Recent media reports circulating around the interwebs reveal “surprising findings” in “breakthrough” research: that long-term dieting makes people gain weight. But this isn’t new or surprising, it’s just something that conventional wisdom has not yet accepted as truth despite its basis in scientific and physiological fact.
We’ve known this for years. Dieting makes you fat. Not convinced? Take a listen below.
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Dieting is a squishy term these days that has a variety of connotations. When I refer to “dieting,” I am speaking about caloric restriction, or eating fewer calories than you burn for an extended period of time. (If you don’t already know why dieting doesn’t work, don’t fret, I’ll get to that in a moment.)
But this particular study is not the only issue I ultimately want to address today…
Ladies and gentlemen, I am fired up. Once again, the media has taken a perfectly reasonable research study and twisted it into a bizarre plug – for appetite-suppressing drugs and weight loss surgery, no less. Classy.
Firstly, the Fact that Dieting Makes People Fat Is Not News
Despite decades of proven evidence in scientific literature, it is amazing how few people seem to be aware of the fact that long-term dieting is counterproductive.
Years ago, my father shared a story about his sister who struggled with weight during adolescence. To encourage weight loss, her doctor put her on an insanely restrictive diet regimen. Although it was painful and required incredible willpower and restraint, she successfully limited herself to a starvation diet of fewer than 600 calories a day. She lost several pounds over the course of a few weeks, but the weight loss eventually stalled. And then the weight came back.
How could it be that her siblings could eat over 3000 calories a day and stay lean while she was eating less than 600 and remained overweight? The answer is, principally: hormones. When you starve yourself, your metabolism slows as an adaptive response, you lose muscle, and you gain fat as soon as you start eating normally again.
It isn’t the quantity of food that really matters – it’s the quality. The modern perception that “a calorie is a calorie” is simply wrong. By that line of logic, chugging a soda makes you just as fat as eating a can of tuna. That is completely preposterous. The quality and type of food you put in your body has far reaching effects on your hormones and metabolism.
The Study in Question
Joseph Proietto, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Melbourne put 50 overweight men and women on a very low-calorie diet for 10 weeks and tracked their hormone levels. They found that hunger-related hormones remain at altered levels for at least a year and they gained back an average of 12 pounds.
Not earth shattering, but sounds reasonable. Let’s see what CNN has to say about it…
CNN: “As many as 80% of overweight people who manage to slim down noticeably after a diet gain some or all of the weight back within one year.”
Not very good odds. I agree. Dieting through calorie restriction doesn’t work.
CNN: “Maintenance of weight loss requires continued vigilance and conscious effort to resist hunger.”
Well, no. Not if you’re eating nutrient-dense foods that make you full.
CNN: “Finding an appetite suppressant is the next logical step in research.”
CNN: “Until then, weight-loss surgery is a possible option for severely obese people who have not been able to keep weight off…”
What the hell? Are you kidding me?
How is it that the only solutions presented by CNN are that fat people buy appetite-suppressing drugs or get their stomach stapled?!?
How about you just stop eating foods that make you fat?
An advertisement nestled within the CNN article read, “Health.com: 25 ways to cut 500 calories a day!” In the middle of an article that says that caloric restriction doesn’t work. Amusing.
I mean, sloppy.
It reminds me of the time I read an article about Andrea Yates horrifically drowning her 5 children in her bathtub. And in the sidebar Google showed advertisements for buying bathtubs.
Or when I was searching for a refresher on proper use of the semicolon and was presented for an ad for “COLONBLOW! A NATURAL, NO-NONSENSE, AGGRESSIVE APPROACH TO COLON CLEANSING!” Wrong colon, Google.
But that’s neither here nor there…
The Answer to Permanent Weight Loss Is Mind-Numbingly Simple
The solution to achieving healthy weight loss is so ridiculously simple. Cut out refined flour, processed and chemically-altered “diet” foods, and sugar, and you will lose weight immediately and permanently – guaranteed.
No drugs, no stomach stapling, no starvation. Just stop eating fake food and eat real food.
Why is CNN recommending appetite suppressing drugs and weight loss surgery as the only two options to treat obesity? When will the media address the issue of healthy weight loss and nutrition responsibly? Oh, that’s right… There’s no money in real food.
For now, I guess we’ll have to fend for ourselves. We paleo/primal folks may be pushed to the fringe, but at least we know what we’re talking about. And our health speaks for itself.
Enough ranting for now. What you do you folks think about how the media treats these issues? Are you as fired up as I am?