You Can't Lose A Pound Per Week (At Least Not For Very Long) - BlissTree

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Conventional dieting wisdom holds that if you cut about 500 calories per day, either through dieting or extra exercise, you'll lose weight—about 1 pound a week, or 52 pounds a year. That's because there are 3,500 calories in one pound. Makes sense, right? But new research from the National Institutes for Health says this formula is grossly flawed, and it actually takes much longer to lose weight.

Publishing in The Lancet, researchers from NIH say a year of dieting will only result in about half the weight loss that experts currently predict. Dr. Kevin Hall, who led the study, says these unrealistic expectations explain why many dieters find themselves frustrated, giving up, and putting back on the pounds—maybe even more than they started with.

"Studies show that somewhere between 50% and 80% of dieters will put weight back on," Hall said. It works like this: When people first begin dieting and exercising, they do tend to see results fast—that's why crash diets "work," in terms of it being fairly easy to drop 5-1o pounds off the bat. But initial weight loss slows. People get discouraged, and maybe stop being so vigilant about what they eat, maybe stop exercising as much. There's a lag phase where they continue to drop or maintain their lower weight, even though they're eating more, and they mistakenly conclude they don't need to change as much as they thought. But the weight loss lag catches up to them, and they find themselves at or heavier than they were when they started the diet.

Professionals need to help people have realistic expectations so they can avoid falling into this trap, he added.

But no one likes to hear that weight loss will be slow and arduous. Diet gurus can't make money telling people, you know, if you learn to cook, to eat more vegetables than processed foods, to get more physical activity on a regular basis, then you can maybe drop 50 pounds in the next three years and keep it off. Diet gurus don't even like to tell people to follow sensible weight loss plans—it's all about the gimmick, the eat-all-the-meat-you-want diet, the chocolate cupcake diet, the lose-10-pounds-in-10-days diet. No one's gonna stop peddling this crap until folks stop—pardon the pun—eating it up. But no one's gonna stop believing it until fancy weight loss 'experts' stop peddling it. Hello, Catch 22.

We can't blame it all on snake-oil weight-loss salesmen, though; even folks with dieters' best interests at heart have been peddling this cut 500-calories-per-day, lose one-pound-per-week idea for years. Helen Bond, from the British Dietetic Association, told the BBC: "We all recommend it – it's what we are taught. But I don't know what the scientific evidence for it is. A lot of diets are not proven by science."

All diets will have similar effects in the short term, Lancet said. But bodies quickly get used to the reduced calories, and subsequent pounds take longer to drop.

Here's an idea: Instead of just cutting calories, cut counting calories all together. Focus on eating healthy and exercising, and the weight loss will follow.

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24 Sep, 2011

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