Nature Wants us to be Fat, with Dr. Richard Johnson, MD

According to Dr. Richard Johnson, the health problems of America started on a very specific date, 1893. It’s an amazing theory, and highly believable. Let’s start with some facts about 1893:

*The first antibiotics had just been developed.  Tetanus, tuberculosis and diphtheria were under control.

*Only 1.6% of the American population struggled with obesity.

*Only 1 in 50,000 Americans had diabetes (unlike 1 in 10 adults today).

*Heart and Kidney disease were rare conditions.

So what exactly happened in 1893 that kicked off so many health problems? Well, the Chicago Worlds Fair, believe it or not.

Honoring the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World, Chicago went all out to spark the imagination of over 27 million curious visitors.  Tesla and Edison introduced their electric light bulbs and lamps in every newly-constructed “White City” building. Electric sewing machines, irons,  washers and dryers, and even a prototype fax machine wowed men and women alike.  The elevator, the zipper, the Ferris Wheel and the very first voice recording were all on display.

*Listen to my entire interview with Dr. Johnson here!*

Unintentionally, however, the World’s Fair of 1893 presented some unhealthy creations that would ultimately be embraced by millions of people for generations all over the world. The 27,000,000 people who attended the fair ended up spreading the following new discoveries all over the world:


-Caramel popcorn (Cracker Jack)

-Chocolate bars


-Ice cream cones

-Juicy fruit gum

-Hot dogs.

Watch the interview here:

The Discovery of Sugar

Long before the World’s Fair in Chicago, the ancient Indian physician Sushruta was the first to make the connection between sugar consumption and diabetes, both type 1 and 2.  He was prolific at recording his observations of unhealthy eating habits as they affected other parts of the body such as the heart.

*Later, Persia, Egypt and China embraced sugar.  The trend continued to Europe.

*Because sugar was expensive, the elites of these countries were the main consumers of sugar.  (1 lb. of sugar=33 dozen eggs in value!).

*American plantations followed suit with the obsession, and exported their harvests to Europe, where bad teeth, obesity, and gout became common health problems and reduced the quality of life for those who could afford it.  (10:00)

*By the 1890’s, sugar was cheap, available, and widely used by the rich and poor alike. (11:30)

Let the Epidemics Begin

One of the ironic downfalls of a successful society is access to ample amounts of food (much of it unhealthy), and a sedentary lifestyle that follows.  For example…

*The invention of cars, trains, motorcycles and airplanes has discouraged physical human movement.

*”Over Nutrition” or overeating is a common side effect of successful societies. (14:30)

“The average human is eating more than he or she did 50 years ago, and we are exercising less,” says Dr. Johnson. “There are 2 camps of thought for weight gain:  Excess Calories (quantity of food) or Excess Sugar/Carbs (inferior quality of food).

*Excess carbs and sugars over-stimulate insulin production, which encourages fat storage in our bodies.

*The law of thermodynamics explains how excess caloric intake results in the need for the body to store unburned energy as fat.

“It turns out that both hypotheses are correct, but not fully correct,” Dr. Johnson reveals.  He goes on to explain that the healthy body is usually efficient at taking what it needs each day and expelling the rest.  Not all unused calories are automatically converted into fat.

*Animals in the wild are an example of how healthy weight management is a natural process.  Even force-fed animals return to their normal weight soon after the experiment ends. (19:30)

*All animals store fat, usually about 15-20% of their body weight.

Fat Has a Purpose

“You live off of your fat when you’re not living off of your food.  When you break down fat, you’re producing energy.”

*The food we eat is made into ATP, which is the immediate energy we use.

*When food isn’t available, we can burn stored energy in the form of fat or glycogen (stored carbohydrates).

*In order for the body to store fat, the process involves oxidative stress to our mitochondria, which causes aging.

*The cost of getting really lean is probably not worth the price, or the sacrifice it takes to get there, say the experts.

*Too little fat, however, provides a poor reserve energy source in times of famine and sickness.

“If you get cancer or heart disease, you’ll live longer if you’re a little bit overweight,” Dr. Johnson’s team has discovered.

Healthy Body Fat %:  Men vs. Women

“Women, generally speaking, need more body fat than men, especially if they are planning to have a child.”
*Women who are elite athletes have trouble maintaining a healthy menstrual cycle.

*As women age, a 25-27% body fat  is healthier.  Men usually need to stay within a 16-20% body fat range.  Having fat stores is a good thing in times of stress.

“Having to burn protein for energy needs in the body is a metabolic crisis.  The body goes into havoc, inflammation soars, uric acid goes way up, and it’s a very bad situation.  It’s Custer’s Last Stand.”

Fructose Fallacies

It’s common knowledge that we should all be eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Go easy on the sugary snacks, red meat and bread, medical experts say.

*Are YOU getting enough fruits and veggies? Check out our amazing Reds and Greens Superfood! It’s a power packed whole food powder that includes 42 superfoods, a digestive reset blend, Adaptogens, and mental boosters. Learn more here!
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“The big discovery we have had is that there’s a specific food that animals use to trigger weight gain (for hibernation, eg.) and that food is fructose, or fruit, which we normally think of as healthy.
But fructose is a sugar, and it shifts the energy from being made into ATP, to be moving into stored energy…which is fat.” (37:30)

*Fructose causes oxidative stress to the mitochondria, which causes aging.

*Fructose is a main ingredient of table or white sugar and corn syrup.

*Fructose actively turns on a switch to make us store fat.

*Fructose activates hunger, thirst, foraging behaviors, insulin resistance, raises blood pressure, and causes inflammation.

“Our bodies can actually make fructose, and when it does, we can get fat from the fructose we make.”  (41:30)

*Carb intake releases glucose in our cells, which encourages fructose production.

*Salt is a catalyst for converting glucose into fructose.  Salty carbs are especially bad because of their combining effect on fructose production.

*Low carb diets restrict cells from sugar conversions, so vegetables and proteins are crucial for keeping cells stable.

Ketosis is Overrated

The world has been led to believe that the “Keto” diet is the end-all be-all of weight loss.  Dr. Johnson does believe that in the short term, Keto can be beneficial, but “you do not need to become ketonic to be healthy.  the body was designed to use glucose, so when you’re using other fuels (like proteins) you’re going against what nature really wanted us to do.”

*Ketosis produces massive amounts of uric acid, which causes the body to activate processes that want to make you fat.

*Stopping the Keto diet causes the smallest amount of carbs to trigger glucose production in the cells. (48:45)

*Keto diets can cause cholesterol and kidney diseases to increase dramatically.

Pearls of Advice

Dr. Johnson’s fascinating new book, Nature Wants Us to be Fat, uses several examples of the progress of science, trial and error, and a little bit of luck to discover what his team at the University of Colorado now believes is the most comprehensive research on the topic. So where do we start?
Dr. Johnson encourages the following:

*Increase your water intake.  Most obese people are dehydrated.  Drink water before and during meals.

*Cut back on salty foods.  These are usually high-sodium carbs which quickly produce fructose in your cells.

*Avoid liquid sugars like soft drinks and juices.  Sugary drinks activate fructose production very quickly.  Only ever drink them occasionally, and with a meal…not on an empty stomach.

*Cut back on high-glycemic foods like potatoes, bread and baked goods.

Check out Dr. Johnson’s book, Nature Wants Us to be Fat to learn more about the latest research in cell metabolism and its connection to the foods we consume.  This isn’t your average, boring science opinion read from Amazon.  It’s full of history, real-life examples of failure and success, and based on Dr. Johnson’s decades of study.  You might be surprised to learn that the videos floating around on YouTube are, in fact, full of hot air.

Richard J. Johnson, M.D. is a practicing physician and has been a medical scientist for over 25 years.

He is internationally recognized for his seminal work on the role of sugar and its component fructose, in obesity and diabetes.

His work has also suggested a fundamental role for uric acid (which is generated during fructose metabolism) in the metabolic syndrome.

Dr Johnson is a prolific scientist with research that has been funded by the National Institute of Health since the 1980s.  He has published over 700 papers,  lectured in over 45 countries, and his work has been highly cited.

He previously authored The Sugar Fix with Timothy Gower in 2008 (Rodale) and The Fat Switch in 2012 (

He is currently a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver.  He lives in Aurora, Colorado with his wife, two children, and two miniature golden doodles.

Learn more at

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