Since it seems like half the people around me have gone on some kind of health kick since the beginning of the year, I thought I should pass along this link I just came across, to a post analyzing studies of weight-loss dieting.
Money shot: “the more you diet, the harder losing weight becomes over the long term, and the harder your body will fight to retain fat.”
Mind you, I have issues with that post. First and foremost is that the writer doesn’t define what s/he means by “weight-loss dieting” — which lack of clarity makes it easy to hit the end of that post and believe that there’s nothing we can ever do to significantly change our body weight over a long period of time, and even if we do succeed all we’ve accomplished is to increase our risk of mortality.
I doubt that.
I’m going to presume that, by “weight-loss dieting,” the writer means restricted-calorie diets, and/or diets focusing on eating very restricted sorts of foods. (Grapefruit diets, etc.) There’s some good stuff further down about the idea that fat people overeat, and skinny people eat “normally;” I’d love to see a proper statistical analysis on a cross-section of the American population, but the attempted weight-gain study (or rather, its failure) was interesting. Short form is, I’m willing to buy the idea that overweight people are not necessarily overweight because of overeating, and therefore that restricting their eating is not and never will be a successful strategy.
I’m also going to presume that the writer doesn’t mean this information to refer to what we might otherwise call “a healthy diet.” Whether or not reducing refined foods and eating more fruits and vegetables will induce substantial weight loss, I’ve got to believe it’s a good idea for health reasons. Otherwise, we might as well fire the entire medical and nutritional professions en masse, and all go out for ice cream.
My final presumption is that the data there does not apply to an exercise-based weight-loss program. Do you suffer increased risk of heart disease if you lost your twenty pounds by walking more and driving less, or going to the gym three times a week? It doesn’t make sense to me that you would, but even if that’s the case, I will bet that the statistics and charts and graphs would be different than the ones for simple dieting. Are you more likely to lose weight and keep it off if you do it via exercise? If not, then there really isn’t anything a person can do to successfully and healthily shift their weight downward. Again, we need different statistics for that. I don’t expect the diet stats to apply there.
Because if weight loss is actually that bad for you, regardless of whether you do it by calorie restriction or healthy eating or exercise, then we’re even more screwed than we knew.
Anyway, there’s been a million discussions in my social circle about dieting and the Bad Idea-ness thereof, so I wanted to link to something that cited actual studies, complete with a bibliography of peer-reviewed articles at the end. Short form is, I stand by what I’ve said all along: eat better food, not less food, and get thee to a gym.
If somebody knows a reason why that’s a bad idea, please share.