Toby’s Secrets to Weight Loss

Toby’s Secrets to Weight Loss

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I’ve been reading an article published in the Lancet, an esteemed British medical journal, about weight loss predictions. An international group has done mathematical modeling on weight loss, and is challenging the “standard” formula that reducing calories (or expending energy) by 500 per day will result in a weight loss of one pound per week as a “myth”.

The article describes a very complex evaluation of our bodies’ energy balance, and how variations in body composition (fat vs. lean) at the beginning and as weight loss occurs changes the dynamics of weight loss. The bottom line is that the 500 calorie per day “standard” overestimates potential weight loss considerably in almost any case, and that the body composition of the individual has a significant effect on the long term pattern of weight loss.

Determining whether this information should replace the “standard” model is beyond my “job description” as they say. I’m perfectly willing to leave this up to the National Institutes of Health. We all recognize that the “standard” could not apply to everyone in every stage of weight loss, and I’ll wait to see what happens next…if anything.

Here’s what I know about successful weight loss…

  • Focusing on the number…..lose 30 pounds… less effective than focusing on adopting and sustaining a healthier lifestyle. By less effective I mean easier to stay with over the long haul. Focus on the number can lead to discouragement if the number comes too slowly, and the article I’m reading suggests that the number will come more slowly than expected. A focus on living healthier, however, brings a sense of satisfaction every day because new behaviors are the objective….weight loss will come as a fringe benefit.
  • Being “mindful”. The term “emotional eating” may be overused, and it suggests an emotional imbalance as we use it. But, eating can be emotional, or instinctive or mindless for any of us….it is built into our survival senses, and overcoming overeating requires us to use our “thinking” brain. We are preparing to shoot a video with tips on eating mindfully….it is so important for weight loss and for diabetes management.

If you doubt how mindless eating can play a role in your life read “Mindless Eating” by my friend Dr. Brian Wansink (  Dr. Wansink is now at Cornell University, but much of this entertaining book describes his work at the University of Illinois spying on students’ eating behaviors at a restaurant set up for research. I hope to have Dr. Wansink DiabetesEveryDay Radio someday soon.

Those are my secrets to weight loss. At DiabetesEveryDay we discuss weight loss now and then because so many struggle with this issue, and weight is a significant factor in diabetes risk and diabetes management. I know my "secrets" are not dramatic, but effective weight loss is a long range, "baby steps" undertaking, and if we expect dramatic results we may be disappointed. Adopt healthier habits, and celebrate your success every day instead.

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