The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor
This post is a combination of a book review and a confession! I can’t review “The Calorie Myth,” the best so-called “diet” book ever, in my opinion, without telling you why I value it so highly.
I have been fighting the Battle of the Bulge for over 50 years, having started my first diet at the age of 14. So, to celebrate my 50th anniversary as a yoyo dieter, I have decided to share with you my favorite book about the subject – The Calorie Myth, by Jonathan Bailor, published in 2014. I’m sorry it took me 2 years to do this, but I had to spend that time fighting against the truth in this book because I still wanted to believe that a calorie is a calorie.
I grew up with the idea that it didn’t matter what I ate as long as calories consumed were less than calories burned. There was a lot of freedom in that concept because I thought I could eat all the low calorie treats on the market and lose weight. Unfortunately, year after year, I gained back the weight I lost and it became harder and harder for me to lose and impossible to maintain. In college, I once ate nothing but air popped popcorn for over a month and didn’t lose anything. How could that be? It was hardly any calories at all!
In the last ten years, I have been torn between wanting to eat healthy food and wanting to crash diet for upcoming events. I couldn’t bring myself to eat nothing but salad anymore (been there too many times) but I couldn’t believe that eating high calorie, healthy food would work for me. I was too thoroughly indoctrinated in the “calorie myth.”
For a long time, I used exercise to control my weight. I was single, so I had time to go to the gym almost every day and to my Zumba classes 4 nights a week. That helped a lot, but if I slacked off at all, the weight came right back on. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that hardly anyone in my classes was losing weight. It seemed to me that the exercise we were getting was only increasing our appetites.
Finally, at the age of 64, I got married and began to see myself through the eyes of my husband. I realized I was totally nuts! I didn’t want to spend 4 nights a week at my Zumba classes – I wanted to have a normal life. I was even willing to gain weight if I had to in order to be able to spend time with my husband.
Enter this book and a new way of life. Here are a few of the points Jonathan Bailor makes:
Regarding calories – If a calorie is a calorie, the following would be true- if we added a couple hundred calories per day to our diets, in 20 years, we would weigh 1000 pounds. The truth is that we all have a “set point” which our bodies work (very efficiently) to maintain. To lose weight, the goal is to lower our set points. There are many factors the effect our set points – our age, whether we have yoyo dieted before, whether our parents were overweight, etc. The higher our set point is, the longer it takes to lower it. (The good news is that it can be done.)
Regarding good food – The quality of the food we eat is more important than the quantity. In fact, eating more of the “sane” foods is better than eating less of the junk foods. Basically, our diets should consist of vegetables, protein and fats (in that order of priority) with an occasional fruit (optional). Studies have shown that we do not need starchy foods, including grains and, if we are eating fresh vegetables, we do not need fruit.
Bailor emphasizes in his book and in his online videos that diabetes is an epidemic in this country. He lost his grandfather to it (check out this TEDx video- https://youtu.be/JUF5yF9LZCg ). His grandfather’s last words were, “Don’t let them take my leg!!!” They didn’t, as per his wishes, and he died shortly after. Previous generations did not have the information we have today about the role of diet in diabetes, but, the good news is that we do now and there are many, many people who are holding this disease at bay by eating good quality foods.
Regarding exercise – Here’s the really good news! A lot of moderate exercise (including jogging) is basically useless for losing weight. Studies have proven that high intensity, resistance workouts once a week are more effective. Yes, 20 minutes once a week is enough and there are only 4 basic exercises to cover all the muscle groups.
Cheese is one of the “sub-optimal” foods which have to be eaten with discretion. (The SANE Program evaluates food according to 4 criteria – Satiety, Aggression, Nutrition and Efficiency.) If you are eating cheese as part of your SANE lifestyle, you need to balance it with less sugars. Basically, there are two variations of the “diet:” If you really like fruits, you can do the lower fat, higher fruit version of SANEity, and if you love cheese, you can do the lower sugar, higher fat version of SANEity which would include cheese and Greek yogurt.
For More Information
After I read the book, I looked online to see if there was any more information about the SANE Program. I found more information than I could ever consume in a lifetime including videos, a store, a blog, success stories, etc.
YouTube Videos: There are about a thousand short videos about the SANE program. Here’s a good one – https://youtu.be/U36XJaETbh8
The Calorie Myth: https://store.sanesolution.com/products/personally-signed-calorie-myth-book
Calorie Myth Audiobook: https://store.sanesolution.com/products/the-calorie-myth-audiobook