Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the 100 calorie deficit

ok, so people know they should be losing weight; they have read and heard it ad infinitum. they feel terribly guilty about their excess weight, their diet and exercise habits, and their burden on the health care system. and they refuse to engage in the long hard arduous struggle to counter the effects of modern living, otherwise known as sedentariness and gluttony. but no formula thusfar has met the match to satisfy people's emotional need to meet some possibly unrealistic standards of leanness. and few will achieve the level of commitment necessary to get there. but here's the kicker: is it worth even trying?

this article - http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/in-obesity-epidemic-whats-one-cookie/?em - discusses the 100 calorie method. this method is one i use to educate clients. it states that creating a 100 calorie deficit each day, primarily by eliminating a wasted calorie food - like sugary, fatty foods, or cutting back on alcoholic beverage - will theoretically yield a 10 lb wt loss at the end of a year. they look at me with sadness, wishing to accomplish this goal faster, sooner. when i add that a 100 calorie walk - about a mile if briskly done - adds another 10 lbs lost that next year, they warm up. now, the prospect of losing 20 lbs of real wt, not muscle or water but fat, seems more reasonable and realistic to them. still, very few will make the effort over the long haul. i've had clients stay with me for, in some cases, up to 20 years, and still they can't seem to make the commitment to lose. granted, they have for the most part maintained wt over the long haul, so that does count as a victory over wt gain. but they would still like to, and need to, lose some for health if not appearance, and still can't, with educated knowledge and fiscal security, make that level of commitment.

this article discusses the possibility that the science behind the 100 cal deficit fails to acknowledge the metabolic changes that slow wt loss down even if at this steady rate of deficiting. that is true - as you lose, you need less energy to move so to keep losing you have to reduce even more calories. that's exactly why exercise HAS to be part of the formula. as you lose, you can move easier, faster, longer, and thereby burn more calories in less time, tho with greater effort, on an absolute scale. that is, since you are lighter, you move faster, and the outsider looking in would fret at the prospect of having to move as fast as you. however, it was harder to move as fast when you were heavier, so the relative work was greater.  bottom line, in my humble opinion, is that the relative work is similar, or needs to be, in order to burn off 100 calories, so get over it. being lighter is less stressful to the musculoskeletal system (easier on the joints) and the cardiovascular system (easier on the heart), and therefore has value over and above wt loss itself. [yes, it's possible to be too light, too skinny, too unhealthy, but that's not the issue for 67% of americans.]

so, for the person willing to listen to reason when it comes to wt loss, here's the dr. irv 200 calorie solution: reduce intake by 100/day and move briskly 15 continuous minutes/day and wait - the wt, the fat will slowly but surely slide off. at the end of a year, you will lose a solid 10-20 lbs and won't have to struggle to do so. furthermore, you won't have to struggle to keep it off. finally, it may not make all your problems go away, but at least the problem of feeling guilty about failure because of the daunting efforts demanded by other methods will no longer exist. good luck.

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Dr.Irv