January 5, 2009

"For gayness to be the same as fatness..." — Ricky Gervais defends his anti-fat remarks.

We discussed this minor controversy yesterday. Now, Ricky's got this on his blog (which seems to defy permalinking):
I heard someone on the radio once say that they were tired of the prejudice aimed at the overweight. They said something like "you're not allowed to make fun of gay people, so why are you allowed to make fun of fat people? It's the same thing."

It's not the same thing though, is it? Gay people are born that way. They didn't work at becoming gay. Fat people became fat because they would rather be that way than stop eating so much. They had to eat and eat to get fat. Then, when they were fat they had to keep up the eating to stay fat. For gayness to be the same as fatness, gay people would have to start off straight but then ween themselves onto cock. Soon they're noshing all day getting gayer and gayer. They've had more than enough cock... they're full... they're just sucking for the sake of it. Now they're overgay, and frowned upon by people who can have the occasional cock but not over indulge.

When a doctor tells me that that's how you become gay, I'll stop making jokes about fat people.
You're not going to poke holes in that logic, now, are you?

103 comments:

Henry Buck said...

(In the voice of a parent calling a child downstairs for dinner)

"Oh, Titus, we're all waiting for you!"

dbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael_H said...

I am neither gay nor fat.

I am a vagitarian

dbp said...

Well, I won't poke holes in it, but maybe chip-away at it a bit.

Sure, fat people can loose weight but if it was easy to do there would hardly be any fat people. It certainly seems the case that it is a lot harder for some than for others. I guess you could say that some people are born with a predisposition that makes it hard for them to stay thin.

On the gayness side; a while back I posed this question to one of your gay commenters: If there was a "cure" for homosexuality, would you take it? The expected (and actual) answers are, No. Effectivly it is a choice since the alternative wouldn't ever be chosen--at least not by some.

How is that? If not holes, maybe dents.

peter hoh said...

Maybe Gervais and Kathy Griffin have the same person in mind.

TreeJoe said...

The ease (or lack thereof) of being fat is much like anything related to lifestyle: it is a matter of willpower, not of bodily function.

Getting overweight/fat is a function of eating too much (for 99% of the population) vs. the metabolism of digestion, normal bodily function, and then activity. It's roughly 10% digestion, 70% normal bodily function, and 20% physical activity.

So you need to eat more than you body expends to put on weight.

But fat doesn't really add any new metabolic activity. To maintain a pound of fat, it only takes 1-2 calories per day (vs. alot more for muscle).

So you can pack on fat without increasing the body's metabolic requirements much.

I.e. a 150 pound male of a certain body make-up can add 50 pounds of fat, and have almost the exact same metabolic activity of a 200 pound male, given no physical activity. The difference would be the equivalent of about 1 slice of bread's worth of calories of intake to maintain each.

The act of lugging around the extra weight is the only real "help" to losing it, besides willpower. And there are other complicating factors.

Obesity/overweight is easy to control, in a "take the human equation out of it" way.

It's when we make excuses for our behavior that it becomes hard.

Joe

Michael said...

"You're not going to poke holes in that logic, now, are you?"

On this site..."you betcha."

As in this inane logic:

DBP - "a while back I posed this question to one of your gay commenters: If there was a "cure" for homosexuality, would you take it? The expected (and actual) answers are, No. Effectivly it is a choice since the alternative wouldn't ever be chosen--at least not by some."

See, based on this ridiculous example of a ridiculous question being posed...

If they say they wouldn't take the "cure"...it's really a "choice."

Duh.

chuck b. said...

If I don't die my hair blond, am I choosing to be brunet?

chuck b. said...

In Goya's Ghost, Natalie Portman chose not to eat pork and she got "put to the question". A terrible bummer ensued.

chuck b. said...

If I eat lots of vegetables does that mean I'm choosing smelly farts?

Michael said...

chuck b. said..."If I don't die my hair blond, am I choosing to be brunet?"

No.

"If I eat lots of vegetables does that mean I'm choosing smelly farts?"

Yes...especially if you throw some meat in there, too.

Michael said...

chuck b. said..."If I don't die my hair blond, am I choosing to be brunet?"

No.

"If I eat lots of vegetables does that mean I'm choosing smelly farts?"

Yes...especially if you throw some meat in there, too.

dbp said...

If I don't die my hair blond, am I choosing to be brunet?

No. You might be a redhead.

I heard somewhere that the only true blonds are bottle blonds.

Michael said...

dbp said..."I heard somewhere that the only true blonds are bottle blonds."

You need to get out more.

Skyler said...

Twenty years ago or so there were a lot of homosexuals who would express their offense if you said that homosexuality was something one was born to. It was a choice, you know, a product of free minds and free wills. The debate raged on for a few years until I guess the political agenda was settled and now only one conclusion is allowed.

I never heard a good reason why it is or isn't a choice. I imagine to some it is a choice and to some it may not be, for such a broad range of people there are sure to be multiple causes.

But we do know that the political agenda has been clarified and none dare challenge the assertion that being homosexual is right there with being short, or having a big nose, or skin color.

BJK said...

Henry Buck beat me to the punch, but how did I manage to post here before Titus?

Gervais' use of the word 'noshing' - both in the American and English slang use, and the juxtaposition of eating and male homosexuality - provides perfect word choice for his blog. It's like a pun, once removed.

Also, if being gay is akin to being fat, how does one explain Richard Simmons?

Michael said...

Skyler: "I never heard a good reason why it is or isn't a choice."

Geee, how about "science?"

Are you actually adhering to the belief that millions of people "choose" to be gay?

And if so...why in the world would anybody make that choice? Or for that mater, to be black?

I read about a poll conducted years ago among Ivy League students who felt they were quite open-minded and certainly not prejudiced. They were asked what they would expect in return for being exactly who they were, same parents, same education, same everything...but they would suddenly be black instead of white.

They average response was $1,000,000.

That should give you some idea of what a straight person might want to be gay...if it was indeed a "choice."

TreeJoe said...

I think the original post was about fat-osity. Not sexual orientation.

Or does no one want to deal with that?

Tangent: Is your best logic for sexual orientation being in-bred that you simply can't imagine millions of people choosing to be that way?

If so, you might not be a student of history....since the ages are filled with people choosing to be a certain way that is later ridiculued.

Geoff Matthews said...

Uh,Michael, there have been some claims in the scientific community that people are born gay, but those claims are backed by very poor studies and horribly deductive reasoning. The complexity of sexual attraction cannot be deduced to 'born that way'.

On the other hand, we do know that metabolic rates are biologically determined. People with slow metabolisms have a greater chance of being fat than people with fast metabolisms. Put the latter in a food-rich environment and they will get fat. Put the latter in a food-poor environment and they will starve.

Michael said...

Tree & Geoff - I've never implied that there are some people who "choose" to do or be any number of things, but I don't think either of you can provide any real evidence that gays "choose" to be gay, versus being born as gays.

As for scientific studies; there are many and I've never read any that provide the kind data that would discount the notion that gays are born that way.

Do either of YOU really, in your heart of hearts, think millions of people merely "choose" to be gay?

Tibore said...

"You're not going to poke holes in that logic, now, are you?"

No... I'm just going to sit here and wonder what the hell it is you eat that turns you gay.

And then I'm going to run and hide before Titus responds...

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that for most males, sexual orientation is wired. At least some studies have wired up guys and then shown them pictures of attractive (nude?) men and women. Most straight men react to the women and not to the men, and visa versa for many, if not most, gay men.

My memory though is that it wasn't quite as clear cut with gay and straight women, possibly having to do with the difference on how males and females get sexually excited. My, likely uneducated, guess from all that I have read is that there is a distinct possibility that choice, or at least lack of hard wiring, is more common in female than in male sexual orientation. That is not to say that there aren't hard wired females of both sexual orientations, because there most certainly are. But rather, I am suggesting that the middle ground may be broader with women than with men.

Which brings me back to the original problem of comparing fatness to sexual orientation. There are those who swing one way or the other out of choice, and there are those who are fat due to physical causes mostly out of their own control. So, it isn't black and white, no matter how much that would be politically correct. Maybe light gray and dark gray, but not black and white.

TreeJoe said...

Geoff,

"On the other hand, we do know that metabolic rates are biologically determined. "

Yes, they are biologically determined. But not genetically, outside of a metabolic disorder....which might still be environmental, and not genetic.

Metabolic rates are remarkably consistent in the population. Your organs burn X calories per day, regardless of physical activity, digesting food burns Y of all caloric intake, and physical activity burns Z calories per day.

X = The vast majority, and is very consistent among the populace, based upon size of organ.

Y = A relatively stable 10-15% of all calories consumed...protein takes more calories to digest, hence a protein rich diet of 2000 calories will leave the body with less usable calories than a carb-rich diet of 2000 calories.

Z = Usually around 20% of all calories expended are due to physical activity. For someone that needs 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight, this means that the act of waking up, showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed, a few house chores, and working at a sedentary job will burn 400 calories per day.


There is a myth about slow and fast metabolic rates....they aren't nearly as common as people believe.

TreeJoe did metabolic research at Johns Hopkins including measuring the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of overweight and obese individuals. RMR is essentially how many calories are consumed by the body if you did nothing but lie in bed all day.

Michael - Millions and millions of people choose to lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder and do many other things that are generally considered avoidable.

All I'm saying is that the logic of assuming sexual orientation is based upon genetics because you can not imagine all those people making that lifestyle choice....well, it's flawed logic. People make all sorts of lifestyle choices that complicate their lives, or are not "mainstream" compared to the rest of society.

Doesn't mean they don't have some form of free-will about it. Assuming otherwise negates behavioral choice.

Joe

Edgehopper said...

Given that fat is an extremely heritable trait, even in studies controlling for parental dietary choices (i.e., adoption studies), Gervais is on about as thin ice saying that all fat people got that way from eating too much as Meryl Streep was sounding the alarm about Alar, or RFK Jr. yelling about global warming.

A better question would be why we care what Ricky Gervais (or any entertainer) thinks on a primarily scientific question.

Lawgiver said...

Geee, how about "science?"

Are you actually adhering to the belief that millions of people "choose" to be gay?


I've never implied that there are some people who "choose" to do or be any number of things, but I don't think either of you can provide any real evidence that gays "choose" to be gay, versus being born as gays.

Michael the meatsack returns what a hoot. You just implied being gay is genetic and now you try to deny it. While you're at it, did you choose to become a pedophile or were you born that way? Did you choose to be a crack head or were you born that way? Do you choose to be an asshole or in your heart of hearts are you just a really sick fuck who doesn't know where he's not wanted?

Trooper York said...

Ricky Gervais needs a fucking beating and if I ever get the chance I would be happy to give it to him. He should shut the fuck up and worry about being a pasty faced douche bag who isn't funny anymore. The cunt.

blake said...

A better question would be why we care what Ricky Gervais (or any entertainer) thinks on a primarily scientific question.

Because he's said something we don't like.

mcg said...

A better question would be why we care what Ricky Gervais (or any entertainer) thinks on a primarily scientific question.

I would phrase it a bit differently. The key is that he's not on stage to tell us the Way Things Ought To Be (tm), but simply to entertain. And apparently, quite a few people find him entertaining. The fact is that Ricky Gervais is an extremely popular entertainer right now. So people do care what he says, on a variety of topics of social, political, and even scientific natures--but as a vehicle for entertainment.

The proper question, really, is why we take someone's comedy routine and examine it like it was some invited op-ed in the NYTimes.

And while we're chewing on that we can also ask ourselves why the fuck Michael is still here.

TitusnottheeGorilla said...

My experience as a gay was that I wanted cock at a very young age.

Like 3 or 4 I wanted to see if I could get the other 3 or 4 year old's hard.

Must my experience.

Thank you.

TitusnottheeGorilla said...

I was also doing little girls at that time but I liked doing boys more.

Must my experience.

TitusnottheeGorilla said...

I expect we will be seeing Ricky Gervais with a new body this year seen as though he seems to be obsessed about the weight.

Ralph said...

You're not going to poke holes in that logic, now, are you?
No, we are all bottoms here, except Titus.

TitusnottheeGorilla said...

I don't know anything about lesbians although a couple of weekends ago I went out to dindin with a friend of mine and the restaurant was filled with dykes. These were lesbian lesbians. The types straight guys would like to have a three way with.

We left and the womyn outside told us that is their only night out and that they are cheap.

So now I know that lesbians are cheap. I didn't know that before because I don't know anything about lesbians.

Daryl said...

Effectivly it is a choice since the alternative wouldn't ever be chosen--at least not by some.

No. If you ask people whether they would take a pill to change their religion, most would say "no." If you asked whether they would take a pill to change their gender, most would say "no." People accept what they are.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I personally believe that people are not either/or. Either homosexual/lesbian or hetero. There is a sliding scale. I also don't think that all fat/overweight people are gluttons who made their own fate. There are inherited aspects to both.

HOWEVER>>>> there is choice. You can be born homosexual and choose not to act on it. You can be born with a slower metabolism and chose to combat it with heroic dieting and exercising regime. Those are the extremes. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the bell curve.

Whether it is more genetic to be homosexual, born that way, than it is to be born with "fat" genes, remains to be seen. What it not in dispute is that we have choices. Some of us choose not to choose.

Joe said...

As pointed out, but which needs to be reiterated, weight is almost as heritable as height and among the most heritable traits.

Damn you science! Damn you to hell.

TreeJoe said...

Can someone who has said body fat is hereditary provide a link to a reputable study saying such?

As of 2004, the link was far less correlated than people here are suggesting.

My body fat placement is very genetic, absolutely.

But fat storage is a bodily function based upon excess calories being available.

You don't get fat because you eat a 1500 calorie diet when expending 1500 calories a day....it's literally not possible. The body doesn't shut down the liver, brain, and heart to conserve 300 calories a day so it can store it as fat.

If you believe you just magically gain fat or are unable to lose fat based upon your lifestyle (physical activity and diet), then you are tremendously mistaken.

Jason said...

TreeJoe,

I agree that the large number of openly gay people is not proof that homosexuality isn't a choice. But talk of logic or the use of clinical terms, like "lifestyle choice," is rather odd when speaking of these subjects. Homosexuality and heterosexuality are all about love. Perhaps there are people who can choose who they fall in love with, I don't think that kind of idea is compatible with our culture though.

EnigmatiCore said...

Without question, some people are born gay. Maybe most gay people are born that way. Probably, even.

I am not totally convinced that all gay people, or bi people, are born that way.

Some people are born with metabolisms that will make it difficult for them to be anything but fat.

It may be the case that a higher percentage of fat people have chosen to be fat by their actions than those who have chosen to be gay by their actions, as opposed to being born without much choice in the matter.

But I see no reason to be mean to any of them.

EnigmatiCore said...

"If I don't die my hair blond, am I choosing to be brunet?"

Is this a trick question? Yes. Yes you are.

TitusnottheeGorilla said...

I would take a pill to not be gay.

Ann Althouse said...

I've heard some black people say if there was a pill you could take to not be black that not only would they take it but that all black people would take it. That made me feel very sad.

Ralph said...

Ok, Titus, but would you take a pill to lust after the vajayjay? Deprovara (sp) will turn off most of the gay urges.

tjl said...

Titus says, "I would take a pill to not be gay."

Shocker of the evening!

I wouldn't. Being gay is part of who I am. It's enriched my life a hundred times over. It's allowed me to see things from an outsider's skeptical viewpoint without losing the ability to fit in when I want to. It hasn't prevented me from having a rewarding legal career, but it's kept me from being judgmental about those who run afoul of the law. It's spared me from the tedium of suburban domesticity. In my single days it allowed me to experience literally hundreds of sexual partners, which led in time to a loving monogamous relationship lasting 19 years.

I didn't choose being gay, but it's part of me and I'd never give it up.

Henry said...

If there was a pill that would make me a celebrity I would not take it.

Freeman Hunt said...

I cannot express how happy I am to see TreeJoe's posts about metabolism and fat. Yes! That is all.

Gervais is funny. I'm sure that somewhere he has made fun of traits I have. I bet his making fun of them would make me laugh.

Lawgiver said...

Without question, some people are born gay.

You must be a man of faith because science doesn't support that statement. At the most science says maybe.

Edgehopper said...

Actually, there is significant research indicating that the stress and stigma that fat people deal with because of fools like Ricky Gervais are much more of a health risk than obesity itself. Here's a 3 part series with plenty of cites and hyperlinks, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. So, if the goal to increase public health rather than eliminate the fat people for aesthetic reasons, Gervais's advice is exactly wrong.

mcg said...

I expect we will be seeing Ricky Gervais with a new body this year seen as though he seems to be obsessed about the weight.

Nah, he calls himself fat, and he blames it on eating. His schtick is more about the claims that people can't help being fat, that it's a disease, etc.

Jason said...

I wouldn't have any problem taking pills to make me straight, or black, or Canadian. It would be fun as long as I could take other pills to change back.

Joan said...

Don't understand why Freeman is so happy.

If you believe you just magically gain fat or are unable to lose fat based upon your lifestyle (physical activity and diet), then you are tremendously mistaken.

Joe is ignoring the fact that different types of calories (carbs vs fats or proteins) have different effects on the metabolism. Simply stated, 100 calories of carbs does not have the same metabolic effect as 100 calories of fats or proteins, even though they are calorically equivalent. There's chemistry going on that effects whether or not fat storage mechanisms are triggered, and it is that chemistry that can keep people fat regardless of how little they eat or how much they exercise. It is simply not true that every one can lose weight through disciplined diet and exercise.

On the sexual orientation issue, I'm with DBQ: there's a sliding scale of attraction, and there are many people who freely choose one lifestyle or another, while for others, there is basically no choice because of how they are wired. I remember people I went to college with having serious homosexual relationships at the time, but then more or less growing out of them. I think the gay rights movement has made it socially acceptable for people to stay in what has historically been an experimental, youthful phase and prolong it through adulthood.

blake said...

As big a fan as I am of law of conservation of matter and energy a la JoeTree, Joan reminds me of something I've wondered for a long time.

To wit: Is the human body a 100% energy-efficient machine? If I eat 100 calories potential fuel, is that turned into 100 calories actual fuel in my body?

This strikes me as unlikely.

Are all bodies the same in that regard, too?

That also seems unlikely.

Freeman Hunt said...

Simply stated, 100 calories of carbs does not have the same metabolic effect as 100 calories of fats or proteins, even though they are calorically equivalent.

It doesn't have the same blood sugar effect, but they are still calorically equivalent. The difference is that if you eat 1500 calories of mostly carbs, you will be starving and will probably end up eating a lot more than 1500 calories. Same if you skip fiber.

If you're trying to maintain muscle mass, which you should do, you must also eat significant protein.

TreeJoe's comments about there not being much variance between genetic metabolism are spot on. The variance comes in with muscle mass. If you diet while eating low quality food (AKA insignificant protein) you will lose muscle mass and your metabolism will decline. Then you'll have to eat even less to lose weight.

Joseph Hovsep said...

It is simply not true that every one can lose weight through disciplined diet and exercise."

Then why is obesity such a rare human trait? It is for the most party limited to the West and especially the U.S. Hint: its not that people in the West are genetically wired to be fat. Its because of the choices we make.

TitusnottheeGorilla said...

This maybe an excuse but I think being gay may not allow me to be in a relationship. I am only speakin about me not other gays. I don't miss being in a relationship as I am perfectly happy alone...alone but not lonely.

I wonder if I was straight if I was in a loving relationship and happy. Perhaps not but I do think that. I also wonder about having children. I have a 6 year old niece that I can't get enough of when I go home to Wisconsin.

Don't get me wrong. I am completely content and happy with my life and being gay is a part of of my life. Believe it or not being gay is a pretty small part of my life.
I really don't "participate in the gay life style"...well other than the sex part.

Most of my friends are straight. I don't attend gay events or organizations or clubs or parties. I go to gay bars sometimes but that is just to get laid. I generally would prefer not to socialize with most other gay men, they bore me. I hear their conversations at bars and they make me cringe. I certainly know this is not all gay men too as my friends are similar to me. They live more of a "straight lifestyle" than "gay lifestyle".

I do live in a gay neighborhood but am really not a part of the neighborhood. I purchased the place awhile ago and would be fine leaving the hood. I actually don't like living around all of the gay people. I find it incredibly intimidating at times. It is hard to measure up with many of them and they are cutthroat and competitive and really bitchy. It seems like you have to have everything: 1)a great body; 2)a great job; 3)a great apartment and then there are clothes and shoes and haircuts and all the other crap. It becomes overwhelming and depressing at times. If I don't feel good about the way I look about myself I actually hate leaving my apartment. And this happens all to frequently. Walking down the street you are bound to come across these Adonis types and they seem to always put things in perspective to me and that perspective is not matching up to them. And you feel invisible. I have lived by many of these other gay men for years now and have never said hello to anyone of them and we walk by each other daily.

I see myself more comfortable in the Upper Westside but real estate sucks now. I would lose too much in my current place if I moved but I will move out of Chelsea in the near future and the predominate reason is I don't want to be in a gay ghetto. I don't want to have to put myself together to walk out my door. When it is cold and I am picking up dog shit I don't give a fuck about how I look but it always feels like you are working the runway in my hood and that is way too much work. I really don't care most the time..unless I am on a mission.

Also, I am getting older and the excitement, intrique and interest in all that bullshit is subsiding.

I actually enjoy wearing a pair of sweats, baggy jacket and had and sunglasses that cover my face this time of year. It's cold and I don't want to be put together to pick up dog shit.

Jason said...

blake,

"To wit: Is the human body a 100% energy-efficient machine? If I eat 100 calories potential fuel, is that turned into 100 calories actual fuel in my body?"

No. Some sewage treatment plants even use human sewage to make energy. That energy comes from the part of the food we can't digest. When they say something has 100 calories they take this into account. The food might have 120 calories, but they put on the label what you can expect to produce from eating it.

Synova said...

I don't suppose it's the same thing, but asking a person not to eat or asking a person not to have a gay lover are very similar, I think, in that both are asking someone to behave in a way contrary to very strong biological urges.

Asking someone not to eat, is certainly not that different from asking someone not to have sex.

Certainly it's a matter of self-control of physical needs in either case.

blake said...

Jason--

So, then, maybe being skinny is a matter of being inefficient as far as calorie absorption. (Certainly in some severe cases it is, but I wonder if there aren't lesser variations that influence these things.)

Joan said...

Blood sugar effects control how much of any food's calories will be available for immediate use or put into fat storage, or simply flushed away.

Obesity is not a rare human trait. What has been rare, until recently, is an environment in which all foodstuffs are available on a constant basis for very little money. All humans will (do) get fat eating what is called the Standard American Diet. It has been documented all over the world: Westerners move in with their culture, the natives give up their traditional diet, and within the same generation, diabetes and heart disease appear and become rampant. The Pima Indians are a good example of what can happen to a native population exposed to the "Western" diet. It contains far too many carbohydrates, both simple and complex -- fiber ain't all that, although it does slow digestion. Our metabolisms were designed to process mainly protein and fat, with the occasional blast of carbohydrates, but that's not how we're eating, that ideal is inverted. The more carbs you eat, the more jacked up your hunger response becomes, as Freeman Hunt noted. We've trained ourselves to not just want, but need super-sized fastfood meals with way too many calories.

Synova, I understand what you're getting at, but the reality is, we can all survive without sex with the partner of our choice -- many people spend years of their lives in this state -- but not one of us can survive without food.

Synova said...

It's not just the Western diet that results in obesity and diabetes in SW American Indians... it's anything greater than a starvation diet.

And yes... we can all do without sex, and we can't do without food.

But the argument is that we should be able to eat and then stop, stay just a little bit hungry, because if we can't do that it's because we want to be fat, or we are lazy or slobs...

We don't *start* fat... but we start out needing to eat. We don't gradually go from not needing to eat to needing to eat. And our bodies tell us we need more. We need more to grow. We NEED extra calories stored to keep us through the next famine.

Acting as if this is something different, that we weren't BORN with, is a lie.

John Stodder said...

My doctor says I have a thrifty gene, meaning if I want to avoid gaining weight I have to eat less, exercise more and be patient because my body will initially react to these things by hanging onto fat as a hedge against starvation.

I definitely spent too much of my youth being heedless about what I eat.

I also smoked, and then when I quit, I gained a lot of weight. Some of it was voluntary: I said to myself, better that I eat this candy bar than go back to smoking. Some of it was, I think metabolism changing from withdrawing nicotine.

Quitting smoking was hard, but it has been easy to avoid going back to it. I don't need to smoke. I never needed to smoke. However, as a mammal, I do need to eat. It is complicated to instruct my body to eat some of what I like but not too much of what I like, to completely avoid other things I like and to eat more of other things I like. I've always enjoyed exercise, but it requires me to give up time I could expend working, writing or being with family.

I am 100 percent responsible for every choice I make. My biological makeup is known to me and should guide my choices. However, to some degree, I accept being overweight in exchange for other things, such as time and the sensual pleasure of eating certain things to excess. The trade-off changes day to day. Some days I eat 100 percent healthily, and exercise for 90 minutes, and I'm very happy with that choice. The next day, different story. I will be bargaining with myself on this issue for many more years, I expect. Losing weight requires a consistently-applied strategy, and that's the difficult thing. I can do anything for a week or two. But if I want to accomplish what I want to accomplish, I need to do it for a year. And then another year. Worthwhile, but difficult.

EnigmatiCore said...

"There is a myth about slow and fast metabolic rates....they aren't nearly as common as people believe. "

But they do exist.

It is kind of like that 15-20% number that is bandied about for homosexuals. One could make an easily believable argument that the number is a myth; "they aren't nearly as common as people believe."

But they most certainly exist.

EnigmatiCore said...

"You must be a man of faith because science doesn't support that statement. At the most science says maybe."

If I am a man of faith or not has nothing to do with it.

We have some family friends. They have lots and lots of kids, of both genders. One of their sons, from the time he was an infant, behaved extremely femininely. And while I completely understand that someone who does not know them could argue that it must have been environmental, it just does not jibe with what I witnessed with my own eyes. That boy was gay from the time he drew his first breath.

So while science says "maybe", that just tells me there are difficulties in conducting the kind of study that would give a definitive answer, not that there is not a definitive answer. My own experience and my own eyes have given me the answer that I believe, and until such a time as proven incorrect, I am going with it.

In fact, that the scientific answer so far is 'maybe' perfectly comports with my thesis-- that some are born gay and some choose to be.

Skyler said...

Enigma, there is no evidence for differing "metabolic rates," but I admit to not having expertise in this area.

But your other point brings up an interesting point.

The boy you mention was effeminate. Is that the same as being homosexual? Or perhaps being more gentle he grew to find himself different than the other boys and drove himself to becoming homosexual after years of being different, possibly being taunted, etc.?

The "nature or nurture" debate is not so easily dismissed. Sometimes there's a chicken v. egg aspect to the matter. Does he act swishy because he's born a homosexual, or is he homosexual because he was born swishy?

Regardless, I think it's very likely that both options are true for different people. I find it hard to believe that there is only one cause for this defect.

EnigmatiCore said...

Skyler,

He was effeminate before puberty. Then he was homosexual if not sexually active, but in the closet. Then he came out of the closet.

Which shocked absolutely no one who had watched him grow from a toddler.

As for your point regarding metabolism, I prefer to keep it simple rather than obfuscate. Some people can eat a ton and do no more exercise than average, and never gain weight. Others are not so lucky in this regard. If you have never noticed this, then I cannot help you much.

EnigmatiCore said...

And I think it is telling that you call it a 'defect'.

TreeJoe said...

Joan said, "Joe is ignoring the fact that different types of calories (carbs vs fats or proteins) have different effects on the metabolism. Simply stated, 100 calories of carbs does not have the same metabolic effect as 100 calories of fats or proteins, even though they are calorically equivalent. There's chemistry going on that effects whether or not fat storage mechanisms are triggered, and it is that chemistry that can keep people fat regardless of how little they eat or how much they exercise. It is simply not true that every one can lose weight through disciplined diet and exercise."

Joan - I didn't ignore anything; you ignored a very significant part of my postings...I won't repeat much of what I said earlier, feel free to read back.

You are incorrect in several of your assertions though.

Metabolic interactions to food consumption do impact the make-up of the body, but it's not what dictates body make-up.

The point you are making is that sugar stimulates insulin, which stimulates the storage of fat. So a high carb diet would make someone fat. This is accurate in a micro-view....when taken in with how the body actually operates over time, it is incorrect.

The body uses approximately 10% of all calories ingested during the process of digestion (chewing, swallowing, lubricating, squeezing in the gut, and cellular transport of the nutrients, etc.).

If someone takes in 100% of the calories the body needs to function (including those used in digestion), whether they be carbs, fat, or protein, the body will not inherently gain or lose weight based upon the make-up of the food.

However, if someone eats 100% carbs each day they will lose muscle mass and the bodies caloric needs will change. Their blood will be flooded with insulin. If they maintain their caloric intake, the body will begin to store the extra calories no longer needed due to lost muscle mass.

To repeat one thing you said
"and it is that chemistry that can keep people fat regardless of how little they eat or how much they exercise. It is simply not true that every one can lose weight through disciplined diet and exercise."

Everyone can lose weight through a diet specific to their needs and physical activity. Yes, I said everyone.

If you sleep, eat, and breathe, you are most likely burning 1200-1800 calories per day based upon your muscle mass, organs, and normal body function. Reducing caloric intake WILL result in many things, but one of them will be a reduction in overall body mass.

Sure, the body can change it's make-up to account for less calories. And that's where using dietary chemistry and physical activity come into play.

But the body can not magically maintain it's mass if it is operating on less calories than it needs....and the body needs a good amount of calories just to function, let alone to move around, sit up, etc.

You seem very educated to not understand that basic principle, and to state that "not everyone" can...

Joe

Skyler said...

"And I think it is telling that you call it a 'defect'."

Yes, it is. As is myopia.

blake said...

ECore: And while I completely understand that someone who does not know them could argue that it must have been environmental, it just does not jibe with what I witnessed with my own eyes.

"Environmental" includes things one cannot see, like hormones

EnigmatiCore said...

All that is not genetic is not environmental.

Hormones are biological, and can be indirectly genetic. Even when not genetically influenced, I would hardly categorize them as environmental.

Joan said...

TreeJoe, I am almost -- almost -- moved to get out my copy of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories and list the specific experiments he sites wherein calorie restriction did not lead to significant, sustained weight loss. But I won't.

But the body can not magically maintain it's mass if it is operating on less calories than it needs...
Actually, it can, for quite a long, miserable time, before weight will finally start to come off. But people in the real world need to function, and starvation is not conducive to good job performance.

Your assertion that everyone can lose weight with a specific diet and physical activity ignores the segments of the population for whom physical activity is impossible -- the elderly, the disabled, and the morbidly obese.

I refer you to the evidence of your own eyes, common sense, and the multi-billion dollar diet industry: if losing weight were as simple as cutting back on calories and moving around a bit more, there wouldn't be so many grossly obese people, and you'd never read about an "obesity epidemic."

You seem to think you have the solution to everyone's weight problems. I'm eagerly awaiting your new best-selling diet books and motivational speeches that will save us all from our flab.

Skyler said...

Joan,

Actually, it can, for quite a long, miserable time, before weight will finally start to come off.

Good grief. It's not that long and it's not that miserable. This is where that requirement for character comes in.

the elderly, the disabled, and the morbidly obese.

Well, of course if you're elderly or disabled the rules are different. If they're obese, well, that lack of character isssue is what got them that way in the first place, so there's no sympathy there.

if losing weight were as simple as cutting back on calories and moving around a bit more

Who said it was easy? It's not. That's why character is required.

I'm eagerly awaiting your new best-selling diet books and motivational speeches that will save us all from our flab.

This reminds me of the Bloom County cartoon where Opus was trying to find a special diet, while Milo kept muttering, "eat less and exercise." It's that simple. It works for everyone, every time.

TreeJoe said...

Joan is referring to the fact that starvation diets can actually maintain body weight for quite some time....this is because the body cannibalizes muscle mass to feed itself, and will begin to horde other substances.

That is true, to a point, but starvation is not a diet anyone advocates nor is advisable....and, in the end, people who starve will lose fat weight. It will devastate their body, but they will. So my point stands. You are searching for ways out of your own arguments, and accusing me of ignoring facets.

Yes the infirm, elderly, and morbidly obese have limited capabilities....but don't let them fool you. The best thing for the elderly and morbidly obese to do is begin physical activity to a level suitable for their conditions. Muscle Atrophy is one of the #1 causes of elderly decline....because they can not gain it back. Hence why you begin to see 80 year olds cutting back to 1000-1200 calorie-a-day diets on their own, as their bodies basal metabolism slows down.

To go back to a point above....you agreed with my statement though you tried to dismiss it. Every single person can lose weight given a diet and physical activity....and without starvation, as you attempted to steer the conversation.

You can go back to your book and quote studies. I'm one of the contributors of a study on hundreds of overweight/obese individuals over several years, whereby there were several groups taking different paths to evaluate the healthiness of each option. The individuals in ALL groups who received resting metabolic rate testing, nutritional class-style counseling, and followed a extremely basic physical activity regime all lost weight. Consistently and substantially. Every single one that stuck with it.

And physical activity includes people who just took the stairs instead of the elevator, parked farther out in the parking lot, and spent 15-30 minutes a day doing household jobs like walking the dog, gardening, or doing dishes.

A funny thing about doing studies like that, involving metabolic testing on hundreds of individuals across sexes, age ranges, and physical states.....you learn alot. You have to QUOTE dozens of related studies, and research hundreds you don't quote.

And guess what? It's really simple. The body has all sorts of mechanisms to adjust itself, avoid starvation, or react differently to different food.....but in the end, a good solid nutritious diet and some basic physical activity will always result in weight loss. Period.

Morbidly obese should focus on lifting their calves, pumping heels up and down, and arm exercises. Elderly should focus on walking or a similar impactful movement (the impact stimulates the bones to retain bone density).

Lastly Joan, the fact that you referred to me "my own eyes, common sense, and the billion dollar diet industry" is humorous. I've named above my own eyes and knowledge (my common sense had to learn what was counter intuitive to what I had grown up seeing). The diet industry is focused on get-slim fast methods which rarely build the discipline necessary to maintain a healthy lifestlye...remember, the billions of dollars a year reside in the fact that people keep coming back.

Much like most of the pharmaceutical industry, the diet industry relies upon people feeling/looking better but not actually being "cured" of the illness for which they need assistance. The chronic nature of the disease is what makes it profitable.

Joe

mcg said...

Joan is referring to the fact that starvation diets can actually maintain body weight for quite some time....this is because the body cannibalizes muscle mass to feed itself, and will begin to horde other substances.

TreeJoe: But if that is what is happening, then how is weight maintained? Seems to me if your body is burning muscle to provide energy, you're still losing weight.

Now, sure, losing muscle tends not to make you look thinner in the short term, because it's the fact, after all, that makes you fat---but mass is mass. It may not be the weight you want to lose, but you're still losing it.

Joan said...

The individuals in ALL groups who received resting metabolic rate testing, nutritional class-style counseling, and followed a extremely basic physical activity regime all lost weight. Consistently and substantially. Every single one that stuck with it.

Money where your mouth is, Joe: citation, please. If what you say is true, and the research published, it would have been trumpeted from the rooftops of every popular publication that covers weight loss issues, namely every newspaper, new magazine, and women's rag.

I'll also note your caveat "Every single one that stuck with it." Exactly how many stuck with it? For how long? How well did they feel while "sticking"?

I'd love to read this paper, and have access to scholarly journals, so please post the citation and then we can continue this discussion. Thanks.

mcg said...

I'll also note your caveat "Every single one that stuck with it." Exactly how many stuck with it? For how long? How well did they feel while "sticking"?

Does this mean you're willing to concede, Joan, that the real issue is that people just don't stick to it?

mcg said...

I'd love to read this paper, and have access to scholarly journals, so please post the citation and then we can continue this discussion. Thanks.

I think it's only fair, Joan, that if you're going to engage in this penis-size contest that you share your credentials and supporting documentation as well. If necessary for fairness, I'm sure Ann would be happy to serve as an escrow officer and release both of your credentials simultaneously once she's received them.

TreeJoe said...

MCG - Not necessary. I'm not sharing my full name and credentials, though I'm sure I've given enough information in this single page to find me should anyone feel so obligated.

Joan - I'll answer your questions, and provide as much evidence as I feel like gathering via google during the work day. I'll note though that I've asked several times for references to claims made by people in these comments and have not yet seen any.

Your questions, "If what you say is true, and the research published, it would have been trumpeted from the rooftops of every popular publication that covers weight loss issues, namely every newspaper, new magazine, and women's rag."

Are you kidding? It HAS been trumpeted. That's what every single health magazine exists for...they repeat nutritional tips and exercise regimes ad nauseum on a 2-year cycle. Read Women's Fitness for 3 years and you'll see how much of the same stuff is recycled.

It's not exciting, it's not a secret. And it's not really what overweight people want to here. But to say "If what you say is true it would be trumpeted" is naive to say the least. People excuse obesity by blaming it on things like the prevalence of energy-dense foods and too much TV....in essence, they are making excuses for someone consuming more than they burn.

Moving on...

"I'll also note your caveat "Every single one that stuck with it." Exactly how many stuck with it? For how long? How well did they feel while "sticking"? "

The study i was directly involved in, quoted below, did not publish every single metric gathered into an SPSS file. So I don't have at my fingertips the numbers you seek, nor are they publicly available. Over 16 weeks, more than 1/2 of all participants attended weekly classes and reported consistently following the prescribed regimen of either 30 minutes of daily physical activity (acculumuated via walking up stairs, parking further out in parking lot, gardening, etc.) or 30 minutes of regimented moderate-pace cardiovascular exercise. This was combined with weekly classes on nutrition and what they should be doing.

Those that controlled their eating appropriately...and remember, we got their resting metabolic rate before we started and then extrapolated their daily caloric consumption to maintain their body mass....those that ate appropriately and followed the physical activity regimen lost weight.

And they felt great. This was not restrictive. It was 300-500 calories less per day than their body required (Typically total daily caloric intake of 1500-1800 calories). It was 30 minutes, 5-days a week of physical activity. They lost an average of about 10 pounds over 16 weeks (across all subjects). Some lost 30, others lost 5. Some were jumping from the hilltops, others were upset that they didn't have the discipline to do it right....or that they had been drinking 2-3 sodas a day not remembering what they had been told.

I hope that answers your questions. Now for some references:

http://www.physsportsmed.com/issues/2003/1103/anderson.htm

Above is an article by the doctor (Ph.D., renowned obesity expert) I worked with, just thought I'd include it.

http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00615238

Above is the description of the study I contributed too…

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/281/4/335

Above is a study by the same team back in 2000, published in JAMA.

http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/163/11/1461

Key quote from last article:” Clearly, we become a fatter society when overall kilojoules consumed exceed kilojoules expended. Dietary intake and energy expenditure represent the 2 modifiable factors of this equation.”

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/82/1/226S

Key quote: “Excess body weight is a result of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Physical activity is the most variable component of energy expenditure and therefore has been the target of behavioral interventions to modify body weight.”


In essense, what these links show is that genetics plays a role (but does not prevent weight management), as do other factors. But the body is still an engine, and by simply living our lives we burn lots of calories....and that we can manage our weight by modifying the 2 changeable aspect....calories in (diet) and physical activity (part of total expenditure).

I hope this helps clarify. If you have any questions or doubts, feel free to let me know.

I have tried to represent this information as accurately as possible, but my memories of the study are from 4 years ago and may be off by a bit.

One thing to remember is that published studies don't just provide their spreadsheets of data....they do their own analysis on data points they WANT to report. For instance, alot of these studies rely on BMI as an indicator of overweight/obesity....but BMI has many flaws and is not always an accurate indicator.

Joe

Joan said...

MCG, I'm sorry if my last comment came across as obnoxious -- this isn't a pissing (or any other kind of) contest. I'm not a research scientist but I am an MIT graduate who is familiar with both the scientific method and good experimental design. I'm sincerely interested in reading this research, and I really appreciate Joe taking the time to list those studies. I don't have time to read through them now as family obligations are pressing me, but I should be able to get to them this evening.

Again, Joe, thank you for posting the links. When I next post I will have the references from Taubes for you.

The one thing that jumped out at me from the quotes provided was the duration of the study: 16 weeks. I will note that sixteen weeks is not long-term, and behavior modifications over 4 months does not necessarily translate into long-term weight loss, but as I said, I haven't read the studies yet. Thanks again for providing the links.

Shanna said...

It's not that long and it's not that miserable. This is where that requirement for character comes in.
Good Calories, Bad Calories has a whole chapter on the impact of HUNGER on weight loss, which is much ignored as people are vilified for not having “character”. People have been given the wrong advice and it has made them fatter. Eat Less, Exercise more…if it were as simple as that we wouldn’t have a problem. The issue is far more complex.

I'll also note your caveat "Every single one that stuck with it."

Which is where the hunger factor kicks in. The author doesn’t say, by the way, that losing weight is impossible. He pretty advocates the low carb route.

TreeJoe said...

FYI, I'm low carbing it right now. There is a difference between feeling hungry and being hungry. I know that sounds odd, but I feel hungry VERY often (might be genetic), even though my personal diet is around 3000 calories per day. But I'm not really hungry that often, as true hunger signifies the body's intepretation of it's state as lacking proper nutrients in the blood stream/digestive system, and therefore will begin to cannibalize.

Joan said, "The one thing that jumped out at me from the quotes provided was the duration of the study: 16 weeks. I will note that sixteen weeks is not long-term, and behavior modifications over 4 months does not necessarily translate into long-term weight loss, but as I said, I haven't read the studies yet. Thanks again for providing the links."

Absolutely...but I was never talking about long-term behaviour modification. I'm simply stating that the body is a metabolic engine. 99% of people function within a normal metabolic activity range (the 1% is metabolic disorders). Those 99% of people can and will lose or gain weight if they adjust their calories in vs. calories out function.

Watch carefully my wording choice. I said weight. Not fat. The body will lose fat when it taps it's fat as an energy resource, and not before. The trick is this:

1. Physical activity stimulates the muscles, and the body learns that the muscles are needed...therefore, the muscles are not consumed (or are consumed at a much lower rate) when the body is functioning is a calorie deficit.

2. A calorie deficit of modest proportion stimulates the body to tap into energy reserves (fat, among others). A calorie deficit of large proportion (starvation) stimulates the body to conserve energy reserves (fat) and cannibalize energy-hungry tissue, such as muscle mass.

Behaviour modification is psychological, which I won't touch on right now. All I am talking about is metabolism.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy. None of this stuff is rocket science (I'm no MIT grad :) ), but some of it is counter-intuitive.

I grew up learning that some people could eat all they wanted and never gain any fat, while others could diet endlessly and never lose any weight.

It took awhile to lose that mentality. And I worked with a doctor who actually had a metabolic disorder....an overactive thyroid....and I learned what that truly means. He's not thin just because his metabolism is revved up....he also sleeps about 3 hours a night and is wasting away because of it.

Everyone can change their body composition....genetics just makes it easier or harder. The triggers to gain or lose fat and gain or lose muscle are there in everyone; some just stimulate those triggers much easier than others :)

Joe

mcg said...

Joan: thanks for the response. I honestly didn't expect TreeJoe to respond as thoroughly as he did, but I didn't think he needed to. On a blog like this you kind of have to take plainly stated claims of expertise at face value, in my view, and TreeJoe has already offered us a wealth of information.

I'm not a research scientist but I am an MIT graduate who is familiar with both the scientific method and good experimental design.

I'm a doctorate-holding scientist myself, though not in this field. But it seems to me that the side of this argument that is setting aside common sense is not TreeJoe's at all. Is the one that refuses to accept that simply eating fewer calories than you burn causes you to lose weight. That's not just basic nutrition but basic physics.

And the argument that "if it were so simple, people wouldn't have a hard time doing it" or "if it were so simple, it would be all over the diet mags" are hardly appeals to science, either.

So thanks, TreeJoe, for firsthand insight into the science, and to you Joan for prodding it out of him.

mcg said...

Once I fasted for 5 1/2 days---nothing but water. It was a spiritual exercise not a health exercise. Indeed, as everyone here probably knows that's a horrible way to lose weight. But lose weight I did, without question. After all, I didn't stop my activity; I didn't exercise but I continued my other normal day-to-day activities, so I had a nominal caloric consumption. It had to come from somewhere!

The hunger pangs were quite bad for awhile, and so was the caffeine headache. But somewhere around day 3 I hit a groove and really the finish was not as difficult as I would have expected. It was really an interesting sensation.

That is not to say I did not enjoy that first breakfast!

TreeJoe said...

MCG - When you starve, your body consumes all of it's stores of glycogen (carbohydrates/glucose), which also holds onto water.

When the glycogen goes, so does alot of water weight.

No doubt you lost muscle weight, and alot of it, but you also lost water weight.

FYI - Picture yourself holding in your hands a pound of 97% lean beef. That is how much a pound of muscle looks like. Now spread it across your body (not literally). Losing a pound of muscle barely looks like anything. Neither does losing 5 pounds. But a pound of muscle only provides the body with about 600 calories....so when you starve, you can lose ALOT more muscle very quickly.

Further, each pound of muscle uses about 35-50 calories per day sustaining itself (I have a problem with this figure, but it's widely cited so I'll use it). So if you lose 10 pounds of muscle, your basal metabolic rate plummets.

Hence, it becomes that much harder to lose fat because your base metabolism has dropped substantially AND you have less muscle mass to use to stimulate the body's needs to tap energy reserves.


"Is the one that refuses to accept that simply eating fewer calories than you burn causes you to lose weight. That's not just basic nutrition but basic physics. "

Many people argue that point, becuase the body does ALL sorts of funky things when you starve. But as a statement of logic, over the long-term, it's pretty infallible.

Joe

Joan said...

I'm back, and have reviewed each of the links that TreeJoe provided as well as I could. The articles linked below are in the same order as Joe gave.

Physical Activity and Weight Management
I was able to find the complete article in MedLine; it's not a new study, it's a review of previous studies. The conclusion states (emphasis added):

Long-term interventions (> 1 year) are more effective when dietary modification is combined with exercise, and the impact on weight loss of exercise alone is less than diet alone or the combination of diet plus exercise.[sup9-14] In a 1-year study[sup9] of 131 men, body weight was reduced by 4.0 kg ± 3.9 kg (8.8 lb ± 8.6 lb) in men assigned to the exercise-only intervention, whereas men assigned to the diet-only group lost substantially more — 7.2 kg ± 3.7 kg (15.9 lb ± 8.2 lb). Likewise, Wing et al[sup10] reported minimal changes in body weight in an exercise-only group in a 2-year intervention in over-weight adults.

Wood et al[sup14] reported significantly greater weight loss following a 1-year intervention in men participating in a diet-plus-exercise intervention compared with those receiving only a diet intervention (8.7 kg ± 5.7 kg [19.2 lb ± 12.6 lb] versus 5.1 kg ± 5.8 kg [11.2 lb ± 12.8 lb]). After the same intervention in women, no significant difference was seen in weight loss in the diet-only (4.1 kg ± 5.5 kg [9 lb ± 12.1 lb]) versus the dietplus-exercise (5.1 kg ± 5.3 kg [11.2 lb ± 11.7 lb]) groups.

However, others have shown that there is an additive effect in women.[sup12,15] Dahlkoetter et al,[sup12] who studied only women, reported significantly greater weight loss in the diet-plus-exercise group when compared with either diet alone or exercise alone for treatment. In addition, in a 20-week study of 21 women and 9 men, Wing et al[sup15] reported significantly greater weight loss in a dietplus-exercise intervention compared with a diet intervention alone. After an additional year of less intensive intervention, the diet-plus-exercise group maintained an average weight loss of 7.9 kg (17.4 lb) versus 3.8 kg (8.4 lb) in the diet-only group.


Physical Activity in the Treatment of Obesity: A Randomized Trial
Study design looks interesting and the study has been completed, but:

"No Study Results Posted for this Study"

Our tax dollars at work! -- other than that, no comment.

Effects of Lifestyle Activity vs Structured Aerobic Exercise in Obese Women
This study looks interesting but it has two big problems: first, it's only 16 weeks, and second, it's only 40 subjects.
From the study:
Results Mean (SD) weight losses during the 16-week treatment program were 8.3 (3.8) kg for the aerobic group and 7.9 (4.2) kg for the lifestyle group (within groups, P<.001; between groups, P = .08). The aerobic group lost significantly less fat-free mass (0.5 [1.3] kg) than the lifestyle group (1.4 [1.3] kg; P = .03). During the 1-year follow-up, the aerobic group regained 1.6 [5.5] kg, while the lifestyle group regained 0.08 (4.6) kg. At week 16, serum triglyceride levels and total cholesterol levels were reduced significantly (P<.001) from baseline (16.3% and 10.1% reductions, respectively) but did not differ significantly between groups and were not different from baseline or between groups at week 68.

Conclusions A program of diet plus lifestyle activity may offer similar health benefits and be a suitable alternative to diet plus structured aerobic activity for obese women.

Me again: This study supports TreeJoe's contentions the best, but it was a very small, limited study. Would these results translate to a larger population?

The Spread of the Childhood Obesity Epidemic
An advocacy article citing statistics on the increasing prevalence of overweight and obese children, linking increases in television viewing to fatter children. Summary: "By encouraging all children to consume healthier diets and to remain physically active, we can take the first step in our journey to reduce levels of childhood obesity." There is nothing new reported here, just citations of existing research.

Physical Activity Considerations for the Treatment and Prevention of Obesity
From the abstract: "There is a growing body of scientific literature suggesting that at least 60 min of moderate-intensity physical activity may be necessary to maximize weight loss and prevent significant weight regain. Moreover, adequate levels of physical activity appear to be important for the prevention of weight gain and the development of obesity. Physical activity also appears to have an independent effect on health-related outcomes when compared with body weight, suggesting that adequate levels of activity may counteract the negative influence of body weight on health outcomes. Thus, it is important to target intervention strategies to facilitate the adoption and maintenance of an adequate amount of physical activity to control body weight."

Full text was not available online, but again, this is not a research study, it's an advocacy article that cites existing research and leans heavily on the use of weasel words like "appears", "suggests", and "may".

Back to Joe: In essense, what these links show is that genetics plays a role (but does not prevent weight management), as do other factors.

I don't want to sound like a bitch, but these links don't show that at all. A couple of the links show that diet combined with exercise is more effective than either diet or exercise alone, but overall they're not that effective, at least for someone who is obese. An obese person needs to lose a lot more than 20 pounds, and not one of these studies shows that kind of success. The short-term studies that do show weight loss also show at that 1-year mark that some weight has been regained. I'm also cracking up at the margins of error on the weight loss statistics, since some of them are great than the actual weight loss reported which means at least some of the study participants actually gained weight over the course of the study.

Most of the reason people are fat is not because they each too much (although they do), it's because they eat too much of the wrong thing: carbohydrates. I've been an advocate of low carb theory for quite a while, and I have yet to see anything that proves it wrong.

If exercise were all that was needed to control weight, why then did the Pima Indians become obese before the turn of the 20th century, when their lives were still full of physical hardships? They got fat because they were living on government handouts, wherein 50% of their calories came from flour and sugar. (Russell, F. 1975 The Pima Indians. Tuscosn: University of Arizona Press, originally published 1905)

Gary Taubes tackles these ideas in the chapter titled "Energy Conservation". Here he is, in Good Calories, Bad Calories, p293 (emphasis in the original): "[F]aith in the laws of thermodynamics is founded on two misinterpretations of thermodynamic law, and not in the law itself. When these misconceptions are corrected, they alter our perceptions of weight regulation and the forces at work.
The first misconception is the assumption that an association implies cause and effect. Here the context is the first law of thermodynamics, the law of energy conservation. This law says that energy is neither created nor destroyed, and so the calories we consume will be either stored, expended, or excreted. This in turn implies that any change in body weight must equal the difference between the calories we consume and the calories we expend, and thus the positive or negative energy balance. Known as the energy-balance equation, it looks like this:

Change in energy stores = Energy intake - Energy expenditure

The first law of thermodynamics dictates that weight gain - the increase in energy stored as fat and lean-tissue mass -- will be accompanied by or associated with positive energy balance, but it does not say that it is caused by a positive energy balance -- by "a plethora of calories," as Russell Cecil and Robert Loeb's 1951 Textbook of Medicine put it. There is no arrow of causality in the equation. It is equally possible, without violating this fundamental truth, for a change in energy stores, the left side of the above equation, to be the driving force in cause and effect; some regulatory phenomenon could drive us to gain weight, which would in turn cause a positive energy balance -- and thus overeating and/or sedentary behavior. Either way, the calories in will equal the calories out, as they must, but what is cause in one case is effect in the other.

All those who have insisted (and still do) that overeating and/or sedentary behavior must be the cause of obesity have done so on the basis of this same fundamental error: they will observe correctly that positive caloric balance must be associated with weight gain, but then they will assume without justification the positive caloric balance is the cause of weight gain. This simple misconception has led to a century of misguided obesity research."

Taubes then goes on to discuss Hugo Rony's 1940 monograph Obesity and Leanness, in which Rony discussed caloric requirements during growth in childhood, and the mechanisms by which obesity occurs. Rony (emphasis added): "Positive caloric balance may be regarded as the cause of fatness, when fatness is artificially produced in a normal person or animal by forced excessive feeding or forced rest, or both. But obesity ordinarily develops spontaneously; some instrinsic abnormality seems to induce the body to establish positive caloric balance leading to fat accumulation. Positive caloric balance would be, then, a result rather than a cause of the condition."

Taubes again, p. 298: "[A]ny enforced decrease in intake will have to induce a compensatory decrease in expenditure -- a slowing of the metabolism and/or a reduction in physical activity.
In the nineteenth century, Carl von Voit, Max Rubner, and their contemporaries demonstrated that this was indeed what happened, at least in animals. Francis Benedict, Ancel Keys, George Bray, Jules Hirsch and others have demonstrated this in humans, showing that neither eating less nor exercising more will lead to long-term weight loss, as the body naturally compensates. We get hungry, and if we can't satisfy that hunger, we'll get lethargic and our metabolism will slow down to balance our intake. This happens whether we're lean or obese, and it confounds those authorities who recommend exercise and calorie restriction for weight loss. They operate on the assumption that the only adjustment to the caloric deficit created by either dieting or exercise will be a unilateral reduction in fat tissue. This would be convenient, but the evidence argues against it."

Rubner, M. 1982. The Laws of Energy Conservation in Nutrition. Ed. R. J. Joy. Trans. A Markooff and A. Sandri-White. New York:Academic Press. (Originally published 1902)
Benedict, F.G., W. R. Miles, P. Roth, and H. M. Smith. 1919 Human Vitality and Efficiency Under Prolonged Restricted Diet. Washington, D.C,: Carnegie Institution of Washington
Keys, A: 1949. "The Calorie Requirement of Adult Man." Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews, July; 19:1-10.
Bray, G. 1970. "The Myth of Diet in the Management of Obesity", American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition. Sept.; 23(9):1141-148
Hirsch, J. 1985. "Dietary Treatment." In Hisrch and Van Itallie, eds., 1985, 192-195.
(Some of these researchers had several works cited in the bibliography, and I may have incorrectly identified the works which support Taubes' contentions.)

I can't quote the whole book, but I will include just a couple more paragraphs:
p 299: "Among researchers who study malnutrition, as opposed to those whose specialty is obesity, these compensatory effects to caloric deprivation are taken for granted, as is the fact that hormones regulate the process. "Changes in ... hormones such as insulin and glucagon play an important role in this metabolic response to energy restriction," explains Prakash Shetty, director of the Nutrition Planning, Assessment, and Evaluation Service of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. "These physiological changes may be considered as metabolic adaptations which occur in a previously well-nourished individual and are aimed at increasing the 'metabolic efficiency' and fuel supply of the tissues at a time of energy deficit." We should not be surprised that "dieting is difficult," as Keith Frayn of Oxford University says in his 1996 textbook, Metabolic Regulation. "It is a fight against mechanisms which have evolved over many millions of years precisely to minimize its effects... As food intake drops, the level of thyroid hormone falls and metabolic rate is lowered. Food intake has to be reduced yet further to drop below the level of energy expenditure. Hunger mechanisms, including the feeling of an empty stomach, lead us to search for food..."
Though the traditional response to the failure of semi-starvation diets to produce long-term weight loss has been to blame the fat person for a lack of will power, Burch, Rony, and others have argued that this failure is precisely the evidence that tells us positive caloric balance or overeating is not the underlying disorder in obesity. (emph. added) No matter what technique is used to achieve a caloric deficit, whether eating less or exercising more, it will only serve to induce hunger and/or a compensatory decrease in energy expenditure. These are a the "usual symptoms resulting from reduced food intake," as Ancel Keys and his collaborators described them, and anyone will experience them, regardless of weight."

I suspect we could continue to argue this forever, as the scientific community continues to do so, but Taubes and my own experiences have convinced me that it's not as simple as "eating less and moving more." We may be arguing past each other, if your emphasis on "appropriate dietary changes" really means dropping the percentage of carbohydrates significantly -- it's hard to tell. But I will steadfastly adhere, with significant research to back me up, to the idea that reducing calories and/or increasing exercise will not cause substantial, sustainable weight loss in everyone. I'm neither stupid nor stubborn -- I have studied this issue for nearly a decade, and nothing you've presented here argues persuasively against Taubes' well-researched and well-presented arguments. If you need to lose 5 or 10 pounds you could calorie-restrict yourself or hit the gym more often and that will do the trick, sure; but for the truly overweight and obese, those techniques are not going to bring them to a healthy goal weight and enable them to sustain that weight long-term.

TreeJoe said...

Joan -

First off, thank you for the work you put into your response.

This is not meant to be offensive, but you seem to be changing the argument at each turn. My statement, "Everyone can lose weight if they control their caloric intake carefully and do regular physical activity" is supported by both your sources and my sources. But you seem to be reading sentences like "showing that neither eating less nor exercising more will lead to long-term weight loss, as the body naturally compensates."

But those studies don't show that in combination, nor in control. It shows that if i simply eat less, my body will compensate. If I simply exercise more, I'll naturally begin to eat more as well. If I don't control eat aspect, my body will naturally lead me to respond. Those studies support that assertion (or do not directly combat it).

Specifically, you said my sources don't appear to support what I was saying....first, they do, and second, you asked for the sources I was mentioning relating to the studies I was involved in per my previous posts....I produced those sources. I did not seek out sources for this argument, but produced those you asked about.

The 40-subject study was the PRE-CURSOR (note it was in 2000) to the study I worked on which was conluded in 2004. I personally presented findings from the 2nd study in 2004, showing a statistically-tied decrease in blood lipids in groups following an accumulated-physical-activity vs. exercise regime when both controlled their eating....in other words, you can benefit your health markers by doing regular physical activity throughout the day.


Regarding some of Taubes writings:

What Taubes is saying is that the body has natural means of adjusting to the stimulations it encounters. DUH! This applies not just to nutrition, but to exercise itself.

If I follow a weight lifting routine, my body adjusts to it to the point where after about 16 weeks the routine is no longer stimulating my body to change.

Similarly, if I just cut 500 calories a day out of my diet and do nothing else, my body will take steps to adjust accordingly.

This response to external stimulation has been known for about 2500 years at the minimum. Here's a link to the story of Milo of Croton, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_of_Croton, who is famed for having trained his strength by carrying a newborn calf each day on his shoulders up a set of stairs. As the calf grew, so did his strength. He did this for 4 years from one olympics to the next.

I'm not arguing with Taubes. In fact, I started my first low carb diet in 2000 (known as a ketogenic diet) based upon principles established in the 1960s.




So, getting all that out, you finished your section by stating, "But I will steadfastly adhere, with significant research to back me up, to the idea that reducing calories and/or increasing exercise will not cause substantial, sustainable weight loss in everyone. "

Your research does not back you up in your argument here, I'm sorry to say. Let's take the example of Keith Frayn in this quote, "As food intake drops, the level of thyroid hormone falls and metabolic rate is lowered. Food intake has to be reduced yet further to drop below the level of energy expenditure."

This is terribly mis-leading (note, not erroneous as it's technically true). The body can slow does natural processes, but the brain can over-ride that through physical activity. You cannot slow down the metabolic needs of muscle and organs if they are utilized. They still take a certain number of calories to perform a certain amount of work.

By simply saying "intake has to be reduced yet further to drop below the level of energy expenditure." he makes it out to be just a one way street. It focuses on how the body reacts to food intake, and not to stimulation through activity. Again though, you picked the quote so I dont know what else is said on the next page.


The only thing I'll take a condescending tone to is your final statement, "If you need to lose 5 or 10 pounds you could calorie-restrict yourself or hit the gym more often and that will do the trick, sure; but for the truly overweight and obese, those techniques are not going to bring them to a healthy goal weight and enable them to sustain that weight long-term."

This is the most ludricrous thing you've said. And this is coming from someone (me) who is a huge proponent of low-carb dieting (over the short-term).

A calorie-controlled diet and a physical activity regime is pretty much the only way to induce long-term healthiness in the general public. Including for the overweight and obese.

A low-carb diet (and by that, I'm assuming you mean induce ketosis and/or float around about 10% of calories per day from carbs) can be terribly destructive in the long-term in the general public....because it requires a pretty good level of constant effort to avoid the undesirable side effects. It is not a long-term solution; but it is a great short-term (<1 year) way to change body composition.

Without physical activity, everybody (literally, every BODY) will deteriorate in an accelerated fashion over the course of life. Physical activity in our early years helps to build up bodily resources to help fight that deterioation (Muscle and bone mass) and then helps stave it off as the years go by.

Caloric-control to achieve goals combined with physical activity is 100% successful in people with metabolisms functioning in a normal manner.

Why do I again say 100%? Because this isn't a study where I'm defining caloric control as "1200 calories per day" or "300 calories less than expended". That's far too rigorous, and the end result combines too much bad data.

In actual practice, individuals who control their intake vs. output by controlling both sides of the equation will unerringly benefit their weight (if overweight), body composition, health markers, and long-term health. Can I get every single person to 10% body fat using this method alone? No. But that wasn't the point, was it? It's can we induce weight loss. And the answer is yes.

Joe

P.s. This post written pre-coffee, all incoherencies and tangents will be excused :)

mcg said...

No matter what technique is used to achieve a caloric deficit, whether eating less or exercising more, it will only serve to induce hunger and/or a compensatory decrease in energy expenditure.

Of course you will be hungry. Of course some of our caloric expenditure will decrease.

However, it takes a certain amount of calories for your body to function, no matter what you eat. Your body cannot reduce its caloric intake arbitrarily. And it takes a certain amount of calories to accomplish a specific exercise, no matter what you eat.

Therefore, it is always possible to eat less than you burn. Therefore it is always possible to lose weight.

How does Taubes contradict that?

These are a the "usual symptoms resulting from reduced food intake," as Ancel Keys and his collaborators described them, and anyone will experience them, regardless of weight."

Well, yes. I experienced them when I fasted. And those who manage to work through them lose weight, and those who don't, don't.

Joan said...

I have to run off to do more stuff today so I'm not sure how much time I'll have to answer in depth. Here's a quick response:

1. Caloric-control to achieve goals combined with physical activity is 100% successful in people with metabolisms functioning in a normal manner. (emphasis added)

Before you said everyone, now you're saying everyone with a normally functioning metabolism. Many - most - overweight and obese people do not have normally functioning metabolisms, as evidenced by their obesity.

2. [C]an we induce weight loss[?] And the answer is yes.

OK, I will agree with you: you can induce weight loss -- but how much, for how long, and how well will the people be functioning? My point is, your research shows that people lost weight, but that the amount of both weight lost and the time spent was insignificant.
You (and MGC) are saying, briefly, "dieters get hungry, so what?" People can't function well when they're hungry, that's what. That's why calorie-restricted diets don't work in the long-term to achieve significant weight loss. The studies you quoted showed weight loss of at most 20 pounds. Some people would be ecstatic to take 20 pounds off and keep it off, but that's not nearly what the overweight and obese population needs to achieve optimal health. Yes, exercise can help improve their lipid profiles, but any combination of exercise and reducing calories isn't going to restore them to optimal health. It is much more important for them to change the composition of their diets than to reduce the amount of calories consumed or increase the amount of activity.

3. Appropriate low carb dieting is completely safe and healthy over the long term. I have been doing this for more than 10 years and my lipid profile is excellent and my weight is stable. I have also been able to avoid the Type II diabetes my endocrinologist warned was in my future if I ever gained weight. The idea that low carb diets are harmful is pernicious and unsupported by the research. If you force-feed herbivores too much protein, you'll wreck their lipid profiles. Humans aren't herbivores, and there are several populations (Inuit, Masai) who evolved eating literally no fruits, vegetables, grains, or sweets. There was no evidence of heart disease or obesity in those populations until these elements were introduced through Westernization.

MCG: Therefore, it is always possible to eat less than you burn. Therefore it is always possible to lose weight.

The first statement is true. The second statement is not. This is how Taubes contradicts it (this is a pull quote from my original response, but since it's not buried inside an epic, maybe it will make more of an impact.):

Francis Benedict, Ancel Keys, George Bray, Jules Hirsch and others have demonstrated this in humans, showing that neither eating less nor exercising more will lead to long-term weight loss, as the body naturally compensates. We get hungry, and if we can't satisfy that hunger, we'll get lethargic and our metabolism will slow down to balance our intake. This happens whether we're lean or obese, and it confounds those authorities who recommend exercise and calorie restriction for weight loss. They operate on the assumption that the only adjustment to the caloric deficit created by either dieting or exercise will be a unilateral reduction in fat tissue. This would be convenient, but the evidence argues against it.

TreeJoe's studies support the idea of small, short-term weight loss, yes. They do not support the idea of long-term, sustainable weight loss for the elimination of obesity.

Shanna said...

You (and MGC) are saying, briefly, "dieters get hungry, so what?" People can't function well when they're hungry, that's what.

I have to say, this is why I found the hunger section of GCBC so interesting. I’m not going to jump in with cites or anything, I’m just fascinated by the dismissal of hunger as a concern. A friend sent one of those joke emails out the other day about skinny friends who say they “forgot to eat”. One wonders if these are the kind of people who have dismissed concerns about hunger. When you get down to it, you can have a fast and be hungry for a few days, but try it for a year. Or two. It’s not going to work (besides the fact that you would starve to death).

Bottom line, for something to be sustainable, it is going to have to address that concern.

mcg said...

Before you said everyone, now you're saying everyone with a normally functioning metabolism.

Actually, to be fair, he's been saying that from his very first post; e.g. "Getting overweight/fat is a function of eating too much (for 99% of the population)..." He's not shifting his goalposts. Besides, I think he would argue that the number of people with a normally functioning metabolism is in the high 90's, and excludes the vast, vast majority of people who are obese and who might find such an excuse convenient.

You (and MGC) are saying, briefly, "dieters get hungry, so what?" People can't function well when they're hungry, that's what.

Joan, something has to give here. TreeJoe and I are claiming that for 99% of the population, the only way to lose weight, short of physically excising tissue from your body is to consume fewer caloriess than you burn. That's simply not deniable. There is no other way to accomplish it.

Again, it's not basic nutrition, it's basic physics. Do you, or do you not concede that? I know darn well that Gary Taubes believes that, too.

Now I certainly understand that the hungrier you feel, the harder it is going to be to control the temptation to violate your diet. So to that I would say: of course you should do what you can to mitigate hunger. That includes not reducing your caloric intake too much below your consumption rate; TreeJoe's study was careful in that regard. That includes eating a variety of foods that help reduce the hunger pangs.

But at some point, you must achieve a continuous caloric deficit, and you must maintain it. That is going to take willpower and persistence. It means that if you feel hungry, but you know your diet does not permit further eating, you need to stay hungry. It may mean finding a different food combination that suits you better. It may mean calling your mom, or your support group, and crying. It may mean calling in sick to work on a difficult day. It may mean increasing your caloric intake slightly and accepting a slower weight loss trajectory.

I have never said that dieting is easy, but it is not complicated. And like any change of lifestyle it gets easier over time. You're not going to feel like you're starving forever; you will adjust to eating less food. And of course once you reach your target weight you can increase your caloric intake. Heck, if you're more fit, who knows, you might even be able to eat just as much as you did before. Not likely though.

The studies you quoted showed weight loss of at most 20 pounds. Some people would be ecstatic to take 20 pounds off and keep it off, but that's not nearly what the overweight and obese population needs to achieve optimal health.

This is not a refutation, it's a quibble. Are you conceding the validity of his results?

Come on, it was just a 16 week study. If you need to lose more weight, you're gonna have to stick with the program longer. It's not healthy, and yes more difficult, to lose weight much faster than that.

It is much more important for them to change the composition of their diets than to reduce the amount of calories consumed or increase the amount of activity.

I don't disagree that most people who need to diet ought to improve the composition of their diets. But that's for a variety of health reasons, not just weight management. And again, it doesn't change the basic calculation that fewer calories must be consumed than burned.

The idea that low carb diets are harmful is pernicious and unsupported by the research.

You won't get disagreement from me.

I have been doing this for more than 10 years and my lipid profile is excellent and my weight is stable.

Fantastic! It is great to hear that you are consuming as many calories as you are burning.

The first statement is true. The second statement is not.

If you accept the first statement ("It is always possible to eat less than you burn") then you cannot claim the second statement ("It is always possible to lose weight") is false. You need to parse Gary Taubes' statement a little better. He is not contradicting mine at all. What he is claiming is that the body compensates by reducing the amount it burns. But of course then my first statement is inoperative.

If Gary Taubes does not accept the basic physical fact that weight loss requires burning more calories than are consumed, then he is a quack and should not be considered credible. I do believe, however, he's likely cherrypicking his studies not just to support his point (defensible, really) but also for dramatic effect.

For instance, the Keys study was called "The Biology of Human Starvation." The subjects of his study ate only half of their maintenance level, and they walked 5-6 miles a day. Come on, it's not surprise they fell apart physically. Their hair fell out! One of the subjects went psychotic.

You'll excuse if me if I assign more credibility to TreeJoe's dieting study, where the calorie restriction was much smaller and tuned to their measured metabolic rate, than to Keys' starvation study.

mcg said...

I accidentally deleted a sentence in a paragraph there. Let me re-enter it:

If Gary Taubes does not accept the basic physical fact that weight loss requires burning more calories than are consumed, then he is a quack and should not be considered credible. I do not believe this; I think he certainly accepts this principle. I do believe, however, he's likely cherrypicking his studies not just to support his point (defensible, really) but also for dramatic effect.

mcg said...

When you get down to it, you can have a fast and be hungry for a few days, but try it for a year.

Well, I've gone 5 1/2 days with nothing but water. It was quite hard for the first 3 days or so, and then surprisingly it got a bit easier. But I knew it was going to end and that helps. I did it a second time for 4 days---in fact, that fast was an act of spiritual solidarity with a loved one who was undergoing gastric bypass surgery.

Or two. It’s not going to work (besides the fact that you would starve to death).

I am beginning to see how Gary Taubes has worked his magic: he is equating reasonable calorie restrictions with starvation dieting. And those who have read his books are doing so now, too. I just checked and the Francis Benedict study also used a severe restriction, up to half the calories.

Bottom line, for something to be sustainable, it is going to have to address that concern.

Well, sure: don't starve yourself. For goodness sakes, if I was on a diet that made me feel as hungry as I did about 48 hours into my first fast, and I knew that feeling was going to continue through the whole diet, I'd be headed right to the buffet. Of course in my case I knew it would be over on a particular day, and I also did not worry about the likely overeating I would do when I broke the fast.

Setting reasonable expectations is important, too. The Francis Benedict study was targeted to yield a weight loss of 40 points in 12 weeks for a 200-pound man. For goodness sakes, that's ridiculous, even if he succeeded. The actual achievement was 12 pounds plus a bunch of horrible side effects.

By contrast, TreeJoe's study was only a 20% calorie restriction, and achieved an average weight loss of 10 pounds over 16 weeks, and he claimed the subjects "felt great". Less weight loss? Yes. But a more reasonable approach? Absolutely.

And since they felt great, don't you think they might have a decent chance of continuing the diet if they needed to lose more---or, if not, returning to a maintenance level without significant overcompensation?

I'm beginning to have some real contempt for the mush that Gary Taubes is feeding people. It's really outrageous. You know what he claims about those studies?

Keys’ and Benedicts’ experiments were the most meticulous ever performed studying the effects on body and mind of long-term reduced-calorie diets and weight reduction.

Preposterous. They were meticulous, but they were not studies of "long-term reduced calorie diets and weight reduction." They were studies of semi-starvation. To use them to make the case that calorie restriction is not a reasonable practice is utterly ludicrous.

mcg said...

Here is an interesting article (PDF file). It is written by an amateur researcher and personal trainer. Not the best credentials I know, but heck he's clearly done more research than I, and this paper sports a reasonably good bibliography. Here is the guy's blog.

He has some not-so-nice things to say about Taubes and his book, so don't read it if you're determined he's infallible.

The introduction is interesting. Apparently, he was a proponent of low-carb diets and wrote a lot about it. But then someone asked him how he could keep himself so lean, and he stated the obvious fact that you have to establish a calorie deficit to lose weight, and suffered a considerable backlash as a result.

Anyway, I'm not saying it's correct or perfect. But if you're interested in seeing a dedicated challenge to Taubes, Eades, Fineman, and Fine, here's one for you.

Joan said...

MCG, it is possible to eat more calories than you burn and lose weight -- it depends on the type of calories you're eating. The human body is not an internal combustion engine, no matter how often you insist that it is, and that calories in have to equal calories expended or you'll gain weight.

Excess calories can be either stored or excreted; if what you're eating triggers storage mechanisms, you're going to get fat. If what you're eating doesn't trigger those mechanisms, you won't.

I think you are too dismissive of the idea of hunger, even on a moderately calorie reduced diet. Do you get used to being hungry? Yes and no -- because your metabolism (and any hoped-for weight loss) slows down to compensate for the decrease in calories. Your 4 and 5 day fasts give you some insight but you're still missing the difficult situation that millions of obese people are dealing with. Do you really believe that every single fat person has so little strength of will, so little character, that they just can't do this so-easy-thing and lose that weight that they hate so much?

It's such a grim view of humanity. I know people who are meticulous about what they eat and who work out religiously who still can't lose weight. Are they lying about what they're eating? I see them in the gym all the time, so I know they're not lying about that. You have no idea the level of frustration that they feel, which is compounded by attitudes like yours and Skyler's, people who look at them and think they are weak and undisciplined because they are fat. Maybe I'm just a PollyAnna but I know many people who struggle with their weight and they are not weak or undisciplined, they are stymied. They've tried the diet-and-exercise route and it hasn't worked for them. Even low carb, which works for just about everyone when they do it right, isn't a long-term solution because it's really freakin' hard not to eat pasta or bread ever again.

More later on the Taubes stuff, but I've got to run off, again --

mcg said...

Fine, don't believe me. What about Dr. Michael Eades? He's a low-carb guru. He recommends Gary Taubes' book wholeheartedly. And what doe she say?

I believe that there has to be a caloric deficit for weight loss to take place. I believe that different diets waste different amounts of calories, meaning that diets that waste more - low-carb diets - create more of a caloric deficit with a caloric intake identical to diets that don’t waste more calories - low-fat diets."

So he agrees with me that a caloric deficit is absolutely required to lose weight. He does say, however, as you seem to here, that calorie "wastage" can account for differences between diets.

That seems to be close enough to what you are saying, right?

Fine. Please cite a single study that establishes it to statistical significance. Here are two that show now difference.

Werner SC. Comparison between weight reduction on a high-calorie, highfat diet and on an isocaloric regimen high in carbohydrate. New England Journal of Medicine, Apr 21, 1955; 252 (16): 661–665.

Olesen ES, Quaade F. Fatty foods and obesity. Lancet, May 14, 1960; 1: 1048-1051.

Do you really believe that every single fat person has so little strength of will, so little character, that they just can't do this so-easy-thing and lose that weight that they hate so much?

No, of course not! Here's a 300-pounder that didn't. He did it the good old fashioned way, I might add. He consulted the gentlemen whose report I posted earlier.

It's such a grim view of humanity.

It might be, but nobody is served by candycoating the truth.

I know people who are meticulous about what they eat and who work out religiously who still can't lose weight. Are they lying about what they're eating?

Possibly. But more likely they are lying to themselves, or even more likely, they don't actually have a good handle on their caloric intake.

Even low carb, which works for just about everyone when they do it right, isn't a long-term solution because it's really freakin' hard not to eat pasta or bread ever again.

So even your preferred diet approach fails due to a lack of willpower. I see.

Who has the grim worldview?

mcg said...

Here is an article about the Keys starvation study.

This one of the studies that Taubes, and then you, cited to support your contention that calorie restriction dieting doesn't work.

You cannot tell me that this has any relevance whatsoever to the discussion of reasonable diet approaches.

mcg said...

By the way, you seem to keep attributing to me a claim that weight loss is "easy". As I have said several times, it is not necessarily easy. Obviously it is difficult to do, or more people would succeed in doing it.

It is, however, not complicated. Many people people desperately want it to be so, because they do not want to believe that it is due to any sort of failing on their part. I sympathize, because I fail at all sorts of things.

I also think that you're falsely attributing to me some sort of animus over low-carb diets. That is not the case, either. Heck I've seen them work in my own family. I'm also glad to see the low-fat myth dispelled. What I do not buy is the attempt to disconnect calories from the discussion. And when people plateau on low-carb diets, and they often do, they need to understand why.

According to the USDA, Americans ate an average of 501 grams of carbs in 1909. In 2000, they ate an average of 493 grams. On the other hand, they ate 400 fewer total calories than they do now. And obesity today is due to carbs, when in 1909 it was a higher percentage of their diet?

Shanna said...

Taubes book is not an diet book, it's just a bunch of criticism, mostly of the way studies and different ways of eating have been sold to the public. I found some of it very interesting and some of it I am skeptical of. I'm curious if you've read his book, because you really are just getting bits here.

Anyway, constantly repeating "caloric deficit" is of little practical value to the average dieter, if that is something that can't be maintained, whether due to hunger or due to the subject becoming increasingly lethargic due to lack of calories.

mcg said...

Obviously the discussion I would have with someone in the moment with an individual is not the same as the more academic discussion we're having here. In fact, I'd probably end up recommending a low carb diet! But I wouldn't deny the basic truth, either. I would explain that: 1) the only way to lose weight is to achieve a calorie deficit; that 2) a lot of people find that achieving that deficit is easier with a low-carb diet, in part because they do not have as many craving issues, 3) a boost in physical activity is helpful, and 4) don't expect miracles; you don't obese overnight and you're not going to get to a good weight overnight, either.

If someone has trouble accepting those basic truths then yes, frankly, they don't have the mental toughness to succeed, and they are very likely going to fail.

And in fact I have had such discussions. One person ultimately chose gastric bypass surgery. I was frank in my disagreement with her choice and unwavering in my support once it was done. She did lose weight, a lot of it. But she never reached her target and ended up gaining some back---even with a tiny little pouch for a stomach! Thankfully she remains considerably healthier overall than she was.

And you're bringing Tauber's melodrama into it here. The studies where increasing lethargy and unbearable hunger were reported weren't diet studies, they were starvation studies. (Go read that link about the Keys study I provided; at least look at the pictures.) TreeJoe's study, on the other hand, was an actual diet study---and his patients felt great. So can it with the false claims about reasonable calorie restriction.

mcg said...

By the way, Shanna, that A-Team video on your blog ROCKS THE HOUSE.

Joan said...

For reasons having nothing to do with this discussion, I'm exhausted, so this won't be long.

First, I wanted to say that I guessed which references to pull from Taubes' bibliography -- there were several Keyes' studies cited, there were several studies by some of the other authors, too. Good Calories, Bad Calories would be so larded with footnotes if every mention was specifically cited you wouldn't be able to read it. It's possible that Taubes was referring to another Keyes' study, but I'm not sure and at this point I don't really care.

FWIW, I agree that comparing a starvation study to a moderate caloric reduction study is apples to oranges.

MCG, I'm not sure why you're so wound up about this. It's just a comment thread, after all. More later tomorrow, in between getting my car fixed and bringing my daughter's hamster to her school.

Shanna said...

By the way, Shanna, that A-Team video on your blog ROCKS THE HOUSE.

Ha! I can't seem to actually get into the habit of blogging so I don't think I've been to my own blog in ages but that guy is awesome. He's got a bunch of videos on youtube.

mcg said...

MCG, I'm not sure why you're so wound up about this. It's just a comment thread, after all.

Agreed, I just tend to be a verbose and active commenter sometimes :) No worries. Be well.