Top 200 Most Fattening Foods (most autumnal)

The foods below are a list of generic foods (non-branded) taken from the USDA Food Database.

The are scored based on their distance from the Squirrel Formula of 53% fat 41% carb and 6% protein, which is the signature of nature’s most autumnal food.  The Acorn.

The Acorn, is therefore, listed no 1.  As you can see there is a large quantity of junk foods matching this formula very specifically.

Though not all of the foods below are ultra-processed, a recent, which backs up this concept, showing that eating ultra processed foods cause us to eat 500 more calories per day.

Interestingly, in this study, the extra calories were made up of more high energy fat and carb type foods, with very little protein sought.

I believe foods, such as these, cause us to want to eat more of the same and traditionally helped us prepare for winter. Nowadays, we eat them everyday so we prepare our bodies for a winter that never comes.

Position Food Item Proximity to Squirrel Formula
1 Nuts, acorns, raw 1
2 Ice creams, regular, low carbohydrate, vanilla 0.99
3 Candies, carob, unsweetened 0.99
4 Snacks, potato chips, barbecue-flavor 0.99
5 Candies, milk chocolate coated coffee beans 0.98
6 Danish pastry, nut (includes almond, raisin nut, cinnamon nut) 0.98
7 Pie crust, standard-type, dry mix, prepared, baked 0.98
8 Nuts, acorn flour, full fat 0.98
9 Pie crust, standard-type, dry mix 0.98
10 Noodles, chinese, chow mein 0.98
11 Milk, human, mature, fluid 0.98
12 Candies, crispy bar with peanut butter filling 0.98
13 Whipped topping, frozen, low fat 0.98
14 Popcorn, microwave, regular (butter) flavor, made with palm oil 0.98
15 Snacks, popcorn, microwave, regular (butter) flavor, made with partially hydrogenated oil 0.98
16 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, chips, barbecue-flavor 0.98
17 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, chips, barbecue-flavor, made with enriched masa flour 0.98
18 Cookies, brownies, prepared from recipe 0.98
19 Granola bar, soft, milk chocolate coated, peanut butter 0.98
20 Restaurant, Latino, bunuelos (fried yeast bread) 0.98
21 Snacks, potato chips, sour-cream-and-onion-flavor 0.98
22 Candies, milk chocolate, with almonds 0.97
23 Spices, mace, ground 0.97
24 Pie crust, standard-type, frozen, ready-to-bake, enriched 0.97
25 Ice creams, french vanilla, soft-serve 0.97
26 Doughnuts, yeast-leavened, glazed, unenriched (includes honey buns) 0.97
27 Frozen novelties, ice cream type, chocolate or caramel covered, with nuts 0.97
28 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, cones, nacho-flavor 0.97
29 Snacks, popcorn, cheese-flavor 0.97
30 Pie crust, deep dish, frozen, unbaked, made with enriched flour 0.97
31 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, chips, unsalted 0.97
32 Soup, cream of celery, canned, prepared with equal volume water 0.97
33 Fast foods, nachos, with cinnamon and sugar 0.97
34 Snacks, potato sticks 0.97
35 Soup, cream of celery, canned, condensed 0.97
36 Pie crust, deep dish, frozen, baked, made with enriched flour 0.97
37 Nuts, almond paste 0.97
38 Snacks, potato chips, plain, made with partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salted 0.97
39 Snacks, potato chips, plain, made with partially hydrogenated soybean oil, unsalted 0.97
40 Snacks, potato chips, plain, unsalted 0.97
41 Pinon Nuts, roasted (Navajo) 0.97
42 Doughnuts, cake-type, plain (includes unsugared, old-fashioned) 0.97
43 Snacks, granola bars, soft, coated, milk chocolate coating, peanut butter 0.97
44 Coffeecake, cinnamon with crumb topping, commercially prepared, enriched 0.96
45 Coffeecake, cinnamon with crumb topping, commercially prepared, unenriched 0.96
46 Noodles, flat, crunchy, Chinese restaurant 0.96
47 Pie, chocolate mousse, prepared from mix, no-bake type 0.96
48 Candies, milk chocolate 0.96
49 Danish pastry, cinnamon, enriched 0.96
50 Danish pastry, cinnamon, unenriched 0.96
51 Candies, dark chocolate coated coffee beans 0.96
52 Candies, white chocolate 0.96
53 Candies, milk chocolate, with rice cereal 0.96
54 Pie crust, standard-type, frozen, ready-to-bake, enriched, baked 0.96
55 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, puffs or twists, cheese-flavor, unenriched 0.96
56 Onion rings, breaded, par fried, frozen, prepared, heated in oven 0.96
57 Potatoes, processed, frozen, prepared 0.96
58 Cookies, peanut butter sandwich, special dietary 0.96
59 Snacks, popcorn, oil-popped, white popcorn 0.96
60 Fast foods, onion rings, breaded and fried 0.95
61 Ice creams, vanilla, rich 0.95
62 Ice creams, regular, low carbohydrate, chocolate 0.95
63 Pie, coconut cream, prepared from mix, no-bake type 0.95
64 Snacks, popcorn, home-prepared, oil-popped, unsalted 0.95
65 Doughnuts, yeast-leavened, with jelly filling 0.95
66 Keikitos (muffins), Latino bakery item 0.95
67 Pie crust, cookie-type, prepared from recipe, chocolate wafer, chilled 0.95
68 Snacks, granola bar, with coconut, chocolate coated 0.95
69 Snacks, potato chips, cheese-flavor 0.95
70 Cookies, peanut butter, refrigerated dough 0.95
71 Cookies, peanut butter, refrigerated dough, baked 0.95
72 Tomatoes, sun-dried, packed in oil, drained 0.95
73 Danish pastry, cheese 0.95
74 Snacks, potato chips, plain, salted 0.95
75 Snacks, potato chips, made from dried potatoes, cheese-flavor 0.95
76 Snacks, potato chips, made from dried potatoes, sour-cream and onion-flavor 0.95
77 Pie crust, standard-type, prepared from recipe, unbaked 0.95
78 Ice creams, vanilla 0.95
79 Pie crust, standard-type, prepared from recipe, baked 0.95
80 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, puffs or twists, cheese-flavor 0.94
81 Whipped cream substitute, dietetic, made from powdered mix 0.94
82 Cookies, shortbread, commercially prepared, pecan 0.94
83 Potatoes, mashed, dehydrated, prepared from flakes without milk, whole milk and butter added 0.94
84 Candies, sesame crunch 0.94
85 Potatoes, frozen, french fried, par fried, extruded, unprepared 0.94
86 Fast foods, potato, baked and topped with sour cream and chives 0.94
87 Doughnuts, cake-type, plain, chocolate-coated or frosted 0.94
88 Soup, cream of vegetable, dry, powder 0.94
89 Pie crust, standard-type, frozen, ready-to-bake, unenriched 0.94
90 Cookies, chocolate chip, prepared from recipe, made with butter 0.94
91 Cream substitute, powdered 0.94
92 Chocolate, dark, 45- 59% cacao solids 0.94
93 Candies, truffles, prepared-from-recipe 0.94
94 Cookies, chocolate chip, prepared from recipe, made with margarine 0.94
95 Chocolate, dark, 60-69% cacao solids 0.94
96 Alcoholic beverage, liqueur, coffee with cream, 34 proof 0.94
97 Doughnuts, cake-type, wheat, sugared or glazed 0.94
98 Spices, nutmeg, ground 0.94
99 Potato pancakes 0.94
100 Cheese, gjetost 0.94
101 Pie, chocolate creme, commercially prepared 0.94
102 Fast foods, potatoes, hashed brown 0.93
103 Onion rings, breaded, par fried, frozen, unprepared 0.93
104 Pie, vanilla cream, prepared from recipe 0.93
105 Side dishes, potato salad 0.93
106 Chocolate-flavored hazelnut spread 0.93
107 Dessert topping, powdered, 1.5 ounce prepared with 1/2 cup milk 0.93
108 Potatoes, frozen, french fried, par fried, extruded, prepared, heated in oven, without salt 0.93
109 Doughnuts, cake-type, plain, sugared or glazed 0.93
110 Snacks, tortilla chips, nacho cheese 0.93
111 Croissants, butter 0.93
112 Snack, potato chips, made from dried potatoes, plain 0.93
113 Fast foods, french toast sticks 0.93
114 Pie crust, cookie-type, prepared from recipe, vanilla wafer, chilled 0.93
115 Creamy dressing, made with sour cream and/or buttermilk and oil, reduced calorie, cholesterol-free 0.93
116 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, chips, plain 0.93
117 Candies, sweet chocolate 0.92
118 Dessert topping, powdered 0.92
119 Salad dressing, mayonnaise, imitation, milk cream 0.92
120 Puff pastry, frozen, ready-to-bake, baked 0.92
121 Crackers, standard snack-type, regular, low salt 0.92
122 Snacks, granola bars, hard, almond 0.92
123 Snacks, tortilla chips, nacho-flavor, made with enriched masa flour 0.92
124 Puff pastry, frozen, ready-to-bake 0.92
125 Pie, banana cream, prepared from recipe 0.92
126 Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, flaked, packaged 0.92
127 Pie crust, refrigerated, regular, unbaked 0.92
128 Pie crust, refrigerated, regular, baked 0.92
129 Candies, milk chocolate coated peanuts 0.92
130 Gravy, mushroom, canned 0.92
131 Potato salad, home-prepared 0.92
132 Fast foods, coleslaw 0.92
133 Crackers, standard snack-type, regular 0.92
134 Salad dressing, buttermilk, lite 0.92
135 Salad dressing, ranch dressing, reduced fat 0.92
136 Eclairs, custard-filled with chocolate glaze, prepared from recipe 0.92
137 Candies, semisweet chocolate 0.92
138 Candies, semisweet chocolate, made with butter 0.92
139 Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, flaked, canned 0.92
140 Soup, broccoli cheese, canned, condensed, commercial 0.92
141 Potatoes, hashed brown, frozen, plain, prepared 0.92
142 Bread stuffing, cornbread, dry mix, prepared 0.92
143 Crackers, cheese, low sodium 0.92
144 Crackers, cheese, regular 0.92
145 Cake, pound, commercially prepared, butter 0.92
146 Crackers, wheat, sandwich, with cheese filling 0.92
147 Crackers, cheese, sandwich-type with cheese filling 0.92
148 Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, shredded 0.92
149 Soup, mushroom, dry, mix, prepared with water 0.91
150 Doughnuts, yeast-leavened, with creme filling 0.91
151 Snacks, corn-based, extruded, cones, plain 0.91
152 Soup, cream of chicken, dry, mix, prepared with water 0.91
153 Pie, pecan, prepared from recipe 0.91
154 Fast foods, potato, french fried in vegetable oil 0.91
155 Pie, banana cream, prepared from mix, no-bake type 0.91
156 Cookies, peanut butter, commercially prepared, soft-type 0.91
157 Croissants, cheese 0.91
158 Candies, confectioner’s coating, yogurt 0.91
159 Sweet rolls, cheese 0.91
160 Soup, cream of mushroom, low sodium, ready-to-serve, canned 0.91
161 Fast foods, danish pastry, cheese 0.91
162 Snacks, sesame sticks, wheat-based, salted 0.91
163 Snacks, sesame sticks, wheat-based, unsalted 0.91
164 Snacks, tortilla chips, ranch-flavor 0.91
165 Fast foods, nachos, with cheese 0.91
166 Snacks, tortilla chips, taco-flavor 0.91
167 Ice creams, chocolate, rich 0.91
168 Pie, coconut custard, commercially prepared 0.91
169 Pastry, Pastelitos de Guava (guava pastries) 0.91
170 Ice creams, chocolate 0.91
171 Cookies, peanut butter, prepared from recipe 0.91
172 Danish pastry, fruit, enriched (includes apple, cinnamon, raisin, lemon, raspberry, strawberry) 0.91
173 Danish pastry, fruit, unenriched (includes apple, cinnamon, raisin, strawberry) 0.91
174 Danish pastry, lemon, unenriched 0.91
175 Danish pastry, raspberry, unenriched 0.91
176 Chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao solids 0.91
177 Doughnuts, yeast-leavened, glazed, enriched (includes honey buns) 0.91
178 Bread stuffing, bread, dry mix, prepared 0.91
179 Pie, egg custard, commercially prepared 0.91
180 Restaurant, family style, French fries 0.9
181 Crackers, wheat, sandwich, with peanut butter filling 0.9
182 Muffins, blueberry, commercially prepared (Includes mini-muffins) 0.9
183 Salad dressing, home recipe, cooked 0.9
184 Pie, coconut creme, commercially prepared 0.9
185 Fast foods, griddle cake sandwich, sausage 0.9
186 Soup, chicken vegetable with potato and cheese, chunky, ready-to-serve 0.9
187 Cream puffs, prepared from recipe, shell, with custard filling 0.9
188 Cheesecake commercially prepared 0.9
189 Snacks, banana chips 0.9
190 Cookies, sugar, prepared from recipe, made with margarine 0.9
191 Crackers, cheese, sandwich-type with peanut butter filling 0.9
192 Potatoes, mashed, prepared from flakes, without milk, whole milk and margarine 0.9
193 Cookies, peanut butter, commercially prepared, regular 0.9
194 Snacks, plantain chips, salted 0.9
195 Salad dressing, thousand island dressing, reduced fat 0.9
196 Candies, praline, prepared-from-recipe 0.9
197 Snacks, granola bars, soft, coated, milk chocolate coating, chocolate chip 0.9
198 Coffee, dry, powder, with whitener, reduced calorie 0.9
199 Snacks, popcorn, oil-popped, microwave, regular flavor 0.9
200 Crackers, standard snack-type, sandwich, with peanut butter filling 0.9

Is there such a thing as The Perfect Diet?

TL;DR answer is: No.

After many years of being hyper-focussed on nutrition for various purposes including:

  • tackling my own obesity (I tried everything)
  • supplying energy for international kettlebell sport competitions (I learned a lot)
  • and for body composition goals in natural bodybuilding competitions (not sustainable)

I’ve found out there are many ways to skin a cat, some better than others.

My own book ‘Don’t Eat for Winter’ makes the case for avoiding carb+fat combinations, separating them so that you avoid autumnal eating. I believe this combination drives susceptible humans hyperphagic (once you start you can’t stop).

Is it perfect, no. It is a compromise, because we live in a world where all of these foods are available, which is both a blessing and a curse.  We have to figure out how to navigate our environment and be able to eat these foods without becoming obese and unhealthy, so I do suggest eating both carbs and fats, just separate them where possible, because the evidence shows that carbs+fats together are the most valuable to humans (which has to be instinctual). You only need to look at what is served at the front of shops to realise we are addicted to high carb+fat junk (cakes, chocolate, ice creams, crisps/chips and so on).

So what is the perfect diet?  Is it Keto, Carnivore, Vegan, Atkins, Low Fat, High Protein etc., or any of the other plethora of diets out there?  I mean, like religion they can’t all be right can they (lol, not going there!!!)?

Here is a fundamental fact:

Nature is dynamic.

In some parts of the world, you cannot get carbs in spring, unless you dig under ice and snow for roots, which aren’t exceptionally tasty.  In other parts of the world, there are magnificent crops of fruit and grain multiple times a year, but typically meat from livestock isn’t that fatty there.  Even in these places, there are wet/dry seasons.

Why then do all of these diets recommend a static way of eating 24/7/365?

The standard food pyramid is carb heavy. Where I am from (Ireland), you cannot grow sugar or starch in winter.  You can store it, but how long would that have lasted in the past, when hunger set in and with their natural shelf life it wouldn’t have lasted and we would have resorted to hunting (unless extremely organised and safe).

The perfect diet, in my opinion, is one that shifts, is dynamic, and is in tune with nature and that matches an individuals heritage.  For someone like me, perhaps winter is carb light/fat heavy, and summer is carb heavy/fat light. In between we simply adjust the levers appropriately.

Food for thought!

Modern Stone-Age Diet Series interview with Dr. Bill Schindler

I’m so excited to be a part of the line up of amazing speakers for the Modern Stone-age Diet summit with Dr. Bill Schindler, food anthropologist, chef, and host of National Geographic’s television series, “The Great Human Race,” (Find out more about Dr. Schindler).

All of the different nutritional advice out there can be overwhelming and the resulting confusion is a real problem. The guests on this summit have one thing in common – they all use the past as a basis for their philosophy of food, diet, and health.

If you’re thinking about adopting an ancestral diet approach but have no idea where to begin, this online web series is definitely for you! Dr. Schindler has assembled an amazing line up of speakers to help to you to start eating more like our ancestors. Each interview highlights various natural approaches including keto (ketogenic), carnivore, plant based vs animal based diets, and more!  

My discussion focusses on Palaeolithic style nutrition with a seasonal twist i.e. avoid autumnal eating to prevent your body from piling on weight for a winter that never comes and is scheduled for November 10th with Dr. Gary Shlifer and myself (Cian Foley).

Check out all the other amazing speakers and schedule below.

To get all of this information in one place is invaluable resource so make you you grab your FREE ticket NOW!

Keep in touch with me @wellboy on twitter or facebook/donteatforwinter to be reminded closer to the day also and for regular tips on diet and training.

Modern Stone Age Diet Summit Speaker Schedule

  • Day 1: October 28th: Robb Wolf and Brian Sanders
  • Day 2: October 29th: Dr. Richard Wrangham and Dr. Briana Pobiner
  • Day 3: October 30th: Mark Sisson and Caitlin Weeks
  • Day 4: October 31st: Nora Gedgaudas and Pete Evans
  • Day 5: November 1st: Sally Fallon-Morrell and Ann Gibbons
  • Day 6: November 2nd: Lierre Kieth and Sally Norton
  • Day 7: November 3rd: Thosh Collins and Chelsey Luger
  • Day 8: November 4th: Dr. Jack Wolfson and Dr. Stephen Hussey
  • Day 9: November 5th: Dr. Gary Fettke and Marty Kendall
  • Day 10: November 6th: Gabor Erdosi and Michael Rose
  • Day 11: November 7th: Dr. Shawn Baker and Dr. Dominic D’Agostino
  • Day 12: November 8th: Ivor Cummins and Carol Laurie
  • Day 13: November 9th: Danny Vega and Tara Couture
  • Day 14: November 10th: Cian Foley and Dr. Gary Shlifer
  • Day 15: November 11th: Katie Kimball and Genevieve White

The Rise of Obesity and How to Make It Stop

Obesity is on the rise across the world almost universally and it doesn’t show signs of stopping.  There are 10 times more kids obese now than there was 40 years ago and if we don’t do something, and quick, we are just going to become sicker and sicker as a race.

It is easy to blame carbs for the obesity crisis and lots of people do, especially if they’ve had success losing weight on a high fat diet.  It is also easy to blame fat for the obesity crisis and lots of people do especially if they’ve had success on a low fat diet (and this has been the recommended advice for decades).  Then there’s the calories in calories out (CICO) argument, where some believe it is purely energy balance (and perhaps it is), but often the subtlety of the metabolism changes caused by foods are not considered, or the satiety or lack thereof induced by certain food combos.

My own person belief has been that both approaches work for a very simple reason i.e. carbs+fat combos are autumnal, and by avoiding foods with this signature, you avoid hyperphagia (uncontrolled urge to eat), calorie input and maximise the time you have oxidising fat.  I’ve written previous articles on hormones impacted by carb+fat combos and on adult brown adipose tissue (BAT) etc. to make the case that human beings are seasonally adapted creatures.

I’ve been seeking proof of this concept for some time and over time more and more emerges.  Marty Kendall of Optimising Nutrition shows how analysis of a half million days worth of myfitnesspal data which highlights the fact that the people who ate most calories were those who ate carbs+fat in an almost equal ratio.  I sent Marty a message about the autumnal squirrel formula of 50% fat 40% carb and 10% protein and showed him how many junk foods match the signature of acorns (a major autumnal food for hyperphagic bears and squirrels), and human breast milk (a food designed to make human infants as fat as possible in as short a space of time as possible to aid early survival, which is a universal formula among humans) and how various junk foods like donuts and ice-cream match this signature perfectly.  He expanded this list using his nutrient optimiser tool and found a list of 30+ junk foods that match the signature and only 2 natural foods were shown on this list… you guessed it: acorns and breastmilk!

Read this fascinating article on optimising nutrition

Recently, I had a hunch that if I compared macronutrients eaten by nations across the globe (without considering calories) and compared this with obesity rankings I would find a trend whereby as fat and carbs converge, obesity would rise accordingly.

So I searched for the data and found 2 individual sets of data that would allow me to correlate the information.

a) WHO data on prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30kg/m2) (2016)  ref: 

Tabular data obtained from wikipedia:

b) FAO Statistics Division 2010, Food Balance Sheets, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy

Tabular data obtained from

I whittled down the common countries so that I would have the headings and ranked the countries from lowest levels of obesity to highest and converted that to a percentage value.

Country, Obesity Rank, Carbs, Fats, Protein

Then it was simply a matter of plotting that data against the carb, fat and protein percentages (click to enlarge).

I think the graph says it all really but let me explain what my interpretation and conclusion is:

  • As carbs and fats converge, obesity levels rise, this trend is clear from the graph
  • Protein remains the same, the reason the patterns of carbs and fat mirror is because they make up 100% so as carbs increase fat decreases and vice versa
  • This is without consideration of calories, I am not denying that there is a relationship between carb+fat macros and calories (there is), but this is clearly showing a trend based on macronutrient selection.   The relationship I believe here is that carb+fat combos like fatty meat and bread, donuts, syrupy coffees etc. drive hyperphagia, a hunger that can never be satisfied for a creature that is hardwired to understand winter is coming.
  • It is important to note that this is % calories from fat and not grams (1g of fat is 9 cals, but when we’re talking percentages we are looking at it from an energy point of view).

The following graph looks at female BMI as % vs macros, the relationship may even be clearer here (the gaps are wider when obesity is lower).

My conclusion therefore is that it seems evident that obesity rises as carbs and fats converge, globally, without considering calorie intake.

This is potentially driven by a hyperphagic survival response in humans due to macronutrient ratios (e.g. autumn = carb+fat).

There are no diets recorded with higher levels of fat than carbs, though it is obvious that this would be the case in countries further from the equator in winter, as photosynthesis is required to create sugars and starches, therefore in non farming communities in times past, they would have had very little access to carbohydrates in winter as opposed to late summer during the harvest.  I believe this is the key to why high fat low carb diets are effective.  The simulate winter and spring.

The following images is a hypothetical graph showing the circannual changes in fat, protein and carb levels available during our early history, and the hormonal responses of our bodies.

BAT Fat Natural Annual Cycle - Don't Eat for Winter

Counties where there are many crops of fruit per year (closer to the equator), tend to be high carb low fat, however, people from these countries are not immune to carb+fat combos and seem just as programmed to gorge on this type of food.  I’m not sure the implications of this but it stands to reason if our species dates back to the beginning of time where an uncountable number of migrations may have occurred during various climate change events.

The bottom line is that eating autumnally in every meal and snack, as per diets in many countries now, which are all tending towards more carb+fat combos in every meal, snack and beverages (milkshakes, syrupy coffees etc)., means autumnal hyperphagia and resulting weight gain.

Problems: in the graph above you can see the clear trend but some of the carb+fat data varies quite wildly from country to country.  This could be for various reasons including but not limited to:

  • Levels of manual labour vs sedentary lifestyles
  • Types of carbs and fats e.g. fibrous wholefood sources vs refined starches, sugars and fats
  • Longevity (typically weight gain increases with age, a younger population should correlate with less obesity)
  • Levels of sunlight available
  • Ethnicity factors (ability to deal with sugars and fats based on geographic latitude and ancestral diets).

A recent study by Dana Small et al showed that humans value carbs+fat more by sight alone, and this is evident in shops as they are front loaded with high carb+fat junk foods.  Fauxtom foods?

Another recent study found that mice got fat on diets made up of up to 60% fats but then became less obese as fat percentages went higher.  Finding out this figure in human beings would be useful.

I predict that it is approximately 50% fat, 40% carb and 10% protein that causes the most damage (the signature of acorns and human breast milk) and it would be useful to run trials to discover this once and for all.

Time will tell.

If you want to find out more about this hypothesis, and discover a sustainable anti-autumal eating strategy/pattern that includes carbs and fats in daily diet, check out my book ‘Don’t Eat for Winter’ on Amazon or explore the other blogs on this site.




Top 5 best diets for losing weight and burning fat?

I saw an article online on Mens Journal describing the following 5 diets as the best ways to lose weight and burn fat:

  1. Low-calorie diet.
  2. Low-fat diet.
  3. Low-carb diet.
  4. Ketogenic diet.
  5. High-protein diet.

Before I delve into an interesting observation on the 5 diet types I want to say that I disagree with the term weight loss, as fat loss should be the focus (if overweight), while gaining or maintaining lean muscle mass, bone density and of course hydration levels.

I also have issues with the world diet unless used the context of a healthy diet.  Crash diets and long-term calorie restriction or nutrient deficient diets should be avoided where possible.  A better approach is a sustainable long-term lifestyle change with whole foods that are seasonal and local where possible.

What struck me from the list above is the fact that each diet is inherently but unintentionally anti-autumnal.

An autumnal diet is a diet high in both carbs and fat and relatively low in protein. Don’t Eat for Winter presents the ultimate autumnal formula as approximately 50% fat, 40% carb and <10% protein (from a calorie point of view).  Avoiding this is key to an anti-autumnal diet.

Let’s take them one by one:

  • Low-calorie diet: restricting calories is a way of creating an energy deficit, possibly simulating a time where food is less available in nature e.g. winter/spring, by doing this you automatically eat less carbs+fat, which means it is less like an autumnal diet.
  • Low-fat diet: a healthy low fat diet means high carb, fibre and protein with low (but not no fat).  If fat is too low, particularly healthy fats, perhaps long term this is unhealthy as there may be too few healthy fats in the diet. Going low fat means avoiding carbs+fats together by default and so autumnal combos like granny’s famous pecan pie are off the table.
  • Low-carb diet:   These diets avoid the autumnal signature of carbs+fat for the same reason as the low fat, high carb diet. Low carb diets are typically higher in fats and proteins too.
  • Ketogenic diet:  The ketogenic diet is very low carb and controlled protein with high amounts of fat.  A person would shift into ketogenic mode in the absence of carbohydrates as the body generates ketones to fuel anaerobic processes.  This diet is anti-autumnal as it avoids the combo of carbs+fats too.
  • High-protein diet:  Protein requires a lot of energy to digest, but a high protein diet also means less carbs+fat together in the same sitting as high protein is means less of the other two.

One thing all of the above have in common is a potential lack of balance as a single macro nutrient is the focus of each.

Don’t Eat for Winter, the anti-autumnal diet, is all of the above but at different times, providing total dietary balance and yet still avoiding the high carbs+fat autumnal squirrel formula.  The format is as follows:

  • Low Carb High Fat: Eat a healthy fat based breakfast with protein and healthy low gi veg if desired e.g. an omelette, salmon, avocado and some nuts etc.  Avoids carbs+fat.
  • High Protein/fibre: Eat a lower fat protein source (meat, fish, poultry) at lunch time and include fibrous veg (watch the sauces) and/or/berries. Avoids carbs+fats and creates a buffer between breakfast fats and dinner carbs.
  • High Carb Low Fat: Eat carbs (some starches and potentially fruits) in the evening with low gi veg and a healthy low fat cut of meat/fish/poultry, use lower fat sauces too. Avoids carbs+fats, aids recovery, reloads glycogen and some research suggests that it aids sleep too.

This means each macro is a focal point of each meal, with constant protein and fibrous fruit and veg.

Special focus around training is required to get the required amount of carbs for energy purposes and increased protein for muscle recovery too, carbs and protein before and after can help fuel exercise, reload glycogen and accelerate repair.

Finally, sometimes it’s good to enjoy a treat, this is the time to get the autumnal formula in but make it once or twice a week instead of every single meal and snack like the current western diet if fat loss is your goal.  Make treats good ones, be it a delicious dinner out or a home made dessert, savour it, enjoy it and get back on track.  Be aware of your feelings afterwards too, are you surprisingly hungry afterwards.  At least being aware of it gives some sense of domination over what you are, a seasonal creature designed to gorge on particular foods to survive winter.

4 Amazing DEFoW Weight Loss Transformation Stories: a total of 350lbs fat lost

6 years ago, I was trapped in a body that I knew I did not belong in. I had to do something about it, but didn’t know what to do.  I was confused by all of the mixed messages from experts, many of whom based their advice on a foundation of sand (the sugar scandal comes to mind). I grew up thinking I had to starve myself to lose weight and/or go on a low fat diet. As a result, I always associated dieting with negative feelings and ultimately, FAILURE. I tried lots of diets and had some success but ALWAYS piled the weight back  on, normally with interest, which was incredibly frustrating.  What’s worse is that lots of low fat foods are high in sugar and starch and I was probably exceeding my need for glucose every day, even when dieting.

They say “necessity is the mother of invention” and I needed change but I was baffled with all the conflicting messages out there. The most success I had on any diet was a paleolithic style diet, but I still got stuck at a point. I had a Eureka moment one day and realised that carbs spike in nature in late summer and autumn yet we eat them all day every day in the western diet, and I thought, “this has to have something to do with the obesity crisis we’re in”.  I started eating an anti-autumnal diet that I created myself, and the weight I was carrying literally melted off after years of holding onto it even while competing internationally for Ireland with kettlebells, and, training like a demon.

It was then that I put on my research hat and went down a rabbit hole for a year and came back up with the Don’t Eat for Winter (DEFoW) Concept – The Anti-Autumnal Diet, still a whole food natural diet, but with an understanding of the dynamism of nature. It is unlike other diets as it is consciously avoids foods with the autumnal signature.   It’s not torture it’s actually pleasurable.  It’s about avoiding the autumnal signature of carbs+fat, which I term ‘The Squirrel Formula.’  This food signature is unique to autumn and I believe puts animals, including humans, into a state where we crave and binge on foods. With DEFoW you avoid that by eating a spring like breakfast, a summer like lunch and a modified autumn for dinner to suit your lifestyle and activity levels.


Little did I realise that my little acorn of an idea, which had such an impact on me, would have such an impact on so many others this quickly.  I’ve had a multitude of messages from readers about their weight loss transformations over social media, and it’s difficult to keep track of them all, but I would estimate total weight losses have exceeded well over 1000lbs thus far.

Recently, I’ve received some amazing messages.  I knew it would take some time for bigger weight-loss stories to come through, after all it took me about seven years to complete my transformation, but I promised in my book that it would be a lot faster for people with the knowledge I picked up along my journey.  I didn’t realise just how fast it would happen for those who took it in earnest.

Here are 4 amazing messages I received recently in reverse chronological order.

This first one made me quite emotional last night from a delighted spouse:

“Hi Cian, my husband is one of your shy followers. He tried many times to lose weight. He  tried many diets working out etc. Nothing worked not until he took note on your book. He ordered it straight away when I say we have been together eleven years I have never ever seen him read a book before it’s amazing he read it back to back and could not stop talking about it. It has been one of the easiest and most sensible things he has done in his life. At his heaviest we recorded 19 and a half stone but I do believe the scale went above this. After your book and following your diet he is now a healthy and amazing man at 14 stone. I am so proud we have 5 children and he is so much more active with them both mentally and physically. He amazes me that in all these years your diet is so easy and healthy to follow before he was pre diabetic and had terrible heart troubles all of wish have disappeared. He followes your page everyday but would never write to you. He is sitting beside me right now and I could burst with pride at how well he looks and I would genuinely like to just thank you from the bottom of our hearts”

A 5.5 stone loss, 35kg/77lbs+ and more importantly a happier family!

I received the following message on Friday last,

“I started with the concept of DEFoW from commencing with your challenge back in January, when I was 119kg / 43% body fat, this morning the same smart scales tells me I’m 88kg and 25% body fat! I feel great 👍 and full of energy, I’m 40 next year and have been more or less above 100kg with an obese BMI since I was probably 16.

Your story has provided me with plenty of positive inspiration, especially as can remember seen you around town when you were probably at you heaviest, now your a kettle bell champion and taking part in men’s physique completions. Now for the final push finish the book, go strict on the Defow plan and come out the other side of Christmas lean and with a BMI inside the healthy scale!

PS why can’t they teach this basic nutrition in School? A minor investment in education will eventually translate to major savings in the health service!”

A total loss of 31kg or 68lbs but more importantly, the person has escaped the obesity that they were trapped by for 20+ years.  

I received this message from a proud daddy…

“I’m down about 4 stone… my daughter by the way has an even bigger thank you… she’s just too shy….nearly 6 stone gone buddy 😊😊😊😊😊

I’m so proud”

A combined 10 stone loss, 35kg/140lbs+ from a father daughter team driving each other on every day.

Finally, a message via twitter…

“Nov. 8, 2017. 245 lbs. 40 waist -> July 4, 2018. 171 lbs. 30 waist.
not an exaggeration that you guys have saved my life. A1C down from pre-diabetes into the 3s. BP, triglycerides, cholesterol vastly improved. Seven months really. Started in late Nov. The pounds literally melted away. I do exactly what you do for cardio-hiking, or uphill walking on treadmill as proxy when can’t get out. Weight work 2-3x a week as well, just a full body circuit 2 sets each exercise to failure. Eminently sustainable, as is the diet.”

This is a 71lb or 32kg loss (and they’ve reported more since), with improved health, which is fantastic!

In total, the overall weight loss from these 4 stories is a staggering 161kg or 350lbs!!!

I never met or do not know any of the people in these stories personally. All of them wished to remain anonymous and I totally respect that.  Should a journalist wish for me to verify these stories, I can show them the messages in person, once the anonymity of the individuals is maintained. Losing weight is a very personal issue and before and after pictures can be very embarrassing and I do not wish to breach anyone’s trust.  I’m thrilled that they would trust me enough after reading my work, to first of all try the concept, see great success and then have the graciousness to me on their success stories and attribute their results to The DEFoW Diet.  It means so much to me that lives are being changed by the concept.

You don’t have to buy a copy of Don’t Eat for Winter to try out the anti-autumnal diet. There’s plenty of information on the site and I post most days to twitter, facebook and instagram (links in header).  Please do follow me if you wish to get daily motivational tips, or to get in touch.

I do encourage people to read the book before asking specific questions, and also to help support my continued efforts to spread and support the concept.  I try and answer every request that comes in but it is difficult to do so in a timely fashion with other commitments in my life.

Best wishes,


From Obese IT Specialist to Men’s Physique Medalist

A computer programmer from Waterford City was a medalist at the Natural Bodybuilding Federation of Ireland (NBFI) national championships in the Everyman Theatre, Cork last Saturday the 1st of September.  Cian Foley, 42, competed in the Men’s physique (short) category against 8 other competitors.

Cian Foley Side Pose: Photo by Kest

What is extraordinary about Cian’s story is that he was once morbidly obese, weighing 256lbs in 2012. Since then, he has not only managed to get his body into good shape, but into competitive contest condition weighing in at 163lbs (93lbs lighter).

A DEXA scan at Waterford Health Park last Friday revealed just 10% bodyfat:

“My good friend Dr. Mark Rowe took me through DEXA scan results. I wanted to make sure my bodyfat levels were at safe levels, and Mark was delighted with my results revealing I was in the 1st percentile for men my age, which I’m very pleased with”, said Cian.

Cian is no stranger to strength & fitness sport having competed internationally for Ireland in Kettlebell GS over the past number of years and has won 2 European (Hamburg 2015, Poland 2016), a pan-American title at the Arnolds in Columbus Ohio (2014), and a World Championships in Dublin in 2015 in the 2x24kg men’s long-cycle category.  Since then he’s shifted into physique training, a no less demanding sport.

“I really enjoyed lifting kettlebells, it made me very goal focussed and sent me down the path to controlling my weight in order to be competitive, and eventually investigating exercise/sports nutrition and nutrition in general.  I shifted to men’s physique recently because I felt I had potential with it and is in line with my goals to inspire others who suffer with being overweight/obese.  It’s just as demanding as kettlebell sport, and it really is a sport though it may appear a little more glamourous.”

Cian is  author of Don’t Eat for Winter, which he suggests unlocks nature’s little secret to losing weight.  The hypothesis is that autumnal foods are eaten in every single meal and snack in the western diet, and so human beings prone to putting on weight can never become their summer selves, as they are eternally preparing for a winter that never comes.

“I believe Don’t Eat for Winter – DEFoW, was the key to my weight loss success having me walking around for the past 30 months at a weight that was just 6 weeks away from Men’s Physique competition readiness. It is the first ‘Anti-Autumnal Diet’ with the key premise being avoiding carb+fat combos, which is the signature of autumn itself and have proven to cause gorging.  Exercise alone will not shed weight, squirrels become hyperactive in autumn but still become obese to survive the winter.  It’s the same for us, except our autumn never ends.”

“In order to get into men’s physique shape I spoke to Frank Haley toying with the idea of competing in the NBFI championships.  I was drawn to it because of it’s ethos with regards to testing for PEDs. Frank was an old school band mate, and successful bodybuilder so he graciously agreed to speak with me to discuss diet and training.  He suggested I should enter the men’s physique category and then he trained with me for a week (with an injury) and told me what I would need to eat in order to put on the muscle required to be competitive while also losing fat. It is always good to draw on the practical knowledge of someone who got to a high level in a sport.  It has been a very tough but rewarding 6 weeks and everyone is amazed with how far I’ve come in that time (including Frank, who was as excited as I was).”

Cian is a guest panelist at the Harvest Festival – Glanbia Sports Nutrition Event – alongside former Waterford Hurler Manager Derek McGrath and others next Friday 7th at 5.30pm in the Book Centre.

Harvest Festival Link:

photos by Kest Photographer

#nostarchinmarch – Can you go one meal without starch in march?

I’m running a #nostarchinmarch campaign on social networks highlighting the fact that there are less carbs available in nature at this time of year and ask people to cut out carbs in one meal a day and replace with protein, healthy fats and low gi veg examples might be. egg omlettes for brek (but no toast), salad with avocado/olive oil and some meat at lunch (but no bread)… the graph shows sugar peak occurs in autumn and uses icons of the natural produce with a mid/high GI to show the stack by month… as you can see in March there’s very little and so our paleolithic ancestors would have had no choice but to go without the bread, pasta, rice, wheat, cereals and so on during March.

If you want to get on board use the hashtag #nostarchinmarch in tweets, facebook posts, instagrams, snapchats and so on with comments, pics of your low carb meals etc.

Remember, no carbs in a single meal a day… and try to cut down on sugary drinks and junk food too!!!


#nostarchinmarchI hope everyone is over the carbabreaddin last week??? LOL.Chapter 3 of DEFoW 'There's no starch in…

Posted by Don't Eat For Winter on Thursday, 8 March 2018

Striking Similarity between the Signature of Junk food and Autumnal Produce – The Squirrel Formula

When I was writing Don’t Eat for Winter I noticed a striking similarity between the macro-nutrient ratios of many junks foods sometimes called comfort foods, and noticed that they are very similar in nature to two natural foods i.e. breast milk and acorns… I term this “The Squirrel Formula” in Don’t Eat for Winter.

Why did I compare with those two foods you might be asking yourself…

Well, human breast milk is extremely consistent across every nation across the world and is designed to work with our infants to give them the best chance at surviving the most vulnerable stage of their lives… it is designed to make us as hardy as possible in as short a space of time as possible. Babies put on an incredible amount of weight in the first few weeks/months of their lives, which used up once they become active, they need a buffer of energy – TO SURVIVE.

Acorns, are designed to work with creatures like squirrels, bears etc. to fatten them up as quickly as possible to survive winter, a layer of fat for insulation and back up energy, again a buffer of energy – TO SURVIVE.

Both babies and animals gorge on these foods, they deliver a comfort hit and a feel good factor, and instinct is utilised to great effect in order to aid survival.

Now, look at how junk food precisely matches in terms of macro-nutrients… is there any wonder that they are called comfort foods and we get that same feel good factor while eating them… but they’re not designed by nature for adults to eat every day because we are neither animals that need to survive winter, nor defenseless babies needing a head start in life. Many of us can, however, put on the weight and so by eating this formula constantly we put on weight for a winter that never comes and so we battle constantly to fight it off, but in reality it’s extremely difficult to out-train (look how active squirrels are in autumn).

These are foods that have this particular signature, but at the end of the day food combos like a soft drink with an overly fatty dinner could have the same effect. There are many more that match too, all taste great because they trigger our primal survival instincts. See the figures and the radar chart to see just how closely they all match!

This is what Don’t Eat for Winter is about, recognising we should not be eating the gorge formula or squirrel formula as I’ve termed it in the book, in every meal and snack… keep this for an occasional treat and understand that it may trigger the squirrel within to go wild, and once he’s unleashed, he’s wiley and difficult to get back in his cage!!!

The autumnal squirrel formula is high fat, high carb, minimal protein, I round to 50/40/10 so that it’s easy to remember, watch out for it (remember 1g of fat is 9 cals and 1g of carb is 4cals so to work it out you need to look for products where the fat is about half the grams of carbs and protein is very low in comparison).

Spring into your Summer Body with Don’t Eat for Winter …The Anti-Autumnal Diet


Update:  Marty Kendall of Optimising Nutrition has written a fascinating article building on Don’t Eat for Winter’s radar chart above… Don’t Eat for Winter suggests Human Breast Milk and Acorns are a key to why junk foods and autumnal combos are so valued by humans, which is constantly being backed up by data and scientific papers.  Marty shows a table of 30 junk foods in the USDA food composition database that approximate ‘The Squirrel Formula’

Featured on Al Jazeera News Grid

I was asked to comment on the following article by Leah Harding of Al Jazeera’s news show #AJNewsGrid

From the Article

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “Being overweight is the UK’s biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, but most people don’t know about this substantial risk. If more people become aware of the link it may help spare not just millennials, but all generations from cancer.

“The government must play a part to help people make healthy food choices. We’re campaigning for a ban on junk food adverts before the 9pm watershed to protect young people from advertising tactics which all too often promote fattening foods.”

I am in agreement that shops, advertisers and governments need to take responsibility in order to make junk food less accessible to the vulnerable individuals outlined in this article.

I myself was 256lbs and lost all my excess weight through eating more whole foods and looking to nature for inspiration around balancing my nutrient intake.  This is what Don’t Eat for Winter is about, it’s about avoiding foods with the autumnal signature, which induces ancient primal instincts in us that cause gorge eating and ultimately fat storage.  We live in an infinite autumn in our environment storing up fat for a winter that never comes.

I sent in the following clip to Leah, part of which was aired on the 27th of Feb 2018 on the news show.