By Mark Schauss | January 7, 2009
My mornings usually begin with a vigorous walk with my two dogs, Lexi and Samson. As we walk through the woods along the creek near my house, I listen to any number of podcasts about subjects ranging from science to history (my favorite being History According to Bob). Lately, I’ve been listening to the Stuff You Should Know podcast from the people who run the website howstuffworks.com.
One page on their site caught my eye which answered the question “Why does the weight come back so quickly once I stop dieting?” It is probably the best information I’ve seen on the subject of weight gain, loss and answers, at least in my opinion, the vexing question of why do diets never seem to work long-term.
Here is a brief bullet point list of what I got out of the page. Of course, you can just go to the page yourself and see what you take out of it.
- For each pound of weight you carry, you need 12 calories per day to maintain that weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, you need 2,400 to stay at that weight. At 150, you would need 1,800 calories per day.
- If you ingest 2,000 calories and you weigh 150 pounds, you are getting 200 more calories each day which will eventually turn to fat. You will eventually reach equilibrium at 166.67 pounds.
- 3,600 calories equals approximately 1 pound. If you ingest 200 calories per day, you will gain 1 pound every 18 days.
- Say you got up to 166.67 and wanted to return to 150 and you cut back to 1,000 calories a day for 60 days, you will lose 16 pounds. But if you go back up to 2,000 calories a day again, you will jump back up to 166 over time when you hit equilibrium.
- So basically, diets do take weight off, but unless you not only reduce your weight to where you want it to be, you need to use the 12 calories per pound number times your ideal weight to see how many calories you can take in to maintain that weight.
- Exercise is important to burn those excess calories above the equilibrium amount.
In my case, I want to get back down to 170 pounds. This means my daily caloric intake to stay at that weight is 2,040 per day. Since I am at 184 presently, and want to achieve my goal by June 1st, 2009, I need to run a deficit of 350 calories a day under the 2,040 or 1,690 calories a day.
If I additionally exercise each day to the tune of burning 250 calories a day, I can either speed up my goal and achieve it on May 17th (14 days earlier [3600/250 = 14.4]), or I can eat 1,940 calories a day. Since I figure I’ll mess things up once in a while, I’ll go for the early plan.
Bottom line is, diet’s work for the period of time you are on them. For a long lasting control, use the 12 calorie per pound theory and you may just get some success. Of course, if you are environmentally toxic, you might need to change that to 11 or even 10 calories per pound as the toxins can lower your metabolic rate enough to make it more difficult to lose weight and maintain it until you detoxify enough.