adrian is rad


on diets and the myth thereof

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:52 pm

This may be nothing new to you or you may not care.

Diets are a myth, a figment of your imagination. Diet is a reduction in calories and/ or increase in physical activity to lose weight. But you “go on a diet,” the implication being that you “go off” it at some point; that it’s temporary in some way. And people wonder why the gain the weight back.

We’ll assume a constant amount of physical activity here. See the thing is, given that, a certain number of calories prescribes a certain weight. If you eat x calories a day, you will weigh a fixed value of y (where y depends on your metabolism and a lot of other stuff). To lose a pound a week, you need to eat approximately 500 calories/day fewer or burn those off with excercise. Say you start at 200 lb, you may need 3238 calories a day to maintain that weight exactly. To lose a pound a week, you need to consumer 2738 a day. You lose x pounds and then go back to eating 3238 calories a day, and bingo, you’re back at 200 lb.

This also points out to why it’s easy to lose the first few pounds and harder to lose the last few pounds. At 180 lb. you now require only 2914 calories a day, so if you’re still eating 2738 calories a day, you’re suddenly a running a deficit of only 174 calories a day, leading to a loss of pound every 3 weeks instead of every week, and if you’ve let up a bit, say 150 calories a day worth, you’re going to plateau.

Mysteries of weight loss revealed!

So basically, the key is life style change, finding excercise that you can continue forever and lighter calorie foods that you like eating.

3 Responses to “on diets and the myth thereof”

  1. Dolphio Says:

    I think you may be oversimplifying things a bit. You are assuming that your necessary calorie intake is a constant multiplied by your mass. C = km

    If you reached your lower weight in a “healthy” way, you may have actually increased your metabolism, thus possibly needing to burn the same or more calories than at your previous weight. However, this would assume some gained muscle mass. Granted I do agree with you that there is some sort of life style change that will most likely be necessary however.

  2. Milkshake Says:

    Ok well that’s good information to put out there because I would say most people don’t realize that. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “going on a diet” and expecting to get off of it some day. The example you used set the goal of 500 fewer calories a day. A dedicated dieter might do 1000 or even 1500 fewer calories a day to lose the weight. Once their weight goal is reached they would increase their daily calories but hopefully not go back to their previous caloric intake.

    I agree with your main point of stressing lifelong behaviors over temporary quick fixes.

  3. Dick Simmons Says:

    Most experts seem to agree that around 500 cals (or so) is the desirable amount of calories to cut. The theory is that by cutting more than that, you actually slow your metabolism as your body thinks it is starving and, in turn, you hinder your weight loss progression. Thus, the “dedicated dieter” could actually see less weight loss than the conservative one. Most of what I’ve read suggests a small cut in calories (in a healthy way as you suggest) with an increase in physical activity as the best way.

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