Official Weight Loss Thread


Faster than what?


I wouldn’t say that that is even true. Every major diet system I have ever seen has been based on calorie restriction and exercise.


You also once asked on some nutrition forum (this one) and got the answer (from me): no, you won’t turn most of the calories back to fat.

There are a variety of reasons why, but there are limits to how quickly your body can take up and store fats. To test this for yourself, drink a coup or two of olive oil. You’ll find that a lot of it literally goes right through you. And of the fat that gets into your blood, not all can be stored in fat cells; there are limits to how much they can take in or put out in a given day. for an obese individual with more fat cells, this number may be higher, but there are still limits.

Another reason is that when you’re dieting, you reduce your stores of glycogen (stored carbs) and your body reduces its rate of carbohydrate oxidation. Then, when you do you binge, the intake of carbs causes a rapid ramp up carbohydrate oxidation - that is, burning carbs - as your body uses the carbs for useful work (like rebuilding and repairing lean tissue) and in useless work (like generating lots of body heat.) Your body also takes a lot of the incoming carbs to replenish glycogen supplies. Between the storage and the burning, no carbs may be left to be stored as fat… so 1,000 kcal of carbs can be diverted to completely non-fat purposes.

You can see some excellent analysis in the paper Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogensis during massive carbohydrate overfeeding in man. Here’s an image from the paper:

On this chart, on days 1 and 2, the subjects had zero grams of carbs, and a couple of carbs on day three. On day 4, they had 750 grams of carb (about 3,000 calories); more than half was burned (the gray area of carbohydrate oxidation) and a little under half was stored as glycogen (the white area). None was stored as fat.

On day 5, they took in 800 grams of carb (3,200 calories); even more was burned off - 500 gram’s worth (2,000 calories), some was stored as fat (de novo lipogensis), and some was stored as glcogen. By day 8, when the glycogen stores were full, they were creating a lot of stored fat from the incoming carbs - but more than half of the incoming calories were still being burned off rather than turned into fat - that’s 2,000 calories of carbs being burned off. On day 11, they abruptly cut the carbs back to zero; fat creation continues a little bit. On day twelve, there’s still some carbohydrate burning going on (coming out of the glycgoen stores.)

Overall, it’s remarkable how quickly the body ramps up the carb burning when you take a lot in after having too litte… and remarkable how quickly your body shuts it down when you stop eating it. But this is a big part of the explanation to why a binge doesn’t lead 100% to fat gain.

You are wrong. I’ve done it several times. I’ve been on 2000+ calorie deficits for weeks, and so have many others. And I’m fine and typing away.

I did not come into this thread with a statement that MY personal method was the best. I didn’t even say what my personal method was. You really need to start paying closer attention if you’re going to be throwing statements around like that. The statement I made to which you replied, starting all of this, is:

You’re turning that into my “personal method?” Take a little care, @Telos. You can doubt my interpretation of the science, but please don’t accuse me of pushing personal beliefs onto others.

I cited them in response to your request for citations, despite having made no citations of your own. I can cite many more, if I have a reason to, but I’m really getting quite tired of repeating myself. Without any sighs, I’ll tell you I’ve had this general discussion more than once, myself, but I’m certainly tiring of it right now.

I don’t see why I should provide anything more given that you haven’t provided anything in the way of citation or research in our discussion beyond “I actually asked once on some nutrition forum and no one really seemed to be sure…”

I feel like I’m making a lot of effort here, but that it’s either not appreciated, or understood, or both… so I’m not inclined to keep at it.


His original line of reasoning was:

But the first is a 500 calorie deficit, and the second is a 900 calorie deficit. It’s simply not a valid comparison.


I’d like to see some comparisons for 3 situations:

  1. 500 calories burned through extra exercise.
  2. 250 exercise, 250 restriction.
  3. 500 calories diet restricted.


Really? So you’re going to argue you weren’t pushing your personal beliefs onto others when you literally told someone what to do?

You didn’t say, for instance, “The current science suggests @MentalNomad should.” You said “you should.”

But no, that’s definitely not saying your personal belief is best for others. :unamused:

Yes, and I pointed out the flaws in your interpretation of those citations. You’ve continued to repeat the same flawed reasoning over and over, and continue to hold up a straw man to compare your method against.

Show me studies, like Syke said, where calories in AND out were carefully controlled and the participants lost weight and kept it off over the long term.

Oh here’s one… wait… no:

"Recent studies of the treatment of obesity by moderate and severe caloric restriction show that patients treated in randomized trials using a conventional 1200 kcal/d reducing diet, combined with behavior modification, lose approximately 8.5 kg in 20 weeks. They maintain approximately two thirds of this weight loss 1 year later. Patients treated under medical supervision using a very-low-calorie diet (400 to 800 kcal/d) lose approximately 20 kg in 12 to 16 weeks and maintain one half to two thirds of this loss in the following year. Both dietary interventions are associated with increasing weight regain over time, although regain can be minimized with the recognition that obesity, in many cases, is a chronic condition that requires continuing care. **Patients who participate in a formal weight-loss maintenance program, exercise regularly, or both are likely to achieve the best long-term results."

How about this one?

"Diet associated with exercise produced a 20% greater initial weight loss. (13 kg vs 9.9 kg; z=1.86—p=0.063, 95%CI). The combined intervention also resulted in a 20% greater sustained weight loss after 1 y (6.7 kg vs 4.5 kg; z=1.89—p=0.058, 95%CI) than diet alone. "

Oh no wait, that’s what I said… damn!

I guess it’s on you…


The first half of this abstract supports the position that I was arguing. Whereas you said that you never lost weight with dieting alone, this study found that people on both moderate and on severe caloric restriction successfully lost weight quickly. These were not diet plus exercise interventions, they were just diet.

The second half of this abstract supports my position on exercise being very useful in keeping off weight that has already been lost through dieting. The last sentence, which you bolded yourself, is the strongest endorsement of my position - it isn’t about weight loss at all, it is about “weight-loss maintenance.”

In summary, diet works for losing weight. Exercise is great for keeping it off afterwards.

How about that one? It seems to support what I said just fine. And it directly contradicts you.

Here was my starting claim. I said:

Here is the results table from that study:

Let’s focus for a moment how much better diet + exercise did, versus just diet, for initial weight loss. Here are those numbers:

So did diet and exercise do better? Yes. But it looks to me like it didn’t help that much, it was just a little better… which is exactly what I said. It’s kind of like your previous argument - sure, a 900 calorie deficit made up of 400 calories dieting and 500 calories of exercise will lose more weight than a 500 calorie deficit made up of 500 calories dieting - but that’s not a surprise because you’re comparing 900 calories to 500 calories. In fact, that comparison is probably exactly the kind of thing you’d find in a lot of these studies - you’ll probably find that the additional calorie deficit of the exercise was fairly large, while the additional weight loss was fairly small. It didn’t help much.

But was it easier, or harder for the participants? Hard to say; in my experience, the combination of significant exercise makes it much harder to tolerate the diet. I’m not saying I can’t, it’s just harder. Individual experience will vary. I’m not saying nobody should exercise, I just said that the dieting is the most important part for weight loss, and that the exercise doesn’t help much.

Meanwhile, what was your starting claim? You said:

Well, I’ll just direct you back at the data from the study you cited. The column on the right shows the weight loss accomplished without exercise. Just Diet. And although the numbers are slightly smaller, they are comparable. You’ve just shown us that people can maintain the caloric restriction necessary without exercise.

Now, for extra credit, someone can look into study number 5. For that one, the people who lost weight with just diet kept more of it off a year later than the people who did diet and exercise. What was different in that study? Or is it just statistical variance?


Yes, a calorie-matched study would be great. Sadly, they’re rare. It’s usually restriction versus the same restriction plus exercise. This is partly because it’s fairly easy to calculate the exact calorie difference between meals, but quite difficult to get exact numbers on the calories burned in exercise for different people. What’s interesting is that adding enough exercise to apparently double the calorie deficit never doubles the weight loss - at best, it increases it a little bit.

The other common mismatch in this area happens in comparison between diets with different macronutrient ratios - they are rarely isocaloric on protein. That is, a study will compare low-fat versus low-carb, but the two diest will have radically different protein levels (the low-fat diet usually has low protein, while the low-carb diet has high protein.) This is a problem because it has become apparent that the protein level has a very significant effect on the degree of fat loss.


Does high protein increase or decrease fat loss?


Protein is good for fat loss.


And you’re telling us what, that eating 1,000 Calories under your BMR is sustainable long term for “weight-loss maintenance?”

Oh? And do you know how much exercise was included in those studies? Because I sure as hell can’t find it. For all either of us know the small difference is exactly in line with how much exercise was performed.

Sure, except you keep telling us that the calories burned from exercise never equal the calories from diet.

Also why do you keep ignoring the part where no one can maintain a large calorie deficit from diet alone for that long. OK, so you’ve done it… how long can you go eating 1,000 Calories below your BMR? What are the side effects? What happens when you stop?

And I’m saying diet and exercise are both equally important for weight loss, and it is easier for people to spend longer exercising than dieting.

So sure, if a woman just trying to fit into a dress for her high school reunion in a month it might be effective to just barely eat… but if you need to lose a lot of weight, want to keep it off and stay healthy you’re probably not going to commit to only eating 1,000 Calories a day for the rest of your life.

For how long? A week? A month? For the 2.5 months it would take me to get down my goal weight?


Is it too far to assume that too low of a protein intake (relative to overall calories) could inhibit weight loss, or exacerbate weight gain?


Any concern with supplementing protein with pre-made EAS shakes. Big fan of the carb control line as it is high in protein and low in carbs/cals. Wondering if it may overload on nutrients though?

Looks like it wouldn’t be an issue on an 80% or less Soylent diet, but any thoughts on a 100% Soylent diet?


As a rule of thumb I wouldn’t get too excited about exceeding the daily value on vitamins and minerals by less than 100%. If you’re between 100% and 200% of daily vitamins and minerals I can’t imagine you’re likely to experience any severe negative reactions or we would see it in people who take daily multivitamins plus a couple regular meals a day.


That’s what I figured, just thought I’d double check. Thanks!


Was digging around and found this:

Also there’s this one which compares bariatric surgery recipients to “Biggest Loser” participants:

I’m guessing “fat-free mass” means loss of muscle tissue and other things, so while you might lose just as much “weight” by diet alone you’re not losing just fat. (Then again, the other link says body composition remained similar… guessing it’s because the calorie deficit was relatively small?)


BMR and maintenance calories aren’t the same thing. Any normal person can lose weight without eating less calories than their BMR. You need to eat more than your BMR to maintain your weight, unless you are comatose or something.


But that’s just quibbling, really. My bmr is 2300,my maintenance if I didn’t exercise is maybe 2500. So get the 1, 000 calorie/day deficit I’d be 800 under my bmr rather than 1000.

Is that sustainable for 2.5 months without causing negative impacts to my health, including muscle loss? That’s the question.


Why would you insist on a 1000 calorie deficit, rather than a smaller deficit (say 100-200 calories)? Obviously you can’t apply a specific caloric deficit to every person, because every person’s caloric needs and expenditures are unique.

The difference between BMR and maintenance calories will be possibly quite low for someone who has a desk job, commutes to work in a car, sits at their computer or on their couch all day at home, etc., whereas they might be high for someone who has a job in retail, is on their feet all day at work, doesn’t own a car (so they need to walk or take public transportation to work), and has to take care of and clean up after two kids.

It’s not like there’s BMR, exercise, and nothing else. There can be huge differences in BMR and maintenance calories, for example depending on job type, what sort of commute you have, whether you clean your own house or pay someone else to, have a big yard to maintain, etc. There’s also the obvious example of people who have physical hobbies that are not exercises, like playing sports, hunting, photography (outdoors anyway), or even visiting an art gallery or museum.

I haven’t the faintest idea. Do you think the situation would be any more or less dangerous if you were to restrict only 500 calories and burn the other 500 calories by exercising? Your caloric expenditure would rise to 3000 calories, (2500+500 of exercise) while you would only be eating 2000 calories (2500-500). 3000-2000=1000. The same deficit, accomplished differently.

You could even do it without eating less, if you love exercising. Your caloric expenditure would rise to 3500 calories (2500+1000 of exercise) while you would still be eating 2500 calories. 3500-2500=1000. The same deficit again.


That’s 2lbs per week, which is often the recommended weight loss rate. (I’d rather go 3lbs/week, the maximum safe rate, but first things first.)

Right, which I would argue is most people who want and need to lose weight.

Those people all have a high activity level so they don’t necessarily need “exercise” because they are often getting it during their day-to-day routine. I’m not seeing your point here really…

See, you’re basically just equivocating. “Here’s this thing that’s exactly like exercise but it has a different name so it doesn’t count.”

Specifically what we’re talking about with @MentalNomad is a person not doing much physical activity and using calorie restriction to lose weight. Remember he even specifically chose examples where he wasn’t walking his dog or anything.

Yes, if your lifestyle is active enough you don’t need to exercise… because you’re already active. It already IS basically exercise.

I mean, look… if I go for a walk around the block it’s exercise right? But if I walk the same distance to the bus stop it isn’t?

That’s why I was asking @MentalNomad. :smile:

And yes, I absolutely think it would be less dangerous. Everything I’ve ready and seen shows that eating under a certain number of calories (1,600 for men) causes muscle loss and other problems. Dieting itself causes muscle loss unless you also exercise in which case your body tries to maintain the muscle and burns the fat instead.

That is exactly what I’m arguing in favor of. I think I even posted those exact numbers for myself earlier, and that is in fact exactly what I’m trying to do with Soylent. (And it’s been working.)