Weighing 230 pounds, she had tried every possible way to restrict her caloric intake — including diets, diet pills and bariatric surgery — without long-term success.

“I’ve tried them all and [the weight’s] not coming off,” she said. “I really believe it’s got something to do with the brain.”

~ From The ABC News special, A Frontier of Medicine: Brain Surgery for Weight Loss


Wow, I’m speechless. Just friggin’ flabbergasted.

The story cited above, as thoroughly and expertly covered by Sandy Szwarc, over at Junkfood Science, really makes my blood boil. Now, it’s one thing to get a fabulously good guffaw over mainstream obesity research’s continuous outpouring of misguided, asshat “studies”, offerings that are totally skewed from the get-go by the researchers’ insistence upon adhering to the dimwitted notion of treating the body as a simple, closed-system, thermodynamic entity; a notion, by the way, that has been both empirically, and via correctly run studies (there are a few!), thoroughly refuted. However, this isn’t about mainstream’s ass-backwards studies, or laughable, tunnel-visioned interpretation — this is about real lives; real human beings.

The mainstream obesity research community ought to be very ashamed that their reluctance to at least recognize a sensible, Paleo-like lifestyle as a viable option for the obese has had a hand in allowing such quackery to thrive.

In Health,



  1. They will do anything–anything!–rather than admit there is something wrong with the standard American diet.

    The deal is this: to admit that 90% of the foods we eat are the cause of the explosion of obesity and chronic disease is just too much cognitive dissonance.

    Seriously, it doesn’t matter how many studies are done and publicized–and you’ve seen what is done even with studies that demonstrate that the SAD is harmful. Either the conclusions or the interpretations are twisted to support the consensus view that our carbohydrate-based diet is the best we can do.

    Think about it. To admit that “they” are wrong, and “we” (in the paleo world) are right, would be to admit that everything served in every fast food joint, nearly every restaurant, and pretty much all the foods in grocery stores and in TV commercials are unhealthy and dangerous. That is literally too much for almost anyone to handle.

    It would not only shatter our view that we have the best food supply ever, but it would shatter the concept of progress–the idea that we get smarter and better over time–which is fundamental to our world view.

  2. Ridiculous. It never fails to disgust me the things they will do.

    Question though. Do you believe the whole set point theory she mentions? I’ve read that before. Maybe in GCBC or somewhere else. I’ve lost a 100 lbs eating low-carb/paleo and kept it off a couple years. I’ve been trying to lose another 50 (guess), but I’ve been kind of stuck. Bought Eat Stop Eat (haven’t read yet), reading the protein supplement first, but have been trying fasting anyways to kick start loss. Have only done three or four fasts. I think I may have also cut out booze and maybe add sprints (right now lift once/week and ride road) once/week to get it going. Hopefully I’ll figure it out eventually.


    • Joe,
      I do believe there are BF level “sticking points”, especially prevalent at lower-end BF levels. Intermittent fasting and/or dropping such things as nuts, dairy, excess fruit seems to re kick-start the fat loss process. Now, is this due to a temporary reduction in calories or an alteration in the the body’s hormone/enzyme profile? I don’t know. I do know, though, that after the sticking point has been “released” via the previously-mentioned methods, one can resume eating in his/her prior fashion and continue on losing fat. Strange, yes — but true. The fact of the matter is though, that what we collectively (and correctly) know about the intricacies of human metabolism are minute compared to what we don’t know.

  3. At the risk of sounding overly cynical, are you really surprised?

    I thought this was a joke when I first read it, but then I stared thinking. We have gastric bypass for people who are unable to control their eating on their own – but this is a procedure that doesn’t always work.

    So what’s next? This might have some limited application for people with rare seriously abnormal issues – but I’m sure it’ll be used as a substitute for lifestyle changes all to often.

  4. Well, I guess if it’s the calories then the IF should help as I’m eating less. If its the dairy and nuts, it wouldn’t be too much trouble to cut them out. I only eat a handful about four days a week and a couple spoonfuls of almond butter. Heavy cream in some of the protein shakes could be replaced with MCT oil. No more iced coffee for a while. Giving up the cheese for a while would be the most difficult. Will keep those in mind though. Thanks.


  5. Hi Joe,
    If it where me, I’d cut out the iced coffee first, as they tend to be really high in sugar for the most part.

    I was bothered by the “set-point” thing myself. The biggest problem with a majority of studies is that most of the subjects simply are not willing to make the long-term lifestyle changes that produce long-term results. Weight -loss intervention always fails because the people who get these treatments are the “reward without sacrifice” types, who are easily convinced by the media that nothing is their fault. Add that to fact that the “experts” keep recommending a lifestyle that exacerbates their condition and there is almost guaranteed failure, regardless of method. Sorry for the rant, Keith.

  6. Another thing about set points, at least from what I’ve read, is that they aren’t permanent but vary due to by external stimuli. I think if you fundamentally change your macronutrient make-up, your set point also changes. For me, I was at a softish 200-205, while I was ‘zoning’ it at a strictness level of about 8/10.

    When I shifted to a Paleo diet at the same level of adherence (8/10), I dropped to a leaner 188-190 in a matter of weeks. That feels like my new set point, because I can have super strict days, or even an occasional cheat day, and I still stay around that weight, regardless of calorie intake. Incidentally, 180 would, I think be ideal. So I think to get there, to change my set point, I just have to be stricter about both macronutrients and (less fruit dairy, more fat) IF.

    This is just my take on things both from personal experience, and from some articles on Set points that I read off Pavel’s Dragondoor.com articles page under nutrition. I think it all goes back to what Keith always says. It gets harder and harder to lose weight the lower you get, otherwise Paleo-ers would just cease to be.



    • Bryce,
      This kind of gets back to my thoughts on the action of ASP being somehow enhanced at the lower BF level extremes. I’d love to see some studies done on this.

  7. I like a lot of Szwarc’s blog posts, especially when she goes after some of the more “quacky” stuff. But she really gets under my skin when she discusses weight loss. She seems to think that it’s basically impossible for anyone to lose weight long term, and that overweight people do not eat any more than normal weight people. Wow! I can’t speak for other overweight people, but I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I overeat. There is no way that thin people eat as much as I do (unless they’re cyclists, marathon runners, etc.) No way. But how depressing would that be if it were true? If she’s wrong, she’s doing a lot of people a huge disservice. A lot of people would give up on weight loss if they believed what she believes.

    I agree with Bryce that set points can change. I believe Lyle MacDonald has said that the set point is higher when one eats a “Cafeteria Diet” or “Standard American Diet.” I’ve been hovering around 250-255 for probably two years or so; so that’s probably my set point while eating a highly processed/ junk food diet. If I eat a stricter diet, it should be a lot lower- hopefully 175-185 pounds. I’m a little worried that it will be significantly higher, like 210 or 220. Oh well. I’ll just have to lose weight and find out!

    • Jordan,
      “…and that overweight people do not eat any more than normal weight people.”
      This actually could be true, depending upon the macronutrient content of what’s ingested. See the “Calorie is not a Calorie” post from a few days back, along with the long comment discussion/debate string. That’s not to say, though, that there is certainly a large portion of the overweight who both way over-eat and eat the wrong things as well. Obesity is a multifaceted problem with a very simple solution — the Paleo lifestyle.


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