rise in obesity in the United States?  The solution is surprising.

In the 1960s there was a huge counter-culture revolution going on.  Traditions of all kinds were breaking down or changing.  By the 1970s divorce began to skyrocket.  Families used to sit down and eat meals together.  Suddenly mothers were working and kids were responsible for getting their own food.  So what does a person do when there is no structured meal time?  They get something to eat when they are HUNGRY!  But hunger can happen before insulin levels sufficiently drop.

There used to be a common admonition said by mothers all over the U.S.  “Don’t eat now, you’ll spoil your appetite!”  This makes no sense to someone who eats whenever they get hungry.  The practice of eating discrete meals is a lost tradition.  It is vital to make meals discrete to give time for insulin levels to drop and body fat to be maintained at a more optimal level.  Without discrete meals, eating is dictated by hunger and hunger can happen before insulin levels drop enough to burn fat.

When people come to a western country and abandon their discrete meals and eat ad libitum, they quickly get fat and all of the associated pathologies that go with it.  If children are fed whenever they want instead of at regular discrete meals, they too will pack on the weight.

There is no factor that causes obesity more than eating ad libitum.  To prevent obesity, meals must be made discrete.  Desserts can be eaten with meals, but not between meals.  Soda pop can be consumed with a meal, but not between meals.  Snack foods can be consumed with a meal, but not between meals.  It is important to build an appetite for your next meal.

An appetite has two parts:

ONE—You get hungry.

TWO—Your stomach is empty.


An empty stomach is a much better guide to tell you when to eat than merely being hungry.  You can easily get hungry after eating a meal by an array of triggers.  Images of food, thoughts of food, smells of food, etc. all can trigger hunger.  But hunger should ONLY be satisfied at meal time and only when the appetite is built and the stomach feels empty.


Obesity is not caused by eating sweet foods, fatty foods, high protein foods, or any number of other demonizations.  Obesity is caused by:


So eat your meals, enjoy your food, and allow your body time to resolve its obesity.

Answers to the questions:

What caused one cat to get fat and the other to not get fat?  One cat ate ad libitum, the other cat ate discrete meals.

What causes childhood obesity?  Eating ad libitum.  Children should be allowed to eat until their appetite is satisfied, but only at discrete meal times.

Why do people gain weight after moving to a Western culture from their native culture?  They begin eating ad libitum and abandon their discrete meals.

How is it that an obese person can maintain their weight?  When a person goes through a period of ad libitum eating they will gain weight.  When the ad libitum period turns into more discrete meals then weight becomes maintained.  To lose weight requires longer periods between meals.

What is causing all of the obesity in the United States?  It is simply ad libitum eating.  Returning to discrete meals will prevent obesity.  Allowing longer periods between meals will reverse obesity.

A final word on physical activity.  Physical activity has NOTHING to do with obesity, unless it gets you out of the kitchen and away from food long enough.  You cannot burn fat faster by physical activity.  Remember that the proteins in your body have calories, too.  There is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that physical activity helps reduce body fat.  Bodybuilders have the largest muscles of ALL people and they have to fight body fat just like the rest of us.




  1. "There is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that physical activity helps reduce body fat."
    Every Dog Has His Day: Dr. Oz Was Right, Exercise Does Not "Just Make You Hungry", But Reduces Energy Intake!

    1. Can exercise reduce appetite? Yes, but exercise itself does not reduce body fat.

    2. Here is a quote from the Discussion section of your study:
      "However, these findings are not unequivocal because other investigators reported increased weight loss (38) and decreased loss of FFM (8, 9, 39) for diet and endurance exercise compared with diet alone."

    3. Cold fusion was both verified and falsified. The scientific consensus is (if I'm not mistaken) that there is no scientific evidence for cold fusion.

      So if exercise reduces body fat is both verified and falsified. To be consistent, what should the scientific consensus be?

      Clearly we can rule out resistance training as a cause of leanness. There are abundant examples of people with hypertrophied muscles simultaneous with lots of body fat.

      That would leave endurance/cardio trainers. The image of a lean long distance runner is practically an archetype. Endurance/cardio training is not a quick and dirty process like resistance training. It takes time. Time that could be used to eat some food and put on body fat.

      Luckily we have physics to help us. The amount of energy expended when doing endurance/cardio can be estimated to a fairly accurate range. A simple sum of all of the estimated expenditure of energy can be calculated and the amount of energy over a given period of time can be equated to an amount of body fat. With all other things being equal, body fat loss can be estimated and verified over time.

      But the study showed the energy didn't come from fat. There must be an accounting for the extra energy expended, but there isn't one. When science finds out where the energy came from then we will have our evidence.

      However, even if the extra energy expenditure was discovered to reduce some body fat that would not explain the sudden obesity epidemic in the U.S., childhood obesity, why my cat was obese (who the hell exercises their cat?), or why an obese person can be sedentary and maintain their body fat percentage without gaining weight.

      Some people love exercise and believe it improves health (like the late Jim Fixx who died at age 52 while running). I believe it may be useful for certain kinds of rehabilitation or preparing for a physical event, but is otherwise unnecessary and may even be dangerous.

      When we hear a news story about a teenage athlete who dies of a heart attack, we hardly notice any more. We chalk it up to a genetic defect. Still waiting on that news story of the teenage slacker who died of a heart attack while playing video games. Maybe there are more teenage athletes than slackers?

    4. Great article - would the reason be muscle burning more calories than fat in the case of the exercise?
      I have a similar cat issue - let us call them 'muscle' and 'brains' for the sake of brevity.
      Brains sleeps most of the time and will eat only meat and in the brief period awake is constantly hatching fiendish plans to steal food - sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't
      Muscle is out most of the time - he requests biscuits between meals but has no urge whatsoever to steal and is twice the size of Brains, although Brains is certainly faster.
      Could it not just be that the slow carb hypothesis is correct - out of the two of them she is the binge eater when she is successful in plundering the food locker, whereas he regularly refuses treats if he is full?

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Christopher,

      I appreciate the comment. It is true that dieting can cause weight loss as can surgically removing body fat. But it would be absurd if someone were to conclude that weight gain is due to underdieting or undersurgery. So there must be a cause to the rise in obesity. I've concluded that the cause is ad libitum eating.

      I further back that up with evidence not only from my own observations, but also from scientific evidence. I'm not sure what exactly you are disagreeing with.

      The proven fact that elevated insulin prevents burning body fat?

      The proven fact that eating carbohydrates and proteins elevate insulin in non-diabetics?

      The proven fact that consuming calories slows down fat loss?

      Which of these proven facts do you disagree with?

      Also, I have no marketing plans for some sort of related product or book. Google does not even allow me to generate ad revenue from my blog. There is a link to "Eat Stop Eat" at the beginning of the article which I will make a commission on if one purchases the book. But there is no need to purchase the book.

      It is disturbing to see a trend in people who equate eating a meal to "binging". A meal is an amount of food and drink consumed in a discrete period of time (usually an hour or less). Binging is consuming calories without such constraints.

      The fact that you didn't seem to know that difference probably explains your weight.

      Also, it is elementary to begin a sentence with a capital letter. So it is unfortunate that you said:

      "once again, this has been a message from someone smarter than you."

    8. I had way to much to drink last night i apologize!

    9. The over drinking probably is a factor in my weight as well.. :D I truly am sorry about that post ill remove it if I can. I can only remember typing about 2/3 of it. After taking a non-intoxicated look at this I can see why you would lose weight by eating this way. Makes a lot of sense.

  2. Endurance Athletes: No Immunity from Heart Disease

    Fatmax: A New Concept to Optimize Fat Oxidation During Exercise?

    A study using the Fatmax concept:

  3. I really enjoyed this article. I am going to give it a try. I will let you know how I do.

  4. I just found out today that scientists are discovering that my conclusion is probably correct.

  5. On the island of Kitava they do not suffer from obesity. They eat two basic meals per day, breakfast and dinner. Sometimes, but not always, they might have some fruit for a light lunch. Eating two meals a day is probably ideal and allows enough time for insulin levels to drop low enough between meals so that fat can be burned.

    My guess is that if someone were to simply switch to eating two meals per day spread far enough apart, then they would see their body fat reduce over time to a more ideal level. From my personal experience it goes down slowly but at least it goes DOWN. The modest effort involved is simply waiting to eat until meal time.

  6. I found your "theory" to be interesting. In fact, I'm considering testing it to see if there is any validity to it. The problem I have is that you take an interesting and possibly plausible theory and end up making what I can only label (with all due respect) as an asinine statement.

    I'm interested in finding out where you got your information from, specifically your statement that there is "NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that physical activity helps reduce body fat." Especially WHEN 'scientific evidence' was later PRESENTED (Some Evidence negates the term 'No Evidence') in the comments section of this very article, you went on to say, "Cold fusion was both verified and falsified...So if exercise reduces body fat is both verified and falsified. To be consistent, what should the scientific consensus be?"

    By the very nature of your response, you acknowledged that 'Scientific Evidence' does in fact exist, though some studies would disagree. Your statement of scientific evidence not existing is a misnomer. At best, you can say that there is conflicting scientific evidence as to whether physical activity helps reduce body fat.

    I also take umbrage with your assertion that "Bodybuilders have the largest muscles of ALL people and they have to fight body fat just like the rest of us."

    My good friend Ernie is a bodybuilder. In preparing for South Texas Classic recently, he went from 13% body fat (off season) to below 5%. He dropped 8% in a matter of 30 days, by eating 6 meals a day. I, on the other hand, am 340 pounds. It took me 4 months to drop 2.3% body fat, eating between 2 and 4 meals a day. Considering I eat substantially fewer meals, and in turn go "Longer between meals" as your theory suggest, how is that the Bodybuilder was able to lose so much more body fat in a substantially shorter period, doing the exact opposite of what you suggest? EITHER, Bodybuilders in fact DO NOT fight fat "like the rest of us," or your theory is nonsense. Which one is it?

    I'm interested in what your meal schedule might be. Considering I gained over 150 pounds in the last 5 years, after taking a job that led me to eat 1 to 2 meals a day (Never breakfast, rarely lunch, usually only dinner), where do you suggest I go from there? Shall I eat once every 2 days, or 3? Is that long enough? At what insulin level does the body go from fat storing to fat losing? I ask because for years I was Hypoglycemic. Yet still I gained weight. A year ago I was diagnosed Diabetic. Now with blood sugar consistently elevated (140-170 average)I have actually maintained my weight and even lost 20 pounds. Oddly enough, the only thing that has effectively dropped my insulin levels? Exercise. 1 hour of cardio will drop my blood sugar from 160 to 70. Actos and Metformin combined can't do that.

    So, should your theory be correct; that it is low insulin levels that causes fat loss, and Physical Exercise causes insulin levels to drop, shouldn't that put the kibosh to your ridiculous statement that Physical Exercise doesn't cause fat loss?

  7. Physical activity can increase insulin sensitivity, but that does not translate to weight loss. The study showing exercise has no effect on weight loss is here:

    I concede that my saying "there is no scientific evidence" is incorrect. It is more accurate for me to say that there is scientific evidence that exercise does not cause fat loss.

    I also would have been more accurate to say "weight lifters" rather than "bodybuilders". Bodybuilders have to fight fat, but usually stay fairly lean even in the off season. Weight lifters have no such constraints and can often have thick fat reserves. In either case body fat is not reduced simply because of hypertrophied muscles.

    Hypoglycemia and diabetes are pathologies that are beyond the scope of what I am suggesting. Lowering insulin is required to reverse obesity. It is important to not equate blood sugar with insulin, especially when there is clear dysfunction.

    I am currently eating twice a day. I am performing an experiment on myself that will be ongoing through August this year. You can follow along at this website address:

  8. Charles, I'm reading your Set Point Theory Experiment with great interest... thank you for sharing!

  9. I am reluctant to admit it but you're right. I am reluctant because it almost sounds like you're advocating starvation (I said almost). I almost put a call in to my doctor because I've been gaining weight rapidly in a short amount of time without any idea why. It's true when I joined Nutrisystem and had a regimented diet, I lost weight. When I worked and had a scheduled lunch hour, I lost weight. This summer Ive been crazy with my daughter running errands endlessly and eating whenever I can. Now I'm fat. Time to go back to regimented!

  10. Do you drink water between meals, or fast completely?

  11. Here is my newest experiment. I'll be doing time restricted eating with reduced fructose exposure.

  12. There are a ridiculous amount of conflicting theories when it comes to weight loss, nutrition, and exercise. How is anyone supposed to keep track? Yes, there evidence that supports your theory. There is evidence that refutes it as well. But no more or less in either direction than any other theory. How confusing.

    Anyway, if you haven't already, look into Intermittent Fasting. Usually goes along with the Paleo or Primal lifestyle. More interesting stuff.

  13. Haha. exercise increases core temperature and muscles need energy to repair, the result is an increased bmr, meaning if you eat the same then you lose weight. "Exercise makes you hungry" Why because the drop in insulin. Plus, it takes days to create enough ketones to effectively aid in ridding the blood of fatty acids. Tell me which part you do not believe and I'll link government studies

  14. Great article. I am a diabetic and it is difficult for me not to eat when I feel hungry as I get very ill without food. I have lost 20 pounds in the past few months by reducing the amount of food I eat (smaller portions) but still eat when I get hungry. How do I lengthen the time between meals and not get ill? Surely my insulin level is out of whack due to the disease.

  15. Insulin works to lower blood sugar. Carbohydrates not proteins are the only foods that result in any significant rise in blood sugar that would require insulin to be secreted.

  16. I completely disagree with this. They are basing this theory on one nonscientific observation and one pair of cats. I only eat 3 meals a day, sometimes fewer, my family usually ate together unless dad was away on business (infrequently) and we always had good, nutritious food - the same as I eat now. Only I have struggled with weight my entire life - UNTIL I stopped eating bread, starch, pasta, noodles, sweets, anything with sugar, sugary fruits, fruit juices, etc. Then I dropped 68 lbs. in 9 months. As soon as I started eating that again (one single personal-size 6" pizza triggered it) the weight came back, even though I was running and playing soccer at least 3x per week, and working out in the pool at least once a week, and riding my bike once a week for 30 miles (yes, miles - not minutes). So, you can't substantiate this theory on a single instance when it's really an issue of what people eat. Even the things we think are "healthy" are mostly crap. I feel much better when I go to a restaurant that I know uses all fresh food rather than one of the chain restaurants where most of their food, though it looks fresh, is either frozen or processed.

  17. This is rediculous. There is amazing amounts of scientific evidence to back all of the above comments about things that you claim are not backed. Case and point look at the army medical research. They exhausted this subject. I agree that regular meals encourages effective use of that nutrition. But there is extensive research into multiple (6-10) meals a day causing weight loss (this is mostly due to the same effect you claim eating less causes). There is also a ton of research into large periods of time between meals causes the body to store more fat. This is commonly refered to as the survival mode or winter storage. Now I am not pro-'grazing' but what you are talking about only works to a certain point. Eating regularly, low calorie density, high protein/fiber meals almost guarentee you can't gain weight. By the way, all this hubbub about high levels of insulin preventing fat burning has less to do with insulin and more to do with other hormones. Insulin affects sugar transport into cells. If you want to be more correct I would say blood sugar content. Once your the sugar in your blood (from a meal) is brought into the cells then your body reacts by changing from burning carbs to changing fat to sugars and burning that. IF your meal has less carbs then your body finishes burning that quicker and begins the fat burning. If your exercise alot and your standing metabolic rate is higher then you burn blood sugar even faster and are spending more time burning fat. Glucagon is the hormone you should read up on. It is what causes glycogen to be broken down into glucose and sent to the blood for burning. No matter what you eat, if it is used for energy, it has to be converted to glucose at some point. That is another reason why fat and carbs are causing fat storage and protein and other complex foods cause less fat. It takes more effect to process complex foods into glucose than foods that are one or two steps from being energy storage. Please, the last thing I want to leave you with is the dangerous nature of this article. People who don't read the whole thing could mistake it as eat nothing and lose weight. Not to mention all the diabetics that came to this page from google and are now very confused.

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  19. Replies
    1. It's true, I lost weight (30 lbs) when I literally stopped eating. I was hungry all the time. I have kept that weight off. I went down 4 dress sizes from losing those 30 lbs. But I have since gone down an additional 2 dress sizes and haven't lost a single pound. That was from weight-bearing and cardio exercise. My thighs, hips and butt are significantly smaller from exercise, not from losing weight. The deal is this, stop eating so damn much. Lose some weight. Then exercise really hard to get the figure you want. Don't call it a diet. Just don't eat as much. It's really, really hard to do. We are all just too afraid of feeling uncomfortable when we start feeling hungry. And our bodies are made for physical activity. There's no going around that. I am a stroke survivor and middle-aged. If I can do it, anyone can. But don't fool yourself by saying physical activity doesn't help. It does.

  20. I eat breakfast at 7am and lunch at 12 and dinner at 5pm and I gained weight and am not losing weight. When much comes I am very hungry. Am I not waiting long enough in between? And I have a friend who exercises alot and does not care about her eating habits and she lost a lot of weight by excersice alone. I'm very confused, please explain. I don't want to exercise and eat right if you say it makes no difference. And what about the theory that eating 5-6 small meals keeps your metabolism going which burns fat?

  21. Samantha has a good question. In addition, when it comes to eating calories and burning them it is essential mathematics. 1+1 will always equal two and this rule can also be applied by eating less (count calories) and incorporating exercise to burn additional calories. By counting calories based on your own specific needs weight loss is inevitable. So while some may be reluctant to accept your theory right away there is a sure fire way to lose weight. Consume fewer calories and stay active. Unfortunately, our culture is living in an “Instant Age” and people would rather look for shortcuts and miracle pills than work hard for the results they are looking for. Having said that, I believe your theory is just another shortcut that will work for some, but not for others.

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  25. I believe this blog is non-sense, I have a very good experience in controlling my weight by adding up frequent meals to my schedule. more importantly, I have always gained weight when I eat less no. of meals (especially when I run busy).

    1. The blog is not correct and I don't keep up with it. Obesity is caused by something else.