5 Common Weight-Loss Hacks That Can Backfire

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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5 Common Weight-Loss Hacks That Can Backfire

You don’t have to look too far to see the latest diet gimmicks promising quick and easy weight loss. To set things straight, we’ve debunked some of the most popular weight-loss hacks that frequently backfire.

1. EATING A LOW-CARB DIET

Cutting carbs can be a quick weight-loss strategy for some because it eliminates many highly processed or sugary foods, snacks and drinks from the diet. However, most people don’t know that much of the initial weight loss is simply water weight, since carbohydrates cause the muscle to retain water. Maintaining a very low-carb diet is difficult and not sustainable for most, which is why that weight returns so quickly once carbohydrate consumption resumes.

2. THE CHEAT DAY

Following strict diet rules all week long can be exhausting and boring. Such a stringent regimen can make you feel like you need a “cheat” meal or a day to reward yourself for your “good” dieting efforts. This way of thinking backfires because it often leads to binging and consuming too many calories, which may undo all of the progress you made during the week. Instead of rewarding your healthy diet efforts with food, treat yourself to new workout gear or another nonfood reward that keeps you motivated and on the straight and narrow. Take away food guilt by allowing yourself to have indulgent foods during the week, but keep portions in check so you don’t go overboard.


READ MORE: CLEANSES, WHOLE30 & MORE — DEBUNKING THE TRENDS


3. EATING “CLEAN” (ALL OF THE TIME)

Swearing off sweets and junk food, eliminating processed foods and getting back to the basics with nutrition all sound like a great game plan — and it’s what many aspire to do; however, eating this way 100% of the time just isn’t realistic for the long haul. Instead of setting unachievable eating expectations, consider following a moderation approach to wellness: Eat more whole, minimally processed foods 80% of the time, and keep your diet more flexible 20% of the time.

4. EATING SIX MEALS A DAY

Even if you’re eating healthy foods, too much of a good thing can still undermine your efforts. All calories count, which is why overconsuming healthy foods will still lead to weight gain. While eating frequently throughout the day is helpful in maintaining an active metabolism and regulating your appetite, it’s still important to keep tabs on portions so that you don’t end up blowing your calorie budget.

5. CUTTING TOO MANY CALORIES

While science tells us calories in need to be less than calories out, losing weight and keeping it off are more than a mathematical equation. They’re also an art of figuring out what works best for you. It may seem that the more calories you cut out or burn, the faster you’ll lose weight, but the body is smart and wises up quickly to what you’re doing by reducing your metabolism. As you lose weight and as your exercise routine changes, your calories need to be adjusted slowly and strategically for sustained weight loss.

About the Author

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN

Kristina is a board certified sports dietitian located in Orlando, Florida where she specializes in intuitive and mindful eating. She is the author of the food and nutrition blog, Love & Zest where she shares {mostly} healthy recipes with simple ingredients that are meant for real life. As a new mom, she knows that eating well and living an active lifestyle isn’t always easy… but it’s always worth it!! Kristina loves spending time outdoors with her family, sweaty workouts, and a good cup of coffee. Get in touch with her for one-on-one nutrition coaching (virtually or in person), or connect with her on PinterestInstagramFacebook  and YouTube.

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118 responses to “5 Common Weight-Loss Hacks That Can Backfire”

  1. Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

    Ugh. Of course a dietician wrote this: “Maintaining a very low-carb diet is difficult and not sustainable for most, which is why that weight returns so quickly once carbohydrate consumption resumes.” That is because a ketogenic WOE is just that – a Way Of Eating; NOT a temporary “diet”. Carbohydrate consumption would not, should not, resume. It is in fact quite easy, satiating, and far healthier than the S.A.D. woe (it will be three years for me next month, and I’ve never thoroughly enjoyed my food nearly as much in 56 years!). Do a little research before misinforming your readers.

    • Avatar Leah Lauren says:

      She is saying it is difficult for most, any large change in behavior and specifically radical diet changes, are hard for most. That is 100% accurate. I implore you to look up success rate of adhering to low carbohydrate ways of eating. I think you’ll find the research support that it is indeed difficult for many to maintain. Are you familiar with what a dietitian actually is?

      • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

        I couldn’t disagree more. If you have any 100% accurate research on success rates (or lack of) of adherence to low carb eating, please share. I can say that there are tens of thousands of members on reddit and facebook that follow varying methods of keto/lchf woe with very much success. There are many recipe groups, exercise groups, etc., with those following this woe for weight loss, diabetes prevention and/or treatment, as well as cancer prevention/treatment (including my 79 year old mother, who suffered her 2nd very rare cancer (adenoid cystic carcinoma of the lacrimal duct) in 2013, for which there is no treatment after surgery and radiation (it responds to no known chemotherapy). HOWEVER, we do know that sugar (whether table sugar, fruit, or whole wheat bread) feeds cancer (think of how a PET Scan works). And my Mom inadvertently lost 60+ lbs, and is no longer pre-diabetic, no longer suffers knee and shoulder pain from carrying the excess weight, and has more energy at 79 than she did at 39. (Apparently my first reply to Leah, with links with numbers of successful folks who follow a ketogenic woe was deleted. This is a repost without the links. If you would like those numbers, please feel free to send a pm.)

        • Avatar A. L says:

          Agree as well. I have to follow a food plan geared for a diabetic (thanks to PCOS). Carbs and sugars don’t break down for me as the average person, whom does not suffer from insulin resistance issues. I’ve maintained a 55lb weight loss in less than a year. I am still losing and it’s not hard, it’s a life change.

        • Avatar Lisa Stetler Insana says:

          I absolutely agree. It is false that low carb/keto is not sustainable. The key is eating a variety of foods and collecting low carb recipes so it doesn’t get boring. In truth, low carb/keto is no harder to stick to than any other eating plan.

      • Avatar Dave says:

        I would say it is no more difficult than attempting a zone-type 40-30-30 carb-prot-fat diet and seeing the losses subside after about a month or two.

        • Avatar MI48917 says:

          Bariatric pts focus on 120 grams protein a day so I think they go towards keto way of eating and research isn’t clear of long term benefits of that surgery due to diet they have to follow. Works but maybe down road you pay with a very early death due to malabsorption of nutrition and lack of carbs and fiber of healthy whole food groups higher rates of cancer and heart issues due to all that meat and fats nothing with it no balance of fiber carbs not good.

          • Avatar Dave says:

            Two things:

            Not all bariatric surgeries are severely malabsorptive (sleeve gastrectomy, for example)

            Early death according to what? They probably would have at least died that early if they hadn’t taken the weight off. The stress on their bodies when the weight was on is also a factor that cannot be overlooked. (Arteriosclerosis and Nephrosclerosis don’t reverse)

      • Avatar John Boyd Richards III says:

        Leah, What diet isn’t hard to maintain? I agree with Marina, nothing like not going hungry and losing weight.

        • Avatar MI48917 says:

          When I eat less carbs 15 to 30 grams for 3 meals and a snack but focus on protein it’s the protein that helps curb hunger your not hungry if you go for protein cause it doesn’t raise glucose levels in blood.

      • Avatar MI48917 says:

        Dieticians can take you as far as all natural foods. But you have to be very creative to get those good whole foods and make healthier sweets deserts just portion control. Whole foods market on there site has alot of great healthy recipes. Carbs are essential it’s like the gas for our car can’t run far without it. Long term years down the line if your not eating well balanced your health in 10 20 years will show it. Slow balanced portion control is key to lose maintaining health and loss. Throwing your kidneys into high gear isn’t smart. Ketogenics may work fast at losing but at a high price. You want to slim down and die a early death your choice. Fast loss isn’t pretty either. Slow loss looks vibrant and healthy on people.

        • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

          Competently incorrect information. Your body and your brain function far more efficiently on ketones than on glucose. And it’s a very sustainable and enjoyable way of eating. Both for healthy weight loss, and the myriad other health benefits. Please do your research.

    • Avatar P Barre says:

      But I can deduce that cutting carbs has made you a judgemental, I dare say, vitriolic person. I second Leah’s comments. Well put, Leah.

      • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

        Judgmental? Vitriolic, really? No. Actually what I am is very disappointed that an educated professional is putting forth an opinion as (incorrect) fact. I’m saddened that so many are mislead so often and suffer the nutritional, health and medical consequences of misinformation. Feel free to research keto yourself. The groups/pages I posted above are great places to start – especially the r/keto subreddit’s FAQ’s. Youtube also has great videos by a number of medical professionals. I wish you good health.

        • Avatar P Barre says:

          I prefer Mayo Clinic or pubmed to “Reddit” or Facebook for evidence – pros and cons – of following a kerogenic diet. I encourage you to explore both sites, where prospective data has been published, the ketogenic diet does not appear to yield great benefit. A 2014 review of diets found that after a year, the difference between a ketogenic diet and a normal protein diet was only around 1 lb (roughly 0.4 kg).

          The American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology, and the Obesity Society have concluded that there is not enough evidence to suggest that low-carbohydrate diets such as the ketogenic diet provide benefits healthful to the heart. I also wish you good health and knowledgeable discourse on this subject.

          • Avatar P Barre says:

            Obesity: dietary and lifestyle management.
            Vesely JM, et al. FP Essent. 2014.
            Authors
            Vesely JM1, DeMattia LG2.
            Author information
            1Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery Center, 3931 Louisiana Ave. S., St. Louis Park, MN 55426, jennifer.vesely@parknicollet.com.
            2Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery Center, 3931 Louisiana Ave. S., St. Louis Park, MN 55426, laure.dematia@parknicollet.com.
            Citation
            FP Essent. 2014 Oct;425:11-5.
            Abstrac

          • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

            Dietary & lifestyle management as per bariatric surgeons?? No further comments. I’ve wasted enough effort here. Carry on. Goodnight.

          • Avatar Elana says:

            I 3rd the motion as to what has been said. I am an RN, and I have completed a research paper on this topic, which I received an A on and hopefully be published soon. It shows how these diets are actually dangerous for one’s health, based on numerous research, and how it increases ketones that damage the kidneys in the long run. And definitely not sustainable for most people.

          • Avatar David Wellman says:

            Elana: I’ve told most people who listen: want to know nutrition? Talk to an RN not an MD. 😀 Thanks! I look forward to reading your paper.

          • Avatar Dave says:

            Do you have any data on rates of patient hospitalization for these kidney problems associated with ketogenic diets?

            The levels of ketosis are lower than “diabetic danger” levels, which many people in this cohort are headed towards without some kind of lifestyle change (that doesn’t even discuss the nephrosclerosis associated with hyperglycemia in these individuals).

          • Avatar Dave says:

            They are suggesting an approach that goes against their potential cash cow in terms of getting more surgery patients. How exactly does that make you skeptical?

          • Avatar David Wellman says:

            P Barre:
            Yes. Exactly. In fact the studies I surveyed show the delta between “low carb” and “low fat” is virtually non-existent 12 months out (darned if I can remember exactly the study. No link, sorry).

            I and the circle of medical professionals I associate with contend, in a nutshell, that those who pursue “ketogenic” are mortgaging their future cardiovascular health against whatever their current fitness goals are. The whole thing has the air of dogma and it’s adherents a cultish zeal that should give rational minded people pause.

          • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

            Really? Dogma that John’s Hopkins has had a ketogenic center to treat epilepsy for nearly 100 years? That countless endocrinologists advise their Type 2 (and sometimes Type 1) diabetics to follow a LCHF woe? It’s not a “fitness goal” for me. I was already “fit” before beginning keto. I eat this way for the countless other health benefits. Including my cardiovascular health. Happily we don’t share the same circle of “medical professionals”. Oh, and here’s my lipid profile after 3 years (next month) of keto:

            Cholesterol 147 mg/dL
            Chol HDL Ratio 2.3 Ratio
            HDL 64 mg/dL
            LDL 77 mg/dL
            Triglycerides 30 mg/dL

          • Avatar MI48917 says:

            Ok and endos also want T2 to go have bariatric surgery right away is that healthy? I question that. Remember fast results is there goal medically now they want you off diabetic meds insulin is not needed after surgery then basically your starved by force for one year you lose half your weight. So Drs. Have got the focus on health but the other option they see more clearly than the patient is many who didn’t get that done that lost out of sight limbs removed heart attacks strokes and quality of a long very reduced capacity for good life. So it is an option even though it may seem like torture I’m considering surgery. So I get the people on here that choose keto or any other options. The results fast people. Sometimes slow healthy loss goes for first 120 pounds then it won’t work.

          • Avatar John says:

            Do you take a cholesterol pill/statin?

          • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

            No John, never have. In all fairness, my numbers were always pretty good no matter my diet or weight. However, they improved even more on keto (e.g., triglycerides were 70-something on a SAD diet, 30 on keto).

          • Avatar John says:

            That is fantastic. They say about 85% of your lipids is genetics/your body and only 15% is what you eat.

          • Avatar Lisa Stetler Insana says:

            The medical establishment is way too behind the times to take the advice that they give. I’d prefer to look at MY weight loss and every improving blood work numbers.

          • Avatar MI48917 says:

            And in 5 years or less those facts will change always do. Eating foods healthy diets are published by many so called experts documented by research. That didn’t mean it’s a one size fits all solution. Choice or own bodies are all different and we have to try and find that right key. It’s getting all of us healthy that matters here. Not I’m the only one who knows all. Even I think sometimes because my plan worked for me that it’s only way but that’s really not right it’s individual and it might help someone out there so I put my two cents worth on here hoping it does. I’m thankful for fitness pal and all this input from others.

          • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

            The many health/medical benefits of a ketogenic WOE haven’t changed in nearly 100 years (see my previous post re: Johns Hopkins ketogenic center for epilepsy).

      • Avatar MI48917 says:

        Well each person has there own ideas of healthy loss. We all learn something here from others

    • Avatar Marina Rõbalova says:

      I totally agree with you. I reduced my carbs (not because I wanted to join lchf “society”, but because I felt really bad after eating food rich in carbs, like pasta, rice, cereal and other. somehow I ended up with 25-30 carbs per day). I don´t remember when I felt so awesome. My body is changing,I have more energy and I feel myself much happier. Also I refused from sweets and all other junk food almost two years ago. It is extremely easy. Why should I dream about eating white sugar if there is a steak and bacon? 🙂

      • Avatar epickett says:

        Because sugar tastes SO good…

        • Avatar Marina Rõbalova says:

          I am not a fan of sweets and sugar in general. Thus it does not taste SO good in my opinion.

        • Avatar MI48917 says:

          After you ween off you don’t miss it and after a year or two you’ll find its over way too sweet. Besides make sugar free deserts once in awhile with recipes just sub the sugar w boxed sugar free vanilla pudding. You can tweak recipes to be healthier.

      • Avatar MI48917 says:

        Ask your heart doctor in ten years. Cholesterol? Fiber keeps us cleaned out. Your colon and kidneys don’t get cleaned without fiber of whole healthy foods. Greens Apple’s nuts shouldn’t be left out and olive oil avocados healthy fats.

  2. Avatar Lyn Anderson says:

    I’m with you on the “cheat day”. My approach has been to stop thinking of food as entertainment or reward so rewarding myself with a cheat day undermines that. I also don’t want to think of appropriate eating as “drudgery”. I reward myself with trips.

    • Avatar Rina Joy says:

      From what I’ve gathered, “cheat day” is just one meal where you “refeed” to ensure your metabolism doesn’t drop from the calorie deficit you’ve put your body through the entire week? But I do agree with not thinking of junk food as the yummy food you look forward to and healthy food as the food you have to just bear with.

      • Avatar Dave says:

        If you can find the right spot, you shouldn’t have to worry about metabolic drop as much….that’s the whole trick. It seems like fat in the diet does a better job of normalizing metabolism than anything else I’ve seen in my experience with different macro proportion diets.

        Also, cheat day is a bad name for it even on these diets….it normalizes “cheating” into one’s psychology of eating, and it is hyperbole. If you try a regimen with “reward days”, you shouldn’t go crazy…one reward meal with the rest of the day healthy is probably good, with the caveat that the one meal should still be modest compared to your dietary habits before you began changing your eating behavior.

      • Avatar John says:

        Metabolic drop is so over blown and used to over complicate matters and sell “diets” to the public.

    • Avatar Jagan Kumaravelu says:

      When you get onto a way of eating that’s sustainable and yet helps you with weight loss, you won’t need cheat days. And that’s where you need to be. LCHF helps with that. Eat the good fat which keeps you happy and use sugar alcohols (e.g. stevia, erythritol) sparingly for that treat feeling. I have never been to an ice cream/froyo store for a real long time now.

  3. Avatar Heather Hill says:

    I’m sorry Kristina, but I have to agree with Sandra below. This is very outdated, and frankly dangerous advice in the case of diabetics or pre-diabetics like myself. Science is moving on and even Diabetes UK have recently altered their advice to diabetics with regards to low carb diets and sugary foods (a little of what you fancy won’t hurt?) Yes it will! Sugar is in almost 75% of foods on any supermarket shelf and has been the silent killer for years, keeping us addicted to these foods! I implore you and any other doctor or dietician reading this to update yourselves and stop giving out this terrible advice. After struggling with my weight and food addictions for years, I just lost a stone in a month on Dr Michael Mosley’s 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet – backed up by the research of top UK Diabetes professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University. Please read this research and/or this book! Your advice on rapid weightloss is at best flawed. And as for ‘treats here and there’, after just under a fortnight of cutting sugar from my diet I no longer want it. It’s an addictive substance that keeps people hungry. Please, update this advice. Obesity is a dangerous, growing epidemic that needs a drastic change in thinking across the board. Stop churning out this rubbish!

  4. Avatar Percy Ferry says:

    People who don’t understand ketogenic/LCHF lifestyles don’t appreciate how easy it is to eat bacon and cheese when you want. Once your Hypertension normalises, and your kidneys stop leaking proteins and the weight comes off, it feels pretty easy and rewarding.

    Oh yes, I nearly forgot, it reverses Type 2 Diabetes.

    • Avatar P Barre says:

      That is also misinformation. It does have effects on insulin- resistant patients, but there is little (but anecdotal) evidence that it “reverses” diabetes.

      • Avatar Sandra Deady Piesco says:

        Actually what Percy said is correct information. Google Richard Bernstein, MD, FACE, FACN, an 81 yr old Type 1 diabetic, and renowned Endocrinologist, who has followed a LCHF for >40 years, and recommends it to his Type 1 and Type 2 patients. As do countless other endocrinologists today. Feel free to look at diabetes forums to see how many patients have been put on ketogenic “diets” by their own endo’s and HAVE successfully reversed their diabetes, no longer requiring medication to control it.

        • Avatar P Barre says:

          You are confusing insulin resistance (NIDDM) and insulin dependence (IDDM); there is no published literature suggesting ketogenic diets reverse IDDM, certainly for NIDDM as the pancreas still functions but not optimally. I think people are getting the message with every reply you submit; blogs give you part of the information that is accurate.

          • Avatar Lisa Stetler Insana says:

            I have personally seen many people reverse their type 2 diabetes. All medications stopped, blood sugar back to normal.

          • Avatar P Barre says:

            FYI, NIDDM = type 2

          • Avatar P Barre says:

            You’re arguing a point that I am not debating. It’s type 1 that is not reversible

          • Avatar John Boyd Richards III says:

            Not yet!

          • Avatar John Boyd Richards III says:

            Not Yet!

          • Avatar Roseanne McKinley Knowles says:

            I was able to lower my A1c from 6.5 down to 5.5 by loosing 70 pounds and adding some mild exercise on a stationary bike 15-30 minutes 2 times per week,

          • Avatar Tamlew says:

            you are confusing insulin resistance and Insulin dependence. If you burn out your insulin so badly that you blow past insulin resistance into full-blown insulin-dependent you’ve simply progressed on a well-worn path. People don’t start out insulin-dependent with diabetes 2. They start at insulin resistance and progressed to insulin dependent. The solution is to cut carbs and intermittently fast to heal your insulin response.

          • Avatar P Barre says:

            Tamlew: I don’t know what to say to this previous post of yours except quote Alexander Pope: “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.

          • Avatar Percy Ferry says:

            Ditto.

          • Avatar Percy Ferry says:

            No one is suggesting the straw man that you are furiously punching down. Keto can not reverse type one diabetes.

            No one claims that!

            But it can certainly reverse ty poo e 2 by reducing insulin resistance.

          • Avatar Percy Ferry says:

            Also, Diabetes Mellitus is not a disease characterized by insufficient insulin, but, at least upon onset, by TOO MUCH insulin. The pancreas over produces insulin in response to increasing insulin resistance.
            This is how keto helps to reverse type 2, by reducing glucose levels, cells are resensitized to the no-longer ever present insulin response.

          • Avatar Walt Corey says:

            The old thinking was even in type 2 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas were destroyed. New Castle (England) proved definitively that was not the case. The basis of their research was to replicate and reproduce the results achieved from bariatric surgery where diabetic patients became ‘cured’. This, it was found, was a result of losing the accumulated fat in the pancreas and liver.

      • Avatar Dave says:

        I would say when comparing similar weight losses, it is comparable to the “reversal” of type 2 seen in bariatric surgery patients.

      • Avatar Tamlew says:

        Tell that to the thousands of people who have been cured of their diabetes! The only way to heal a damaged insulin response is to cut things that spike insulin, namely carbs. . And food, through intermittent fasting.

        • Avatar P Barre says:

          I don’t think you read my post you’re replying to. You need to do some rudimentary reading on the differences between NIDDM and IDDM. If you did, you wouldn’t have responded to my post the way you have. “Curing” type 1 diabetes has NEVER happened. Normalizing a type 2 diabetic’s blood sugar levels through diet and exercise happens all the time, but to deem this diabetic “cure” is Ktel late night advertising. Read to become better informed. Resume the previous diet and and lack of activity and you have “un-cure”? Nope…

      • Avatar Percy Ferry says:

        It does indeed reverse type 2 diabetes. But it also helps manage type 1.

      • Avatar Walt Corey says:

        Also, review the results obtained in the New Castle England study on exactly this issue, reversing type 2 diabetes. This is a peer reviewed study.

      • Avatar Joyce says:

        Low carb reversed my diabetes. I went from an insulin pump, to shots, to mess to nothing. Glycol A1C 5.3 over 2 years. B5 started it was 13

    • Avatar Dave Martin says:

      I’ve seen a little about this across the web. What would be a good resource to explore more about the Keto diet/ Lifestyle?

      • Avatar Charles Hamilton III says:

        Start with “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living”

        • Avatar Dave Martin says:

          Thanx Charles I’ll check it out. I’ve been trying out some intermittent fasting the last three or four weeks. It’s practiced in Ketobody plan. I feel pretty good and have dropped a considerable amount of belly fat in doing so. I usually follow a fairly loose paleo type plan anyway. I eat very little processed foods or sugars but we all have our weaknesses.

          Just wanted to explore the timing and things of meals and the whole keto philosophy as well as the benefits.

          Thanks for the info.

          • Avatar Charles Hamilton III says:

            Sure thing! Might wanna look at the companion book to that one as well: “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance”

      • Avatar Tamlew says:

        The Obesity Code by Fung… or just check out his YouTube videos. He explains the problem with insulin resistance. . And more importantly, the solution!

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  5. Thanks for the article, this is actually useful for those who want to lose weight but using wrong techniques and unfortunately I am one of those.

  6. Avatar CW says:

    Isn’t number 3 the same as having 4 cheat meals a week (if you eat 3 meals/day)? I think the 80/20 rule needs to go. That’s a lot of a person’s diet to include processed foods and junk. Maybe 90/10 is a better number.

  7. Avatar Amanda says:

    Read the book “Pretty Happy” by Kate Hudson, it makes sense, out diet sound change as our body changes and eat what makes you feel right. Not good at first and shitty after. <3 very inspiring book!

  8. Avatar Tammy says:

    I’ve lost 33 lbs from January 4th til April4th.

  9. Avatar Stina says:

    I am inclined to agree with you, though i would appreciate some studies to back it up.

  10. Avatar Kia Crawford says:

    Ignore fads. Go with your simple math. Calories in vs calories burned. Even eating junk all day would result in weight loss if you are living at a calorie deficit. It wouldn’t be healthy for your overall body but at this point I’m sure you just want to see that scale go down. I’ve been there.

    Once you find your calorie deficit number THEN start to think about what foods you eat. Try to eat “healthy” items but try to make them things you enjoy eating. I refuse to eat kale. It tastes horrid. But I adore broccoli. Don’t eat something just because some article online says to do it.

    Find what you like, make sure it isn’t killing you (example, if it has your ENTIRE DAY of salt in one serving, that’ll kill you), then have it in moderation. Dieting doesn’t have to be complex or controversial. You do you.

    • Avatar Jagan Kumaravelu says:

      2000 calories of foods like fries, high sugar ice cream, etc. and 2000 calories of healthy foods like avacados, nuts, eggs, etc. are not the same at all. In fact, the first one won’t help you lose weight, even if its below your daily calorie goal. The second one will help you lose weight. Calorie in vs. Calorie Out has an if statement that needs to be added to it.

      • Avatar Dave says:

        This…it’s really not the same because of how the body handles calories, paritcularly glucose, during post-prandial, absorptive states. In post-absorptive states, your body burns carbs, fat, and protein. In absorptive states, your body burns/uses what it can of your intake and ends up storing the rest as fat.

        That means the lower the glycemic load and rate of rise, the better chance you have of storing less fat in absorptive states. There are 2 reasons, the low carb diet is a not a no-carb diet:
        1. It’s almost impossible to eat 0 carbs unless you guzzle oil (don’t recommend it)

        2. You need a few carbs to recharge your oxaloacetate during the citric acid cyle. Fat only burning will deplete oxaloacetate and derail aerobic metabolism. While that would be a good thing for burning more calories, people are simply too complex an organism to live on anaerobic metabolism only. Thus, the body chooses to break down lean tissues (can use body protein to make glucose) in order to keep you alive in these states. (there’s also the fact that a few body cells like brain cells and red blood cells use glucose as fuel almost exclusively)

        The trick is finding the sweet spot with some ketosis (evidence that the TCA cycle is breaking down) but also enough carbs to spare lean tissues. If you want to argue what is considered enough, that’s another debate and is not as well-established as say minimum protein needs.

  11. Avatar Jagan Kumaravelu says:

    When you say low carb, what are your zone definitions? I have been on a LCHF lifestyle (I don’t call it ‘diet’ anymore as diet is a negative word for me) for the past 3+ months and I have never felt so awesome anytime in my life! And its very easily sustainable and in fact can you believe it, for even vegetarians. I keep my carbs (net carbs; does not include fiber and sugar alcohols) to below 90g a day and the rest is all made up of fat and protein. I don’t need to further go down to ketogenic zone as I am happy with the steady rate of weight loss that I’m seeing. This works big time!

  12. Avatar Dave says:

    Actually, it is true because of how your metabolism is regulated by autonomic tone; this suppression of metabolism can occur with as little as 20% restriction (and at even greater clips at 40% restriction).

    The trick to weight loss seems to a be finding a very difficult niche. Your statement about tissue loss is true, but the data are against your claim that the first statement is false (and your statement and their statement are not mutually exclusive). Read about the “defense of body weight” from a top researcher like Michael Schwartz or Stephen Bloom, and take any absolutes and oversimplifications from blog posts with a grain of salt.

    The biggest problem seems to be that while the body has an extremely high capacity to anabolize fat, it has a very limited capacity to catabolize fat because of how the citric acid cycle works. You end up having to burn protein (read: lean muscle mass). Before this happens though, your body suppresses metabolism to reduce the risk of disease/illness from loss of vital tissues.

    The anecdote about a man going 382 days without eating much food actually supports the statement you claim to be false. Had he maintained metabolism, even at a lean mass-specific rate, he likely would have died of an opportunistic infection or cardiovascular/renal complications. Even still, I doubt he was very healthy at the end of it.

    • Avatar epickett says:

      “Actually, it is true because of how your metabolism is regulated by
      autonomic tone; this suppression of metabolism can occur with as little
      as 20% restriction (and at even greater clips at 40% restriction).”

      So if someone cuts their calories in half because they stop drinking pop(soda), their metabolism gets suppressed? You have to burn more calories than you ingest to lose weight. How can you restrict calories and still lose weight if your metabolism slows? Sounds like a contradiction in terms…

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Depends, were they already eating 50% more than they needed to maintain energy balance?

        I can tell you that metabolic suppression has been shown in over a dozen species including humans. It is hypothesized to increase life span as well because it reduces oxidative stress as a consequence of aerobic metabolism in mitochondria.

        The suppression of metabolism is PRECISELY why people have a hard time losing more weight after about 1-2 months of dietary restriction.

        • Avatar epickett says:

          Let’s say the person has a BMR of 2000 per day at their current weight. It would be VERY easy to take in an extra 1000 calories of soda. That’s only 4 20oz. bottles at 250 calories each, and a total of 3000 calories. But to lose a pound a week they’d need to take in 500 less calories, so 1500 per day. Which means a 50% cut is NEEDED, unless they can work out for 2 hours a day to increase the burn rate. Now I’m wondering, does the same suppression come into play if someone ups their burn rate by 50%?

          • Avatar Dave says:

            There are a lot of x factors (like macronutrient composition since insulin plays a big role in fuel fate) but I would expect the defense of body weight mechanisms to kick in after about 6 weeks. The answer then becomes exercise more, eat even less, or both (but while the former can increase or maintain basal metabolism the latter can only further suppress basal metabolism).

            The body starts to defend itself against weight loss because lean mass is lost along with fat…there’s no way to completely burn 100% fat or even just fat and glycogen when you are in negative energy balance. The trick seems to be minimizing the lean mass losses and getting as much replenishment as possible from a modest amount of low glycemic carbs, a healthy dose of quality proteins, and the best sources of fat such as nuts and quality oils.

  13. Avatar Johnny Bravo says:

    everything on what not to do and not one answer as to what to do. At least give an outline.

  14. Avatar Foggydogbreath says:

    I’ve just started on my journey from 250lbs to 180. I’ve lost about 10-12 pounds over three weeks, so I like the pace. I also haven’t really changed what I’m eating. I’m simply moderating the amount of food that goes in, which is really pretty easy to maintain. I did it back in my 30s with great results (then got married and settled into bad eating habits; hey, my wife’s a good cook).

    What I’ve been struggling with mentally is what do I do once I hit my goal weight?

    Right now, I’m eating from 1,500 to 1,750 calories a day. I exercise moderately five days a week; I work out for about an hour a day split between cardio and weights. So, once I hit my goal weight, what do I do? Do I increase my caloric intake to 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day?

    Anyone know?

  15. Avatar JJ says:

    k, everyone you know you need to focus on yourselves right, and common knowledge is to check with yourself and with your doctor before doing anything that you read about if you’re concerned about it right. I think that her information is great for me! And considering she’s a licensed dietitian I’m sure she knows what it is she is sharing with all of us.

  16. Avatar John Boyd Richards III says:

    Thanks Kristina for all the encouraging words, I will just go ahead and stay fat.I’m guessing you needed to come up with 5 reasons for your story, 4 or say 6 would just be weird.

  17. Avatar Brian Goodfellow says:

    We are addicted plain and simple and the food companies want to this way. Low carb/Palio diet wias what the human body was designed for, would you put diesel in a gas car and expect it to work!. I’m a survivor and lost 40lbs over a year doing this lower blood pressure and feel great. Why would you not do it?

  18. Avatar MI48917 says:

    Midwest not true. When you don’t eat a meal or way less food our body sends hormones to brain from gut telling it that we are starving. That signals the liver to dump glucose stored into bloodstream which makes us gain weight triggers extremely hunger cravings too and slows metabolism and loss. Balance is key and never skip meals. Carbs are needed 50% of a 8 inch plate should be veggies fiber! Other half split for protein and starch is needed. If your a big person shouldn’t try to go lower than 1400 to 1600 calories day or you’ll kill the metabolism won’t lose. Slow and steady balance focus on just 10 pounds at a time as goal. I’m T2 insulin dependant and lost 120 pounds this way. Took about 2 years for me now I’m working at focusing to get rest off. Insulin makes it very hard but I’m not going to stop working at it as I lose I feel much more healthy and active. I don’t think keto diets are doing any good for diabetics the kidneys take a huge hit with diabetes we are at risk for failure and to much protein kicks that into high gear it’s dangerous. Balance slow loss is only way to go and it assures you of maintaining the loss because we learn behavior modifications along that slow path that’s what’s needed.

  19. Avatar MI48917 says:

    It’s a huge syndrome one is relevant to the next problem it builds from excess weight and all problems you mention follow that all contribute to not being able to get weight off metabolism gets stopped period. Also stress hormones are biggest blocker of all and weight gainer. Those hormones kick out cortisol fat builder liken it to pumping steroids that blow you up fast. Adrenaline glands also kick in over drive and our systems become stalled stuck. Sleep is important part of all those systems recovery and weight loss or gain.

  20. Avatar Patrick Cox says:

    I don’t understand anything any of you are saying. LOL
    60 days ago my doctor told me I was borderline diabetic and needed to change my diet and lose 20lbs. I have lost 14lbs, cut carbs and calories. I run about 12 miles a week and try to work in some bike rides of 7-10 miles each. I am also doing the fitness blender workouts.
    I can tell a difference in the way I look and feel. I’m probably not doing anything right but I am slowly losing weight and all my clothes are getting to big for me. I went from the 1st hole in the belt to the 3rd hole in belt.
    I’m kind of discouraged that I have only lost 14lbs. I have been stuck at 177 for almost 2 weeks now but I did lose another belt hole.

    Every single day I track my foods in myfitnesspal and every day I get the same message saying “Based on your food consumption you likely not eating enough”. But I feel like some days I am eating to much.
    I went from eating KFC 5 days a week to no fried foods, no pasta, no fries, bacon or anything that taste good. Now we are baking or grilling the meats and I have cut the portions big time. Most nights I have a little meat and a salad.
    Anyway, I know I’m doing it all wrong. Dieting is the easy part, figuring out all the stuff of dieting is hard if you don’t have a PHD. LOL

    • Avatar Walt Corey says:

      Again, I would urge people to watch Dr Fung’s six part series as it is his research, not mine. But, from that, he makes the case, with facts and studies, that there are no ‘essential’ carbs that the body requires and of the carbs we do consume the ‘white ones’ (sugar, processed flour, even potatoes) are the worst. However, dieting actually seems to permanently lower one’s metabolic rate such that the more you lose the harder it becomes to lose and maintain the weight loss you’ve achieved. He further makes the case for fasting in that, unlike dieting, fasting does not result in a lowering of your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). It is clear much more research needs to be done but it is clear, this must start with ending the ‘blame the victim’ mentality.

  21. Avatar Generalkidd says:

    Carbs are actually very essential for healthy brain function though. And as the article mentioned, it’s very difficult to stick to a low carb diet. I recently started a diet of my own. It’s quite a simple diet that requires me to stay at or below 1500 calories everyday. I’ve managed that by eating at Burger King twice a day aside from a few occasions. I basically eat the Veggie Burger and a side salad at BK with the occasional snack if my calorie budget allows for it. Within a month, I lost about 10 pounds (down from 180). Of course I also worked out at the gym a lot more too.
    Of course I don’t have any scientific research to back up why you can lose a lot of weight by eating at Burger King or similar fast food joints, but that’s what I’ve experienced from that diet. I suppose it’s really the calorie counting that made it effective though.

    • Avatar John says:

      Calories in vs calories out, but people want to complicate matters. It really is that simple when losing weight. Now when you talk about health instead of weight lost, what you eat matters.

    • Avatar Walt Corey says:

      When people talk about carbs they really should specify what carbs they refer to. I guess the naming has changed over time but what I am familiar with is complex carbs, vegatables, and simple carbs, refined sugar, candy, peas, corn, essentially things that break down in their mouth. This is likely where glycemic index and load come in handy, along with insulin load. Personally, I would agree carbs are good and necessary so long as the carbs are complex, vegatables etc. But carbs are harmful in the highly processed variety, sugar, white bread, etc. Of the people pontificating on here, how many have PhD or MD after their name? If you read/listen to Jason Fung MD, the notion of calorie counting and cals in vs cals out is complete nonsense. According to MFP and Jillian Michaels (Biggest Loser) for men, 1500 cals/day is the safe floor.

  22. Avatar Brian Burns says:

    This post brought to you from the 1970’s!

    The ketogenic diet (and paleo, and atkins) is healthy and working for many many people. It is also easily sustainable once you are fat-adapted and no longer craving carbs.

  23. Avatar Tamlew says:

    I fully disagree with this bloggers advice. Cutting carbs reduces insulin and is the only way (along with intermittent fasting) to heal one’s damaged insulin response… which, btw is the cause of obesity and diabetes. I also reject her advice to not aim for eating clean food 100% of the time. If you can eat clean, do it. Why in the world would you not avoid poison if you can? Is this woman funded by the pharmaceutical companies?

  24. Avatar Nick Raol says:

    Crossfitters comment here lol

  25. Avatar mzellen says:

    Yes, I know a bunch of people who have lost nearly 100 pounds of “water weight” –

  26. Avatar John says:

    Why do people have to complicate eating so much.

    Eat a balanced diet of whole foods and if you are trying to lose weight, burn more calories than you take in. Add in exercise for other health benefits.

    Really is that simple folks.

    I find when doing that most people eat about 30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% fats.

    Carbs and fat are not bad, they are very beneficial, just eat healthy carbs and fat and stay away from the bad fats and carbs and you will be golden.

    If you aren’t losing weight it is almost always because you are eating too many calories and aren’t weighing your food. Measuring your food with measuring cups isn’t accurate enough, especially if you are a female on a minimum calorie diet. There isn’t a lot of room for error and calories add up fast.

  27. Avatar Walt Corey says:

    I suggest people look at the work done in New Castle Magnetic Resonance Centre in England on reversing type 2.

    But I do have a question nobody, to date, has been able to answer. My understanding is BMR is immutable. Strict BMR is what your body needs to survive, feed the brain and keep organs functioning, that it’s not a case of it could be that or something completely different. I started last July and between telling MFP I wanted to lose 2lbs/week plus 3600 calories/week burned at the gym initially worked out to be between 2 and 2 1/2 lbs/wk lost. Now I have weeks at a time I lose nothing or lose a lb only to gain it back. This last month I lost a grand total of a pound yet I am still at a net calorie budget of under 1,000/day. My Mifflin BMR + Bennedict Harris is 2050. I can not square the circle of BMR being accurate and immutable and one’s metabolism being slowed below BMR.

  28. Avatar Mike1981 says:

    “Following strict diet rules all week long can be exhausting and boring.”
    Only for weak peaople … which is the reason they’re overweight in the first place. These people should learn to strengthen willpower.

    “Maintaining a very low-carb diet is difficult and not sustainable for
    most, which is why that weight returns so quickly once carbohydrate
    consumption resumes.”
    So basically, all I have to do is give up on “normal” carbohydrate consumption. The body synthetized carbs from protein.

    “eating [clean] 100% of the time just isn’t realistic for the long haul.
    Why?

  29. Avatar Walt Corey says:

    People should read today’s, May 2nd, NYTimes article on Biggest Loser ‘follow up’ study. Darn if Dr Fung wasn’t correct.

  30. Avatar keiessa2 says:

    Ok, so lets get simpler. I’m trying to lose 40 lbs. like just about every other human on earth. I do HISS cardio 6 days per week for 47minutes/daily (stationary bike). I do sweat pretty good so I believe my cardio is effective. I’m practicing 16/8 daily intermittent fasting because its hard for me to stick to my calorie count when I’m allowed so many hours to eat. So I prefer a tighter eating window. I try to stick to 1200 calories per day, 125g carbs, 125g protein, 25g fat, 25g fiber. On day 7 (cheat day) I allow more carbs than usual but then on day 1 I deplete my carbs and just eat protein and veggies, but on day 2-6 I resume the 125g carbs. Does this sound effective or will I be creating a backfire?

  31. Avatar Zoe Caitlin Bevers says:

    I would add the idea of fasted fitness to the list. If you can run a marathon without so much as a sip of water before, during or after and burn fat while doing so, more power to you. Me, I’ll be properly hydrated/nourished for success, in hopes of not bonking due to dehydration or low blood sugar.

  32. Avatar Timothy Shultz says:

    Why is it impossible to eat clean all the time? Don’t be a quitter.

  33. Avatar Glenn Knowlton says:

    Ive been wheat free for 3 year now and I’m never turning back. I don’t really think about carbs because by eliminating Wheat and Grains, I’ve taken care of the carb problem. I get carbs from some dairy, nuts, and berries and I’ve never been better. I have been known to cheat with corn, rice and sweets and when I do, weight goes up on que. I totally believe that Diabetics can heal themselves or at least start improving their physical well being by following a wheat and grain free lifestyle.You have to educate yourself on the process and stay committed to it. Its not as hard as some make it out to be.

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