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SCIENTIFIC: Medical Foreword, Preface, & Note

Read the Foreword by #1 Best-Selling Author, William Davis, MD

There is no hypothesizing or empty prediction in THE CALORIE MYTH; there is detailed analysis of the science underlying these principles, principles that—when properly and consistently applied—achieve heights of functioning, weight loss, and provide relief from the myriad health conditions of modern life.

Had “official” agencies and other sources of conventional dietary advice gotten the nutrition and health message right to begin with, there would be no need to have so many books on the topic. But they got it wrong—colossally wrong.

Ever since the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the first U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980, the dietary and healthcare communities all synchronized their message for nutrition and health: cut total and saturated fat, eat more “healthy whole grains,” watch calories, and increase physical activity.

They advised us that the human body is a vessel that behaves according to the physical laws of thermodynamics: the human body transacts energy currency just like any other energy-consuming vessel—no different, say, from an automobile or furnace. We are thereby subject to physical laws such as “calories in, calories out,” regardless of whether in the form of carbohydrate, fat, or protein. According to this line of thinking, it does not matter what hormonal or metabolic environment a calorie enters; the end result is the same.

We were also told that weight gain was a simple matter of consuming more calories than we burned. We were advised that weight loss would occur, predictably and mathematically, when we cut calories in or burn more calories out, the basis for the “eat less, exercise more” mantra for maintaining healthy weight. By this line of logic, cutting back, for instance, on the 238 calories in two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in your salad while maintaining an unchanged level of physical activity should predictably yield weight loss of one pound every two weeks, or 25 pounds over a year. Alternatively, performing housework, such as vacuuming and sweeping the house 30 minutes per day, without altering calorie intake should burn in the neighborhood of 110 calories, yielding just under 12 pounds lost over one year. Easy, eh?

As the nationwide experience has demonstrated, this doesn’t work. While there are surely people who are indeed gluttonous and lazy and could be illustrative examples of the calories in, calories out concept, there are plenty of people who have followed conventional advice to reduce fat, consume more whole grains, etc., yet now hold an extra 30, 50, 150 pounds on their frame. If there has been a miscalculation, it has been a miscalculation of epic proportions. Could the 1 in 3 Americans now obese, another 1 in 3 overweight, all be gluttonous and lazy? Or is there something fundamentally wrong with the concept of calories in, calories out?

1980 is the year that marks this astounding turn of events for the American public: the start of an unprecedented and dramatic increase in calorie intake, weight gain, and overweight and obesity. We now have the worst epidemic of obesity and all the diseases that accompany it, such as hypertension, diabetes, “high cholesterol,” degenerating joints, and other conditions, on a scale never before seen in human history. There surely have been periods in human history when widespread illness plagued us, but those periods were due to mass starvation, war, and disease. In contrast, we have our modern epidemic during a period of virtually limitless abundance.

It doesn’t take an astute student of modern culture to see that conventional wisdom is not just inaccurate, but devastatingly wrong. Of course the human body follows the laws of physics and energy, but not by the overly simplistic rules offered by conventional dietary thinking.

Anyone who has had some false starts and stops in weight loss learns some tough lessons acquired through the school of hard knocks. For one, cutting calories makes you hungry and miserable, while unconsciously reducing the level of physical activity. Conversely, increasing physical activity creates hunger and increases calorie intake. Combine the two—decreasing calorie intake while purposefully increasing physical activity—is an especially unpleasant experience, an effort that requires monumental willpower to follow, as it generates ravenous, intense hunger. This last painful strategy, by the way, typically results in dramatic reductions in metabolic rate and loss of muscle mass, both of which further booby-trap any genuine effort at fat loss.

In THE CALORIE MYTH, author Jonathan Bailor recounts the wealth of science we already have that 1) should cause us to reject the miserably incorrect “calories in, calories out” misconception, and 2) shows us how to use the very same science to understand the real ways that the body responds to calories and physical activity. He educates the reader on why the human body protects its set point as a fail-safe survival mechanism and that the only way to manage weight is to manage your set point, not just cut calories or burn off more energy.

What is magical about THE CALORIE MYTH is the easy-to-grasp, step-by-step way he tells the story, taking the reader by the hand and showing us why this one nutritional insight was misinterpreted and led to catastrophically misguided dietary advice, and how new insights can be key to unlocking hidden wisdom. He creates a new language and framework that allows the reader to put her arms around these concepts without getting bogged down in science, detail, or dogma. Knowledge is power and, in this instance, the proper understanding of just how the human body transacts energy empowers the reader to regain control over metabolism, health, and weight, even after a lifetime of being led astray.

But there is much more here than an unemotional recounting of the nutritional science that makes the case against “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.” Mr. Bailor captures the essence of effective nutritional arguments in his own clear, succinct, and uniquely clever way, introducing us to his useful brand of terms, such as “SANE” and “clogged” versus “unclogged.”

The same no-holds-barred, incisive thinking goes into Bailor’s analysis of exercise, educating the reader on why “less is more” once the principles of hormonal correction and high-intensity bursts of exercise are understood using the revolutionary insight of eccentric exercise.

This book is appropriately titled: It does indeed bash the myths underlying how the human body manages energy. There is no hypothesizing or empty prediction here; there is detailed analysis of the science underlying these principles, principles that—when properly and consistently applied—achieve heights of functioning, weight loss, and provide relief from the myriad health conditions of modern life.

William Davis, MD
Author, #1 New York Times Bestseller, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health and The Wheat Belly Cookbook

Read the Preface by Harvard Medical School’s JoAnn Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH

The scientific community now knows a great deal about how the human body works. In culling the literature and gathering the results of so many clinical studies, Jonathan Bailor presents a weight-loss program that is based on rigorous science. We can make the right choices that will help us to avoid becoming overweight or obese. As a treasure trove of reliable information and sound facts, THE CALORIE MYTH can help you take charge of your destiny and turn the tide on weight gain.

The dual epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes are the looming public health crises of the twenty-first century. All around us today, in all walks of life, are people who struggle with weight control. The growing prevalence of obesity in the United States and around the world, especially among children and adolescents, portends an enormous global burden of chronic disease in the future. The crystal ball shows not only more people with diabetes, but also enormous numbers of people with hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer. Although medical research has made strides in treating and controlling some of the health consequences of obesity, the prevention and management of obesity truly hold the key to improved health. Of particular importance, we now know that people suffering from overweight or obesity can take charge of their health—if they are willing to make even modest changes in their lifestyle.

Throughout my career in preventive medicine and epidemiology, I have valued the importance of empowering the public through information and shared decision making. Together with my colleagues, our research has focused on prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, including assessing the role of lifestyle factors in reducing risks. We have examined the “power of prevention” in several large-scale clinical studies, including the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, the Women’s Health Initiative, the Women’s Health Study, the VITamin D and OmegA–3 TriaL (VITAL), and other research projects. One of the major findings from our large population-based studies is that type 2 diabetes and heart disease are largely preventable through lifestyle modifications, which are powerful determinants of our risk of chronic disease. For example, we’ve published papers from the Nurses’ Health Study indicating that at least 90 percent of cases of type 2 diabetes and at least 80 percent of heart attacks can be prevented by lifestyle changes, including being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and following a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated and trans fats and refined carbohydrates.

We’ve made efforts to inform the public of these findings, as well as of the work of other researchers around the world, often writing columns in magazines and working closely with print and electronic media over the years. Yet the scientific findings of so many researchers and other dedicated individuals in academia remain largely unknown by the general public. Part of the problem is the pervasive and overpowering impact of mass marketing by the food industry. Another problem is the often confusing and contradictory messages about nutrition and health on the Internet and various mass media outlets. Even the dietary guidelines from the federal government may seem confusing and at odds with some of the research studies that have attracted attention. How is the general public supposed to know which scientific studies to believe?

That’s why Jonathan Bailor has performed an invaluable service with his book, THE CALORIE MYTH. Jonathan has studied thousands and thousands of pages of academic research on health and weight loss and he has put the results into terms that the ordinary person can understand. We have made great strides over the years in understanding how the body responds to different types of food. Yet all too often a popular author selectively cites the scientific evidence, emphasizing only those aspects of the wide-ranging research that support the diet plan he or she is promoting. Jonathan’s work is far from “just another diet book.”

THE CALORIE MYTH dismantles the myths that have contributed enormously to the health and weight problems that many people have and replaces them with easy-to-understand facts that will change the way you think about eating and exercise. On the eating side, he shows why changes in a person’s metabolism affect weight gain and how to get your metabolism burning rather than storing body fat. He provides a sensible formula for eating the right kinds of food that produce satiety—that fill you up so much that you won’t have room for the types of foods that are fueling the obesity and diabetes epidemics. He shows how balance is the key to long-term health and weight loss. He also clarifies what the scientific literature suggests are the best ways to exercise. Short bursts of vigorous and forceful activity can provide all the stimulation needed to get your metabolism back on track. But moderate exercise also has a role.

The scientific community now knows a great deal about how the human body works. In culling the literature and gathering the results of so many clinical studies, Jonathan Bailor presents a weight-loss program that is based on rigorous science. We can make the right choices that will help us to avoid becoming overweight or obese. As a treasure trove of reliable information and sound facts, THE CALORIE MYTH can help you take charge of your destiny and turn the tide on weight gain.

JoAnn E. Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH
Professor of Medicine and the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Read a Special Note from Harvard & UCLA Medical School’s Theodoros Kelesidis, MD

While researching and practicing at the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at the Harvard Medical School and at the Department of Medicine of the UCLA School of Medicine, I would often be asked when there will be a proven prescription for weight loss. THE CALORIE MYTH is that prescription.

Jonathan Bailor’s easy-to-understand and engaging style disguises an astonishing amount of otherwise incredibly complex scientific information. You will not realize you are learning so much because you will be so involved in what you are reading. The pages you are holding will change the way you feel and look faster than any pill ever could. It is incredibly rare to find anything as thoroughly researched and carefully analyzed, yet so clearly and engagingly presented in the context of everyday living—and eating. For anyone who has struggled with managing weight or maintaining energy, you do not need pills. You need this book.

Having conducted research across four continents, I appreciate Bailor’s meticulous methodology, but it’s what he does with the information that made the book one I will “prescribe” to colleagues, patients, students, family, friends—and you. He points out that in so many cases what scientists have proven in the lab IS NOT how you have been told to eat or exercise. No, this isn’t a conspiracy diatribe; it’s just a smart writer pointing out the disconnect between the science and our lifestyle and then showing how you can eat more food and do less exercise, while improving how you look and feel, once you know and apply the science.

Here is a sample of some of what you will discover in THE CALORIE MYTH: Most people can manage to temporarily lose weight via traditional techniques, but Bailor reveals the biology of why these techniques lead to long term weight gain 95 percent of the time. Bailor then provides a proven way to burn fat long term. With this information, you can avoid “yo-yoing” forever. Another one of my personal favorites: Ever notice how more people are members of gyms and how there are more “health” supplements than ever before in human history, yet the “civilized” world has never been so heavy or suffered from so many lifestyle diseases? Bailor leverages reams of research to suggest a simple approach that will get your biology working for you rather than against you. He rightly prescribes solving problems—fixing the deep metabolic issues underlying weight gain—instead of treating symptoms by starving yourself. And he does so without going to ridiculous extremes, like so many of the fad diets you see every day. This collection of research reveals a wholly different cause and wholly proven solution to the weight and health issues plaguing us today.

For a fresh perspective on why and how to make simple and practical life-enhancing adjustments to your eating and exercise habits, read Bailor’s book. You will learn how some misinformation is probably responsible for the “weighty” matters of epidemic rates of obesity and heart disease. You will also be given simple, scientifically sound guidelines on how to eat more food and exercise less—but smarter, while burning fat and boosting your health.

THE CALORIE MYTH is a proven and practical guide to fighting the big problem of obesity. Simplifying a bunch of biology while making decades of academic obesity research accessible to everyone, Bailor gives a complete and captivating explanation of the science of losing weight permanently.

Enjoy reading this book, but more important, apply what you will learn.

Theodoros Kelesidis, MD
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Harvard Medical School; Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine