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November 18, 2011

Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit: Brilliant… or Brain Dead?

Recently, I was made aware of a bold new “experiment” in body transformation: personal trainer Drew Manning is deliberately setting out to gain 50-60 lbs over a 6-month time period, so he can document his journey in losing that much weight in the months that follow.

Actually check that. His 6-month weight gain period has ended and he’s packed on more than 70 lbs!

You can check out his progress (or regress I suppose) here: fit2fat2fit.com.

Now when I first heard about this, I couldn’t really believe that anyone would voluntary subject themselves to a diet replete with simple sugars and processed foods with the express purpose of packing on an excess 70 lbs of pure lard (193 –> 265 lbs)!

Of course, after flipping through his website for a bit, it becomes clear that he’s using this transformation to strengthen his coaching business, but more power to him if he pulls it off.

I can quite confidently say that I don’t have the balls to deliberately gain that much weight, even though I’m certain I can design programs to take the weight back off again.

It will be an interesting experiment for sure, even though there’s one major limitation of his transformation: he’s immediately launching his weight loss phase now that his 6-month weight gain is done.

Without spending several months being weight stable (allowing his metabolism and hormones to ‘re-set’ his norm at 260+ lbs), he’ll face a much easier time taking the weight off than would someone who’s been the same weight for years. That being said, losing 70 lbs is tough no matter what.

If you flip through Drew’s blog , it’s apparent he’s struggling with a number of aspects of steadily growing fatter. Not only has his health deteriorated significantly, but his home-life and his self-image have both suffered.

Although many fitness professionals were formerly overweight, terminally skinny or may have overcome an eating disorder, it’s rare that once we’ve turned our lives around that we’d be willing to give it all up and chronicle our descent publicly.

I for one will be following his journey as he works towards rebuilding his body. Not so much to see whether he can do it (I firmly believe he’ll drop the weight with little difficulty given his former love of healthy eating and working out), but rather because I’m interested in seeing how effectively he is able to inspire others to lose along with him.

Good luck to you Drew, may your project have greater positive repurcussions than you could have imagined!

Till next time, train hard and eat clean!


AshleyNYC says:

Hi! I’m interested in learning more about your comment ” Without spending several months being weight stable (allowing his
metabolism and hormones to ‘re-set’ his norm at 260+ lbs), he’ll face a
much easier time taking the weight off than would someone who’s been the
same weight for years. That being said, losing 70 lbs is tough no
matter what.”
Can you elaborate (in regards to the science) behind this?  I’m just curious…
BTW, I’m in LOVE with your blog!  I will def try the black bean protein bar recipe tonight – I have all of the ingredients at home (including chocolate whey protein – love my protein!)

graemethomasonline says:

Hey Ashley,

Glad you are enjoying the blog!
In terms of the dynamic of weight change (which is still a poorly understood area, even for experts), my comment stems from the belief in the lipostatic model of body fat regulation, or what people commonly call the “set point” theory. 

Although there’s a ton of science behind the scenes, let’s use the simple example of dieting to see how this works. In the short-term, many people find it relatively easy to lose 5-10 lbs if they diet aggressively for several weeks. Sure much of this weight loss might be water related, but some will be fat.

However, once people stop “dieting”, all the weight lost tends to come flooding back rather quickly. Therefore, just because you lost a little bit of weight – your body still has the metabolic and endocrine (hormonal) influences are those of a body 10 lbs heavier… so your appetite, non-intentional physique activity, metabolism will all adjust once the forced period of dieting ends to bring your weight back to where you started from.

Of course it’s possible to change body composition long-term, but this requires much more consistent effort than people realize. You hear coaches toss out the idea that sustainable weight loss requires “lifestyle modification” and it’s entirely true! Changing body composition in the long-run requires changing and sustaining many new diet and exercise habits.

So that’s why I suggested this guy would have an easier time dropping the weight than would someone who’s been over-weight for most of their adult lifestyle.

If you were someone who was 50 lbs over weight for most of your adult lifestyle, then your body will be well adapted to maintaining/preserving that level of body weight/fat. In addition, carrying this much excess fat would suggest many factors in your lifestyle are sub-optimal (diet, exercise habits, stress management, etc).

Conversely, a personal trainer who starts out with < 10% body fat (which is probably a level he's able to maintain easily enough given his profession and love of fitness) who temporarily balloons up 70 lbs still has the lean mass and metabolism of someone who is readily 70 lbs lighter and much, much leaner.

Assuming he goes back to the habits that made him ripped in the first place, his body won't have nearly the same struggles dropping the excess body fat as would the guy who has been fat his entire life.

Hope this clears it up! If you'd like to read some more about the science, here's a great review to get started with: http://dmm.biologists.org/content/4/6/733.full.pdf%2bhtml


Terry says:

Seventy pounds in 6 months … how is his heart holding up? Fact is most overweight people must make the weight gain over many years and the heart gets a chance to adapt (not that any of that weight is good).