Cutting Calories? Weight Loss Might Take Time

Dieters Are Often Told to Cut 500 Aalories a Day

| Sep 18, 2011

Your dietitian is misleading you. That's the takeaway from an article published recently in the medical journal The Lancet. The rules of thumb that you've been given are wrong. And losing weight quickly and easily by cutting a few hundred calories a day just doesn't happen, scientists say.

Dieters are often told that if they cut 500 calories a day, they will lose a pound a week. How much is 500 calories? It's the equivalent of a single quarter-pounder with cheese from McDonald's or a small serving of pasta with sauce and bread. But scientists say such a reduction would not lead to the advertised quick weight loss -- roughly 50 pounds in a year if maintained. Instead, the article says that a 50-pound loss would take three years or longer.

The news may sound discouraging, but it actually makes sense.

Think about it this way: Our bodies adjust to the amount we eat. If we consume more calories, we have more energy to burn off. But if we eat less -- as we do when we diet -- we have less energy. The body wants to establish some sort of stasis.

Kevin D. Hall of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases was the lead author of the study, and he and fellow researchers put together an alternative rule of thumb for dieters. But be warned: It looks at the long term.

If you consistently reduce your food intake by 24 calories each day, you'll eventually lose 2.2 pounds, Hall said.  In other words, cutting roughly 500 calories a day will eventually lead to about 50 pounds of weight loss. But the weight loss takes time -- only half of those 50 pounds would come off in the first year. You have to maintain the diet for two more years to lose most of those 50 pounds.

The researchers are sounding the alarm. They want people to know that weight loss isn't as simple or quick as portrayed by many in the public health community. "We suggest," they wrote, "that unrealistic weight loss expectations obtained by erroneous use of the static dieting rule should be replaced by our methods to assess other population-wide and more targeted obesity prevention interventions."


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Categories: Cutting Calorie, Diabetes, Diabetes, Dieters, Dietitian, Food, Losing weight, McDonald's, Medical Journal The Lancet, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Obesity Prevention, Weight Loss

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Posted by larry139 on 23 September 2011

As you cut calories energy goes down is true in my experience. However I needed to lose weight because I had trouble doing some work requiring a lot of stooping and bending over my "center of gravy", so I relied on two items from past experience. First I used the old Rotation Diet idea of 1200 calories a day for 3 days, then go to 1500 for 4 days, then do 1800 for 7 days. Then repeat the 1200/1500 week. Second was walking before and after each meal for 8 minutes. On March 2 I weighed 210 [doctor's scale]and took 40 u of Lantus daily. By April 14 I was down to 0 u of insulin. By May I weighed in at 185. And yes, I cheated on the diet at times. And yes, if you go back to old habits and cut out the walk, guess what, you start gaining again.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 September 2011

This is good information. "Dieters" get tired of doing the "diet," even diabetics. You have to maintain a healthy eating style to keep up weight loss. I am down 15 pounds in 2 months, and I started Victoza at the same time. My weight loss has slowed down so I know I have to increase my exercise.
A Diabetic Nurse

Posted by Green Lantern on 23 September 2011

Human beings are not automobiles. The whole "calories in-energy out" equation has NEVER made sense. Yes, calories are a measure of energy. But in the body, how we metabolize them has much more to do with our hormones, stress levels, time of day (we gain more weight when we eat in the evening than in the morning) etc. than with any magic formula.

And, calories are not all the same. If we eat 1200 calories of butterscotch candy, it will have a different impact on our weight than if we eat 1200 calories of grass-fed meat and fibrous vegetables.

We mislead when we look at calories. They are NOT what's important. What we choose to put in our mouths is what counts.

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