For a long time we’ve been force-fed the belief that weight loss is all about exercising more and eating less – and all the while keeping a close watch on the number of calories consumed.
We were told that this magical number of calories could come from any source – McDonald’s, junk food or foods considered healthy.
Jonathan Bailor is here to debunk this philosophy
In his best-selling The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better, Bailor offers a radical new model for weight loss and long-term health.
He proclaims that our body does not recognize all calories as equal. Some foods are used to repair tissue, boost brain power, and fuel our metabolism—while others are stored as fat.
In this exclusive interview, Bailor shows us how eating more of the right kinds of foods and exercising less, but at a higher intensity, is the true formula for burning fat.
eDiets: I love your equation: Eat More + Exercise Less = Weight Loss! What's the catch?
Jonathan Bailor: It’s not about eating more of the same edible products that made you fat and sick. It’s about eating more of the affordable and delicious whole foods proven to heal the underlying causes of weight gain and diabetes: non-starchy vegetables, nutrient dense proteins, whole food fats, and low-fructose fruits. Same thing with exercise. It’s about doing less, but higher-quality exercise such as no-impact interval training and safe, slow, heavy resistance training focused on your largest muscle groups.
A lot of "experts" preach that the bottom line is simply "calories in" plus "calories burned." Why do you think this is a flawed approach to diet and weight loss?
Despite the fact that every lasting healthy lifestyle (whole foods, paleo, vegetarian, low-carb, low-glycemic, Mediterranean, etc.) focuses on what we eat rather than how much we eat, the mainstream still seems to insist that if we just counted our calories more conservatively, we could end the obesity epidemic. The proven fact is that calorie-counting approaches fail 95.4% of the time. That’s a higher failure rate than quitting smoking cold turkey.
Blindly eating less to cure obesity is like breathing less to cure allergies. It may offer temporary “relief” but ultimately fails because it is masking symptoms rather than fixing causes. Will eating only 1,200 of anything cause you to lose weight? Yes. So will cutting off your leg. That doesn’t mean either is a good idea. Counting calories is a euphemism for starvation. It’s the definition of an eating disorder. And the sooner you are able to free yourself from oppressive calorie myths, and instead enjoy eating more—but higher-quality food—the sooner you will live your best life.
Counting calories is the flat earth theory of weight loss. It’s reasonable. It’s intuitive. But it is wrong once we understand modern science. The research is clear and the common sense is undeniable. Every single society and species that ever existed that focused foods found directly in nature—vs. processed low-calorie edible products—stayed slim without counting calories. Similarly, when cultures or creatures start eating processed edible products, they start seeing increasing rates of obesity and diabetes.
Ending obesity is not about eating less or exercising more just like ending depression is not about frowning less and smiling more. Both health and happiness are about quality, not quantity. They are about filling ourselves with so much good that we don’t have room for bad. It’s what we did prior to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, and it’s what we’ll do to end them. No math needed.
Since the release of your book, what kind of feedback and buy-in have you gotten from the people on the front lines of health and wellness?
It’s been such an honor to see how well the modern science of food and fitness has been received. For example:
1. “A proven and practical guide to fighting the big problem of obesity.”— Harvard Medical School and UCLA School of Medicine’s Dr. Theodoros Kelesidis
2. “Brilliant. An easily understood and applied framework that will change the way you live, look, and feel.”— New York Times best-selling author Dr. William Davis
3. “A powerful set of tools for creating lifelong health.” — New York Times best-selling author Dr. Mark Hyman
4. “Smart, health promoting, and deserves to be hot, hot, hot!”— Harvard Medical School’s Dr. JoAnn E. Manson
5. “Will do more to assist people with their health than all the popular diet books currently out there put together.” — New York Times best-selling author Dr. Christiane Northrup
6. “Cuts through the noise around diet and weight loss and tells it to us straight: Calories? Not the issue.” — New York Times bestselling author Dr. Sara Gottfried
7. “I highly recommend this.” – New York Times bestselling author Dr. Daniel G. Amen
8. “A transformative guide for anyone looking to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way.” – New York Times bestselling author Dr. Michael Moreno
9. “I heartily recommend this to people who want to take responsibility for their own health.”— Harvard Medical School’s Dr. John J. Ratey
10.“An important work.”— Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Anthony Accurso
What was your inspiration for researching and writing "The Calorie Myth?" Did you ever struggle with maintaining a healthy weight?
You urge your followers to go "SANE" with their diet -- what do you consider a SANE (and a sane) lifestyle?
The calorie myth that “a calorie is a calorie, so eat whatever, just not too much” is about as accurate as saying “liquid is liquid, so drink whatever, just not too much.” The scientific community has proven that the quality of calories varies wildly and is determined by four factors: Satiety, Aggression, Nutrition, and Efficiency.
• Satiety is how quickly calories fill us up.
• Aggression is how likely calories are to be stored as body fat.
• Nutrition is how many vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, etc., calories provide.
• Efficiency is how easily calories are converted into body fat.
Whether a calorie is high quality or low quality depends on where it fits on the SANEity spectrum. High-quality calories are on the healthy end of the SANEity spectrum. They are nonstarchy vegetables, nutrient-dense proteins, whole-food fats, and low-fructose fruits. They are high in water, fiber, and protein. They are Satisfying, unAggressive, Nutritious, and inEfficient. These SANE foods fill us up quickly and keep us full for a long time. SANE foods provide a lot of nutrients and few of them can be converted into body fat. Even better, SANE foods trigger the release of body-fat-burning hormones, clear clogs, and lower our set-point. The more of SANE foods we eat, the simpler slim becomes.
Low-quality calories are just the opposite. Starches and sweets are on the unhealthy end of the SANEity spectrum. They are dry, low in fiber, and low in protein. They are unSatisfying, Aggressive, nonNutritious, and Efficient. When we eat these inSANE foods we have to overeat to satisfy ourselves. These inSANE foods provide few nutrients and they are easily converted into body fat. Triggering the release of body-fat-storing hormones, inSANE foods cause clogs and raise our set-point. The more inSANE foods we eat, the more complex slim becomes.
Can you share any inspirational stories involving men or women who've found weight loss success after embracing your advice in "The Calorie Myth?"
The Jacobs went from biggest losers to long-term winners. "We knew eating less and exercising more worked short-term, but we didn’t know another option was available for the long-term. This is why understanding the science was so helpful for us. Eating more, as long as it’s SANE, is sustainable, enjoyable, and resetting our set-point. We couldn’t be happier with the results."
Cristina cured her diabetes, lost 45 pounds and had a baby! "Three months of eating like this has gotten me off a diabetes medication and reduced my HbA1C from 8.3 to 5.7, rendering me diabetes-free. I also was on cholesterol medication, but my cholesterol went from 220 to 103, and I was taken off that medication as well. Finally, after five years of trying, I finally got pregnant!"
Alicia easily felt and looked her best for her big day. "My seamstress had to take in my dress twice. I was delighted. The crazy thing was how easy it all was. I achieved my goals without caloric restriction, fasting, stimulants, or cleanses. No hunger, no cravings. I was eating high-quality, satisfying food, in greater volume than ever, and I was getting stronger and leaner."
NOTE: Jonathan offers many more testimonials at his website.
To get your copy of The Calorie Myth, simply click here.
eDiets Chief Editor John McGran has an extensive background in online dieting and tabloid news. He covers the celebrity beat for eDiets.