Review: Fat Head

May strip the lining of your mouth

So I’m all for sports/health documenteries that take a nice preconcieved notion and jostles the shit out of it. Bigger/Faster/Stronger did this for me last year and now we have Fathead to have a chat about.I’ve been aware of Fathead since sometime last year, when clips of the documentary starting popping on on various health/fitness blogs with a slant toward paleo eating. Given that I’m perpetually explaining this to people on a daily basis, I liked how the images and explainations worked together. I logged it mentally under the, “things I should show my clients” file, and promptly forgot about it. A few weeks back a post on Dr. Eades’ website reminded me and I promptly preordered on Amazon. Had a chance to watch the movie this week. My brief synopsis:

Tom Naughton, former health writer and comedian, goes about attempting to disprove the muckraking that went on in Supersize Me. Eating nothing but fast food for a month, Naughton not only loses weight but improves his cholesterol profile and touches on the history of some of the “health” zeitgeists in America.

So what did I like about this movie?

1. He loses fat on a high fat, low carb fast food diet and improves his lipid profile. Not only that, he loses more fat than his caloric deficit should have let him lose. At the end of the movie, he goes on a saturated fat pig out and improves his cholesterol scores even further.

2. He has footage of the McGovern hearings that show how much of our health is nothing but politics. I’m in no way surprised.

3. Interviews with the Eades, Sally Morell of the Weston A. Price Foundation,  and Dr. Al Sears just to name a few.

Inadvertently, this movie raises a few points of interest, namely:

1. The paleo crowd often goes out on a limb, saying that insolong as you only eat paleo food, calories don’t matter. Naughton’s point is that calories DO matter to a large degree. Because he was eating at least 60% less calories than Spurlock did in Supersize Me, he lost weight. What we don’t have a full understanding of is how complete digestion and assimilation is for every food choice we make. Did you know that nuts don’t fully digest, thus meaning much of its caloric load is crapped right out? Real food diets are typically higher in fat and protein, which are far more sating that carbohydrates, which means that one eats less and feels satisfied, thus taking in less calories. Also, limiting or eliminating an entire macronutrient limits your food options. I know from my own experiences keeping track of my food intake is that I’m MORE satisfied on LESS food when I eat the real stuff, but I can lose fat all the same on a strictly low calorie diet insolong as my protein is high.

2. I didn’t realize that saturated fat LDLcomes in 2 different varieties: big, fluffy, smiling and harmless variety and small, hard, mustached and villainous variety…you’ll have to watch the movie and see.

3. Fat is damn tasty. Really.

The movie is available on Amazon…and I’d recommend you pick it up. If you’re a paleo nerd, there’s nothing here that you don’t already know by proxy, but seeing it put together this way is quite helpful.

EDIT:

Almost forgot a couple youtube links to clips:

EDIT 2:

Notice my edit regarding saturated fat – LDL. I tend to “one draft” these and appreciate Tom for catching that. LDL is in fact what I meant.

Also, Lyle McDonald clarified why nuts “seem” to not fully digest:

Nuts and Body Composition

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3 thoughts on “Review: Fat Head

  1. I supposed I will have to view this one. But what do you mean by saying “he loses more fat than his caloric deficit should have let him lose.”?

    magic? What am I missing?

    ———

    JC,

    My implication was not of magic, but of usual numbers. The formula he used to peg his maintenance level calories had him around 2500, considering he’s a mostly sedentary programmer in his 40′s I’m not surprised. He kept his intake around around 2000kcal/day and lost 12+ pounds in his month. Some of this is no doubt water, but it’s still more than the math indicates it should be.

    -S

  2. Hi, Skyler –

    Thanks very much for the postiive review, and I am course delighted to hear you enjoyed the film.

    One little thing I should clear up: it’s LDL cholesterol that is produced in the two different-sized packages, not saturated fat per se.

    JC, it’s not magic; it’s biochemistry.

    People think losing weight is a simple matter of calories in vs. calories burned. That’s true to an extent, but the “calories burned” side of the equation can be dramatically affected by what you eat.

    Carbohydrates cause the body to produce a higher level of insulin in most people. Insulin encourages your body to store fat. If you’re in fat-storing mode and cut calories, your body will run short of fuel and slow its metabolism to compensate, which is why people on high-carb diets often fail to lose as much weight as the calories-in, calories-burned equation would predict.

    (Some people on high-carb diets have actually GAINED weight over time, despite cutting calories, because of the slower metabolism.)

    If you restrict carbohydrates, insulin goes down, and your body is encouraged to burn fat. With all that extra fuel available, your metabolic rate can increase in response. Thus, you can actually lose more weight than the simple equation would predict. That’s what happened to me.

    Best,
    Tom Naughton

  3. Tom,

    Thank you for the reply; notice my own edit and response to my sat fat/LDL mistake.

    Thanks again for the movie; I quite enjoyed it.

    -S

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