The argument for weighing yourself frequently
A two-year Cornell study, recently published in the Journal of Obesity, found that frequent self-weighing and tracking results on a chart were effective for both losing weight and keeping it off, especially for men.
http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/06/keeping-track-weight-daily-may-tip-scale-your-favorThe method “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight,”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3268700/In conclusion, although there were methodological limitations to the studies reviewed, there was ample evidence for the consistent and significant positive relationship between self-monitoring diet, physical activity or weight and successful outcomes related to weight management.
Waist and Waist to Height Ratio (WHtR)
Waist measurement is a more important general health indicator than weight/BMI due to being proportional to the amount of visceral (internal) fat one carries. Visceral fat is dangerous because it's metabolically/hormonally active. There is a strong relationship between the amount of visceral fat one carries and chronic diseases. Weight/BMI doesn't tell the whole story of weight loss, often due to increased muscle weight. Also particularly tall or short people are misrepresented by BMI. BMI was originally designed to study populations, not individuals. That is why I post waist and waist to height ratio (WHtR) first. WHtR is beneficial for others to know at what stage of weight loss you are at by body shape.
To make it easier to post WHtR, I've added a calculator link below. Although the ratio is easy to calculate since it's just your waist circumference in cm divided by your height in cm.
The best time to take a waist measurement is first thing in the morning. It should be measured at the circumference point half way between your bottom rib and the top of your hip bone (where your belt runs). This is typically about 2.5 cm above your belly button.
Some information on waist to height ratio (WHtR) and why it's better than BMI for indicating health:
http://ashwell.uk.com/images/2005%20IJF ... 0Hsieh.pdf
Weight and Body Mass Index (BMI)
There is no problem with just posting weights alone, but it doesn't mean much to others. The same applies with waist measurements. So if you want others to know at what stage of weight loss you're at, I encourage you to give a height reference.
To make it easier to post body mass index (BMI), I've added a BMI calculator link below. To calculate manually, it is your weight (W) in kg, divided by the square of your height (Ht) in metres, or W / Ht^2.
feet/inches to cm converter.
The best time to measure your weight is first thing in the morning.
Diet, exercise, or both for weight loss?
The three main factors that influence weight/waist are genetics, diet and exercise. Being a cycling forum, most will try to increase their exercise to lose weight. The study below shows that diet is 78% and exercise is 22% of the weight loss equation. Both significant diet change and exercise together is obviously better.
The following is from a the American Institute for Cancer Research blog which summarises a recent study comparing diet and exercise in weight loss.
After 12 months, women in the exercise group lost 2.4% of their body weight; diet only reduced by 8.5% and those exercising and dieting lost 10.8% of their weight. And the more they lost, the more their biomarkers were reduced.
The Diet Thread is available to discuss diet, or if you have any questions relating to diet..
A Basic Diet Guide
There are many ways to lose weight through diet. The below guide has a focus on improving health at the same time.
If you can change your dietary pattern for three weeks and make it part of a new habit, there's a good chance you can do it for life. Some of the suggested changes are going to be challenging. But just like you need to execute an exercise program to get fitter, you need a structural change of diet if you actually want to see significant long term weight loss and health improvements.
What I've written about weight loss below is a summary of what I've learnt in the last 5 years from books, online reading, videos and through the experience of losing 23% of my original body weight and keeping it off. This is while doing less exercise than I did when overweight. Not that exercise isn't important. I have no qualification in the diet, which can be considered an advantage considering what some have been formally taught.
This information below may be different to what you may have read previously. That is because the food industries have been distributing marketing as dietary information for decades. They have been involved in dietary education around the world, including the famed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines. As well as funding dubious studies to counter unfavourable findings from legitimate studies. Like with cigarette companies, doubt is their product or tool. People who see greatly conflicting studies often will ignore all the evidence.
Anyway below is mainly a basic outline. So if you have any questions, please ask them in the Diet Thread.
From Dr Neal Barnard of PCRM (also here). Simply put, your body weight plateaus to your fat intake.
Excessive fat intake is most likely the single biggest problem that most people have. Despite the blame sugar appears to be getting. Most people are consuming 3 to 4 times the total fat they require to get their essential fats (and maybe still not getting all the essentials). Most of that intake would be useless and/or damaging fats. Only small amounts of omega 3 & 6 polyunsaturated fats are required by the body. Which in itself should tell you something about high fat diets.
You only need about 1.1g of ALA (omega-3) and 6g of LA (omega-6) to avoid fat deficiency according to the WHO. You can get all this from < 40g (total) of selected seeds and nuts like linseed (flax) in addition to a normal calorie intake. If anything, most people get too much in the way of omega-6 fats.
See “Macronutrient Ratio” below for more guidelines on the amount of fat intake.
Calorie density is the number of calories per set amount of food, say 100g. When calorie density is lower, it makes calorie estimation by your body easier. Higher calorie density foods can be underestimated by most peoples' bodies. Therefore leading to weight gain.
I personally found that a higher fat intake over-rode an average low calorie density diet, therefore adding body weight in my case.
Getting your calorie density lower should help. Although I average a Cal density of 60 Cal per100g, I found that once under 80 Cal per 100 grams, it doesn't appear to make a lot of difference to lower it further. At that point it's probably more productive to look at other ways get further weight loss, like lowering fat intake. Going very low in calorie density can make you feel bloated by the sheer volume of the food required. At least initially.
Aiming for low calorie density foods usually points one to whole plant foods like fruit and veg. Which do the weight loss work in various ways, of which many may not be yet fully understood. One of those ways is by improving your microbiome, or gut bacteria over time.
This is a guide to help get your diet on track. It describes the ratio of the 3 primary macro nutrients of carbohydrates, fat and protein. It's usually possible to lose weight with any macro-nutrient ratio. But to be healthy and lose weight requires us to stay around certain guidelines. This is based on calorie intake rather than food weight and so you need to know how to calculate it. An example is below:
A 320g frozen meal box labeled “Veal Cordon Bleu”, which is considered to be an average meal by one manufacturer. Meat, veg, sauce etc. The label under “Ave. QUANTITY per 100g” listed 13.4g of carbs, 6g of protein and 8.4g of fat. Probably sounds reasonable to many people since they may have been taught in school home economics that less than 10g of fat per 100g of food is OK.
So with carbs being 4 Cals per gram, protein being 4 Cals per gram and fat being 9 Cals per gram, the Calories for this meal are:
Carbs: 13.4 * 4 = 53.6 Cals
Protein: 6 * 4 = 24 Cals
Fat: 8.4 * 9 = 75.6 Cals
From the sum of those, total = 153.2 Cals.
Now to get the energy or caloric ratio I divide the energy of each macro-nutrient by the total energy.
Carbs: 53.6 / 153.2 = 35%
Protein: 24 / 153.2 = 15.7%
Fat: 75.6 / 153.2 = 49.3%
So there you have a meal with a macro-nutrient ratio of C35:F49:P16 which is a long way from C80:F10:P10. Also the perception of 8.4% of fat now becomes the reality of 49% fat for the energy consumed.
Saturated fat: 3.5g * 9 = 31.5 Cal 31.5 / 153.2 = 20.6%
An example of how indicative average macronutrient ratios can be on average for body shape:
From studying successful early civilisations, the ideal human diet is considered to be C80:F10:P10 (C = carbohydrate, F = fat, P = protein). By following this and therefore keeping fat and protein within a certain range – and assuming you have your calorie density low enough – then you should expect to eventually have a BMI under 25 (WhtR < 0.5) and with a well structured whole food diet, more likely around 21 – 23.
The average American diet:
The average Australian diet:
BMI 21 – 23
(Average Cal density 60 Cal/100 g. 100+ grams of fibre per day.)
Can you see a pattern?
The association between percentage of calories from fat with BMI appears particularly telling to me.
If you want to start experimenting with this, then get yourself some digital kitchen scales with a 1 gram resolution and join cronometer.com. It can give you the data you need to work out what your diet is like currently.
Animal products can add weight in 3 ways:
Even lean cuts of meat - like chicken breast - have 20% calories from fat. Standard milk is 48% calories from fat and cheese is 70% calories from fat.
Lean animal products can increase blood insulin levels, especially when combined with carbohydrates (which is how most people eat them). Raised insulin levels are associated with increasing body weight.
Animal products are usually higher in calorie density, which has been shown to make it harder for your body to regulate your calorie intake.
Liquid calories are not estimated/metered well by the body. So those calories will most likely be under estimated, especially if consumed fast. So that means they will usually add weight. An exception to this is soup you eat slowly with a spoon. So that generally limits beverage selection to water and herbal teas.
Caffeine or other stimulants are also not a good idea because you are adding another layer of up and down sensations which may add to cravings. Also Caffeine taken after lunch may interfere with sleep patterns and therefore make you eat more from tiredness the next day.
List of Foods to Avoid and/or Restrict
In no particular order:
Processed grains – restrict
Processed foods (Depends on how processed) – avoid or restrict
Restaurant/take away foods – avoid
Oils (Highest calorie density foods available, no nutrition, causes poor arterial health) – avoid
High fat foods (But a small amount of selected nuts/seeds is a good idea to get essential fats) – restrict
High sugar foods (But not fruit. Sugar is high calorie density, but fruit is low) – avoid
Caffeine/stimulants – avoid
Liquid calories – avoid
Animal products (Usually high in fat, high calorie density, insulin spiking) – avoid
High protein foods (Yes these can be problematic for weight loss too, for at least some people and you can get too much protein) – restrict
Some call this “intermittent fasting”, but technically fasting requires for all your glycogen to be used up. This usually takes 2 days of water only intake to get there, according to Alan Goldhamer of TrueNorth Health Center (an expert in this field).
Intermittent feeding is usually extended breaks between eating within a 24 hour period. Basically it's usually about shortening your daily feeding window so you are not eating for a large part of the day. Most people do this by eating dinner early and then skipping breakfast or eating it at lunch time. I prefer to stack my calorie intake toward the beginning of the day. I found it to be an easier way to calorie restrict, since there is only so much food I can eat in a reduced feeding time window. Especially with a low calorie dense diet. So then when not eating for a while, I don't seem to get very hungry. The downside with my approach is I find it harder to sleep at night. Usually sleeping a shorter number of hours.
This is likely most people's biggest problem without even realizing it. If you ever eat anything without being hungry, or you actually get strong cravings for certain foods, then you may have a food addiction, or at least a serious problem with certain foods. Many processed foods are actually designed to be addictive. More in the link:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ho ... -addiction
The best way to beat the addiction is – like with smoking and drinking alcohol – to cut the problem foods out completely. Don't bring them into your home and also try to remove your easy access to them. A good way to initially remove them from your diet is to replace/substitute them with healthier foods. Then, in time, replace the healthier foods, with even more healthier foods...
A complex topic, but one that affects our diet. The problems we have now are largely due to lifestyle choices, often caused by social interations/influences, affluence, time restriction and/or laziness and food companies. Lifestyle is one of the big factors that needs to be changed if you want to be successful over the long term with controlling your weight. Part of this change may require you to be less trusting of others in regard to food preparation and possibly less social. For example, I prepare and cook all my own meals at home. I don't eat restaurant or take away food. I even take food with me to social engagements, so I'm not getting “caught out” or tempted back down a damaging path.
Although I see exercise as secondary to diet, I still see it as an important part of a healthy, weight controlled lifestyle. As is getting enough sleep.
If you currently have an average Australian diet then you are already likely deficient in a number of vitamins, fibre, and as well as dealing with the damaging excesses. To confirm this, weigh your food and enter it into conometer.com. The best way to determine what effect - if any - this is having usually requires blood tests. The body - especially when young - can often deal with a number of deficiencies. But excesses are usually more damaging long term.
For those who decide to greatly limit or remove animal products from their diet:
Vitamin B12 - If you choose to avoid animal products, then taking vitamin B12 is essential to avoid neurological and nerve problems which may be irreversible. I take 1000 micro grams per day (ug/d, ug also known as mcg in US) of the methyl type to make sure I'm getting enough.
Vit-D - There is usually none in plant foods, so if not getting enough sunlight, you'll soon run out of vit-D. The recommended intake is about 400 IU per day. So some recommend 600 - 2000 IU per day. So far I've found 2000 IU works better for me over winter. In summer, blood tests show I don't need the supplement. Be careful as you can get too much vit-D from supplements. Occasional blood testing is a good idea.
Iodine - It has been suggested most plant only eaters need this. I found my TSH blood test went up 66% over 3 years without it (not a good result) and a food assessment suggested I was getting as little as 40 ug/d . The recommendation intake is 150 ug/d. So I take about 110 ug/d currently as I only want to avoid deficiency and it's easy to get too much. Which also gives similar thyroid symptoms to deficiency.
Omega-3 fats, ALA/DHA - ALA is the building block the body makes the essential EPA and DHA from. According to the WHO, these are the only essential dietary fats. About 12 grams of ground linseed (flax in US) will give most people enough ALA to return a non-deficient omega-3 index test score. Depending on how much competing omega-6 fats they are eating (mainly from veg oils and processed veg fats). My omega-3 index result (which tests EPA & DHA together in the blood) was 5.8 (at age 50), where according to nutritionfacts.org a study suggests below 4.4 is associated with excessive brain shrinkage as we age. Low omega-3 intake is also associated with lower cognitive ability scores. As EPA is considered to be easily made by the body from ALA, but DHA isn't, taking DHA directly may be of benefit. Since omega-3 testing I have been taking 200 mg of DHA from a non-pollutant algae source. Of what benefit this proves to be for me is yet to be blood tested. Algae is where the fish get it EPA and DHA from, but fish also accumulate pollutants from the world's sewer, otherwise known as the ocean and fish oil is also generally 75% saturated fat.
There are probably other supplements that can be recommended to try. But these four above will probably make the most difference to the average person eating plant only. Most other vitamins and minerals you should get in abundance in a well planned plant only diet. Whether you can absorb or retain them can be found out with blood testing. These four supplements are also recommended in the book "How Not to Die" by Greger of nutritionfacts.org.
Weight “Set Points”
It is explained in general terms in the video below.
Why diet type makes a big difference:
As a general rule – excluding gluttonous, addictive, or emotional type eating – most people when eating to satiation eat a set number of net calories per day (everything else being equal). Or at least their body thinks it is doing that. And while most think that all calories are equal, the body estimates/monitors the intake of different foods differently. Which can come down to calorie density, among other factors. The body/microbiome also processes different foods differently. So the type of foods you eat (and their percentage of your total diet) have more influence over your weight than most think.
I believe the above because I'm a good example of how much diet can change that “set point”. When I was on a standard diet I was about 82 kg (BMI 27.7, WhtR 0.52) and it appeared at the time that regardless of the exercise volume, I would eventually end up back at the same weight. Then I changed my diet. Now I'm currently approximately 63 kg (BMI 21.3, WHtR 0.44) which also fairly independent of exercise (long term) and when eating to satiation, my body tends to gravitate to. I've also been like this for about 5 years. So if I was going to jump back up to 82 kg, it should have happened by now.
So I don't believe in fixed set points, although they appear real enough at the time. I do believe that a combination of genetics, diet and exercise interact to form some kind of stable weight though. Hopefully this will help to defeat a defeatist attitude toward not being able to change weight long term.
My observation so far is that many will do this by cutting obvious junk foods and/or limiting processed carbs, often with some portion control. Which often leaves eating mainly animal products and non-starchy salad/veg. This looks much like a low-carb diet.
Historically 99% of people on a general diet - most of them of this type - will fail by the 5 year mark by not maintaining the weight loss. Some will (for whatever reason) even put more weight back on than they originally started with.
I believe that applying the information in this post should be a healthier and more effective way of controlling weight, long term.