Tom Naughton, of Fat Head documentary fame, is a pretty sharp and clever guy, which makes this post so bizarre.
He’s a former successful stand-up comedian—PG Rated—an entrepreneur software developer, and is tenacious enough to write, film, and produce his own successful documentary which is still relevant in a number of ways.
So what gives, then, with his rather nonsensical and ridiculous defense of Jimmy Moore’s antics? I’d be fine if he simply said, “Jimmy is a friend of mine, I’m not going to get into it.” Rather, he’s seemingly willing to spend a whole lot of credibility capital on a bullshit line of defense.
…About Fat Head. It’s an interesting film simply for how it seems to be a work in motion, where it evolved over the course of creating it. It begins quite unlike it ends. It begins as an effort to expose the dishonesty of Morgan Spurlock in his own documentary, Super-Size Me. So what do we see? Tom does nothing but fast food for 30 days, drops about 12 pounds, as I recall, and improves his blood work. How? He uses his brain. He counts calories and makes more sensible choices, such as going for the protein-rich sandwiches while eschewing the carb-fat fries, the sugar drinks, and the desserts.
He did it by the numbers. But then he begins to segue into a sort of Paleo/LC view which somewhat undercuts the first half of the film, because what he ate to achieve those results certainly wasn’t Paleo (he got plenty of grains and vegetable oils), and not particularly LC by any standards promoted currently.
For those who think this about fat shaming Jimmy, it isn’t. I’ve always liked Jimmy on various levels and still do. I’m not shaming his inability to lose fat and keep it off but rather, his willingness to make a business out of his failure, clearly engaged in being an awful influence for a lot of struggling people.
Here’s Tom’s very less than a brilliant defense of Jimmy in comments on this post.
i’m sorry to say, but your friend jimmy moore is obese again, or at least that’s how he looks. and he has some pretty bad blood results. i’m affraid he’s not a good advertiser for this keto/paleo lifestyle. i respect you both, but i’m honestly curious about your objective opinion on this matter. i mean, i know some whole food plant based people which are still in awesome shape with best blood results, and i personally still don’t know which path to choose, so i’d be glad to have your answer on this matter. regards from transylvania ?
The proper comparison isn’t Jimmy on his diet to vegetarians (most of whom were never fat) on their diets. The proper comparison is Jimmy on his diet to Jimmy on other diets. He’s battling his genetics. His brother died of heart disease at age 42. His mother had gastric bypass surgery and lost 100 pounds, but it all came back over time — despite having a stomach the size of a tennis ball — because her body was programmed to be fat. That’s the hand he was dealt.
I lived on a vegetarian diet in my 30s, by the way. I got slowly fatter and sicker until I gave it up and went more paleo/low-carb.
Thomas E. says:
Not to beat on this too much, but selection bias can hide a lot of details.
Are there people who will be thin while being vegan or vegetarian, sure. Of course, there are many people who are thin but not healthy? So, just because a vegetarian is thin, does not mean they are healthy, right?
On the flip side, Jimmy may be heavy, but he is healthy. It is kind of funny that we judge health solely on a single metric, waist size.
Our medical world is funny. We measure gain using relative risk, but we measure side effects with absolute risk. Selection bias is king, look too much snow here, thus man made climate change, too much snow there, this global cooling. Look at the massive correlation over there, it must be causation.
At the end of the day we all have to take a huge step backwards, and where possible look at biochemistry and cell biology. Start with what we can demonstrate and go from there.
Genetics and epigenetics can be a real bitch. It is no fair, but that is the hand we are dealt.
I’ll add two more points: 1) Jimmy used to weigh more than 400 pounds. In diet studies, “success” is defined as losing 10% of the starting weight and keeping it off. He’s kept off WAAAAY more than that. Much of his bulk around the middle is skin that never snapped back after the big weight loss — I know because he’s stayed at our house several times and I’ve seen him without a shirt. 2) When Jimmy visits for a week, we play so much disc golf, we end up walking 25-30 miles up and down the hilly land that makes up my course. I’ve never seen him become fatigued or out of breath, despite his size. Worse that ever happens is his elbow becomes sore from all the throwing.
It will be interesting to see if over the years Jimmy’s epi-genetics and skin will catch up. One of the things of interest listening to his podcast with Dr. Nally is the stories of the Doc’s patients who will settle at a set-point (homeostasis) for a year or two, then all of a sudden lose more weight and skin.
I hope for Jimmy’s sake that happens with him, but he’s accepted he may be at this current size for life. He’s done the smart thing and made being healthy his primary focus.
Happy to see that you are getting some publicity for the new book Tom. Your movie was one of the first things that introduced me to trying this lifestyle seven years ago.
On Jimmy Moore, though he seems nice and he helped me get started with this lifestyle almost a decade ago, the advice he is giving is doing more harm than good now. The interviews he does with public personalities like yourself are great, however. You and I were even on a podcast having some Q&A with the Dr. Su guy – whatever happened to him?
I am in countless keto groups online and there are very hard-working people that are constantly having issues losing weight and being told to consume more fat, increase their calorie intake or don’t pay attention to calories at all, and months go by (years in many cases) and they get fatter or don’t lose anything.
I mean I eat ketogenic most of the time, a potato hack every now and then, because I feel good, but the only way I really lose weight is if I cut my calories massively. Even Gary Taubes in his latest book concedes that energy balance is vital if you want to lose weight – but it’s a pointless statement (he compares it to asking how rich people get rich – they saved more money than they spent – obvious point right?).
Richard Nikoley has started writing some damning pieces on JMoore, and I’ve read that Jimmy has gained something like 70 lbs since writing the book with Jason Fung. I don’t really know who or what to believe now – I would love to believe that what you said is all it is – he has bad genetics – but he lost a ton of weight while he was fasting (expending more calories than he was consuming) however apparently he has put it all back on and then some. How do we continue to believe his advice and follow his advice after that?
Either way, it’s really damaging a lot of these health communities I’m in, and the dogma has sort of shifted away from people being practical and pragmatic about it. Any practical person can see that SOMETHING is not right here.
I’m really bad at monitoring, I’m really good at YES/NO, OFF/ON, which is part of the reason keto works for me (YES meat/veggies, NO sugar/flour, etc) and I’m losing a crapload of weight with long-term fasts (OFF eating vs. monitoring exact calories) but I’m practical about it, and I don’t go around telling people to eat MORE to lose weight, or that they are (incorrectly) eating too much protein.
Love everything you have done, Tom. I hope your book is a huge success – I don’t plan on having kids so it’s a bit out of my realm but, all the best.
Dr. Su passed away some months back, I’m sorry to say.
I don’t know much Jimmy has regained, but of course fasting forever isn’t an option. Your body needs building materials and nutrients to keep from breaking down. Some people will, for reasons scientists have yet to determine, gain weight or fail to lose weight even on ridiculously low-calorie diets. As I’ve mentioned before, Jimmy’s mother lost 100 pounds after bariatric surgery — the supposed slam-dunk cure for obesity — and then gained it all back, despite having a stomach the size of a tennis ball and a severely restricted ability to absorb fats.
Gary Taubes has always maintained that yes, of course losing weight requires burning more calories than you take in. (He has degree in physics, so it’s not as if he’s never heard of thermodynamics.) The part people have a difficult time grasping is that your body can and will dramatically adjust how much energy it expends in order to follow the commands of hormones, so eating more doesn’t necessarily cause weight gain and eating less doesn’t necessarily cause weight loss. In many people, constant calorie restriction will simply reprogram their bodies to survive on very few calories.
In the book, we mention a study in which obese people were locked in a hospital and fed 600 calories per day. They didn’t lose weight. The researchers referred to them as “the resistant obese” and admitted they seemed to be “thermodynamic paradoxes.” In other words, it didn’t seem possible their very large bodies could slow down to the point of burning no more than 600 calories per day, and yet somehow they did.
When I interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig for the film, he mentioned a study in which obese kids were locked in a hospital for a month and fed 500 calories per day. They GAINED weight during that month — on 500 calories per day. I don’t see how any sane person could say they just needed to eat less because, you know, it’s all about calories in vs. calories out. Thermodynamics, doncha know.
What the people who like to treat Jimmy as their favorite whipping-boy don’t seem to realize is that he’s tried everything. You name a diet, he’s tried it — including very low-calorie diets. These internet cowboys are all convinced that, by gosh, if Jimmy would just switch to [insert their preferred diet here], he’d finally get down to 225 or so and stay there.
Pardon my French, but that’s utter bullshit. The internet cowboys don’t know what the @#$% they’re talking about. If “resistant obese” adults can stay fat on 600 calories per day while locked in a metabolic ward, if obese kids can GAIN weight on 500 calories per day, if a woman who’s undergone bariatric surgery can regain 100 pounds, then the obvious fact of the matter is that some people — again, for reasons scientists have yet to identify — are so biologically driven to get fat, nothing will turn them into normal-weight people. They can try this diet or that diet, perhaps lose some weight, but it comes roaring back. The best those unfortunate people can do is choose the diet that (if they’re lucky) causes their weight to stabilize while enhancing their health.
I’m not on a ketogenic diet and as I’ve said in several posts, I don’t believe a ketogenic diet is the ideal diet for everyone. I think for most of us, it’s better to go big on protein when we cut the carbs, then periodically shift into ketosis with some intermittent fasting. I’ve said as much during Q & A on the low-carb cruise.
But posting pictures of Jimmy as proof that a ketogenic diet makes people fat is a cheap, dumbass move. It’s as logical as posting pictures of Jimmy’s mother after she regained the 100 pounds and saying this is proof that bariatric surgery will make you fat.
We could just as easily cherry-pick photos of this guy …
… or this guy …
… both of whom are on ketogenic diets, as “proof” that a ketogenic diet will make you lean and muscular.
Well, what a load of crap, and I’ll tell you why.
Jimmy lost a lot of weight twice, once on a low-fat, calorie controlled diet, then after a rebound, on an Atkins low-carb diet. I believe the figure is 180 pounds lost.
So both methods worked.
Since about 2008 he has consistently regained weight with only brief dips of loss, but consistent upward trends. During that time, he has continued to lower carbohydrate, increase fat, and over the last few years, has lowered and limited protein as well, resulting in a radical recomposition. Compare photos of the old fat Jimmy with the new fat Jimmy. In the former, he clearly had gained lean mass along with fat. In the latter, his lean mass has melted away, leading to the probable explanation that by keeping carbohydrate extremely low and protein severely limited, there’s nothing to spare lean mass, and since glucose is a requirement, he’s been making it with lean mass and not dietary protein for years, with visible results to show for it.
All of Tom’s hand-waving, smoke and mirrors aside (a bunch of silly-ass excuses), what Tom is essentially saying is that Jimmy’s current dietary regime—”nutritional ketosis”—is what “broke his metabolism forever,” since obviously, he had no such serious problem before, being successful in both low-fat calorie limited, and a conventional Atkins low-carbohydrate.
Here’s what’s really going on, Tom.
Seems Dr. Westaman himself is backing off such lunacy.
So, Tom, if Dr. Westaman was being frank and honest and cared to weigh in on the Jimmy phenomenon, what do you want to bet he’s going with Occam’s Razor and not your dubious bullshit?
Now let’s look at what a sensible low-carbohydrate diet used to look like, from da man:
Jimmy needs to do one of two things, after realizing that he’s not following his longstanding advice, “Find a diet plan that works for you and stick with it for life.”
- Get out of the Diet Guru business (writing “diet guru” in this context makes me throw up in my mouth a little).
- Come to grips, admit he’s been wrong, and turn it around. Read the original Diet Revolution again, start all over, and follow it to the letter—which includes some awareness of “calorie bombs,” in the words of Robert Atkins.
Otherwise, this whole thing is going to get more and more ridiculous, and I hope you don’t keep contributing to it. You’ve done quite enough already.
Update: Out of courtesy, I emailed the link to Tom with a single sentence: “Calling it as I see it.”
Deleting. Not going to bother reading it, either.
As I’ve tried to make clear, Richard, I’m really not interested in this kind of shit. You’re turning into a male version of CarbSane, complete with all the same lovely attack-dog tactics. In fact, substitute “keto” for “meat,” and your behavior is indistinguishable from the vegan zealots who, not content to merely adopt and promote the diet they prefer, feel the need to show up everywhere the heathens gather to predict and actually root for their demise if they don’t admit the error of their ways and repent.
I hope one of these days you sober up and ask yourself why you can’t go anywhere — in cyberspace or on the actual planet — without making enemies, including enemies you once considered friends. If the only way to stay on your good side is agree with you 100% on every topic, well, that makes you a self-righteous asshole, doesn’t it? Very much like our vegan pals indeed.
Jimmy, by contrast, has remained a close friend even though I’ve made it clear on my blog and during Q & A sessions on the cruises that I view a ketogenic diet as a useful tool for some metabolic conditions, but not the ideal diet — or even an advisable diet — for most people. That’s the difference between you and him.
The penultimate sentence is particularly curious though: “That’s the difference between you and him.” Indeed. I view the epileptic diet as an intervention for epileptics. Jimmy makes money trying to tout it to everyone. Does misery love company? Or, did you mean that Jimmy has remained a friend? Well, then, aren’t you making your own argument for enabling his behavior?