The Science of Weight Loss and the Endless Plateau

There was an article in the New York Times today called: ‘After the Biggest Loser, Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight.’ by Gina Kolata. I haven’t linked to it due to the ridiculous copyright laws, I’m waiting for permission.

Huis Clos

Huis Clos

There are two things at play:

  1. Apparently a hormone called Leptin that controls hunger, is actually reduced after people lose a lot of weight, leaving people in a near permanent state of hunger, as the body for some primordial reasons, struggles to get back to what it thinks is a ‘normal’ weight.
  2.  Just like when you hit a plateau, as I have remarked frequently, the body actually reduces the amount of basal (resting metabolic) calories that it needs just to sustain the new, lower weight.

This explains a few things. The plateau occurs because, let’s say you are told that 1,900 calories a day will cause you to lose two pounds per week at your age and weight, then once you’ve lost the weight, now two things again are at play:

2.a. You are thinner, so your body needs fewer calories to maintain the new lower weight.

2.b. The body thinks it needs to conserve body-weight and it now tries to squeeze every calorie out of everything you eat.

This means that you may have to lower your calorie count or eliminate bad calories in order to lose more. (Talk to your Doctor first.)


Deadbeat Alley near the Dirty Boulevard

You may have to exercise a little more. Maybe walk an extra twelve minutes a day to lose an extra 700 calories a week or so. Suppose you need 400 fewer calories a day, that’s 2,800 calories a week. You would need to walk 45 extra minutes a day to make up for that if you don’t cut your calories. It’s frightening.

The scary thing is you don’t know to what basal metabolic calorie level your body may have dropped (at the same level of activity!). It could be 1,500, it could be 800, who knows. it could last a while. Who knows how long.

The secret might be, (and I think this is what’s killing me), is to cut out more of the bad calories, high in sugar or carbs, to make your body have to work harder by wringing the calories out of fruits or vegetables.

I’m going to try cutting out these bad calories next. (once again, talk to your licensed physician, before you drop from a recommended caloric intake)

The Reflecting Pool D.C.

The Reflecting Pool D.C.

Something worse, apparently exercise does not make you lose weight. It can help burn some calories, but unless you work a strenuous job 8 hours a day five days a week, like a Lumberjack or landscaper, you can’t possibly exercise enough to burn enough calories to make up for bad eating habits.

I know, I’ve run twice a week and lifted twice a week almost every week for decades, for most of the last 10 years, but  I’ve still been fatt-ish. So running is cool, but walking is your friend, because it is sustainable.

The ‘10,000’ steps a day has merit. If you walk five miles a day, you burn more than 5,000 calories a week. That’s a lot, maybe more than enough to counteract the ridiculous basal metabolic calorie requirement drop.

But don’t fret, we know the truth. To sustain weight loss is a lifetime endeavor. It’s like being an alcoholic. You can never escape the hunger or the discipline. But knowing that is half the battle.

Dont give up, just fight it through. It’s biologically impossible for the body to hold off the inevitable forever, my dear, delicious, sumptuous, tasty readers.

Peace be the Botendaddy


About Botendaddy

Three times voted extreme sexiest man acclamation. I run because I must...I must!
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