The Calorie-Reduction Error
If you were frustrated and thought you'd been lied to before... Get ready to get LIVID in chapter 3.
Why? Because Calories in-Calories out (you know, the whole basis of EVERY DIET YOU EVER HEAR OF?) IS A COMPLETE AND TOTAL LIE.
Just like we are constantly told "Eat less, move more" we are also told "Losing weight is easy... Just burn more calories than you eat!" or, conversely, "Eat fewer calories than you burn!" You know... if the calories you take IN (consume) are fewer than the calories you BURN (calories out) SKINNY WILL HAPPEN.
Except it only works for a veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery short time. And then the weight loss stops. And then you feel like it's your fault again, so you eat less and burn more. And then a tiny bit more weight loss, and then more calories need to be cut, and more calories need to be burned to lose... And so on.
And every time we feel like it's OUR OWN FAULT. That we lack willpower. Or need to move more. Whatever it is, it can't possibly be something PREPOSTEROUS like.... maybe calories in/calories out IS NOT TRUE.
Conversely, "decreasing calories in triggers a decrease in calories out. A 30 percent reduction in caloric intake results in a 30 percent decrease in caloric expenditure" (29). You don't say, Dr. Fung...?
Assumption: A Calorie is a Calorie
Among other myths that Dr. Fung busts in this chapter is the assumption that "a calorie is a calorie" (31). If you are following calories in/calories out, does it really matter what kind of calories you are eating, as long as you are burning more than you're taking in? You can eat 1,000 calories in cake and ice cream, so long as you're burning 1,500 calories? Maybe we believe this because it sounds so good!
But Dr. Fung begs the question, "Does a calorie of olive oil cause the same metabolic response as a calorie of sugar?" (31). He follows up with the answer- "obviously, no" (while sugar will cause the pancreas to have an insulin response, the olive oil will not.) Yet we still are told everywhere we turn to reduce calories in and increase calories out and you'll be GOLDEN. (Yet, nothing gold can stay, right?!)
Let me take a second to recap that last one... To lose weight, the men's caloric intake was adjusted to very low levels. As a result, their body ADJUSTED TO THOSE LOW LEVELS BY ALMOST KILLING THEM.
Yet, when we want to lose weight, we are told to do THE VERY SAME THING. Makes sense, no?
Dr. Fung puts it simply: "The body reacts in this way- by reducing energy expenditures because the body is smart and doesn't want to die. What would happen if the body continued to expend 3000 calories daily while taking in only 1500? Soon fat stores would be burned, then protein stores would be burned, then you would die. The smart course of action for the body is to immediately reduce caloric expenditure to 1500 calories per day to restore balance. Caloric expenditure may be adjusted a little lower, to create a margin of safety. This is what the body does. In other words, the body shuts down" (38).
I would like to reiterate that last line: When you severely cut calories to lose weight, weight loss is not what is going to happen. Loss of life, maybe; weight loss... not likely.
True, this drop in calories works in the short term, but that's only until your body catches up with what you're doing and adjusts to compensate. Then you have to eat fewer calories to achieve the same weight loss, and then pretty soon, your body adjusts to compensate (We've all been here, right?)
Oh, and then after the Minnesota Starvation Experiment was over and participants went back to their normal caloric intake...? "They regained the weight rather quickly... but it didn't stop there. Body weight continued to increase until it was actually higher than it was prior to the experiment" (39).
So, not only does severely cutting calories put you on the brink of death, but you're going to gain everything back AND THEN SOME when you realize the error in your ways? How rude, body.
AGAIN. THIS IS NOT A DRILL: EATING LESS DOES NOT RESULT IN LASTING WEIGHT LOSS.
Want another study?
Still not convinced? Let's check out another study... The Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial was published in 2006 and might be "the most important dietary study ever done" (42).
"The 'Eat Less, Move More' group started out terrifically, averaging more than 4 pounds of weight loss over the first year. By the second year, the weight started to be regained, and by the end of the study there was no significant difference between the two groups... Weight loss over 7.5 years of the Eat Less. Move More strategy was not een one single kilogram (2.2 pounds)" (43).
Food and the brain.
If all that wasn't enough to convince you, how about the fact that your brain is designed to sabotage your weight loss efforts? Fung explains how losing weight triggers your energy expenditure to reduce, while also SIGNALING TO YOUR BRAIN TO INCREASE YOUR HUNGER TO ACQUIRE MORE FOOD.
Remember, your body is not dumb. It wants to stay alive. It thinks weight loss means death. So when you lose weight, it wants you to gain that weight back TO STAY ALIVE. So much so, that "areas of the prefrontal cortex involved with restraint show decreased activity. In other words, it is harder for people who have lost weight to resist food. This has nothing whatsoever to do with a lack of willpower or any kind of moral failure. IT is a normal hormonal fact of life" (45). Man I needed to re-read this tonight!!!
The Vicious Cycle of Undereating
This piece is so important, because even on keto I come across people who want to cut their calories down to 800, 900, a thousand and don't understand why this is SO DANGEROUS. Because, of course... calories in/calories out, right?
Dr. Fung writes:
"And so we have the vicious cycle of under-eating. WE start by eating less and lose some weight. As a result, our metabolism slows and hunger increased. We start to regain weight. WE double our effort sby eating even less. a bit more weight comes off, but again, total energy expenditure decreases and hunger increases. We start regaining weight. So we redouble our efforts by eating even less. This cycle continues until it is intolerable. We are cold, tired, hungry, and obsessing about calories. Worst of all, the weight always comes back on.
"At some point, we go back to our old way of eating. Since metabolism has slowed so much, even resuming the old way of eating causes quick weight gain, up to and even a little past the original point. We are doing exactly what our hormones are influencing us to do. But friends, family, and medical professionals silently blame the victim, thinking that it is 'our fault.' And we ourselves feel that we are a failure. Sound familiar?" (46).
It. Is. NOT. YOUR. FAULT!!!
The Bottom Line
"Eating less does not result in lasting weight loss. It. Just. Does. Not. Work" (Dr. Fung and I have very similar writing styles LOL)/ 'Eat Less' does not work. That's a fact. Accept it." (47).
Do I really need to say more?
Until Next Time,
I wish I could stay and write more, but I am having a HUGE flair up of my TOS (specialist appointment in less than 2 weeks! EEE!!!!!) so it was excruciating enough to write this post. But I committed to every Saturday for a blog post, and every Sunday for a discussion, so I'm COMMITTED!!!
I hope I was able to clearly show you in this chapter that CALORIES IN/CALORIES OUT IS A MYTH.
As much as we all want "Eat less. Move more" to work... it doesn't. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!
The GOOD NEWS? THERE ARE THINGS THAT WILL WORK!!!!! STAY TUNED FOR MORE. (Cliffhangerrrr)
Vegan Keto Madi
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