Human Genes 60% Associated With Obesity; Gut Genes 90% Associated With Obesity

I placed a bit of a clue in yesterday’s post, to see if anyone would pick up on it.

You are 99.99% genetically identical to every other human on the planet. Whereas, in terms of your gut microbiome genetic sequence, you can be 90% different from the person next to you.

Nope, at least not that I’ve seen in comments. You had to watch Rob Knight’s TED video to really understand the profundity of the potential, here. Isn’t it amazing that with 99.99% identical human-cell genes, we can have such a variety of features between humans? Tall, short, fast, slow, smart, dumb, blond, black, strong, weak, ugly, and even uglier pink bags of flesh & water draped over frames…and the list goes way on.

And even at such fine (I was going to write “cunt-hair”) genomic margins, we’ve managed to understand a very great deal about what causes those differences. But the thing is, it’s also inviolable. Nothing you can do about it. Sorry guys (and gals, because you know size does matter), penis enlargement is but a fantasy. You’re stunk with your junk.

But how about obesity? To its credit, society hasn’t generally bought into the notion that being fat is the equivalent of being stuck with too large of a penis, too-small tits or, two small-tits.

And with good reason. It turns out that if you gather together a whole bunch of fat & lean people—50% fat, 50% lean—and then look at only their human-cell gene sequence, you’ll predict which are fat and which are lean 6 out of 10 times—one time more out of ten, than just flipping a coin.

How about if you sequence their gut-genome instead? Here’s Rob Knight, at 11:26, via the transcript.

So I mentioned that microbes have all these important functions, and they’ve also now, just over the past few years, been connected to a whole range of different diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, colon cancer, and even obesity. Obesity has a really large effect, as it turns out, and today, we can tell whether you’re lean or obese with 90 percent accuracy by looking at the microbes in your gut. Now, although that might sound impressive, in some ways it’s a little bit problematic as a medical test, because you can probably tell which of these people is obese without knowing anything about their gut microbes, but it turns out that even if we sequence their complete genomes and had all their human DNA, we could only predict which one was obese with about 60 percent accuracy. So that’s amazing, right? What it means that the three pounds of microbes that you carry around with you may be more important for some health conditions than every single gene in your genome.

So, now, using only the gut-cell gene sequence, you go from a correct prediction 6 out of 10 times, to 9 out of 10 times—four times more than random chance, and 300% more predictive (see how I can dazzle with numbers, over just correlations and associations?) than human-cell sequencing. I knew those college courses in statistics would come in handy, someday…. Here’s a clue: ALWAYS gauge what you think you know against random. For, this is precisely how you are manipulated by fucktard News Readers every day, who haven’t a clue.

As a comparison, I tried to get to the bottom of association/correlation for smoking as a comparison, since everyone accepts (rightly) that smoking is bad, though it’s based on highly predictive association / correlation, but though not in the same way that some amount of cyanide injected will absolutely cause death 100% of the time. Or, the guillotine.

But, the whole thing is so tarnished by PC-bullshit that it’s literally difficult to find simple raw data. Moreover, because they can’t technically say that smoking causes lung cancer (since vastly, most lifelong smokers don’t get it and some non-smokers do get it), they say that smoking causes an increased risk.

And this is true. The next time you decide to drive 6 hours somewhere instead of fly, you are causing an increased risk of death. You aren’t causing your death—not like if you injected yourself with cyanide, or blew your brains out—but you have caused a statistically verifiable increase in the chances of your untimely demise.

Statistics are amazingly wonderful in terms of humans being able to gather, categorize, tabulate, crunch, and spit out ideas. But, just like with children, you don’t let them play in a snake pit.

Bottom line? Always make sure you are dealing with associations and correlations, and never let them give rise to absolute causality because they almost never do—except when it’s fucking a priori obvious. All you need is a single lifelong chainsmoker to not get lung cancer to falsify the causality that smoking causes lung cancer. You can’t say “cause” until it’s 100%, 100% of the time. Sorry, words mean things. But, same time, also realize how complex it is even on that 0.01%. A bout of poison ivy, a bea sting, peanuts, and a few other things can cause death or minimally, cause very serious anaphylaxis that can be deadly. And just to fuck with you even more, researchers in Australia temporarily inoculated peanut allergy victims with probiotics.

But it’s very highly associated, and so why go on a fool’s errand for unobtainable causality when you pretty much know it’s as bad as taking car-breakdown refuge on a dark night in a garage with a mysteriously large number of chainsaws hanging from the ceiling (maybe you saw the TV commercial—funny)? That’s the other side of the very powerful sword of epidemiology.

To round it out, we’re very soon going to be seeing fecal transplants from lean people to obese people, and if not in a clinical setting, a DIY setting, if it’s not already happening. I’ll be staying tuned.


  1. bioking on April 20, 2015 at 11:05

    I want Sission’s feces in my breakfast smoothie!

    • sassysquatch on April 20, 2015 at 11:08

      Better to go with a ‘Tatertot’ smoothie.

    • rob on April 20, 2015 at 13:33

      Well he does sell supplements ….

    • David on April 21, 2015 at 06:56

      I just saw it on his website -he’s calling it “Primal Poop”

  2. bioking on April 20, 2015 at 11:06

    But will he sell it to me?

  3. sassysquatch on April 20, 2015 at 11:07

    Yep, I did miss the clue in the blog post – but did watch the TED talk and caught it there. That is crazy to think about.

  4. John on April 20, 2015 at 11:46

    You can’t use the word correlate online anymore without some asshole, invariably awed by his own brilliance, jumping up and stating “CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.” He then proceeds to assume he has dropped the hammer of truth, shattering the proposed validity of everything you’ve said, while neglecting to address any points you’ve made.

    I see a chicken/egg situation in the gut biome-obesity correlation. It seems far more likely to me that the “fat” biome is a product of things related to being fat, rather than the biome causing obesity.

    I feel this way based on observations of my own weight based on food choices when I’m not paying attention to calorie intake, and on my understanding of the food reward hypothesis.

    • John on April 20, 2015 at 12:26

      To provide some perspective about myself:

      I was a skinny kid turned chubby teenager turned athletic 18-32 year adult who has weighed between 145-185 at 5’9″, and experimented with a wide variety of protocols and diets. I was chubby when I was eating fast food, drinking soda, and snacking – dropping those resulted in spontaneous weight loss. (Seems like food reward hypothesis in effect). I was leanest on various diets with active calorie restriction. (Body for Life, Leangains). I maintain 165-170 with little oversight by avoiding caloric beverages, not snacking, and following 16/8 IF, regardless of food choice during meals (though I will often do things like post-pizza 24 hour fasts – conscious adjustments). I gained fat quickly with VLC.

      I noticed no hunger improvement with either RS or probiotics. I notice significant changes in other areas, though.

      When I was fat, drinking large sodas and eating Taco Bell and Burger King all the time, the thought of giving up soda seemed difficult. The thought of life without a Whopper was rough. When trying to “cut back” on intake, I’d be craving the fries I was skipping, or the other half of the burger I was leaving. I understand cravings now largely based on my experience with them in the past.

      I’ve found that consciously choosing “low reward foods” in the context of IF with high protein has the most profound effect on hunger regulation. If I eat 1400 calories of 2% cottage cheese, salmon, vegetables, and lean beef, I feel as satisfied, as if I eat the same thing with an extra 800 calories of cereal, and sometimes more satisfied.

      I notice that when I go for periods of no ice cream I have little to no desire for it. If I start eating it, I start wanting it.

      I’ve found that even if my weight isn’t changing, when I’m eating pizza, ice cream, and other foods like that I start craving them, and wind up adjusting after the fact for consumption (deliberate calorie restriction the next day). If I don’t eat them, I don’t want them. That said, eating them triggers an immediate desire – if I haven’t had pizza for a while and take a bite, I will feel instant hunger, and the hunger will seemingly grow until I’ve eaten about 2/3’s of a large.

      As an experiment I didn’t pay attention to calories, and ate what I wanted for dinner for the past year, in the context of IF. I didn’t gain weight, but I found that I was feeling stress over whether I was, my workouts weren’t great, and I wanted pizza for dinner every night.

      I recently redesigned a Leangains style protocol for myself, complete with calorie and macro cycling. My girlfriend was perplexed by my diet – “why do you want to eat that way when you look how you do without counting and measuring?” Well I’m quickly stronger, leaner, and she gets it (though its amazing how people don’t understand why you’d want to be your physical best – family ask me all the time what the purpose is).

      I find that by tracking intake and macros (leangains style) and eating mostly real food, I’m able to continue physical improvement (strength and body fat improvements), avoid cravings almost entirely, and stress less than ever over food, since I’m not making choices or thinking about how much I’m eating, I’m just following the plan.

      In my experience, conscious “low reward” choices in the context of “proper” calorie and protein intakes lead to lower weight with minimal hunger and cravings. Perhaps there’s a cyclical gut biome element, in that my choices lead to “lean” biome which leads to further leanness. I will be surprised if transplanting lean biomes to fat people results in lasting weight loss – I’d predict fat habits to resume, and fat biome to reestablish.

      Well that was long and full of stories that may be relevant to someone besides me on the issue of gut biome and obesity.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2015 at 12:39

      John, that’s a remarkable comment on levels.

      On a quick look for me, we all ought know that human discipline trumps all, or most.

      Thing is, while humans are completely capable of it, it now almost only comes out when a child is dying of cancer.

    • Wilbur on April 20, 2015 at 17:03

      John –

      I think you and I have had several rounds regarding cravings.

      I too am about 5’9″. I was chubby as a child (they had special jeans for chubby kids, can’t remember the name). Got thin as an early teenager. Then discovered Arnold and got interested in weightlifting. I was 245 lbs at my heaviest, squatting almost 700lbs in competition. Unfortunately, my bench sucked. Got thin again, then got a great job, started eating out, and soon weighed 220 mostly fat. Then I discovered race car driving where fat was slow, and got down to 155 for a couple of years. Then I had a kid, insurance said no more racing, and I got back to 200+.

      This whole time, I suffered from cravings. I know what they are, and how hard they are to fight. I had cravings when skinny and when fat.

      But since I started working on my gut, they’ve dissappeared. Gone. I ate cake last night. It triggered no desire to eat more. If I eat a pizza, it’s a one-time thing. I don’t even eat the leftovers. If I crave anything, it is weird stuff like garlic and onions that most wouldn’t even classify as cravings.

      But here’s my thought: I eat a lot of fiber per day (150 g+). I wonder if that is such a large amount that small deviations don’t matter for me? If I cut the fiber and ate a whole lot of cake, maybe the cravings would return? I dunno. All I can say is that this is the first time that I haven’t had to fight them.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2015 at 18:32

      My weird ass craving is soup, but brothy soup, not thick soup. Vegetable, chicken, beaf & vegetable, wor wonton, and tonight, going for miso.

    • tatertot on April 20, 2015 at 20:25

      Wilbur – I still have nightmares of my mom yelling across the Woolworth’s, “Do you have these jeans in HUSKY?”

      We were not fat…we were HUSKY. lol

    • Charles on April 20, 2015 at 20:37

      I was trying to remember that. I guess it was traumatic, and my brain wouldn’t let me remember. But yes, for years I wore “husky.” It took me a long time to realize I was not husky, I was fat.

      That’s when I put myself, at age 15, on a meat and whole milk diet (no carbs), and lost 40 pounds over a summer.

      Fuck husky.

    • tatertot on April 20, 2015 at 21:37

      At 17, I went on a bootcamp program. I entered a fat kid and emerged 6 weeks later a man, with a strange desire to kill everyone in the Soviet Union.

    • John on April 21, 2015 at 11:49

      Sounds real.

      Depending on where I’m going, I’ll just skip food until dinner – this is when I know I’m going all out. Bread with butter, appetizer, and 24oz prime rib with loaded potato, for example. There are only a handful of places I care to order a dessert and eat more than a few bites, given how much I’ve eaten by dessert time, unless its a “known for their dessert” type restaurant. Some of the people I go out with never order dessert, others do, and I usually go with the flow on that front. Works pretty well, given that I’ll typically want to eat the same amount when I go out regardless of whether I’ve eaten earlier in the day. With certain foods (pizza, favorite restaurants) I’m a bottomless pit. Family and friends think I should be a competitive eater!

      There’s a local restaurant that serves a coconut cream pie I order every time I go. Also, J. Alexander’s carrot cake is pretty damn good. Served hot, cut square. makes me think of carrot cake meets gooey cinnamon roll.

      Regarding 150g fiber. I have been curious about fermentable fiber from a calorie standpoint. Once the gut bugs have their way, is this like 600 calories worth of fatty acids? I haven’t been able to find much on this.

    • sassysquatch on April 21, 2015 at 04:36

      Holy cow Wilbur, 150+ grams of fiber a day!
      You must poop 7 times a day.

    • Wilbur on April 21, 2015 at 06:43

      Yes, it was husky. Sears never had the style I liked in husky. I always had to get ones I didn’t like. What an awful memory.

      @sassy. A lot of people ask that question. I don’t know why. No, I poop once or twice per day, very consistently. Perfect poops too. What I’d consider normal gas. About the only thing significantly different is my water intake, which is a lot higher. I don’t pee more often than usual; I suspect a lot gets absorbed by the fibers.

    • John on April 21, 2015 at 07:51


      Interesting stories. I was never over 200 lbs. When I was about 11-14 I was pretty chubby (don’t remember height/weight but people don’t believe its me when they see pictures from then). Then my weight fluctuated a bunch until I was 18. I was very physically active from about 14-18, rollerblading, cross country, etc. This is probably why I didn’t get really fat during those years. Nevertheless, I was the only HS varsity cross country runner that was carrying some flab. My favorite lunch after I got my driver’s license was 5 tacos supreme and a large Dr. Pepper from Taco Bell.

      When I was 18 I went vegetarian + fish/dairy. New GF influence :). I went from about 180 to 155 almost instantly. That is how I went from complete indifference to diet, to very fascinated in diet/health connections. From that point on I’ve maintained an active life, and experimented with many diets.

      I haven’t had cravings in the “can’t resist” sense in a while, without having the food in front of my face. I do remember times when trying various diets and trying to lose weight that things like chocolate chip cookies would enter my mind, and I’d have desire so strong that I’d think about whether long term diet adherence was possible in the face of dealing with such wants.

      That said, still, if I’m out to dinner and see the bread bowl, I’ll get a craving, ask for extra butter, and go to town. No combination of pro/pre biotics I’ve tried helped with that. I’ve managed to get that in check with the Leangains style protocol I set up for myself; I wonder what part of the combination of planning, goal setting, protein elevating, calorie or carb cycling plays the biggest role?

      Yet Sunday, 2 days ago, mom invited me for dinner – homemade eggplant parm. It was in a casserole dish, thus more like lasagna with fried eggplant instead of pasta. I had to make myself stop eating!

      Every time I write about my history with food on this blog, I think about how I sound like a gluttonous food addict that takes drastic dietary measures to keep things in check. Makes me wonder how those that aren’t lean and strong feel.


      I spent about 4 months in Romania, and I’d never eaten so much brothy soup in my life. Very light broths – basically water added to whatever soup ingredients they were using, yet the soups were always delicious. Always served with smantana on the side to stir in.

    • Wilbur on April 21, 2015 at 10:22

      John –

      I long had the cravings for foods that I’d think of. Ravenous hunger for them. Also obviously the ones with the food in front of me.

      If I go into a restaurant, I might or might not eat bread. No matter how long it has been since I last ate (up to about 20 hours, anyway), I know how much I can eat. I look over the entire menu and decide what I want. If the place has good desserts, I’ll know I want to save room. Eating bread will fill me up too early, so I will skip it. Or maybe the bread is really good and the desserts boring, so I’ll have bread and no dessert. Or I’ll skip bread and dessert to eat two appetizers.

      Sometimes my wife will say the bread is exceptional and that I must try it. I’ll take one bite, agree, and leave the rest untouched. This does not work for dessert. By then, I’m truly full and cannot take even one bite.

      This also applies to the course of an entire day. I’ll skip lunch to eat a bigger dinner, say.

      My best description is that hunger is now cerebral. I think about what I want to eat. I’m never desperate to eat anything. (Every time I say this, I mean with the exception of raw garlic and onions.). I don’t have that strange feeling of wanting physically what I don’t want mentally. The two are in alignment. This only happened to me after starting my super high fermentable fiber diet. I have been like this every single day for well over a year, so I can’t believe it is a fluke.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2015 at 11:49

      One should read John’s comment and see that Stephan and the Food Reward/Palatability area he’s chosen to study had merit.

      Consider that for millions of year, billions of hominoids lived full lived over decades and died, and not one of them was ever for an instant confronted with a single option that John had to contemplate and make tradeoff choices about in a single meal on a single day of his particular life.

      The food reward/palatability stuff struck me as so Occam’s Razor, from literally second one.

    • John on April 21, 2015 at 12:44


      I probably should have given Stephan a shout out in one of my comments; his influence is very apparent in my interpretation and description of my own experiences.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2015 at 12:54

      On the other side, it probably wouldn’t matter. Stephan kinda shot himself in the foot by being too smart, too young, too dumb.

      But I forgive him.

      He really isn’t interested in slumming it with us, anymore. And his career is probably more important than any distinctions he might care to make.

      But I reiterate: I get it.

    • Wilbur on April 21, 2015 at 13:45

      On the calorie question, I don’t know. I have read that SFCAs are often excreted, so maybe it is not all consumed.

      Having read “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human”, I have doubts about calorie counting. Really interesting stuff. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but, for example, grinding meat instead of eating a steak increases the energy absorbed in the small intestine by something like 25%. Cooking vegetables greatly increases the calories absorbed. Eating raw vegetables together with a steak further decreases the calories absorbed.

      No calorie charts take these and other issues into consideration. The book goes into detail in its epilogue.

      I suspect my fiber regimen changes the calorie counting equation, but I don’t know how. Furthermore, someone (tatertot?) posted a study showing that the gut bugs can influence transit time. It really sounds like a big mess to me.

      But I digress. Please let me know if you find estimates. I think it’s interesting.

    • David on April 21, 2015 at 19:22

      If I am buying groceries, I always feel like I buy the right foods in the right amounts to eat at home. Once I start going to restaurants, traveling for work, visiting relatives, etc then I start to eat the food that is available to me, independent of hunger. I don’t buy bread at the store, but if I’m at an Italian restaurant and the bread looks good I will have it, even if I’m not that hungry.

    • MissMcGillicuddy on April 22, 2015 at 03:25

      side comment: boxed, highly processed cereals like Chex, corn flakes, Cheerios and the like are the least satiating food I can eat. On the other hand, a bowl of cereal in the form of cooked oatmeal is one of the most satiating foods I can eat….I suspect some food reward issue is at work here.

    • John on April 22, 2015 at 08:11

      I love corn flakes – have since childhood. They are pretty simple ingredient wise compared to some others. I find that I eat more of them than sugary cereals. Something about the sugar starting to taste sickly sweet, I think.

    • John on April 24, 2015 at 07:26


      When you say you have doubts about Calorie Counting, I assume you mean when it comes to weight loss.

      First off, you do bring up a good point that how food is prepared can affect how calories are assimilated. There is also the well established Thermic Effect of Food. For example, protein is around 25%, so if you ingest 100 calories of protein, the net you will get is 75, cause you spend 25 calories simply digesting it. I don’t think most calorie charts take this into effect, but I believe some do.

      Even more so than calorie intake, I’ve found that the traditional ways of estimating calorie expenditure are WAAAAAAYYYYY off. Using the Harris Benedict formulas that Colpo reprinted in the Fat Loss Bible, I calculated my Total Energy Expenditure at about 3,300 calories a day (that’s RMR with an activity multiplier). I’ve been using a fitbit, which calculates RMR with the same formula, and uses your daily movement and logged activities to come up with a total. Over the past 28 days, my lowest burn was 3,253 and highest was 4,334, and average was 3,773. On top of that, the RMR estimates can vary dramatically from actual burn.

      Still, I’ve really embraced the entire tracking thing over the past month, and even with all the possible inaccuracies, I’ve seen major benefits. I dropped 14 pounds, and bodyfat percentage suggests it’s over 90% fat. The fitbit reports suggest that I should have lost 10 pounds, and the extra may be water loss(which can happen on any diet, though is usually greatest on low carb), or due to TEF, cold exposure (which I’ve also been doing), or some other hidden factor. My energy has been good, and I’m not battling hunger cravings (I used to get major hunger when doing IF all the time, but kinda enjoyed it), and I feel more in control now than I have in years. Calorie Counting may have lots of problems, but I currently believe it’s the most powerful strategy for altering bodyweight available.

    • John on April 24, 2015 at 08:16


      I agree that calorie counting is quite powerful. I find, contrary to what I would expect when not counting, that it is a big stress reliever too. When not counting and trying to be “care-free” at my level of leanness I’m doing mental calculations of what I’m eating through the week. “Oh I ate quite a bit yesterday, maybe skip lunch today.” Not very stressful, but still that low grade mental preoccupation exists to a certain extent. I wind up in a place of decent strength and decent leanness that is basically a pretty good plateau. My girlfriend says, why worry about it, most people would kill to be where you’re at. Well I am neither as lean nor as strong as I could be if I put some extra effort in, thats why!

      With counting, I know what I’m going to eat in a day, always. I have my workout day and diet day foods planned; 2 days I stick to all the time unless having diner with friends and family. No thinking “well I really want pizza tonight I’ll just skip lunch tomorrow” or any other on the fly calculating and adjusting. Also, this helps with cravings, because I’m just not considering what to eat. I deliberately chose foods that are easy to measure after initial calculations.

      And really, the way I’ve set it up, I counted the calories on the front end, so every day I don’t think about calories, I just eat the foods I planned, with some weighing out of foods (like putting berries on a scale).

      Regarding accuracy – sure labels are wrong, all food is different, etc. Regardless, by sticking to the same foods, weighing myself every morning for weekly averages, and tracking my workouts, I can reasonably estimate what my calorie deficit is. Also I can predict how much of what I’m losing is fat. I’ve swapped out some foods and adjusted as I’ve become bored (or was having trouble with the volume of food) but it hasn’t affected weight loss/strength.

      I’ve been doing it for about 7 weeks now, and I started a little over 170 (at 5’9″). I was below 161 this morning. The past 5 weeks I’ve lost 1lb/week. Lifts have either stayed the same or gone up – at the start my benchmarks were squat 290×5, deadlift 385×3, weighted dips + 90×6, and weighted chins were +70×5. Currently, while losing about 10 pounds, my lifts have gone to squat 290×7, deadlift 385×4, dips +90×7, chins +70×6. I don’t do any barbell bench or overhead press as they have been involved in every lifting injury I’ve ever had.

      Today – 1lb Cuisine Solutions sliced beef (1 package). 1lb 2% cottage cheese (1 package). 7 oz frozen salmon (1 package). 5 servings Publix frozen vegetables (1 package) cooked in a little butter.

      Tomorrow – 2lb greek yogurt (1 package) with 330g frozen berries, 3 eggs cooked in a little butter, 1 can tuna, 3 cups milk, 50g protein powder (unflavored truenutrition milk protein), 150g cereal, and 10 uni-liver tabs.

      All that said, the leanest I ever got, I was not counting. It was when I first discovered MDA after already getting pretty lean living on oatmeal, chicken, lean beef. I read MDA and dropped starch, eating meat, veggies and berries every day. I was always hungry, but was certainly below 8%bf. I did plug my food into a calculator a few days and figured I was probably hovering around 1800 Calories/day. I am much stronger now, though.

      I sort of enjoy dieting hunger, too – gives me a sort of pure feeling, zen or whatever. If feeling full and bloated after eating a ton of food makes me feel gross, feeling unstuffed and sometimes hungry makes me feel clean, I guess would be a good enough explanation.

      What is your avatar? I feel like I’ve seen that before.

    • John on April 24, 2015 at 11:36

      ” I find, contrary to what I would expect when not counting, that it is a big stress reliever too.” I’ve had the exact same experience. It’s also been quite fun, although that is probably thanks to the online trackers, which are a great resource as well. Also, if I choose to indulge in something (bread, candy a beer or whatever), I truly enjoy it now, knowing that I budgeted it in calorically, and I’m not worried about it knocking me out of fat burning mode or what have you.

      My avatar came from Yahoo profiles, or whatever they were called. I designed him back when I first started playing fantasy baseball. I always liked the full screen version, cause he’s wearing a leisure suit with a war helmet in a disco with a pet tiger nearby.

    • Wilbur on April 24, 2015 at 16:14

      John and John-

      This is the great thing bout Richard’s follow-up post about there not being one optimal human diet, etc. all the things that you like about calorie counting made me miserable! I hated budgeting. I hated online trackers. I hated trying to figure out the calories in some weird thing I ate. (I’m enjoying dandelion flowers right now, and for fun I tried looking up the calories. Nothing I’d trust. Raw? Sautéed in goat butter.). I hate weighing my food, unless it’s to make a recipe work.

      You two have obviously done your homework and have a system that works for you. I think, though, that the average calorie counter may not realize that small changes in how they prepare food or how they exercise can suddenly move calorie counts 25% or more. Eating the raw stalk of a cauliflower is not the same as eating the raw floret is not the same as roasting is not the same as boiling to a mush. 100 calories of soft processed food is not the same as 100 calories of chewy steak is not the same as 100 calories of raw carrots… You know this, so I’m preaching to the choir.

      I am the happiest I’ve ever been not counting at all. I feel free for the first time in my life.

    • John on April 26, 2015 at 14:57


      I hear ya. I think part of the reason I’m enjoying it this time is because of the fitbit software. It makes the whole thing feel like a video game or fantasy sports league, so that helps make it fun. Also, you get to see both calories in and calories out, and the second half of the equation seems to be ignored by most everyone, especially people who feel compelled to tell you about the first law of thermodynamics.

      I used a food diary a long time ago, and hated it. I also used a different piece of food logging software a couple years ago, and didn’t like that much, either.

    • John on April 27, 2015 at 08:17

      I’m going to try fitbit. It sounds interesting, and I’m always welcome to new sources of entertainment.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 3, 2015 at 13:26

      OK John & all. Hot off the presses re Fitbit:

      You were dead on with every point, John. I love the fucking silly gizmo. Got the Charge HR.

  5. tatertot on April 20, 2015 at 12:03

    Boy are you wrong this time, Richard! New science from England says there are only 6 different profiles for obesity and doctors just need to be mindful when treating these 6 types:

    The research found those who have a BMI of 30 or over actually fit into one of six groups and strategies to successfully tackle weight loss should be tailored according to which group they fall into.

    “The study, led by Dr Mark Green from the University’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), identified the six groups as:

    – young males who were heavy drinkers,
    – middle aged individuals who were unhappy and anxious,
    – older people who despite living with physical health conditions were happy,
    – younger healthy females,
    – older affluent healthy adults and
    – individuals with very poor health.

    So there. See how easy this is! Just characterize yourself as one of these 6 groups and fix the problems. Why didn’t we see this? So simple.

    • Charles on April 20, 2015 at 13:35

      While I get your point, there’s also nothing stupid about tailoring a wellness strategy to a personality profile. Individuals are motivated by different things, and taking that into account when working with someone who wants to make a change in their lifestyle makes sense. Whether this particular implementation will work is another question of course. But the general principle is valid IMO.

    • John on April 20, 2015 at 13:54

      I think I MOST fit in category “young healthy females.” I am male, though.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2015 at 14:38

      I’m very offended there’s no distinction for LGBT.

    • tatertot on April 20, 2015 at 14:59

      I guess my point is that there are WAY more than six categories. So many “gurus” have a diet plan that worked for them, but no one else.

      I think one of the easiest categories of obese people to treat are “middle aged fat guys who got lazy and ate a lot”. And even the sub-category of “..and those who ended up with metabolic syndrome, T2D, high BP, high cholesterol, etc..”

      But to categorize all obese people into these 6 categories? I think anyone reading FTA will recognize dozens of different categories.

    • Steven on April 20, 2015 at 15:25

      Researchers need to classify everything. Simply saying it is “individualistic” means they can’t sell something. Their would be no “one shot” or the cure all.

      I can’t have my panacea and live in the real world?

    • Charles on April 20, 2015 at 15:35

      Sure, there are as many categories as there are people, if you want to get down to it. But sometimes if categorization is too granular, it doesn’t help you do anything. Sometimes talking about birds helps, as in I want to do something to my picture windows so birds don’t run into it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of different kinds of birds.

      It doesn’t seem like this guy is selling anything. He’s just saying there are some general groups of people that have common characteristics that help us design programs that work better than if we treated everyone as if they had the same motivations and lifestyles. That doesn’t seem at all controversial to me. In fact, it seems like progress.

      But I guess it helps if you’ve actually worked with groups of people on this kind of thing. When you do, you quickly find that different people need different kinds of information, delivered in different ways. And you find that people fall into identifiable groups.

  6. tatertot on April 20, 2015 at 15:31

    But what’s ironic, about the only thing that truly ties us all together is our gut microbiome.

    We all may have very similar anatomy, but even anatomical structures can be different between two people and cause problems.

    I like to think that at least attempting to feed our gut bacteria plenty of fiber is a good start for everybody.

    • Bob on April 20, 2015 at 18:27

      I have been Paleo’ish 2-3 years. ( unprocessed food stuffs ) adjustments here and there, alcohol in moderation and a good drunk now and then.
      Lost weight even without exercising.
      Long story short…..
      Began to interest in probiotics, and took the plunge.
      2nd day i took one in the morning, 2 hrs after a cocktail breakfast of artichoke inulin, acasia mix and green ORAC powder with a hi whey protein. Had a couple oatmeal cookies with Kombucha at 1100 hrs. Never had any food interest till ravenous hunger by 4 PM or so.
      I have had the feeling of not being hungry many times in my life, so nothing new.
      But this time, i’m sure it is different ! Great focus, and sinus problems definitely seem to be draining away ! I am stoked.
      And just discovered Nick’s post here about all this.
      I have some physical issues i want to clear up ( 56 yrs old ) and i am thinking this is the way !!
      Will keep in touch.
      Keep it real out there !

  7. Bob on April 20, 2015 at 18:33

    btw, probiotic=Ultimate Flora, Ultra Potent…
    I notice it had a lot of the items in the one that Nick tested.

  8. Catweazle on April 20, 2015 at 21:17

    A Danish study conducted in
    17,058 patients found no difference in BMIs
    in physically active people with a genetic pre-
    disposition to obesity compared with those
    who did not have the obesity gene.
    Andreasen CH, Stender-Petersen KL, Mogensen MS, et al. Low
    physical activity accentuates the effect of the FTO rs9939609
    polymorphism on body fat accumulation. Diabetes. 2008;
    It’s mostly the sedentary lifestyle what triggers the genes for obesity.

    • Catweazle on April 21, 2015 at 06:34

      What has physically activity to do with exercise? Exercise is only a tiny part of our life and some people do never exercise and stay lean and healty. Have a look here for example, what physical activity can be:

    • Harriet on April 21, 2015 at 01:55

      Catweazle, I distinctly remember, back when I was a researcher at uni, reading a study comparing black women in a major US city with a cohort in west Africa and finding that although the US women were fat they were doing similar levels of exercise to those in west Africa who were thin. I really can’t be bothered looking out the study as that belongs to a past life, but I was intrigued by it. Beware selective single study papers. You can’t say it is largely the sedentary lifestyle. Also, as an n=1, there was no correlation in my life between being fat and activity.

  9. Martin on April 21, 2015 at 01:19

    What matters more the 99.9% genetic agreement is how differently we express them. We could have 100% identical genes and still different expression permutations could account for huge differences between individual. Not to say that the delta in microbiome does not matter. The question though is: do obesogenic bacteria make us obese or vice versa, does obesity promote certain microbes. If e.g. you talk to Kiefer, he will claim it’s probably the latter.

  10. Rudy on April 21, 2015 at 03:01

    It’s nice to see the didactic pendulum in motion once again.

  11. JagerVater on April 21, 2015 at 08:16

    A bout of poison ivy, a bea sting, peanuts, and a few other things can cause death or minimally, cause very serious anaphylaxis that can be deadly.”

    Freudian slip with the wife’s name there?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2015 at 08:19

      “Freudian slip with the wife’s name there?”

      Laf. Can’t wait to tell her that one. I think I’ll leave it in, unedited.

  12. MissMcGillicuddy on April 22, 2015 at 14:02

    Interesting question – so if diet affects a person’s microbiota in the gut….are we really seeing the effects of microbes on a person’s weight or the effect of a diet on the microbes we can see.?

    • John on April 23, 2015 at 08:30

      I don’t think it’s either/or, more like interdependent variables. When a person loses weight and pays no attention to gut flora, the flora changes. At the same time, people have altered their gut flora with things like fecal transplants and anti-biotics, and have noticed weight changes, while paying no attention to diet or exercise.

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