I saw a video1 of Dr. Robert Baron, UCSF Professor of Medicine, recently. He cites how studies have shown the minimum caloric intake per day should be at least 800 Kcal. This is considered to be VLCD. In the same lecture, he mentions how the body seems to adjust to any new diet within 6 months. It didn’t matter what (fad) diet one chose to use. This suggests to me that I have to “change it up” twice a year to keep the momentum going.
Another important point that Dr. Baron makes is that once you have lost the weight and start the maintenance phase, you must re-assess how much your body needs to maintain its daily function. So, once you get the weight off, you don’t need to eat as much as before you started the weight loss. This seems obvious, but I’ve seen so many that celebrate their weight loss at the buffet restaurant!
I’m also guilty of thinking that I could resume my 2500 Kcal/day intake that I was used to when I lost 40Kg. After I gained 5Kg back, I forced myself to lower my intake to about 1800 Kcal/day. Now that I’ve allowed my skin to “snap back,” I’m looking to lose another 20-25Kg. I’m now forcing myself to about 1000 Kcal/day 6 days a week. I allow myself 1 day where I enjoy an extra snack where the total intake for my “bonus” day should not exceed 1600 Kcal.
As Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatric, explains 2 the first law of thermodynamics with respect to human diets: Calories-Out Weight-Gain will equate with Calories-In. In other words, what your body doesn’t use or dispose, it stores. So, (over) simply stated, eat too much and watch your waist-line expand. However, it’s also important to understand that a calorie does not simply equal a calorie when respecting how the body processes it. Alcohol, for example, gets processed almost immediately into fat. Only a small portion is metabolized (in the brain). Once it’s in the fat stores, the body won’t process it until you’re “starving” for energy.
Dr. Baron also makes an interesting observation regarding the “normal BMI” for humans based on a “cultural bias.”3 The normal BMI range seems to increase respectively for Asians, Caucasians, and Africans. 4 Another study supports this observation as found in Singapore. 5 Although, this study only tests the error in how BMI predicts the BF%. It does show how the normal BMI would be lower for Asians when compared to Caucasians.
Another point that Dr. Baron makes in his lecture was that it’s more important to be “Fit” than to be “normal weight.” He basically shows how even if you are “overweight” your morbidity risk decreases if you are fit. He defines being fit as: walking for an hour at a pace of 17 minutes per mile, talk while you’re walking, wake up the next day and do the same without major stress on the body. So, you can be “fat, but fit” and have a decreased morbidity risk when compared to “skinny, but sedentary.” So, simply stated: primarily be fit and worry about your weight secondary.
Additionally, those whom become fit, but are still “fat” usually become less fat over the coarse of time if they maintain their daily regimen of exercise and discipline… I would imagine that discipline is the most difficult aspect of any weight-loss adventure. It certainly is for me. It’s not the lack of exercise or proper dieting that keeps the weight on. It’s my need of constant motivation and discipline that will determine the success of loosing sufficient weight.
My first 40Kg loss was accomplished by the constant reminder I had of a girlfriend that left me because I was still too fat (among other factors). The motivation must be strong enough, or the endeavor will fail.