We all know that one person who gorges on fast food all day, does zero exercise and inexplicably still stays slim. It’s frustrating, to say the least — especially for those of us who have to work our butts off to stay in shape. But if you’ve ever wondered why these lucky souls can eat endless amounts of pizza without gaining weight, you’re in luck. Thanks to a new documentary aired on Channel 4 in the UK, we may finally have some answers.
Titled The Truth About Slim People, the TV experiment follows two people who stay trim with virtually zero effort. There’s Ann-Marie, who wears a size eight (even after two children) despite doing no exercise, visits McDonald’s three to four times per week and goes out of her way to make her daily pastries more unhealthy with cream. Then, there’s Yemi, who’s known to demolish an entire pack of biscuits after lunch but still stays thin.
The filmmakers followed Ann-Marie and Yemi for five days so that their diet and exercise (or lack thereof) patterns could be analysed by dietitians. Their friends and family were also quizzed, their sleep patterns were analysed, and their stool samples were sent to a lab to assess their gut bacteria. No stone was left unturned when it comes to uncovering their slim secrets!
So, what did they discover? Is it a fast metabolism that keeps these people so slim? Or perhaps they both have jobs that require them to be on their feet all the time? Nope! Turns out they both have desk jobs and regular metabolisms. Here’s what the filmmakers discovered could be keeping the pair slim.
Despite eating alarming amounts at their meals, neither Yemi or Ann-Marie are huge snackers. They both eat enough at meal times to keep them full for hours so that they don’t feel the need to graze throughout the day. The documentary also revealed that they’re not emotional eaters — that is, they’re not ones to crack open a packet of chips after a crappy day.
Interestingly, Yemi doesn’t drink at all and while Ann-Marie may enjoy the occasional glass of vino with dinner, she says she can go months without any alcohol. The experts believe this plays a huge role in keeping them slim, as alcohol is not only very calorie-dense, but it also affects how fats and sugars are metabolised
Not that Yemi and Ann-Marie need to worry about how sugar is metabolised. Despite Yemi’s penchant for biscuits, neither of them have a massive sweet tooth — usually opting for savoury over sugary.
While on the surface neither participant seems particularly active, it turns out they both get plenty of exercise throughout the day. Ann-Marie was found to expend far more energy than most people just sitting at her desk — constantly fidgeting and flailing her arms and jumping up to make a point. Meanwhile, Yemi’s only exercise was walking half a mile to and from the subway station every day — but was found to walk so quickly that none of the camera crew could keep up!
Both Ann-Marie and Yemi wore sleep trackers during the experiment. They were both found to be good sleepers who get plenty of shut-eye — hardly surprising given the strong connection between disordered sleep and weight gain!
One of the most interesting discoveries from the experiment was that both Yemi and Ann-Marie have higher than average amounts of ‘good’ gut bacteria. In fact, Ann-Marie has twice the average amount of an anti-inflammatory bacteria called akkermansia — which has sparked a lot of interest in the science community as it has previously been linked to metabolic health.
As always, it’s important to consult your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. You can read more of the fascinating insights from the experiment here.