Tara Parker-Pope, “The Fat Trap” and the Shangri-La Diet

Years ago I had lunch with a woman whose father ran a chain of weight-loss clinics. They were very successful and he was often invited to give talks. He never accepted these invitations, his daughter said, because he was seriously overweight — like 300 pounds.

I was reminded of this by Tara Parker-Pope’s recent New York Times Magazine article “The Fat Trap”. Parker-Pope tells us she is “at least 60 pounds” overweight, a bit of brave honesty for which I give her credit. I give her less credit for unskeptically quoting expert after expert — her article is essentially a review of expert opinion. If these experts are as wonderful and accurate as she says (by repeating their ideas), why is she 60 pounds overweight?

She never answers this question. She doesn’t even seem to ask it. However, someone else asks it. “The Fat Trap” includes this:

In most modern cultures  . . . to be fat is to be perceived as weak-willed and lazy. It’s also just embarrassing. Once, at a party, I met a well-respected writer who knew my work as a health writer. “You’re not at all what I expected,” she said, eyes widening. The man I was dating, perhaps trying to help, finished the thought. “You thought she’d be thinner, right?” he said. I wanted to disappear, but the woman was gracious. “No,” she said, casting a glare at the man and reaching to warmly shake my hand. “I thought you’d be older.”

I already knew it was “just embarrassing” to be fat. What’s interesting is that the story that follows this unremarkable idea doesn’t support it.  Her date wasn’t saying she’s fat. Sixty pounds overweight is not surprisingly fat. The “well-respected writer” can’t possibly have been surprised simply by that. Her date knows this. He’s bringing up something that puzzles him (“if you know so much about health, why are you fat?”), a reasonable question. By “you thought she’d be thinner, right?” he means “you thought, because of her job, she’d be thinner, right?” Parker-Pope and her editor don’t notice this.

Parker-Pope continued to reshape reality in an interview she gave, which included the following:

Q. What were your hopes in writing “The Fat Trap”?
A. My hope was that people would leave the article feeling informed and empowered. . . . [I got the story idea talking] with Dr. Michael Rosenbaum at Columbia about the science of weight loss. . . .  [He told me what dieters already know:] that most people who are fat, are going to stay fat. . . . The truth is: Once you’ve gained weight, it’s really, really hard for most people to lose weight and keep it off.

Is she sure this “truth” is empowering? To me it sounds discouraging.

The speed of the obesity epidemic — 30 years ago, Americans were much thinner — implies that the obesity epidemic has an environmental cause. Genes don’t change that fast. Something about the environment — something that controls weight — has changed. Not exercise. Thirty years ago, Americans probably exercised less than now. It is likely that something they ate kept them thin, without trying. Parker-Pope fails to understand this. Or at least failed to ask the experts she spoke to about it. What about the environment has changed? she should have asked. If I were her, I’d be angry. The obesity epidemic is 30 years old! Thirty f—ing years! Why is it taking so long to figure out the cause?

The length of the obesity epidemic reflects research failure. Against her own self-interest, she doesn’t grasp this. At the end of “The Fat Trap”, like a brainwashing victim,  she says:

I do, ultimately, blame myself for allowing my weight to get out of control.

I disagree. She should not blame herself for not knowing how to stay thin — hardly anyone knows. No, her failure is journalistic: (a) not grasping that the obesity epidemic must be due to changes in what we eat (lots of people understand this), (b) not grasping this means there must be a way to be almost effortlessly thin (in the 1970s  people were much thinner with little effort), and, above all, (c) not confronting the experts she interviews. Her insensitive date spoke an uncomfortable truth. Now she is failing to ask uncomfortable questions (why is it taking so long?) Much worse.

My theory of weight control says the crucial environmental change that caused the obesity epidemic was increased consumption of foods that produce very strong (= very fattening) smell-calorie associations. To produce a very strong smell-calorie association, a food must (a) have a strong smell (a strong “flavor”), (b) have quickly digested calories (e.g., a high glycemic index), and (c) have exactly the same smell each time. All three features, especially the third, are much more true of factory food, fast food, and junk food than of handmade food. Typical food processing almost always increases flavor (e.g., add spices) and speeds digestion (e.g., cooking). Factory and chain restaurant food processing produces much less variable flavor than ordinary human food processing. Exactly when the obesity epidemic started, there was a big shift toward factory and chain restaurant food. One reason was microwave ovens. Microwave entrees taste exactly the same each time. Another reason was an increase in eating at chain restaurants. The Shangri-La Diet goes into more detail.

At the end of “The Fat Trap” is this:

All the evidence suggests that it’s going to be very, very difficult for me to reduce my weight permanently.

No, not all the evidence. Alex Chernavsky used the Shangri-La Diet to lose 25 pounds and has kept it off easily and apparently permanently.

35 Responses to “Tara Parker-Pope, “The Fat Trap” and the Shangri-La Diet”

  1. john Says:

    Hi Seth,

    I think it’s unlikely that obese people ever break free of the standard gluttony-sloth idea. You probably have a similar proportion of people “breaking free” of the “saturated fat ‘clogs’ your arteries” idea. Most people are unquestioning followers of authority and don’t have experience, or maybe even capability, in thinking scientifically. I have literally presented papers to people to support an idea, but they simply re-tell me what [Dr Oz] has said. They don’t register the science as evidence; I think they consider differing ideas as opinions, which they technically are not. I don’t know how we can change that sort of culture.

    Off topic a bit, did you have specfic reasons for giving up rice, bread, and potatoes? Was is low carb self-experimentation that brought you to that (with all carb sources having negative effects), or was it an idea based on readings, etc, and you found it worked well?

  2. MikeW Says:

    TPP’s “very, very difficult” comment isn’t surprising – the one successful longterm dieter she profiles in that article is a hopelessly obsessed calorie-counter. Daily food diary for 5 years, weighing all her food, researching restaurant menus online every time she eats out, exercising 100-120 minutes every day to burn exactly 500 calories. I’m glad it works for her, but who wants to live like that?

    Whether it’s SLD, Paleo, Atkins, whatever – I’m sure there are lots of folks out there who have achieved longterm weight loss by adopting simple, easy-to-follow rules. If Ms. Parker-Pope had focused on one of those success stories, maybe she wouldn’t have given herself such a gloomy prognosis.

  3. tom Says:

    I know this isn’t Seth’s or Parker-Pope’s focus, but imagine if getting fat once really does re-set your body to make you fat for life, as the article seems to say.

    There have been so many news stories about girls/women with anorexia where the author blames American culture for being obsessed with keeping them thin. But if the biggest cause of life-long fatness is simply getting fat once, then maybe family/cultural disapproval of fatness serves an important function.

  4. charlie Says:

    The article set itself up to fail — looked at a crash diet program. I’m not ven sure the program was meant to loose weight – it was a research program. Is anyone suprised that a bunch of fatties fed mininal protein shakes for six week regain their weight?

    The real point is does something happen to fat people? answer — probbaly yes.

    But is it hard to loose weight? No. Is is hard to keep that weight off — well, it requires some changes.

  5. Tim Beneke Says:

    Using various applications of Seth’s core ideas I can report that I’ve lost 33 pounds and kept them off for 11 years, about 12% of my body weight. And even this is a very misleading statement because for roughly 10 of those 11 years I had lost more than 50 pounds and kept them off. And about 5 of those years I had lost more than 70 pounds. For 2, about 90. For 1, about 100.

    I’m currently about 70 pounds lighter than I was when I started applying Seth’s ideas — from 280 in November 1999, to 210 or so now — 25% weight loss. And I’m working hard to get thin again…

    Obviously it’s a long story. The key point is that the flavor environment profoundly influences hunger and it’s relatively easy to stay lighter if you are not hungry — assuming you do not eat when you are not hungry. If you eat when not hungry, it’s probably impossible to lose weight long term.

    One thing I would add: It’s my distinct impression that the more nutritious the food you consume, the less hunger you will have, so a 1000 calories of poor nutrition should leave you hungrier than a 1000 calories of good nutrition. Last time I checked a few years ago — there seemed to be little scientific research on this, something I found strange.

    Also, in trying to lose weight and keep it off, it’s very easy to confuse bad method with weakness of will. You need both willingness to do the work, plus a good method. Before encountering Seth’s ideas, I was very good at heroically enduring hunger to lose weight — and inevitably gained it back and then some. Strong will is not enough if the method is bad.

    I’m hopeful — perhaps naively so — that eventually truth will out and Seth’s discoveries about weight loss will be widely recognized and accepted. It’s depressing that the Times is running articles by respected health journalists who are recycling old ideas that have obviously failed. Basic science: if you make causal claims, you need to be able to accurately predict something. If you claim to know what can cause people to permanently lose weight, you need to be able to show people permanently losing weight with your methods.

  6. Glen Raphael Says:

    All the evidence suggests that it’s going to be very, very difficult for me to reduce my weight permanently.
    No, not all the evidence. Alex Chernavsky used the Shangri-La Diet to lose 25 pounds and has kept it off easily and apparently permanently.
    </blockquote

    Assuming by "reduce my weight permanently" she means reduce it to a socially-acceptable “normal” weight level, SLD doesn’t really answer to that. Yes, SLD clearly helps some people lose some weight but what percentage of SLD-ers get from “very overweight” to near their “goal” weight? What percentage don’t find it “very very difficult” to reach their goals at all, much less to do so “permanently”?

    SLD is arguably a step in a better direction, but it’s not a complete solution. It still takes willpower to stick with SLD and even if you do, the effectiveness varies. If there’s really a way to get and stay “effortlessly thin” it probably hasn’t been found yet.

  7. dearieme Says:

    Is there a rational way to determine a sensible target that is practical for a particular individual? Not just on grounds of classification variables – age, sex, race, and so on – but for that specific individual?

  8. Cliff Clayton Says:

    I am male. At 49 I discovered, to my horror, I weighed 205lbs. I was 165 all through high school. I understood nothing about diets or weight loss then, but in less than two years I lost 35lbs by mainly starving myself. At that point I decided to get in shape too, so now I ride a bike through the hills of PA at 17mph average and lift weights in the winter. I eat low carb, hi fat, hi protein, I am never hungry unless I do a fast. I hit a low of 165 late fall when I’m riding long and hard (I do 4-5000 miles a year), and hit 175 in the winter when I bench 1rep max of 200lbs. I am 58 now. I don’t weigh myself any longer.

    My asthmatic wife would love to lose 25lbs. We have two children. She eats excellent, no crap, cakes, pies, fast food, chips, no crap. IE we eat basically the same. She does no exercise to speak of (walking) but she is not sedentary or lazy. She is very active until she crashes at 8pm.

    Each of us seem to have reached a weight that we can’t get below.

    From my experience (n=2) low carb takes off weight, exercise keeps it off. With that said, I’ll let you know how that works out when I’m 68. I tell anyone who asks:
    “Don’t eat white stuff (flour, sugar, milk) and do something fun that sends your heart rate to your max as often and for as long you can stand it, everyday if possible.

  9. Seth Roberts Says:

    did you have specfic reasons for giving up rice, bread, and potatoes? Was is low carb self-experimentation that brought you to that (with all carb sources having negative effects), or was it an idea based on readings, etc, and you found it worked well?

    I gave them up because they have a high glycemic index. I found that substituting a low-glycemic-index food for higher-glycemic-index foods led to easy weight loss. As my weight-loss theory predicted. My theory was based on both self-experimentation and lots of reading.

    my theory:
    http://sethroberts.net/about/whatmakesfoodfattening.pdf

    related self-experimentation:
    http://escholarship.org/uc/item/2xc2h866

  10. Sara Says:

    I wrote an undergraduate paper on the FTO gene and the way it is reported in the media. I looked at the research behind the media reportage and it just wasn’t as conclusive as what the media made out. But, if the media reported the equally correct headline ‘Modern life proves fattening for 33% of the population’ where would this lead? ‘Science’ magazine can’t publish that. Funding bodies aren’t interested in studying aspects of society – they want to find ‘the gene’ and develop an expensive drug to turn it off.

    In my case, dealing with obesity required a holistic approach and took a really long time. I can’t even say how I did it because it was so haphazard – you couldn’t put it into a book. But somehow now I’m thin and it’s easy to stay that way. I wish I could pinpoint the exact thing or things I did that turned off my appetite. I don’t know if was psychological or physical, but I worked on both aspects. It is possible to lose weight and keep it off, I’ve done it, but I couldn’t really say how.

  11. Robbo Says:

    I shed c 45 lbs about seven years ago, and have kept it off since, using Atkins / Paleo / LCHF. It was never very hard, but I do take a little care not to get into a cinnamon bun habit. In my view Tara’s problem is that she is following the wrong advice. This usually has the effect of making even simple things dificult. If I was being unkind, I would ask why she hasn’t figured out that she has been following the wrong course and tried a different one (or two, or three,). And she’s a journalist !

  12. Seth Roberts Says:

    In my view Tara’s problem is that she is following the wrong advice.

    I agree. Another way to put it is: Experts are giving her the wrong advice.

  13. tom Says:

    But Seth, do you believe in the ‘re-set’ idea? Do you think set points change and that it’s much easier to stay thin if you don’t let yourself get fat to begin with?

  14. Seth Roberts Says:

    I believe set points change, yes. I believe they are changing all the time — going down between meals and up during meals. I believe your set point depends on the food you eat (it also depends on other things, too). I don’t know what the “re-set idea” is.

  15. Tom Says:

    I feel bad for her. It’s hard to question authority(-ies) when you’re on a first-name basis with all the key ones. (As she is by virtue of her position.)

    I wonder if she’s ever read Good Calories, Bad Calories. But I don’t doubt that she’s talked to both Dean Ornish and Mehmet Oz about how wrong Taubes is.

  16. Kevin Says:

    disagree. She should not blame herself for not knowing how to stay thin — hardly anyone knows.

    This is completely false. Everyone knows how to lose weight. Eat less. It just takes discipline so no one wants to do it. Before I accepted this simple truth – that it does not matter what I eat, provided I eat less of it – I was struggling with diets (paleo, low carb, you name it) and was chronically fat. Simply accepting the disagreeable and unwelcome truth that I need to eat LESS (in my mind, it meant less pleasure in my life. As it turned out, that was a flawed belief. I actually began to enjoy my meals much more) finally liberated me to lose weight and I went from 200 lbs to 155 lbs and have stayed there for 5 years so far. All I do is eat less, but I eat anything I want (sugar, desserts, fat, meat, pasta – anything)

    Something about the environment — something that controls weight — has changed. Not exercise. Thirty years ago, Americans probably exercised less than now. It is likely that something they ate kept them thin, without trying.

    While you are right that this has to be caused by environmental changes, you make 2 logical mistakes 1) The changes can easily be CULTURAL and not in what we ate (as in loss of self-discipline, loss of a willingness to put up with deprivation, marketing that encourages us to always want MORE of everything, including food) 2) It does not follow that people were *effortlessly* thin in the 70s. It is quite possible that people were simply willing to put up with more deprivation and self-discipline was valued.

    Heck, even a cultural force like fat shaming can be the catalyst for change. I know you say that there is fat shaming in todays culture, but it is not really serious.

  17. Seth Roberts Says:

    The changes can easily be CULTURAL and not in what we ate (as in loss of self-discipline, loss of a willingness to put up with deprivation. . . . It is quite possible that [in the 1970's] people were simply willing to put up with more deprivation [than now] and self-discipline was valued [more than now].

    That’s an interesting idea. In addition to the obesity epidemic, where else can we see evidence for this?

  18. dave schutz Says:

    In the 70s, lots of people smoked, a lot. They were thinner than people who didn’t smoke. I’m interested that this does not seem to be mentioned at all as a possible cause for all of us ballooning in the 30 years since.

  19. Seth Roberts Says:

    In the 70s, lots of people smoked, a lot. They were thinner than people who didn’t smoke. I’m interested that this does not seem to be mentioned at all as a possible cause for all of us ballooning in the 30 years since.

    Less smoking does not explain why children are now much fatter than 30 years ago.

  20. Kevin Says:

    That’s an interesting idea. In addition to the obesity epidemic, where else can we see evidence for this?

    Seth, I spent a lot of time on business in Thailand and Japan, where the people are incredibly thin and eat tons of carbs and sugars, etc. After a while you grasp that the people are not thin *effortlessly*. There are strong traditions governing how much to eat and what you eat (traditions we have lost), and there is a MASSIVE social stigma to being fat. It just is not acceptable. There was an article a while ago in the NYT about how Japanese women obsessively watch what they eat in order to stay incredibly thin. Portions are much smaller too, which studies have shown play a role in feeling full.

    To me, this is some amount of evidence in support of the idea that cultural factors are the culprits here.

    Also, if EVERYONE is eating much less and it is just part of the tradition governing food consumption, it really IS much easer, but it is not *effortless* in the sense that no self-discipline is involved and one can just eat impulsively.

  21. john Says:

    Seth,
    n=1
    In 1968 I was doing my honours year in a science faculty in australia. On saturdays, i was one of the very few doing their project in the labs , others were at the football match or getting ready for parties. At 1230pm I was hungry and there was only one lunch place open within 3miles, a greek hamburger joint, ONE! We were all a thin cohort then, except for the exception.

    Today in 2012, temptation to the brain through the eyes is everywhere through the explosion in coffee shops, food shops etc, and I can feel the brain assessing and visualising food images as i walk to the train, walking the dog, etc, past the multitude of temptations , its everywhere. The reverse to 1968 is now apparent to me as a time evolution experiment.

  22. tom Says:

    Seth, on re-setting set points, your articles speak of it differently than Pope’s sources:

    Scientists are still learning why a weight-reduced body behaves so differently from a similar-size body that has not dieted. Muscle biopsies taken before, during and after weight loss show that once a person drops weight, their muscle fibers undergo a transformation, making them more like highly efficient “slow twitch” muscle fibers. A result is that after losing weight, your muscles burn 20 to 25 percent fewer calories during everyday activity and moderate aerobic exercise than those of a person who is naturally at the same weight. That means a dieter who thinks she is burning 200 calories during a brisk half-hour walk is probably using closer to 150 to 160 calories.

    ….

    A full year after significant weight loss, these men and women remained in what could be described as a biologically altered state. Their still-plump bodies were acting as if they were starving and were working overtime to regain the pounds they lost.
    ________

    Pope is saying that there is something about getting fat itself that makes makes it harder for a person to be thin. That’s the ‘re-set’ that I’m talking about, and it’s very different from your concept.

    If that’s at all true, then imagine how much more important the cultural argument is. The best way to be thin is never to get fat?

  23. Seth Roberts Says:

    I think the effects of losing weight probably vary greatly depending on how the weight is lost. If you lose weight WITHOUT lowering your set point, I think this is when you see all the changes you mention. But if you lose weight BY lowering your set point, I think the long-term consequences are far less. Cabanac has pointed out the enormous subjective difference between the two kinds of weight loss. The first is painful, the second is not.

  24. Jim Purdy Says:

    Seth, I just read an interesting little article from the Association for Psychological Science, with the title:
    To “Think Outside the Box”, Think Outside the Box.

    It studied whether people were more creative when they literally were physically inside or outside a large box. According to the article, people really were more creative when situated physically outside a box.

    I don’t have much room in my apartment for big boxes, but I’m trying a variation of this, using two very small boxes, one on my desk, and one in my refrigerator. The idea is that every time I get a food craving, I will see a box, and maybe, just maybe, it will get me to “think outside the box” and find a healthier way to satisfy the craving.

    Silly idea, maybe, but isn’t it in the spirit of self-experimentation?

    The article:
    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/to-think-outside-the-box-think-outside-the-box.html

    My blog comment about it:
    http://jimpurdy.blogspot.com/2012/01/thinking-and-dieting-outside-box.html

  25. Link love for January 14th through January 20th | FitChutney Says:

    [...] Seth’s Blog » Blog Archive » Tara Parker-Pope, “The Fat Trap” and the Shangri-La Diet- I recently summarised some of responses to the recent “Fat Trap” article. Here’s another one! I like this paragraph: [...]

  26. Perfect Health Diet » Around the Web; Congratulations Naomi Edition Says:

    [...] Seth Roberts comments on Tara Parker-Pope’s “The Fat Trap”: Its defects were what it didn’t say. [...]

  27. tess Says:

    i find it interesting that it’s men in this comment section who claim that losing weight is easy…. for men, it DOES seem to be easy — my husband is the same.

    women find it much harder to lose weight, especially as they progress into midlife. a lifetime of trying to be thin is a handicap, which limits our progress with every new attempt. add to this other hormonal changes which skew the body toward wanting to store more fat. for those women who are also getting bad advice about ideal diet, i imagine it seems impossible.

    i’m incorporating Seth’s (thank you!) SLD tweak to my strict paleo regimen (i was 80-20 before); the first week, weight POURED off me. the second week, with no change in menu, the loss was not consistent — some days my weight was up. i’m into my third week now, and far less hopeful of reaching my goal any time soon (WON’T be moving to Step 2 at the 30-day mark)…. btw, i’m only moderately overweight — less than 28 bmi.

    so, YEAH — it IS hard to lose weight as well as to keep it off — if you’re a woman.

  28. Kevin Says:

    No one said it was easy, tess, just that it is simple and we know exactly how to do it. Simply eat less. There is no mystery. Everyone pretends that there is this incredible mystery in how to lose weight – ironically, it is precisely this belief that might be preventing people from coming to terms with the reality of what needs to be done. Instead they waste time on fad diets like low-carb which promise you you can still eat lots and lose weight. Most people are shocked when they discover how few calories the body really needs to maintain itself and how few we have to eat to lose weight. For instance, we have this idea that a *healthy* calorie intake per day is around 2000 for men. Even a very large man over six feet needs much less than that! Most people today would believe they are eating *unhealthy* and be in *starvation mode* if they ate the number of calories they really needed to lose weight and be healthy.

    It was living in Japan and Thailand that helped open my eyes to this truth. The good news is that this idea that you have to eat this ridiculous amounts to be healthy is just something programmed into us by our deficient culture, and we CAN de-program ourselves.

    The fact of the matter is that the initial stages of weight loss can be quite difficult as you learn to de-program yourself from all the messages that you will *feel miserable* on anything less than 1800 calories per day (for a man) – its complete nonsense – and that you need to eat 5 times a day and always eat MORE bla blah.

    Yes, it can be difficult. But it is simple. And we know how to do it. There is no mystery.

  29. tess Says:

    Kevin, this is exactly the attitude that pisses me off. you don’t know diddly-squat about managing a middle-aged woman’s body, and yet you’re very eager to offer your opinion on it.

    YES, it is EASY for my husband to lose weight. CICO. two weeks into eating a VERY low calorie paleo diet, and MY weight has ALREADY plateaued, despite the appropriate levels of exercise. certain vegetables, even — which everybody agrees are great weight-loss foods — that others can eat with impunity create havoc with my metabolism. so you say it’s SIMPLE to know what to do to lose weight? BS.

  30. Kevin Says:

    Tess, weight loss was NOT EASY for me (at first) nor for ANY MALE that I know. It was an incredible STRUGGLE and for you to simply dismiss my dedication and effort as *easy* is incredibly rude. It sounds like you are simply making excuses for why YOU are not losing weight. When people start complaining that weight loss is *easy* for some but not for *them* (because of gender, or *my metabolism is just slow*, lol) they are simply making excuses. Trust me, I used to do the SAME THING all the time before I got thin! It was a major mental block I had to overcome. The truth is, the INITIAL stages of fat loss (first 6 months at least) are easy for NO ONE. Not you. Not me. THINGS ARE NOT ESPECIALLY HARD JUST FOR YOU. Get over the self-pity.

    You may THINK you are eating *low calorie*, but if you are not losing weight then you are not eating LOW ENOUGH. You are either cheating in ways you are not aware of (a little cookie here or there), or just dont really understand how little you have to eat. It might shock you learn how little you actually have to eat, but it is the truth. This is the mental block we all have to overcome to lose weight. There is NO such thing as a weight loss plateau (how do you think people starve to death? Why dont they just plateau lol? They have done studies on Army rangers where they put them in massive caloric deficits for a few months and they just kept on losing to incredible levels. No plateaus). If you *plateaued*, you have to eat even LESS. I once bought into plateauing also – I *fixed* it by just adjusting my calories down. There IS such a thing as a weight loss slow down because as you lose fat the body has less fat available to burn, but there is no such thing as a total stall IF you are eating less calories than you burn. Its simple science.

    Two things might suggest the culprit here

    1) Exercise will not help you lose weight. You burn a tiny amount and then frequently compensate by either reducing activity the rest of the day through exhaustion (thus burning the same amount total, making the exercise pointless), or overeating out of hunger.

    2) You are still messing around with nonsense like PALEO, which suggests you have not fully internalized the message that you simply have to EAT LESS.

  31. Kevin Says:

    certain vegetables, even — which everybody agrees are great weight-loss foods — that others can eat with impunity create havoc with my metabolism.

    More culprits here. There is no such thing as a great weight loss food. There is only calories in calories out. If you eat 300 calories of chocolate muffin or 300 calories of veggies you gain the exact same amount of fat.

    Second culprit – your metabolism is not special. They have done studies on *naturally* thin people who supposedly can eat whatever they want and have discovered that they are eat less without even being aware of it. Conversely, fat people underreport what they eat while not being aware of it. When YOU see these thing people eat socially they just ate 3 gigantic slices of pizza – what you DONT see is how little they ate at home. Perhaps they eat nothing the rest of the day.

    I lived with no less than 3 very thin people in my life and had occasion to observe first hand how they remained thin – they were all convinced they could eat whatever they wanted and just had fast metabolisms. It was nonsense. They simply ate almost nothing without being aware that this was not how other people ate.

    This was another eye opener in my path to thinner.

  32. Seth Roberts Says:

    There is only calories in calories out. If you eat 300 calories of chocolate muffin or 300 calories of veggies you gain the exact same amount of fat.

    In two studies published in the 1970s, Michel Cabanac and his colleagues found that two different ways of eating the same number of calories per day (about 2000) produced very different results. They produced the same weight loss, but different psychological effects. One way (eating the same foods, but less of them) produced considerable hunger and suffering. The other way (switching to a SlimFast-like drink) produced no hunger and little suffering (the main suffering was boredom).

  33. Kevin Says:

    Yes, but as you correctly note, the difference is primarily psychological, not physiological.

    In a society like ours saturated with messages to eat more, going *cold turkey* (slim-fast drink) might be an effective way to purge oneself of the psychological addiction to food, at least in the short term. But I dont for a moment believe that such a radical solution is necessary. French women, and Thais and Japanese, all eat deliciously, yet little, and do not suffer greatly.

    It took me some time to get over my addiction to food – even to recognize that I had an addiction to food that was psychological and cultural in origin – and I did suffer when I ate less, but over time, the suffering vanished. Today I can eat tiny amounts and feel quite good.

    The key is to remove all the stumbling blocks preventing you from recognizing that the suffering is psychological not physical.

  34. Training and nutrition linkfest, vol. 3 « Blunt Object Says:

    [...] Tara Parker-Pope, “The Fat Trap”, and the Shangri-La Diet [...]

  35. Bookmarks for January 11th through February 2nd | 6sigmahealth Says:

    [...] Seth’s Blog » Blog Archive » Tara Parker-Pope, “The Fat Trap” and the … – I recently summarised some of responses to the recent "Fat Trap" article. Here's another one! I like this paragraph: [...]