23 votes

You're not losing fat because you're eating too much — even when you don't think you are

36 comments

  1. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Greg
      Link Parent
      This is a great example of how individual and subjective nutrition can be, because I absolutely continued gaining weight on fresh, "healthy" foods prepared from scratch. Not obese, sure, but still...

      And try as I might, I simply am not able to overeat on real food - no one gets obese by eating too many apples or chicken thighs.

      This is a great example of how individual and subjective nutrition can be, because I absolutely continued gaining weight on fresh, "healthy" foods prepared from scratch. Not obese, sure, but still heading in the wrong direction from a solid 10+kg extra starting point!

      Before I spent time tracking calories, which in turn gave me the intuitive understanding of my diet that the article is talking about, I'd be cooking giant, delicious portions of fresh, unprocessed meats and carbs and veggies, eating second helpings, and assuming I was in the clear because eating real food and listening to your body was supposed to be enough. Turns out my body wants to gleefully overeat in terms of pure quantity when given the slightest opportunity, and that just getting a fattier cut of meat, skewing a little too far towards the calorie-dense carbohydrates, or adding a bit of butter or sugar for flavour is enough to turn a deficit into a surplus even before really considering portion sizes.

      Even "equivalent" foods aren't equal at all! It blew my mind when I found out just how much more volume of rice you can eat compared to bread for the same calorie count.

      So yeah, I switched from an objectively poor diet to an ostensibly healthy one and I was comfortably eating a few hundred calories extra pretty much every day until I started tracking ingredients and realised pretty rapidly that portion sizes needed to go way down and simple substitutes (rice based lunch rather than sandwich, chicken breast instead of thigh, etc.) could make or break a meal.

      10 votes
  2. [5]
    skybrian
    Link
    I’ve been tracking my weight for years and found that the best way to lose weight is to get sick for some reason and lose your appetite. (Not that I recommend it.)

    I’ve been tracking my weight for years and found that the best way to lose weight is to get sick for some reason and lose your appetite. (Not that I recommend it.)

    8 votes
    1. rosco
      Link Parent
      I'd say the healthy version of this is backpacking. If you spend 2 weeks in the backcountry doing covering at least 10 miles a day with 2000-2500 calorie rations per day you're at a deficit of...

      I'd say the healthy version of this is backpacking. If you spend 2 weeks in the backcountry doing covering at least 10 miles a day with 2000-2500 calorie rations per day you're at a deficit of 1000-1500 calories a day. 3500 is a pound so you drop weight pretty quickly.

      5 votes
    2. elcuello
      Link Parent
      This is how I work too just mentally and not physically sick. It's a weird "benefit" that's hard to come to terms with because sure it's nice but at what cost...

      This is how I work too just mentally and not physically sick. It's a weird "benefit" that's hard to come to terms with because sure it's nice but at what cost...

      4 votes
    3. hhh
      Link Parent
      you can also use research chemical amphetamines would not recommend at all though

      get sick for some reason and lose your appetite

      you can also use research chemical amphetamines would not recommend at all though

      3 votes
    4. hook
      Link Parent
      Stomach flu, preferably.

      Stomach flu, preferably.

  3. [20]
    NaraVara
    (edited )
    Link
    The article isn't wrong but it's also just bad as advice for losing weight. Honestly calorie tracking and portion control can only help run you through a crash diet, but eventually peoples' will...

    The article isn't wrong but it's also just bad as advice for losing weight.

    Honestly calorie tracking and portion control can only help run you through a crash diet, but eventually peoples' will power wanes and they cannot maintain it. If the lifestyle choices that lead to losing or maintaining a lower weight are only ever framed as privation, people will ultimately stop. They briefly mention the obesogenic environment, but then skip straight back to pinning the weight gain on the person as a matter of personal will power. But, in fact, the only sustainable way to keep weight off is to undo the environmental factors that are obesogenic. This means not just not stocking the fridge with the addicting foods, but integrating more movement and calorie consumption into daily routines and conditioning yourself to enjoy parts of a healthier diet.

    This is where that last part comes in where they start bashing salads with olive oil or dressing. If you tell people that, to lose weight, they have to eat flavorless rabbit fodder nobody is going to be able to maintain that. He actually provides more encouragement for eating donuts and calorie dense snacks as part of a managed, nutritive diet than for salads with fatty dressings in them. Tasty salads, calorie dense though they may be, are actually a good way for people to train themselves to like eating healthy foods because they're less likely to have been engineered to hit that bliss point. It would have been a lot more productive to say "eat the salads with awareness as to calorie counts but throw the donuts out" than to give people an out for junk food but implicitly discourage foods with "halo" effects to them.

    7 votes
    1. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      I think you're right - but calorie counting worked for me as an entrance into a healthier lifestyle. I lost 60 lbs through caloric restriction and walking a few miles per day (240 lbs to 180 lbs...

      I think you're right - but calorie counting worked for me as an entrance into a healthier lifestyle. I lost 60 lbs through caloric restriction and walking a few miles per day (240 lbs to 180 lbs as a 6'1" man). Then I slowly transitioned to a more stable diet and eventually incorporated intense cardio into my daily life. Biking is the highlight of many of my days.

      I don't think calorie counting will hold up long term. But it's a tool in the tool box.

      9 votes
    2. MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      Yeah. The long term shift in the eating environment is the only truly durable solution. You've gotta find a whole new set of meals to make, and incorporate them into your habits thoroughly enough...

      Yeah. The long term shift in the eating environment is the only truly durable solution. You've gotta find a whole new set of meals to make, and incorporate them into your habits thoroughly enough that even when you're exhausted your habit is to make the thing that's on diet instead of ordering a pizza. But that's really hard and time consuming, and once you've done it you need to maintain it for the rest of your life in the face of greater convenience and tastiness all around you. I'm not surprised that basically no one can do it. I was able to do it during the pandemic, but being around friends more either means restaurants or potlucks, and either way the food challenges are real.

      5 votes
    3. [16]
      lou
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Willpower is overrated, especially for those with bad eating habits and eating disorders. Some people spend decades failing to manage their weight, and that comes with a huge physical, emotional,...

      Willpower is overrated, especially for those with bad eating habits and eating disorders. Some people spend decades failing to manage their weight, and that comes with a huge physical, emotional, and existential tow. Failing so many times is not easy on mental health. Maybe your motivation needs a push.

      I have this weird idea that many people would benefit from medications that either reduce the appetite or mitigate the anxiety that is usually at the root of over-eating. I take one, but to me the appetite reduction is a welcome side effect. No, I'm not talking about overprescription, or problematic meds that fuck you up more than they help, but some substances can be quite safe, as long as you're being treated by a physician.

      5 votes
      1. [15]
        stu2b50
        Link Parent
        I honestly think this is underexplored only because of taboos that I have a hard time putting a finger on, but definitely exist. Humans have all kinds of casual augmentations to help us deal with...

        I have this weird idea that many people would benefit from medications that reduce the appetite.

        I honestly think this is underexplored only because of taboos that I have a hard time putting a finger on, but definitely exist. Humans have all kinds of casual augmentations to help us deal with the built environment - we wear shoes, compared to our distant ancestors - we wear glasses, due to higher levels of myopia with books and screens - we drink caffeine to deal with strict social requirements for timeliness.

        Why not augment the stomach and brain to better deal with the excess of calories that humans in the developed world find themselves in? There's no doubting that our reward pathways are horribly outdated for a world where you can practically gorge yourself with infinite calories if you so wished.

        3 votes
        1. [14]
          hungariantoast
          Link Parent
          Not directly related, but I feel similarly about vasectomies. Modern "no scalpel" and "nonsurgical" techniques make the vasectomy an "extremely reversible" procedure, and even in the event that...

          Not directly related, but I feel similarly about vasectomies. Modern "no scalpel" and "nonsurgical" techniques make the vasectomy an "extremely reversible" procedure, and even in the event that reversal fails, sperm can still be aspirated for in-vitro. Taking into account the generally older ages of men getting reversals, vasectomies do not appreciably reduce sperm count or the likelihood of fertilization.

          But everywhere you read, and most doctors you talk to, will tell you that getting a vasectomy should be treated as a permanent decision, because historically reversal success was less than 95% and, at least in the United States, very few insurance providers will cover the reversal procedure.

          Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a doctor who is up-to-date on the realities of the procedure. So for me that means a vasectomy isn't permanent, because my chances of successfully getting it reversed are extremely high, and my ability to impregnate someone post-reversal or via aspiration isn't going to decrease because of the procedure.

          Now if only aspiration and in-vitro, or the reversal procedure, weren't prohibitively expensive, then a vasectomy could become an extremely reliable and common form of birth control that more people with penises should consider.

          (Of course, if you can't afford the reversal procedure, or aspiration and in-vitro, then you probably can't afford a kid, but whatever)

          3 votes
          1. [13]
            lou
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            We must find more elegant ways to specify that without direct mentions of genitalia. Even more so because not everyone with a penis was born wirh a penis, so there's a need to differentiate in the...

            people with penises

            We must find more elegant ways to specify that without direct mentions of genitalia. Even more so because not everyone with a penis was born wirh a penis, so there's a need to differentiate in the medical context. Would the expression "cis-men" suffice?

            3 votes
            1. [7]
              hungariantoast
              Link Parent
              Ah yeah my bad, I should have wrote "people with testicles" because that's actually who/what the procedure is for, not penises. Sorry for the cock up, but thanks for having the balls to say something.

              Ah yeah my bad, I should have wrote "people with testicles" because that's actually who/what the procedure is for, not penises.

              Sorry for the cock up, but thanks for having the balls to say something.

              7 votes
              1. [5]
                lou
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Is that sarcasm? I really can't tell :/

                Is that sarcasm? I really can't tell :/

                2 votes
                1. [4]
                  hungariantoast
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  Half sarcasm. The procedure actually is for the testicles, not the penis. So if you have a penis but no testicles, you probably cannot get, and probably do not need, a vasectomy. There are also,...

                  Half sarcasm. The procedure actually is for the testicles, not the penis. So if you have a penis but no testicles, you probably cannot get, and probably do not need, a vasectomy.

                  There are also, probably, some intersex people who have testicles but no penis, and could theoretically get a vasectomy—the severing of the vas deferens—for whatever reason.

                  The "Sorry for the cock up..." part of my comment was 100% sarcasm though because, to be frank, I don't respect your prudeness towards "direct mentions of genitalia". Maybe it's a cultural difference between us, but where I live, being prude about genitals is reserved for boomers and christian fundamentalists. It is an attitude that only serves to keep people, especially women, ignorant and awkward about their anatomy in a patriarchal society.

                  This is important to me because, as an example: I don't want my girlfriend to feel awkward about something as simple as leaving a box of tampons at my apartment, in case she needs them while she is over. I want her to be comfortable talking to me about cramps or bleeding and not feel like it's something she has to tiptoe around on top of physical pain.

                  Being able to talk about genitals openly, and without reservation, is excellent for sex positivity and bodily autonomy, and almost certainly helps to avoid stress and anxiety in certain interactions. "Aesthetics", "decorum", and "elegance" are all infinitely less important concerns than a person's physical and mental wellbeing.

                  Thanks for coming to my TED talk.


                  Just to be clear, when I say I "don't respect your prudeness", I mean that I can understand and even empathize with why you may feel that way, but I disagree with you, and won't compromise on that.

                  1 vote
                  1. [3]
                    lou
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    100% not a prude, but there are many expressions which I find aesthetically unpleasant. It's not that I think they're wrong, I just don't like saying them unless there is no suitable alternative....

                    100% not a prude, but there are many expressions which I find aesthetically unpleasant. It's not that I think they're wrong, I just don't like saying them unless there is no suitable alternative. It's like a food I don't like -- it doesn't offend me morally, I'd just rather not eat it.

                    EDIT: you also seem to be answering to a lot of things I didn't really say or believe in 🤷. Please refrain from mind reading.

                    1 vote
                    1. [2]
                      hungariantoast
                      Link Parent
                      Let's just say we disagree on what prudeness is. And as for mind reading, sorry if that's how my comment read. I was just trying to explain why I don't respect prudeness towards talking about...

                      Let's just say we disagree on what prudeness is.

                      And as for mind reading, sorry if that's how my comment read. I was just trying to explain why I don't respect prudeness towards talking about genitalia. I don't think you're one of the "boomers and christian fundamentalists" I mentioned.

                      1 vote
              2. mtset
                Link Parent
                I'm sorry, this is noise, but this was far funnier to me than it had any right to be.

                I'm sorry, this is noise, but this was far funnier to me than it had any right to be.

                3 votes
            2. [5]
              mtset
              Link Parent
              Why? We're literally discussing an operation that occurs because of and on the genitals. I don't think it makes the conversation much less decorus to mention the genitals in question. That said,...

              Why? We're literally discussing an operation that occurs because of and on the genitals. I don't think it makes the conversation much less decorus to mention the genitals in question.

              That said, "people assigned male at birth"/"AMAB people" might be better if you must avoid the word penis, since it's not only men who might desire a vasectomy.

              6 votes
              1. [4]
                lou
                Link Parent
                I will gladly silence my opinion and accept whatever linguistic form is adopted by those who are being described. Personally, I'd rather avoid mentions of genitalia in regular conversation, but...

                I will gladly silence my opinion and accept whatever linguistic form is adopted by those who are being described. Personally, I'd rather avoid mentions of genitalia in regular conversation, but that is mostly an aesthetical preference. I imagine, however, that I'm not the only one.

                2 votes
                1. Whom
                  Link Parent
                  I'd think that language would come with the territory when talking about vasectomies. That said, I'd personally use "AMAB" for this purpose.

                  I'd think that language would come with the territory when talking about vasectomies. That said, I'd personally use "AMAB" for this purpose.

                  5 votes
                2. [2]
                  mtset
                  Link Parent
                  No need to silence yourself, it's an active and developing area of language. I agree with @Whom that AMAB - assigned male at birth - is the current consensus as far as I know.

                  No need to silence yourself, it's an active and developing area of language. I agree with @Whom that AMAB - assigned male at birth - is the current consensus as far as I know.

                  3 votes
                  1. lou
                    Link Parent
                    I respectfully disagree. There's only so much an outsider can say before triggering unproductive exchanges. I appreciate your generous response, however.

                    No need to silence yourself

                    I respectfully disagree. There's only so much an outsider can say before triggering unproductive exchanges. I appreciate your generous response, however.

                    2 votes
    4. rosco
      Link Parent
      I think you hit the nail on the head, learned behaviors and preferences are really hard to change. There is also really interesting research around your gut bacteria and how it drives your...

      I think you hit the nail on the head, learned behaviors and preferences are really hard to change. There is also really interesting research around your gut bacteria and how it drives your cravings. If the dominant gut flora thrive in high fat environments, you'll crave those sorts of foods. Changing gut flora is a long process and replacing microbes that depend on saturated fats to those that respond to high fiber starches or complex proteins takes a long time. It won't be a self propelling change until that tipping point has been reached. Like you said, most people will crash out before the transition has been made.

      One thing that might be more permanent from calorie tracking is just the understanding of how many calories are various foods. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn there are 120 calories in a tablespoon of olive oil or that a mountain of carrots or cabbage would only be 2-300 calories. It sounds silly, but prior to understanding calories I always thought about them in terms of physical space. A plateful is a plateful. I completely agree that counting calories is not a long term fix, but in my case I feel like it gave me a better idea of what I was eating.

      I think a more fun way to introduce it is through backpacking. You want to make every calorie count so fatty and calorie dense foods are encouraged instead of it being a shameful thing. It lets you see how a handful of something like peanuts or chocolate can hold the same calorie load as a full lunch! Now when I snack at home sometimes I'll find myself thinking, "hold on, I'm eating like I'm in the backcountry and I haven't left the house all day maybe it's time to cool it on the snacking."

      3 votes
  4. [3]
    TonyLozano
    Link
    I knew everything in this article before I read it. I am still extremely over weight. This article gave no advice on how to actually lose weight other than "eat less". The deck is completely...

    I knew everything in this article before I read it. I am still extremely over weight. This article gave no advice on how to actually lose weight other than "eat less". The deck is completely stacked against us. Every restaurant, every grocery store, every fast food, and every source of stress, is constantly pushing us and tricking us to eat more. I know what the problems are, but feel powerless in the face of it to actually do anything.

    This article is the equivalent of a politician talking about all the problems while failing to provide any tangible plan for a solution. Its good information, I give it that, but how does society take this information and put it into action to increase health? That's the hard part. That's the risky part.

    6 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      In March 2020 my job went remote, so I no longer had a commute. I stopped eating fast food entirely in part because I was afraid of COVID but also because I no longer had the opportunity to get it...

      In March 2020 my job went remote, so I no longer had a commute. I stopped eating fast food entirely in part because I was afraid of COVID but also because I no longer had the opportunity to get it on my way to/from work.

      In August 2020, I returned to work for the first time. After the first day of work, as I passed by a fast food place in my car on the way home, I felt like I'd been momentarily possessed, as my arms nearly turned the car into its drive thru involuntarily. I genuinely had to fight the urge within myself. The pull I felt wasn't because I was hungry -- it was because the food was something satisfying and I'd had the shittiest day I'd had in a long time.

      To this day, years later, I still fight that pull regularly. Some days the pull is completely absent, whereas others it feels like a tide that I'm powerless to swim against. Sometimes I win my battle, but more often than I care to admit, I lose.

      Even though I'm fully aware that (1) getting a fast food is a coping mechanism for me, (2) the food isn't actually that good, and (3) I genuinely feel better in my own body when I eat better; I still, more often than I care to admit, (a) find my car in a drive thru as if driven by someone else, (b) ordering garbage food against my better judgement, (c) with full awareness that I am doing so.

      It's surreal.

      7 votes
    2. Greg
      Link Parent
      I see articles like this as necessary but not (always) sufficient. I mentioned above that I kept putting on weight after switching from a clearly shitty diet to a "healthy" one that still came...

      I see articles like this as necessary but not (always) sufficient. I mentioned above that I kept putting on weight after switching from a clearly shitty diet to a "healthy" one that still came with a calorie surplus, and without overviews covering the basics as well as more in-depth studies on things like the increased satiation from protein compared to an equivalent caloric quantity of carbohydrates, I would have continued to gain weight rather than rapidly and effectively losing it over a two year period. There's so much misinformation, both malicious (fuck the food pyramid, for a start) and accidental, and the topic is so complex and poorly understood that just getting a basic understanding of how to eat is an important and surprisingly difficult achievement - without which you're almost guaranteed to be overweight.

      On the other hand, that was a good while ago and I'm now close to my heaviest once again. In the past, I didn't have the knowledge so I had no reasonable chance of maintaining a healthy weight. Now I know plenty, I've proven that it works for me, and I'm basically just ignoring it for a whole host of primarily psychological reasons. But at least I know what I'm ignoring and where my goals lie, rather than thinking I'm doing everything right. That alone, to me, is a good argument for articles like this.

      4 votes
  5. EgoEimi
    Link
    I have a diet called "eat 25% of less what you usually eat in a meal and then eat a nice big apple." 😛 And it works well and easily.

    I have a diet called "eat 25% of less what you usually eat in a meal and then eat a nice big apple." 😛 And it works well and easily.

    3 votes
  6. NoblePath
    Link
    Personal anecdote (the singular of data ;) I went to a nutritionist who helped me quantify diet and exercise. She said Inwasn’t eating enough-especially protein. I started eating more yogurt and...

    Personal anecdote (the singular of data ;)

    I went to a nutritionist who helped me quantify diet and exercise. She said Inwasn’t eating enough-especially protein. I started eating more yogurt and made few other changes. I didn’t track weight, but I def lost a couple inches around the middle. She claimed I was in starvation mode. There’s something to it, at least for me.

    2 votes
  7. [5]
    Eric_the_Cerise
    (edited )
    Link
    It's a fun read, and he makes a lot of good points. I found one or two items that I'm guilty of, in his list of mistakes people make. Nonetheless, I have successfully (that is, unintentionally)...

    It's a fun read, and he makes a lot of good points. I found one or two items that I'm guilty of, in his list of mistakes people make.

    Nonetheless, I have successfully (that is, unintentionally) gained weight while fasting ... eating nothing at all, and drinking only water, tea & coffee -- yes, with cream, but calorie-counting nothing at all but cream is kindergarten-stuff, and I know that I have occasionally gained weight (relatively short-term, about a week) on <500 calories/day. Not a lot of weight ... but enough to absolutely 100% kill my diet-and-exercise motivation for months after that.

    ETA: I've also been tracking my weight, for over a decade. I don't care what this guy, or science, or calorie-physics says. I am dead-certain that our bodies (metabolisms?) learn to adapt to whatever diet we adopt, and after a few weeks, compensate (at least somewhat) for what should be a calorie deficit.

    I have been doing medium- to long-term fasting for my entire adult life, nearly 40 years. I used to lose weight while fasting. Most times, I still do now ... but really, significantly less than when I was younger. 20 years ago, I would routinely lose 10-15 lbs on a week-long fast (and yes, much of that is water loss; I'd gain half of it back within 4 days of breaking the fast) ... nowadays, I typically lose 2-5 lbs on a week fast (and still gain half of it back after).

    Until nutrition science figures out how to explain that, I am confident that there are metabolic "things" happening which They still don't know about.

    1 vote
    1. FluffyKittens
      Link Parent
      Gaining scale weight at a calorie deficit is fully possible, net gain of adipose tissue is not. Weigh yourself, chug a bottle of water, and weigh yourself again - behold, zero calorie weight gain....

      Gaining scale weight at a calorie deficit is fully possible, net gain of adipose tissue is not. Weigh yourself, chug a bottle of water, and weigh yourself again - behold, zero calorie weight gain.

      The “rebound” weight gain you mention after fasting is 100% normal too. It’s caused by replenishment of glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, and the water weight associated with the glycogen.

      Bodies do very much adapt to calorie deficits - subconsciously becoming physically less active while dieting, especially while dieting hard is totally a thing. This is stuff “They” all know about; you’re not a magical breatharian.

      9 votes
    2. [3]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      One thing I got from tracking weight all the time is a sense of what’s normal variation and a better understanding of possible sources of error. I’d suspect changes in water retention? And the...

      One thing I got from tracking weight all the time is a sense of what’s normal variation and a better understanding of possible sources of error. I’d suspect changes in water retention? And the electronic scale I use is a little flaky; I’ll weigh myself twice and get slightly different numbers, maybe having to do with auto-zeroing or how I stand on it. I will make sure I get the same number twice in a row if it seems off.

      5 votes
      1. DrStone
        Link Parent
        For many bodyweight scales, the problem is the opposite. They're designed to store and display the same weight as the previous measurement if it's "close enough" (sometimes by a very wide margin)...

        And the electronic scale I use is a little flaky; I’ll weigh myself twice and get slightly different numbers, maybe having to do with auto-zeroing or how I stand on it. I will make sure I get the same number twice in a row if it seems off.

        For many bodyweight scales, the problem is the opposite. They're designed to store and display the same weight as the previous measurement if it's "close enough" (sometimes by a very wide margin) as a way to compensate for their poor instrument quality and human factors (errors, bad stance, etc). Some even remember multiple weights so their trick can still work if multiple people in a household use it.

        5 votes
      2. Eric_the_Cerise
        Link Parent
        Yeah, there are many short-term variations that, mainly, all boil down to water-retention. I typically weigh myself at the same time, same circumstances (early morning, right after shower, before...

        Yeah, there are many short-term variations that, mainly, all boil down to water-retention.

        I typically weigh myself at the same time, same circumstances (early morning, right after shower, before eating/drinking anything) ... I also don't even pay attention to my daily weight, but maintain a running 10-day-average, and that's mainly what I look at.

        4 votes