1. Calorie restriction is almost impossible for most humans to follow long term
2. Many of the same benefits of calorie restriction may be achievable through intermittent fasting, which is much easier for people to follow. I've been experimenting with a daily 16 hour fast (all calories consumed within an 8-hour window) and have seen small improvements in my energy and general well-being, although it's decades too early to say how this will impact my longevity.
Citation? I can't get the NIH study to load, but the other two are wildly different from 16/8 IF. IF proponents like to look at alternate day fasting or periodic weekly fasting and claim evidence for the effectiveness of 16/8 fasting, but going without food for >24 hours is definitely not the same as skipping breakfast, which is all 16/8 really is.
16/8 probably helps with weight loss for many people, because it shortens the eating window, which will make it easier to reduce caloric intake. But I have never seen a study that indicated 16/8 had effects similar to 24/24 or the other IF patterns typically studied.
If you try to eat 2000 calorie lunches, you'll have major lethargy in the afternoon and insomnia from hunger in the evening.
Better to use hunger as a driver during the day, then gorge and go to sleep at night.
Is this just a guess you are making, or do you have research or citations to back up this advice?
I heard about that a few weeks ago while listening to this podcast by Dr. Rhonda Patrick: http://tim.blog/2017/05/04/smart-drugs-fasting-and-fat-loss/
This article might also be of interest: http://minimalwellness.com/mealtiming/
As well as this video interview:
That means a population that only uses a flour that is ground locally, then immediately used within 12-48 hours after grinding. The mill grinds the entire wheat grain, under cold temperatures, sourced from older strains of grain (e.g., einkorn or emmer), without separating and then adding back in bran, etc. Before milling, the grains are held in cold or even freezing, dry, dark storage.
If such a population can be found and studied, it could support or refute these assertions that modern hybrid grain strains and modern processes for even "whole wheat" flours is causing deficiencies in our diet that are contributing to various metabolic disorders.
Whole wheat is a poorly-regulated term . Baking with whole, heirloom wheat might benefit from deep learning algos, automation, and appropriate sensor tech, considering how finicky the variables are . If we can solve that, then we might be able to deliver industrial-scale baked goods with all the asserted benefits, without the high prices of artisan production. There are a lot of claims surrounding the adverse effects of industrialized grain and its affiliated production  , but I don't know of anyone coming at the other end, showing populations that eat heirloom grains that are freshly-processed differ from the general population in significant ways. I'm curious if an analogous condition exists for rice.
To lose weight, it's recommended to eat many times a day (like 5-6), but limit yourself to small portions.
Intermediate fasting (discussed elsewhere in this thread) is much closer to being a modern understanding.
Spoiler: I'm a Tunisian.
That intermittent fasting has many of the same benefits of calorie restriction is obvious if you realize that people practicing intermittent fasting usually do not compensate the lost calories in other meals. So they effectively calorie restrict. Often that is even the main goal.
I have never seen a study that indicated 16/8 had effects
similar to 24/24
FWIW I have moved to eating small meals every 3 hours a few years ago and have seen huge improvements in my energy and general well-being. The most key of those meals is the midnight meal that ensures I wake up full of energy and ready to go.
Nutrition is tricky.
I can't imagine what food combinations would constitute a small meal that would be eaten 5/6 times a day.
Sample menu for a full day?
I tend to increase my intake right before and after gym sessions. That's why 2nd lunch and Dinner are bigger than the others.
And on this particular day I felt like having candy after dinner because I was low on carbs, so midnight meal was slightly smaller than usual.
And my pet theory is that most of the effect in energy levels and well being that people get from IF is actually just from being mindful of what they eat for the first time.
Funfact: everyone feels better when they start eating well. Exactly which trick they use to make themselves eat well isn't too important.
All that to say that so far whenever I talked to anyone who's discovered intermittent fasting and said how much more energy they have now than they did before, when asked about their habits before, it's usually something like "Oh I just ate whatever I could find at random times in the day with pretty much no thought given to what I'm doing"
I didn't notice anything different yet besides that I can more or less eat what I want and not gain any weight.
It seems that "calorie restriction" is a misleading term. If these funds are correct, CR should be considered the norm/ideal. That means the majority, currently, over-consume.
That aside. I wonder if it's also related to modern food, and the production there of. If inflammation is the root of most disease, and CR, I presume, reduces inflammation, then what is it about our foods that trigger so much inflammation?
Finally, when all said and done, I predict this will be found to connect with gut bacteria in some way. That is, CR effects the gut, and that effect is ultimately a positive for the whole body.
If we found that consuming a quart of squid ink daily extended life by 20%, we wouldn't call that "the norm". The norm is what people actually do. "Ideal" is extremely subjective, as "never satiated" is a tough steady state for most people.
> If inflammation is the root of most disease
That's a pretty wild starting point. Most disease in modern nations seems pretty tightly correlated with sedentary lifestyle and obesity.
I was speaking of norm for the body, not norm of what most people do. In any case, my point was "restriction" isn't a restriction if you're over-consuming to begin with. It's a language/communication issue. Telling people to reduce (when they think they're normal") is, imho, the wrong message. We've normalized obesity by, to some extent, allowing people to believe obesity is perfectly normal.
As for sedentary lifestyle and obesity...those are symptoms. What happens in the body is, often, inflammation. Inflammation in turn gets manifested as various diseases. Obesity is not what kills you per se. But it does trigger various things (often rooted in inflammation) that will.
Regardless, in the context of the original article, I was simply taking a stand at why CR increases lifespan.
I hear ya. We're on the same page, mostly. I just wanted to clarify my particular thoughts.
Almost no one actually thinks obesity is normal. a very small set of people argue it's healthy, but that is a tiny minority.
As for "norm", caloric restriction is not about being normal weight. Caloric restriction is about cutting calories significantly below the level needed to maintain a normal weight. I don't see any way to argue that this is "normal".
> As for sedentary lifestyle and obesity...those are symptoms. What happens in the body is, often, inflammation. Inflammation in turn gets manifested as various diseases. Obesity is not what kills you per se. But it does trigger various things (often rooted in inflammation) that will.
All indications are that sedentary lifestyle is a root cause, not a symptom. Obesity is perhaps a symptom, but sedentary lifestyle is a step before that.
I don't believe there's actually any evidence for the claim that inflammation is the root issue for most disease. I get the distinct impression that this is a pseudoscience claim made by people who are selling quick fixes (as opposed to the diet and exercise people already know they need). "Inflammation" is almost a magical claim. It sounds scientific but there doesn't generally seem to be any actual science behind claims of inflammation causing arbitrary health issues.
I don't believe there's actually any evidence for the
claim that inflammation is the root issue for most disease
Inflammation forms the basis of many physiological and
pathological processes. Much is known about how
inflammation is initiated, develops and resolves over the
short term. But less is known about the causes and
consequences of chronic inflammation, which underlies many
human diseases. Recent studies have extended our
understanding of chronic inflammation and the cross-talk
that occurs between inflammatory responses and other
physiological and pathological
Perhaps. But do you have a better term for "completely fucking over your normal body processes"?
I was using inflammation as a generic term for "disrupting the baseline." Sorry. You're correct. I'll try to be more particular next time.
You've lumped literally all illnesses together (anything that disrupts the baseline) and referred to them as "inflammation". This is exactly what I'm criticizing. Inflammation in this context is a meaningless term used to give an appearance of medicine to pseudoscience.
There is growing evidence that it is in the chain of causality for lots of diseases where it has previously not been thought of, and that lots of inflammatory conditions seem to be linked manifestations of common systemic causes rather than localised inflammation with unrelated causes.
This does get overplayed sometimes into “everything starts with inflammation”.
Jokes aside, I see it differently. Much.
First, look around. Obesity is normalized. Those less so, look around and think "I'm okay...Look at that guy/gal..." We (speaking for the USA) got here because humans do what they do. In this case, they define norm by what they see.
I'm not concerned about those who argue it's healty. My concern is those who do not. Think of the current politics and healthcare. NO ONE brings up the fact that if we prevented what we could prevent, there'd be money for real illness.
As it is, we have fat people eating donuts, drinking milk by the gallon, and complaining about their premiums. That would be funny, if it wasn't so absurd.
So CR isn't about eating too much food (though many of us are) it's about certain biological pathways that get activated during famine that prioritize longevity over other things like procreation.
That is, is CR simple a proxy / correlation for putting less (modern) shit in your body?
I think your second question is on the money. CR seems like a red herring in this case, because it's likely that those who eat less will also eat less processed foods, less sugars, and more fibrous vegetables or filling fats that would help them actually keep their calorie intake low while still feeling satiated. In the study with the Rhesus monkeys, it said that the ones that weren't on calorie restriction were diabetic or pre-diabetic. Monkeys in the wild don't really get diabetes, in the same way that our human ancestors never got diabetes, so what were they feeding these monkeys? I looked at some of the source studies backing this bbc article. The report from the Nature magazine(https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14063) actually says that the University of Wisconsin study 'contained a significantly higher amount of sucrose compared to the NIA diet' (https://www.nia.nih.gov/newsroom/announcements/2017/01/calor...) and that the other study, the one with a diet of varied protein sources, actually did not see any health benefits in the CR monkeys.
I wonder, if you fed the UW monkeys a diet low in sucrose and other easily digestible carbohydrates in order to keep their blood glucose and inflammation extremely low, would there be a big difference in the health of the CR monkeys and the others? If the NIA study is any indication, probably not.
Do you have a source for this?
That is, is CR simple a proxy / correlation for putting less (modern) shit in your body?
No, you can take a drug rapamycin that has the exact same effects as CR, even if you are putting the exact same amount of food in your body. The benefits of CR are not caused because food is damaging, and less food is less damaging. CR is your body noticing it's running low on food and telling your body to do some maintenance. Rapamycin does the exact same thing, causes your body to enter maintenance mode.
And, best I can tell, if it goes in your mouth than it's about your gut (bacteria). Any downstream reactions are communicated via those bacteria.
Huge quantities of sodium and sugar, all kinds of BS half-tested preservatives and additives, growth hormones and the like.
Reminds me of a quote in one of Heinlein's books, that all forms of death could ultimately be described as heart failure.
But do note I did say "If..."
Micheal Mosley on BBC interviewed a CRON advocate he are an apple peel but threw away the inner part.
I've read that a rumbling stomach is necessary for gut health without it your microbiome suffers, CR may incidentally do that.
I can do reduced calories, but that right there just sounds miserable.
I do remember reading the blog of some guy way back around 2007 or so who was on a 1000 calorie per day diet. One of the most miserable things I ever read. The highlight of his week was 1 square of 100% cacao chocolate.
I also dropped almost all of my sugar intake. I drink about 3L of water per day and have one cup of coffee in the morning.
I've been able to maintain a healthy weight (6'4" tall, ~185lbs) and I rarely feel truly hungry. On the days where I have more than one large meal, I tend to feel tired and foggy.
Its completely anecdotal, but this pattern has worked out well for me.
The main issue with articles like this is that they propose lame diets that strip out enjoyment. If you want to eat eggs basted in butter, do it -- but balance that out with exercise or somewhere else in your diet. No use suffering so you can live a few extra years at the tail end of your life.
Congrats on dropping that much weight already! That's awesome. 182lbs will be an excellent weight.
Fasting is also fantastic. Its one of the few positive habits I have left over from my days in religion. The garbage collection analogy is an excellent way to describe it.
I heard the ideal death described as pretty solid health up to a very rapid decline, healthy food probably helps that.
If only if it was as simple as enjoy junk food and your life and die a few years younger.
It's like when someone says I rather smoke and die at 75 vs 80. Sure, but then you spend more time at the doctor's, you get exhaust faster, you are not always fun to be around with because your clothes may smell like cigarette and more.
I'm currently on a calorie-counting streak coming up on a year, and I have managed to do it without switching to foods I don't enjoy. The guiding principle is to look at nutrition labels for calorie information, then choose foods that are low-calorie, enjoyable, and that make me feel full. (That means, generally, more high-protein items like meat and more high-fiber items like vegetables.)
I've made some effort to switch to healthier foods, but mostly I just started with the foods I like and filtered that set down to eliminate the worst ones. I still eat frozen pizzas and ice cream, but I do carefully measure the portions on those.
Anyway, if calorie restriction is the thing that actually gives you health benefits, then I feel like I'm doing that without dooming myself to a life of foods that I don't enjoy.
As someone has pointed out above, it seems like the calorie restriction is not really the reason for improved health. The real reason seems to be that reducing calories happens to also reduce all the stuff that makes us sick in the first place, like pro-inflammatory vegetable oils, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. If you look at the actual studies mentioned in the article, you'll see that the NIA study didn't find any difference between the two groups of monkeys, while the UW study did. The primary difference between the two is that the NIA fed the monkeys varied protein sources, while the UW study fed them significantly higher levels of sucrose. We already know that sugar is bad for you, so it makes sense that reducing its intake would improve health. The CR is a red herring.
I also checked some of the iDiet recipes, and I'm pretty sure they will do you more harm than good. Margarine, like pretty much any vegetable oil other than olive/avocado/coconut, is really bad for you. Egg yolks are not bad for you at all and I wouldn't worry about cholesterol in food (this is a whole topic in and of itself that I won't really go into here). One of the recipes on there is oatmeal with maple syrup; that is just sugar and grains, which honestly just feels like a slightly healthier frosted flakes.
Do you have sources for that? Which vegetables oils are healthy and which are unhealthy and why?
The only relevant knowledge I have is that saturated and trans fats are bad and that unsaturated are good. One source for that is for example https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you... .
If this is what you are refering to then margarine is indeed bad because it often contains high amounts of trans fat but for example coconut oil isnt good either for its high saturated fat content. Plenty of other vegetable oils should be fine judging by their fat contents rather than "really bad".
I know this wasn't your point but: I don't think people recommend eating margarine instead of real butter anymore.
I won't claim to know if avoiding egg yolks is healthy or not, but many seem to think that dietary cholesterol isn't as bad as once thought.
And here's their cake made with egg whites, which I imagine is great for crying yourself to sleep while trying to ignore your hunger: https://www.theidiet.com/food/idiet-recipes/idiet-chocolate-...
I wonder if habitual CR inevitably trains the body to stabilize its weight and if that can not be undone if practiced too long. That then put you at increased mortality risk when you start losing body mass in old age. Caged animal studies might miss this risk because a valued lab rat won't suffer sudden injuries and the resulting prolonged hospital visits.
It's more likely that his weight set point has been lowered, and now his hormonal hunger indicators are defending that set point.
He needs to power through it and eat more, even though it's going to feel like he's uncomfortably full all the time. I went through the same thing. It's all mental. It has nothing to do with the digestive system.
Well, actually he can. It's not 100% just calories in/calories out, but it's very much that. If he eats potato chips and fries and lard every day he WILL gain weight.
This would not surprise me too much, in the same way that being overweight and habitually overeating basically trains the body to always want to be fat, always be hungry, etc
Now imagine if you wanted to have a bit of toast, maybe with some chocolate-hazelnut spread. All you would need to do is walk into the garden, grab some hazelnuts off the tree and some cocoa beans, perhaps with some cane sugar for good measure. Some blender in the kitchen would be able to make your hazelnut spread, just so long as you shelled the nuts first. Similarly with the bread, in this garden, free for the taking would be some strong wheat that you can put through some kitchen appliance, then after a few hours with the breadmaking machine the bread would be good to eat. Butter would be equally simple too, you just needed to milk a cow, put the milk in some glorified washing machine with a bit of salt, then wait a while to get the freshest butter ever tasted.
Would you be able to complete all of these tasks by breakfast? Would you really bother to shell all of those hazelnuts? Would you question why it is that you have juiced 14 oranges when actually just the one orange, non-juiced was satisfying enough and didn't require all that effort dicking about with juicing?
Of course people have allotments and smallholdings so this does happen, albeit with greenhouses instead of some magic 'always in season' aspect. But my office workmates of the obese variety have no idea of the effort needed to get their food, even if it is healthy food. The connection is not there.
One of my dream is to rock up at the doctors one day having eaten too much fruit and veg. For the doctor to recommend me to stay off the veggies and eat some sugary snacks instead. I am fairly sure that no amount of fruit and veg would age me, not in the way that sugary snacks, beef products and everything processed would.
Although gaining muscle is much healthier than gaining adipose tissue, the implication of the article (and an abundance of empirical evidence) is that eating itself is a stressful process. Eating is the vector through which you expose yourself to oxidative stresses and pathogens. Eating less but still meeting your caloric needs would mean minimizing exposure to these risk factors.
At the same time, humans in good shape are definitely healthier, and too much calorie restriction can lead to malnourishment.
There's a sweet spot somewhere, proponents of calorie restriction are basically saying to err on the side of eating less.
That's very misleading logic. You make it out that your organs working much harder is a bad thing in all cases. That's not true.
When you exercise, your organs work much harder. Yet it is much better to exercise and have your organs work harder than to not exercise at all.
It's amazingly difficult to find clear information anywhere. For instance, CDC Nutrition guidelines?! It's an example of something that, in trying to be comprehensive, results in a mess of awkwardly qualified terms and difficult to digest (couldn't help it) high-level recommendation.
USDA Food Patterns, Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendi...
Meat poultry and eggs in the same line? They are completely different foods with wildly varying nutrients.
[UPDATED: good start] - Pictorial Nutrition Guidelines: http://www.fremont.k12.ca.us/cms/lib04/CA01000848/Centricity...
- Comparison of International Dietary Guidelines and Food Guides in Twelve Countries across Stages of the Nutrition Transition http://www.fasebj.org/content/29/1_Supplement/898.36.short
> But the latest results suggested that significant health benefits can be garnered in an already healthy body – a person who isn’t underweight or obese.
The take away here is that the problem with excessive eating isn't just the weight gain. There's something about eating itself which is stressful. Restricting calories is good for you even if you're already within a healthy BMI. This means that just because you can eat anything, doesn't mean you should.
How much of this study, and your statement, applies to highly active individuals, and atheletes? I box and train 5 - 7 times a week, and spar (high intensity with protective gear) twice a month.
I tried restricting calories to lose fat and "lean out" but I find that I am constantly hungry (even after consuming proteins) and like someone else has mentioned here, I don't get good sleep when I eat less...
What is up for consideration is how MUCH food do you really need? The general takeaway from the article which can be broadly applied, is that less food is probably better for you. So if you have a large need for nutrient restoration (from high intensity sports) then try to eat nutrient dense, quality food.
I've been working on leaning out a while now, but I have the affliction of loving beer and whisky so much... (Canadian).
I work out 5 or 6 days a week for at least an hour in the morning immediately after waking: bike, run, weights, calisthenics. I'm 6 ft, ~210 lbs at present.
I start out with a high protein breakfast, a light lunch, and a high protein supper. I don't snack a lot, but if I do I go for nuts or a little chocolate. As is, I still feel hungry regularly and as is, I am at least a thousand to fifteen-hundred calories below my maintenance requirements.
Did I mention I enjoy my beer? I enjoy regular libation, usually beer and a (one or more) scotch, irish or canadian whisky and yet I'm losing weight at ~2 to 3 lbs a week. That said I very rarely indulge in any junk food, fast food, or overly fatty or carbed meals. So rarely do I eat pasta or potatoes these days. I usually have one slice of bread with breakfast and that's all unless I take a sandwich for lunch -- but I don't make rules out of that either.
I have heard many times over about the benefits of intermittent fasting, but I personally can't be bothered with the attention that fad diets and labeled lifestyles require.
I tried restricting my caloric intake as well, and I found I just had a severe drop in energy and focus when it came to my morning workouts and my daily work.
Just eat your greens people! Go heavy on the spinach.
When I am in my training phase doing krav-maga, lifting weights, biking... yeah, I need thousands of calories to feel healthy (I never really counted how much).
But immediately after (assuming the muscle you built is not just inflated and is comprised of lean strength), I have personally found I can get away with very few calories/day for several months.
Which is more stressful -- eating, or being hangry all the time?
Developing world kids are. We just have cravings -- and we eat much more than recommended for our age/height/etc.
- Processed food costs less than fresh food.
- Multiple generations of people have been conditioned to eat processed and junk food.
- People believe in the myth that 'cooking takes too long'
- People are lazy and don't want to spend any time on cooking/food even when living a life of luxury compared to the rest of the world.
All of which is the opposite of most developing countries. US and UK are very close in this respect. Even many European countries value shopping for and eating fresh food much more.
CR, and eating in general should be about buying nutrient dense but low caloric foods - which is a mostly plant based diet of fresh food. The exact kind of food which is artificially expensive and considered a 'fad'.
His arguments are very similar to yours.
When I don't eat enough, I don't get hungry, and I don't loose much weight, but I do have trouble sleeping which results in daytime fatigue and depression. For me the happiness/sleep threshold is sharp, so I eat just above that threshold.
Thinking to premodern humans, do you think they would frequently have food waiting for them as soon as they awoke? Some days maybe, but then other days probably not.
Not surprisingly, I don't have proof of what I said, but I've read in articles and studies that breakfast (and meals in general) tend to anchor your circadian rhythms (Although, light is a stronger signal). I might have extrapolated from reading about fixing your rhythms after experiencing jet lag and also from my own experience.
Of course not. There's never been any significant evidence of health benefits from breakfast.
Here's a HN discussion regarding a Harvard study on the subject, from 7 years ago:
Please provide some evidence that these studies are insignificant and incorrect.
I have no trouble believing that breakfast is relevant to circadian rhythms. This is far different from saying that skipping breakfast inevitably results in "sleeping later and waking up later as the rhythm shifts towards your first meal of the day." This is a very strong claim that demands strong evidence. Some studies linking circadian rhythm to meals is not sufficient.
Do non-growing adults (30+ years old) enjoy greater benefits than small children who have faster metabolisms and growth spurts ahead of them?
My inutition says that even if the concept still fits well with growing children, that their cycles are different, and closer together in frequency. Maybe they don't eat more calories, but eating several times a day might possibly tie into cycles of blood serum nutrient levels properly based of weight and activity.
- Doctor, if I don't eat any sugar or salt, don't smoke, don't drink, don't have any sex, will I live a hundred years?
- Well, even if you don't, it will sure feel like a hundred.
Meaning: food is one of the pleasures of life. What the hell is the point of living to a ripe old age if your life is going to simply suck for longer?
And then of course you read some interview with a super-centenarian who goes "my secret is that I drink a small glass of wine after lunch and smoke a cigarette before going to bed" and realise that it really doesn't matter what you do, you just won't live forever, so enjoying your limited time on the earth is a much more realistic goal.
And it's no secret that being overweight causes premature aging, health problems and eventually premature death.
Will calorie restriction work in humans?
Caloric restriction improves health and survival of rhesus monkeys
In general, the consensus in the research community is that we shouldn't expect more than an additional ~5 years from the life-long practice of calorie restriction. The evolutionary argument is that the calorie restriction response evolved very early on in as a way to enhance fitness given seasonal famines. A season is a long time for a mouse, not so long for a human, so only the mouse evolves a very plastic lifespan. The practical argument is that 5-10 years is about the largest effect that could exist and still be hard to pull out from existing demographic data of restricted calorie intake in a bulletproof, rigorous way. Obviously any much larger effect would have been discovered in antiquity and be very well known and characterized by now.
So that said about longevity, it is very clear that calorie restriction does better and more reliable things for health in ordinary humans in the short term of months and mid-term of few years than any presently available enhancement technology can replicate.
A good deal of research into aging is focused on trying to recreate the calorie restriction response. So far this has consumed billions with little of practical use to show for it beyond increased knowledge of some thin slices of cellular biochemistry relating to nutrient sensing and energy metabolism. It has proven to be very hard and very expensive to get anywhere here.
So calorie restriction itself is free and reliable in its effects. Everyone should give it a try. There are, however, far more important areas of aging research to direct funding to instead of trying to recreate this effect with pharmaceuticals. In an age in which meaningful rejuvenation is possible to create in the years ahead (see, for example, clearance of senescent cells, something that calorie restriction can only slightly achieve in a very tiny way, while drug candidates are managing 25-50% clearance) it seems just plain dumb to instead be chasing expensive, hard ways to only slightly slow down aging.
I know the hunger will drive you crazy in the first few days, but your body gets used to it and it's not so bad, after 3 days.
The first time you do it, perhaps start off with some 16 hour fasts at first for a few months till your used to that, then you can increase it.
A much preferable recommendation would be to simply water fast for the same time. Lose even more weight (mostly water weight), then eat normally. Much more natural in the context of evolution. Periods of eating, periods of fasting. The practice is as old as time itself.
FWIW I rarely eat breakfast, so I guess I'm usually doing the (lame, IMO) "16/8" fasting pattern, though I'm skeptical that has any benefit.
Having cold showers shifts your body into using ketones more and more.
Regarding not eating breakfast, watch these videos from FoundMyFitness:
Dr. Satchin Panda on Time-Restricted Feeding and Its Effects on Obesity, Muscle Mass and Heart Health
Ruth Patterson, Ph.D. on Time-Restricted Eating in Humans & Breast Cancer Prevention
Time restricted eating, AKA your 16/8, is VERY important. Even if you don't immediately notice changes. Those changes could begin to occur 2 to 8 years later. Depending on adherence. Also based on Dr. Ruth Patterson's advice, skipping breakfast leads to eating late into the night, which is not good for your health generally.
Most of the articles focus on results, but not on the actual process.
If one is eating sitting on the couch, watching television, completely oblivious of the activity, it is not going to help.
There is nothing absolute in nature, everything is connected.
How do we eat is far more important than how much we eat.
One simple experiment one can do at dinner is to sit alone, without any distraction with the dinner plate and for every morsel one takes in, chew it till you count 20 and then swallow.
Notice what happens...
steak, sandwiches, cheese, potatoes, all good. salad, bananas, cereal, all good.
I had to make sure to look at the nutritional info. If the food was small but energy dense you have to eat less of it.
Edit: "Permanently [...] may turn out to have a profound effect on your future life, according to [...] scientific studies."
And that's a Bingo, folks.
So the "eat less" claim in this article is again back to the old MD advice, "eat less and move more". Not going to work if you don't look at your macronutrients.
As you say, it appears to be more complex than just watching how much you take in.
"Milk production at a dairy farm was low, so a farmer wrote to the local university to ask for help. A multidisciplinary team of professors was assembled, headed by a theoretical physicist, and two weeks of intensive on-site investigation took place. The scholars then returned to the university, notebooks crammed with data, where the task of writing the report was left to the team leader. Shortly thereafter the physicist returned to the farm, and advised the farmer, “I have the solution, but it only works in the case of spherical cows in a vacuum.”
Human beings aren't black boxes, we are living, breathing organisms, and as complex organisms we can process food differently depending on what it is. For example, cows eat grass, and can survive on a diet of 100% grass, so they must get some calories out of it. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to sustain the energy expenditure necessary to power a ~2000 pound beast, and would die early. Humans, on the other hand, cannot digest cellulose, so it will land in your stomach as indigestible fiber after which you will promptly poop it out. If you were to give a human an all grass diet, he/she would die within weeks.
In a similar vein, a calorie of carbs is not digested the same way as a calorie of protein, which is also not digested in the same way as a calorie of fat. For the studies that you mention, I'm certain that the macronutrient composition made very little difference when it comes to weight loss in the short term, but I am far more skeptical about whether a high carb diet is actually sustainable after your body has adjusted to a lower metabolic rate. Most studies of this type show a bounce back in weight after the initial weight loss. Furthermore, it's not and shouldn't be all about weight loss; if a calorie is just a calorie why don't you just eat 1500 calories of pure sucrose per day? Assuming you were able to stick to it, you'll quickly get fatty liver disease, diabetes, and a ton of visceral fat. The idea that the macronutrient composition is irrelevant as long as calorie restriction is maintained is too simplistic a view, and a dangerous one to spread.
It's anecdotic but as an hobbyist bodybuilder tracking calories everyday I can confirm that my weight follows exactly my caloric input (there can be some latency but it's water retention mostly), in line with the experience of a lot of people like in /r/bodybuilding or /r/ketogains. Playing with macronutrients and insulin is interesting for muscle gain or breakdown prevention and energy and hunger management but not really for pure weight loss.
I agree with your last paragraph, macronutrients are very important for health and body composition, and sure I would recommend a low carb diet for losing weight in the long term, in part because fat and proteins are more dense and keep hunger low
The moment that you accept that macronutrient composition is very important for health and body composition, you acknowledge that in biological system a calorie is not a calorie. If I want to lose weight, I don't want someone to tell me that CICO so I can just eat whatever as long as I stay under x calories, because as you rightfully pointed out some foods are more energy dense than others, cause fewer cravings, and don't spike your blood sugar. With CICO, I can lose weight but get fatty liver disease, or I can lose weight but lose muscle while increasing visceral fat, since fat weighs less than muscle. These are terrible outcomes. People want to lose weight to be healthier and look better; what's the point of losing the weight if your risk factors for metabolic syndrome go up and you still look fat in the mirror?
For the anecdotal evidence you provided, I think it's not as simple as how you've portrayed it, because your body can be in two energy burning modes, glucose burning or fat burning. If you eat more fat while in glucose burning mode (which is what most people are in), it will just get stored as fat and yes you will gain as much weight as the amount of calories you ate. In so called 'fat burning' mode, your body will increase its metabolism to burn off the excess fat. Likewise, if you're in fat burning mode and you eat more carbs, they'll just get stored as fat. This is also anecdotal evidence (sources: https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/who-needs-to-avoid-fa..., https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/smash-the-fat-calorie...), because unfortunately we don't really have good nutritional studies about this.
There's been tons of research on diets. Low-carb high-protein diets certainly do work, but so do several other diets, including some of the traditional "eat less calories" diets (the research I've seen indicates those diets are on par with Atkins and keto in terms of long-term weight loss, and they all work when consistently/correctly applied). Reducing calories below resting metabolic rate demonstrably causes weight loss. It's almost impossible for it not to.
And, there are ways to manipulate insulin response without going to a high-protein/fat low-carb diet. I've been experimenting with intermittent fasting; where I eat mostly freely, but responsibly, for ~8 hours out of the day and fast the other ~16. This has been shown to improve insulin response, in similar ways to low-carb diets.
I've lost about 16 pounds over three months. Every few weeks, I change the diet, to see how my body responds, in terms of energy, weight, etc. And, also because I love food and really like variety (lots of weight loss programs suggest a very regimented diet of the same thing every day for months or years, but that's not for me).
I've found that when my calories are below my MR, I lose weight, no matter what I'm stuffing my face with. I did a couple of weeks of bread and pie and ice cream every day (to the point where I got tired of bread and pie and ice cream), and still lost weight during that time; calories were consistently below my MR. And, I did nothing but proteins, and healthy fats, and greens for a few weeks, too...also lost weight, but not notably more than the "bread and pie and ice cream" weeks.
I've kept logs of my weight and caloric intake for a couple of months, and it's pretty consistent. A couple days after I eat more calories than my MR, my weight either stabilizes or increases. And, a couple days after I return to below-MR, I see the weight dropping again. I will say that I've had better luck with intermittent fasting than with portion control as a means to achieve below-MR caloric intake; so maybe there's something to the insulin response theory since there's evidence fasting helps with that.
There may also be an argument to be made about cravings (sugar+fat can cause cravings; there's decent science on that), and that may lead to problems managing portions and caloric intake. And, there's certainly evidence that protein and fat calories are more satisfying than sugar or simple carb calories. It may very well be easier to lose weight on a high-protein and high-fat diet. But, when I was on the high-protein/high-fat diet, my cravings for fruit were pretty intense, and the weight loss was not measurably better than the other macronutrient mixes I've tried. I didn't find it valuable enough to continue, so I went back to eating rice, bread, and having dessert sometimes.
But, "eat less" still works, and always will. That's not really negotiable. The basic physics of the thing require it to work. It's just that a lot of folks have no idea what "eat less" really entails and don't keep track of what they eat well enough to know they're not actually doing it. When losing weight, you're going to experience hunger sometimes, which is not a thing modern people are accustomed to.
I am active but not for the sake of fitness. The only time my weight really changes is when I am sick.
My physician doesn't know, I don't know, and it is just how it is for me. I've tried to pound calories into me, but I pretty much stay at 172 pounds. Why 172? I have no idea. I can get on the scale and that's usually what it reads, within maybe two pounds.
If I eat less, I stay the same unless I really, really eat less - like go on a binge of illegal substances type of not eating. I dunno?