One of the benefits of having a food journal that goes back 5 years is I can go back in time to see where I started, and where I am now.
The reason I joined Spark is because my weight loss stalled, and I wanted to lose more. And Spark is free!
Here's my very first day that I created an account on Spark and tracked my food.
July 3, 2007 Start weight: 135lbs
Breakfast: Cheerios, Plum, Granola bar | Calories: 218
Lunch: Baja fresh charboiled chicken, clementine | Calories: 352
Dinner: Turkey sausage, asparagus, corn, eggplant, sweet potato, bell pepper, halibut, tequila | Calories: 860
Snack: Low fat yogurt, plum, granola bar | Calories: 294
Calorie Total: 1725
Carbs: 219g | 55%
Fat: 30g | 17%
Protein: 112g | 28%
If we're going with calorie in-calorie out math, I'm a little calorie high, but the quality of food is pretty good. No fast food. No junk. Veggies, fruit, grains (Cheerios says its heart healthy!), and keeping fat low (because I was trying to follow the standard dietary advice). Shot of alcohol is ok in moderation, right? I packed too many calories at once at dinner, but hey! It was my first day!
Subsequent journal entries show that I dropped my average daily calories.
And it worked! My weight tracker shows that I lost 4 lbs in a month. Not bad!
However, checking my report in October 8, 2007, my weight jumped to 142lbs. Not good.
3 years later...
August 5, 2010 Start weight: 132
Breakfast: Banana, Cheerios | Calories: 177
Lunch: Carrots, dill pickle, lettuce, flank steak, potato, Izze soda | Calories: 543
Dinner: Carrots, tomatoes, peas, chicken thigh, Izze soda, bbq sauce | Calories: 289
Snack: Pineapple, watermelon | Calories: 125
Calories Total: 1134
Carbs: 176g | 64%
Fat: 16g | 13%
Protein: 63g | 23%
My weight report shows that I lost 3 lbs by October 1, 2010. 1.5lb per month. Not very impressive.
Sure, the Izze pop wasn't the healthiest choice, but calories in-calories out, right? The source of the calories doesn't matter, just the total calories, right?
(You know what I think of that. Good luck with that Twinkie diet.)
But it gets worse. According to my weight tracker, I weighed 138 after the holidays. A 9 lb gain since October. All of my work erased, and then some.
I think we can agree this was a yo-yo. If experts were to be believed, my food quality was above average (Pizza hut and potato chips aren't to blame). It did work for a time, then it didn't, and I rebounded. Fast. Over time, I couldn't lose as well on the same number of restricted calories.
(I'll skip comparison with my current results now because I want to wait a full 30 days before discussing.)
There was a study published recently that tested resting energy expenditure for people on low-fat, low-glycemic, and low-carb diets. This type of study has never been done before. What they basically did is forced all the participants to lose weight 10-15% of their body weight rapidly, put them on these diets, then recorded what happened to their maintenance metabolic rate. The result? Low-carb maintainers had the least decrease in resting energy expenditure; low-fat had the most; low-glycemic was in the middle. Low-carb maintainers burned 300 more calories at rest then the low-fat group. The 'metabolic advantage' goes to the low-carb group.
I'm not going to say that this definitely answered why my metabolism continued to decline year after year, but the circumstantial evidence is intriguing. This isn't a long term study, so certainly there is more work to build on this.
Running with this idea, though, my personal long term data suggests a cumulative effect.
It occurred to me that 'seasonal carb cycling' may have better results for maintenance, and blunt the awful holiday weight gain. If we have a lot of weight to lose, then being able to resume where we left off makes the task more manageable. Slightly higher carb in the summer if we're more active may be less likely to pack on pounds, then shift into lower carb in the winter when we're less active. If we go by traditional farming cycles, grains and plants ARE less prevalent in the winter months. Pre industrial populations lived more heavily on animal protein during the winter months when plants and grains were inaccessible. Vegetables were pickled before refrigeration became common. Grains were stored in silos, but rationed moderately because it had to last all winter.
The thing that is clear to me from my long term journals is that high carb and low activity are a disaster.