This Famous Stunt Dieter's Approach: Empathy, Shame

Like many diet and fitness programs, this may not align with the latest medical research
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2022 4:05 PM CDT

Trainer Drew Manning is "the world's most influential stunt dieter," proclaims the headline of Spenser Mestel's piece for Men’s Health. Manning, he explains, is known for his binge-based, emotionally charged Fit2Fat2Fit brand and went viral in 2011 when he spent six months getting fat on YouTube, followed by six months regaining his sculpted, manscaped, keto-fueled figure. The key to Manning’s approach, according to Manning, is empathy. His motto is "Empathy First," and he asserts that because he has gained and lost 75 pounds (in 2011) and 60 pounds (for an 8-month redux of the challenge he started in late 2020) he knows how his clients feel. And he offers an app-based Back2Fit program at $29 per month (dietary supplements and recommended pricy foods like wild-caught salmon for the keto diet are extra) so people can shed the pounds like he has.

Mestel notes that in addition to the empathy part, Manning "seems to have intentionally added as much shame as possible to the weight-gaining process"—noting that while packing on those 60 pounds he stopped making his bed, journaling, or "manscaping." Many people credit him with turning their lives around, but as one self-described "fat activist" tells Mestel, "This idea that you are fat because something is wrong or unresolved is exceedingly toxic." The article also draws opinions from the medical community, with one Harvard physician noting that "rapid weight cycling" (whether it’s intentional or not) can interfere with the brain’s weight-regulating hypothalamus. As for living with a keto diet, a noted dietician warns, “If you start eating carbs, you’re going to gain the weight back,” so be prepared for a lifetime commitment. (See the full story at Men’s Health for plenty of before-and-after photos of Manning.)

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