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« Good News and Bad News | Main | What can be done now? »
Thursday
May222008

Dieting Update

It’s been a while since I posted on the subject of my diet. However I am pleased to say that it is still going well and this morning I weighed in at 17 lbs less than my starting weight at the beginning of the year.

The diet has been going much more smoothly than it did last year, when it collapsed largely as a result of holidays. I think this improvement is due to two lessons that I have learned:

  1. Cheating. There is always a tendency to cheat on any diet. With my diet the result is the introduction of more rules than necessary - which of course leads to more cheating! The solution I have found is to have a rule that if I cheat during a day I am not allowed to weight myself the next day. I have to add one more rule anyway. This rule is surprisingly effective, because it stops me from cheating when I think I can get away with it.
  2. Holidays. Holidays and diets don’t mix! There is nothing worse than trying to keep to a diet while holidaying in some gastronomic paradise. In my case last year it was Italy and Canada. The trouble was that I didn’t have any rule about what to do on holiday with the result that the diet collapsed and I never succeeded in picking it up again. Anyway my rule is now that I make no attempt to keep to the diet on holiday (defined as anything more than three days away from home). When I get home, I weigh myself the following morning and start the diet again from scratch.
One thing I have noticed again as a result of the diet is that I need much less food than before. This is due to the slowing of my metabolism. Most diet critics get very upset about this, but for the life of me I can’t follow their logic on this point. Surely having a slow metabolism is the equivalent of having a car that does 50 miles to the gallon rather than one that does 30 miles to the gallon. All other things being equal why would one want a car with higher fuel consumption? In the same way, in these days when we are all worried about rising food prices and shortages, why would one want to need to eat more food? It doesn’t make sense!

 

(Full details of the diet I have been following are given in my article Can I Improve on the “No S” Diet.)

Related: 

Other posts about dieting

Reader Comments (6)

Mark - I think you rather miss the point about the fast/slow metabolism.

My problem is that I want to eat a certain amount of food - an amount unrelated to how much I need.

Most people would much rather have a fast metabolism and be able to eat a lot while staying at the same weight, rather than a really slow metabolism and be unable to eat very much food at all without gaining weight.

Yes a slow metabolism allows you to function with less food. This is more 'efficient', and saves you money etc. If eating was a chore then a slow metabolism would be a boon, but seeing as I like eating, I want a fast metabolism.
May 22, 2008 at 19:51 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Ward
Andrew:

I guess you have to ask yourself why you want to eat so much food. Is it because food tastes better if you eat more of it? Or is it because you enjoy spending money on food?

More likely it's because you eat to quench your hunger. However if your metabolism is slow then your hunger is satisfied on much less food. The food if anything tastes better when you don't gorge yourself, and you save money (which you can spend on better rather than more food if you wish).

Surely it's better for the world as a whole if you don't have hundreds of millions of Westerners with blazing metabolisms stuffing themselves while billions don't have enough to eat?
May 22, 2008 at 23:19 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I am no kind of expert on this, but I would not have thought that all things could remain equal if one's metabolic rate diminishes. Output would fall, unless efficiency (=fitness, I suppose) had increased.
May 23, 2008 at 10:46 | Unregistered CommenterFERGUS O'ROURKE
All I can say is that I have just returned from Jordan where the Bedouin are renowned for their slow metabolisms, which allow them to eat very little (usually one small meal per day), while living very strenuous lives. There is no such thing as a fat Bedou and their life expectancy is the highest in Jordan.
May 23, 2008 at 11:56 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
First of all, I'm glad you're making progress - kudos!

About the whole metabolism thing, I see the Andrew's point - I take pleasure in eating, and often - so a higher metabolism is a good thing for me.

You make a good point too, why not be more efficient? Some studies suggest that hunger is connected to longevity, and if I eat less there is more to go around. The anecdotal evidence of the Bedouin is very interesting.

For me, I've made a greater push to eat fresh/organic, local, and seasonal - with an emphasis on having a diet of mostly plants. I reduce the wear and tear on the earth, but still get to eat a lot and be healthy.

I'm still pretty young (25), and I'm not sure of how my metabolism will really change over time. Most people I know get fatter as they get older primarily because they become less physically active and lose muscle mass. Secondarily, most get wealthier as the age and thus eat out more often and eat richer, caloric foods.

What's your take on this?
July 16, 2008 at 20:42 | Unregistered CommenterBart B
Several studies in the last few years have shown that near-starvation diets in rats increase their lifespans dramatically, including the quality of their lives. Diabetes, dementia, arthritis, cancer -- many of the diseases that are associated with old age are delayed and/or reduced.

I suspect a slow metabolism is part of this.

Many people confuse blood-sugar and physical fullness. It takes 20 minutes for anything other than pure sugar to raise blood sugar enough to feel full. You can squeeze a lot of calories into those 20 minutes.
November 4, 2010 at 15:21 | Registered CommenterCricket

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