Why weight loss is not just about calories


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Some people think that carbs and sugars make you fat while other people (scientists) think that too many calories are what make you gain too much fat. That’s probably not very nice, there are plenty of people trying to explain to us (pseudo)scientifically why it’s not about calories, it’s about carbs. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that, because this is not a science blog, it’s not true and you probably don’t want to read complicated theories about weight loss. I am, however, going to try to explain a few things, including what pisses me off about the media (shock) and the one proven way to trick your body into losing weight (you’re not going to like it, and yes I know I sound exactly like that same media now).

You may have seen the post I shared on Facebook where a thin attractive woman was shown along with something to the affect of, “If you want to get fit, have a look at what these fitness models do to keep fit.” That’s not exactly what it said, and you can go have a look but substantively that’s what it said. It got my hackles up and I’ll tell you why; as I said on the post, getting fit is not the same thing as staying fit. It’s ridiculous to say that someone who is a stone or two overweight and sedentary could just start the diet and exercise regime of any fitness professional, model or anyone who has spent the last five, ten or more years getting fitter and fitter who probably also never had to lose much weight because they’ve always been thin. You either won’t be able to keep up or it won’t have the effect you want (a body like this person). You aren’t going to start doing pilates and look like Miley Cyrus in 3 months.


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In fact even though the advice is always “eat less, exercise more” if you do precisely that to the extremes the “professionals” and the media suggest you will probably be left, “sprawled out on a couch with injuries, screwed hormones, and hunger to rival that of Ethiopians on South Park,” says Leigh Peele, my favoritest diet guru ever. If you want to know more read her stuff, she’s no nonsense, doesn’t sell packs of lies, doesn’t judge, and tells it like it is. All that hormones and hunger stuff is why it’s so hard. Set weight theory is why the diet industry is a multi-billion pound industry. When you maintain a particular weight for a while your body considers that its proper weight, whether that’s ten stone or twenty. If you start eating less or moving more or any combination that results in a calorie deficit your body fights it by making you hungry, sluggish, and grumpy and sneakily tries to trick you into getting more calories. That’s why low carb works for a while and then you start finding more fun things to eat and the deficit goes down the drain.

That whole starvation mode thing? Its true and not. Metabolism always slows down when you’re in a deficit, after two or three days. This is why the 5/2 diet is good, your metabolism doesn’t get a chance to slow down. I’ve still found it quite difficult once in a significant caloric deficit though. Lots of fitness professionals, including Leigh, recommend diet breaks and refeeds, where you eat your current maintenance calories for up to two weeks after dieting for a while. It helps to reset both your metabolism and your willpower. I can attest that knowing a diet break is coming up soon helps with willpower to keep going. Last year, I did rounds of two and a half weeks on the diet and four days break for about five months and that helped me get the baby weight off. But as I’ve been explaining even though it wasn’t easy it was much easier than going below the weight I was pre-pregnancy. I haven’t managed that yet.


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That’s going to take a considerable effort and to be quite honest I’m not sure that I “want it” badly enough. It has to be high up on the priority list to succeed and with my work and home life as demanding as it is right now and the fact that I’m on the “accept your body the way it is” bandwagon, weight loss is a bit lower down that list than the success threshold.

Oh yeah, that one proven method to trick your body to lose weight? Gastric bypass. But it comes with it’s own risks and you have to be like 100 pounds overweight to qualify. Bummer!


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