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03 June 2009 @ 11:06 am
we know nothing!  
I'm finding the book "good calories, bad calories" kind of depressing. Sure it has a lot of evidence to show that the "eat less, exercise more" to loose weight thinking is horribly wrong, but it doesn't really have any solutions, other than stop eating refined sugars, HFCS, and potatoes and white flour. But it's only guessing at those. Mostly it says we have lots of research that shows that we know NOTHING about weight gain or loss.
mathhobbitmathhobbit on June 3rd, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
That is depressing. Does that mean I can stop exercising now? (For the record, I've gained 5 pounds since starting.)

Your icon reminds me that I want to go out and buy sexy clothes, even with the 5 extra pounds. Would you be interested in joining such an expedition?
Gregghudson on June 3rd, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
That seems to be really common ("I started exercising and gained weight").

My operating theory is that (1) when you first start exercising, you build some muscle mass right away in areas where you didn't have much, which is extra weight, and (2) when you first start exercising, you feel virtuous and perhaps a bit more hungry than usual (maybe related to (1)) and eat more. But I'm mostly just guessing.

In the long term exercise should help (particularly strength training) by increasing your metabolic rate, and it works for me in keeping off the weight I lost some years back, but in the short term it doesn't seem to yield great results for anyone I know.
This is a test of the Mugar Omnimax Theatre.dcltdw on June 3rd, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
#2 happens to me in spades. Oof.
#1 sounds reasonable, but well, anecdote != data.
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on June 3rd, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Where are you thinking of going? Want to just rummage through my goth stuff?
mathhobbitmathhobbit on June 3rd, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
That would be fun! I was hoping you'd know a place for shopping, though.
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on June 3rd, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
Nah, I haven't bought anything sexy in years.
mathhobbitmathhobbit on June 3rd, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
Clearly this is an idea whose time has come. I'll do some research!
Bethsylvanstargazer on June 3rd, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
What your initial response to exercise will be depends a lot on what kind of exercise you are doing, what kind of diet you are eating and your own personal physiology.

In general, the first response to exercise will be greater demand for calories; in addition to the calories you burn directly, you burn more calories while at rest for about a day after working out. By providing some small amount of additional calories you can prevent your body from slowing down your metabolism; it doesn't lead to weight loss, but it does encourage muscle growth.

Muscle growth can put on weight, in the form of muscle, but in the longer run this is a good thing. Muscle burns calories while at rest, which means you can eat the same amount and have a lower steady-state weight if you have put on muscle. In general, it also tends to encourage a faster metabolism. In evolutionary terms, building muscle without changing diet sends the message that things are going well, but those calories would come in really handy about now, so no need to store them for later.

I started working out and gained ten pounds over the first three months, without changing my body shape. Three months later I was at my original weight but down a pants size. Nine months out I'm now about five pounds lighter than I was when I started, and less good about going to the gym three times a week. Everyone's responses to exercise will be different, and different kinds of work outs are more likely to speed up metabolism (intervals) or add muscle (lifting heavy weights for fewer reps). I think the important thing is finding an activity you enjoy even if it had nothing to do with fitness, and then focusing on benefits. For me it was: "I can run for a bus and not die panting" and "I'm happier after I go to the gym". Then six months later I looked up and realize I should go shopping because I have to wear a belt.
katybeth on June 3rd, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Eli and I were talking about this last night. What the latest evil foods are change over time, and "facts" keep getting reversed as we discover a little bit more -- only to get modified again later. Low fat is the way to go. Low carb is the way to go. Only these fats are bad. No, only THESE fats are bad. Avoid cholesterol in food. Oh, no, you don't have to.

What I've seen is that different things work for different people.
Nathannathanw on June 3rd, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was expecting more positive advice from the book, but eventually I realized that it's intended more as a review/exposé of the science and public health processes. Coming away from it with the conclusion that "nutritional science" is barely worthy of the word and couldn't find its ass with both hands is entirely reasonable, though.
Bethsylvanstargazer on June 3rd, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
Science seems to know a lot more about exercise, and the effect of different types of exercise, on metabolism than we know specifically about weight gain/loss (which is harder to study since it is a long-term endocrine response to a whole pile of factors). Really, the endocrine system as a whole is complicated enough that medical models have thus far failed rather miserably.

One of the weight lifting books I read had the amusing observation that "eat less/exercise more" is like the company that lays people off while upping the output expected. The dieting industry always reminded me of economics: if you can sell people on things that change their behavior in ways that make what you were selling a self-fulfilling prophecy, you make a pile of cash. It doesn't matter if a diet doesn't outperform "write down what you eat" in a scientific survey, as long as it makes a good book.
A Sage With a Slight Flaw in Her Charactereccentrific on June 3rd, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
To say we know nothing is perhaps overstating the case a tad. We have a pretty good idea of what a healthy diet for a healthy person should look like. We just don't know how to get there from here. But it's a starting point....

I will say that Nick picked up a new diet book a couple of months ago that he is really loving and finding useful (and I am loving too - I have definitely noticed him feeling better). So I will recommend it. It's called "The Three Day Win", and he likes it because it addresses the psychological factors that cause people to overeat rather than just telling you to eat less or eat different things.
Deneb: slipkoalphacygni on June 4th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC)
Do you have a link on that? I can't find that title.
A Sage With a Slight Flaw in Her Charactereccentrific on June 4th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
That seems to be because I remembered the title wrong.
It's "The Four Day Win" by Martha Beck.
Binkbinkbink on June 4th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
The book tells us that research shows that exercise often makes folks gain weight.
My experience has been that stress and lack of sleep make for weight gain, and if I am relaxed and sleeping well, I can do no exercise, eat constantly (the Cruise) and in huge portions, including multiple desserts and lose.
My best health was achieved during the 2 years I was subsisting predominantly on Coca Cola, potato chips, candy, and tabbouleh. I was strong, had energy, good mood, good skin, hair growth, good eyesight, and no digestive upset. This is anecdotal and it -so- flies in the face of popular wisdom, but when one's personal experience conflicts with what "everyone" believes, it is worth re-examining how "every" one came to believe it.
The book does point out that a lot of the current mantras came from the industries who wanted us to eat their foods.
And the "obvious logic" of some of them are just bad reasoning. The Calories In less Calories Out theory is totally bogus because it does not take into account the body's regulatory mechanisms and the resulting waste production. I lived with one very fat man and one very thin man. The fat man exercised and the thin man did not. The thin man nearly ate us out of house and home. His meals were nearly 4 times the size of the fat man's. They both drank together glass for glass, and ate only what I cooked, so no secret supplies of sinful foods. The fat man got fatter--the thin man stayed thin.
If you worry about the future, then your body should be packing on the weight. After millions of years of evolution when eating and breeding were essentially our only goals, we are descended from folks who stored up for the lean times. If everything is available in abundance and you have no worries, if it is warm enough, and the hunt isn't late bringing home the meat, then we can afford to carry less reserve.
I am betting that our bodies know better than we do about what they need, and our attempts to force it to do what it does not want or to trick it out of its desires are what is making so many morbidly obese.
If we stop worrying about the impossible, but currently popular trend of trying to make everything safe (it just adds to everyone's anxiety and can't be done), if we stop feeling guilty because our bad health is our own fault, and if we start getting better sleep, then eat lots of what we want, I bet we all get slimmer.
And eat meat in the morning.