Thursday, May 10, 2007

Today, as I was surfing through the articles on Reddit, I came across a story from the NY Times about the STUPIDEST research study ever. The article, titled Genes Take Charge, and Diets Fall by the Wayside, interested me because I thought it might be related to another article I read about a drug that affects the part of your brain which regulates weight, which I found pretty interesting. This article, however, made my jaw drop in the second paragraph. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about dieting knows that in order to keep weight off (which is VERY difficult to do), one must change one's lifestyle, not just make temporary changes for a short period of time -- and especially not if the changes are not possible to maintain after the diet is over. It is elementary knowledge to most people, I think, that the best diets are ones in which a person gradually changes to a healthier way of eating -- in which a person gives up a vice they indulge in regularly, or at least limit it (like beer, red meat, fried foods, fast food, etc.) -- or begins to eat healthier in general (i.e. more vegetables, whole grains, etc.) and better yet if the person begins regular exercise, not as a temporary thing, but as a permanent lifestyle change. So then why was DR. Hirsch, of Rockefeller University, so "horrified" that his subjects, who he limited to a LIQUID DIET of 600 CALORIES A DAY until they lost 100 lbs, all gained weight after the diet had concluded??? Why was he so shocked that these participants' bodies were in "semi-starvation" mode? The article reports, "The Rockefeller subjects... had a psychiatric syndrome, called semi-starvation neurosis... They dreamed of food, they fantasized about food or about breaking their diet. They were anxious and depressed; some had thoughts of suicide." HELLO???!!! They were eating a LIQUID DIET of 600 CALORIES a DAY!! That is CRUEL!! In order to maintain weight loss, the weight should be lost slowly... that is my main point here. If I want to lose 5 lbs, I need to burn 17,500 calories, since there are 3500 calories in 1 lb of fat. If I restrict my diet by 500 calories a day (or do exercise that results in a deficit of 500 calories every day), I will lose 1 lb in 7 days. (In order to find out how many calories are needed to maintain one's current weight, one source suggests multiplying your weight by 12. So, at 138 lbs., I would need to go from eating 1656 calories a day to eating 1156 calories a day in order to lose 1 lb a week -- or, for example, run 5 miles a day and continue to eat 1656 calories a day). I'm sure there are probably other factors which affect all of this, but generally this is true (in my experience). This CRAZY doctor took people who were at least 100 lbs overweight and subjected them to a diet of 600 calories a day. (I'm not even going to get into what might happen from limiting one's intake to only liquids...) That means, for example, that a person my size who weighs 238 lbs and should be eating 2856 calories a day to maintain her weight, was losing weight at an OBSCENE rate -- UNHEALTHY, even, one might say... (*note sarcasm...) If she was eating only 600 calories a day, that's a deficit of 2256 calories a day!! That means she was losing weight at a rate of nearly ONE POUND a DAY!!! Seriously now, don't you think they should start making nutrition classes a requirement for medical school? WTF.

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