Weight Loss Advice May be Unrealistic

Weight loss advice may be unrealistic

An expert on metabolism believes there may be a fundamental flaw in guidelines about weight loss through a change in diet. Dr Kevin Hall says in turn this may be deterring people from sticking with attempts to drop weight.

Speaking to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Hall highlighted guidelines used by health agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. They work on the basis that if a dieter cuts 500 calories from their daily diet, they’ll lose one pound over the course of each week.

According to Hall, that theory doesn’t take account of changes in metabolism. He points to research showing that metabolism slows as a person is dropping weight and only becomes constant again once the person reaches and maintains a new stable weight.

The precise effects of this vary depending on the ratio of body fat to muscle when the person begins the diet. Hall gave the example of a person who cut daily intake by 100 calories. Under the current guidelines, the person could expect to drop 10 pounds in a year. Hall says in practice they would drop 5 pounds in a year, reaching a 10 pound drop after three years, at which point their weight would level off unless they made further dietary changes.

The immediate effect therefore is that an average dieter will initially drop weight at only half the rate of that predicted by guidelines. Hall describes this effect as “horribly demotivating.”

Hall, who works at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, has now put together a body weight simulator that takes details of the person’s height, weight, age, gender and exercise level, then maps out the effects over time of a change in diet, exercise, or both. It also details what changes would have to be made permanently for a particular target weight to be maintained.


7 Responses to Weight Loss Advice May be Unrealistic

  1. I haven't been able to 100% stick with my plan, which was to lose 1 pound per week. However, if I did, supposedly I would have dropped about 39 lbs by now, and I've only dropped 17, so this seems like it may be accurate. Fortunately, I'm near my goal weight now, so this isn't a big deal to me, but it certainly is frustrating not seeing the effects of the diet right away.

  2. Weight takes years to be put on and it takes years to come off. You don't suddenly go up to 200 pounds overnight and you can't expect to lose 60 pounds in a few months. Here's a radical idea.. Change your lifestyle and relax.

    Some suggestions? Eat fresh veggies and fruit, cut down on the meat (especially red meat and pork), eat a lot of legumes, eat fish (but be careful of cuts high in mercury), cut out the sodium and salt only to taste, cook fresh meals every day, stay away from processed foods (like lunch meats, frozen dinners and hot dogs), eat only carbohydrates with whole grains (and even then, in moderation), don't eat dessert (or treat fresh fruit with a bit of homemade whipped cream as dessert), make things in your home, eat flax seeds, take a daily multi-vitamin, don't sabotage yourself by drenching everything in high-fat dressings like Ranch or high-sodium dressings like Italian, cook exclusively with olive oil, don't fool yourself into thinking that potatoes and corn count as veggies, stop drinking soda and fruit juice, drink no-fat milk, drink coffee with no-fat milk and a tiny bit of sugar (or better yet, black), cut out that morning latte, drink 6 – 8 glasses of water a day, go easy on the eggs, go easy on the cheese, switch no-fat greek yogurt for sour cream in your recipes, don't give your kids candy, don't send them to school with cookies and stop eating out unless you're watching what you eat and where you eat.

    Oh, and exercise. 30 minutes, at least, per day. Take the whole family out for a jog in the evening. Sign everyone up for a race and do it together. Buy bikes and go riding together. Make exercise a part of your day and build time for it.

    The thing is… it can't be a diet. It has to be a true, honest lifestyle change. If you're not willing to change your lifestyle, change the way you buy, cook and eat groceries, and change the way you view food in general, you won't be able to keep weight off. You might lose 5, 10 or even 60 pounds in the short term, but the second you go back to your old lifestyle, you'll gain the weight right back. Most people aren't willing to do what it takes to make serious lifestyle changes because our society makes it hard on them (how many people go to work where meetings are held over donuts and bagels? How many have lunchtime meetings catered with high-sodium and fat foods?).

    Losing weight requires not just dedication, but a long-term commitment to changing the relationship between you and food. Dietary advice, fad diets, pills, none of that offer anything worthwhile. It has to come from inside you. And even this isn't guaranteed to get you down to Giselle-sized proportions… but you'll feel a whole heck of a lot better.

    • Eat Right and Exercise? Wow, you should be an expert or something with your radical ideas. You said yourself, Dietary Advice offer nothing worthwhile, yet you continue to lecture on it.

    • Right on GatorMom! I did exactly as you described – I made a lifestyle change. Two years ago, I started eating healthier – watching everything I put into my body. Increased my activity level (I was fairly active before, but sit at a computer most of the day), and I lost 60 lbs in about 9 months. I have maintained my weight (+/- 3-4 lbs around holiday time) ever since, and my energy levels have dramatically increased.

      My keys to my lifestyle change: #1 track your weight daily, #2 find a healthy snack you can eat (so you don't feel like your giving up food). Of course my method won't work for everyone – find a method and stick with it!

  3. Wow…I have been on a diet and exercise plan since the beginning of December and I’ve lost 44 lbs…you tell me if it doesn’t work! All it takes is a little motivation people! If it’s something you really want, it’s something you can reach!

    For anyone not convinced, go take a look around sparkpeople.com. There are people on there who have lost over 100 lbs in a year and continue to keep it all off.

  4. Agree with most of the comments here. You got to eat healthy food and exercise. If you're only doing one of these it won't work effectively. You may not be losing consistent weight like cutting down x calories daily will cut down your weight to y within z days. But if you consistently eat healthy with sufficient exercise, I'm sure you will get there soon.

    Another very important point to lose weight is your determination. If you've only started changing your diet and lifestyle for only a week or two, and you are already complaining, then your determination is not there.

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