I have been pondering the rather large brush fire started over Gary Taubes’ new book “Why We Get Fat.”  So much went back and forth, personal anecdotes were vilified.  Various studies were trashed or supported – not by science – but by one’s own bias.  Not a bad thing, since most of the studies were biased to begin with.  So many are teleological in their construct.

A student’s future in school is often determined by Teacher Anecdotals while Parental Anecdotals and “scientific” tests are ignored.  I do not find anecdotals to be inherently bad when attempting to determine how any eating or exercise plan works for a particular individual.  With this preamble, here is my tale.

Some 25-30 years ago, in an attempt to bond with my new brother-in-law (BIL), we decide to go on a camping trip in the Adirondacks.   I had grown up in the country and spent my youth in Boy Scouts.  Yep – a lot of time was spent camping and learning the skill necessary to survive in the great outdoors and even achieved the rank of Eagle.  My BIL grew up in an urban area, had never been a scout, but was a bit of an athlete in college.  He had started reading a series of survival manuals and was eager to use his new-found knowledge.  He also had his father’s HUGE, as in both large and heavy,  bright yellow canoe.

At that time, I was in relatively good shape and was at a good weight – not thin – but not obese, since I am always dieting.  In those years, it was low-fat – count your calories.  He is 6 inches shorter than me and has always had a muscular body and single digit or close – body fat – without heavy exercising. 

Since he was a by the book Camper, he went out and bought “stuff” including iodine tablets to purify the water, dried packages of food to reconstitute, open-ended tubes to fill with peanut butter and honey, and a load of granola bars.  I dug out a lot of my camping gear, packed a frozen Steak, and filled a gallon plastic jug with water.  “I’m not carrying that jug, it’s too heavy – we will get the water from the streams and lakes.”  Yeah – right.

We headed into the woods.  Both of us did the exact same amount of work – except – I did more since I knew what to do.  We switched off on who had the front or rear end of the canoe during portages.  When he was in the front – we looked like a big yellow snow plow. 

He constantly sucked on the peanut butter tubes.  Not me – low-fat – count your calories.  I eschewed the granola bars as just candy bars filled with saw dust.  Any food I did not eat, he ate.  He out ate me by at least a third. 

Once he tried to boil dirty water to reconstitute the dried food, he realized that it is not so easy.  He also came to realize that iodine pills taste like – well iodine.  Even then, the natural water of the Adirondacks had been contaminated and you could never be sure that there was not a dead rotting dear up-stream from your water supply.  He admitted that carrying our own water supply was a smart way to go – and – damn – that steak was a lot better than reconstituted crap.

It was a great trip, we had a good time and became friends.  For me that was its purpose.

When we got back, I naturally got on the scale.  I had gained 5 pounds.  He had lost 5 pounds.  Not Fair.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when we vacationed together at our home in Florida.  The fridge was filled with multiple tubs of ice cream.  Three tubs – three flavors – three Sirens luring me to the freezer – spoon in hand. Every night, he had two bowls – not me – too many carbs. Every morning, I got up early and exercised vigorously – he read the paper and had cereal and fruit and – and- and for breakfast. He has even less body fat now than as a young man.

I conclude only one reality: My metabolic system is damn near perfect. Every calorie of food ingested is used to the maximum, while his system is damned inefficient. What other explanation is there?