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Article  •  18 August 2016


Big fat facts

Six things we learned from Ruben Meerman’s Big Fat Myths.

The universe is full of misinformation about fat, weight-loss, dieting and wellness, so ‘surfing scientist’ Ruben Meerman took it upon himself to cut through the blabber. His book Big Fat Myths takes us back to the fundamentals, tracing every atom you eat into and out of your body. Diet myths and wellness nonsense topple like dominoes, restoring confidence in common sense and the age-old wisdom that to lose weight, you simply need to eat less and move more. Straight from the pages of Big Fat Myths, here four of the myths he busted and a couple of facts exposed, just for good measure.

Myth: Fat turns into energy
BUSTED: Fat is made of atoms. The human body cannot convert fat to energy because it cannot annihilate atoms. The number of atoms in the cosmos does not change when you lose weight.

Watching versus riding the Tour de France
An average adult consuming the same amount of food as the Tour de France competitors while sitting on the couch watching the race for the twenty-two days will gain about 11 kilograms at around 500 grams per day.

Myth: There are good calories and bad calories
BUSTED: A 2000-kilogram car travelling at 100 kilometres per hour has 770 kilojoules of kinetic energy (184 Calories) which would be very ‘bad’ calories in a head-on collision. If the same kilojoules get you from A to B unharmed, however, they’re pretty ‘good’ calories.

This myth is not even wrong, just plain confusing.

Myth: Sex is good for weight loss
BUSTED(ish): According to The Compendium of Physical Activities, the MET rate for sexual activity performed with ‘active, vigorous effort’ is 2.8 (MET code 14010) while ‘passive, light effort, kissing, hugging’ has a MET rate of 1.3 (MET code 14030). For comparison, ‘cooking or food preparation, moderate effort’ has a MET rate of 3.5 (MET code 05049), beating a good romp by 0.7 METs, while ‘sitting, reading, book, newspaper, etc.’ rivals gentle smooching with a MET rate of 1.3 (MET code 09030).

Myth: Diets don’t work
TOTALLY BUSTED: Any sensible or ludicrous diet can work as long as less substance is taken into the body and more substance comes out.

The source of all your energy
Human beings eat plants, animals that eat plants, and animals that eat other animals that eat plants – no matter what you eat, it all started with photosynthesising plants. Joseph Priestley discovered that the elusive ‘power’ in your muscles and you mind, which you get from the food you eat is actually sunlight. Every kilojoule (or calorie) you have ever swallowed shone on a plant first. It took another 150 years, however, to figure out what the source of sunlight is (spoiler alert: it’s the nuclear fusion reactions in the core of the star we orbit.)

Big Fat Myths Ruben Meerman

When you lose weight, where does the fat go?

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