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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:02 am 
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There are no spoilers here, and I am still watching season 6, so please don't post any results from the show without a warning first!

Hi everyone,

I noticed something interesting that was mentioned during the TV show 'The Biggest Loser', which I'm sure many of you have watched. The basic principle they use is to expend more calories (through rigorous exercise) than those being consumed. The result is a loss of excess body fat. I don't have the exact details of the regime they use, and I don't know if it has been published, but as an example, I think they would put a 25 year old male on a 1500-2000 calorie per-day diet, and get him to do around 5-6 hours of exercise per day.

It has been proven on the scales, and also mentioned by the trainers, that by reducing calorie intake dramatically (i.e. starving yourself) the body will lose much less body fat, and might even gain weight. This is the part I do not understand. I would like to understand the logic behind this!!

If I consume 1500 calories per day and use up 2000, I assume this means that the extra 500 calories is coming from my body fat. Well, if I eat nothing and burn up 2000 calories, where does my body get the energy from, if not the stored fat? What should the optimum calorie intake be? Does it work as a percentage of calories consumed? For example, if two obese people (with same sex/age/weight etc) are trying to lose weight: person A burns 4000 calories per day, and person B burns 3000, should they have different calorie intakes to get the most benefit out of their exercise?

Thanks if you're able to help with this! I understand that starving yourself is unhealthy, and not a good idea for losing weight, I just hope to understand the logic behind calorie control.


Martin


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:41 am 
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The Biggest Loser should be regarded as entertainment only. Don't use it as advise for weight loose. Some of the techniques are use are very dangerous.

In general, your body will want to take in extra calories to offset any extra you burn. Conversely your body will automatically slow down your burning of calories to offset any reduction in intake. That's why the only really effective way of losing fat is through control of your hormones. Not all weight loss comes from fat loss. Some comes from water loss, some from muscle loss. The average Biggest Loser candidate puts 30 lbs of water back on in the week after the show stops. Half of the contestants are back to their pre-contest weight within a year.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:37 am 
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Good blog post here about the Biggest Loser,

http://coachdos.blogspot.com/2009/09/re ... ewers.html

KPj


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:58 am 
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ok guys, I think you missed my point! For the record, I realise that this show forces people to drop weight in an unhealthy time frame. I have no plans to try anything like that.

Let's forget all about the Biggest Loser then. My question is just about the intake of calories vs expenditure. I don't really understand the logic of it.

Actually I read that article KPj and it was quite eye-opening! How about the hormones thing stuward? Can you elaborate on that?


M


EDIT: Oh, just to clarify, I'm not concerned with numbers on the scale. My question is about using the body's stored fat as energy, compared with using food as energy - so when I talk about weight-loss, I should really say 'fat-burning'.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:41 am 
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M,

I thought that's what you meant but the Biggest Loser is a good example of what not to do.

There is more written in the stickies and there are links there to sites that will give more detail.

In general, carbs, especially high glycemic carbs, stimulate insulin which encourages fat storage. Post workout is an exception due to depleted glycogen stores in the muscle, carbs are used for glycogen replacement first. Any surplus immediately goes to fat storage. Prolonged exercise and stress cause the producton of cortisol. This can cause muscle to be consumed as energy. This leads to muscle loss and heart disease.

Insulin and Cortisol are both important hormones with important roles but in abnormal situations, like eating a western diet and long duration cardio, they have a negative effect. The first step in health and fat control is realizing that the situations that most people find themselves in, is actually abnormal and harmful to the body.

The hormone that seems to determine the balance of fat level to maintain is Leptin. Once you start dieting Leptin drops and you retain fat. Start eating again and it goes up and fat release can take place. This is why carbs need to be cycled. In order to burn fat you need insulin low and leptin high. Body builders have been doing this all along because it works, not because they understood the theory. The theory might change tomorrow as our understanding grows but low carb with periodic carb refeeds do work.

Stu


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:58 am 
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In fairness to that horrible TV show, most of the articles on this and other health sites may not apply precisely to someone that weighs 500 pounds. When you're that ridiculously obese, some of those insulin/leptin responses might be different, and some starvation might make sense.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:17 pm 
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I struggle to see any good in it....

If starvation means "eating less" which it may very well mean to someone at 500lbs b/w, then i would agree but, my problem is - Why is a 500lbs person any different from a 300 person that may be overweight?

That's what I don't get... Eat less and move more i think is a general principle that applies to everyone who needs to lose weight/fat. For a 500lb person, you need to be careful how you define "move more" as it's not likely they'll be able to pull off jumping lunges or muscle ups but, other than that, you just need match the activity and intensity to the person... I don't see what else would change, really...

KPj


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:18 pm 
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frogbyte wrote:
In fairness to that horrible TV show, most of the articles on this and other health sites may not apply precisely to someone that weighs 500 pounds. When you're that ridiculously obese, some of those insulin/leptin responses might be different, and some starvation might make sense.


But not 6 hours of exercise and severe dehydration.

You're probably right though. Some obese people are that way due to malfunctions in their hormone feedback system. However, for most people that are overweight, it's self inflicted due to eating crap, not exercising enough, or too much, and leading a stressful lifestyle. If you correct those things, most will improve. For the others, that's why doctors get paid the big bucks.


Last edited by stuward on Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:10 pm 
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I've never watched more than a couple minutes of that show - are they dehydrating to try to cut weight for a weigh-in or something?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:16 pm 
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frogbyte wrote:
I've never watched more than a couple minutes of that show - are they dehydrating to try to cut weight for a weigh-in or something?


Not officially but off the record, contestants have admitted to it. One guy said he was pissing blood. If 1/4 million was on the line, what would you do?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:18 pm 
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What people will do for money, or fame....

If I weighed 500 lbs I would probably just get lypo suction.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:13 pm 
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KPj wrote:
I struggle to see any good in it....

If starvation means "eating less" which it may very well mean to someone at 500lbs b/w, then i would agree but, my problem is - Why is a 500lbs person any different from a 300 person that may be overweight?

That's what I don't get... Eat less and move more i think is a general principle that applies to everyone who needs to lose weight/fat. For a 500lb person, you need to be careful how you define "move more" as it's not likely they'll be able to pull off jumping lunges or muscle ups but, other than that, you just need match the activity and intensity to the person... I don't see what else would change, really...

KPj


Eating less and exercising more is WAY too simplistic. There is no evidence that that has much to do with it. It seems to me someone that grossly overweight has some sort of a medical problem. It may even be a problem we don't understand yet. Modifications to the diet and starting an exercise program will have a lot to do with fixing that. But it works only by modifying the hormones.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:32 pm 
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I think that the honest bottom line here is "we don't know". I think obesity and weight loss is one of the most poorly understood subjects in all of human physiology. Everyone used to (and many still do) that "a calorie is a calorie" and that, just like a given volume of fuel in a car, "calories in minus calories out equals fat storage."

A friend used to say that if she ate much in the evening it was harder to lose weight than if she ate the same amount earlier in the day. I said that this made no sense, that "calories in minus calories out, etc" and that if she ate a given amount and "burned" a given amount her weight loss/gain would be exactly the same. She said that if you left calories in the tank at night the body would turn them into fat. I scoffed at her theory. Now I know that many people have the same experience as she did. I don't understand it, but I have to accept that it might be true.

I had the same attitude toward low-carb eating. "Calories in minus calories out..." regardless of their source. And of course, I had been talk that all fat was bad, and that saturated fat was downright evil, so I was horrified by the idea of low-carb. Now I must admit that I don't understand exactly why, but I see more sustained long-term weight loss from low-carb than from low-fat. I read theories about this, and am not always convinced by the theories, but I have to admit that low-carb seems to work much better in the long run (plus, since I'm not longer so fat-phobic, I'm not scared by what people might eat instead of carbs).

So my conclusion is that there's way more to weight control than just eating calories and burning them. Way more.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:07 pm 
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I agree weight loss and obesity are very poorly understood. The reason is that people have veered off the path of the scientific method. They have a lot of presupposition tainting the research and what they decide to test.


As far as the proof, read "Good Calorie Bad Calorie". It contains tons of studies. There are 65 pages of nothing but references. The author does a good job going over various things we know and what research proves those conclusions.

Even with that, there is still plenty of stuff we don't know.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:09 am 
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I wonder if they had a 'medical problem' before they became so big, or, if they now have a medical problem because they're so big...

I can't help but think - What must a 500lbs person of lived like to get to that size in the first place and, surely that's what needs to be addressed which in my view would be - not moving around very much and eating far too much.

Surely when you're that size, the macro breakdown isn't all that crucial and the, ~8000 calories per day would be more of a pressing issue?

My g/fs dad was just short of 400lbs and lost 100lbs by simply 'being sensible'. over 9-12 months. It was technically a modified weight watchers plan (where you basically get penalised for protein and fat!) - started out on weight watchers but ended up changing it a little (for the better in my view...). He's stalled after the 100lbs but kept it off. I think he probably needs a more specific plan of attack now, to take him to the next level.

I think with someone so big you would probably need to assume things like type 2 diabetes/very poor insulin sensitivity/poor carb tolerance/whatever, though but I just feel that lifestyle is more of an issue than diet with people who've got so out of control...

KPj


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