Tag Archives: Health

Can Dieting “Ruin” My Metabolism?

A writer asks, “I’ve heard that my metabolic rate screeches to a halt if I go on a calorie restricted diet. I’ve heard my metabolism will be ‘ruined for life’ if I lose weight that way. OMG! Is this true?”

(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics,  and he’s kept it off for over 25 years. Read about his method of fast permanent weight loss and the clients who have used them by clicking on the menu above.)

The answer is a big authoritative NO, evidenced by NIH  funded research at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine.  I’ll explain more about that study below, but first, let’s clear up any misunderstandings you may have about a “calorie restricted” weight loss diet, as opposed to any other weight loss diet that works, as if there was such a thing.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a landmark study about a year ago of the longest, largest and most rigorous test of several popular diet strategies (low carb vs low fat, etc.), to see which worked best.  The research, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, showed that as long as people reduced their caloric intake, the diet worked, and it didn’t matter how. All the diets worked, that is, any diet that was low in calories. A diet that was not low in calories (not calorie restrictive) did not work. The lesson, researchers say, is that people lose weight if they lower their calories. “It really does cut through the hype,” said Dr. Frank M. Sacks, the study’s lead author and professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health.

So, let’s be clear on this. The only way to lose weight is to restrict your caloric intake so that it is lower than your metabolic rate. It could be a goofy diet, or it could be real food in a way you can live with. Doesn’t matter. Create a deficit of 3500 calories and you lose a pound. If you are a 5′ 0″ woman with a metabolic rate of 1500 calories per day, and you restrict it to 1000, that would equate to a pound a week, 50 lbs. in a year. That is not an extreme restriction that produces a fast loss, but it is reality, and it is a fantastic success for my clients who do it. It changes their life. Forget about phony baloney gimmicks that promise to get around the realities of thermodynamics. Forget about losing weight without restricting calories. It’s not going to happen in this Universe. “Restricting” your caloric intake is the only way to lose weight, whether it is a goofy diet where you don’t realize that’s what you’re doing, or real changes with real food and habits that you’ll make permanent.

Now, before you keel over, thinking you’ll never be able to lower your calories for even a day, let alone for life, let me assure you that it can be done with the right method. I’ve trained thousands to achieve permanent weight loss, and some have even gotten to the point where they say it’s easy, second nature. Doing  what they need to do to maintain their success has become a satisfying way of life. For more information, go to www.TheAndersonMethod.com .

Now, back to the original question: Does reducing your caloric intake for a long period of time (I lost 140 lbs. in 18 months) permanently lower your metabolism so that when you’re done, you’re worse off than before?

It is widely accepted that after a while on a reduced calorie regimen, your body becomes more efficient metabolically and tries to get by on the lesser amount you’re eating, making it harder to lose weight.  You may have found that after a month or so on a diet, the weight loss slows, and you start hitting plateaus. After a few months, you may find that you don’t feel hot as much as you did before the diet, or you feel chilly more often and the plateaus get longer. Most people are unable to a continue a diet in the face of these discouragements, and that’s an understatement. Most of us have a hard time sticking to a diet for even a week, even when it’s working! While some clever entrepreneurs find that this slow-up creates a great market for products and magic to change this, there is little you can do to change this evolutionary and genetically predetermined response to “undereating”. Its nature’s way to help you survive a famine. The closest you can come to negating this “lowered metabolic response”  is to use the kind of strategies employed by The Anderson Method to thwart it, such as the lifetime eating patterns we’ve developed with lower calories on five of seven days, or a diet that does not eliminate your normal foods. These strategies are designed to “fool” your body so it does not sense a lack of food abundance. They are also designed to satiate the mind/body. I introduced this method over twenty-five years ago, and it has now become commonplace in the weight loss community. Increased activity is also a good idea.

Rather than try to change your body’s “metabolic efficiency response” to less food, an inborn trait that has been developed through many generations of evolution, it makes more sense to figure out how to continue losing weight in spite of it. This, we have done, by persisting in a reduced calorie regimen sufficiently low to lose any amount of weight you want, no matter how long it takes, and keep it off. With my method, we have found a way to thwart this “metabolic efficiency response”, and lose as much as you need to, and keep it off.

If our body does indeed lower its metabolism when we give it less food for an extended period of time, does it stay low forever? This is the fear of my writer with her question. Does the metabolic rate go back up when you stop eating very little, or does it get “ruined”, staying low forever and therefore making it easier to gain weight after the diet? Are we worse off trying to lose weight?

This is the question addressed by the research study I first referred to, funded by the NIH, at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine. Do people who have lost large amounts of weight through calorie restriction now have a lower metabolism because of the dieting?

For this, they compared a group of people who had lost large amounts of weight to like-sized people who had never been overweight. Working with the National Weight Control Registry, the largest and oldest longitudinal study of successful weight loss in the world, they assembled a group of documented formerly obese people who had kept the weight off for over a year,  and compared their metabolic rates and body composition with like-sized people who had never been overweight and never been on calorie restricted diets. (Even though I am one of the study subjects of the NWCR, I was not one of the participants in this study and have had no contact with the NWCR other than being one of their guinea pigs.)

The methods of assessment were not subjective reporting by participants. In other words, self-reports of metabolism like “I really don’t eat that much anymore and still gain weight” were not accepted. The RMR (resting metabolic rate) of all participants was scientifically measured using ventilated-hood, indirect calorimetry with a SensorMedics 2900 oxygen uptake system. This device measures the amount of oxygen used in the combustion of your biofuel, and therefore the amount of calories you are burning. There is no fooling this device.

They found that the metabolic rates of those who had lost a great deal of weight on long-term calorie restricted diets was no different from people who had never been “dieting”.  Losing weight on a “calorie restricted diet” does not ruin your metabolism.

The conclusion of the study? “We found no indication of increased energy efficiency in a group of individuals who have been successful in long-term weight maintenance. The RMR in this group of reduced-obese subjects was not significantly different from that in control subjects. This suggests that an increased metabolic efficiency is not an obligatory consequence of weight reduction. ”

However, you may ask, if we lose weight, is our metabolic rate lower than when we were overweight? Perhaps, slightly. As I point out in my book, The Anderson Method, your metabolic rate, without activity being considered, depends on the amount of lean body mass you have, which depends mainly on your height. If you were to reduce greatly the amount of lean body mass you have, then yes, your metabolic requirement would be lower. However, most of us who are overweight are overweight because we’ve accumulated excess fat, not excess muscle. Fat is not metabolically active like muscle, so when we lose our excess fat, it does not change our metabolic rate in any real way. This has been borne out in case after case with my clients who have their metabolic rates assessed scientifically with respiration calorimeters, like the SensorMedics 2900.  In fact, their living metabolic rates are often higher after weight loss with “calorie restrictive dieting” because they are able to get around better and they are more active.

Don’t let nonsensical diet and weight loss malarkey keep you from doing what you need to do to lose weight and have a healthier happier life. Will you need to eat less than the overindulgence we have gotten used to? Yes. Will you need to eat less for the rest of your life to keep it off? Yes. Is it awful and impossible to do this? Absolutely not.

You can learn to live in a new way that is much healthier and happier than what you’ve been doing if you are overweight. It will be work, harder than what you’ve been doing in many respects. But being overweight is not an easy road. Having been there, I know this too well. Getting healthy is work, and there are things we have to let go of and change that are hard to let go of and change. However, there is a happier and more satisfying way to live waiting for you if you want to solve your weight problem. Follow me.

How Does Spot Reducing Work? How Can I Get Rid of Belly Fat or Arm Flaps?

The short answer is that spot reducing doesn’t work. Spot reducing is a myth. However, there is a way to reduce the fat at those spots. Does that sound like a contradiction? I’ll explain.

(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics,  and he’s kept it off for over 25 years. Read about his method of fast permanent weight loss and the clients who have used them by clicking on the menu above.)

For ages, people have been unhappy with fat bellies, upper arm flab and love handles. It was especially frustrating if they were otherwise OK with things. Many people weren’t interested in losing weight as much as sculpting their bodies. All they wanted to change was the part they were unhappy with.

So they were suckers for products and schemes that promised to do just that. They’d do sit-ups to reduce their belly, triceps exercises to get rid of arm flab, and side bends or twisting to get rid of the love handles, all to no avail.  They’d buy special potions, pills and devices that promised to melt the fat in certain areas or creams to rub on the offending part. There were special diets that claimed to do the same. They were led to believe they could melt the fat at certain areas or tighten up the skin. These things sounded like they might work, based on the rationale proposed, but it was pure malarkey.

Here are the facts:

Your body will store fat where you are genetically coded to store it. Look at your relatives and you’ll get a clue where the calories will be stock piled if you eat too much. Short of cosmetic surgery, there’s no way you can change that. The best you can do is to avoid having too much fat on your body, and as you know from my book, it can be done, guaranteed. I have never had a client not lose weight when they have undereaten sufficiently. If you’re not familiar with my work, you can learn more about my method and my book at www.TheAndersonMethod.com

For most of us, the first place fat is stored (and the last place it comes off when we lose weight) is the belly. Sometimes it’s the love handles. Despite what you may have been told and believed in, exercise won’t  use up the fat stored at the particular site of the muscle being exercised. The exercise will use calories from your body’s energy delivery system, but if you are eating as many or more calories than you are burning, the fat stays wherever its stored, or worse, grows. However, when you create the caloric deficit that we do in The Anderson Method, by eating fewer calories than you burn, you will use up the fat stored. That’s the only way to get rid of those accumulations.

Body building is another matter. You can build muscle with weight resistance exercise, and this will give your body a better shape, besides being beneficial in other ways, like increasing your metabolism, strengthening your bones and creating more resistence to injury. With a balanced muscle strengthening and toning routine you’ll have less back and body ache, and greater physical abilities. In the abdominal area, you’ll have a tighter core structure, which will look better if you do get rid of the excess belly fat.

Baggy or saggy skin is an entirely different matter. If you were overweight, you grew extra skin to accomodate the bulk. When you lose weight, there will be some shrinking and absorbtion, but with the loss of elasticity, there is often excess loose skin where gravity makes it collect. Exercise or skin creams will not change this.  If you build muscle, that may fill up the space some, but you may still have excess skin.  Plastic surgery can remedy this if it the excess skin causes more discomfort than you want to tolerate. However, there are worse things than having loose skin. I certainly understand when someone wants to fix it, believe me, but I have seen people working out their arms and abs like crazy, thinking that it will make the skin tighten up, and my heart goes out to them. They are working hard at something that will never work. I think it is better to accept that loose skin is not the worst thing to have.  If it has occurred to you that staying overweight will keep you from having loose skin, that would be a big a mistake. Health is much more important than vanity. And plastic surgery is always an option if you can’t stand it.

The bottom line is that you can reduce the fat stores that accumulate on certain body parts by reducing the total fat content of your body. That’s done by getting your eating right, undereating like my method teaches. Then, if you want, you can do some body building too. That’s how people get those good looking abs. They work the stomach to build the muscle, and then they reduce the fat stores so they are not covered by fat anymore. If you work out but don’t undereat to get rid of the fat, you’ll just have great abdominal muscles that you can’t see because they are covered up by the fat.

In the end, it is better to make health your goal rather than a certain fashionable appearence. Fashion may dictate that certain legs, arms, noses, thighs and waists are popular, but your body is designed by genetics and a creator that is more interested in you than fashion. Fashions change. Fashion is fickle. What created you is not. Put what is constant in your life ahead of what is fickle. Your genetics and you have your own unique qualities, body characteristics included, for reasons, even if you don’t know what they are. You may come from a line that stores all it’s fat in the bottom half, or in the calves and upper arms. Maybe it served a beautiful purpose in the past, helping your clan to survive. Maybe it will serve a great purpose in the future, its beauty not yet revealed. We need to love these characteristics. We need to respect how we were created and love ourselves as we were made. If we get ourselves healthy, at a healthy weight and body composition, we need to be happy with that. The fashion czars tell us what is beautiful, but next year it will be something different. Who are the fashion czars to judge and criticize what the creator has made? They are not in charge. There is real lasting beauty in real creation, beauty that has been miraculous for eons. It is in you and all about you. It is you. You will begin to see it if you open your mind and your eyes to it. Make health the goal instead of fashion, and you will begin to appreciate the beauty of your own creation. There is more miraculous beauty  in your big toe than all the fashion tabloids that have ever existed.

Forget about spot reducing. Focus instead on building yourself up.

Can Eating Every Two Hours Really Help Me Lose Weight?

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If I ate every two hours, I’d still be over 300 pounds.

If you’re not familiar with me and my work, I’m the psychotherapist who discovered how to lose weight permanently when I lost 140 lbs. after 25 years of failure at diets and exercise. I’ve kept it off for over twenty-five years, teach others these methods, and I’ve written a book about it, The Anderson Method. Click on “The Method”, and “Testimonials” in the menu bar above to get more details on the method and what readers and clients are saying about it.

We hear from various diet, exercise and “weight loss coaches” that eating every two hours boosts your metabolism, that it prevents it from slowing down when you don’t eat. People get the idea that they are going to start burning lots of calories by eating, almost like exercise will burn more calories.

What nonsense. I’ve looked for the science that supports these claims, and it’s hard to find anything other than findings that the thermogenic effect of eating is about 3%. If you don’t eat often, your metabolism drops by 3%. Even if that was all day, the net effect would be a caloric savings of 50 to 100 calories. If you end up eating an extra 1000 calories by eating every two hours, very easy to do, you’d end up with a surplus that is the equivalent of a weight gain of 2 lbs. a week. Maybe people who never really had an overeating problem could eat every couple of hours and keep the day’s calories low enough to lose weight, but I’d have a hard time limiting these little snacks to 200 calories. I’d end up eating 500 calories every two hours. And the idea that it would make you eat less at the real meals is laughable. My experience was that the more I ate, the more I needed to eat.

When I was a kid listening to the dietitians and doctors and gym teachers, I thought they must know what they’re talking about with their advice like this “eat every two hours” idea. I learned that they really didn’t know what overeaters experience. They are clueless and think they know what the problem is and how to solve it. Most don’t.

If you are overweight and have tried everything and keep bigger year after year, don’t blame yourself for the failings. You are up against a behavioral problem that is far more difficult to master than alcoholism and drug addiction. Most of the people who want to tell you how to lose weight have no idea what it is you experience and no idea how to solve the problem. They are convinced they know, but that doesn’t mean they do. So maybe the people who really don’t have a problem can shed a few pounds with these diet tips. With most people, anytime they pay attention to what they’re eating and try to follow a plan, they usually eat less and lose weight. And then they think they know how you can succeed. If you are an overeater like I was, they don’t. Eating every two hours will not fire up your metabolism in any significant way, and will probably make things worse. If you get in the habit of eating every two hours, you might find yourself with a problem that is much worse.

Read my book, The Anderson Method, to find the way to solve your weight problem for good.

Will Drinking a Lot of Water Help Me Lose Weight?

It’s not that drinking water really makes you lose weight, but it helps, and drinking enough water is absolutely needed for good health, especially when you are losing weight. Here’s why:

1) Water is one of the essential nutrients. You’ll get sick if you don’t get enough. You’ll have lots of different health problems, too many to list.

2) When you reduce the amount of food you eat to lose weight, you reduce the amount of water you get, since most of the water we get is in the food we eat. The result is that your body will start to crave, which you might think is a craving for food when drinking water will prevent or eliminate the craving. To lose weight, drink more water and you have less hunger, less craving.

3) Drinking water when you eat aids in digestion and helps generate a sense of satisfaction when you are losing weight. If you eat without drinking, you’ll need to swallow more to create the same sense of sensory satiety.

4) If you don’t increase your water consumption, your body will hold onto the water you normally eliminate through your stool. Your bowel will literally suck the water from your stool, resulting in hard stool and constipation. Ouch! Drink more water, no constipation!

5) When you start to lose weight and burn your body fat, your body will need to filter out the matter that was in the stored fat, which will be deposited as waste in your kidneys. If you are not flushing your kidneys out well enough, you’ll get waste collecting in there, like kidney stones. Ouch x 1000.

6) The way your body lets you know you need water is by sending you messages that you interpret as thirst or hunger. Whenever you feel thirst or hunger, drink water. If it was thirst, it will be quenched. If it was hunger and it goes away, you’ll begin to realize that it was water you really needed, not food. It will be easier to follow through on your healthy meal plan to lose weight.

7) Water is actually a natural diuretic. If you don’t get enough water, you won’t be flushing excess salt out of your body, and the more salt you retain, the more water you’ll retain in your tissues instead of excreting it. If you drink water when you feel thirsty or hungry, you’ll be getting enough to prevent water retention which shows up on the scale as a false higher reading than what you really are.

You don’t actually need to monitor the amount you drink to know if you are getting enough. You don’t have to make yourself drink a certain number of glasses to make sure you are getting enough. Simply drink water whenever you feel thirsty or hungry. Your body will tell you when you need to drink. And don’t make yourself drink excess amounts of water if you don’t feel like it, just because some diet wacko told you to. You can actually drink too much and get sick from hyper-hydration. Just about anything can be toxic if you overdo it, even water.  To lose weight, follow a reasonable meal plan with the right number of calories, as described in my method, drink water whenever you feel thirsty or hungry, and you’ll lose weight without great difficulty and get the right amount of water too.