Death by Dietary Guidelines

By January 14, 2016 December 9th, 2016 Nutrition
Supersize Me

Following the new could be a script for the perfect horror film.

“Supersize Me,” a 2004 documentary film directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, was very popular, and nominated for an Academy Award.

If I didn’t care so much about my health, I could make a similar powerfully emotional movie about following the recently released USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. My thesis for this documentary would be simple: Eating this way would rapidly ruin my health.

Based on my early life health history and past disease risk, it would not be difficult to predict what very real changes could take place in my body during one year on the “,” which is what I called this absurd plan. Following this diet for a year could be the basis for a horror film gruesome enough to attract large audiences, who would read about it on my special blog before the movie came out.

It would make an important statement to policy-makers, politicians and people everywhere, and it could be foretold in an award-winning made-for-TV special series. My film blog could fetch a journalism honor. The story would be horrific, rated “R,” helping to get a lot of press.

Basically, I would be a lab rat. Here are some snapshots of what could happen.


First Two Weeks

In the first few days, I would probably start liking the taste of added carbohydrates. An early stage of addiction, cravings would soon appear. I’d have plenty to snack on, from fruit and fruit juice to sweet-potato chips (low-fat). It would be mentally painful but I’d adjust my Phil’s Fudge recipe to be low-fat and include lots of sugar instead of a small amount of honey. But I’d still have to count fat calories as it’s easy to go over the government’s limit.

Monitoring my metabolism could be determined by respiratory exchange ratio (RER). A noticeable drop in fat-burning would be obvious the first day, or, more likely, after my second meal.

After a few days, caloric intake would rise, probably by 20 to 30 percent, spurred by cravings and hunger. Intestinal bloating and increased gas would be very noticeable.

Sleepiness after meals would lead to short naps and I’d need more coffee to stay alert.


First Two Months

Blood tests would now show rising levels of insulin and impaired blood sugar, along with elevated triglycerides, an increased cardiovascular risk factor.

Body Mass Index, or BMI, measures weight and height, and indirectly reflects body fat. I started out at 22 and normal, but this would begin to rise by month two. Luckily, I could gain 15 pounds and still have a “normal” BMI. The increased abdominal fat is compensated for by keeping my pants unbuttoned. Some of the growing waist size, I claim, comes from bloating.

As fat-burning diminishes, aerobic dysfunction follows, along with lower endurance and exercise tolerance, and reduced muscle support of joints. This could lead to low back pain, especially with increasing inflammation. Getting out of bed in the morning would become more difficult.

Blood pressure, previously around 110/70, and resting heart rate, low 50s during the day after coffee, would creep up during this period. Both may appear “normal,” although exceeding 120/80 is considered pre-hypertension.

My morning coffee would have to be modified. The heavy cream, egg yolk and coconut oil I currently use is more than half my day’s fat allowance. I could use skim milk, but, well, maybe I’ll go black.

My cocoa will have to be curbed because it’s high in fat. Low-fat cocoa powder with honey would work, although the taste and satiety would not nearly be the same. So I would have to eat more of it.

Breakfast would include dry toast with an egg-white omelet, and on Sunday waffles with maple syrup. I usually have waffles made from almond flour, but since that’s high in fat, some kind of grain flour will have to be used. And now that the ban on dietary cholesterol is lifted, I could have eggs (one of my favorite foods), although I’d have to be careful with the yolks due to the dietary limit on fats.


First Six Months

Even before six months I’d be feeling miserable. I’d be bloated and tired. Hunger would force me to count calories to avoid exceeding the government restriction. My concentration would be poor and napping after lunch would reduce productivity. Blood tests indicate I’m pre-diabetic, with high risks for cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal disorders.

There are cries from the authorities for me to stop my demonstration. Las Vegas oddsmakers are taking bets on my demise.

Body fat continues to rise, and my BMI would soon hit 25. I now have to buy new clothes.

Sleeping becomes impaired. Waking at 2 a.m. unable to easily get back to sleep is indicative of rising stress hormones, confirmed by tests. Snoring would become a problem.

At least I don’t have to plan my meals when traveling, I think. There’s lots of food available, even on airplanes.


Year One — Congratulations!

Reaching the one-year milestone means a big party, but after all the retests there’s really not much to celebrate.

A neurologist and psychiatrist are now monitoring my brain, and no doubt a diagnosis of depression will come out of this — those feelings actually started months ago. The lack of initiative would be serious.

By now, reduced HDL cholesterol further raises my risk for heart disease along with a diagnosis of diabetes and hypertension. And I’d be overfat.

Poor sleep, snoring and daytime sleepiness brings a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Getting sleepy while driving becomes a hazard, especially after a meal.

Increased stress hormones would reduce what were once healthy sex hormone levels. Despite healthy sun exposure, vitamin D has started a downward spiral triggered by poor fat metabolism and higher body fat. This can reduce brain function, lower immunity and weaken bones. The fear of falling reduces my activity level.

The rising risk of numerous types of cancers suddenly appears. Intestinal stress continues and reduced dietary fat intake increases the risk of gall stones.

By year’s end, despite having bought new clothes a second time, I probably won’t be officially classified as obese because my BMI may not exceed 30. That’s good, right?

The low-protein diet would reduce muscle mass leading to sarcopenia and diminished strength. With lower testosterone, weakness indicates frailty will follow in the next year or so.

Normally, I would be given a number of prescriptions and over-the-counter meds to counter rising blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, gastrointestinal distress, depression, sleep problems and blood sugar. These can have serious side-effects, for which I’d be given other medications.

OK, the idea of making this film is not a good one. I’ll pass on the notoriety it could bring, and the awards I could win. While the experiment could help millions of people see with their own eyes how dangerous eating poorly can be, the rates of obesity, diabetes and chronic illness still continued to rise after millions of people watched “Supersize Me.” So why would my experiment be any different?

As I have none of the problems noted here, I’m happy to remain that way. I can still have a party, and I have a real reason to celebrate.


  • Alex says:

    how do pork rinds fit in weight loss, high protein area? no nutritional value?

    • Alex:

      Pork rinds are essentially 50% fat and 50% protein.

      But let me answer your question about “weightloss” in a protracted way, particularly since I think it can be useful for other readers. I hope you don’t mind. Let me start by asking a question back at you:

      One rind, or ten?

      The reason I ask this is because pork rinds are extremely high fat, which is a good thing when you aren’t leptin resistant. (Leptin is the hormone that gets released when you eat fats, which promotes fat-burning and reduces the appetite). On the other hand, as some commenters have pointed out, it’s very easy to create a calorie surplus with high fat diets for the simple reason that fat holds an immense amount of calories in a very small space.

      As someone who grew up in cattle country, Mexico, I can tell you that I would go out for breakfast with my uncles to a local taco cart where we would have pork rind, spicy pork, beef cheek tacos for breakfast, and that it wasn’t that which contributed to me being an overweight high schooler—it was the fact that enough of my other meals consisted of pizza and coca cola. So, what eating pork rind tacos for breakfast represented (and the reason it contributed to an overall unhealthiness) isn’t because it’s pork rinds that are unhealthy, but because they are both symptoms of a personal and social culture of excess in food.

      And excess, particularly when you also have access to refined flour, vast amounts of sugar, and trans fats, becomes extremely damaging.

      Another important point is that the term “weight loss” can mean a lot of different things, and has different effects on your ultimate weight loss and your health depending on what you mean. For example, nothing is more effective for weight loss than the old-fashioned “water and cigarettes” diet. You will lose weight, massively, far more quickly than any low-fat or high-fat diet a competent nutritionist could ever concoct. However—as many dieters know—this creates long-term damage in glands such as the thyroid, leading to metabolic inflexibility, and therefore long-term, and nigh-irreversible, weight gain.

      So, when you’re discussing “weight loss,” it’s very important to specify the term that you’re talking about. Let me expound on this.

      Trying to “ultimately” lose fat and keep it off (usually meaning 1 year from now) means comprehensively retooling your metabolism. This includes your body’s assumptions about the availability of food. In other words, as long as your body feels like there’s never going to be enough food (because, say, you’re a habitual dieter), it’s going to keep trying to put on weight. Essentially, what intentional weightloss produces in the body is a powerful weight-gain habit (which doesn’t show only because you don’t give it enough calories).

      This assumption has to be dismantled before anyone is ever going to be able to lose weight and keep it off. Here’s the problem: oftentimes, dismantling that assumption means that during a period of time, you’ll be putting on weight. The reason this is successful in the long-term is because the reason your body is putting on weight has changed: not because it’s trying to convert everything it can find into fats, but because food is plentiful and it’s in the habit of doing that.

      This is the time to start a modest exercise routine—again, not to force weightloss, but to continue helping retool the metabolism by promoting fat-burning. Together, the retooling of the metabolism through exercise and the breaking of the weight-gain habit, in the long-term (1 year or so) will contribute to creating a metabolism which is comfortable with a lower fat content.

      • Alex says:

        thank you for the reply.the reason why I asked this question is, after lunch about 3 to 4 pm i will start to get hungry again and looking at the pork skin as a high fat high protein i was trying to curb my appetite til i ate at home. I was eating about 10 to 15 pieces of skins. I understand now that this idea is not good. I have lost 20 lbs since last year at time fasting in the morning till lunch. I have gotten off 1 blood pressure med and cut the other in half per Dr. Working on getting of the rest of the pressure med now. I have also started to follow some of Dan John examples of exercises, since i don’t like going to the gym. Those farmer walks and dragging the sled can be a killer. I need to re-read the article on the heart rate to make sure i don’t go over. Also trying to follow the diet doctor. We didn’t have taco carts just burrito stores which are worse than carts. To many option when you walked in and something to drink on the way out. Walk in or drive and load up for the day.
        This site for me is a Blessing. I understand now what sugar, carbohydrates were making me feel like, and all the Fatigue. NO More! Gracias a Dios. (what part of mexico are you from, i live in west texas) Thank You.

  • Marco says:

    I didn’t know almond flour could be used to make healthy waffles (and pancakes as well I guess?). Actually I didn’t know almond flour existed at all. That’s good news! Is there other kinds of flour I could use to make healthy bakeries?

  • Alex says:

    how do pork rinds fit in weight loss, high protein area?

  • wade smith md says:

    Wonderful,hilarious and dead on analysis. Reputable higher fat proponents such as Dr. Maffetone and minimalist meat proponents such as Dr. Katz from Yale paint the same picture of the new dietary guidelines. Makes the rest of us feel that these guidelines are way off. Keep up the good work. thanks, wade

  • Gøran says:

    I just wanted to point out the movie “That Sugar Film” which is almost what you propose in this article. Here it is on YouTube:

  • barb fralish says:

    this is so true. Great article!

Leave a Reply