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 guide below is with a focus on improving health at the same time.
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 structural change of your diet if you actually want to see significant long term results.
Also I certainly don't have all the answers. What I've written about weight loss below is a summary of what I've learnt in the last 4 years from books, online reading/videos and through the experience of losing the weight myself and keeping most of it off. This is while doing less exercise than I did when overweight. Not that exercise isn't important.
This is a model that is supposed to explain why low calorie density foods reduce body weight. Since it's supposed to make it easier for the body to meter and regulate food intake than more calorie dense foods. I personally found that fat intake over-rode it and added weight for me, even though my calorie density overall was quite low.
It is supposed to operate on the basis that the body monitors food weight as well as calories. What my food tracking found is that my body tracks calories absorbed so that as the calorie density gets lower, I eat not only more food by weight, but also more calories for the same satiation. I believe this is the case because my absorption of calories gets lower with the lower density. So my net calories remains the same (all else being equal).
Getting your calorie density lower should help to a degree. I found that once under 1 Cal/g, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference to lower it further. At that point it's probably more productive to look at ways to lower fat and protein to reduce weight further. Gong too low in calorie density can make you feel bloated by the sheer volume of the food required.
At this stage I believe low calorie density is more of a pointer to eating whole plant foods like fruit and veg. Which do the weight loss work in various ways, which may not be fully understood yet. One of those ways is by changing 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 may be possible to lose weight with any macro-nutrient ratio, but to be healthy and lose weight requires us to stay around certain guidelines. It is based on calorie intake rather than food weight and so you need to know how to calculate it (which is shown in bottom half of this post).
As an example, the standard American diet is C40:F40:P20*, which results in an average BMI of 28.8 (and rising each year).
From studying successful early civilisations, the ideal human diet is considered to be C80:F10:P10. By following this and therefore keeping fat and protein lower, you should expect to have a BMI under 25 (WHtR < 0.5) and more likely around 23.
* C = carbohydrate, F = fat, P = protein.
If you want to start experimenting with this, then get yourself some digital kitchen scales with a 1 gram resolution and join Cronometer.
You only need about 1.1g of ALA (omega-3) and 6g of LA (omega-6) to avoid fat deficiency. You can get all this from < 30g of selected nuts and seeds like almonds, linseed and walnuts. So you don't need much fat in your diet.
From Neil Barnard MD, simply put, your body weight plateaus to your fat intake. If I get more than 40g of fat per day, my weight noticeably climbs, regardless of the average daily calorie density.
There has been the suggestion to separate overt fatty foods like nuts and seeds from carbohydrate intake since carbohydrate is a preferred fuel for the body, so excluding fat calories from being used as fuel. This may be over-simplistic. But it is something to keep in mind when trying to lose weight. I've tried it, but I can't say if it works because I was changing other eating patterns at the same time.
Animal products add weight in 3 ways:
- Even lean cuts of meat have 20% fat by calorie intake. Standard milk has 48% fat by calorie intake.
- Lean animal products can increase blood insulin levels, especially when combined with carbohydrates (which is how most people eat them). The average increase can be up to 43% compared to plant only eaters. Raised insulin levels are associated with adding body weight.
- Animal products are higher in calorie density, which has been shown to make it harder for your body to regulate your calorie intake.
Only water or herbal teas if you want to lose weight fast. You don't want to consume any liquid calories because they are not metered well by the body. So those calories will most likely be under reported, especially if consumed fast. The exception to this is soup you eat slowly with a spoon.
While on the subject of beverages, caffeine or other stimulants are also not a good idea because you are adding another layer of up/down sensations which may add to cravings. Also Caffeine taken after lunch may interfere with sleep patterns and therefore make you eat more from being tired the next day.
List of foods to avoid/restrict
In no particular order:
Processed grains - restrict
Processed foods (depends on how processed) - avoid/restrict
Restaurant/take away foods - avoid
All oils (highest calorie density foods available) - avoid
High fat foods (a small amount of selected nuts/seeds is a good idea if you're eating no other healthy overt fats) - restrict
High sugar foods, but not fruit. (Sugar is high calorie density, but fruit is low calorie density) - avoid
Caffeine/stimulants - avoid
Any 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
This is the common way most people diet and some can make it work over the long term. My observation so far is that many will do this by cutting carbs (both processed and unprocessed) then eat mainly animal products, non-starchy salad and/or veg, and a maybe a smaller amount of bread. But historically 99% of people on a diet (most of them on 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'm not going to speculate as to why this is the case. But I believe that combining all the methods listed above should be an easier way of controlling weight than calorie restricting by cutting carbs.
It could be useful to combine the diet structure listed above with general calorie restriction and/or intermittent feeding (below) for even faster weight loss.
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.
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 chunk of the day. Most people do this by eating dinner early and then skipping breakfast or eating it at lunch time. I found it to be an easy way to calorie restrict, since there is only so much food I can eat in a reduced feeding time window. Then when not eating for a while, I don't seem to get very hungry. I mainly found I got more hungry when I started to eat.
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 likely you have a food addiction. Many processed foods are actually designed to be addictive. More in this post.
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 try to remove your easy access to them. A good way to initially remove them from your diet is to replace/substitute them with whole plant foods.
This encompasses many patterns of behaviour that have noticeably changed in the last 40 years. People used to cook meals from scratch (no jars of process sauces etc). They used to eat less often (less grazing or snacking). Less processed foods. Less restaurant and take away food. They were also generally more active, walking more and sitting less. The problems we have now are largely due to affluence, time restriction and/or laziness. 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.
For example, I prepare/cook my own meals. Generally don't buy processed foods with more than one ingredient. Don't eat restaurant/take away food. I even prepare and take food with me to social engagements. Although I see exercise as secondary to diet, I still see it as important part of a healthy, weight controlled lifestyle. As is getting enough sleep.
Weight "set points"
As a general rule - excluding gluttonous or addictive/emotional type eating - most people when eating to satiation, eat a set number of net calories per day (everything else being equal). This initially sounds like bad news, like we are doomed to be the same weight "set point"*. But it's not because - as much as people like to think all food calories are the same - the body/microbiome processes different foods and combinations differently. So the types of foods you eat (and their percentage of your total diet) have more influence over your "set point" than anything else.
* I don't believe in a rigid "set point", since I've drastically changed mine. However it does describe well the way many peoples bodies' tend to gravitate to a set weight on a set diet.
[These diet guide topics have been rearranged from when written in a previous post. So if it now doesn't make sense, please let me know.]