"Still Counting Calories? Your Weight-Loss Plan May Be Outdated"

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LEKelly

Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 7

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Posted: 19 Jul 2011, 19:27
That's the title of today's PERSONAL HEALTH column by my favorite health writer, Jane E. Brody. In this week's column she puts a recent Harvard U. study in plain English for us (although it sounds like the original study might actually be worth reading).

The most interesting line to me was "That yogurt, among all foods, was most strongly linked to weight loss was the study's most surprising finding." And for all you peanut butter lovers, eating peanut butter is also tied to weight loss (probably because it slows the return on hunger).

Here is the link to the article: http://nyti.ms/qggq3D

Brody's sidebar "Choose Foods to Shed the Pounds" is pretty basic stuff for people on this forum but it's all good advice and worth hearing again. http://nyti.ms/p3tBp4

HealthyBabs

Joined: Aug 10
Posts: 330

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Posted: 19 Jul 2011, 19:47
I so agree with this article. If it were merely as simple as calories in vs calories out, I would have lost over 80 lbs already. The science of weight loss is not that simple I am afraid.
*********************************************************************
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF, LOVE YOURSELF AND EDUCATE YOURSELF EVERYDAY THROUGHOUT THIS JOURNEY YOU ARE ON!----Motto of HealthyBabs

DO NOT ASK GOD TO HELP YOU WALK THRU YOUR JOURNEY IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO MOVE YOUR FEET - JEREMIAH

Here is my proof that I am getting it done one pound at a time, one step at a time!
gnat824

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 1,708

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Posted: 19 Jul 2011, 20:29
Wow...the things to eat in this article pretty much sums up my diet. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, and I have both PB and yogurt almost daily. I think a lot of us have already learned that calorie counting alone isn't going to get you there when your diet consists of french fries, coke and oreos. This seems to be a point on which all the big diets agree - cut the refined carbs!

One thing that struck me was the rate of weight gain- 1 lb a year seems pretty innocuous, but if you do it consistently, they add up!
- Natalie
Nimm

Joined: Dec 10
Posts: 669

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Posted: 19 Jul 2011, 21:48
I'd link to an00bis' post about correlation vs causation if I could find it....lean meats showing up on the "fat food" list is a good example why.

An observational study based on self-reported diets is of little practical value, unfortunately.
kingkeld

Joined: Sep 09
Posts: 1,995

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Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 01:20
...and then again, I am "only" counting calories, with a little peek at eating varied, but not religiously, and I have lost over 120 lbs in 9 months... something STILL works in there. Smile
Of course, we have to be aware of what we eat, but my attempt (which I'm succeeding) is to stay within eating "normal" food that I can easily live with for the rest of my life, and STILL lose weight and - even more important - afterwards maintain without having to feel like I am on a special diet in all future. I want to be able to go out with my buddies and eat (but of course not french fries constantly - I will need to make wise choices). I want to be able to do what I did before, only in moderation. I want to be able to live a "perfectly normal life" that does not exclude all the fun stuff. Smile
Counting calories DOES work. It IS simple math. But of course there are maybe ways to boost the weight loss even more. Then again, I'm not in a hurry.

Visit my website: www.tabdig.info

"Losing weight is never about eating as little as possible"
- Kingkeld.
"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.
― Eleanor Roosevelt
"Do. Or do not. There is no trying."
- Master Yoda.

I went from morbidly obese to being the owner of TABDIG - a weight loss coaching service that helps people worldwide losing weight. It's been an amazing journey. From October 4th 2010 to April 3rd 2012 I lost half my body weight - 80 kilos/170 lbs. Since then, I have had two cosmetic surgeries to remove excess skin. I have now quadrupled my strength, gained several kilos in muscle mass, and today I focus on building muscle, optimizing my diet, living healthy and helping people to reach the very same goals. I am stronger, healthier, thinner, happier! If you feel that you need help losing weight, don't hesitate to send me an inbox message.
gnat824

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 1,708

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 06:51
Seriously, is someone going to bring up correlation and causation EVERY TIME there's an interesting study posted? I have a background in statistical analysis and understand the limitations, but, again, when we're talking about lifestyle studies, that kind of data is not always available and that doesn't means studies based on observations are useless. Especially when it adds to a body of evidence supporting conclusions from other studies. Yes, I suppose that there might be some sinister exogenous variable at work in all these types of studies that is the real culprit, but the more studies that real similar findings, the smaller the chance that is.

Is it your expectation that people should stop sharing studies they find interesting unless they meet your rigorous scientific standards? Or does every comment on such a post need to include a disclaimer that states that we understand that we are aware of the limitations? The bottom line is that a LOT of what we know in this area will continue to be based on these observational studies and there are many of us that enjoy reading, sharing and discussing them.
- Natalie
kingkeld

Joined: Sep 09
Posts: 1,995

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 07:47
@gnat824 - I am not sure if your post was directed towards my comment - just sharing my experience. A postulation was made - "If it were merely as simple as calories in vs calories out, I would have lost over 80 lbs already. The science of weight loss is not that simple I am afraid." - and I simply put in my two cents on this. I have had MASSIVE success "just counting calories" and I wanted to share this, so that people who do the same do not feel too discouraged. We all come here for information, and I think it's GREAT when users share articles and experiences. BUT posting it in a forum is also inviting fellow users to comment on it. That's the beauty of a forum. Smile
I meant no harm in my comment. Just stating my opinion on the topic. Now, let's all group hug!

Visit my website: www.tabdig.info

"Losing weight is never about eating as little as possible"
- Kingkeld.
"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.
― Eleanor Roosevelt
"Do. Or do not. There is no trying."
- Master Yoda.

I went from morbidly obese to being the owner of TABDIG - a weight loss coaching service that helps people worldwide losing weight. It's been an amazing journey. From October 4th 2010 to April 3rd 2012 I lost half my body weight - 80 kilos/170 lbs. Since then, I have had two cosmetic surgeries to remove excess skin. I have now quadrupled my strength, gained several kilos in muscle mass, and today I focus on building muscle, optimizing my diet, living healthy and helping people to reach the very same goals. I am stronger, healthier, thinner, happier! If you feel that you need help losing weight, don't hesitate to send me an inbox message.
mdep1229

Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 387

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 07:54
Here you go:

http://fatsecret.com/Community.aspx?pa=fp&dietid=0&m=250005

Unfortunately based on my observation Very Happy , most people don't really want to learn about new studies. Instead, they look for studies to re-affirm and support their existing beliefs: those on low-carb/Atkins type of diets love studies that show carbs are the mother of all evils (such as Fat Head) and those on real food/eat clean type diets keep referring to Michael Pollen or Mart Bittman (and I admit I am guilty of doing that), and so on.

In addition, unless you read the entire paper, quotes and/or references by newspaper and journals are often meaningless because they don't usually include all the details in the study, such as any confounding factors. And for every studies that says calorie count does not work, there is one to show that calorie count is all that matters. Remember the "Twinkies Diet"?

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what studies are out there, if you find a diet that works for you, stick to it, but keep in mind there is no one-size-fit-all approach as we each have unique physiological makeup and life-style.
Nimm

Joined: Dec 10
Posts: 669

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 08:47
gnat824 wrote:
Seriously, is someone going to bring up correlation and causation EVERY TIME there's an interesting study posted?


Well, I wouldn't have brought it up except that once again the article that was linked (NOT the study itself) was fast and loose with the implications of the study. And whether or not the study was "interesting" depends on what you make of the conclusions that can be drawn from it. I don't think there is much to conclude, and the article's thinly-veiled suggestions that the "bad foods" CAUSE weight gain (independent of any other factors like, say, quantity) and the "good foods" CAUSE weight loss (independent of any other factors like, say, quantity) is simply not accurate. But a lot of people are going to read the article, and come away with that conclusion.
A fair conclusion from the study is basically that people who gain less weight might eat more of certain nutritious foods, and might eat less of certain other foods that are less nutritious, and vice versa. I say "might," because again this is all self-reported information, which we already know is notoriously inaccurate for the most part. We also learn that people who gain more weight might also eat more of some of the more nutritious foods (i.e., lean meats). So, if anything, that tends to undermine the implication of the article (again, not the study itself).

gnat824 wrote:
Is it your expectation that people should stop sharing studies they find interesting unless they meet your rigorous scientific standards? Or does every comment on such a post need to include a disclaimer that states that we understand that we are aware of the limitations?


No, I'm not telling anyone to shut up and stop posting. But a) articles in the popular media that sensationalize and subtly distort rather mundane research are not as interesting as the source material itself, and b) not everyone does, in fact, recognize how the media distort the "takeaway" conclusions from the research. This happens to the best of us, so yes, I do think it is important to contextualize the issue.
gnat824

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 1,708

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 08:59
Nimm, I agree that you have to take summary findings with a grain of salt until you read the actual study. Unfortunately, without access to a database that carries all the latest medical journals, it's what we get. It also all depends on what you're using the info for. As a discussion piece or a little tidbit of info to stow away, it doesn't really matter. I appreciate that it validates decisions I'm already making, but if it were otherwise, I wouldn't be changing that based on this article. I think your argument about context and not making greater inferences than are warranted are separate from the issue of causality. I would be interested to see this particular study because if they're reporting numbers like .3 lb gain over 4 years associated with butter, the significance should be very high to be worth reporting such a small magnitude.
- Natalie
Nimm

Joined: Dec 10
Posts: 669

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 09:02
And having re-read the article, it would not surprise me at all if a lot of people who read it end up wondering why they're not losing weight, when they got a free pass to eat all the yogurt and nuts that they want, and overate both.

Between the protein, fiber, and fats, nuts are particularly satiating, and that is almost certainly why their presence in a diet tends to not result in an overall calorie excess (either that or the people eating more of them tend to be more health-conscious in the first place, and are intentionally and specifically REPLACING other calories with nuts). But the article just sort of floats that out there as a "eh, maybe" explanatory afterthought. After saying "weight loss was greatest among people who ate more yogurt and nuts, including peanut butter." Surely, you can see how someone is going to read that and conclude "eating more yogurt and peanut butter = more weight loss." Which just isn't true unless those foods are replacing other calories, for what should be obvious reasons (namely, 95+ calories per tablespoon for PB).
gnat824

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 1,708

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 09:15
Agreed that the title of the article is misleading- calorie counting ALONE isn't enough, but not thinking about your calorie levels because you're eating "the good foods" is also dangerous. The article does mention their suspicions that PB eaters are fuller longer but doesn't really link that to the fact that they're probably EATING LESS overall because they're eating a food that is satisfying their hunger and making them less likely to eat more food later. Seems like we really need a good study on what yogurt actually does- lots of recent hypotheses on health benefits, but none supported by any real science on what actually happens in the digestion process.
- Natalie
greerp

Joined: Apr 11
Posts: 496

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 09:27
Nimm stop making so much sense.
reti856

Joined: Mar 11
Posts: 456

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Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 12:41
Nimm, I was just ranting to myself about the inevitable increase in eating disordered Yoplait commercials and nonsense Skippy and Jif ads.

With zero dieting intention, I went on a peanutbutter binge of sorts in Fall 2008 that accounted for about 10 pounds of weight gain by Winter. Granted it was a Skippy (ugh, filler and sugar, etc.) binge and it was just about the only thing I craved - and often - while the rest of my diet stayed the same. Adding 200 to 300 calories a day of PB, while changing nothing else in diet/exercise will get you nothing but chubbier. I sure was happy with my morning peanutbutter sandwich though. Laughing

Your note about the article's effect on consumption of PB and yogurt reminds me of my Dad's response to Atkins hearsay (he's not a reader) wherein he thinks eating a ton of cheese and sausage daily will make up for his tendency to routinely eat half a chocolate cake.
Nimm

Joined: Dec 10
Posts: 669

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 13:28
ginnyray wrote:
Your note about the article's effect on consumption of PB and yogurt reminds me of my Dad's response to Atkins hearsay (he's not a reader) wherein he thinks eating a ton of cheese and sausage daily will make up for his tendency to routinely eat half a chocolate cake.


Wow. Words fail Confused

But I think that's a great example of how people are very inclined to filter diet and nutrition advice through a lens that excuses eating more.

So IF information (word of mouth, newspaper articles, whatever) is floating around suggesting that Food X correlates with weight loss...someone - in fact, probably a lot of people - are going to file that away as "It doesn't matter how much Food X I eat." Because that's what we want to hear. Lord knows I do that about some foods, and it's a hard temptation to resist.
hkaruga

Joined: Apr 11
Posts: 129

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Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 17:53
Most yougurt that people I see eating in totally crap, chalk full of sugar... This basically says and proves nothing. Eating one food or another does not automatically equal weight loss, sure some foods offer greater nutrients for the calories than others. I am a personal believer than my body is the best judge of when I have consumed an adequate amount of food not some number on a package. Plus if you believe observational, self reported studies from Harvard you would have read the one on their school of public health that explains that low carb diets are more effective than low fat or even mediterrean inspired diets at producing weight loss and by far more effective at impoving triglycerides and both raising HDL and lowering LDL. Low carb diets do not require one to consume low levels of red meat, nor do they tend to encourage the consumption of high sugar fruits. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/weight-loss-study/index.html

Again I give very little validity to such studies but if we want to use them to push personal agendas I can too.
nolechick

Joined: Apr 11
Posts: 122

      quote  
Posted: 20 Jul 2011, 22:12
hkaruga wrote:
some foods offer greater nutrients for the calories than others


Bingo... and we haven't even brought into account the thermic effect of different foods. To think that all calories are created equally is naive. 300 cals from mac and cheese is not the same thermally as lean chicken breast (the chicken ends up less calories, around 210, due to it's high thermic effect... not so with the mac and cheese). It takes the body more energy to burn protein than simple carbs and fat. Ask any successful bodybuilder.

I count calories and will continue to do so. I don't do it blindly though and know that certain foods are the building blocks of my nutrition.
"Mediocrity is climbing molehills without sweating..." - Icelandic proverb
reti856

Joined: Mar 11
Posts: 456

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Posted: 21 Jul 2011, 09:08
I admit that am lately addicted to unsweetened, strained greek yogurt. It seems to be perfectly healthy, pretty low calorie and high protein, to me. I add some nuts and fruit and it's a very happy meal staple for me. I had not previously been unable to tolerate any dairy but for some reason, this sort of yogurt sits fine with my digestive system. It's a very nice, filling, treat.

By contrast, I tried to eat one of my grandmother's 60 calorie "light n' fit" dannon yogurts this weekend and it was repugnant. Tasted awful - so much artifical sweetener that it burned. Talk about some unworthy calories!
reti856

Joined: Mar 11
Posts: 456

      quote  
Posted: 21 Jul 2011, 09:20
Today on Slate.com: http://www.slate.com/id/2299545/ "Is Yogurt Good for You?"
gnat824

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 1,708

      quote  
Posted: 21 Jul 2011, 09:53
Thanks, Ginnyray. Lots of interesting research going on in probiotics. I'm with you on the greek yogurt. I hate how all the other brands use artificial sweeteners in their nonfat varieties- way too sweet!
- Natalie



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