Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Not to Lose Weight Eating 1200 Calories a Day

The comments I received (both on the blog and in person) on my last post "How to Lose Lose Weight Eating 5000+ Calories a Day" really shocked me. Since I was already shocked that I'd managed to lose 50 pounds eating 5000+ calories a day, I guess that leaves me doubly shocked. In fact, I'm starting to feel like the monkey in that Peter Gabriel song...

To recap:

MolBachman has been eating 1250 calories a day since January. While she has lost 20 pounds, SHE'S BEEN EATING ONLY 1250 CALORIES A DAY SINCE JANUARY! And people think dieters have a lack of willpower...

Headwaste spent months eating 1200 calories a day WHILE TRAINING FOR A MARATHON and failed to lose weight. Crazy? Well apparently it's not entirely uncommon. This is from EXRX's piece on the Starvation Effect:

"A 51 year old patient complained of a 15 lb weight gain over the last year despite beginning a strenuous triathlon and marathon training program (2 hours per day, 5-6 days per week). A 3 day diet analysis estimated a daily intake of only 1000-1200 Calories."

PJ said:

"I ate a solid month of 1200 calories a day and didn't lose a single pound. Since I weighed 400# at the time that's just insane."
My opinion? THAT IS INSANE!

So I went back and looked up Ancel Key's study on starvation diets in Good Calories, Bad Calories. It took place during WWII using conscientious objectors.

Subjects consumed an average of 1570 calories a day or roughly half of what they were used to consuming (they were all young men). They did lose weight, but not nearly as much as would be expected by the calories in calories out theory. They also had an incredible list of side-effects. I'll quote a few...
"Nails grew slowly, and hair fell out... Pulse rates were markedly reduced, as was the resting or basal metabolism... Reflexes slowed... They described their increasing weakness, loss of ambition, narrowing of interests, depression, irritability, and loss of libido as a pattern characteristic of 'growing old.'"
But it gets worse.

Five of the subjects succumbed to "character neurosis" (two "bordered on psychosis"). At least one of the subjects was commited to the psychiatric ward with talk of "suicide and threats of violence."

Even though there was a calorie restricted "rehabilitation diet" at the end to try and keep the subjects from gorging (during which one subject's "personality deterioration culminated in two attempts at self-mutilation"), when the subjects were finally allowed to pig-out, they ate a whopping 8000 calories a day AND WERE STILL HUNGRY DESPITE BEING PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO EAT MORE.

By the end of the "rehabilitation diet" (i.e., before they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted), the subjects had gained 5% in weight and had 50% more body fat.

Does cutting your calories to 1200 a day seem like such a good idea now?

Of course, I know damn well why people are severely cutting calories (I've done it myself in the past). Since all the advice we've ever been given on diet by the mainstream media is wrong, we've grown desperate. But since these diets MAKE YOU GAIN FAT in the long run, I really can't see why anyone should be on them.

Sadly, if you've already tried the starvation approach, your metabolism is probably a wreck and you need to find some way to jumpstart it. Jim Purdy commented:

"I've been experimenting a little with eating 5 or 6 very small meals daily, consisting only of an extremely high-fat mixture of avocado, peanut butter, pecans, walnuts, flaxseed, and olive oil."

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this approach will help get his metabolism going again.

I personally suspect that low-carb/high-fat/high-protein along with heavy strength training is the way to go, but then again I have no real proof (that's just what I've had success with).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to Lose Weight Eating 5000+ Calories a Day

My wife has been playing around with FitDay lately. It's a free online way to list everything you eat in a day and see what the nutritional breakdown is.

After seeing her fat/carb/protein breakdown, I got curious. Ever since I started what I call the Evolutionarily Appropriate Diet (i.e., paleo, caveman, hunter-gatherer... etc.), I've refrained from counting calories--after all, if what I'm eating is "appropriate," I shouldn't need to. But since I've been uping the intensity of my weight training this summer, I have worried a little about whether or not I'm getting enough protein.

In any case, I typed in a few days to see roughly where I'm at. It turns out that I'm eating more than 5000 calories a day.

Today was 5,238. Yesterday was more. That pigout day I had last week came in at 6150 calories. And I've been pretty much eating this way the whole time I've been on this diet--in other words, I've been rapidly losing weight while eating 5000+ calories a day.

Gary Taubes explained in Good Calories, Bad Calories that not all calories are the same, but the idea that I could be eating like this and still losing weight just floors me. The "caloric balance" calculator on FitDay (which takes into account exercise levels, etc.) suggests that I should be gaining 3.6 pounds a week. Instead I've lost a total of 50 pounds from my all time high.

Need any more proof that a calorie is not just a calorie?

Just so you know, my breakdown for today was 72% fat, 15% protein, 8% carbs, and 5% alcohol (or will be once I crack open the Old Crow). That might seem low for protein, but with the total caloric intake so high, I'm getting more than a gram of protein per pound of lean body weight.

I may experiment by slightly cutting back on a few of the fattier things (I ate a whopping 1561 calories worth of nuts and 514 of heavy cream today) and adding a little more protein, but then again, I may not.

After all, I'm losing weight on a 5000+ calorie diet. What more can I ask?

[NOTE: If anyone wants to try out FitDay and post their numbers in the comments, please do! (You can post anonymously or make up a fake name if you want.) I'm really curious as to how many calories others are eating...]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Would Hit That and So Should You

Does it strike anyone else as funny that we're obsessed with maintaining erectile dysfunction in the elderly (all those ads for Viagra, Cialis…etc.), while at the same time we do everything we can to thwart healthy "erectile function" in teenage boys.

Let's put aside the fact that "abstinence" programs don't work at all and only seem to succeed at spreading STDs and causing unwanted teen pregnancies…

…Actually, YOU CAN'T PUT THAT ASIDE. Just as with the War on Drugs, it's utterly illogical to defend a course of action based on what you hope it will achieve, when it's obviously failed to achieve that goal in practice.

Our sexual response is the result of millions of years of evolution. We get horny as hell in high school, because WE'RE SUPPOSED TO GET HORNY AS HELL IN HIGH SCHOOL.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Functional Fitness

I posted earlier about whether to pursue aesthetics or athletics in the gym. Since then I've been on a search to define what a 38 year-old like myself can reasonably expect to achieve in terms of fitness.

While I'm not yet at the level of Damien Walters, I feel that if I continue to eat a sensible diet and walk briskly for thirty minutes three times a week, I should be able to perform at his level in no time...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Shame of the Fourth Estate

Chain of events:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest put out another list of the worst restaurant foods (yes, they're still using this scare tactic), ABC decided to do a decidedly slipshod investigation into said foods, and Dr. Eades (of Protein Power fame) tore the investigation to shreds in a wonderful post.

So first I'll give you the ABC piece where two reporters dare to eat deep-fried mac and cheese:

Second, I'll urge you (no COMMAND YOU) to look at Dr. Eades rebuttal.

The three biggest points for me were the fact that...

1) It goes unmentioned in the ABC piece that they ended up eating 3.1 cups of sugar each! And they're blaming "sluggishness" on fat? What about the carb coma?

2) Apparently ALL blood looks like that after a meal (i.e., fatty). Saying it was an abnormality caused by excess saturated fat was a blatant lie on the part of the physician.

3) And last, the arterial narrowing shown by the ultrasound is a NORMAL response to a giant meal.

Now, I'm not going to recommend you eat any of these foods (they're garbage), but this kind of "journalism" is just criminal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

First, I want to thank Lisa Dahl for guest blogging while I vacationed in the Great White North. (She did such a great job that I'm now trying to convince her to be a regular writer for the blog. I urge you to put the thumbscrews on her too.)

Second, some updates:

Since I had the opportunity to hike around a seriously buggy lake, I again tempted the mosquitoes, and again got bitten with no lasting bumps or itching. I am therefore forced to unscientifically conclude that my "evolutionarily appropriate diet" really is the cure for mosquito bites (at least for me). I'm hoping to hike up Zigzag mountain (next to Mt. Hood) sometime soon, though, and give it a definitive test (that trail is positively lousy with mosquitoes).

I also had the opportunity to run barefoot on a Vancouver Island beach with my niece and nephew--a la Chariots of Fire. I'm now convinced there really is something to the barefoot movement. It just felt natural (a lame adjective, but accurate). Of course, now my calves are killing me...

And last, trying to eat the aforementioned "evolutionarily appropriate diet" while traveling was really really really hard (did I mention really?). I mean, I thought it would be hard, but it was HARD--not to mention expensive.

Every freakin' restaurant serves a ginormous serving of carbs with a little scrap of protein. Add to that the impossibility of cooking your own food without a kitchen (I don't eat processed food), and... well, IT WAS HARD. I really wish I had a solution to this problem, because I love to travel.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Factual errors on the Internet? No way...

Selwood must be so jealous that a bit of blogging intrigue happened while he was away. It's the internet at its mass-culture best: where information is pushed to the top because so many eyes, ears, and brains are involved. Of course, that is also the method used to create rumors that can ruin lives and political campaigns, but I digress...

A post I made about a beautiful set of photos about the real estate bust has turned minorly scandalous over at the venerable paper The New York Times. I put an edit update at my original post to explain. Thanks to Simon Owens of Bloggasm for the tip, and to Mr. Selwood who is indeed reading his email while away.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Better hide it with cash

I was listening to NPR this afternoon and heard a surprising piece on how credit card companies are monitoring our buying behaviors. They are not only keeping tabs on how much you are buying, but also what you are buying - actually itemizing your purchases. Very Big Brother. And in a new twist of invasion of privacy, they are rating your purchases to decide whether you are too risky a customer to them based on what you're charging to your card. Basically, the thinking goes if you are either 1.) bargain shopping or 2.) comforting yourself, those could be signs that you have lost, are going to lose, or fear losing your job and that they should cut ties asap.

The top 10 things not to buy with your credit card? Find out here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I don't know what you're talking about

I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't understand the superstardom we as a society bestow upon famous people unless they also manage to do something substantive in addition to just being entertaining. There seems to be unspoken rules about when a public figure falls from grace, when you can hold them to the impropriety, when you are supposed to just wish it never happened, and when you can finally acknowledge – out loud - that, yes, they were guilty all along. It doesn't matter if everyone knows the truth from the start, to be a part of society comes with the expectation of periodically putting on blinders.

And it's not just that we act this way with celebrities; it happens in all spheres of society. The mortgage crisis? Cigarettes and tobacco? A no-fat but all-carb diet? Eighties fashion?

Yet the lone wolf is always given a hard time. That's why I'm not saying nuthin'.