In the end, Only Calories Count: Wrong

I’ve been seeing this headline a lot lately:

Diets That Reduce Calories Lead to Weight Loss, Regardless of Carbohydrate, Protein or Fat Content

Well yes that’s true. But quite frankly, it misses the point.

A person who is overweight does not have a weight problem. She has a weight symptom. Her problem is hunger.

There is no point trying to manage weight if you do not manage hunger. There is only so long you can fight your body’s desire to reach and maintain its target weight. And by target I don’t mean the one you have for yourself that makes you look good in a bathing suit. It’s the one your body feels is necessary given your diet composition, your level of activity and your genetic propensity for fat and sugar regulation.

Most people don’t know why they are overweight.

They think they know why but they don’t.

The standard answer from patient and doctor alike is “over-eating” which tells you absolutely nothing. I’m here to tell you that there is no such thing as over-eating short of the kind that leaves you feeling unwell because you’ve surpassed the volume comfortable for your stomach.

Over-eating, in the most common sense, refers to any food consumption that precedes weight gain. It’s a tautology. All things being equal, if two people follow the exact same diet and one gains weight, he is said to have “over-eaten” while the other “ate in moderation.” It’s like saying the tree was green because it was green.

The goal of any weight-loss diet should not simply be to create a caloric deficit, but to adopt sustainable lifelong eating habits which make it easy to reach and maintain an ideal weight. That is not to suggest it will ever be easy to drop detrimental eating habits which have been acquired over a lifetime and are probably central to one’s eating culture. But the changes must be sustainable physiologically.

Skinny people may admonish fat ones for failing to show self control, but the fact is that a modern diet makes some people constantly hungry. Fighting that kind of psychological torture day-in day-out is not possible. Gross caloric deficits can be sustained for short periods of time but falling off the wagon is inevitable unless hunger is addressed.

So it is true that the macro-nutrient composition of a diet is irrelevant if you are simply trying to achieve a caloric deficit.

However it is completely relevant if you are trying to control hunger in order to achieve a sustained depletion of fat stores.


5 thoughts on “In the end, Only Calories Count: Wrong

  1. Pingback: Most People Don’t Know Why They Are Overweight « Weight Loss Surgery Tips

  2. Pingback: A Restless Mind: Digest - Fri 27th February

  3. My problem isn’t hunger per se. I don’t really get strong hunger pangs, or even cravings. My problem, well, really two problems: 1) The sight of food. In other words, if I see something sitting on the counter in the kitchen, it can be hard to resist eating it. 2) It can be hard to stop eating once I start. It’s not so much that I’m hungry or that I crave that particular food; I can overeat all sorts of foods! But once I start eating, it can be hard to stop. Those are my problems.

    Lately I’ve had some success directly addressing those two issues, rather than trying to “practice moderation” or “portion control” or “reduce calories.” I can’t have the problem foods around the house, and I have to abstain from them as much as possible. I haven’t weighed myself yet, so I don’t know if I’ve actually lost weight yet. I’m still eating quite a bit. But I feel more in control of what I eat than I normally do. That’s very important to me. I hate feeling out of control. Hopefully this will work!

    Sorry for going on for so long. 🙂

  4. Your problem is food ADDICTION. The preservatives in food were put there with two goals in mind. 1. Longest shelf life 2. Keep people wanting more.

    You’re addicted just like a heroin addict is to heroin. Drop foods with preservatives and realize that cooking some foods (grains, in particular) actually changes the composition into opioids (high inducing) substances. Strive for more natural foods eaten in a raw state. Raw fruits and veggies should make up 3 of your 4 daily meals!

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