Wild Animals Don’t Count Calories or Sign Up for Step Aerobics

Have you ever seen an obese wild ani­mal? Look at these wilde­beests in Krüger Nation­al Park in South Africa. There’s no cel­lulite on their thighs! Wilde­beest weigh only 40 pounds at birth, but then they gain weight rapid­ly. By the time they’re a year old, they weigh about 200 pounds. The females reach a peak weight of about 350 pounds at 4 years of age. The males peak at 500 pounds at 5 years of age. Yet after that, their weight stays remark­ably sta­ble. Why do they stop gain­ing weight? Since they don’t start count­ing calo­ries or tak­ing step aer­o­bics class­es in adult­hood, they must have some built-in mech­a­nisms that reg­u­late their weight nat­u­ral­ly. Do humans also have in-born weight-con­trol mech­a­nisms? If so, why have so many peo­ple been get­ting so fat late­ly?

To keep our body weight at a nor­mal lev­el, we are told to engage in unnat­ur­al behav­iors. We’re told to eat less and move more. Yet wild ani­mals nev­er lim­it their food por­tions, and they do only the amount of activ­i­ty they feel like doing. I think that their secret for stay­ing slim is that they eat the kind of food that is appro­pri­ate for their species. If you trapped some wilde­beest in a pen and fed them a diet that was much rich­er in calo­ries than what they ate in the wild, they’d prob­a­bly get fat. That’s what has hap­pened to human beings in indus­tri­al­ized soci­eties. To cure our weight prob­lems, we need to escape from our cubi­cles and start eat­ing a more nat­ur­al diet. Go play out­side, and eat low-fat unre­fined plant foods instead of eat­ing ani­mals and processed foods.


When you look at pop­u­la­tions all over the world, you’ll notice that the peo­ple who eat a diet based on unre­fined plant foods stay nat­u­ral­ly slim and remark­ably free of heart dis­ease and dia­betes and oth­er chron­ic dis­eases. For many gen­er­a­tions, most of the world’s pop­u­la­tion ate like that. Only the rich could afford to eat large serv­ings of rich foods, such as meats and but­ter and hon­ey, on a reg­u­lar basis. As a result, only rich peo­ple suf­fered from obe­si­ty, gout, and ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis. Because of agri­cul­tur­al poli­cies, those foods have now become cheap while fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles are still rel­a­tive­ly expen­sive. As a result, the “dis­eases of afflu­ence” are now a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem for poor peo­ple in the Unit­ed States.

Pho­to by h.koppdelaney

Behind Barbed Wire_PrintNote: In my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2, you can learn more about how a low-fat, high-fiber, high-car­bo­hy­drate diet helps peo­ple lose weight and revers­es their type 2 dia­betes.

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