How Long Will It Take to Lose the Weight?

by Konstantin Monastyrsky March 22, 2013

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By Konstantin Monastyrsky, the author of Fiber Menace

Successful weight loss is a challenging journey, no doubt about it. In fact, it may be just as challenging as walking solo from New York to Los Angeles, and for many it may take even longer. Would you take either journey without having a clue how long it is going to take?

Well, neither would I. So, let’s first analyze the walk:

  • In perfect conditions – good weather, flat roads, comfortable shoes, and regular rests – you can easily walk for eight hours each day at a comfortable pace.
  • According to Google Maps, the walking distance between New York and LA is around 2,800 miles.
  • At three miles per hour, it will take you 933 hours of walking to cover this distance.
  • With everything going absolutely right, you’ll get to LA in 116 days, or a few days short of four months. That is, if you don’t stop for a day.

Unlike this truly monumental, once-in-a-lifetime road trip, a rather ordinary weight loss journey from 175 to 125 lbs. is measured in fat loss per day rather than miles per hour. To begin, let’s switch over to the metric system first.

You’ll immediately feel better and lighter just by realizing that you are weighing half as much in kilos than in pounds. And losing 100 grams a day also feels like a much greater accomplishment than a mere three ounces. Also metrics will let you do the math without resorting to a calculator.

Here is how long an ordinary weight loss journey toward your normal weight may take you:

  • The “distance” between your current 80 kg (175 lbs.) and the target 57 kg (125 lbs.) from your youth is exactly 23 kg (50 lbs.).
  • In the first two weeks of your reduced calorie diet, you’ll drop 15 lbs. (7 kg) of phantom weight (the subject of a prior post). That leaves you with 16 kg (35 lbs.) more to go…
  • Let’s assume that you can stick with a 1,200-calorie diet for as long as it takes to lose 100 grams of fat per day. A total fast, on average, may yield 200 to 300 grams of daily weight loss with about half of it at the expense of body fat. So losing 100 grams daily while still on a modest diet is an excellent rate of fat loss.
  • A simple division of 16 kg (1,600 g) by 100 grams results in 160 days.

As you can see, it takes slightly over five months of a rather restrictive dieting to lose 35 lbs. (16 kg) of fat for good. And that is, ideally, with no family to cook for, no parties to attend, a supportive spouse, decent digestive and endocrine health, good sleep, little stress, and an iron will to resist an occasional piece of dark chocolate or a glass of wine.

Let me repeat that: A healthy middle-aged person in a supportive environment may require at least 160 days for losing 35 lbs. of excess body fat on a strict 1,200 calorie diet.

That isn’t exactly what all of those famous diet books have been telling you all along, is it? What have they promised you? Two weeks? Four weeks? A few months? Yesterday? It’s total, complete bull my friends!

If, indeed, these authors were telling you the unvarnished truth the way I just laid it out, most people simply wouldn’t buy their books, take their classes, or eat their snacks and prepackaged meals. Just imagine a tagline on the cover of one of these diet books:

“Struggle through a 1,200 calorie diet for the next 160 days to rediscover the body of your youth!”

Would you? I doubt it. And if your environment isn’t supportive, or you aren’t exactly in perfect health, or you are well into menopause, or you lapse every so often into binge eating, or you can’t give up alcohol, or what have you, it may take even longer than 160 days, much, much longer…

Sorry for being a spoiler, but that’s, ladies and gentlemen, the hard truth of successful and permanent fat loss.

To fail – do as they say. To succeed – do it right!

So, let’s get brutally honest with ourselves and totally technical about the process. As I explained in the previous post, diet-related weight loss has two distinct stages: the loss of phantom weight first, and the actual loss of excess body fat second.

As you recall from that post, the loss of phantom weight lasts up to two weeks and is represented primarily by the reduction of undigested foods, fluids, and stools inside your gastrointestinal tract, but little or no actual body fat.

The resulting weight reduction is often quite profound – anywhere from 10 to 20 lbs., depending on your starting weight, diet, and colon health. This “magic,” however, is over as soon as your scale comes to a screeching halt, even though you are still consuming the exact same diet.

That is why the next stage – the permanent loss of body fat – is what you are re-e-e-a-l-ly after. Its duration depends on a multitude of factors, beginning with the amount of fat you need to lose and ending with your age, height, gender, ethnicity, occupation, rate of metabolism, personality type, the quality of sleep, physical activity, diet composition, climate, and some others.

Estimating the length of an effective weight loss diet isn’t rocket science, but rather elementary school arithmetic. It can be expressed in these three simple formulas:

Excess fat = Current weight — Desired weight — Phantom weight 

Fat loss duration = Excess fat / Daily fat loss

Total diet duration = Fat loss duration + Two weeks

Let’s give definition and meaning to all of the above variables:

  • Current weight. Purchase the best electronic self-adjustable scale that you can afford, set it to metric mode, and weight yourself first thing in the morning, with no clothes on and after urinating. I personally use the Omron HBF-514C scale because it has a resolution of 100 grams and is quite sturdy and professional looking. For consistency, always use the same scale.
  • Desired weight is your target “normal” weight. If you weren’t overweight in your youth, the desired weight is usually your average weight between the ages of 18 and 25. If you were always overweight, the formula for determining your desired weight (in kilograms, not lbs.) is your height in centimeters minus 100 for men or 110 for women. This simplistic method does not account for body morphology and muscle strength, but it is close enough for these calculations. Keep in mind that in many instances your desired weight may be higher than your “normal” weight because a substantial weight loss in your later years may reveal the signs of premature aging, such as facial wrinkles, sunken eyes, shabby neck, or floppy love handles under the arms, so you may want to avoid turning one appearance-related concern into another. That’s why I used the word “normal” in quotes – what may be a norm at 20 may turn into a menace at 40.
  • Phantom weight loss is determined during the first two weeks of your diet, as I already explained this phenomena earlier. As big as this figure may be, for all intents and purposes it is nearly meaningless to true weight (i.e., fat) loss, and incredibly self-deceptive to boot.
  • Excess fat is the only realistic measure of your weight “problem.” That is what you want to lose, and losing it for good requires the most amount of time. Your excess fat is determined by deducting phantom weight losses and desired weight from your current weight.
  • Fat loss duration is the number of days you must remain on a low (or very low) calorie diet until you attain your desired weight. That’s the number you are really after. If you come to this process with unrealistic expectations, you may quit your perfectly performing diet way before it has a chance to prove itself.
  • Daily fat loss. To establish this number as accurately as possible, you’ll need to stay on a fat reduction diet (after completing your phantom weight loss, of course) for at least 15 to 20 days, or even longer. There are several reasons behind this requirement: (a) the low resolution of consumer weight scales; (b) day-to-day natural weight loss fluctuations; (c) the propensity of weight loss to slow down somewhat as your body adjusts to reduced calorie intake; and (d) inevitable lapses in your daily caloric intake. To properly estimate your daily fat loss, wait until your weight goes down at least 2 kg, and divide this number (i.e. 2 kg) by the number of days it took you to get there. If you do not observe any measurable weight reduction throughout this period, it means that your diet is too generous for your particular rate of metabolism, and you’ll need to reduce your caloric intake even more. Or you may need to increase your level of physical activity. Even better, do both (i.e., eat less and exercise more) until you observe sustainable weight loss. For as long as you consume less nutrients than your body expends for energy and structural metabolism, fat loss is just as assured as sunrise and sundown – no ifs, ends, or buts about it.
  • Total diet duration. This number is self-explanatory. Just prepare yourself for the total diet duration being longer than your most conservative estimate because a real life throws its curve balls, diet or no diet. When it comes to safe and sustainable weight loss, being cautiously realistic always beats being hopelessly optimistic.

Easy come isn’t always easy go, unless…

…unless you do it right.  So let’s review a real-life example, using my own experience as a base. As you embark on your own weight loss journey, just replace my numbers with yours.

When my family immigrated into the United Sates at the end of 1978, I stood 5’7” and weighted 70 kg (154 lbs.) without an iota of visible flab on my taut body. Up until the very end of medical school, I was actively involved in boxing, bodybuilding, skiing, and hockey. Not surprisingly, throughout those years, I was wearing size 32 pants, 15.5” shirts, 38S jackets, and 9.5 shoes.

My weight and shape stayed the same until I quit smoking in 1984. Soon thereafter I developed constipation-dominant IBS (a pretty common side effect of smoking cessation) and started gaining weight. (Smoking cessation stimulates weight gain not because it may increase appetite in some people, but because it reduces the rate of energy metabolism through the improvements of the lung, heart, and liver functions, meaning these organs need to work less to accomplish the same output when no longer smoking.)

On the advice of my physician, I switched over to a high fiber, dairy-free diet, but it made matters worse. So I kept searching. In the summer of 1991, after reading “Fit for Life,” a vegetarian manifesto by Harvey and Marilyn Diamonds, longing to become as strong as an elephant (a vegetarian, of course) and as fit as Mr. Diamond, I embraced a vegan lifestyle. Guess what? By 1996, at age 42, I was still 5’7”, but now weighing 82 kg (181 lbs.) and wearing size 40 pants, 42S jackets, 17.5” shirts, and 10 EEE shoes. Yes, my feet got elephantine too.

From that point on, it took me four more years of trial and error with various diets to get down to my normal weight. If I had known then what I do know now, that journey would have been significantly safer for my overall health, and a lot shorter. I’ll address the safety aspects in future posts. Meanwhile, let’s concentrate on determining the total diet duration for someone in my predicament at that time, but based on my current knowledge:

To determine my phantom weight, I reduced my daily caloric intake to 1,400 calories. This number may or may not apply to you, and I am using it here for illustration only. I will address stage one and stage two diet composition and energy density in future posts.

At the end of the two week period, my weight dropped to 78 kg (172 lbs.). The loss wasn’t as dramatic because I wasn’t a prodigious eater to begin with. So I ended up with 4 kg (7 lbs) of phantom weight loss and was ready to calculate my excess fat:

 82 kg (current weight) — 4 kg (phantom weight) — 70 kg (desired weight) = 8 kg (excess fat)

Not bad, actually. I only needed to lose eight more kilos of fat in order to get down to my lowest adult weight of 70 kg.

To determine the total diet duration, I continued with my 1,400 calorie protocol until I lost another 2 kg (4.4 lb). This stage took me 26 more days.

To determine my daily fat loss, I divided these 2 kg by 26 days (2,000 g / 26 = 77 g).

Now I know that for as long as I’ll be staying on a ~ 1400 calorie diet, I’ll be losing ~77 grams of fat each day, and this is going to take me ~103 days, or about three and a half months (~ symbol means approximately):

8,000 g (excess fat) / 77 g (daily fat loss) = 103 days (fat loss duration)

Please note that those 103 days already include the 26 days I spent on determining my daily fat loss number. So, in fact, I only needed to stick to my 1,400 calorie regimen for 77 more days. Not a problem – I can definitely do that, except I also knew that over the next three months I would be attending two birthdays, one wedding, and six business dinners. Since all of these events will blow my diet somewhat, I added three extra days for each of these nine events, or 28 total.

Thus, if everything went as planned, I’d be back to 70 kg in the next 105 days (77 + 28). Not bad, not bad at all, considering a fruitless struggle over the previous four years.

Even the right diets fail when smart people fail to do them right

So why did it take me almost four years to reach that goal back in 2000? Well, as I said before, I didn’t know anything about phantom weight loss, the slow rate of actual daily fat loss, or a number of other equally relevant issues. No wonder, then, that as soon as the dramatic – half a pound or more per day – weight loss was over, I was quitting without ever really starting.

Even more dispiriting and injurious ­was that with every failed attempt, I was gaining more and more fat because each unsuccessful dieting cycle reduced the rate of my energy and structural metabolism, which was the complete opposite of what I was trying to accomplish.

I am now a decade and a half wiser and more experienced. Depending on the time of year and the degree of my indiscretion with an occasional glass of sake or wine, my weight swings between 68 and 70 kg, less in the summer, more in the winter. This is normal and expected for anyone living a normal life.

These fluctuations don’t overly concern me because when the scale creeps past 70 kg, I know who to blame (myself, of course) and start adjusting my diet accordingly. And for as long as my weight stays in that narrow range – plus or minus 2 kg – I fit all my clothes and feel great about my appearance.

Ready to diet right? In the next post, “How to Prepare Yourself for Safe and Effective Weight Loss Diet,” I will explain how to drop your phantom weight along with a couple of sizes without encountering diet-crashing side effects such as hypoglycemia, constipation, dehydration, indigestion, hair loss, and many others.

Make sure that people with whom you share your meals review your plans too. This will ensure they do not sabotage your weight loss odyssey with their well-intended but often incorrect advice!

Finally, please subscribe to FREE UPDATES at the top of the page, so you won’t miss the next post.

 Next post >>

 

Previous posts from  the “Why Diets Fail?” series:

1. The Real Reason Diets Fail and What You Can Do About It

 

About the Author

konstantinKonstantin Monastyrsky graduated from medical university in 1977 with a degree in pharmacy. He is also an expert in forensic nutrition, a new field of science that investigates the connection between supposedly healthy foods and nutrition-related disorders, such as diabetes and obesity.

In 1978 Konstantin’s family emigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union, where he decided to pursue a career in the high-technology field, taught himself advanced programming languages, and his eventual work has had a major influence on the development of modern user interface that has become ubiquitous with the introduction of iPhone- and iPad-like devices.

In 1996, Konstantin began to suffer from type 2 diabetes and a host of related ailments, including the debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome. Unable to use the keyboard, he turned his attention back to his roots in medicine and nutrition to find solutions for his rapidly deteriorating health.

Since then, he has written four books about health and nutrition, including the acclaimed Fiber Menace, and is a past speaker at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions Conference.  He is the principal writer of GutSense – the web’s leading resource for people affected by colorectal disorders, such as constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and colorectal cancers.

For your health and safety, please read these important Weight Loss Common Sense Warnings and Disclaimers before commencing a reduced calorie diet.

Picture credit: © 2013 iStockPhoto LLP

 

Comments (130)

  1. Pingback: How Long Will It Take to Lose the Weight? | Advice for Life Naturopathic Clinic. Call us today: 416-357-9561

  2. Pingback: How Long Will It Take to Lose the Weight? | Advice for Life Naturopathic

  3. Thanks for this series and I am eager to learn more! I’ve lost 100 lbs twice in my life and kept it off for years ( I was never over weight as a child and have had a good body…ie modeled and acted in my 20′s and 30′s..most of my life).

    I have been studying food most of my life and have been on a GAPS/WAPF diet for several years now. Working on this mystery for a long time and the latest research about epigenetics is also a clue for me. I agree with the folks at the Perfect Health Diet that obesity is about malnutrition and I cringe now at all the low fat and bad veggie oils like canola I ate in the past thinking I was making wise choices or the whole grains I ate. Ugh.

    I am 61 now and need to get 100 lbs off for the final time, but my focus is totally on health as a mystery illness and seeing the best MD’s and alternative healers on 3 continents with no help, led me to my current diet of no grains, lots of bone broth daily, raw goat milk and kefir, veggies, wild salmon, pastured eggs, grass fed meat, coconut oil, no sugar, almost no fructose etc.

    By diet ( and a few supplements, spiritual healings) I FINALLY solved my mystery illness that all killed me and left me totally debilitated for years, but I still need to get the weight off.

    I don’t eat that many calories, but I have lost very little weight on this way of eating…which surprises me.

    Will you write more of the effect of Vt D on obesity?

    We travel the world as a lifestyle, and are in the tropics now so I am getting it mostly from the sun and working on increasing it ( taking some supplements too). When I was at my sickest, I found out my vt D level was only 18 and low Vt D is common in obesity.

    Also interested in your success with women ( especially older women) as I have found men and women with weight often have very different concerns due to hormones.

    Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Interesting link about initial weight loss on 'diets' - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2

  5. First and foremost, thank you so much for the free information and insight. And also for taking the time to address everyone’s comments in a professional and respectful way!

    I recently moved from the Mediterranean area of Europe, to the USA. I was used to the Mediterranean diet and I was a lot more active back then than I am today. When I first moved here, I noticed the food, in general, has a lot more additives and sugar. I also have a hard time finding quality food, GMO free. Unfortunately, I have gained some extra weight, specially in areas where I had none, before (eg. belly). Don’t get me wrong, I love living here! But the food aspect is very hard for me.

    My questions are, do you believe GMO’s have a bad effect on peoples diet? And if so, how can we dodge them?

    Thank you very much, in advance!

    • Catia,

      You are very welcome. Your experience, unfortunately, proves my point. That said, energy intake from foods are only a part of the reasons why people gain weight in the USA by eating a diet close to their indigenous diet. The other things are general level of activity (lower), quality of sleep (lower), environment (dirtier and noisier in metro areas), social and familial stress (higher), ambient temperature at home and in the office (lower), utilization of lifestyle drugs (many times higher), sun exposure (lower), quality of drinking water (lower), disposable income (higher, a serious weight hazard), and of course, the quality of essential foods (much, much lower).

      Please don’t feel defensive over these issues. I don’t judge. Your input and feedback are very important, and thank you for making it!

      • I apologize if I come across as being defensive or belligerent. It was not intended that way. I value your input a lot and appreciate that you do not sugar coat dieting and promise unattainable results. I agree with 99% of what you are saying!

        • Catia, you don’t need to apologize for anything. Your feedback is perfectly reasonable. Besides, I don’t have a license on being right on everything (although I try), and the feedback from readers, yours including, is helping me to shape this project.

  6. Certainly no response is required here, but I have read every single comment from this very interesting series and after reading Maureen’s comments, and her symptoms, which I share in abundance (sorry, I don’t eat livers Maureen!) I had the following thought: the end result is this marvelous weight loss, but at what expense? I wonder what many Europeans are thinking if they read series such as this one. 1400 calories per day, no alcohol, little or no grains, and more mathematical computations than a calculus class to keep track of it all…

    Europeans seem to actually enjoy life, eat pasta in abundance, and wine with every meal it seems…yet they don’t have nearly the health issues Americans have, and…they’re happier!

    I currently spend hours each day trying to make sense of it all: soy or no soy, brown rice or white, basmati or jasmine, fermented or non-fermented, whole grains or not…I try to sift through the information and make smarter decisions for my health and my family’s. Who to believe? Dr. Oz said soy was great for you…every other blog I have read insists it’s not! Sheesh! Now, I will be hanging onto every post of this series until the thyroid one is posted to try to see what else I need to do to try to a healthier weight and life.

    I guess the responsibility that comes with knowledge is rather weightier than we suspected…

    • Helen,

      Europeans eat half as much and move twice as much. They work less, take longer vacations, and probably sleep better because their jobs are more secure (at least for those who have them). They also don’t have central air conditioning almost everywhere, which is one of the primary drivers of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. And they don’t take prescription drugs or eat agro-industrial junk from childhood onward, setting them up for poor health and obesity from the get go.

      Lo and behold, when Europeans immigrate to the U.S., they eventually become just as fat as us. So do Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and so on, because ethnicity offers no immunity to our pernicious lifestyle, compromised food supply, self-destructive nutritional dogma, substandard medical care, social insecurity, and corrupt mass media squarely in the packet of Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government.

      Moreover, the Europeans you have in your imagination — predominantly wealthy Britons, French, Germans, Italians, Dutch, etc. — eat a diet close to what Sarah preaches on this site, and they do so from birth. This is not the case in relatively poor Greece or Portugal, where the rates of obesity are close to those in the United States, because poor people there consume more processed foods, don’t have time to cook traditional diet, work low-quality jobs, and experience more stress.

      As far as your confusion over the safety of soy goes, I can assure you that neither Dr. Oz nor his family eats soy-derived products or the rest of the junk promoted on his shows. Dr. Kaayla Daniel, the author of “The Whole Soy Story” and a frequent contributor to this site was on his show (October 7, 2010), so he must know the perils of soy quite well. He says what he says because his sponsors are paying him to say so. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be on the air.

      • “Europeans eat half as much and move twice as much. They work less, take longer vacations, and probably sleep better because their jobs are more secure (at least for those who have them). They also don’t have central air conditioning almost everywhere, which is one of the primary drivers of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. And they don’t take prescription drugs or eat agro-industrial junk from childhood onward, setting them up for poor health and obesity from the get go.” This is very true! Our food portions are smaller and we are a lot more active. We also know what we are eating because the EU stipulates that ALL ingredients must be labelled.

        However, I respectfully disagree in regards of Greece and Portugal, both Mediterranean cultures. Obesity may be an issue, in urban areas, but not in the rural areas. That has to do mainly with the access to quality food and the fact that people still cultivate much of what they consume, in rural areas. If you go to some of those countries, you will not find fast food restaurants in rural areas. However, people that do reside in urban areas, where they have a more sedentary lifestyle, less access to quality food, more disposable income, “don’t have time to cook traditional diet, work low-quality jobs, and experience more stress”, you will find a greater obesity rate (even though, when I was there it was not blatantly obvious, like in the UK).

        • Catia,

          I don’t derive my information from casual observations and personal experiences while traveling, but from the WHO (World Health Organization) stats on obesity. I wrote the above from memory, and may be wrong about Portugal, but the obesity rates for Greece were, as I recall, around 41%, while the highest in Western Europe — under 15%.

          • WHO is a wonderful source of info. I used as a reference, besides my own observations, the Eurostat data, available online.

  7. Konstantin…I find your honesty and directness very refreshing…not at all hateful. Just wanted to say so. If I were to ask you a question, I would want you to cut to the chase. Thank you for that!

  8. I am enjoying this series… BUT according to the formula my ideal weight would be only 40kg! According to my body composition scales, I actually have around 40kg of muscle NOW! (And yes, extra fat too), but this means that for me to maintain my muscles (which I would want to do), I wouldn’t be able to have any fat, bones, or organs in order to weigh my ideal :D. (Oh, and I’d have a BMI of 17.7 which is considered underweight).

    (I’m just not convinced the scale can and should be completely linear… simply because I think there’s a difference between a woman of 170cm weighing 60kg and a woman of 140cm weighing only 30kg! The BMI of the former would be a healthy 20.7 while the BMI of the latter would be just 15.3!!!).

    • Fiona,

      Thank you for enjoying the series. I agree with your analysis, and I noted that much in my post by stating: “This simplistic method does not account for body morphology and muscle strength, but it is close enough for these calculations.”

  9. Thank you for these emails on weight loss! I’m in the same boat as a lot of people it would seem! I have been struggling to get to a ideal weight for a while now, and the ten pounds I wanted to lose before my first pregnancy has turned into 50. We switched to traditional foods over a year ago, and while breast feeding I lost 25lbs, but ten of it has crept back on (phantom weight I guess). The lower calorie equation makes sense… I hope to start losing weight soon, as we are hoping to have a fourth pregnancy soon. I’m so relieved to have a more clear path to weight loss, even if it does involve a reduced calorie diet *sigh*, so thanks :)

    • Melissa,

      You are very welcome. The trick behind all successful weight loss diets is an attitude similar to yours:

      “This [i.e. extra weight] is my problem, and I am the only one who can solve it [if I know how].”

      I’ll do my best to share with you my know-how of this subject, and am confident that you will succeed.

      Wishing your safe pregnancy, and keep breastfeeding for as long as you can — there is no better “weight loss” diet for you and for your baby than breastfeeding, particularly while enjoying real foods.

      Also, allow me to remind you that just a few generations ago gaining weight prior to pregnancy was a sign of health, vigor, and good genes, and not a “disease.” To some extent it still is, considering how many men are obsessed with large breasts and hips. So keep all this in prospective, and enjoy yourself, your body, and your choice of having a lot of kids.

  10. Well, I am really interested to hear about how to overcome the dreaded foes of weight loss that you have mentioned in these posts. So far, I have six of these. I guess I’m not really all that surprised that these conditions contribute to being overweight. Is that actually a light I see down there at the end of the tunnel????

    • Wynette,

      I know of at least 30 side effects that may derail anyone’s weight loss diet that I am going to write about. Ditto for the diet spoilers.

      Once you know (a) how to prevent or nip in the bud these side effects and (b) how to eliminate spoilers, you’ll be on your way to weight loss bliss, assuming you are motivated enough to comply with your reduced-calorie diet for as long as it takes.

      What are these six “dreaded foes” holding your weight loss hostage?

  11. All, there is much constructive discussion going on here and, unfortunately, also much mud-slinging. I have not seen this in Konstantin’s remarks (I don’t see the same mean-spiritedness), although some will disagree. This is a forum to have constructive discussions and we should focus on that. We will not all agree or be on the same page, but I am looking forward to learning and opening my mind up to more. So, can we please just settle down and stop taking everything so personally?
    The thyroid and hormonal issues can not be well-served by simply a reduction in calories. I am considering not Synthroid (as there are several problems with this synthetic and inadequate hormone replacement), but perhaps returning to Dr Ron’s pure dessicated thyroid from grass-fed cattle. But I know that in the past when I consumed enough protein and good quality fats, my hypo symptoms disappeared. Thus, this is one area that I am needing to improve. My carbs are really very low. Low calorie dieting is without a doubt a huge culprit in my hypothyroidism, and I am dubious about my body’s ability to avoid the hypo conundrum when not consuming enough. I do however need to find a way to fairly accurately count the calories I am currently consuming so that I have a better idea of where I am at, but I doubt that my calorie consumption is very high at all presently.
    Marcus recommended a website which I perused and I believe has a lot of very useful, good information. I am very intrigued with the ultra-low carb plan which includes 1 day a week of carb loading. It makes sense and seems more do-able, as I don’t think we would feel deprived of our “treats” so much if we were allowed to have them one day a week!
    Meanwhile, last night I had wine and drank a coffee in the morning, both habits that I am sure are detrimental to my hormonal health and weight loss. I need to give it up! Also, eating in the evening is a big non-no for me as instead of burning calories, the body likes to store it (fat) for later use.

    • Maureen,

      Thank you for your comments. I will address all of your concerns in the forthcoming posts. Just keep one important point in mind: if your body’s thermostat goes back to normal in response to your normal diet, it means you don’t have clinical hypothyroidism.

      The reduction of your metabolic rate (detected via lower body temperature or blood test) in response to a reduced calorie diet (i.e., ultra-low carbs) is an innate and normal body response to its extended switch into catabolic metabolism.

      Unlike what you may have heard from countless armchair nutritionists and dead diet doctors, you don’t need to be in ketosis to lose weight. I’ll address this topic in the future posts as well. (I already envision more hate coming my way by touching this “sacred cow.”)

      Also, keep in mind that the state of ketosis contributes mightily to the wasting of lean tissue (i.e., muscles) through the process known as gluconeogenesis. It always runs parallel to ketosis and is an inalienable component of catabolic metabolism. For this reason, I don’t recommend this hammer-like approach, particularly for women who carry so much less lean tissue (muscles) than men.

      Incidentally, the wasting of lean tissue and general shortage of essential amino acids from the diet related to gluconeogenesis is one of the primary causes of real — not make-believe — hypothyrodism.

      • I will look forward to reading your thoughts on this then Konstantin; thank you. My blood tests and symptoms had all shown definite hypo, and I was using a WAPF-affiliated doctor, so not one of your average misinformed md’s. But yes, my body temps did return to normal on a low-carb/high protein/fat diet, and my hair grew back nice and full while my energy level was very high. I felt great! But now, I am slipping into feeling a bit sluggish, and am hoping my hair doesn’t fall out again… I do eat mostly protein & fat with non-starchy vegetables. My carbs usually come in the form of fresh raw milk.
        Well, off to the gym now!

        • Maureen,

          Hair loss during a reduced-calorie diet is a primary symptom (outcome) of chronic anemia. Keep in mind that anemia isn’t related to just iron, but also to the deficiencies of amino acids (proteins), vitamin B-12, vitamin C, and essential fatty acids (CLO, free range dairy).

          When people sharply reduce fortified bread, pasta, and rice (the sources of iron), and veggies, fruits, and juices (the sources of vitamin C), they run into anemia very quickly, and women even more so due to iron loss during periods.

          When you return back to your regular diet, things return back to normal. The same deficiencies may also impact your thyroid function, and anemia ALWAYS reduces energy expenditure by causing fatigue.

          I will address all of these points in future posts.

          • (I’m sorry we are all keeping you so busy as you try to keep on top of these posts, but…)
            I just want to point out in response to your response, to my response, to …, well, here we go again!
            On the hair loss front and as it relates to others, I will mention that I eat organ meats, including lots of liver. Also home-grown & pastured meats, dairy, eggs, etc. All on well-mineralized and healthy pasture. And like probably most of the people reading these, fermented cod liver oil. Lots of sauerkraut & beet kvass. So, I actually get quite a lot of nutrition, but when I have tried the low-calorie dieting, I slip back into those hypo symptoms. I take two drops of nano-iodine daily, but will not touch the “fortified” grain products because they are neither whole, nor natural. I use heirloom organic grains and ferment or sprout all of it for my family. I limit fruit and never drink the sugar that passes as “juice”. But with the kraut and other garden produce that we grow and consume, I do get plenty of C (fermenting increasing the Vit. C content significantly).
            The long and the short of it is not just my story, but many here who are eating a very sound diet but suffering from past deficiencies or bodily abuse. I am certain the the low calories diet was a factor for me, not due to nutrient loss, but just calories in general-and I think that others with similar experiences would agree! Ditto former destructive lifestyles which can be damaging to the endocrine system in particular. We have learned that we can not eat a potato or a slice of bread without suffering additional weight.
            Thus many of us with similar stories find ourselves very frustrated and not knowing where to turn. We exercise, eat right, and gain, gain, gain ;-(
            But know that I am personally very willing to listen and glean what I can from your knowledge and experience, hoping that you see that there may be other factors at play besides *just* exercise and tiny calorie counts!

          • Maureen,

            Two brothers from the same family graduate from the same college two years apart with similar honors. The younger one becomes a billionaire, while the older one becomes a grumpy alcoholic with a lousy job at a dying firm. In other words, s–t happens even in apparently comparable situations.

            Same with your quandary, except that what you think is simple isn’t, and you can’t resolve a complex psycho-physiological syndrome of obesity simply by analyzing what you are eating at present, or what had transpired in your distant past. But forget about your own abilities to analyze this thankless subject — neither could Dr. Atkins, nor Dr. Weill, nor Dr. Phil, nor Dr. Ornish, nor Dr. Oz, and on, and on, and on.

            That is why this project isn’t called “Monastyrsky’s Diet Revolution,” but “Why Diets Fail”. Once you know why they do, you’ll know how to succeed. The next post will help you understand why you are gaining weight on a diet that may be perfectly healthy and wholesome for some, but a sheer frustration for you.

            And as far as your hair loss goes, even the best foods in too little quantities can’t prevent or resolve clinical undernutrition. So the next time you decide to diet for as long as it takes, you’ll need to take supplements to compensate for dietary deficiencies. Yes, they will be synthetic. Yes, they aren’t wholesome. Still, this is a better (and safer) approach than becoming slim and bald, or doing nothing and hating your body image and yourself. That’s why I keep telling everyone who will listen: if you don’t want to make compromises later on in life, don’t become overweight in your youth.

  12. Konstantin,
    I am so grateful for these posts and am looking forward to future ones. I lost my desired weight (about 35 pounds) slowly after switching to eating “real foods” about two ears ago. I eat the same way now (no counting calories, listening to body signals) and have very slowly regained ten of those pounds. I want to avoid putting on any more weight and would like to lose what I gained. You come across very knowledgable, without gimmicks. I apreciate your straightforward advice, the information on the “why’s” of avoiding alcohol makes perfect sense, I gave it up for Lent and will continue to afterward. Thank you, Erica

    • Erica,

      Your are very welcome. Please note that some of these 10 lbs. that you’ve gained back may be represented by the strengthening of your bones and muscles. That is not only normal, but also highly desirable for your health, appearance, and longevity. (Also, some of that gain may be related to your “benign” phantom weight.)

      I recommend paying a lot more attention to your body’s measurements (waist, hips, arms, buttocks, breasts) than to your absolute weight. In many instances, you may find that your measurements in all of those areas remain the same even with that extra weight.

      When I was 25, I weighed 70 kg, and my body was more trim than with 68 kg at age 55. That, unfortunately, is what aging does, so we need to pay a lot more attention to gaining back lean tissue (muscles) and bone mass (protein matrix + fat (~20%) + minerals).

      Happy Lent, and welcome to our version of the WLA (Weight Losers Anonymous) chapter.

  13. “I’m confused. Is this a joke? 1400 calorie diets? Isn’t this a WAPF site? I thought nourishment was #1 concern… 1400 calories is starvation… Maybe this is a prequel to a following post where you say “tricked you, you actually need to do weightlifting and eat enough calories and protein and less starchy carbs”. Hmmm”….. How was this not rude? Stop being a cry baby… and he did answer your questions, you just didn’t like the answer. Aslo, by him changing what he wrote was him trying to be “nicer”. You chose to post his first response. Your not as blameless as you think. I think Sarah was very good at putting gently to you to stop whinning.

    • Sara,

      Thank you for coming to my defense. I recognize how sensitive weight loss is for all affected by this plague, and I am paying a lot of attention to avoid pushing the wrong buttons. From now on, I’ll pay even more attention.

  14. Rachel MacPherson Crouse via Facebook March 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Sure I get that. I won’t be reading or commenting on any of the posts. I just assumed you might want to monitor how your readers are being treated by this guest poster and that you would have some say on how he deals with simple questions or doubts. I’ve been a reader for years but, I must say, I don’t think this blog is serving me well anymore.

  15. Really interesting posts, I can’t wait to read the rest, and also, very interested in your thoughts on;
    a) weight loss with hypothyroidism, and b
    b) fasting for weight loss

    In regards to a), and your advice above to ‘eat less and exercise more’ to achieve a deficit sufficient for weight loss, this is the exact approach I took two years ago, and i am convinced it was the major contributing factor to my developing thyroid hormone resistance – the more I ran and the less I ate didn’t seem to help me lose weight at all (or fat), and in fact I gained a few kg. Very frustrating! So I am very interested to read the rest of your posts, as I would really love to figure out how exactly I can lose weight!

    • Lucy,

      You are very welcome. I already addressed the questions about hypothyrodism and fasting in earlier comments. Please kindly scan this page for these threads.

      The concept of “eat less and exercise more” isn’t in any way novel or unique. All it means is consume less energy while expending more, and you’ll be losing fat. So that’s a strategy that everyone understands.

      The problems start with tactical implementation of this strategy, and that is exactly what my program is all about: How to lose weight while eating less and remaining active without failure or side effects.

      Hopefully, by the end of this project, you’ll be able to attain your objectives. As they say, the devil is in the details. I am surprised that some of the readers here confuse me (the details) with The Devil.

  16. Rachel MacPherson Crouse via Facebook March 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Sure. But I think the insults and insinuations were uncalled for. Especially because every single thing he said about me was wrong. I do lift weights, I don’t eat junk, and I have lost a lot of postpartum weight eating enough food and exercising. His comments were hurtful and untrue.

    • Sarah,

      I just wanted to let you know that I am not at all disappointed. I am so happy that you are having Konstantin do this series. I appreciate his hard hitting approach. I AM disappointed that so many people are having such negative things to say. I really think that many of them are taking his words out of their intended context. I have found nothing at all to complain about. So, thank you, again.

      • I agree…not at all disappointed. I want to hear how it really is. This is about returning to my pre-baby weight, not having my feelings massaged!

  17. Konstantin,

    I would like to tell you how much I appreciate what you are doing. Honestly, I am quite shocked that so many people have had such negative things to say, and also that they chose to say them because many of them are so far removed from the point you’re making and who this series is for. I get the impression that many of them are maybe misunderstanding the point of this whole series.

    I am not overweight by most people’s definitions, but after I started eating a traditional diet, I gained (within only a couple of months) 20 pounds. I read so much stuff about how you basically can’t gain weight and will likely lose weight eating a traditional diet. False! Then I went low carb, high fat traditional. THAT was supposed to be the epitome of diet perfection and my extra weight would just fall right off. Guess what, it didn’t budge.

    Having spent the last 15 years balancing an eating disorder and a hardcore gym routine, I kept feeling so tempted to revert back to my old ways and what I knew would work to lose the weight. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I would pass out at the gym simply because I hadn’t eaten a bite of food in days. I knew that that lifestyle wasn’t healthy and I desperately wanted to keep feeding my body what it needs (I’ve completely “cured” my Bipolar type 1 simply through diet, exercise, and lifestyle), but at the same time I couldn’t accept that I should have to live with this extra weight.

    I had almost nearly come to the decision that I was going to reduce my calories while making sure that what I ate was only the most nutritious foods. I had tried everything else and cutting my calories was the only thing left, yet I was terrified that it was the wrong thing to do. Like a miracle, your first article then appeared in my inbox, and I am filled with a deep sense of appreciation and hope. Thank you.

    • Trudy,

      Thank you for “seeing the forest.” Your attitude and struggle with weight loss perfectly captures my ideal audience, and I’ll be honored one day to learn that you finally succeeded in normalizing your weight by following my recommendations.

  18. Thanks for these articles, I find them very fascinating. As a woman who is turning 40 next month, I have had an extra 10 pounds of weight I am trying to lose. I too struggle with the practically of knowing what is 1,200 – 1,400 calories now that I eat real food. I guess the only way to really know is to break down each and every recipe to get the macro nutrients on a place like fitday.com. Is there any other suggestions you have for that? Also, what are your thoughts on intermitten fasting where you give yourself a 6-8 hour window to consume all the calories for the day? I heard that works to help your body shed fat quickly too. Thanks!

    • Aimee,

      You are very welcome. I do realize that this is a mind-bender, but a reduced-calorie diet is the only way to lose the last 5-10 lbs. unless you can turn yourself into an exercise bunny.

      About recipes and weight loss: you can’t lose weight by staying in a kitchen and cooking delicious foods. I realize that I am opening up yet another Pandora’s box, but unless you are prepared to cook while wearing a gas mask and blinders, there are no other ways to prevent your body (and imagination) from stimulating hunger and appetite.

      So, to be successful in my program during the active weight reduction phase, you’ll need to get out of the kitchen and stay away from cooking shows.

      That’s why I wrote in my post that you need to have a supportive family/spouse to be successful at it. It’s even more challenging if you have to cook for kids. And it is outright impossible for chefs unless they have hyper-kinetic personalities along the lines of Jamie Oliver, who is actually getting a bit plump by now.

  19. I agree with some of the above comments that the idea of a 1400 calorie/day diet is not what I would expect to read about on this blog. Listening to Zoe Harcombe’s talk from a London Wise Traditions she shows explicitly how “a calorie isn’t just a calorie” (in fact she references research that shows how this goes against the laws of thermodynamics). I’ve also read both of Julia Ross’ books (Mood Cure, DIet Cure) and Julia says that the World Health Organization says starvation begins at calorie levels below about 2,100; and Ms Ross highly criticizes low-calorie dieting saying it is dangerous to thyroid and other body systems. Byron Richards, in his research on leptin resistance, tells how restricting calories causes metabolism to slow down in order to keep from losing too much weight.

    • Lee,

      There is nothing particularly good, healthy, or wholesome about low-calorie dieting, and I am in complete agreement with Ms. Ross and others on this. However, for people who wish to lose weight naturally (i.e., without drugs, surgery, or extreme workouts), it is the only viable short-term option, and my work is intended to show these people how attain permanent and natural weight loss safely and reliably.

  20. Thank you so much for these posts. I feel as if the rest of them can’t come soon enough. There is so much mixed information about weight loss out there and I am feeling very desperate at the moment. I went on one of those crazy prepackage food diets and was actually able to loose my weight and keep it off for nearly a year after switching to a real food diet. Now, here it comes creeping back and nothing is stoping the increase. While I wait in anticipation, would you mind breifly stating what you suggest be comprised in the 1200 to 1400 calories a day?

    • Tai,

      You are very welcome. I’ll do my best to help you and others master the art of staying at a normal weight.

      Sorry, I can’t provide a brief description of a reduced-calorie diet because there are so many ifs, ands, and buts related to this topic. And it isn’t just about what to eat, but also about when, how, and why.

      • Ah… I will learn patience. That’s for the response. Please keep writing and don’t be discouraged by some of the negative comments and arguments. Thanks again!

        • Tai, thank you. I am perfectly okay with constructive negative feedback. It helps me to focus on what’s right and alerts me to what concerns readers the most. So it is not only helpful, but also welcome.

          And for anything that isn’t constructive, from now on I’ll use my moderation privileges in order to keep this discussion civilized and on topic.

  21. I don’t think any of us are disagreeing with the fact that you need a calorie deficit to lose fat, but drastically reducing caloric intake puts stress on your body, putting it into starvation mode, which is more harmful to one’s health than staying chubby. And I am sure no one here is advocating stomach stapling. My purpose of sharing the above link we to help teach people how to lose weight, love their body and stay health.

  22. Where you hungry all the time eating 1400 calories a day? Is it possible to lose weight without going hungry? I thought too low of calorie intake caused a lowering of the metabolism. Is that false?
    Is there a way to lose weight without counting calories but listening to your bodies signals of hunger and fullness? Thanks!

    • Sarah,

      Hunger and appetite are essential survival instincts and are normal to have; to say that I wasn’t hungry or I didn’t have an appetite would be disingenuous. So, yes, I was hungry, but in a normal way, not a ravenous kind of hunger like I see in my cats or in people with unstable blood sugar, gastritis, or other such anomalies. (I am going to address all of these issues in future posts.)

      > Does low calorie intake lower the rate of energy metabolism?

      Yes, it does. It is just as natural and just as normal as experiencing appetite. Fortunately, there are ways around this issue, and I’ll be addressing them in future posts.

      > Is there a way to lose weight without counting calories but listening to your bodies signals of hunger and fullness?

      Yes, there are ways, and you can observe them by watching “The Biggest Loser” on NBC. This program has been running for years; practically everyone with weight issues has seen it at least once, yet somehow the obesity epidemic is getting worse and worse.

      • Konstantin, do you support the weight loss methods and strategies that are shown on ‘The Biggest Loser’?

        • Beth,

          I venture to guess that the majority of people with weight concerns have seen “The Biggest Loser” more than once. If they are still overweight, then it means that the strategies and methods espoused by this program didn’t help them. That’s all that I needed to know.

  23. 40 posts only Fridays is too long to wait when needing it all NOW! Post menopause, nothing working and low cortisol. What to do?!

  24. I know every body is different, with a different set of “issues,” but I find as I explore and learn more about grain free and overall healthier living in a more natural state (as opposed to the chemically-laden existence I was living, it is overwhelming. After six kids, loads of stress from teaching, and now unemployment, my happiness has arisen from learning more about this new life that I never had the time to before. But, there is this weight around my stomach which concerns me dramatically. And I certainly hope to read more from this series about thyroid and how it affects weight loss and gain. I’ve yo-yo’d from hypo- to hyper-thyroid since my fifth child was born. I am not concerned about being “skinny” as our society defines everything, but rather I would like to be and feel “healthy.” As I tell my partner, I don’t want to stand in the pharmacy line at Walmart for the next forty years…

    • Helen, welcome to the club! You’ve found the right home for your aspirations to remain healthy and drug-free for the next 40 years. Yes, I will absolutely address the role of endocrine health in future posts.

        • I would be really interested to learn more about leptin resistance and how to become leptin sensitive too. Thanks.

          • We all have a lot of hormones and other substances that regulate hunger, appetite, satiety, digestion, assimilation, and metabolism. Leptin happens to be only one of them, and I don’t have anything of value to add to what has already been written on this subject ad nauseum.

            The original thinking was that by regulating leptin (with drugs, of course), we’ll be able to turn the “hunger gene” off and the “satiety gene” on. When this happens, please let me know. Meanwhile, leptin or not, a properly structured weight loss diet and health- and age-appropriate exercise are still the only known ways of attaining weight loss naturally.

  25. I’m confused. Is this a joke? 1400 calorie diets? Isn’t this a WAPF site? I thought nourishment was #1 concern… 1400 calories is starvation… Maybe this is a prequel to a following post where you say “tricked you, you actually need to do weightlifting and eat enough calories and protein and less starchy carbs”. Hmmm…

    • Rachel,

      No, this isn’t a joke. If 1,400 calories is too little for you, feel free to consume 1,600, or 1,800, or 2,000, or 2,200, or what have you.

      The only difference will be that you are going to lose less fat (or not at all), and it may take you longer, much longer. That was the whole point behind my post. Besides, I explicitly wrote the following:

      “This number [1,400 calories] may or may not apply to you, and I am using it here for illustration only. I will address stage one and stage two diet composition and energy density in future posts.”

      • So that people know, I think the author edited his response to my previous post. Here is what showed up in my inbox:

        “Author: Konstantin Monastyrsky
        Comment:

        Rachel,

        I am confused about your being confused. How do you expect people who need to lose weight naturally to accomplish it? With surgery? LAP-BAND? Liposuction? Drugs?

        Sorry, but it isn’t my fault that some people, apparently you too, have been brainwashed by Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Media that they can consume their prepackaged, prescribed, or prerecorded junk with impunity, and still enjoy Kate Moss-like body.

        And, yes, this site is affiliated with WAPF, and so am I. That is why Sarah is normal weight, and her children are vibrant and healthy. Or is why my wife at 58 enjoys a body of 25 year old, and I, a former late stage diabetic and a “fatso” is still alive.

        So, please, don’t confuse what the WAPF is preaching for healthy people to stay healthy with what is needed for 105+ million Americans to normalize their weight, and get off drugs for hypertension, diabetes, heartburn, ADD/HD, depression, insomnia, and on, and on, and on…

        So, no, it is not a joke, and, no, I will not send you weightlifting. Even if I will, I’ll doubt you’ll do it because people who can do it don’t read weight loss articles or make sarcastic comments.”

        Wow, you couldn’t be more wrong in just about everything you said about me! I DO lift weights and exercise, I DO eat about 2000 calories a day. I HAVE lost a lot of weight doing this in the past 8 months since I had my baby. I HAVE starved myself in the past along the lines of what you are suggesting and I was definitely NOT healthy that way. I DEFINITELY DO NOT “eat prepackaged, prescribed, or prerecorded junk with impunity”. I am not “brain washed by Big Pharma”, in fact I don’t buy any prepackaged food or junk food. I DO NOT have nor do I want a “Kate Moss body”.

        The reason why I would read a weight loss post is because it was sent to my inbox and I am losing post-partum weight, so I don’t really struggle with weight per say, but I, like most women, gained weight while pregnant. I would definitely be overweight if I didn’t eat properly and exercise.

        I am so surprised that this blog would have such a demoralizing and rude author. I’m really just in shock.

        • Rachel,

          Yes, I have edited my prior response because it was written in a somewhat emotional haste. That said, if you decided to repost my original post, I stand behind each and every word I said there.

          I also strongly suggest that you read “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by the late Dr. Stephen Covey, a seminal book that I live by and recommend to all people that I come across, because these seven habits will not only make them wealthier, happier, and more successful, but also healthier.

          Dr. Covey makes an excellent point in that book that nobody can “make you anything,” unless you allow it (quotes are mine, not his). So if my posts or responses to your comments are “demoralizing” to you, then “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31), and if you don’t, then don’t suddenly feign indignation and righteousness over someone not expressing an immediate love, affection, and tolerance toward your point of view, however reasonable or unreasonable it may be.

          And, by the way, your negative emotions are poisonous to your baby’s physical and emotional health (especially while still nursing), predispose her to obesity, and may also cause lifelong personal and professional difficulties because children tend to mirror the personalities of their parents.

          This particular phenomenon was well captured in the folk wisdom of “If you want to know how your wife will look [act] like in the future, go visit your mother-in-law.” (This adage, incidentally, applies to men and fathers-in-law just as much, if not more.)

          I am sure this response will elicit some more hate, but that comes with the territory, and I am a big enough boy (and a good student of Dr. Covey) to handle it. Besides, my beloved cats (cats, not kids, this isn’t a typo) are already 14, perfectly normal weight and well adjusted, so I have nobody to ruin but myself, and I am not going to allow that.

        • I completely agree. He is absolutely belligerent with so many accusatory and plain mean responses.

          • Melissa,

            Life taught me one very important character trait: telling the truth always trumps telling people what they want to hear.

            If you don’t like hearing the truth, please, don’t turn it into my problem.

          • I think he’s spot on. If someone doesn’t mind being rude in their posts, why should that person get offended if he’s rude right back? I, for one, appreciate his honestly and straightforwardness.

            Take Rachel’s unsolicited comment, for example. Her comment was very rude and really pointless because it’s as if she didn’t even read the article. She comments as if he’s trying to tell her in order to lose weight she should eat 1400 calories a day. He clearly said that 1400 was just to illustrate his point and to adjust up or down as needed.

            @Rachel You go on to comment that you eat 2000 calories a day and exercise and have lost weight. That’s great! And precisely what he is saying to do. I bet if you ate 2500 calories you wouldn’t still lose weight. There’s plenty of people out there who GAIN weight on a 2000 calorie diet. Does 1400 sound unreasonable for them? The point as that he clearly says that 1400 is to illustrate his point and to adjust up or down.

          • Seconded Trudy, I agree with you!

            I’m really surprised at what I can only describe as hate on this thread. Quite disappointing and not what I expected at all. Each to their own though and I’m just going to ignore the rest of the comments here, get on with my day and look forward to his next post :)

    • Exactly. Nourishment and health is SUPPOSED to be the number one concern here.

      And considering there is scarce medical research and experiential evidence that shows us where losing weight = better health, and that being “over” weight automatically = bad health, this is just all around not in good faith. In addition, it’s actually harmful to suggest this, especially since we (and medical practitioners) often overlook so many people’s actual health issues by brushing it off with “just lose weight.”

      I’ll spend my time reading health-oriented sites instead, as this one has clearly decided not to be interested in our HEALTH but instead our weight.

        • Joanna Katherine March 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm

          Konstantin, while the above comment was undoubtedly rude, I also had a question mark in my head about the calorie level. I recall Sally Fallon always saying that 2,500 calories of quality food is required to simply sustain the systems of the body. I’ve always had success with weight loss on lower calorie plans but not permanent. Now that our family is on a traditional diet, I have been trying not to “starve” myself to make sure my cells get what they need. Is your opinion that once the weight goal is attained that the calories should go back up to that level? Even in her “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” book, the calorie recommendations are quite high. My reality has been, “Eat Fat, Stay the Same.”

          • Joanna,

            Sally’s recommendations apply to healthy normal-weight people with active lifestyles. If you tell Sally that you are gaining weight on a 2,500-calorie diet, she’ll respond along these lines:

            “Joanna, please adjust your calorie intake from all food groups [i.e., fats, proteins, and carbohydrates] to match your age, gender, build, ethnicity, physical activity, and other health and lifestyle factors that are different from individual to individual.”

            And Sally’s book isn’t recommending to pig out on fat either, but eating a traditional diet with the right kind of fats. I recommend the same.

            Also, note another very important point: the fat under your skin happens to be the right kind. So when you commence a reduced-calorie diet in order to drop your body’s fat down to 22%-25% — a normal range for healthy women — you aren’t going to harm yourself in any way because your body will reuse these fats for energy and structural metabolism.

            But you still must consume essential fats in order to contain your appetite, facilitate proper gallbladder function, assimilate fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, and related minerals, and to address a number of other health-critical functions that are so well described in Sarah’s new book, “Get Your Fats Straight”. I highly recommend it to everyone, and even more to people who are struggling with weight issues.

          • Joanna, how was my comment rude? I was honestly confused. If you look at what I posted next, you’ll see how incredibly rude and arrogant his response to me was. I think it was edited because it’s been changed on the site.

  26. This is written from a male perspective. Women lose weight differently than men, and male experts on weight loss, trainers, etc. (in my experience) tend to be clueless about helping women lose weight.

    • Catz,

      This is news to me… You mean to say that male doctors should never treat women, and that adults should never treat children, and that young doctors should stay away from old patients, and that old doctors should stay away from young patients.

      Well, if you think this way about men in general, and this man in particular, feel free to ignore this and future posts.

    • Catz, ignore Konstantin. It’s a straw-argument (I mean really, as if you are saying only children doctors should treat children…come on.) You say that IN YOUR EXPERIENCE men aren’t listening and are often clueless. He’s not listening either, proving your point rather well.

      Besides, no one can tell you that your experience isn’t what it is. YOU are the only person who knows your experiences. Even so, the evidence available says you are right. Male experts aren’t considering women’s bodies as often as they should. Women are most often considered other and men the default body.

      Konstantin, do not tell a woman that her experience is false and then make straw arguments. It’s not helpful. And yes, I am ignoring future posts. I wish Sarah wouldn’t have allowed 40+ more posts on this to be forthcoming on her site.

      • Melissa,

        I can assure you that I am married to a woman, and I know a thing or two about our differences. And, trust me, men, including this one, love, respect, and admire female bodies of all shapes and sizes.

        And, by the way, I am just a messenger. Why so much hatred?

        • This is now gaslighting, please stop. Hatred? I think not. You are ignoring a simple request to not tell women how they feel or should feel or what they experienced.

          Being married to a woman has no relevance at all. Neither did anyone say anything about all men. Listening is key, and you are failing. And being rude in the process. Please stop.

  27. Joanna Katherine March 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Oh my. This series is a breath of fresh air. I call myself the “woman who knows too much” when it comes to food and dieting. I’ve always been active and had to work REALLY hard to maintain my weight: living on egg whites, spinach, and chicken breast. When I got pregnant 4 years ago, I lost the battle. We are now on a traditional diet and I’m enjoying all the wonderful fats I omitted for so long but I am also far from my pre-preggo weight. I’m sure if I tracked my intake I would find where my problem is but I’m so exhausted by all the tracking I used to do and what to track and what not to track that it’s just overwhelming at this point. At least I haven’t gained since we’ve changed our eating to increase healthy fats but I really would like to lose 30 or 40 lbs. SAVE ME FROM MY INFORMATION OVERLOAD! (With more information of course.) I’m wondering if you will be addressing things like how toxins, specifically mercury from amalgam fillings, affects the systems of the body and weight loss. I had 5 amalgams growing up into my mid 20s and they were all removed improperly. I spent 6 mos doing chelation recently (I’m 37) and started to see great gains in my health, sleep, energy, and mental well being then “oops” got pregnant and subsequently miscarried. My husband and I are taking a break from chelation and I really want to tackle the weight issue and prepare my body for a healthy second pregnancy.

    • Joanna,

      I’ll do my best to help you and your husband prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. I’ve done a ton of research on infertility (and miscarriages), and the common thread that emerges from this research points to obesity, particularly in women past 30, as a primary cause behind these conditions.

  28. I’m in a grumpy mood this morning and have been battling excess weight since menopause. So, good article, just what I needed to read and reread. That said and nothing against the author but Two pop ups within 10 seconds of each other, it doesn’t add to the experience. Is there something you can do about this, Sarah?
    Kate

    • Kate,

      Please allow me to respond on Sarah’s behalf. This website is free to read, but it isn’t free to make, and neither of us has a stipend from Uncle Sam to live the lifestyle we believe we deserve in return for our hard work.

      So, just like you tolerate those 30-second ads on your expensive cable box, and just like you tolerate full-page ads in your paid magazines, and just like you tolerate hour-long funding drives on public television, and what have you, please invest one second of your time to click off those pesky pop-ups so we can provide you with this valuable and free service.

      • Kate, I didn’t have any pop ups. There is ads on the side that don’t bother me. If you have excess pop up issues, you can instate anit pop ups blockers on your computer

  29. I’ve been enjoying your posts and look forward to the whole series. My question is this: if weight loss is simply a caloric equation, how much does watching foods that spike your blood sugar matter? What about ketosis?

    I went on your website last week and learned many things to help with my constipation. cutting out whole grain products started helping in just a few days. For better part of a decade I’ve been taking fiber to no avail. Thank you!

    • Rebecca,

      Thank you for your kind words about my work, and the enjoyment is mutual!

      > if weight loss is simply a caloric equation, how much does watching foods
      > that spike your blood sugar matter? What about ketosis?

      I am set to release at least 40 more posts addressing those very things. They all matter a great deal, and for some people they may matter an exceptionally great deal. That is also why this project is so expansive.

  30. I am looking forward to reading the future posts in this series so I can demystify the weight loss dilemma so many of us face. In my 20′s I just wanted to lose 10 lb. Throughout the past thirty years I have dieted myself into needing to lose 50 lb. Yet when I look back at my pictures, I looked quite normal.
    Also, Konstantin, I would love to see a picture of you smiling and not quite so serious!

    • Cindy,

      Thank you very much, and I am looking forward to obliging your interest with all I know about this otherwise thankless subject — it’s one thing to know all about weight loss, and completely another to act on this knowledge. So when fat stays put after reading yet another diet manifesto, guess whose fault it is? (Hint: that crazy Russian who told me to eat less and move more, as if I didn’t know.)

      Re: my “anal-retentive” portrait — no wonder I have turned myself into a world-renowned expert in constipation! You are absolutely right, I need to laugh more.

      My wife hates that picture, so we are planning to take a new one soon. Thank you for making it happen sooner rather than later.

  31. A bit confused by this line: “If you were always overweight, the formula for determining your desired weight is your height in centimeters minus 100 for men or 110 for women.” ‘

    So say you’re a 5’5 woman…that would be 165 cm, and minus 110 would be 55 lbs. Doesn’t make much sense.

  32. You’ve mentioned in each post the importance of cutting out alcohol. I’m curious as to why this is so important for the weight loss process.

    • Heidi,

      I’ll discuss this subject at greater length while addressing diet spoilers. Meanwhile, here are the key reasons behind this recommendation:

      1. Alcohol in spirits is metabolized by the body to the tune of 7 calories per gram of pure ethanol, and most of it is being converted directly into triglycerides, and dispatched right under your skin for “storage.” And this is before accounting for sugars in alcoholic beverages.

      2. Alcohol stimulates appetite like no other food. That’s why it is called an aperitif — a drink taken before a meal to stimulate appetite. (Classical aperitifs such as vermouth, contain bitter herbs which also stimulate digestive functions.)

      3. The effect of drunkenness is actually a manifestation of low blood sugar. This, in turn, stimulates a prodigious release of insulin, also an appetite-stimulating hormone. Both factors drive up sugar cravings, so we end up loading up with cakes, sodas, and candies.

      4. Alcohol drops down your metabolic rate (energy burn) by lowering your body’s basal temperature and reducing your level of activity.

      5. Alcohol causes sleep disorders by disrupting sleep states, sleep latency, and sleep duration. Low quality and duration of sleep affects energy and structural metabolism and causes weight gain.

      6. Alcohol causes excessive urination, which affects the quality of sleep and contributes to dehydration. Many people prefer to rehydrate with sodas that are loaded with sugars.

      7. Alcohol is a major fatigue-causing factor and depressant. These outcomes stimulate the overconsumption of caffeine, with an even worse impact on sleep, diuresis (urine production), and metabolism.

      And when you are on a proper low-calorie diet, all of these factors are amplified by a significant margin because you are getting drunk on much less alcohol, and much faster.

      So, if you want to lose weight and stay that way (beer belly, anyone?), alcoholic drinks of all kinds (except during communion) are a taboo…

      • Ohhh, this is the real toughy for me! I adore a glass of wine in the evening, but am cutting back to maybe 3 or 4 times a week. I know it has to be less. For some it is chocolate, or ice cream, or bread. For me, a glass of wine or very occasional ale. Please tell me I can still have it once in awhile!

        • Maureen,

          Yes, you can have it for as long as your remember that a glass of wine (200 ml) contains 168 calories from alcohol alone (at 12%). This translates to an extra 18.7 grams of potential fat to deal with, along with all the other issues I’ve identified above.

          With that in mind, a glass of warm water along with a brief meditation may have the exact same effect on you as a glass of wine sans the extra calories. On top of that, meditation and deep breathing will raise your metabolic rate (you’ll perceive it as “warmth”), so you can actually eat a bit more with no penalty.

  33. Thank you so much for what you are doing! I am a 5’10″ 42yo female, and I am always told, “you’re tall…you can weigh more.” Like I need help rationalizing! I noticed my weight was affecting my lung capacity while singing, my stamina during hiking, etc., and I’m making changes. It’s hard though, when everyone around me is smiling and happily downing “diet shakes” full of soy and aspartame and losing weight without walking into a gym. I lost the first 11 pounds (phantom weight), started going to the gym, and without changing eating habits at all, promptly gained 6 pounds in one week. I just cried. My husband of course, has dropped 40 points of cholesterol (bad) and looks better. I eat at least one green salad a day, and am avoiding processed foods like the plague they are. Splurging to me is allowing an organic potato into a casserole or soup. Needless to say, I’m reading your articles with great anticipation and hope that someone can help! I even struggled with the Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome stuff a while back, but that only lasts until life comes along and throws a curve. Gotta be able to live life! Not afraid of hard work, and can’t wait until we can get some veggies back in our northern garden. Thanks for all you do…I’m hungrily consuming all of your advice!

    • Jodie,

      You are very welcome. Taller men and women have a huge weight loss advantage because of their inherently higher metabolic rate. It takes a great deal more energy to pump oxygen-rich blood to the more “distant” head and extremities, hence more energy is expended. Also, taller bodies require a great deal more nutrients for structural metabolism (i.e., cellular renewal).

      So, on the right diet you’ll do well, and there is no need to cry or envy your husband. Envy is particularly noxious for successful weight loss because all forms of anger (which is what it is) stimulate appetite, and you don’t want that. Besides, he loves you for who you are, not for what you weigh.

      In fact, men have a genetic predisposition toward well-endowed women because the more fat you carry, the more estrogen your body produces, and that makes your body more receptive to what men want most (after sports and foods, of course.)

      • You are so encouraging Konstantin; I am hopeful again. Like Jody, I am tall, but taller still at 6′. It is nice that with more height I have more space to distribute that extra weight, but none the less it is ugly! And having the added dilemma of hypothyroidism that we both have, this complicates things. I am also full throttle into menopause now, and would like your opinion on how much this complicates weight loss. My husband isn’t really buying it, and it is very disheartening when your otherwise kind and thoughtful spouse is turned off by the extra fat on his wife’s formerly lush and lovely body.
        I don’t think my metabolic rate is very high, which hypothyroidism is likely responsible for. Likewise, years of up and down dieting and a former reckless life certainly contributed to (adrenal issues as well). My HT seemed to disappear a few years ago on the high protein/fat diet.
        I am most appreciative of your articles Konstantin, and your encouragement-thank you!

        • Maureen,

          Thank you very much for your kind comments about my work. Hopefully these materials will help you to reduce the impact of aging on your weight.

          > And having the added dilemma of hypothyroidism
          > that we both have, this complicates things.

          Not as much as you think assuming you are not bed-bound with pernicious hypothyroidism. Experts in the field know well that there are just as many (if not more) overweight people with normal thyroid functioning as with hypothyroidism.

          Yes, your body may be using less energy to keep itself warm (i.e., basal temperature), but not significantly less. So, in the end, it still boils down to your energy intake (i.e., foods) and expenditure (i.e., physical and intellectual activities).

          And you must also realize one significant point: If you are gaining just 5 grams of fat (that’s only 45 calories) daily because your energy metabolism is 5% to 10% lower than among other women of your age, at the end of one year you will gain extra 1,825 grams (65 oz., 4 lbs.) of fat, and by the end of ten years this will come to 18.2 kg (40 lbs.).

          Thus, the thrust of my program is to (a) stop this slow-go process, so you don’t gain those extra 5, 10, 20 grams and (b) reverse it temporarily, so you can burn that extra fat already under your skin at the whatever rate your body and lifestyle will allow.

          And as much as I dislike taking drugs of any kind, I am okay with taking Levothyroxine (generic name for Synthroid-type medicines) as a form of hormone replacement therapy for people who can’t reverse hypothyrodism with natural means (supplemental iodine, essential fatty acids from liquid CLO, sublingual vitamin B-12, high-quality animal proteins [a source of essential amino acids], and vitamin C). But taking medication is a choice made between you and your internist, and isn’t a part of my program.

          > I am also full throttle into menopause now,
          > and would like your opinion on how much this complicates weight loss

          Yes, that’s an issue, but it is similar in scope to an underactive thyroid. You must realize that as people age, they also reduce their levels of physical, intellectual, and sexual activity, so they begin to gain more weight a diet that was weight-neutral before.

          Fortunately, it doesn’t take that much effort or that much sacrifice to reverse the process of gaining an extra 5 (10, 20) grams of fat per day — just eat 45 (90, 180) calories less, and move slightly more. Not a huge sacrifice, really…

          Yes, it will take a lot more effort and sacrifice to lose 40-50 lbs. of preexisting fat simply because you can’t reverse 10-20 years worth of damage in two weeks or two month while also enjoying a “luxurious” diet. But if you can do it gradually in one or two years, you still have many years to live, and you might as well live them in the size and shape that you and your husband prefer.

          This has been a long response to two simple questions, but this response, if you wish, is my weight loss manifesto, and it simply means, paraphrasing Napoleon Hill: “Think and Grow Thin,” or, at the very least, “Think and Don’t Get Fat!”

          That isn’t something that the weight loss industry wants you to do (i.e., think on your own), because once you start thinking in these very simple terms (i.e., 5 grams of fat or 45 calories at a time), you’ll be forever lost to them as a recurring client.

          Again, this isn’t the most popular (or profitable) position to take, but this isn’t a popularity contest. If I wanted to be popular, I would be writing for Weight Watchers or Atkins Nutritionals, and not for The Healthy Home Economist.

          And, believe me, with my level of expertise in this subject and background in business management, marketing, and information technology, I can land a top level executive position (CEO, President, SVP of Marketing) at either company if I really wanted to, except I don’t because doing any of these jobs right (i.e., honestly) would bankrupt both companies in a very short time.

  34. Thank you so much for this series. I am very much looking forward to reading more as the weeks continue. It is very refreshing to have an accurate and genuine account of the how-to for weight loss.
    Is it possible for people with chronic illness (eg: fibromyalgia) to lose weight? I have about 7 kg I would like to lose. My main goal is, of course, to be healthier but I feel that losing this excess weight would assist in this due to less inflammation.
    Thank you again.

    • Sure it is! Any form of aerobic exercise (i.e. something that gets your heart rate up), like fast walking will diminish your perception of pain.

    • Renee,

      You are very welcome. Fibromialgia happens to be one of the nastiest side effects of reduced-calorie dieting, and I’ll be addressing this condition in the future.

      Before commencing any kind of weight reduction diet, please read Sarah’s new book and follow its recommendations. It is the best thing you can do to resolve fibromyalgia, assuming it isn’t related to the side effects of statins, sugar reducers, antacids, blood pressure reducers, or some others drugs.

  35. I agree. We eat foods (and good foods!), not a bunch of meaningless numbers of calories and nutrients. Show us a 1200 or 1400 calorie diet that has all of the nutrients that we need, and enough fat and energy for daily life.

    Part of why a “real foods diet” works for people to get healthier (and sometimes lose weight, but not always), is that Real Foods help people feel full after years of attempting to starve ourselves on low calorie restricted diets. I lose weight a lot faster on higher calorie and higher fat diets than I do on low calorie ones.

    Also, if it was a simple as this calorie formula insists that it is, then why do so many people on low calorie diets never lose their weight?

  36. Joanna Katherine March 22, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    One thing to consider is that the calorie needs to put on muscle are completely opposite the calorie needs to lose fat. Or so I’m told. I”m not doing either at the moment. But a professional body expert to pro athletes told me that you absolutely cannot do both at the same time and be efficient which is another reason many people don’t reach their goals. It’s like trying to go right and left at the same time.

  37. Mindy,

    The gist of my program will be covered in the first 10 to 15 posts. At that point you’ll have all of the information you will need to follow it.

    The remaining posts (about 30) will be addressing diet-related side effects that may or may not apply to you. And since I structure my program gradually, you aren’t likely to encounter these side effects to begin with.

  38. Joanna,

    Yes, this is correct. Body building and “body wasting” (which is what weight loss really is) are completely opposite processes, and they need to follow completely different nutritional strategies. I am acutely aware of the muscle wasting dilemma of all reduced-calorie diets, but I know quite well how to work around it.

    Preserving muscle (i.e., lean tissue) is very important for weight loss because muscles are the most prodigious consumers of energy. That is, incidentally, why men experience a faster rate of weight loss on the exact same diet as their spouses of similar shape and weight — more muscles.

  39. Joanna Katherine March 23, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Thank you, Konstantin. My comment above was actually directed towards Marcus and his program that magically does it all at the same time. I believe I will find your scientific, no-hype approach to be both refreshing and motivating–exactly what I need to get back on the weight-loss horse.

  40. Amanda,

    We all love to eat real food and, sometimes, even unreal food. However, this series is dedicated to a completely different subject. So if you know a better way to lose weight safely and naturally, please show it to me and I’ll happily follow your lead.

  41. I don’t think he ever tried to imply that ” it was a simple as this calorie formula insists”. If it were, then there would be no need for the other 38 parts of this 40 part series.

    I gained weight eating a “real foods diet”. Obviously my body was getting MORE than “enough fat and energy for daily life”. Should I just just tell myself to get used to my new body? I think not. It seems to me the human body was designed to store fat so that it could be used in times when food was naturally not in abundance.

    If I am correct in thinking that, then it seems that eating less food at times is just as natural as eating plenty of food. If our bodies are designed to use this stored fat during food shortages, what is wrong with recreating a totally naturally scenario by choosing to consume less food if done properly? If you lose weight, particularly fat, a lot faster on higher calorie diets than on low calorie diets, I am happy for you and amazed at the same time.

    Be thankful you have that astonishing biological makeup during a time and place where most people have the luxury of being able to eat as much as they want and remain very sedentary yet want to look like they do neither. I imagine that Paleolithic man (or even people in the world today who face real starvation) would have found that losing weight faster on a higher calorie diet than a lower calorie one to be quite counterproductive to their need to store fat during food abundance in order to burn fat during food shortages.

    This is just my opinion. If I’m wrong, I’m all ears. :)

  42. I lose weight MUCH easier on more calories too!

    In fact, I was eating low calorie for my weight and height and not losing weight. As soon as I added in 200-300 calories per day, the weight started going again. Getting good sleeps helps me significantly also.

    A few months ago, I read that it is estimated that 85% of ‘The Biggest Loser’ participants gain some, if not all, of their weight back.

  43. Rachel I exercise, and while I don’t starve myself I certainly do not eat too much either-and I’ve still gained 12 pounds since fall! There is more to the equation than calories in, calories out.

  44. Maureen,

    You are correct — one person’s experience, even of a twin sister, isn’t always repeatable. That’s why successful weight loss is so maddeningly difficult, and that is also why I am working on simplifying and demystifying this process.

  45. Oh I know! I wasn’t speaking to you Maureen :) I very much agree with you that there is way more to it than calories in / calories out. I actually detest that model and that’s why I have such a problem with this post. BUT putting on lean muscle mass WILL increase your metabolism. That’s all I was trying to say :)

  46. Trudy,

    You are absolutely correct in your analysis. Our ability to gain weight is one of our key evolutionary traits, and people who are capable of gaining weight (80%) have tremendous advantages over those who can’t, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

    Until these two plagues came about in the last few generations, during a relative abundance of food, this evolutionary superiority was essential for surviving seasonal shortage of nutrients or even outright hunger due to bad climate, war, plunder, etc.

    Thank you very much for your eloquent responses.

  47. @To all: I am sorry that some of my responses are appearing out of their natural sequence and are highlighted in the administrator’s blue. This isn’t some kind of a dominant male ego trip, but a software malfunction. Thank you for understanding!

  48. Beth,

    The rate of weight loss, appropriate calorie intake, and optimal ratio of nutrients vary from individual to individual. I too don’t buy into the “one diet fits all” approach and will address individual-specific considerations in future posts.

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