What if Everything You Think You Know About Losing Weight is Wrong?

1SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/7/2008 3:56 PM   :  92 comments

See More: weight loss, obesity,
If youíre someone whoís watching what you eat for weight loss or better health, you probably believe that obesity is caused by eating more calories than you expend each day. And that keeping fat intakeóespecially saturated fatórelatively low and carbohydrates pretty high is the best way to reduce calories and protect your heart health at the same time.

Youíre probably also under the impression that both of these assumptions have been ďprovenĒ by tons of scientific research over the last 50 years or so. After all, thatís why the government and most professional medical organizations recommend reduced calorie, low-fat diets for weight loss.

Well, you (and the experts) could be wrongÖ

At least, thatís the message thatís coming from one of the most talked-about books concerning the relationship between food, obesity, and health thatís been published in quite a while. That book is Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease, by science writer Gary Taubes.

Before you panic and start worrying about whether you need to clean out your cupboards and restock them with the ďrightĒ stuff, let me say that this is not another diet book or a book on healthy foods, with a list of things you should and shouldnít eat. Nor does it recommend that you stop worrying about your calorie balance or start eating more saturated fat.

Itís a long and pretty scholarly book that takes a critical look at the quality and reliability of the science and research thatís been done on the relationship between diet, weight, and cardiovascular health over the last 60 years or so. Not exactly light reading--but full of very interesting information.

Is It Really All About Calories?

In Good Calories/Bad Calories, Gary Taubes does a pretty convincing job of showing how the conventional low-fat, reduced calorie approach to weight loss is based on a mountain of scientific research that is fundamentally biased and flawed. He makes two main points:

  • The basic idea that people accumulate body fat because they take in more energy (calories) than they expend was borrowed from physics (the first law of thermodynamics) and applied to obesity research without being scientifically tested or evaluated to see if it made sense to do that. There's no doubt that eating too much is one reason people gain weight, but there's also no reason to believe it's the whole story. Or to rule out other hypotheses without investigation, just because you buy this one--which is exactly what has happened.

  • In fact, there is a lot of evidence that a calorie surplus isn't the only factor that can lead to obesity. Although it has improperly been ignored or discounted by mainstream obesity researchers, Taubes claims, there is substantial evidence for an "alternative" theory of obesity--namely, that it can be the product of a defect in fat metabolism. In other words, many people might add bodyfat because some flaw in the system of hormones and enzymes that regulate the flow of fat into and out of fat cells causes them to store fat much more easily than they can take it out of storage and use it as fuelóeven when they donít overeat.


If thatís the case, Taubes argues, then a low calorie, low-fat diet could potentially be the exact opposite of whatís needed, because it would result essentially in ďstarvingĒ other cells and interfering with their normal function, while not having any noticeable effect on the size of fat cells. If you're thinking this sounds a lot like what happens when you go into "starvation mode," you're right.

So what does all this mean?

Personally, I think Taubesís claim that much of the science behind the traditional calorie surplus theory of obesity is "bad science" is pretty hard to disagree with. And many of the recent discoveries related to genetic differences between obese and normal weight people do seem to support the idea that people can gain or lose fat even when their energy balance numbers say they shouldn't.

Taubes speculates that a diet that is relatively higher in fat and protein, and lower in carbohydrates, might be the best solution for people who have some kind of defect in fat metabolism. He bases this on many of the same arguments used by advocates of high-protein diets, like the Atkins diet, about how a high-carbohydrate diet stimulates insulin production, which in turn promotes increased fat storage. He does admit that there is not a lot of evidence to support this position yet, partially because the bias in favor of the low calorie/low fat approach has effectively blocked detailed research along these lines.

But I think heís getting ahead of himself when he recommends a low-carb, high protein diet as a general strategy for weight loss, for several reasons:

  • The reality still is that most of us gain weight because we actually do eat too much and move too little--and looking for some more complicated explanation will just be a waste of time and effort, at least until we've given the eat less/move more apprach an honest chance and seen for sure that it really doesn't work for us.

  • The fact that the conventional approach could be wrong for some people doesnít automatically mean that turning it upside down will produce the right approach--even for those people, much less everyone else. If all the new genetic research tells us anything at this point, itís that this business of storing and burning body fat is far more complex than anyone has imagined, and that there isnít likely to be one approach thatís right for everyone.

  • Even if science is able to figure out why some people add fat even without a calorie surplus, while others burn more calories than normal when they overeat, itís not going to change the fact that we each need to figure out how much is the right amount for us to eat, and what kind of foods will give us the results weíre looking for.


The Bottom Line: You're an "Experiment of One."

You can do the individual experimenting it takes to figure out your own best approach, right now, without waiting for the scientists to come up with a bunch of genetic tests to figure it out for you. This will be a lot easier if you avoid joining one theoretical camp or another in the ongoing diet wars, and maintain an open mind about your own situation while you do your experimenting.

What do you think? Do you have trouble shedding fat with a conventional lower-fat, reduced calorie diet? What sort of experimenting have you done?

For those of you who want to read more about this, but lack the time or inclination to read all 600+ pages of Good Calories/Bad Calories, hereís a shorter, more user-friendly article Taubes wrote outlining his argument.


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Comments

  • 92
    Sorry but I haven't found Taubes that scholarly at all. Most people he's interviewed have said that he's been quoting them out of context. He's taking advantage of the mistake that the U.S. government made when they recommended eating tons and tons of carbohydrates (a mistake which they have rectified long ago). - 7/13/2011   2:09:46 PM
  • 91
    I have overate, underate, have a much higher sodium intake than I could ever imagine and don't eat as healthy as I thought I did. I just finished the first week and despite all managed to yo yo down 2-3 pounds which surprised me. I can actually lose weight which took me years to find out, I just get on emotional roller coasters and time crunches where I grab anything I can to make myself feel better. It's hard to know when I am hungry, over tired, stressed, etc because I get a weary, and want to get something to get my energy back NOW. I've lived all my life as ADHD and either I'm wired or tired. Now, I'm trying not to be either but don't know what "normal' and feeling "good" feels like much of the time. - 2/28/2011   10:01:41 AM
  • 90
    I do lose weight faster if I go with a high protein-low carb diet. But I still think a balanced approach of healthful food is better for you and also that losing weight slowly is better. - 6/11/2009   11:11:32 AM
  • 89
    The body is an amazing thing...really it is.......you will have to see what works for YOU and your body......the common misconception that it is as simple as eat less move more....NO it is not that simple...at all.....when i first started my weightloss journey i did that i cut my calories to no more than 1200 a day and was doing 2 hours of cardio you would think that the weight would surely melt off......nope ...not at all.....limiting the intake of calories is much more to it than just that.....there is definatly good and bad calories.....i have now uped my calorie intake to 1500-1900 of good ...very healthy calories and only 1 hr of cardio a day and have lost 70 pounds in 6 months ......but what works for one is not definate it will work for all ...you have to tweak it and see..... - 11/14/2008   11:29:26 PM
  • 88
    Yes good article. I think what he's talking about a thyroid defficiency. The thing is that there are so many other things that our body uses fat for...brain protection and functioning..cholesterol balance.. Our bodie have various systems of checks and balances. If someone isn't loosing weight and they should be,I would suggest that they do some research into this then have those systems checked for defficiencies. I have been in this situation myself. It was because I was in starvation mode. My body is different than many women I have conciderable muscle mass and a propensity for muscle memory which is a gegtic trait. This means that I gain weight fast and the bigger my muscles get the more my body needs. Its a great feature when you have worked so hard that you've turned your body into a machine. I can't wait to be in such good shape that I could eat a whole pie and my system will be so strong and afficient that it will just be like bring it on I just stored all that as usable energy, cause I know this is just fuel for the muscle your going to gain tomorrow. My biggest problem would be not having time to eat enough. I'm overwhelmingly busy. Another good reason to get my butt in gear. It's so encredably catheric.. wicked outlet. - 11/2/2008   11:22:40 AM
  • 87
    I couldn't agree more! With harmful chemicals like SLS and polypropelyne glycol in our foods, the need to know what you're putting into your body is greater than ever! Even on weeks that my dh and I couldn't work out, we still lost weight due to the healthy eating habits and actually reading what's on the label of the foods we consume. Great article! - 10/22/2008   1:56:30 PM
  • 86
    Weight loss and gain can never be said to be a straightforward science. Aside from one's basic food intake and activity level, one also has to factor in a bucket load of hormones, from the traditional cortisol and insulin to others like adiponectin and leptin, then you have consider your genetics etc... The basic formula still remains: net weight gain/loss= calories in minus calories out. If you starve yourself you will lose weight. You'll hurt yourself doing it too, but no one can deny that you will lose weight. If you overeat you will gain. The 'calories out' of the formula relies on your metabolism, those pesky hormones both of which you have minimal control over and your physical activity- which you have full control over. Clearly the sensible way to do it would be to decrease calorie intake while enjoying your food, and without starving and increase activity sensibly and in a manner that is sustainable. I lost 60 lb this way- successful experiment I think! - 10/15/2008   9:56:51 PM
  • JAZZERCISEGENIE
    85
    Wow lots of good ideas. I think everyone needs to find their own system. My main problem is I don't eat enough for the amount of exercise I do. I have lost 30 pounds since Feb. 1 love that. I have lost 18 inches of hard strength training. I am 63 and it is a daily struggle for me. - 10/11/2008   10:14:51 AM
  • 84
    I lost 100 lbs by eating fewer calories than I burn. Therefore, in my Experiment of One, I have proven (yet again), the first law of thermodynamics.

    Keep it simple, for goodness' sake... This constant stream of articles and books seeking to find the "real" reason we're overweight (and it's never our fault) is probably pretty successful in terms of selling books but MOST overweight people just need to eat less and exercise more. - 10/10/2008   2:38:19 PM
  • 83
    I have been thinking about my weight management program as an "experiment" of sorts for a while now. So far my most eye-opening conclusion was that I needed to eat a lot MORE than Spark (or other programs) would recommend. Of course I lose weight when I eat 1,200-1,500 calories a day, but I feel AWFUL. I reset my program, telling Sparks that I wanted to MAINTAIN my weight, and now have a range of about 1,900-2,200. I have lost 9 pounds in 7 weeks on this plan, and I feel GREAT!!! - 10/10/2008   9:00:24 AM
  • 82
    For myself, I'm at a crucial point. I did the low, ultra low calorie / low fat and lost the weight. Ate healthy, still do, and I don't eat more than about 1900 to 2200 calories a day. I've evened out now and have begun my strenght training, and have packed on more muscle, I still have a weight issue around my mid section and even when I was at my lightest, I couldn't get that gut to go. So now I'm forced to go back to the low cal/ low fat to try and remove this last little bit. It stinks because I'll lose the muscle and have to start over again. But I'm determined to remove it. I'll keep reading and an open mind, but I do think each person is equal to a point, and then the last part is where we diverge. Our "normal weight" is something that we as indiviuals have to fight to get too and stay at, once we've tricked our bodies into thinking that our former overweight selves were what we were meant to be originally. It's hard for the body to think that "Oh wait, you mean the extra 15 to ?? lbs weren't what we should have been.... It's so confusing. - 10/9/2008   4:01:27 PM
  • 81
    I, myself, wonder about the effects of recommended levels of carbs on the obese and Type-II diabetics from watching family members and myself struggle when eating all the carbs that are recommended. I wonder if somewhere along the line food abusers mess up the signals that go out when carbs are elevated.

    For some reason low-carb and high fat are always linked as a program, but you can lower your carbs and eat healthy fats, such as fish, olive oil, flaxseed. But I think the carb limit that can be tolerated might be different with each individual. I can and have lost weight doing a high carb diet, but I spent every single day very hungry for large portions of that day and I craved more and more carbs. When I keep carbs down in the diabetic zone (I'm not diabetic) I can eat what I need for a healthy weight and not be fighting hunger. Every time I fall off the wagon -- and it's just like an alcholic -- it's because I let myself drift into Empty High Carb Land.

    I do wish researchers would be more open minded and less biased so we could get some different research and some real answers. We are a nation of obese people and the standard line isn't working. Most people do not want to be over-weight. They feel hungry. - 10/9/2008   2:54:55 PM
  • 80
    I saw a physician on 20/20 who did Gastric Bypass Surgery. He said patients swore to him that they didn't eat hardly at all, but when he did the surgery, their stomach was stretched out to hold 80 oz. (five pounds) of food. He said "No one has a stomach that huge, unless they have been filling it up and stretching it out to that size." He went on to say "I have NEVER had a patient who didn't lose weight once they couldn't eat all the time." - 10/9/2008   11:09:45 AM
  • 79
    Very interesting article and much has already been said about it. Wouldn't it be nice if someone really did figure out why one child out of six, all raised under the same roof, eating the same foods, and not as much as the "skinny" one next to her, battles a weight problem all of her life? I have always eaten a healthy diet in reasonable amounts, but never stopped gaining weight.
    SP is such a great program because once I figured out I had to eat more, I began to lose weight. Now it is 25 lbs. in 6 months. Can't predict what the next six months will yield, but so far, so good. I'll be using that Tracker for the rest of my days!!! - 10/8/2008   9:01:06 PM
  • 78
    Taubes is neither a scientist nor a doctor of anything. He is a freelance writer and has no formal education in nutrition, physiology, or medicine. His expertise is writing what people want to read, just like all professional writers.

    Defects in fat metabolism (or carbohydrate or protein metabolism for that matter) is nothing new in either scientiific or medical circles. There is a huge body of scientific literature addressing studies and research in the area dating back to before Taubes was even born. His insinuation that everyone who IS a scientist, nutritionist, physiologist or physician has been wrong all those years is just ludicrous. Certainly there are people with metabolic abnormalies (I happen to be one of them), but, IMO, his writing is nothing more than "comfort food" for those who would rather blame their eating and exercise habits (or lack thereof) on some perceived metabolic disorder that is out of their control, than change their eating and exercise habits.

    I have been my own guinea pig for the last 4 years. I have auto-immune thyroiditis which has screwed with my metabolic processes 8 ways to Sunday. Yet I still mananged to lose 150 pounds following the "conventional wisdom" of creating a calorie deficit, eating nutritionally dense food low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and regular exercise. - 10/8/2008   7:42:13 PM
  • 77
    Balance is what works best for me. All things in moderation and make sure I get some form of excercise nearly every day. - 10/8/2008   7:08:45 PM
  • 76
    I was thin and active as a teen and young adult, we ate lots of veggies, fruit and moderate amounts of red meats. My mom didn't like red meat much and was a total veggie fan. I gained weight with each child after I got married and began cooking more varieties of foods, that and marrying a red meat and potato kind of guy. Over the years I have discovered, for me, lowering calorie intake and fat content with increased exercise works well for me. Diets like Atkins scare me as they contribute to poor heart health and I do better with low fat. I don't diet I just revert to a healthy eating style and get off my bottom and move more. Its working great for me as I have lost 41 # since May when I joined SP. - 10/8/2008   2:41:58 PM
  • 75
    I was able to get down to a certain point with the "traditional" approach, but I can tell that the last 20 pounds I had to FORCE off and I'm not even down to a healthy weight yet! I might have to just accept the fact that I will never get down to where other people can at my same height and age.

    And that shoudln't be a bad thing! I'm still healthier than I was before and I know what to eat and do to make myself feel good. - 10/8/2008   2:29:04 PM
  • 74
    I think that watching my calories and exercising more is a huge part of being healthier and reaching my goal weight. I think for me though, the most important other nutrient I watch is sodium. If I go over on sodium, the scale shows it. I watch a lot of other nutrients as well though because I want to have a well-balanced healthy food intake. I think that everyone has different things that work for them, but I think we need to make sure we are eating foods that are nutritious and not just sustain us and we need to find a level of fitness that works for us and our busy lives. - 10/8/2008   2:28:39 PM
  • 73
    This is a GREAT artical! I personally need to maintain a low calorie low carb "diet" in order to lose any weight. And I must exercise at least an hour everyday. - 10/8/2008   1:54:35 PM
  • NIKI778
    72
    I have tried lots of different things, and failed for me what works is watching the calories I consume, and moving my body more. I don't realy pay attention to the balance of fat carbs and pro, but usally I am somewhere close to what Spark reccomends. A few months ago I tried the South Beach Diet. I read the eintre book and found alot of the research convincing and was so excited by the prospect that I could lose as much as 15 lbs in the 1st two weeks. I stuck the the strict phase pretty well (I had a problem with some M&Ms once or twice), in the two weeks I did not lose 1 lb, I was very discouraged and couldn't figure out why the diet didn't work for me when it had for so many others, but in the long run I am not upset, the way I am doing means I can eat anything that I want as long as I plan for it and stick to my workouts and this makes me much happier than losing 15lbs in 2 weeks. - 10/8/2008   1:00:54 PM
  • 71
    I love the idea that I am an experiment of one; it is so true for me. Where I do best on a relatively low-carb diet I still watch my fat intake and my diet is very vege friendly. I eat meatless meals most days of the week, and only eat fish or poultry when I do eat non-vegetarian meals.

    I keep my carbs relatively smart; whole grain pasta, fruit, I've also decreased my intake dramatically and it is amazing when I stay off the sugar I can eat more carbs and do not get the crash I used it. I think my body burns the carbs more effectively. - 10/8/2008   12:04:29 PM
  • WISEWIFE
    70
    Your "you are an experiment of 1" is exactly right. On the other website I'm involved in we say "YMMV" ( Your Mileage May Vary) What works for me, might not work for you and vice versa. For me Atkins is the best, but due to being a type 2 diabetic I also have to avoid fruits. But I do have to say that for the first time in my life I'm not hungry between meals, a big plus! - 10/8/2008   11:52:56 AM
  • 69
    My experiment of one has shown that higher protein and low carb is better for me. I don't cut out carbs completely, but I'm an endomorph so I convert carbs to fat easily and my metabolism is slow. If I eat too many carbs, I crash. I'm not really sure on how fat affects me though. - 10/8/2008   11:31:17 AM
  • SENSEIIRENE
    68
    Yes, there are great recommendations in this blog, and I'm pleased to see it, for many reasons. I think it's time the "low fat high carb" diet was questioned, along with anything that grossly eliminates an entire food group. The support for a unique approach and questioning the calories in/calories burned are worthy of applause, too!! Well done!
    Something Coach Dean mentioned is the relationship between fat and insulin production. Though I haven't been overweight for years, I have struggled with the dreaded 10-15 lbs that just won't go away, and that have become more stubborn as I age. Well, I FINALLY found success by paying attention to insulin levels and the glycemic count of foods. I have discovered that MY REALITY is that white foods and I don't get along. I can live without white anything, frankly, and since that's a lifestyle change I can make, I'm likely to be able to continue this over the long haul. And yes, that means sugar. Once I eliminated it, and consumed only whole grain carbs (along with loads of fruits and veggies), my sugar cravings went away, too.

    Oh happy day....!! - 10/8/2008   10:55:47 AM
  • 67
    I can say from experience here and elsewhere, that if I don't eat ENOUGH to balance out what I am exercising, I stand still in my weight loss. I hadn't posted a loss for a few weeks, so I INCREASED my calories by about 500-700 and started losing again.

    I know from being obese almost my entire life that it isn't just as simple as burn more than you eat. If you burn too much more than you eat, your body resists losing weight like you are starving.

    I had some success with Adkins before, but I hated cutting out fruits and breads completely. - 10/8/2008   10:23:38 AM
  • 66
    Coach...your thoughts are always one to ponder...I agree that each of us is unique and what works for one does not necessarily work for another...I "did" atkins and yes I did lose...and lose quickly...but I am not a carnivore by nature and the plan left me feeling unhealthy. I think that carbs are usually associated with grains and startches...for me eating a balanced diet and moving my arse is best...an experiment of one...! - 10/8/2008   10:01:07 AM
  • DUCHESSDORIGHT
    65
    Yes, I had already concluded that diets don't work. If they did there would not be a 5% success rate of keeping the weight off. I have discovered that "worrying" about my caloric intake stresses me out, eating a 1500 calorie diet leaves me hungry & irritable all the time. Now that I've stopped stuffing myself, eating for emotional reasons and bingeing, I find that I am not as thin as I would like to be, but I'm not packing on the pounds.

    Increasing my exercise and decreasing my calories did not make me lose weight & my intake of junky, processed foods has never been excessive. I have discovered that making peace with food, learning to love my body and exercising because it feels good is much more effective than any diet I've ever tried.

    Our bodies have the wisdom to keep us healthy if we would just listen to them! - 10/8/2008   10:01:03 AM
  • 64
    i think an experiment of one is a great assessment. i've done trial and error. i like trying some of the solutions, but ultimately, staying in the ranges spark has for me works. i think people should try different things and stick with what works without getting discouraged. - 10/8/2008   9:48:07 AM
  • 63
    I can see how this can be true. I do notice that if I eat a low-fat diet that I do not lose weight. I find that I need to eat more fat. I find that I need to fat to actually lose weight. - 10/8/2008   9:33:28 AM
  • LOLA14
    62
    I read the article that was linked to this one, and it was fascinating that spark would have acknowled to put it on for us to review. I found it exciting. I had gone on a low carb diet a while back and lost 65 lbs. But went off because I was scared. So of course I went with what our society is said to believe is better and accepted. Of course I went back to doing the low fat with more carbs and yes I have gained my weight back.
    Since starting again with my way of life eating habits, I have started with the low carbs again with low fat and so far lost 23 lbs.
    I really enjoyed reading this article and will continue with the low carbs..... - 10/8/2008   9:16:28 AM
  • 61
    Wow! That's interesting! Like many of us, I've always had a problem losing even a small amount of weight... when I'd diet with others (like WW)... they would lose several pounds, while I would lose only a half pound or stay the same.
    In the year I've been with SP, tracking pretty much everything I've eaten, I've found what works and what doesn't for me. I've found that "dieting" doesn't work. That "balance" does. AND choosing healthy. Lean meats (and a LOT less of that than what I was used to!). Vegetables and fruits... WAY less sugar and sweets. LOTS of fiber. I don't feel very deprived, and the weight IS coming off... albeit, slowly. - 10/8/2008   8:34:33 AM
  • 60
    Thanks for the insight on this new book. I'm encouraged that some of those in the scientific community are beginning to think outside the box. Thanks to all my SP friends for figuratively weighing in on it as well! Good comments!

    Just as the author suggested, we DO need "an Experiment of One." SP, in fact, is as close as most of us have ever come to that grand experiment. Personally, I've struggled with weight issues alone for years, being frustrated and often failing with the "conventional wisdom." Here at SP, my trek has been validated by people who are in much the same situation. Most of us need a "variation on a theme" to be able to take this weight off! We are not cookie cutter losers (weight or otherwise)! The reason SP works is not only because it is stocked with great tools/information, but because we support each other and offer friendly advice to fellow Sparkers in these thousands of "experiments." I sincerely hope someone is studying SP itself!

    - 10/8/2008   8:33:24 AM
  • 59
    I truly believe not all diets work for all people. I still haven't found what works for me. I did a high protein low carb plan that seemed to work for a while. My problem with it was that it even limited the amount of fruits and vegatables I ate and had me eating a lot of red meat. I'm still looking for a happy balance that will help me lose weight while eating well. - 10/8/2008   8:23:39 AM
  • CHRISTINE391
    58
    Still learning. - 10/8/2008   8:10:54 AM
  • 57
    It is true that I gained weight by overeating. But I gained a lot more weight by overeating than my sister-in-law who eats more than I do and yet can wear a bikini. So obviously the relationship is not linear.

    Additionally, I can lose weight by under-eating. But I lose a lot less weight, and lose it more slowly, than others. And that's pretty frustrating.

    So, yes, I agree that it's not the 3500-in / 3500-out relationship that a lot of people believe that it is. So, for those who are not blessed with a magic metabolism... NOW WHAT!? - 10/8/2008   7:50:44 AM
  • ELITERUNNER
    56
    Eating well doesn't have to be complicated. After all the reading I have done, I have come to a one conclusion. Simple is best - if it doesn't grow on trees or in the ground, it's probably best left on the grocery shelf. The occassional piece of cheesecake is the ONLY exception. - 10/8/2008   7:49:32 AM
  • 55
    I have known for years that a low carb diet is the only one for me if I want to lose weight. While I believe that there is no one diet that fits everyone, the apparently official suppression of any evidence supporting the low carb approach as not only viable but also potentially more effective for some contributes to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Low carb dieting is not just another fad diet approach. - 10/8/2008   7:41:43 AM
  • 54
    I have to say I agree with most everyone here. When they say you have to find what works for your body. Just as people like the tastes of different types of foods you need to find your "taste" for your different kind of lifestyle. - 10/8/2008   7:39:02 AM
  • 53
    I like this article. I've found that I need to be in the mid to high range of my fat intake. I also need low carbs and low to mid in my protein. I find this works best for me with on average 45 minutes 5x a week for my workouts. - 10/8/2008   7:35:26 AM
  • 52
    Thank you for this article. I agree with the "Experiment of One". It's so easy to try to follow this advice or that advice. I'm still fine-tuning what works best for me. - 10/8/2008   7:14:29 AM
  • MISSTURRY
    51
    My experience is that low calorie, low fat diets don't work. I eat a lot more fat now, but I'm losing weight. - 10/8/2008   7:10:22 AM
  • 50
    " Experiment of One"... I have felt that my whole life. Thanks for the article... It truly validated what I have always thought... Each person needed to find what works for them. I personally need to stay within caloric range and more external movement on multiple days of the week... - 10/8/2008   6:59:12 AM
  • 49
    I'm speaking only for myself here.

    I _have_ been experimenting with my food intake. While I wouldn't go so far as to say a severely carb-restricted diet works best, I do find that for ME, replacing most white carbs (not eliminating them!) with whole-grain keeps me fuller longer. Plus, reducing breads/pastas/rices in general on a daily basis gives me more room for veggies and protein, which also seems to help me drop a few pounds.

    One more thing I've noticed is that when I add just ONE ounce of nuts daily to my diet, it really makes all the difference to my spirits and my satiety levels. Plus, the days I have nuts, I notice that I don't feel bloated at all!

    For me, more nuts, a lower level of grains, and a higher percentage of protein seems to work best. The no-carb diets may work, but I suspect I'd have a hard time maintaining them for life ... I love my grains. :)

    Cheers,
    Maya
    - 10/8/2008   6:42:46 AM
  • MJS505
    48
    I personally just needed to eat less and move more. But there are many reasons why this doesn't work for some people, some medical, some psychological. Each person really just needs to do what works for them. - 10/8/2008   6:35:56 AM
  • DOLLYB1
    47
    Love this article! I've found that for me, STICKING to a lower-fat, reduced calorie diet loses weight and exercising, even just walking, helps me lose more. I realize every one's body is different, sort of 'different strokes for different folks' but for me, watching what I eat & walking is the way to go! - 10/8/2008   6:13:53 AM
  • 46
    The bottom line is that weight loss is as complicated a system as the weather.

    The idea that one size would fit all is absurd -- the body (even a so-called "normal, average" one) is extraordinarily complex. The concept that there would be only one or two reasons for weight gain is arrogance of the highest order, as people try to put a lasso around a very, very large problem.

    What is more likely to be true is that there are hundreds if not thousands and perhaps millions or even billions of reasons why any given person would gain weight. And, at the same time, there are about as many reasons why they would lose.

    Scientific studies only go so far although they can be helpful. You need to look at how big the studies were (15 people, or 50,000?), and how long they took (a month or 20 years?) and who they were done on (just the rather uniform Amish population, or the citizens of Des Moines, in their diversity?) and who was sponsoring the study (independent researchers, or food and/or drug companies that might have an agenda?), and the type of study conducted (e. g. double-blind, etc.).

    You are, of course, your own lab. After all, unless you are a part of a study, you are essentially (hopefully with your physician's guidance) trying things out more or less on your own. It helps to look at the facts (and it doesn't help that all sorts of studies -- including some real junk science -- are publicized in equally breathless manners by the 10 o'clock news) and trends.

    Follow what has been shown from large, double-blind, long-term studies done on people like you. One study, if it is HUGE and done over a very long term, and it's double-blind and it's on people like you, should outweigh quickie studies sponsored by researchers with an agenda, done on people not at all like you and not performed in a double-blind manner, even if there are a million of the latter and only one of the former.

    Be an educated consumer in this and in everything else. Really, I think that's the only way to go through any of this (and I'm not just talking diet and lifestyle). - 10/8/2008   5:40:39 AM
  • 45
    The bottom line is that weight loss is as complicated a system as the weather.

    The idea that one size would fit all is absurd -- the body (even a so-called "normal, average" one) is extraordinarily complex. The concept that there would be only one or two reasons for weight gain is arrogance of the highest order, as people try to put a lasso around a very, very large problem.

    What is more likely to be true is that there are hundreds if not thousands and perhaps millions or even billions of reasons why any given person would gain weight. And, at the same time, there are about as many reasons why they would lose.

    Scientific studies only go so far although they can be helpful. You need to look at how big the studies were (15 people, or 50,000?), and how long they took (a month or 20 years?) and who they were done on (just the rather uniform Amish population, or the citizens of Des Moines, in their diversity?) and who was sponsoring the study (independent researchers, or food and/or drug companies that might have an agenda?), and the type of study conducted (e. g. double-blind, etc.).

    You are, of course, your own lab. After all, unless you are a part of a study, you are essentially (hopefully with your physician's guidance) trying things out more or less on your own. It helps to look at the facts (and it doesn't help that all sorts of studies -- including some real junk science -- are publicized in equally breathless manners by the 10 o'clock news) and trends.

    Follow what has been shown from large, double-blind, long-term studies done on people like you. One study, if it is HUGE and done over a very long term, and it's double-blind and it's on people like you, should outweigh quickie studies sponsored by researchers with an agenda, done on people not at all like you and not performed in a double-blind manner, even if there are a million of the latter and only one of the former.

    Be an educated consumer in this and in everything else. Really, I think that's the only way to go through any of this (and I'm not just talking diet and lifestyle). - 10/8/2008   5:39:44 AM
  • 44
    It's all about finding out what works for us. Thanks for sharing! - 10/8/2008   5:32:16 AM
  • 43
    This article was great! Some people do not realize that everyone's body is different and will react differently to different approaches. Personally I have to watch my calorie intake and stay shy of high sugar, high fat foods. Along with a constant exercise program I'll do fine and she the unwanted pounds. - 10/8/2008   5:20:29 AM

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