While few things are more commendable than a solid food challenge, nothing triggers my horse poop detector like this Mad Lib: “I’m going to eat [popular junk food] for [number over 30] days to prove [accepted nutrition belief] is wrong.”
There was the Twinkie Guy (who downplayed also eating lots of veggies and maintained a caloric deficit). And the Chipotle Guy (who downplayed meticulous calorie and macronutrient counting). And now the Pizza Guy. Meet young Brian Northrup, a New Jersey bro who spent a year eating Domino’s pizza coupled with copious amounts of buffalo wings and working out like crazy. His hypothesis? You can exercise your way past a crappy diet!
So I watched a couple of his YouTube videos. While young Brian is charming in a bro-phisticated way, certainly deserving of the dozens of views his videos get, he didn’t prove squat. In fact, he left me with one, burning question: If someone was going to eat pizza every day for a year, why in the hell would they pick Domino’s? (Let’s table the theories that either he hopes to score sponsorship or that his buddy Patrick is a delivery boy and bros him out with, like, a killer ‘za deal.)
I think the real reason–and the crux of the issue here–is that Brian is young. The downside of this is that his immature palate can’t recognize the benefits of superior, artisanal pie. The upside is that his body is a resilient, calorie-burning, muscle-recovering machine. It would seem the only aging setback this kid is experiencing might be the male pattern baldness hinted to by his insistence on constantly wearing screwed-down baseball caps and wizard hats.
An active, healthy youth like this can eat almost anything he wants and scrape by in okay shape. In fact, between his activity level and age, he could probably throw a few cans of Old Milwaukee in there (something tells me Brian isn’t much of a beer snob) and do just fine.
Ya see, the calories aren’t the issue here. An entire daily pizza may sound like a lot, but when you break it down, it’s not. A medium, hand-tossed, pepperoni pizza from Domino’s checks in at around 1700 calories. Your average male in his twenties burns somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 calories per day. Brian is packing a bunch of muscle, so between that and his workouts, it’s safe to say he burns in excess of 4,000 calories.
If you’re a middle-aged woman who burns 2,000 calories per day, sure, a medium pizza is a big slice of your caloric pie, but for Baby Charles Atlas here, it ain’t no thing.
Mind you, I’m not saying he’s making a smart choice. Caloric load is just a small part of why bad food is bad. Brian has the sense to add a few veggies to his plan, but between the pizza and the buffalo wings, the bulk of his calories come from refined flour, saturated fats, added sugar, processed meats, and sundry other chemicals—and given this is fast food pizza, the quality of anything vague redeeming, such as tomato sauce, is questionable.
Brian’s diet is pro-inflammatory and low in antioxidants. Again, his young body can probably cope. That said, what he’s doing to Future Brian remains TBD. It’s not like people get cancer overnight from eating a radioactive isotope. (Everyone knows that if you do that, you either turn big and green or start climbing walls in your long johns.) Even people exposed to asbestos can go decades before things take a bad turn. No, the scourges of our modern age such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease happen, in part, thanks to years of bad choices. In my opinion, a pizza-a-day might fall into that “bad” camp.
But still, “Pizzapocolypse,” as Brian calls it, was a fun food challenge—it just didn’t prove anything. Then again, if you’re looking to millennial New Jersey gym rats for groundbreaking nutritional knowledge, maybe you should keep on believin’, bro.