If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend an internet bop on over to Anthony Colpo's blog to read his awesome interview with Muata Kamdibe. Muata made a number of great points in that interview that resonated with me and that I've been meaning to blog on before this past week's little diversion. So this probably won't be the last post inspired by that interview. I first "met" Muata on James Krieger's Weightology website, and you may recognize the unique name as someone who comments here occasionally. So in the context of discussing getting obsessed over PubMed studies and scientific minutia (yes, I'm guilty of that quite often!), Muata said:
Also, folks who do actually realize that “Eat Less, Move More” is simply a template, tend to get carried away with macro breakdowns; however, they aren’t willing to track their calories for more than a few weeks. Give me a break! I mean, how silly is it for an obese person to really concern him or herself with how many grams of protein vs. starchy carbs they eat before noon? Yes, I understand that macros are of some importance, especially for athletes, but I still contend that folks needing to lose 75 to 100 pounds need to focus on simply eating less food! The reality is that if you’re used to eating a whole damn pizza in one sitting, a good starting point to lose the chub is to just eat half, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day.
That highlighted line inspired the title here, because it reminded me of one of the inside family jokes. It's probably one of those you had to be there things, not to mention know my family, but one time on a family visit we were discussing where/what to do for lunch, and I don't even remember if it was Mom or Sis my brain is so outta sorts but after a bit of arguing one blurted out, in slightly elevated pitch and staccato intonation, "let's just have a soup and salad and be done with it". Like I said, you probably had to be there, but the "be done with it" saying popped into my head when I read those words by Muata, so to paraphrase he's saying just eat less and be done with it.
That sounds so trite, and it can sure be difficult at times, but sometimes I think all this obsession over food timing, macronutrient proportions, "is it paleo/primal", carbs, fructose, omega 6's and on and on and on really takes away from the basic point that the very overweight need to simply eat less and those first 50 or 100 lbs (depending on how much you have to lose) are going to come off relatively easily. If we learned one thing from that The Biggest Loser study I blogged on recently, it's that obese people -- at least these 16 contestants -- eat a lot! They have to or they would not have been able to maintain their weights. The average measured RMR was almost 2700 cal/day which using a most conservative estimate of 75% translates to 3600 cal/day TDEE (not all that far from the average measured 3900 cal/day). This is a lot of calories, but depending on what one is eating (or likely drinking b/c it's easier to "eat" a lot of liquid calories) not necessarily a ton of food. I finally found my blog post on Dr. Dansinger's 2010 podcast with Jimmy. I think that podcast is worth a listen as he discusses TBL a bit, but it was also from Dr. Dansinger that I'm pretty sure I picked up the term "carb cripple" -- as in something you don't want to be or become as the result of your diet.
In any case, what reminded me of that was the "just eat half the pizza", because Dansinger discusses how that's pretty much the formula used on TBL. Leaving other tactics some contestants might employ, to eat roughly half of what they are currently maintaining on which amounts to an average of almost 2000 cal/day. This is probably more like about 1500 for the women and 2500 for the men, but that is still quite a bit of food., even junk food. And as Twinkie guy demonstrated, eating less and losing weight will improve your health even on crappy food. Surely it will be better to eat healthier choices, but you know what? It's not like you can't do that later, right?
Am I suggesting eating junk? No. But it's so easy to get wrapped up in these discussions these days and worry over what starch is safe or if nuts are really paleo and you see it all around, folks having trouble sticking to some austere all or nothing plan. Especially if you're really overweight, instead of agonizing over why you can't stick to low carb or give up dairy completely or eschew bread entirely, it's more important to just stop eating so much than sitting around thinking and talking about the PUFA content of your diet inflaming your brain, imagining if humans ever rode dinosaurs to hunter gather parties or how many mitochondria you have burning fat or carbs.
Just eat half, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day.That's a really good place to start.