I recently read the new book by Jonathan Bailor, “The Smarter Science of Slim: What the Actual Experts Have Proven About Weight Loss, Dieting, & Exercise, Plus, The Harvard Medical School Endorsed Program to Burn Fat Permanently” (Amazon affiliate link). Halfway through chapter 10, I remember looking at my husband and saying, “This book is blowing my mind!”
To say I strongly endorse this book is an understatement. I’m embracing it, giving it a full bear hug. You will not look at your dinner plate or exercise the same way again.
I know that my regular readers are raising an eyebrow. I do not normally endorse anything this strongly, so yeah, that should say something. I also had the chance to interview Bailor and he provided further answers about all the information he writes about in the book.
Bailor is a bit of a “lifehacker,” but a research-based one. Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Body,” used a similar approach, but he wrote about how things affected him and came up with a diet based on that. It was very centered on Ferriss, personally, and his results and advice is a bit more theory than analysis.
Bailor’s approach was to research all the data out there and come up with a criteria for healthy living. His research of over 1,000 studies created a filter for what food to put on your plate and what to do for a workout. His first assumption was that we’ve all been asking the wrong question.
“The question isn’t ‘How can I lose ten pounds,'” said Bailor. “The question is ‘How can we burn fat without slowing down our metabolism?'”
The conventional diet plan is eat less, exercise more. Bailor writes, and his 1,000 studies show, that this is the wrong approach. “Does it work short term? Yes. Does it work long term? Absolutely no. You’re going to hate life because you’re going to be tired and depressed, and then you’ll just gain the weight right back when you’re done and be worse off because you’ll have more fat and less muscle.”
Bailor’s analysis demonstrates that when you exercise too much or eat too little the body goes into starvation mode and does three things, always in this order:
- Slows down metabolism so your body requires less fuel.
- Starts breaking down muscle and using it as fuel, partly because it’s readily available and partly because it burns a lot of calories just by being there. (Getting rid of the muscle means you don’t have to feed it, a big a-ha moment for me there.)
- Starts tapping fat supplies, but will do all it can to preserve the fat because it’s in “starvation mode” and doesn’t know how long it will be there.
Yes, you can do resistance training to help slow down the muscle loss, but it’s not going to do much. The body’s DNA-programmed order will win every time. There’s no way to change your genetics.
What can you eat that will keep your metabolism high, your muscles intact, and just burn fat? It’s going to sound awfully familiar: lean meats, seafood, non-starchy vegetables, fruit (especially citrus and berries), and a select few dairy products, specifically low or non-fat cottage cheese and low or non-fat Greek yogurt.
Bailor describes an overall balance to the diet as follows:
- 5% milled flax seeds and nuts
- 15% fruit, eggs
- 30% seafood, lean meats, select dairy, egg whites
- 50% non-starchy vegetables
- water and green tea to drink
I know, you’re nodding your head knowingly. And wondering “Can I really live like that?” There are zero starches listed. No wheat, no rice, not even whole grains. Nothing. Nada. Bailor counters that his balance is a continuum and you can eat at different levels of the diet, so it’s not a be-all, end-all.
Eat Your Way From Obese to Fitness Model
He breaks eating down into six categories:
How to become obese. The “standard” American diet of 10+ servings of starches or sweets, 30 grams of protein, one serving of non-starchy vegetable, zero servings of berries or citrus fruits.
How to become overweight. Eight servings of starches or sweets, two 30-gram servings of protein, two servings of non-starchy vegetables, one serving of berries or citrus fruits.
How to be typical. Four servings of starches or sweets, three 30-gram servings of protein, four servings of non-starchy vegetables, two servings of berries or citrus fruit.
How to become fit. Two servings of starches or sweets, four 30-gram servings of protein, seven servings of non-starchy vegetables, three servings of berries or citrus fruit, 1/4 cup milled flax seeds.
How to become hot. One serving of starches or sweets, five 30-gram servings of protein, nine servings of non-starchy vegetables, four servings of berries or citrus fruits, 1/4 cup milled flax seeds.
How to become a fitness model. Zero starches or sweets, six 30-gram servings of protein, 12 servings of non-starchy vegetables, five servings of berries or citrus fruits, 3/8 cup of milled flax seeds.
Exercise Plan for The Science of Slim
Bailor’s exercise program is pretty mind-blowing as well: only 10 – 20 minutes of exercise per week. This is geared solely to increase your metabolism, not your overall health, so don’t get all excited about parking your butt on the couch full-time. The two 10-minute sessions are actually quite grueling, and are only that short because you can’t possibly do more. It’s definitely no walk in the park and I’ll be doing another blog post on that next week.
When you first pick up “The Smarter Science of Slim” you literally thumb through pages and pages of endorsements from such research luminaries as Dr. Theodoros Kelesidis from Harvard Medical School and the UCLA School of Medicince; Dr. Jan Friden from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden; and Dr. Wayne Westcott of the YMCA (one of my personal heros). I asked Bailor, point blank, if he pad for the endorsements. He replied, “No, these researchers are just happy to get the information out there and they really liked what I was doing.”
So let’s open up the discussion: what do you think of Bailor’s eating plan? Do you like the idea that you can eat at different levels? Do you think it’s just another diet book? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Here’s a collection of all my “Smarter Science of Slim” posts