Why Can Some People Eat Anything They Want and Never Gain a Pound?

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The following
are both actual and paraphrased versions of questions I regularly
get from readers:

If
grains are so bad how can you explain the leanness and good health
of Clarence Bass?

How
is it that this
guy
can eat 30 bananas a day and not gain weight, or this
guy
can eat nothing but potatoes for 60 days and lose 20 pounds?

How
do the Kitavans or Okinawans maintain good body composition despite
a higher carb diet?

Mark,
how were you able to maintain a low body fat percentage despite
eating a half gallon of ice cream a day?

Why
can my brother eat anything he wants and never gain a pound?

All of these
examples seem contrary to what we say in the Primal Blueprint. How
can they be explained? Are they anomalies? Tails of the bell curve?
Is something else at work?

These questions
all bring to mind one of the main
principals underlying the Primal Blueprint
, which is that ultimately
there are no right or wrong answers in life, just choices we make
based on what we think we know or what we believe to be in our best
interest. I happen to think we here at Mark’s Daily Apple
have hit upon a range of choices within the Primal
Blueprint
— based on what we know about evolution and
epigenetics — that can bring out the best in our health, fitness
and energy. We seek to optimize our individual genetic potential
using these principals and to literally influence gene signaling.
Of course, there are other ways and other choices to get lean, some
of which might even get you close to healthy if you do everything
right. Me, I want the option that gets me the fittest and healthiest
with the least amount of pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline
and calorie-counting possible.

The
truth is, if you never undertook to live a Primal lifestyle, the
chances are still pretty good that you might enjoy a u201Crelatively
comfortableu201D existence for a substantial part of your life — until
the wheels inevitably started to fall off. Millions of
people around the world u201Cget byu201D just fine in their obliviousness
on the SAD (Standard American Diet), only 10 or 30 pounds overweight,
a little arthritic, maybe some GERD
for which they gladly take a pill. Some people even appear to thrive
for a while on less-than-ideal diet and exercise programs. Even
I did u201Cadequatelyu201D on the Conventional
Wisdom
plan for a long time, and I'm pretty sure I'd still be
doing reasonably well today had I not adopted this PB strategy myself.
Of course, I'd be a little more decrepit and arthritic, less energetic,
a little weaker and sick more often, and I'd probably still have
IBS. And if I didn't know any better, I'd think all that was normal
for a 57-year-old man, so I might even label myself u201Ccontent.u201D

Of
course, genetics has a lot to do with it. I got away with
dietary murder when
I was an endurance athlete
because I was u201Cgenetically giftedu201D
to be able to run long and hard enough to burn off a half gallon
of ice cream (and a loaf of bread and a bowl of pasta and a six-pack
of beer…) every night — as long as I ran long and hard the next
day, too. But sometimes a guy can look lean, and not be
healthy. And that was me. There's a lot going on under
the hood. Your 30 bananas guy above does the same things I did,
but with a higher sugar — high mileage program that he advocates
for everyone. In his case, he looks
skinny
because doesn't get enough protein
and he cycles endless miles in a valiant-yet-doomed effort to burn
off all that sugar.
He also takes in paltry amounts of protein, and it shows in the
lack of muscle typical of a high-carb endurance
athlete
. His inability to gain
weight
while eating lots of carbs is actually a bad thing, since
he's constantly losing muscle mass and enduring all manner of glycation
inside. I can't comment on the 20 potatoes guy except to say that
if the 19th century Irish lived on potatoes for decades
and couldn't gain much muscle, it makes sense that he couldn't either
in 60 days. The Kitavans and the Okinawans thrive partly
because they typically don't overeat (see: Calorie Restriction)
and partly because they expend a fair amount of energy not sitting
at their desk all day long
(Primal Blueprint Law #3: Move Frequently
at a Slow Pace). I suspect that their reliance on real food and
low intakes of processed and high omega-6 PUFA
seed oils also contribute to their metabolic efficiency.

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