Rebuttal to Eating Less Calories = Weight Loss

October 26, 2012

Critic fueled this post:

I got my first critical comment ever & it didn’t hurt my feelings like I thought it would!

It’s good to be criticized once in a while so that it keeps us on our toes. And besides, the comment was pretty polite = he (she?) just happened to disagree with me.

Someone commented on my youtube video: Me vs Neil deGrasse Tyson – How to Lose Weight:

“Loosing weight is taking in less calories than the amount you burn, it’s as simple as that. Nothing you say can ever change that fact.”

I’m not smart or scientifically equipped to artfully refute that argument, nor do I care that much if someone disagrees with me.

If they were being mean, it would hurt my feelings for the moment but other than that – I believe what I believe and change my mind by learning from credible books/people – not from comments left by random people.

Reason for post: I’ve often felt the same way

But I will comment on this because I’ve felt exactly that sentiment most of my life and even now have difficulty breaking that thought process. Eating less calories than I burn a day should lead to weight loss.

So let me do the counter argument I’ve learned from many books & smart people: good calories bad calories, why we get fat, four hour body, wheat belly, gabriel method, sugar the bitter truth video, fathead movie.

My only qualification is that I’ve been a test subject for about 16 yrs of the “eat less calories than I burn = weight loss” camp with no significant long-lasting results to show. I actually weigh much more today than I did back in high school – even though I’ve been on a perpetual diet most of that time.

Let me repeat once more that I’m not that qualified or smart, it would be much better for you to read the studies in those books made by super smart people rather than simply rely on my second hand explanations!

But here goes the cliff notes version…

Most people start diets like this:

1. Figure out my basal metabolic rate

Here’s an online calculator that does that.

I add in my weight, height, age & gender = bmr of 2632.85.

2. Factor in activity level

see here

I’ll pick sedentary = bmr x 1.2 = 3159.6 calories per day to maintain my current weight.

Note: Alternatively, you can just use the shortcut of weight x 11 (for men) to get close to that. 295 x 11 = 3245.

3. Figure out a deficit

I usually opt for a deficit of -500 calories a day. This way, in a week I will have a deficit of -3500 calories = -1 lb loss.

Thus my daily goal would be 2659.60 (3159.60 – 500).

When I was younger, I’d pick a deficit of -1000/day or more to increase the rate of loss. Rarely worked but I wanted to lose weight fast.

4. Plan your meals accordingly

You can eat whatever as long as it fits in your daily calorie goal.

I heard that some scientist wanted to prove this method works by only eating twinkies all day (up to his caloric limit) and lost weight. Thus “proving” once and fore-all that it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you stay below your calories. We’ll broach that subject a little bit later.

So the easiest way is to eat 2 subway footlongs on wheat bread and maybe a bag or two of baked chips.

I usually stuck to turkey or roasted chicken or veg or ham.

Or we can buy those healthy choice/healthy steamer meals from the grocery store + 100 calorie dessert snacks to curb the sugar craving.

Drink a lot of diet sodas = no calories.

5. Wait for weight to drop off!

That’s pretty much it. You can count calories all day just to make sure you are within your caloric limits.

Some days you might go over, other days you will be way under. Overall you’ll make sure you stay overall near your caloric goal. This is the premise of the hacker’s diet – which worked for its author.

6. Results

You may even have a spreadsheet graphing all the weight you can expect to lose if you stay on this path for 3, 4, or 5 months! (ie: counting the chickens before they hatch)

I’ve made countless of these spreadsheets every year hoping to renew my weight loss attempts.

Here’s one from january 2011 where I try to combine low calories/hacker’s diet + four hour body + paul mckenna’s “i can make you lose weight” hypnosis cd.

I thought this would guaranteed work!

I’ll eat less than I burn each day. I’ll adapt tim ferriss’ slow carb diet to further make my body a fat burning machine. To top it off, I’ll listen to paul mckennna’s hypnosis cd + his way of chewing food slowly/deliberately/mindfully to control my mind/cravings.

Month 1:


(click to enlarge)

Looks good so far! My actual weight loss trend is almost identical to expected rate according to calorie deficit.

I lost -7.1 lbs in a month. Respectable!

Month 2:

It doesn’t look good, I’ll admit.


(click to enlarge)

I only made it a few days into it & lost all track. I don’t remember what happened but most likely: I binged and lost all hope.

But this is not the first time that has happened. This exact scenario has played out over & over every year since I was 16! I’m fucking 31 now!!

Do you know how crazy it is to fail like that every year! Yes, very demoralizing.

But if you’ve been overweight your whole life, you will be able to relate.

The skinny fucks with the good genes will never understand our plight. They are able to eat whatever they want their whole life and stay skinny. They think we’re just weak, lazy & have no willpower. They think they are better than us. Those bastards!

Well it’s not that clear cut. As we’ll find out – no one is better or worse than us. A lot of it has to do with our genetics.

Some people are genetically wired to be skinny. No matter what they do, they can’t seem to gain weight. They can try stuffing themselves but it doesn’t really matter. What makes it harder for them is that their brains resist food a lot of times. They don’t have the same cravings as we do.

I have a lot of friends like this – who eat way more than I do + don’t exercise = still stay skinny.

Others (like us) gain weight easily, even if they don’t overeat. Even if they exercise. That’s just how their genes are setup. There are some people whose fat cells will hoard calories = cells get larger = we become fat.

You can see the studies done of different people from all over the world with pictures in Good Calories Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. Make up your own mind on this.

One final thing: us big boned folk shouldn’t envy the naturally skinny fucks – they have their own crosses to bear. Everyone has their own good & bad things!

Assumptions & Reasons:

I don’t want to write a huge novel here, so I’ll just quickly bullet point some topics for your further research.

Then make up your own mind.

1. Are we sure that all calories we eat get digested & into our blood stream?

Just because we ate 2000 calories of twinkies doesn’t necessary mean our body got 2000 calories worth of energy. Read the books mentioned for more details.

Look into probiotics & digestive enzymes.

2. Are we sure that our bmr will stay the same even when we reduce our caloric intake?

Studies show that when we reduce caloric intake, our body adapts by downshifting its energy needs. Thus, a lot of body functions slow down. We feel lethargy, sleep a lot, our brain becomes foggy, etc.

And this can take some time. So initially you may lose some weight but over time, the body adjusts to getting less energy.

This will eventually negate future caloric deficits.

3. Just because you lost weight eating twinkies for three months – does that mean your body is actually performing at optimum levels?

Can you keep that up for the rest of your life & live happy & healthy?

If that’s the case, why not just eat chalk? Chalk has a lot of calcium! Let’s all go on the chalk diet.

4. Are we sure that even if our body is able to digest all the calories we eat – that all our organs get all the energy it’s supposed to get?

Studies show that overweight people tend to have larger fat cells & insulin problems.

So even if you reduce your caloric intake, the fat cells will horde all the calories while your vital organs are left to starve.

Eventually, the brain will kick your ass and force you to binge eat to make up for it.

Take a look at this short clip from Fathead (movie):

5. Are you sure your willpower is strong enough to overpower your subconscious?

It’s common thought that fat people are fat because they eat too much and are lazy. Skinny people pride themselves on having stronger willpower than their fatter counterparts.

It doesn’t matter what they believe, that’s not the case.

A lot of studies show that willpower is a myth. It can only take you so far.

The best analogy is the one I read in Happiness Hypothesis (Jonathan Haidt). A must read book for happiness seekers & human psychology lovers.

In it, he uses the analogy of the rider & the elephant – to describe our relationship between our conscious mind to the subconscious mind.

Who do you think is really in control here?


(Photo by Jackerbie)

I have experience seeing a lot of elephants since I grew up in India. In most of the hindu temples, they have elephants.

Elephants are usually showcased in a lot of the festivals – with their trunks adorned with golden plates & flowers, etc.

These elephants are usually chained by their feet so that they don’t cause chaos. The elephant has no clue that these weak chains can be easily broken by their massive strength – because the elephant trainers use the principle of “learned helplessness” on them (principle mentioned by Haidt).

When the elephants are young, they train them so that they start to think no matter how hard they try – they can’t escape the chains. Thus, they learn that they are helpless against it = your resistance is futile!

Once the elephant has adopted the learned helplessness mental model, you can chain them with the weakest of chains and they’ll never attempt to break them.

The same principle also happens to most humans. So it’s something to be wary of next time you have a limiting belief.

Anyways, the reality is that the elephant is really in control here. It’s bigger & way stronger than most things.

In the hindu temples, once in a while an elephant will go crazy and wreck havoc – oftentimes killing their trainers amidst the chaos.

For some reason or another, the elephant just had enough. It flips out. It can break all the chains. It can maim & kill. It can destroy trees and buildings if it wants.

The same is true of our subconscious. Haidt explains that our conscious mind is the rider and the subconscious is the elephant.

We can try to tame the elephant as best as we can but once the elephant has made up its mind to go off course – there is very little we can do as the rider.

We can try to tame our elephant with less calories. We can rationalize to it that it’s the best thing for both of us. Losing weight is our dream. It will make us healthier. It will raise our self confidence & self esteem. We will attract better mates. We will feel better. We can avoid diabetes, heart disease & a myriad of other health problems.

There are 1000s of reasons to lose weight. We can keep whispering these to our elephant over and over and over and over.

And the elephant will go along with this for a month or two, maybe even 5 months. Who knows. At some point, it will have had enough. It will break thru the chains & you will find yourself wrecking havoc at an all you can eat chinese buffett.

What happened to willpower?

Well our body has automatic mechanisms to survive. When we eat less calories (without correcting other issues) – our body’s natural mechanisms will override our conscious thought of losing weight.

Final Thoughts:

Anyways, my point here is not to convince all you naysayers. I could care less. If you’ve always been skinny, healthy & fit – good for you. As long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.

But just do us big-bonded people a favor and shut your trap. Don’t involve your skinny self in our conversation. You don’t know what we’re going thru. You are not a fucking expert.

If counting calories works for you – then great! I’m happy that you are fitter. Everybody has different genetic makeup. What works for one will not work for all.

THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL METHOD!

This is aimed at people who cannot lose weight on the low calorie method.

I’m here to just shed some light for my big-bonded friends who have been struggling to lose 50lbs, 80lbs, 100lbs or more your whole life.

I’m here to say there is hope!

I’m losing weight! Easily! Without counting calories! Without cravings! Zero cheat days. I don’t cook or do much grocery shopping. 99% of my meals are from fast food restaurants. No washing dishes.

I don’t feel restricted whatsoever. I’m happy everyday. Confidence is rising. It’s easy & effortless. I’m losing weight & losing inches off my stomach.

Steps:

1. Educate yourself. Read some of the books I mentioned (good calories bad calories, four hour body, wheat belly, gabriel method). Google “paleo diet.” There are other equally great books out there you will naturally discover in your search.

2. Have an open mind. My guess is at this point in your weight loss journey, you’ve tried everything and nothing works. So why not try one more method, even if it sounds counterintuitive.

3. Read some of the articles in the “recommended” section below this post. Check out my “weight loss” link on the top menu bar where I post my loss every week.

4. Don’t forget that you are just the rider on your elephant. So you need techniques to tame the elephant. I have listed some that work for me here.

You can read some psychology books to create your own methods. Actually, I highly recommend that you create your own method rather than copy mine. Your subconscious will accept them better.

Some recommendations: Learned Optimism, Happiness Hypothesis, The Tools.

5. Don’t lose hope. Keep fighting. You’re almost there. And tell all those skinny fucks who preach low calorie diets to shut their trap.