Official Weight Loss Thread


Wow, so much activity in the thread… I’ll try to catch up, a bit…

You’re mixing generic terms and specific terms. In exercise science and the study of weight loss, incidental walking - even for long distances - is not termed exercise. The term is “activity.” Walking that is added to the normal activity is called “exercise.” And choosing to stop eating sweets is an exercise in discipline. All three are exercises.

In general, when someone talking about weight lose says “exercise,” they mean additional activity performed for the purpose of burning extra calories, and they don’t refer to their routine activity as “exercise.” If you stop conflating the two, you’ll find yourself speaking the same language as most of the rest of us.

You keep going back to BMR here… while you should be referring to deficit relative to Maintenance Calories. Anyone who eats the exact same calories as their BMR can expect to lose weight, because they’re eating less than maintenance - unless they literally lie in bed all day. Maintenance Calories are your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) plus the calories you burn as a result of routine activity. Calorie deficits - whether caused by adding activity to burn calories (exercise) or removing food to reduce calories (restriction) - are measured against Maintenance Calories.

There are no anti-NEAT people, and if they were, they wouldn’t be anti-exercise. NEAT is not Non-Exercise activity.

Also, I don’t recall anyone claiming that exercise “must be followed by eating more…” I’ve said that exercise stimulates appetite, and that many of us find food more psychologically difficult to resist after exercise, but I don’t see anyone saying the exercise “must” be followed by eating more. If that’s what you’re arguing against, then you’re arguing against your own statement.

I don’t think anyone expressed that belief. You’re planting statements and disagreeing with them.

So you are saying that a person eating 2000 kcal but burning 3000 kcal a day through (a deficit of 1000 kcal) will lose fat more effectively than someone eating 1,200 kcal a day but burning 2,200 kcal a day (a deficit of 1000 kcal)?

You’re finally comparing equal calorie deficits, so the answer will be close…but for the first few months, no, the person with a 1000 kcal deficit who exercise less will probably lose a little more fat.

The body adapts to small changes in exercise quickly and will become more efficient; even if you carefully measure the exact number of calories burned, you’ll find you need to gradually increase your exercise intensity or amount to try to maintain the calorie burn. And if the exercise becomes too intense, the body really wants to burn carbs, not fat; low-intensity exercise burns fat, but if you increase the intensity, your body will want to burn carbs and tends to shut down the fat-burning pathway. Your body can actually break down lean protein in response to the demand for carbs, perversely leading to the lose off lean tissue due to exercise.

There are always a lot of mechanisms in play in the body.

[quote=“Telos, post:191, topic:15008”]@MentalNomad was arguing that lowering calories below 1500/day is better for dieting than trying to achieve a similar deficit by exercise.

Only in the beginning. It’s better for fat loss in the first few months. After that, adding exercise is key. You keep misconstruing other people’s statements as all-or-nothing. The world is full of complex systems and grey areas.

Again, you’re being too all-or-nothing. Not all exercise preserves muscle. Weight-bearing exercise is great at inducing the body to preserve muscle (such as lifting weights.) Low-intensity cardiovascular exercise is not so great. High-intensity cardio exercise can induce muscles preservation or growth, but large amounts of low-level cardiovascular exercise doesn’t really do that, and can, in fact, lead to muscle loss.

For a great contrast, here’s a world-class performer at high-intensity a cardiovascular exercise: sprinting.

Sprinter Tyson Gay. Nice shoulders and arms.

Here’s a world-class performer at large amounts of lower intensity cardiovascular exercise: marathoning.

Champion marathoner Geoffrey Mutai. Does his upper body look preserved? How about his legs, even?

Or how about an elite female sprinter:

Go FloJo!

Versus elite female marathoners Mare Dibaba, Zhou Chunxiu, and Shalane Flanagan:

I’m now going to go digging back further through this thread - my notifications tell me I’ve been tagged or replied to several times. I think I’m inevitably going to miss some, and I can only spend so much time here…


Exactly… Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps’ normal calorie burns are far higher than ours. For them, elite Olympian levels of training are normal. For the general population, they are not. Either of those athletes burns more far more calories per minute than we “normal” people can… and they can sustain it for far longer than we can… and they have their time scheduled to do it all day long. So, for them, eating 6,000 calories is normal. And 5,000 calories is restrictive and leads to weight loss. Calorie deficit / surplus is all relative. And relative to us, Olympic athletes are bad examples to use for levels of activity. They are useful if you want to look at where extremes will get you, though. There are atheletes who eat over 10,000 calories a day!

Going to your construction worker example - if a construction worker works hard all day everyday, and eats a certain level, and is getting fat… then he must do one of two things: subtract food, or add exercise. The activity he adds is called exercise. This is what the vast majority of people mean when they say "exercise.The activity he already does in the course of his job is called activity. Both are work; both burn calories. A bricklayer who is lifting a brick as he says, “look! I’m exercising!”… is making a joke.


Yes, their effectiveness at fat loss is about calorie restriction, even though it’s not in the guidelines. Study after study that compares Atkins or Paleo diets to other diets (such as low-fat diets) finds that when the same calories are consumed, fat loss is comparable.

Atkins and Paleo successfully cause calorie restriction without asking for it because the are so restrictive in terms of foods groups. Sure, you can eat “all you want” of fatty meats… but most people won’t want to eat all that much, and in practice, people won’t eat enough of them to maintain their own excess fat. In the first few days of the diet, weight loss is rapidly due to glycogen depletion and water loss, while the person binges on “unlimited fatty food…” and then the rapid weight loss ends, and they’re sick of eating all that fatty food, and they back off on the intake… and so weight loss continues.

But, in the end, their fat loss goes about as well as their calorie deficit. Some studies find a small advantage one way or the other, but when there’s fat loss, they always find calorie deficit, whether or not the dieter is aiming for one.

Fact is, we all just suck at estimating our calorie intake from foods by looking at them.


Great link, @kennufs! I’d add two more categories, for people interested…

BMR + NEAT encompasses maintaining body heat (in the BMR) and non-exercise activity (in the NEAT), but there’s also the relatively novel concept of thermal loading.

Intentional exposure to cold (long walks in the cold, lowering the shower temperature, cold swims) leads to two types of additional calorie burn. One is a response to mild cold exposure, and that’s Non-Shivering Thermogenesis, which differs from NEAT in that there’s no overt activity, but differs from BMR in that it’s the effect of intentional loading. Non-Shivering Thermogensis from cold exposure burn primarily fat.

The other is a response to more intense cold exposure: Shivering. It also burns calories, but the shivering involves a higher ratio of carb burning. There’s reason to believe that maintaining thermal loading at the level where it’s non-shivering will burn more fat, directly, than increasing the loading to the point where shivering begins, and the calorie burn shifts to carb stores. This may be useful information for someone trying to target things… of course, at the end of the day, the calories are calories. If one person depletes their carb stores by shivering, when they later eat carbs, those carbs can get stored. If another depletes their fat by shivering, when they later eat carbs, those carbs can get stored as fat. It ends up balancing. But I hate shivering.


Good study - but it’s important to remember they also stipulated “during short-term…” If you consume less protein over time, the body becomes more protein efficient, and if you consume more, the body becomes less protein efficient. We’re finding that the increase in protein, over the short term, has a muscle preserving effect, while a decrease in protein has a muscle-wasting effect, during the short term - but this does not necessarily hold long-term, after the body adjusts (as long as the overall protein intake is within a reasonable quantity/quality range.)

Short-term versus long-term results are different stories.

Also, the research shows that pretty much every approach to weight loss leads to the loss of fat and muscle, whether or not you exercise, or eat more protein, or whatever. You can maximize the ratio of fat loss to protein loss, but if you lose weight, you’ll pretty much always lose some lean tissue - except in the unusual case where you have very little muscle, a lot of fat, and your exercise is largely weight-bearing - for example, a fat person with no muscle who takes up weight lifting and cuts their calorie intake. They might actually gain muscle while losing fat. But even then, not much. It’s easy to notice the arms growing from the new upper-body work, and not to notice that the glutes and quads (the largest muscles in the body, the butt and legs) are actually getting smaller.


No, I never said that. Right from the beginning, I said that the science shows us that in the short term, a dieting calorie deficit is likely best for fat loss, and that for long-term weight-loss maintenance, it’s best to add exercise. I’ve been making this point from the first post to which you objected.


Last post today - I’m waaaay out of time -

OK, this is a weak study in a variety of ways… on top of that, it reinforces what I’ve been saying all along; short term, calorie restriction trumps exercise.

The study is weak because, first, it’s not calorie-matched, because it’s not isocaloric on protein. Their design used a calorie breakdown of “30% calories from fat, 15% from protein, and 55% from carbohydrate.”

The people in the diet-only group consumed 25% less of everything. The people in the diet-plus-exercise group ate 12.5% less of everything. So the diet group reduced their protein by 25%, and the other group reduced their protein by only half as much. You would, therefore, expect the diet-only group to do worse on lean tissue loss, because they’re consuming less protein.

For clarity, assume you start at 2000 calories, and reduce all your food intake by 25%:

This is not isocaloric on protein, because the diet is consuming 25% less protein. Here’s the kind of 25% deficit diet comparison that is fairly common to see:

The are isocaloric on total calories, but they are not calorie-matched on protein. The Locarb is being given a boost in protein (by telling people to eat lots of fatty/meaty food), while the Lofat is having protein cut sharply (avoiding fats often means cutting protein-rich food). This can be expected to have an effect on lean tissue, especially in the short term.

This would be a study that’s calorie-matched on protein, and just varies the “energy calories,” and compares exercise:

Now that I’m clear on what I meant, back to the study in question… it also has the problem that it has such a statistically small sample (only about six people per group) that it’s not capable of giving any conclusion. The authors said so, themselves:

I’m going to gloss over the fact that they just said there’s no difference between diet-only and diet-plus-exercise - why did you bring up this study? It does not support your claim that diet+exercise is better. But anyway, there’s stuff worth looking at in the study.

The groups they compared were dissimilar - there was definitely an imbalance here! Compare the CR men’s group (Calorie Restriction, or diet-only) with the CR+EX (diet + exercise):smile:

The six guys in the CR group started with 25% body fat, while the five guys in the CR+EX group had 36% body fat! That’s a big difference, and you expect the fatter guys to shed fat more easily.

The six guys in the CR group started with 67 Kg of Fat-Free-Mass, and the five guys in the CR+EX group started with 49 kg of Fat-Free-Mass. You’d expect the guys with so much lean tissue to lose more lean tissue on a diet.

So the CR group is already handicapped, before you consider that their protein intake is going to be cut twice as much as the CR-EX group.

But here’s the rub… what actually happened?

I’ve edited the image to fit all the detail in a small picture and highlighted the results at the three month mark, but this is straight out of the study - at three months, the CR group (diet only) had lost more fat than the CR+EX (diet plus exercise) group, despite both having an “identical” 25% calorie deficit.

This is what I initially proposed in this discussion - the science suggests it’s more effective to start with just a calorie deficit, and that it’s necessary to later add exercise. This study does not contradict what I presented, despite not being isocaloric on protein, and despite handicapping the results by putting leaner men in one group.

This study also shows another interesting thing, if you read closely… for the first three months, everyone was put on controlled diets: “participants were provided with all meals that were prepared by the metabolic kitchen at the center.” That includes the Control group. They were all fed a “maintenance” diet.

Did you notice that the control group lost over a kilogram of fat (like, 2.5 pounds), on average? That’s because, prior to the study, they were overeating! (Or they under-reported how much they were eating before the study.) Being forced to eat “maintenance” was actually a reduction in food and caused some weight loss. Again, we all suck at estimating how much we eat. Soylent is great, in this regard.

For the last three months of the study (until month 6), “participants self-selected a diet based on their individual calorie target.” Now look what happened to the Control group when they weren’t having their meals prepped for them… their fat loss stopped, and they regained a bit… And look what happened to the CR group - when their meals were no longer being prepared for them, their fat loss slowed substantially. Again, we all suck at estimating how much we eat. Soylent is great, in this regard.

For completeness’ sake, here’s their results in terms of Fat Free Mass

Please note that this is on a different scale that the Fat Mass chart - it only goes down to -4 kg, while the other chart goes down to -8 kg, because the Fat Mass changes were much larger. At the end of six months, both test groups had lost roughly 2 kg of Fat Free Mass (lean tissue), whether or not they exercised, and had lost about 6 kg of fat, whether or not they had exercised. The Control group, which stopped eating like crap because they were part of a study, actually lost a kg of fat and gained a kg of muscle, which is what you expect when people pay just a little attention to their diet.

I’m surprised; I’d have expected the CR group to lose a lot more lean tissue, since they started with so much more of it, and because they reduced their protein intake twice as much.

Holy crap, look at the time…


I posted it because @Syke wanted to a see a study like it and you said they were rare, then I ran across one.

What I find interesting is how you’re so 100% sure of your conclusions when you think studies actually comparing it are rare, and when we found one you claim it’s a bad study.


I’m not 100% “sure of my conclusions,” and I’m disappointed that you see it that way. I thought I’ve used language that’s clearer than that; perhaps you’re just misreading me, but I’ll try harder.

Meanwhile, finding an example of a particular kind of study just means they exist - it doesn’t mean they aren’t rare. The great majority of diet studies simply aren’t calorie-matched. It’s hard to do and expensive to do and tends to be very inaccurate when done in a simple or inexpensive way. I wish more of the existing diet studies were calorie matched.

And even among those few studies that are well calorie-matched on total calories, few are protein-matched - and if they’re not protein-matched, then they’re not actually calorie-matched on energy, given that not all protein is used for energy or energy storage (whereas nearly all fat and carb are used for energy or energy storage.)

As far as the particular study you’re talking about - I didn’t say it was bad. I said it’s weak. As in statistically weak. The samples sizes were so small that the study authors cited the statistical weakness of the study in their own discussion. The quote I posted came from within the study.

A strong study has good statistical power relative to the findings being compared, and applies directly to the question at hand.

All studies have weaknesses. They also have strengths. And there’s almost always something to learn from a given study. I took the time to read and think about the study you posted, so I saw some of the weaknesses (especially as regards our current questions) and some of the strengths, and I found some things educational about it. Then I took the time to write up what I found, and I hope someone gets some benefit from that.


Meanwhile, back on the subject -

This study on 35 overweight people found exactly what you’d expect: make them all exercise five times per week under supervised conditions, and they’ll lose an average of 3.7 kg, +/- 3.6 kg.

The cool thing is they weren’t just measuring the usual body bodycomp… they also captured their RMR, energy intake and subjective appetite sensations.

And they also paid attention to the huge variance. A loss of 3.7 kg is good, but +/- 3.6 kg is really wide the results were all over the place. In fact, the results ranged from the biggest loser at -14.7 kg to one participant who gained 1.7 kg.

They classified the people as Compensators or NonCompensators: “C and NC were characterized by their different metabolic and behavioural compensatory responses”

For Compensators, RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) went down a little bit, while for Non-Compensators it went up a hair.
For Compensators, subjective hunger went up a bit, while for Non-Compensators it went down a hair.
For both groups, total Energy Intake (eating) went up, but Compensators went up twice as much as Non-Compensators.

After classifying and looking at the total weight loss due to exercise, the Compensators lost an average of 1.5 kg, while the NonCompensators lost an average of 6.3 kg.

I guess I’m a Compensator - when I exercise, my appetite definitely goes up.

(Thanks to Brad Schoenfeld, a fitness and nutrition expert, who just posted about the study just this morning.)


From this morning’s Science Daily:

The effectiveness of low-fat diet on weight-loss has been debated for decades, and hundreds of randomized clinical trials aimed at evaluating this issue have been conducted with mixed results. New research finds that low-fat interventions were no more successful than higher-fat interventions in achieving and maintaining weight loss for periods longer than one year.


I think The Guardian reported on that here:

I believe the study also suggested that no diet tested was particularly good, on average, at helping people lose weight over the course of a year. (Anyone, please correct me if I’m butchering it.)


That pretty much sums it up. If you look at good studies where the calories are matched, all diets perform similarly inasmuch as they similarly restrict calories.

They all work in the short term, and in roughly the same degree.

Dieting tends not to keep the weight off, long-term, without exercise… exercise seems to be much more strongly associated with maintaining weight loss in the longer term.


  1. To lose weight, eat less.
  2. To keep it off, add exercise.
  3. And don’t start overeating, because you can’t out-exercise your mouth.


@MentalNomad “You can’t out-exercise your mouth”… I don’t know why, but I really like that. Got a nice ring to it. :smile:


It’s actually from Ray Cronise; I agree. It’s got a nice ring, and gets the point across.


I just started back on Schmoylent, a batch that I got about a year ago and didn’t stick with (I got weirdly depressed about giving up food only a couple days in). Planning on doing 100% most days, about 1500 calories which should be enough for me to lose weight. Going to give myself 2-3 cheat meals a week, but still try to stay within 1500 total calories those days (maybe 500 shmoylent for lunch, and then 1,000 calorie fast food meal for dinner). That probably doesn’t sound like much of a step forward, but my diet prior has been 98% fast food. Even when I counted calories on fast food I did not lose weight, or it was very slow. I had been able to lose weight on fast food in the past, so my guess is the published numbers could be off what they actually serve you, or I was bad at reporting/estimating (most likely).

I have completed two days of 100% shmoylent so far and have not found it as challenging as last time (think I gave up at this point last time). I’ve lost 2.5 lbs already, but am 99% sure that’s water weight or just lack of the weight of food sitting in my intestines. Still, even if it IS water weight, it’s kind of nice to have what feels like a jump start. I’ll report back in one or two weeks, when it should be pretty obvious whether this is working or not. I have a batch of 1.4 that my spouse bought (and couldn’t handle the taste of) so I’ll probably try to use that up once I’m through my limited supply of shmoylent. After that I haven’t quite decided what to do. I am somewhat interested in trying Shmilk or the Keto Blend that @axcho has, also the reviews of 2.0 seem pretty positive and would certainly be convenient. If I’m doing the math right, 2.0 seems to be about as expensive as Shmilk is, but I may not be doing the math right.


Almost certainly a little of both.

Isn’t it? I know full well that I lose four or five pounds on the first day of a fast, every time. And I know it’s all water weight and gut contents. But it’s still fun to see it happen. Every time. (Except when I lose less than four, and I wonder what happened…)

Good luck your diet!


Hey @Machiato, good luck with the Schmoylent diet - glad to hear it’s going better this time around! :slight_smile:

Schmilk is actually quite a bit cheaper than Soylent 2.0 (and even 1.5) per calorie, even when you take into account the cost of milk. You can see a price comparison here on this new site someone posted recently:

The price difference is even more significant when you choose “1 month” as the amount instead, as there’s a 25% discount for buying a month’s worth of Schmilk at a time. In that case, Schmilk is the least expensive option you can get in the US, taking shipping into account.

Keep us posted on your progress! :smiley:


Thanks @axcho you are right. With more caffeine in my system I can see Schmilk is at least 33% cheaper than 2.0 if you look at both in an undiscounted state for the same calories. I actually craved the schmoylent when I went off of it before, I think it is like some people here have talked about where part of your brain really wants the full nutrition of the drink. But I’m hoping maybe the spouse will like the Chocolate Schmilk better than the regular stuff since he had wanted to be on it but couldn’t handle the taste of 1.4.


I have yet to meet someone who disliked the taste of Schmilk Chocolate. :wink: Let us know how it goes though.