September 21, 2011

If you cut 3,500 calories, you'll lose 1 pound.

Not so!

46 comments:

sydney said...

It's true that we all have slightly different metabolic rates, and so for some people, it will take longer for that calorie deficit to result in a pound of weight loss. For example, it's long been known that our metabolic rates decrease as we age. Hence, the tendency to get plumper in middle age. But, it still boils down to calories in vs. calories expended. There's no getting around it.

Jimmy said...

Oh, what a surprise!

Just like with salt, caffeine, red meat, etc., it's always like "oh, wait, never mind."

This would all be funny except that we have so many nanny-state pols (I'm looking at you, Mayor Bloomberg) pushing a new set annoying regulations every time a new issue of Self magazine hits the street.

Shanna said...

People have been saying this is bunk for ages. Turns out, they were right!

Quelle surpise.

Bob_R said...

If you’ve been trying for years to lose unwanted pounds and keep them off maybe it's because millions of year of evolution have taken place in an environment of scarcity and famine. Christian fundamentalists have nothing on the diet industry in terms of ignoring the data.

So far there is only effective "cure" for obesity - the only cure with a measurable long term success rate - is to make people violently ill when they eat. Diet and exercise have proven health benefits that have nothing to do with weight loss. But if diet and exercise were a drug, the FDA would not allow it to be sold as a weight loss cure for lack of efficacy.

sane_voter said...

Low carb diets work much better than low fat diets to lose weight. My whole family is proof, along with scientific studies that are now trickling out. It is especially true if you are insulin resistant, as many obese people are.
The other advantages to low carb are 1) that your hunger is sated at a lower calorie intake, and 2) hunger returns later so you are less apt to snack between meals. Also avoid sugar at all costs if you want to lose weight. And low carb is an enjoyable eating lifestyle, so you can easily stay on it without massive cravings, unlike most calorie-restricted low fat diets.

Crimso said...

"But, it still boils down to calories in vs. calories expended."

This true (and still only approximately) only when by "in" you mean absorbed by the digestive system rather than what you put in your mouth and swallow.

pm317 said...

Good article. I have been trying to shed my last 5 lbs to reach the low end of my ideal range. Just cutting the fat down and checking the carbs with rigorous exercise is making a lot of difference from moving one plateau to the next. Simple rule: don't eat what and when you don't need.

Incidentally, noticed fat free pizza dough on the menu in a pizza joint in Rehoboth Beach. You think Michelle Obama gave them waiver on Obamacare for putting it on the menu?

Tank said...

The model shows that lasting weight loss takes a long time to achieve and suggests that more effective weight loss programs might be undertaken in two phases: a temporary, more aggressive change in behavior at first, followed by a second phase of a more relaxed but permanent behavioral change that can prevent the weight regain that afflicts so many dieters despite their best intentions.


I claim no expertise (other than experience), but this is exactly what I did 35 years ago to lose and keep off 50 pounds.

Eat less, exercise more. Really. If you're not losing, eat even less. My wife and I, who are over 50 and both slim, are amazed at how little we need to eat to remain slim. But it works and we're healthy too.

We both love to eat, and my wife is a great cook - but we just eat LESS.

The saying it is easy, the doing it - not so much.

Triangle Man said...

In a separate study scientists confirmed that commenters on the Internet rarely read TFA before posting their previously held opinions about diet and weight loss. I love the conclusion that the nanny state is wrong about obesity because the 3500 calorie rule if thumb requires s'more nuanced model!

John M Auston said...

It is very unwise to look to Jane Brody for diet and nutrition advice.

Just sayin'.

Calypso Facto said...

From the article: "It is often said that increasing one’s physical activity does not have much, if any, effect on weight loss"

Really? I've never heard anyone say that. Are NYT authors paying for or just imagining disposable straw men to refute?

Michael said...

A simple app like "Lose It" for iPad is a good way to lose weight. I lost seven pounds, my goal, in about a month using the program. The value of writing down what you eat cannot be overstated.

pm317 said...

Michael said...
-----------

Yes. Keeping a journal what you eat can work wonders.

Shanna said...

"It is often said that increasing one’s physical activity does not have much, if any, effect on weight loss"

There is a whole chapter on this in Good Calories/Bad Calories.

bandmeeting said...

Read Gary Taubes' "Good Calories Bad Calories".

I am a convert to the Paleo Diet. I ride a bike about 600 miles per month and had never been able to get my body fat down into an ultra low percentage. It simply fell off of me once I cut back drastically on starchy calories.

My breakfast this morning: half a cantaloupe, 1 egg scrambled with a bit of chopped steak, tomatoes, red and green peppers, about 1/2 of a yam--HANNAH YAMS ARE FANTABULOUS--and some avocado.

Gotta go do fifty miles, it's a nice day.

al said...

@Michael: The value of writing down what you eat cannot be overstated.
 
This is one of the core principals of weight watchers. If you eat something write it down. Only then will you know how much you are eating.
 
Eat better foods, exercise more, weight comes off and stays off.

Preston said...

In a just world, folks who are interested enough in this subject to write about it would be interested enough to have read the definitive book on why we get fat, or at least the Crib Notes version.

Gary Taubes has written and spoken extensively on the roles of carbohydrates and insulin in driving obesity. I wonder why someone of Ms. Brody's stature would write two articles on obesity and barely mention either word.

Triangle Man said...

Really? I've never heard anyone say that. Are NYT authors paying for or just imagining disposable straw men to refute?

I hear it all the time. I think Gary Taubes has been the loudest voice for this notion. As usual, the reporter doesn't quite get the science right. At least his book is doing well.

ndspinelli said...

For health reasons I have lost 60 lbs. However, it has been over the span of 7 years. That's the reality and a 7 year weight loss plan would not sell 4 copies!

There are no secrets, it's not easy, you have to change the way you think and act, not just what you eat. Exercise is key, although it is more important for maintaining a plateau than it is in reducing weight. Every person has to find their way but it needs to be based on science and their own reality. one of the keys for me was something simple but difficult. I love to eat and I love to read. When I ate and read I was engaging in a dysfunctional relationship between 2 loves. So, I had to separate the 2, which was hard, but if something is hard, you simply must work harder.

Titus said...

Women don't lose weight in your tits.

Tits.

bandmeeting said...

@ Preston:

If I recall correctly Taubes mentions Brady in the appendix of the paperback version of "Good Calories". He quotes her as saying that she is not convinced, to which Taubes responds, he is not trying to convince anyone of anything except that virtually all diet studies have been at best flawed and at worst fraudulent and that some honest tests need to be conducted. Hard to argue with that.

Titus said...

Did anyone see Nancy Grace's tits on Dancing With The Stars?

They were huge.

Are they real?

Tits.

Titus said...

How much does an average female tit weigh?

Titus said...

Do tits need nutrition?


They give nutrition but what about the tit's needs?

Preston said...

Calypso Facto said...
From the article: "It is often said that increasing one’s physical activity does not have much, if any, effect on weight loss"

Really? I've never heard anyone say that. Are NYT authors paying for or just imagining disposable straw men to refute?

-----------
Gary Taube has said that. In fact, he has written extensively about it, here for example.

He writes "The one thing that might be said with certainty about exercise is that it tends to make us hungry. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. Burn more calories and the odds are very good that we'll consume more as well. And this simple fact alone might explain both the scientific evidence and a nation's worth of sorely disappointing anecdotal experience."

Calypso Facto said...

Well obviously I'd never listened to Gary Taube, then. Good thing.

Though fads come and go, for an entire lifetime I've heard moderation in eating and exercise are the keys to staying slim. It's always worked for me. Lately the reduced carbs angle has gained credence as an add-on to the above, and I agree that there's something to it.

bagoh20 said...

I lost 40 pounds in about year over a decade ago and never gained it back. I didn't make any effort to diet or exercise. What's my secret? What's the word for a person you live with as married, but never marry? Anyway, mine was Mexican and a wonderful cook. We simply went our separate ways when the kids left and my 40 pounds left too. Being in the presence of good food and always hungry kids is very fattening.

edutcher said...

It's the grazing that gets you.

A point many forget.

Titus said...

Women don't lose weight in your tits.

Doesn't work for those who really are well-endowed. Lucy Pinder will always look like that.

Oligonicella said...

bandmeeting --

"<< advertisement and self-contratulations mixed with pomposity >>"

Good for you.

Shanna said...

Well obviously I'd never listened to Gary Taube, then. Good thing.

Taubes is not anti-exercise and his book has a ton of good information about the studies that have been used to push different weight loss theories. You’re not gaining anything by not reading him.

prairie wind said...

Some studies have indicated that low-carbohydrate diets that are relatively high in protein and fat are more effective for losing weight than a more balanced low-calorie diet. Dr. Hall said that while low-carbohydrate diets do a little more to reduce weight over the course of six months to a year, it remains to be shown that people are really eating what they say they are eating in these studies and that they can stick to a low-carbohydrate diet indefinitely.

In the 80s, Jane Brody published her Good Food Book. She was pushing a high-carbohydrate diet.

What goes around, comes around.

MikeR said...

Just speaking for myself, with a sample size of one: This article is completely clueless. The whole idea of counting calories has no meaning for me. That's just the wrong paradigm. Cutting way down on carbohydrates, and increasing protein, is what did it. I began immediately to lose two to five pounds a week, with absolutely no decrease in the quantities I was eating. Calories has nothing to do with it.

Bender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bender said...

Bob --

Thanks for that gratuitous bigotry there. It added absolutely nothing to your comment, other than to expose you as a bigot.

Julie C said...

My husband and I both lost weight following Gary Taubes low carb eating plan. I refuse to call it a diet. I am wearing jeans I haven't been able to get into in several years. I don't feel hungry at all - I start my day with eggs and or bacon, have salads for lunch, and some kind of protein and vegetables and salad for dinner. Weight just dropped off and I didn't obsess about food as I have in the past.

Brody doesn't mention that the spike in obesity parallels the diet industry's "eat less protein and more whole grains" mantra quite nicely.

ricpic said...

bagoh said...

I lost 40 pounds in about a year over a decade ago and never gained it back.

I hate you, bagoh.

;^)

themightypuck said...

Find out what works for you. The difference between weight loss and cancer treatment is that with weight loss you have plenty of time to fuck around with different ideas. The trick, like with many things, is to keep trying.

Bob_R said...

Bender - I apologize to members of the diet industry for my bigoted remarks about them. I'm sure the are some of them who are data driven. As for Christian fundamentalists - my comments clearly indicated that I thought their approach to data was more varied and open minded than people in the diet industry. Do you think that is not true?

dreams said...

I have a higher opinion of Gary Taubes than I do of Jane Brody.

Gene said...

That figure of 3500 calories a day to maintain weight is total baloney. The actually figure is more like 2500.

I once went on a rigorous calorie counting diet in which I measured and weighed and rigorously recorded everything that went in my mouth. To make it easier to calculate calories I cut out all meat, bread, milk, grains, potatoes and such. Even so, I didn't start to lose weight at 2500 calories a day or 2000 a day or 1500 or even 1500. It wasn't until I cut my caloric intake to 750 calories a day did the pounds start coming off. Then for the next 70 days I lost one-half pound a day without fail.

When I had lost a total of 35 pounds I quit (cold turkey as it were). It wasn't that I couldn't stay on the diet. But none of my clothes fit me anymore and my trousers had been taken in so many times the rear pockets were nearly side by side in the back.

Moral of the story. Calories do count but you have to practically give up eating entirely before anything actually happens.

Largo said...

Women don't lose weight in your tits.

Tits.


Titus, don't you ever leave! :)

--
wv: "eadsome". Ead some more?

Largo said...

(i keep forgetting to check the email thingy.)
--
wv: "tries". It took me two tries this time.

Largo said...

This true (and still only approximately) only when by "in" you mean absorbed by the digestive system rather than what you put in your mouth and swallow.

Remember too: calories "expended" in includes the caloric value of substances that are excreted post-absorption. I understand that ketones are a very energetic substance peed away when on the on the Atkins diet.

I nearly walked out recently on a nutritionist who was supposed to advise me on my diabetic diet. She* was lost when I (eventually) asked her if she knew the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis. I may be wrong, but wouldn't this be basic nutrition science?
--
*it almost always is.

Popville said...

Happy to see the references to Gary Taubes 2 books.

And cheers to Julie who said "Weight just dropped off and I didn't obsess about food as I have in the past."

Exactly. After years & years, the food/weight cycle is no longer part of my conversation.

J Greathouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J Greathouse said...

Now I know why many are talking about Titus on Althouse's. Oops, I better correct it to say, Titus @ Althouse's. (sorry I clicked the wrong button in the previous post. Still trying to get over the shock of Titus's comments.)