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to think that losing weight isn't as complicated as it's made out to be?

(248 Posts)
upsylazy Mon 07-Jan-13 11:51:07

NB I am not saying that losing weight is EASY as i have learned from personal experience. But there do seem to be this plethora of methods, books, videos, personal plans out there about it. Through my lifetime, I've had to listen to people drone on endlessly abouy the grapefruit diet, the F plan diet, the Cambridge diet, diets where you can't mix food groups right up to Atkins and all the low carb stuff.
My understanding from biology at school is that food contains units of energy (calories) and I seem to remember this being demonstrated by burning a peanut and seeing how much it raised the temperature of a test tube of water.
The understanding I have is that if you consume more calories than you burn off, you'll put on weight and vice versa. I've never found that idea particularly complex. I don't doubt that a lot of these diets work but they can only work if you burn up more calories than you consume.
Also, can someone please please tell me why carbs have suddenly become so bad for you? I can understand that saturated fat is bad as it clogs up your arteries and that too much salt is bad as it can raise blood pressure and reduce bone density but what do carbs DO to you that make them so terible?
I'm sitting in an office with that food pyramid thingy on the wall which basically says that carbs are good and that your diet should contain more of them than meat or dairy products. So are they wrong about this?
I don't have a problem with things like weight watchers as I can see that group suport can be invaluable. It's just all the new books and plans and programmes which various people (none of whom seem to be dieticians) are obviously making a packet from. I am perfectly prepared to stand corrected BTW.

LifeofPo Mon 07-Jan-13 11:53:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Trills Mon 07-Jan-13 11:55:01



It is in fact very bloody complicated, particularly when you take in to account he psychology of eating, but it is not complicated in the way that the January diets in newspapers and magazines say it is.

heyannie Mon 07-Jan-13 11:55:02

It's simple but it's not easy, That's the crux of it really.

The principle is simple but it can be hard to apply, especially if you have never had a sensible approach to food.

Weight loss is simple logic, put in less than you put out and hey presto, you lose weight. It's applying that simple logic when you don't have the skills/inclination/willpower/whatever where people fail. Thin people can see it, but fat people can see it themselves too.

upsylazy Mon 07-Jan-13 11:56:01

But, when I ran the marathon, all the official advice was to eat carbs (especially pasta) as it released energy slowly rather than in a sudden burst.

kim147 Mon 07-Jan-13 11:57:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Trills Mon 07-Jan-13 11:58:35

I also object to your phrasing here:

can someone please please tell me why carbs have suddenly become so bad for you?

Nothing ever suddenly becomes bad for you. That's like someone in the 60s saying "how come smoking has suddenly become bad for you?". But we do find out more about how our habits relate to health, so something that was previously considered "good" could now be considered "bad" especially when seen through the filter of people-who-don't-understand-science writing what should be treated as science journalism (but it isn't, because diets are just fluff pieces for the ladies, no need to get in anyone who understands how research works).

upsylazy Mon 07-Jan-13 11:59:51

Trills I know that the psychology around eating is extremely complicated but that doesn't change the physiological way that weight is lost which actually isn't that complicated.

TraineeBabyCatcher Mon 07-Jan-13 12:00:13

I have found that the losing weight part is easy for me. It's finding the motivation to get started.

Jins Mon 07-Jan-13 12:00:51

The carb issue is related to the fact that excess carbohydrate in the diet that we don't use as glucose for energy is stored as glycerol and fatty acids. Excess fat is generally passed through the system and not stored.

specialsubject Mon 07-Jan-13 12:01:31

OP, you are absolutely right. But there is no money to be made from this so only the non-profit health organisations publicise it. The silly fad diets do work short term due to reduced calorie intake, but teach nothing about healthy eating, so the users blubber up again and back they go, sheep-like, to spend more money. The four word diet 'eat healthily, move more' is the only one that works, but it doesn't make a book, nor sell one.

just read the daft intermittent fasting articles, which boil down to; 'I lost loads of weight because I ate fewer calories'. Yes, it's not rocket science, is it? Or read about Atkins users: 'I use it whenever I put on weight'. So it doesn't work, does it?

The body turns all food to sugar of some sort. Sugar is a carbohydrate, chemically. The body needs 40% carbohydrate in the daily diet, but it is much better if it is complex carbs, which provide a slower energy release. Here's the science:

department of the bleeding obvious, OP. But it looks as if very few of us can see the naked emperor.

CockyPants Mon 07-Jan-13 12:01:50

Eat less shit, move more. Simples.

Anniegetyourgun Mon 07-Jan-13 12:02:26

Mmmm, crisps.

Jins Mon 07-Jan-13 12:02:41

I'd also disagree that the physiological way that weight is lost is simple. We are extremely complex machines. The calories in/calories out works for a bomb calorimeter but we don't work that way

Twattybollocks Mon 07-Jan-13 12:02:51

Losing weight in principle is very easy. All you have to do is consume less calories than your body uses. It will then use up your fat stores to fuel itself meaning you lose weight.
Unfortunately the simple tactic of eating less calories and/or increasing your bodies calorific output by exercising is increasingly hard to do when you have a busy lifestyle, and therefore many "experts" devise diets to give faster weight loss results.
Personally I don't think that any diet that reduces a specific food group such as sugar, fat or carbs is sustainable or healthy as a long term option, unless you were previously consuming that food group to excess.
Add to this the fact that most "good for you" type foods actually taste like cardboard and a mere shadow of what your taste buds are used to and it's easy to see why people get disheartened and have the odd mars bar treat!

fluffyraggies Mon 07-Jan-13 12:04:00

Eat less than you burn up. Simple.

The hard bit is finding a plan you can stick to at the time.

I've lost weight by counting calories obsessively. I've lost weight on a raw food diet. I've lost weight on a low carb diet. I've lost weight on a meal replacement diet. I've lost weight by just not eating. I've lost weight by cutting out fat.

So they all work if you stick to them. And if you can then eat healthily enough not to put the blasted stone or two back on angry

May i say that the diet i lost weight fastest on and felt best on was Atkins. I looked and felt fab. It's just so difficult to stick at.

Hobbitation Mon 07-Jan-13 12:04:02

Not complex. Not easy.

Trills Mon 07-Jan-13 12:05:47

It is more complicated than "eat less and move more"

Even "eat less and move more", while simple is actually very hard.

Companies selling diets don't want you to reach a healthy weight and stay at it - not unless you continue buy their stuff while maintaining the weight - so they have no motivation to actually be "correct" in their pseudoscience.

Convict224 Mon 07-Jan-13 12:06:14

I struggle with my weight all the time. I have an extremely slow metabolism so it feels as if I have to maintain a permanent state of hunger to keep to a reasonable weight. So, I find it very helpful to know what foods keep me feeling fuller for longer, low GI, what foods make me fatter quicker, sugars and carbs, and what foods are best to avoid or focus on because of my specific health problems, avoid brocoli eat lots of sunflower seeds and an apple a day.
Since studying my diet more, I have gradually lost 5 stones. It hasn't been just diet as I exercise. I always ate moderately and walked, but my weight loss is a result of applying a more scientific/ educated approach.
I still have occasional lapses...well frequent lapses...

Tortington Mon 07-Jan-13 12:07:07

If you accept that psychology is complicated. Then you have your answer to any behavioural problem.

ICBINEG Mon 07-Jan-13 12:07:19


It is easy to lose weight. If your calorie expenditure per day exceeds your intake than you will lose weight.

It is however, a fact that the kcal numbers on packaging are a vague hand wavy approximation to the calories your own personal body will be able to extract.

Some things (like protein) are cheap for the kcal value and other things (Carbs) are expensive - especially if you have PCOS or something of that ilk. So eating 2000 kcals of protein could result in weight loss when eating 2000 kcals of carbs could result in weight gain.

The real fight of course is to convince yourself that it is worth spending huge mental resources on calculating everything you eat and feeling hungry day in day out in order to lose weight. It is even harder to convince yourself to do this if you find you need to go to bed hungry in order to stay the same weight....

AnnieLobeseder Mon 07-Jan-13 12:08:10

Of course the actual action of losing weight is physiologically simple. Burn more calories than you consume. But the psychology of it is incredibly complicated. All these fad diets work - if they didn't people wouldn't use them and they wouldn't make money. But only an incredibly small percentage of people actually manage to lose weight and keep it off, because the underlying psychological reasons for overeating in the first place are never addressed.

EuroShagmore Mon 07-Jan-13 12:08:41

I completely agree with you OP. All of these fad diets are basically getting you to lower your calorie intake (how many grapefruit can you realistically consume in a day?) regardless of the pseudo-science they claim to rely on. Weightwatchers points are basically branded calories.

The mental aspect of eating is much harder to deal with. As hunter-gatherers from a climate where food was plentiful in some months and scarce in others, we are hard wired to feed ourselves up when food is around. And that is without even getting started on childhood food hangups, like having to clear your plate or food being used as a reward, etc.

Osmiornica Mon 07-Jan-13 12:12:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Itsjustafleshwound Mon 07-Jan-13 12:12:19

The problem is the stigmatising of food and categorising it into good and bad. This is just simplistic and does no favours to anybody.

I read an article which made sense to me - with the advent of fat free and low fat foods, the fat has been removed and replaced with sugar to give it some taste. This had affected the hormones controlling feeling of fullness and partly the reason why we are facing a diabetes epidemic.

If the food is far removed from its natural state or needs to have things added or recooked it needs to be eaten in moderation. Cut down on fats, reduce sugar and include some exercise that increases your heartrate..


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