“Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit” – an intentional 70 pound weight gain

An interesting story.

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Drew Manning before & after

Yea, that’s right. The “before & after” is reversed. IN this case, the before is to the left and the after, to the right, 70 pounds later.

Since May, Drew Manning has gained about 70 pounds on purpose. And he’s not done yet.

Drew is a personal trainer and has always been the “fit guy.” He’s now on a journey he calls Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit where he spends six months (he has about 4 weeks left) eating unhealthy food and not exercising, then he will take six more months to get fit again. Why? To experience for himself what it’s like to be overweight, how tough it is to lose weight, and ultimately show others how to get fit.

Most interesting of all? What he’s doing to make himself fat.

sugary cereals, granola bars, juices, white breads, white pastas, sodas, crackers, chips, frozen dinners, mac n cheese, etc.

Sounds pretty much like the Standard American Diet (SAD). Looks pretty much like the Standard Supermarket Grocery Cart as well. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out and how he eats to get lean again. He seems pretty sincere, judging from this video where he lays out his plan and explains why he’s doing it. And here’s his blog. Lots more videos here.

(Hat tip to my friend and former next door neighbor Bill for alerting me to this)

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Jake on October 19, 2011 at 11:46

    I can see how he can be sincere, but speaking as a fat guy doing crossfit + paleo to reach the goal of seeing my abs, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

    I could see that it wouldn’t take him as long because he isn’t doing YEARS of damage, but it’s damage none-the-less.

    It would, however, make me more likely to hire him as a trainer after he did it. Nothing like fat -> muscular to trust they at least know something about weight loss and body composition. Not that, of course, it would work for me. Everyone’s different. Just my n=1.

  2. dean on October 19, 2011 at 12:11

    Very interesting. I think the one distinction I would make is this…and why his journey is very different from what most us here most likely suffer from.

    He is doing this intentionally…or consciously…but he also has the confidence to know he can get back into great shape.

    None of us had the luxury of his before or knowing what we were/are doing was/is going to work. I’m sure there are many readers who are still struggling to find the pieces to the puzzle that have eluded them.

    Drew already has the pieces and the confidence to know he will be able to reverse that very thing he is knowingly inflicting on himself.

    Now if he can’t reverse it…then I wold curious to see what he would do next (but that won’t happen).

    Thanks for sharing amigo.


  3. Matthew on October 19, 2011 at 12:16

    What an attention-whore. “Oh hey look people like ‘Biggest Loser’ but I’m already ripped and muscular, and they’re getting more attention than me. I know, I’ll stop exercising but still eat 5 pounds of ‘Weight Gain 4000’ a day and wash it down with potato chips and milkshakes! Then I’ll go back to my regular regimen, lose weight, and be a star just like the ‘Biggest Losers’!!!!!”

    • Richard Nikoley on October 19, 2011 at 12:37

      I don’t see it like that at all.

      Right in his video, he says that he’s been fit, never fat all his life, and that people are right when they say he doesn’t know what it’s like, because he doesn’t. His blog is documenting not only what he’s eating to put on the weight, pictures showing progress, but also how he feels about himself along the way, his self image and self esteem. I can make a case that all of these things are valuable for a fat person to gain insight.

      He’s doing this so he can truly know what it’s like to be fat, and truly know what it’s like to lose weight.

      So needless to say, Matthew, I think you’re way off base. Moreover, I think you’re needlessly critical of someone who’s actually doing something to enhance their understanding of obesity. I’ll venture that he’s actually going to help a lot of people with this. I further venture that you don’t help many people at all, if any at all.

      • Matthew on October 19, 2011 at 16:22

        I’m not sure how you can tell how many people I help or don’t help based on one sarcastic paragraph in a blog comment. I was just trying to say that it seems more like a publicity stunt than something helpful. He’s got a “ripped” picture of himself with his bicep measurements on it. He is advertising his Tonight Show appearance on the site and has a “Donate” button for the experiment too.

      • Primal Toad on October 20, 2011 at 01:25

        He will inspire and save lives. Doing what he is doing is CHALLENGING and something that 99.9% of the population would not want to parktake in. Why bash him?

      • MountainDew on October 20, 2011 at 06:18

        Did you think he was just doing it for shits and giggles? He’s a personal trainer. Of course this is part business for him. And you know … so what? He’ll have a better understanding of what his clients go through and it’ll improve him as a trainer; which will improve his living. Win-win.

      • Dan Linehan on October 20, 2011 at 16:10

        What’s wrong with a publicity stunt geared towards increasing people’s health knowledge?

      • Joshua on October 20, 2011 at 10:51

        But he doesn’t know what it’s like to be fat. Being overweight has genetic or biological components, for example, that he most likely doesn’t have, by nature of the fact that he has been thin his whole life. So he won’t learn what it’s like to be fat and then lose weight. He will learn what it’s like for a naturally thin person to binge and then to return to their normal state of thin-ness.

        This is like putting on blackface, speaking ebonics, and saying you’ve learned what it’s like to be black.

      • Richard Nikoley on October 20, 2011 at 11:44

      • mehitabel on October 20, 2011 at 12:33

        The “Black Like Me” 6-week busride through the South was a “snapshot” — and, at the time, certainly a worthwhile snapshot — much more worthwhile than what we’re talking about here. I agree with Joshua, as I posted below. This guy is visiting fatness as a tourist. When he goes back to “fit” he’s going home. When a fat person journeys to “fit,” it’s much more leaving home forever and going to a strange new place — it’s a whole different trip. We’re “talking” about him…and that’s the trip he’s taking.

  4. rob on October 19, 2011 at 12:58

    From his blog:

    “My blood work came back and informed me that my testosterone levels have plummeted to the levels of a prepubescent teenage boy. ”

    That accounts for the “Male PMS” symptoms also.

  5. Paul on October 19, 2011 at 13:06

    I really hope he will benefit from the experiment as well like an increase in his revenue. Yeah, he helps other people along the way, but that can’t be the only reason and it shouldn’t be.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 19, 2011 at 13:15

      Oh no, you mean he’s not just an “attention whore,” but a greedy “attention whore?” :)

      • Paul on October 19, 2011 at 15:05

        yes, he is a greedy attention whore :D
        To put on such a unhealthy amount of weight on purpose would be totally stupid if there is no profit from doing so.
        Actors do it all the time (Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Tom Hanks) and I would do it too if I get some Millions for it.
        The thought of putting so much junk into me really scares me, because i started Paleo for health reason (light acne) and not for weight loss. The long term health effects are actually scarier than the weight gain and we’ll only know about it if we check his blog again in 5 years or so and until then we’ve forgotten about him.

  6. Jason on October 19, 2011 at 13:20

    I’ve lost 75# in that last 12 months through diet, Crossfit, and running, so I know a little something about this process. Maybe Drew couldn’t empathize exactly, and I do appreciate his curiosity and will, but this is folly.

    In six months he’ll have some photos and be able to say, “I did it, so can you!”…but we knew that already.

    He’ll gain an understanding of the physical component of weight loss, and I’m sure he feels like utter hell. Here’s the critical component he’ll likely never understand: since he’s always been fit and fully expects to be again, I doubt he’ll understand the emotional component, not in a rooted in your brain, this is your life, you’re a fat slob sort of way.

  7. Jeremy Voluntaryist on October 19, 2011 at 13:24

    I applaud him for taking the initiative to go through this if nothing more than to get a glimpse of what other people might go through. Having done the fit to fat myself a few years ago it’s a million times harder to go the other way. Good luck to him.

  8. rob on October 19, 2011 at 13:38

    I think on his way back to “fit” he will be aided to a considerable extent by “muscle memory,” which is an interesting concept to Google, my experience has been that if you were good at something in the past, even after a long lay off amounting to years, you will be able regain that ability much faster than someone who was never good at it in the first place.

    So when he starts going to the gym again he will probably have to start out with girl weights but he will be doing man weights much sooner than someone who does not have a background of lifting weights.

  9. JimZ on October 19, 2011 at 13:52

    He’s gonna regret it. Look at that wheat belly, he’ll never get rid of the stretch marks.

    • Robert on October 19, 2011 at 14:28

      I was thinking the same. I think he is making a mistake, he might be doing unseen damage even if he does end up looking like his former self. Is it worth it just so he is better able to help other people lose weight and get into shape? For me the answer would always be no. I hope he doesn’t end up regretting it.

      • RickB on October 19, 2011 at 16:45

        You guys make the point that first occurred to me when Mac from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” did the same thing for this season’s show. (Also for interesting sociological reasons, and also a stunning transformation, but less than with F2F2F because Mac lifted weights three days a week.)

        Who really knows if this type of experiment does permanent damage to your liver, pancreas, insulin sensitivity, hypothalamus, gut bacteria & lining, and on and on and on. The body is very resilient, but it’s also very fragile. [Richard: Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself,/(I am large, I contain multitudes.)]

        I am sure that I’m not the only person who is on an Archevore-type diet and a Primal Blueprint/Leangains-type workout plan but still has fat around the waist and wonders: Will this always be there because I grew up on Little Debbies and 7-11 Slurpees? (Which also happens to be a convenient excuse when cutting good beer and wine out of my diet is a non-starter.)

        Which is just another way of asking if some things aren’t reversible. I guess we’ll find out in December.

      • Paul on October 19, 2011 at 17:06

        hey Rick, to get rid of the fat around the waist It’s really helpful to consume very little. It’s that simple :D
        Some years ago i posted questions on the panu forum how to get rid of the fat on my waist. Over 1 year later i can see veins on it :D Excess cal will not work!

      • RickB on October 19, 2011 at 19:23

        I read irony/sarcasm into your reply [based on the substance-less substance, and use of emoticons], but maybe you’re being straight.

        If so, thanks for the advice. I’ll eat less and exercise more and wait for the stomach veins to arrive. Not sure how I hadn’t thought of that before.

      • Paul on October 20, 2011 at 02:16

        No, no irony here! I was just happy to see my veins! Yes, my whole comment sounds kind of stupid, but lower Calorie is the only thing that worked for me. Here’s an interesting article http://fitnessblackbook.com/main/starvation-mode-why-you-probably-never-need-to-worry-about-it/

  10. Joseph on October 19, 2011 at 15:11

    I applaud him for trying to get into the minds of his clients, even if I suspect that he cannot ever really get there (since he did not grow up thinking that it was normal and good to be fat and miserable). But the fact that empathy is hard and ultimately impossible (when standards are high) does not mean that no one should try to gain it, or that anyone who tries is an idiot or an attention whore.

    Personally, I would probably not do what he is doing, but that is because my life is not his: I walk a different path. But I think there is value in the tough path he is attempting.

  11. LXV on October 19, 2011 at 15:14

    My vanity would so not let me do this.

  12. Science Experiment of the Day - The Daily What on October 19, 2011 at 17:17

    […] trainer Drew Manning has spent the past five months intentionally gaining 70 pounds by eating all the stuff you like to eat — frosted cereals, white bread, chips, mac n cheese, […]

  13. mehitabel on October 19, 2011 at 17:38

    This “seems” wrong.

    Would we tolerate a journalist becoming addicted to heroin to give us a first-hand account of heroin addiction? — although, it’s probably been done. I will delicately put it…would we want to see anyone intentionally put themselves through physical or sexual abuse for reportage?

    Well, the JackAss franchise of movies would indicate “hell, yes.”

    He doing this ostensibly to give himself an understanding of cravings and fatness and to give us an understanding of the path back to health and wellness.
    Is there any part of this we don’t already have intimate knowledge of?
    Is this man, whose teeth are whiter than paper, really not an attention whore?

    I like Jason’s remark:

    “Here’s the critical component he’ll likely never understand: since he’s always been fit and fully expects to be again, I doubt he’ll understand the emotional component, not in a rooted in your brain, this is your life, you’re a fat slob sort of way.”

    Before paleo, I was 265, had double-bypass, 5 years ago. Now 6′, comfy 185.
    I know “rooted in your brain” fat. I know the genuinely scary part of shedding the wonderful comfort of the fat suit.
    He’s just doing a whirlwind tour through fatdom.

    • Dan Linehan on October 20, 2011 at 16:14

      Would we ‘tolerate’ it? What the fuck does that mean?

      If a journalist wanted to do that I think it would be extremely interesting.

      Hell, Hitchens got waterboarded when no in the Bush Administration had the balls to..

    • Joe Branca on October 21, 2011 at 11:23

      “Would we tolerate a journalist becoming addicted to heroin to give us a first-hand account of heroin addiction? — although, it’s probably been done. ”

      There’s a hard to find experimental film from the 60’s called The Connection (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054763/) a film within a film of jazz cats and junkies where the journalistic director ends up doing just that. It’s just performance art, but your comment reminded me of that old film.

      • Dan Linehan on October 21, 2011 at 13:16

        On that note, Michael Pollan was growing illegal poppies and writing about opium tea, long before he began his ‘Defense of Food.’

  14. R Dunn on October 19, 2011 at 18:11

    And at the other end of the spectrum, I think I know about four people that are so far gone they would consider ending up where he is in the after shot as a great accomplishment.

  15. Knee exercises on October 19, 2011 at 23:06

    Weight gaining is good for very thin peoples. But it could be bad if we have some possible risks as blood sugar and blood pressure.

  16. Richard A. on October 20, 2011 at 06:29

    Obesity damages the skin. As one gets fat the skin begins cracking and those cracks are filled with scar material (stretch marks). Also, as the skin is stretched out from obesity, once you lose the excess weight it can take a couple of years for the skin to tighten up and you wont get complete contraction.

    • gallier2 on October 21, 2011 at 03:08

      Prof.Lutz made it quite clear that the stretch marks in obese are not a result of “mechanical” stretching. They are the result of the metabolic syndrom the obese often suffer from. People with metabolic syndrom on the standard diet have their metabolism optimized for glucose use and have difficulty to switch to using fat as fuel (impaired metabolic flexibility). This has the consequence that when lacking fuel, the body will activate neo-glucogenesis by eleavating cortisol levels. This happens mainly at night when sleeping, as this is the main fasting period. This explains also why obese have less muscle than non-obese.
      So in the case of Drew Manning, I doubt he will be able to shoot his metabolism enough to experience the impaired metabolic flexibility that will cannibalize his own proteins. IMHO he won’t get stretch marks.

  17. Shirtless Citizen on October 20, 2011 at 07:08

    My humble opinion is that this is another guy who is trying to get attention on himself. But i might be wrong.

    I tell you how it feels to be fat. It’s awful. You can’t see your dick because of your belly. That’s painfull.

    I’ve been fat, i’ve lost 32 kg and i think i was around 13-15% bodyfat. Now i’m fat again. But i didn’t do it for a crazy experiment.

    I’ve did poor choices: alcohool (lots of beer), bread, junk food. Why these choices? I guess it’s about my carbophobia from the past, combined with tons of exercise. I was doing 4-5 training a week on almost zero carbs. And i’ve paid the price. Back at 116 kg.

    Now i’ve started to include carb ciclization and i’m loosing bodyfat. Bigger carbs on training days.

    Will see what’s happening but i guess now i’m on the right track (i have pics on my blog)


  18. Shirtless Citizen on October 20, 2011 at 07:20

    this is the adress:

  19. David Chesler on October 20, 2011 at 13:24

    When I started the story I was in the “attention whore” camp. But through the comments I’m seeing that if he’s only expecting to get a snapshot of being fat, and a better snapshot than wearing a fat suit[*] for a few hours, he’ll gain something from the experience that he can share with his trainees. He probably does understand that there are involuntary parts of overweight.

    [*]I’m thinking of a TV newsmagazine experiment from a few years ago where some sexy young woman needed help carrying packages or something, and young men were fighting to help her, then she put on a fat suit (and dowdy clothes, and a general appearance of old, dowdy, unattractive, not trying to be attractive) and folks didn’t help her. There were too many variables the did not control for before concluding fat people are discriminated against.

  20. Kelly on October 21, 2011 at 04:33

    An Aussie personal trainer did this two years ago.

  21. Al on October 20, 2011 at 19:39

    I think this guy deserves some credit – showboating for business or not. But I do have some comments of my own:

    – he can never experience being a fat teenager and all the subsequent psychological problems still haunting 30 years later.

    – as someone said – he is visiting fatdom- it’s not his “home”.

    – he eats like a thin person: he takes small bites and leaves food on the spoon. No fat man in their “right” mind would do such a thing. He’s forcing it for the show, but this is fine.

    – temporarily knocking out out of homeostasis is not the same thing as establishing a new set point. Although there may be no way to know this, his trip back to fit will be easier than for one just starting after years of being obese.

    – my guess is that he will use the typical bodybuilding brand of low-cal/carb restriction/bland chicken breasts and egg whites routine. Willpower will be greatly demanded – especially after the decadence of six months time. I’m curious to find out.

    – this is not the real thing, but I commend him on what he is doing – trying to “feel” fat.

    – it’s interesting that he is feeling unattractive and lazy, so it seems he may not feel like a thin person inside of a fat suit – this is a positive. Though he seems to have the full support of family. I wonder how they would react if this was his new self, and not just a temporary trip for education. You see, everyone knows that this is temporary – he even claims to always mention the experiment when dealing with folks – so they may understand that this is not really him. This indicates that he may not be feeling wholly like a fat person from a psychological standpoint.

    It’s amazing what someone can do to themselves in such a short time, and most Westerners don’t know any other way. It’s no wonder we’re in the middle of an obesity epidemic.

    This is most interesting at the least. I curiously await the trip back to fit.

    Thanks Rich.


  22. Shirtless Citizen on October 20, 2011 at 23:00

    Great input Al,

    it’s his body anyway and he can do whatever he wants. It’s great that he’s experimenting this but i think that listening carefull your fat clients would have been a much better aproach

  23. Joe A.Alvarado on October 21, 2011 at 08:32

    Mr. Manning I look somewhat like the picture on the right , I seriously need to lose some weight don’t know how i got over weight . I want to ask you if after you lose your weight is there any mass of fat
    around the heart left there or does it burn off from losing weight. If the fat stays around the heart how can i remove it.

    in case you don’t lose your weight don’t feel bad neither
    can i. wish i could! ! ! ! ! ? ? ? ? . . . .

  24. Keith Thomas on October 21, 2011 at 19:23

    My expectation is that he will recover all or almost all of his previous shape and appearance within his planned time frame, but won’t recover his physical condition. I also predict that within a decade he’ll be somewhere between his before and after pictures here, that he won’t be active in the fitness industry and that he’ll have a lame rationalization for the change. Hope I’m wrong.

  25. Brian on October 23, 2011 at 06:57

    I would be more impressed if he gained all this weight, then stayed at that level for a year or two, then attempted to lose the weight. It’s very different for someone who has been overweight and not very active for years to suddenly get their body to lose weight, vs someone who is clearly very fit and has had great metabolism in the past.

  26. Jeffrey of Troy on January 8, 2012 at 19:38

    He’s neither an attention whore nor is he trying to gain an insight into what fat people face. As a personal trainer, he’s trying to gain CREDIBILITY w/ potential – fat – clients.

  27. Noodly James on March 2, 2012 at 15:58

    Here is an update.


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