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Jan 7, 2010 09:54 AM

Good Eats - Diet Food Episode

I, for one, have been one of Alton Brown's biggest fans but he is looking horrible lately on Iron Chef and his show... now he comes with a Holier than Thou episode on losing weight.

Am I the only one that found this preachy and pretentious? How can someone who has presented great recipes for desserts for example say desserts are bad. Come on... really.

I miss the old Alton.

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  1. Yankeefan,
    I certainly agree with you that the "old" Alton Brown is missed. For me I started to notice the change when he was doing those road trips across the US, just the way he spoke to some people seemed very disrespectful. My husband always thought he was way too anal, which explains how he could lose 50 pounds in 9 months. I gotta admit that is pretty amazing and I am glad he showed us how he did it, but indeed we do miss the old Alton of years ago. Thanks for posting because now we know it's not just us thinking he was being a class a jerk.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nemis

      "My husband always thought he was way too anal, which explains how he could lose 50 pounds in 9 months. I gotta admit that is pretty amazing..."

      Actually, 50 lbs. in 9 months is under two pounds a week and is a very healthy and normal pace for weight loss. For a male, especially one who is exercising, it's actually a bit slower than average.

    2. I get the feeling there will be precious few new Good Eats episodes. But while he has our attention, be on the lookout for that guaranteed best-seller, a diet book from somebody who lost a bunch of weight.

      I'm guessing about the demise of Good Eats but really, who wants to watch episodes of Not-So-Good Eats presented by Skeletor?

      There's nothing like the newly converted to shine a bright light on everybody's sins.

      23 Replies
      1. re: MplsM ary

        Are we all so use to seeing over-weight people that when we see someone at a healthy weight we refer to them as "skeletor"?

        1. re: KTinNYC

          When I first saw AB after his weight loss (and didn't know about it), I thought OMG, does this guy have cancer? Sorry, he looked like crap. Maybe he's put on a few lbs. in the meantime, but healthy he did not look.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            I guess I'll have to blame the makeup artist then because a sickly pallor combined with zero fat on an angular face does indeed look a bit like Skeletor.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              My husband has lost a bunch of weight (around 40 lbs) due to watching his diet, lots of exercise, and a strong competitive drive in his bike racing. My family refers to him as "gaunt" now - when really, he is at a very healthy weight. Old friends and work colleagues ask if he is ill. It can be quite jarring to see someone who has lost a bunch of weight, and first impression may be that they are "too thin" . Sometimes it is a matter of what you are used to. AB is looking thin, and maybe a bit older in the face due to the thinness. I do think people are used to a heavier "average" weight adult, and thin people seem "skinny" by comparison.

              1. re: elfcook

                I agree elfcook. After losing weight, like I mentioned below..many people who knew me during the process saw me turn into 'skeletor', yet the people I've encountered/met in the last two years (who had no idea) have no previous thoughts and think I look quite healthy.

                1. re: elfcook

                  Agreed, as a population we are so much heavier then we were not so long ago that people who are considered "skinny" now would have been just average. I recently saw some pictures of the people at Woodstock and my first thought was how "skinny" they all are compare to people today.

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    Depending on the individual, people who have recently lost a lot of weight quickly can have a lot of extra/saggy skin, which I think can make them look older and, therefore, contribute to the overall impression that they look unwell. In A.B.'s case, he also looks suddenly more tan to me, which I always associate with looking older (a la George Hamilton), and his mole seems more prominent (which they even joked about on the show), which I think is contributing to my overall impression that he doesn't look well.

                    In comparison, I think most (not all, though) of the finalists on the Biggest Loser look fantastic by the end of the season, even though they have also lost a huge amount of weight very quickly.

                    I really just think it depends on the individual.

                    But, I'm always going to applaud people for taking charge of their own health, especially those who are in the public eye. It's got to be difficult to gain and lose weight while America watches.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Yes, after rapid weight loss, it takes time for the elasticity of the skin to recover. I looked pretty gaunt for at least a year after a sudden large weight loss about 12 years ago -- even to people who had never met me before. Someone who met me at a party described me to the host as "very thin," despite the fact that I was not actually underweight.

                      I haven't watched "The Biggest Loser," but I bet they use a lot of makeup and styling to make them look as good as possible at the end.

                    2. re: KTinNYC

                      Well, coming from Europe -- where we're a little slow on catching up with the obesity trend in the U.S. (but we are) -- I have a pretty good idea of what a 'healthy weight' looks like. It's not a distorted view on my side.

                      1. re: linguafood

                        I'm pretty sure Europeans have caught up to the Americans in terms of obesity. In America 65% of the population is overweight to obese and a recent study showed nearly the same percentage in Germany, 75.4 percent of men and 58.9 percent of women.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          Overweight, yes, but not obese. And please supply a link to that study. I'm curious.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              Right. Overweight, not obese. The level of obesity in Germany is nowhere near to what I experience in the U.S. on a daily basis.

                              But there are so many things factoring into that, it's difficult to compare both countries.

                              1. re: linguafood

                                I'm no doctor, but this bit of backlash had me googling a bit of information about age/height/weight tables and such.

                                From this article (; Alton had lost 45 pounds, weighing in at 165lbs and wore a size 32 pant. And from as far as I can tell, it's now a nice 50 pounds bringing him to an even 160. He is 5'11" and 47 years old. Punching those numbers into a a body calculator ( it comes back with few numbers.

                                Peoples Choice Ideal Weight: 162lbs and
                                Medical Recommendation: 139 to 179lbs

                                So I'd have to say, it looks like he's smack in the middle of the scale. Pretty "normal". Now once again, I'm no doctor, just a man with a few extra minutes and a few Google clicks.

                                1. re: raidar

                                  Well, it could be that he just doesn't carry the less weight well. What can I say. I've seen him again recently and he didn't look sickly anymore.

                  2. re: KTinNYC

                    It may be that as an increasingly overweight/obese population (just look around at an airport for Pete's sake), being heavy has become the norm. Like those people in WALL-E, who couldn't do anything but lie around on their deck chairs watching TV.

                    And then someone who is at a healthy or normal weight looks unnaturally thin.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      That is my theory. No one says that anyone that is slightly over-weight is fat or is unhealthy but the second you see someone who is even slightly under the norm we think the person is too skinny. We are just conditioned to see people at a heavier weight these days. The idea that Alton even had 50 lbs to lose is surprising. He didn't look that heavy but that is because we are just use to seeing people at that size. He looked "normal" but in reality he was over-weight.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        "No one says that anyone that is slightly over-weight is fat or is unhealthy"? I don't think you and I live in the same universe.

                        1. re: jlafler

                          The key word here is slightly, they are just normal these days. Did you consider Alton fat or unhealthy?

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            He didn't look overweight to me, but that doesn't necessarily mean much. (I also am not one of the people who has been saying he now looks "too thin" or "unhealthy.") Here are a few reasons I think people have been making the comments we've been seeing:

                            1) The weight loss is showing in his face (for reasons that have been discussed), and the face is most of what you see on TV. You generally don't see him from unflattering angles -- from behind as he gets out of a chair, for example.

                            2) An abrupt change is always noticeable. If he had gained 50 pounds in 9 months, you can bet people would be talking about how fat and unhealthy he looked.

                            3) Extra pounds look different on different people. Whether someone *looks* "fat," "overweight," "thin," etc., depends a lot on body type, shape of face, what they're wearing, what angle you happen to catch them at, etc. You can't reliably tell whether someone is underweight or overweight by looking at them, unless it's extreme in either direction.

                            I would also like to point out that "a little overweight" by standard measures in fact is not unhealthy (which, of course, calls into question exactly what we mean by "overweight"):

                            In other words, before the weight loss, he was probably in the moderately overweight category of people who actually live longer than "normal" people.

                            Finally, I don't watch his show, and I only occasionally watch Iron Chef, so I'm not the best judge of AB's weight in particular.

                              1. re: jlafler

                                He's also middle-aged. Once you hit middle age--regardless of weight--there is a tendency to lose fat in the face (though we certainly retain it elsewhere!) Faces aren't covered with clothing, so a thinner, more wrinkled face may give the appearance of gauntness where none actually exisits.

                          2. re: KTinNYC

                            Just to back up my theory with some facts according to the CDC the average American has gained 1 inch in height from 1960 to 2002 but has gained 25 pounds in weight.

                            "The report, “Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index (BMI) 1960-2002: United States,” prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, shows that the average height of a man aged 20-74 years increased from just over 5-8 in 1960 to 5-9 ½ in 2002, while the average height of a woman the same age increased from slightly over 5-3 in 1960 to 5-4 in 2002."


                    2. I can't say I'm a devoted A.B. fan, but I do think he's funny on ICA and I watch Good Eats occasionally, because I find it informative, although, sometimes his schtick it too over the top for me. I watched the episodes of Asphalt where he was in my home town, but that's about it.

                      I did, just by chance, see the "Live and Let Diet" Episode and I guess I see it a little differently. My guess is the producers of the show felt the audience is probably wondering why A.B.'s looking so gaunt these days, and this episode was intended to explain. And, face it, it was the first episode of 2010. If you're going to talk about weight loss, the audience at large is probably going to be most interested when they're making their own "New Years Resolutions".

                      Personally, I didn't find "Let Diet" any different in tone than the rest of Good Eats. I thought it was as silly as ever and, of course, that book "Buff" was meant to be a joke. I don't think there's a real book in the works. There's no there there.

                      Actually, I immediately looked up that sardines recipe because it called for sourdough bread, sardines, and avocado, three of my favorite foods. I'm definitely going to try it. Those almonds and that smoothie didn't look half bad, either, though, they weren't groundbreaking.

                      Also, it's probably unfair of me to say, but while I am supportive of anyone's efforts to live the healthiest lifestyle they can, I lately have found him to look gaunt, rather than slim. Maybe I'm just used to seeing him a certain way and I just need to get used to the new AB. In the "before" photos they showed at the beginning of "Let Diet", he did look like he could stand to drop a few pounds.

                      As far as his eating guidelines, I thought, for someone who was trying to lose weight, they seemed to be, for the most part, sensible (though if I were following those guidelines, I would add a couple of tweaks) He did emphasize it wasn't a "diet" but just his guidelines for adjusting what was out of whack back in whack (I'm paraphrasing that last part--I can't remember his actual words.) He didn't say that dessert, pasta, alcohol, and red meat were bad, just that he limited them to once a week. When you're trying to lose weight, you do have to limit those things. You could use a different strategy for limiting them than AB does; you could just have a tiny bit every day, perhaps, but one way or the other, you're going to have to find a way to limit them.On the other hand, A.B. DID basically say that fast food, processed food and diet food are all "bad" as in, he never eats them and, again, I tend to agree.

                      As far as weight loss guidelines, they were pretty loose. One thing he really didn't discuss with any specificity was exercise. Did he lose 50 lbs by only changing his diet? I think 50 lbs in 9 months is very reasonable. It's about a pound and a half a week, give or take. 1-2 lbs per week is usually considered a healthy rate of weight loss.

                      What was missing from the show is his guidelines for eating now that he's reached his healthy weight. You don't need to be as restrictive about things like alcohol and dessert once you're in the mode of trying to maintain your healthy weight, instead of trying to lose weight. It will be interesting to see if he can keep the weight off, now that he's lost it.

                      Nevertheless, I expect that Good Eats will just go back to its normal programming. It appears that the next new episode is about Margaritas and Bloody Marys. The Food Network already has a "healthy eating" person (Ellie Krieger); it doesn't make sense to have A.B. do that, too (although, who says what TFN does ever makes sense...)


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I read somewhere else that he announced that he's running 4 miles per day.

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen


                          Many great points. What you said about explaining the weight loss that people were probably going to ask about head-on was well said.

                          My issue was surely not the loss of weight or how he looked, good for him. It was the preachy attitude. I welcome all healthy eating and lifestyles but my real issue comes from those that preach it from a holier than thou attitude which I hoped he wasn't doing.

                          It would be good to know as Azizeh points out that exercise and lifestyle changes are also critical because just cutting back foods is not a healthy way to lose weight and get in better shape.

                          1. re: yankeefan

                            I didn't find him all that preachy, but maybe that's because I agreed with a lot of the points he was making. It's a lot easier to drink the koolaid if you already like the koolaid. :).


                        2. I turned it off pretty early on when he decided that the laws of thermodynamics don't apply to the human body.

                          And by that, I mean that he was specifically talking about losing weight at the time as opposed to living a healthier lifestyle, but he was preaching how the key was to find lower calorie foods with good nutritional value. That is a good goal for being healthier, but when it comes to weight loss, the equation is purely one of thermodynamics: if calories in < calories out, you lose body mass.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jgg13

                            That equation is correct, but you're making the mistaken assumption that "calories out" is something you can entirely control. The human metabolism is a tricky beast, and making drastic changes to "calories in" can cause "calories out" to plummet despite not much change in activity. I've been dieting for about six months and have lost about 50 pounds, and often I've lost the least weight the weeks when I've eaten the least.

                            What AB was emphasizing is that to lose weight, food should be "nutrient dense" (for health, as you emphasize) but not "calorie dense." The latter part is the weight loss component -- less calories in a full stomach. And fullness is one of the keys to keeping the metabolism going full steam.

                            1. re: dtremit

                              but you just repeated his error. being nutrient dense has no bearing on weight loss, it just makes you healthier while doing it. There have been multiple times where I've gone on a "fast food diet" just to prove that it can be done and lost 10-20 pounds eating nothing but burgers & fries & the like. That's not very healthy at all, but I lost weight.

                              And yes, you're right that factoring the 'calories out' can be tricky, but it isn't the voodoo science that a lot of folks make it out to be. There is a lot of misinformation floating around out there.

                              1. re: jgg13

                                I think eating "nutrient dense" foods while trying to lose weight can help you feel more "full" and "satisfied", which, can help you succeed with your weight loss efforts. It's a lot easier to stick with a weight loss program if you're not feeling hungry all of the time. Actually, this concept was at the center of the "core" program Weight Watchers rolled out a couple of years ago. (that was replaced in early 2009 with the "Simply Filling Technique." I don't know what they are calling it in 2010...)

                                Of course, there are lots of other things that factor into healthy weight loss and being healthy in general: that's just one piece of it.


                          2. Interesting. Just before Thanksgiving he gave a talk at Google (you can find it at YouTube), and one of the people in the audience asked if he was going to do a show or a book on how he lost the weight. He said that he wouldn't do it right away, that doing it too soon (before he's sure he can keep it off) would guarantee his gaining the weight back.