Here at DietHobby there are many articles about my weight-loss and maintenance of that weight-loss.
For more details see ABOUT ME in the Resources section, and various Status Updates etc. in the ARCHIVES.
I've consistently recorded all my food into a computer food journal every day for more than NINE years.
I've also recorded my weight daily or weekly during that time. Those detailed records show a large weight loss, followed by a couple of years holding pattern, followed by about five years of gradual weight-gain while eating a calorie average of around 1050 calories daily.
Despite my careful adherence to calorie budgets, and detailed documentation, people tend to disbelieve this truth. I'm tired of being considered a liar. In fact, involving myself further in discussions on the issue is becoming too exhausting to even contemplate. My records are helpful to me personally, but are generally discounted by others as inaccurate, mistaken, or faulty in some way because … what these records show "simply cannot be true".
This is a common phenomenon.
Medical personnel and weight loss gurus get to openly doubt the claims of any and all failed dieters because their fat bodies are the visible proof that they are lying.
Former dieters who claim diets don’t work were probably just doing it wrong all along, or else they didn’t try Guru X, Y or Z, who would have set them straight right away.
However, the bottom line is, diets don’t fail because failed dieters are liars, but because the only diets that yield substantial, noticeable weight loss in a statistically significant portion of the population are the same diets that are largely unsustainable for many, many reasons.
The problem isn’t lying dieters, it’s that the expectations surrounding diets and weight loss are built on lies, half-truths, insinuations, flawed research and cults of personality.
It is important to realize and understand that people regain lost weight due to biological reasons which are totally out of their control.
When a person engages in the kind of severe caloric restriction necessary to lose significant amounts of weight, it triggers hormonal changes in their body that pushes back against that caloric deficit, both physically and emotionally.
The body's response to caloric restriction involves issues involving leptin, ghrelin and adaptive thermogenesis. In a nutshell, one's body does everything it can to preserve what few calories it is taking in. This is the semi-starvation neurosis that is most noticeable in the infamous Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Those continual, ongoing, unpleasant symptoms are the body’s way of trying to urge a person to find more calories. Most people find that kind of lifestyle unsustainable.
The 3500 kcal per pound Theory was derived by estimating the energy content of weight lost, but it ignores dynamic physiological adaptions to altered body weight that lead to changes of both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy cost of physical activity.
Calorie-restricted diets are unsustainable for the vast majority of people and the ubiquitous expectations of 3,500 calories per pound lead to inevitable disenchantment with lifestyle changes. Weight regain is incredibly complicated and simply assigning blame to the dieter is inadequate when you look at the totality of evidence.
People have been given unrealistic expectations for what caloric restriction achieves. When someone jumps on a restricted-calorie "lifestyle change" and only loses a net 5% or 10% after two years, and that restricted-calorie diet is so miserable due to hormonal responses and/or whatever life changes may occur, that they tend to give up those changes and regain the weight.
An analogy would be if you’re a runner and you push yourself further and further, harder and harder because you believe that if you just work hard enough you’ll be the fastest runner alive. But there are internal cues like soreness, fatigue, and injury which are your body’s ways of telling you to knock it off. You can ignore those cues and continue your training regimen, but many people will find the increased regimen unsustainable, then fall back either to their less rigorous habits or quit training all together.
So whose fault is it if a person doesn't keep training at that higher level? In a simplistic sense, we can say the runner. If they just stuck with it, their body may eventually yield the results desired, but something interfered. That “something” is the unsustainability of the goal for that runner's body.
When people gain weight, their energy needs increase to keep the extra tissue alive and move it around. Likewise when weight is lost, their baseline needs decrease. So when people cut calories below the baseline requirement - thereby triggering weight loss - the gap between their intake and their baseline energy needs begins to shrink. At some point, it may disappear altogether, at which point weight loss stops. This can happen even BEFORE a formerly fat person becomes underweight or even of "normal" weight.
A 3500 calorie deficit might roughly equal one pound of fat. But what starts as a 3500 deficit in week 1 of a "lifestyle change" will be closer to a zero calorie deficit in week 100. The 3500 =1 lb Calorie Theory has a tendency to breakdown further at very high weights, and at very low weights, in that it appears to be far less accurate when applied to extremely obese people who maintain a very high weight long-term, as well as for extremely "reduced" obese people who are working to maintain a low weight long-term.
Fat bodies require more calories than slimmer ones. However, the human body is not a budget, and individual mileage varies. All formulas which calculate the calories required by any person of any size, age, or weight are based on "averages" of the people who were included in specific, limited, research studies, and the numbers given by the use of any such forumla are ESTIMATES only. Ten to twenty percent deviations are common, below and above, and even within those limited research studies some of the people's calorie needs fell even lower.
People who successfully lose weight can explain how they did it, but when people who fail at losing weight explain how they did it, they're assumed to be liars.
The common assumption is that the reason a majority of people fail to lose weight on a diet, is because they don't follow the diet, and those people who claim that they do follow the diet but haven't lost the expected amount of weight are liars.
There is no specific scientific evidence that proves weight regainers are actually following the diet when they regain the weight. However, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence. There are many, many, many people who say that they have tried anything and everything from caloric restriction to low-carb eating and have not gotten results. They’ve exercised, followed the rules and done everything right, but not had the same experience that the successful people have. This is when the successful people begin their diagnostic check. “Have you tried X? Have you tried Y? Have you tried Z?”
Anecdotal evidence that diets don’t work is immediately dismissed. However, there is no other evidence available… no long-term, peer-reviewed research which reliably monitors the dietary habits of subjects. Scientific evidence on this issue is hard to come by because it would be incredibly expensive and difficult for any research team to do a long-term controlled study that actually proves subjects do or do not follow diets when they do not lose much weight.
The only such study in existence is the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, which only happened due to a remarkable set of circumstances around WWII, involving a rigidly controlled environment and a limited number of selected subjects who started as healthy, young, normal-weight men.
What CAN be asked and answered is “What happens when we have subjects follow a particular diet and/or exercise routine after X number of years?” This kind of evidence simply shows us how that diet fares in “normal” life, and the fact that the long-term failure rates of all known weight loss approaches simply means that they either they don’t work for the vast majority of people or that they are unsustainable. Either way, all available evidence shows that this path does not generally provide the desired results…i.e. long-term maintenance of weight-loss.
Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of people who lose 50 or 100 or 150 pounds, but we don't consistently learn of their ultimate success or failure after one, two, or five years. Successful people are self-selecting, and we never know the true followup rate of these amazing success stories.
Those hundreds of thousands of people who achieve their goal of losing 50 pounds or more are only a sliver of the millions of people who try and don't get anywhere the expected weight-loss results.
The vast majority of people who try to lose weight regain it, regardless of whether they maintain their diet or exercise program. This occurs in all studies, no matter how many calories or what proportions of fat, protein or carbohydrates are used in the diet, or what types of exercise programs are pursued.
What current scientific studies do prove is how woefully inadequate our claims of diet efficacy are. Even in those controlled settings, when intake and expenditure is strictly controlled and it comes closest to recreating your budget analogy, the results still show that the human body is not a bank account.
Energy out - the human body is a dynamic system with metabolic inconsistencies that we cannot easily account for on an individual basis.
Energy in - even if we measure our food, calorie estimates are merely best guesses, and to say: "just eat less" simply tells people that over time they need to eat less and less and less food to continue losing weight at a steady rate. (Or in my own case… to continue maintaining weight-loss long-term.)
It ultimately comes down to this:
One argument is: "We have proof that weight loss works” which is supported by a cohort of people who provide anecdotal evidence that caloric deficits provide the desired result of significant, long-term weight loss. However, there is no scientific evidence in existence proving this proposition to be true.
The other argument is: “We have proof that the vast majority of people who try to lose weight regain it, regardless of whether they maintain their diet or exercise program”. There are reams of scientific research which support that argument AND a cohort of people who provide supporting anecdotal evidence.
Whatever argument one chooses to accept, all studies have proven that our bodies are not machines. They have organic differences, and they continually adapt. Although a calorie budget can be useful, weight loss is far more difficult and complicated than setting a budget and adhering to it.
Mar 01, 2021 DietHobby: A Digital Scrapbook. 2000+ Blogs and 500+ Videos in DietHobby reflect my personal experience in weight-loss and maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all, and I address many ways-of-eating whenever they become interesting or applicable to me.
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