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Effects of short-term fasting on cancer treatment (nih.gov)
389 points by JPLeRouzic 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 323 comments

Can I just throw a big dose of caution here? This is a review study, looking at the available literature of this technique on cancer. They found a total of FIVE studies with 88 total human participants across all 5 studies. We, the medical community, still has no idea whether this is effective or not. The only thing we can say is that initial trials don't show it to be particularly harmful. That could change with more data.

They review a lot of mice studies and theory, which is great.

But all this adds together to indicate that we should study this more before drawing any conclusions. With limited funding for cancer research, its not even clear to me from this what priority it should take

I really don't get the excessive warnings of caution for fasting. It's not hard to try. It's not very dangerous (unless doing prolonged fasts). In the case of prolonged fasts, if the patient is monitored by qualified people then there is little risk as well.

I'm battling a crippling illness. Fortunately I've found the cure and the recovery is nothing short of miraculous. But it's a huge HUGE uphill battle because the medical community works incredibly hard to throw road blocks in my way.

Why does the medical community work so hard to throw up as many road blocks as possible to experimental treatments that are low risk? Why do you insist on being the only group of people who can say what is and isn't tried? Why do doctors and public health officials ignore the work of biochemists? Why do you ignore millions of people battling crippling illness that say your treatments are ineffective, and that other approaches are more effective?

Seriously. I don't get it. I don't believe you're a bad person, but the only explanations I can come up with are arrogance, ego, cowardice, or greed.

Fasting is low risk in healthy populations.

Let's assume you're talking about fasting as a treatment for cancer patients for the sake of argument.

Let's say that studies have examined the effect in 100 patients and it seems moderately effective.

What's the problem? Why shouldn't everyone do it?

Well the very real concern is that when they do a more rigorous study with a much greater number of patients, maybe they find that fasting actually increases the negative outcomes. The result that was found in the weaker study was only a statistical fluke.

So the thing they're trying to avoid is doing more harm than the status quo. This is a very real danger and it would be irresponsible for them to not do the due diligence.

Of course, that's not to say that there aren't valid criticisms of how medical treatments get validated and how quickly they can get to patients they can help.

These are all arguments against the medical community advising people in cancer treatment to fast.

But what if the patient just fasts? Without asking the doctor's advice, and just politely saying "Yes, I hear you, but it's my decision and I think the risk is worth it" when the doctor explains the pros and cons.

Patients gonna do what patients gonna do; the doctor's role is to advise and treat, not control the patient's life. Doesn't mean patient has a good idea, though.

I take the context of these warning comments to be a hypothetical patient who may not have been planning to fast on their own, but having read this paper, now wants to try it--i.e. a patient who may be tempted to treat this paper as medical advice. I think it's valid to point out that a single research paper does not necessarily constitute sound medical advice.

That's theoretically true, but wouldn't the fact that fasting is low-risk in healthy populations indicate that the risk is more likely to be low for populations with cancer?

Also, from your example if you're one of the 100, then fasting is in fact advisable.

I understand that purely for legal reasons we can't advise doctors to recommend fasting as a general guideline without gold-plated evidence. However it should be noted that just because the risk has not yet been perfectly quantified does not mean it is entirely unknown.

For my part if I ever contract any sort of cancer, I will never reject a potential treatment on the grounds of "well we know it's low-risk in healthy populations, and given what we know of the biology it seems like there's some potential effectiveness. But we don't have a gold-plated-chocolate-coated mass population double-blind study for your specific cancer yet, so I'd advise against trying it".

Taking minor, well-thought-out risks is the least one should do when fighting for one's life. It's a good thing doctors aren't financial advisors, or they'd tell you to avoid the S&P 500 index fund and stick to your 2% savings account.

This reminds of the abandoned practice of women being prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for menopause. Essentially the reasoning was "why not, it seems to improve patient health and we don't see any ill effects". It was such common sense at the time that it took over 30 years before a clinical trial was performed. That trial demonstrated a much higher rate of breast cancer and heart disease in HRT patients.

The NY Times has a good write-up on it and more generally the challenges with epidemiology and causal analysis in medicine. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/magazine/16epidemiology-t...

I don't see how your response relates to the GP's comment, and your comment ends with a personal attack.

Also, you may have found a solution to your problem, but you are implying to me that you believe it is the one-true solution (rather than doing a scientific trial of solutions upon yourself, and saying "this works for me" and is worth trying).

You're right, I shouldn't have directed those comments that way in the end.

But it's hard. Doctor's have personally attacked me over and over, to the point where I don't bother going to them anymore. I would show up to appointment after appointment asking for help with no clue as to what I had, and doctors and nurses were very quick to anger. I didn't question their intelligence. I didn't tell them theories about what I thought I had. All I did was try to describe what my body felt like. I think they thought I was faking to get drugs or something, but I really don't know. I never asked for any drugs. It was a nightmare.

I sympathise. The number of times I've had to push doctors to do anything at all is absurd (or should be absurd). They're frequently rude and unhelpful, often I have to try and diagnose myself and find out about tests or they'll not offer more than a shrug. I have to find out about contraindications too because of the number of times they've ignored things I tell them.

However, I don't think it's about doctors per se, but about people who are arrogant⁎, I've seen plenty of techies do the same when, for example, someone with less knowledge of computers than them asks for support. I think it's still possible to be helpful by at least showing you care, even if you can't find an answer or don't have the time to be as effective as you could be. People often appreciate that just as much as a fix.

⁎I define arrogance as not listening due to over confidence, not overconfidence itself. Those who don't listen can only be overconfident, so it's also not a synonym for confidence.

Totally agree.

But it sounds like you are taking it personally. The doctors are embedded in a system and they act they way they do because their environment teaches them to, not because it is a personal attack against you.

Doctors often deal with difficult people, and it takes care to avoid one being stereotyped: boxed into a label that doesn't help one. You don't want to be labelled: drug-seeker, hypochondriac, batshit crazy, or conceited know-it-all, etc.

Use the doctors, listen to them, and treat them as people trying to help you; if you want to get treatment from them.

I have seen it from a doctor's point of view (I have seen the patient stereotypes), and I think that the majority of us would act the same way as the doctors if we were put in their situation.

I believe you completely need to be in charge of your own health solutions, and it is a good idea to explore safe variations of a variety of treatments - science works if you can be suitably objective with your measurements. But one variation you should properly trial is whatever the doctor says to.

If it is a mental issue, then perhaps:

1. Get multiple videos of yourself interacting. Humans usually suck at self awareness when it comes to the psyche.

2. If you can find someone else with the same label that has it "worse" (as per a neutral third party), then try and watch how they act and often disown/deny/distort their world. Or watch videos online and see the weird and wonderful shit our brains do to us!!!

I wish you good luck finding a solution that helps you.

I don't think being embedded in a system is an excuse. Especially when that system takes money from people by force through mandatory insurance requirements and shuffling around costs so that you're paying for more than the service you want. Not to mention how the medical community criminalizes anyone but themselves providing healthcare, even though biochemists are better equipped to handle chronic illness. Doctors could work outside the system, and many do. Or they could quit being a doctor and work in the alternative healthcare industry in a myriad of ways, and many do.

And how am I the difficult person when I tell a doctor that I have excruciating pain everywhere, they do some tests, the tests show that I'm "fine", and the doctor gets angry at me? Sounds like the doctor is the difficult person in this scenario. They assume that they are so correct that it justifies treating me like shit. Or maybe it's my illness that is difficult and the doctors are taking that personally and taking it out on me? This has happened to me over and over again and the interactions were always pleasant until tests came back negative. If I was the problem then wouldn't the interaction go poorly from the start? If a doctor can't help but stereotype people, then they are not a good candidate for the job and should be fired. I don't think there is a single industry in this country besides the healthcare industry that says they just can't help but stereotype people.

I can't even get testing done without a doctor's approval. It's a racket.

It's not a mental illness. And there are millions of sick people getting together online talking about the exact same experiences that I've had.

when i read the parent comment i thought the switch to "you" was not aimed at the GP but at the doctors. iaw, while writing the poster got worked up with frustration and changed to address the doctors directly.

My experience with the medical community is exactly the same, it's frustrating. If it's difficult to diagnose and doesn't have clear visible symptoms, almost all doctors immediately say it's a psychological issue. If you show them any research and ideas what could be done they immediately dismiss it, because you are not a medical professional.

Everyone that never had an issue like that has a really high image of the medical profession, so when you tell them about your problems they just think you're crazy and you should listen to the medical professionals.

Would you mind telling me how you solved your issue? I found some things to make my issues a lot better, but it's not completely fixed, yet, so I'm very interested in hearing other peoples' experiences. My email is in my profile, if you don't want to discuss it here.

> "Why does the medical community work so hard to throw up as many road blocks as possible to experimental treatments that are low risk?"

Well, at least in the fasting, it's a complete break with tradition. No scripts. No Big Pharma outfit marketing it. Etc.

My feelimg is, many doctors are wired to want to take action. The idea of something as simple as "I want you to fast every other" is completely foreign to them.

Another issue is compliance. If a doctor could say: eat 2000 calories a day and break a sweat for 30 minutes, and expect people to do it, the general population would look totally different.

Compliance isn't the issue. Food Inc. marketing is. As is, humans naturally assimilate to "the norm." As the waistline of the norm increase, the waistline of the norm increases. A doctor's words lose meaning when all other inputs say "Don't worry about it. You're just like everyone else."

Long to short, what used to save us, is now doing us in.

For treatments that involve some action on the medical community's part, I can see how they could put up roadblocks. But how can they put up roadblocks to fasting?

Finding someone to monitor your vitals during a fast would be difficult as most doctor's don't want to risk losing their license doing something experimental.

But I wasn't just referring to fasting. It's incredibly difficult to do anything that isn't approved by a doctor. Even lab tests is a huge battle unless you pay out of pocket via mail order.

> It's incredibly difficult to do anything that isn't approved by a doctor. Even lab tests is a huge battle unless you pay out of pocket via mail order.

As your last statement here illustrates, this is because of the way most health care is paid for. In a system where third parties pay for most health care, the doctor has to answer to the people who pay even though they are not the patient. Even if he personally is convinced that a particular experimental treatment is low-risk and has some chance of success, he still has to convince the people who pay, which is a much higher bar.

If a doctor thinks the system they work for is the problem then maybe they should be getting a different job instead of always making excuses.

> Finding someone to monitor your vitals during a fast would be difficult

If a person is undergoing cancer treatment their vitals are being monitored anyway. I'm not talking about the person asking for any additional lab tests. I'm just talking about them deciding to fast.

Why is that surprising? Why would insurance cover a lab you ordered yourself?

What's surprising is that doctors are legally required to order lab tests when they are non-invasive and have 0 risk of harm. They do not need a doctor's approval and could be much cheaper by cutting them out of the loop entirely.

I'm curious: What would you want monitored? And why?

There are lots of low tech/no tech ways to monitor your health and people pursuing alternative remedies routinely pay out of pocket as both a cheap alternative to paying a doctor and because they often don't want a doctor involved in their health choices.

What do you have? If you don't mind me asking.

I don't want to bring it up here because sometimes it invites a deluge of downvotes. If you go back through my older posts you'll find it. There's not that many.

What do you mean limited funding? Seems like there's a TON of funding for cancer research right now, given the moonshot campaign (extra $1.8B over 7 years).

It's hard to study something like this, because you have to find a large enough population for the statistics to work out, but also keep the study going long enough without massive attrition (would have to do intent-to-treat) to have results worth publishing.

There is probably limited funding for this because even if it is true, it will not result in a large stream of revenue for anyone. In fact, if it works it might reduce some health industry organizations' revenues.

Fasting was extensively researched in Soviet Russia as a potential cure for many ailments, from auto-immune diseases to mental illness. Tens of thousands of people were treated with 14-40 day water fasts (under constant supervision and testing), roughly 2/3rds reported various levels of success. I don't think much of the studies have ever been translated into English.

Do you maybe have a link to original russian sources?

There's an excellent documentary, "Science of Fasting", which covers some of the Russian studies about midway through - https://youtu.be/t1b08X-GvRs

Watched 25 minutes of it so far and it's absolutely fascinating, thanks so much for sharing.

One key point so far for anyone who hasn't watched yet: the fasts involved here are long (multiple weeks) and treatment that you do under medical supervision, and it needs to happen properly, meaning along with it you need proper exercise, getting your blood tested, and various other things, in some cases even including classical medication (possibly even larger doses)... so in general it's not merely "just don't eat for N days and you'll get cured".

It is fascinating, but around 18 mins 45 seconds "cancer" is noted as a contraindication for fasting! Unfortunately there was no mention of what the cancer type, metastatic status, etc..




I'd like to share my findings from a sample size of one...

I've been fasting for about 2 years now. I've done a couple of 5-days water fasts, and a few 7-days water fasts. The past 250 days I've been consistently following 16:8 and adding in a few 23:1's in there for good measure. I was healthy before I started, but have since then felt even better. My stomach feels calm, I sleep better, I feel stronger (even though I exercise less) and my overall focus has improved. This results in a better mental state, somehow calming my mind. I've been a practitioner of meditation before, but have not felt the need for it the past year. My body is calm and well-rested => my mind is mindful.

But the number 1 benefit of fasting (and all other non-conventional habits, such as cold showers in the morning), is mental resilience. Every time you realize that you perform well, if not even better, without food, you get a confidence boost. This effect compounds with time. I've found out that this in turn makes it easier to take on other habits as well, because your habit muscles are stronger now than before. Eating 5 meals a day is easy... eating 1 is hard => you grow a little if you manage to do it.

No offense but self-reported results aren't scientifically worth much. There are too many crackpots in health. Now, if you had some sort of external objective measure, like "I was able to stop taking X maintenance medicine after starting my fasting routine" that would be much more compelling.

Yeah, I'm aware :) I think people that are healthy can try it for themselves in small steps (with supervision of a doctor, if possible), and see how it makes them feel. I have been objectively tracking my mood (Remente), sleep (Ouraring), strength (only body weight exercise, tracking reps, cadence and more). Overall it's been improving in all categories, from very good to even better. If it's a result of the fasting or something else I've changed is hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure fasting is not making it worse for me at least.

Yea, counter-point: IF makes me more anxious and irritable, and no way it makes me stronger as someone who lifts regularly (5x week)...

IIRC some studies I’ve read say that IF increases cortisol levels which would explain the anxiety and which I believe is bad for muscle-building.

I haven't replaced exercise with fasting, I think you still need both! Of course you wouldn't be as strong as someone who lifts 5 times/week if you didn't. I'm speaking of strength relative to body weight here... I see no benefit in being able to bench press 200kg, I rather do 15-30 chins with no effort. Sleep, exercise, a good diet and relationships are all required for good long-term benefits in any endevour.

Cool! I did a 5-day fast recently and it was surprisingly easy. Didn't do any supplementation, although I already was used to intermittent fasting. The main benefits were mental and not physical. I can definitely see why virtually every religion encourages fasting - and I've noticed that generally, what is spiritually healthy winds up being physically healthy as well.

What does 16:8 and 23:1 mean?

16 hour fast, 8 hour “eating” window per day.

23 hour fast, 1 hour “eating” window per day.

So as someone who doesn't like eating breakfast I've been fasting 16:8 all along anyway?

Technically yes, but to call it "intermittent fasting" you have to both pay attention at the clock and follow a certain low carb, high fat diet to avoid crashing when you are in a fasted state. Also mind that the 16:8 window is the minimum you can do. Advancing the fasting window yields different benefits as more as it goes on.

If they don't snack after 8pm and eat lunch at noon, yes.

Anecdotally it at least partly explains to me why all the folks that I knew that skipped breakfast seemed skinny despite what I was hearing about breakfast being essential for 'kickstarting' the metabolism.

Just another 'L' in dietary advice for folks that grew up in the 80's/90's

I used to skip breakfasts and my weight kept going up. After I started eating a very small breakfast every day (a single croissant, or a cup of porridge) I lost over 10kg in a few months.

The breakfast kickstarting myth came from research tainted by funding from the breakfast cereal industry. It’s fake, and completely not true. Historically breakfast came from breaking the fast of the day before, which would be around modern lunch time. Eating so early isn’t natural at all, and for people that prefer it, it really is likely only a habit more than anything related to physiology.

It's just calories in/calories out. Skipping a meal is likely to result in eating less calories, unless you make up for it later.

No, simple caloric restriction does not trigger autophagy, insulin sensitivity and other fasting related benefits.

I was just referring to weight loss.

aka "2 meals a day" and "1 meal a day"

The article explains that fasting is often prohibited by malnutrition and low body weight. Obviously fasting cannot be undertaken long-term, as it results in starvation. I wonder whether there is any benefit to caloric restriction / fasting, versus maintenance calorie intake with a ketogenic diet. The crucial thing seems to be the elimination of insulin promoting carbohydrate, and depletion of glycogen which forces metabolism into ketogenesis, reduces growth factors, and promotes catabolism and autophagy.

There sure is according to Dr. Thomas Seyfried and Dominic D'Agostino -


Personal note: when a family member was recently diagnosed with cancer, the ketogenic diet was the one promising idea I found to supplement her standard treatment. It's... depressing... how my suggestion just to talk to her doctor about it probably wasn't followed even that far. Can anyone suggest a source to point to for non-nerds, such as a talk by a prestigious doctor? Considering the fate of my suggestion above, a paper or a book are not going to fly.

There's a documentary called "The Science of Fasting" that I found very interesting. Apparently, they've been studying it for health benefits going back decades in the former USSR. https://www.amazon.com/Science-Fasting-Sylvie-Gilman/dp/B075...

This documentary is also available at Youtube:


Thank you both.

Could you elaborate? Without delving too deeply, that article seems to suggest the opposite:

> The KD can more effectively reduce glucose and elevate blood ketone bodies than can CR alone making the KD potentially more therapeutic against tumors than CR

Yes, you can do both. Very carefully.

Depends on what the goal is.

If the goal is maximum speed weight loss, like say preparing for a competition, lower calorie easily wins. It has to be done carefully to not get dehydrated or remove micronutrients. And it's hard to get started for most as hunger is strong early on if you don't put additional protein in.

Keto on the other hand is easier to get in with but relatively hard to maintain due to social factors. The diet is extremely different from any typical one in any country. On the other hand if you just have to limit calorie intake, things get easier to mix and match. But this one is sort of automatically playing on satiety which helps.

Health results are somewhat of a tossup.

Source: done the Kwaśniewski version of keto, and ad-lib vegan too (ineffective). Currently low calorie controlled, data driven, successfully so far at 0,75 kg/wk.

I had a wake-up call when my Doctor said my Body Mass Index (BMI) was 29.7 (obese is 30). So I made a total lifestyle change to a 16/8 intermittent fast (16 hours water only, 8-hour feeding window), and a plant-based diet (basically vegan plus a fish once a week for Omegas).

It was life-changing. I lost 22kg in two months, with no exercise. I am now back to a healthy BMI, but I no longer use BMI as a measure, I use the Relative Fat Mass Index (RFM) because my research indicates that this is a more accurate measure for tall people (I'm 6'3").

Besides looking great after shedding all that weight, I never expected the mental benefits to be so pronounced. Indeed it is fair to say it has had a nootropic effect. I no longer 'need' coffee, and the persistent brain fog has lifted and my default state is calm mental clarity.

Of course, I can only speak from my own personal experience here... I haven't done extensive blood tests pre and post this lifestyle change, but the change has been so shocking that friends and family cannot believe it.

You might think going 16 hours with no food is going to be hard but if you get the timings right, it's easy (and you get used to it). I start my fast at 8 pm, and I break the fast at noon. This way I can have business lunches and early-ish business dinners (as long as I finish eating by 8 pm). Most restaurants cater for vegans or at least have a vegetarian option. If not, I go for a fish option.

When I break the fast I do it with an avocado/cucumber/kale/spinach smoothie which blasts my body with super nutrients. I avoid all processed carbs (no bread or pasta), I avoid all processed sugar (no cola or any refined sugar products), I avoid all dairy, and of course, avoid meat. Also, there is no calorie reduction... I eat as much as I like in my 8-hour feeding window (which controls Ghrelin and therefore doesn't mess up my metabolism).

Always consult a medical professional before you do any drastic changes like what I've done, and do your own research on this stuff so you have the confidence that it's the right choice for you, and that you'll stick with it.

Glad you lost weight but kale smoothies and fasting are not magic--it's just reduced caloric intake conferring most of the benefits you're seeing.

The biggest problem people have is overeating, bottom line. I honestly have several strict vegan friends who are obese -- at the end of the day a calorie is a calorie.

My only issue when people recount stories like yours, as inspiring as they are, is they associate non-scientifically-provable properties to their eating. As if fasting or kale give you more energy (they don't). Or carbs are automatically evil by themselves and cause weight gain (also wrong). There is no such thing as "super nutrients" -- there are only nutrients. It's like when people talk about going on a "cleanse" from "toxins" in their body, it's just nonsense.

I wish high schools would teach everyone how to track their calories, it's a super useful skill that would help many in understanding how much a penalty there is in eating those Five Guys fries. But "I lost weight from [insert special diet here] wow now I have [amazing qualities]" just exaggerates the basic underlying process of reducing caloric intake.

And for the record I'm 6'2" & 168 lbs / 76 kg with 5% body fat (measured via calipers), training for multiple athletic events, so I'm not saying this as someone who struggles with following strict diets.

> at the end of the day a calorie is a calorie

No, calories vary massively. If someone ate 2000 calories of vegetables each day and someone else ate 2000 calories of sugar there would be a huge amount of difference between their nutrition.

> The biggest problem people have is overeating, bottom line

Sorry to say that I disagree with this too. The body does a great job of negating over-eating provided the food eaten is of the right types, it is just pushed back out as waste.

Going back to the vegetable example, you could eat several kg of green vegetables every day and continue to lose weight.

From all I've seen, the only scientific assumptions derived from current experimental data are:

1. Calories in/out control weight

2. Not everyone's digestive system is exactly the same, thus some small variance exists in how many calories we each absorb from various foods. This variance is very small, but maybe some exceptional outliers exist with very strange conditions here that could dramatically affect digestion. Don't justify your weight on this, you are most likely not the outlier and are just eating too much :p

3. Insulin levels and other hormonal conditions could affect the ability to lose fat. Again, this assumes major imbalance, most likely due to medical conditions like diabetes or hashimoto, etc.

4. The body needs what it needs. So a diet is more than just weight loss. You need a balanced diet, not necessarily balanced in foods, but you do in nutrients. It doesn't take much of anything though.

5. Certain foods have extra curricular effects that can be good or bad. It really depends in the food and your body. Intolerance, allergies, carcinogens, antioxidants, and many others. You can think of food as medication that is micro dosed, and with possibly immeasurable long term effects.

Also, it does seem that trans fat affect heart disease, as well as sugars. And it is the interaction between both which creates a high risk scenario. That's why both diets work. Ideally, you even cut out both, which is what Keto often does, it favour healthy fats and cut out sugars.

P.S.: Sorry, I wish I could put down my sources, but I wasn't keeping track. This is the current synthesis from memory of the many studies I read over time for fun in the last 3/4 years.

You are correct. HN is strangely disappointing when it comes to health and nutrition. Somehow science and evidence isn't as important as anecdotes and guru-talk. Here's a link backing up your claims, including how metabolism and the thyroid affects weight gain in the Related Links


You are likely underestimating the effect food has on the digestive system. Especially wrt to what lives there. Add fecal transplants to your research. If what bacteria live in the gut can sometimes cure depression, we should be paying far more attention to what we feed our gut bacteria. It's our second brain and science is just now starting to discover how it all works.

Please take my upvote. I don't understand why some on HN keep trying to equate "a calorie is a calorie" with nutrition and satiety. The first is a unit of energy and the other two are not. It is that simple.

I do 16:8 Intermittent Fasting. Are there health benefits to it? Maybe. But I know for sure that if I want to drop a bit of weight, this style of eating makes it a lot easier for me for reasons of hunger more than anything: I'm not that hungry until I eat. I also know for sure that I like eating big. If I have a couple small meals early on, I can have a great big meal near the end of my window as if I were a lion taking down a zebra.

Who's equating caloric intake with nutrition and satiety?

My point is people who have successfully adopted a particular technique for reducing their caloric intake (fasting, kale, smoothies, veganism, omega 3 acids, etc) are disguising the underlying process that's conferring most of the health benefits they're seeing: which is weight loss.

How many stories have you read out there about Secret Diet X that does all sorts of allegedly amazing things for you? Paleo diet. Veganism. Atkins diet. The Zone diet. The Dukan diet. And on and on.

There are many strategies for reducing caloric intake and if 16:8 fasting works for you: fantastic. But at the end of the day most people will improve their health through weight loss, not some special ritual or ingredient, and I think we should be cautious before crowning specific calorie reduction techniques as having special or more beneficial properties unless there is clear scientific evidence for them.

> Who's equating caloric intake with nutrition and satiety?

Well, jonwinstanley above, for one. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

> No, calories vary massively. If someone ate 2000 calories of vegetables each day and someone else ate 2000 calories of sugar there would be a huge amount of difference between their nutrition.

I think one thing we can take from this discussion is that people's opinions on diet, calories, fat, carbs, health etc varies wildly!

> There are many strategies for reducing caloric intake and if 16:8 fasting works for you: fantastic. But at the end of the day most people will improve their health through weight loss, not some special ritual or ingredient, and I think we should be cautious before crowning specific calorie reduction techniques as having special or more beneficial properties unless there is clear scientific evidence for them.

Fasting when you are obese is different too. On average, you will burn more fat than muscle. Mainly because your body composition is primarily fat (i.e. 38% body fat).

They aren't disguising the underlying process. The underlying process involves psychology, gut bacteria, insulin sensitivity, and a long list of many other factors. Focusing on one biological process and excluding others is not accurate or helpful.

> No, calories vary massively. If someone ate 2000 calories of vegetables each day and someone else ate 2000 calories of sugar there would be a huge amount of difference between their nutrition.

As someone who lost 95kg within 2yrs And subsequently regained 40 over the next 10... That's not what it was for me.

Calories were always directly linked to me gaining or losing weight.

The difference was mainly in what happens after i've eaten the sugar calories. It's gonna take a few minutes or hours and I want to eat the next serving.

Sugar just... makes you eat more, both short and long term. If it's 2k today, it'll be 2.2k tomorrow and so on.

A lot of naturally skinny people don't get that. I'm glad someone here has some common sense. Calories aren't all the same if some do not satiate you or provide you with nutrition. I'm sorry but weight gain is as much mental well being as thermodynamics. We aren't just a chemical reaction like this dude is claiming. I agree with you completely. Good on you for losing weight and I hope you can hit whatever your goal weight is.

> Going back to the vegetable example, you could eat several kg of green vegetables every day and continue to lose weight.

This is just not true. Anecdotally I know multiple obese vegans, but that aside at the end of the day it's calories burned vs calories consumed.

Generally speaking 1 lb = 3,500 calories[1]. What you're essentially arguing is that the caloric measurement of vegetables is wrong, that they're over-estimated, and you can secretly eat "kilograms" of extra vegetables and not get fat.

You gain weight from taking in more calories than you burn. You can take in too many calories from vegetables. It all depends on your lifestyle.

[edit: 3,500 calories, not 3,000. Sources: https://www.google.com/search?q=3500+calories+1+lb&oq=3500+c...]

> Anecdotally I know multiple obese vegans, but that aside at the end of the day it's calories burned vs calories consumed.

Anecdotes are not data, but 'obese vegans' don't suprise me at all. Carbs are very present in vegan diets, therefore it's easy to overeat.

Also, yes you can get fat from veggies, but honestly, most have so few calories per kg, you would need to feast on them the whole day.

Not necessarily. People have different lifestyles, metabolisms, biologies, health issues. It is very possible to overeat and get fat on vegetables without having to "feast on them the whole day."

Empirically speaking 4/4/9 calories per gram of carb/protein/fat. So generally speaking no, 1lb != 3,000 calories.

OP was referring to the amount of calories stored in a pound of adipose tissue, which is around 3500 kcals.


>Generally speaking 1 lb = 3,000 calories. What you're essentially arguing is that the caloric measurement of vegetables is wrong

A pound of kale has around 227 calories. Spinach is similar. You are off by an order of magnitude.

“Kilograms” of green vegetables are absolutely below a typical 2000 calorie diet.

Pretty sure OP meant something along the lines of it take ~3500 kcal deficit to burn one pound of fat.

2000 calories of green veggies (eg broccoli, green beans, lettuce) is about 6-10kg of food. That is such an absurdly huge amount of food for most people they would not be able to eat it even for one day. The veggie group would be constantly full while still not getting enough calories.

Absolutely wrong. Over eating is an issue of conditioning. Yes different foods digest at a different rate, but Americans eat like they’re strength training their stomachs, and always seem to have room for dessert.

The body doesn’t negate over eating when it’s a lifestyle.

Yes, over-eating burgers, fries, sugary drinks etc - you are going to have some serious health issues.

What I am saying is that portion size is not a big issue if you eat very healthy, low carb food. You could eat a mountain of steamed broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage every day and you wouldn't gain weight. You'd just need the to visit the loo a lot.

> No, calories vary massively. If someone ate 2000 calories of vegetables each day and someone else ate 2000 calories of sugar there would be a huge amount of difference between their nutrition.

What? Yes, but calorie wise it's the same. You mix up IIFYM-critique points with calories.

> Going back to the vegetable example, you could eat several kg of green vegetables every day and continue to lose weight.

Because they have close to no calories.

So we agree that calories a dumb way to track the amount of food you eat in a day?

I read somewhere that eating raw cabbage means your body has to work extra hard to digest it. Point: don't eat cooked cabbage, eat raw cabbage.

In fact I read eating raw cabbage takes as much energy to digest as it gives you in calories. I don't have a link at hand but I remember clear as day that I read this somewhere.

I'm sorry, but that's simply not true. Technically, ice water consumes calories, but even raw celery only takes 8% of its caloric content to digest; you should research thermic effect if you're interested to know more.

While there of course are some outliers if you take completely extreme examples generally it is true when it comes to weight loss.

Eating 2000 kcal of vegetables is the same as eating 2000 kcal of bread and meat.

Not in the slightest. Check out glycemic index [0]. Sugar absorption rates affect how your body functions. There is massive negative effects when your body is working hard to balance your glucose levels due to sugar rich foods or high glycemic index.

0 - https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glyce...

Your body does not work harder just because the food has high glycemic index, I would say it is the opposite. The body has a very easy time using glucose for example compared to fructose which needs to through the liver which in turn increases the risk of liver damage if you eat too much.

However I was obviously referring to the weight gain and loss I mentioned in my previous sentence. I.e. the long distance runners in your link that chooses high glycemic food are not getting fat anytime soon.

No it isn't.

There are different effects on the gut microbiome, which affects how many of those calories are processed.

Why do you believe that makes a significant difference? And if so how big difference does it make?

Can I eat 2000 kcal with one diet and gain weight and 3000 kcal with another weight and lose weight?

The point you are missing is that with one diet you would out of control crave far more calories. While on a different diet you would have to force yourself to eat beyond feeling satisfied to reach the same number of calories.

I'm not missing that, it was just not something that was discussed. I was talking about weight gain and weight loss, not how easy or difficult it is in practice.

What you eat will of course matter when it comes to nutrition, muscle gain, satiety and many other factors but that in itself does not generally remove that a calorie is a calorie (unless extreme diets).

You asked why it makes a significant difference. And it looks like you answered your own question. A calorie being a calorie is one of the less interesting factors when it comes to actual practice. And yet it gets repeated ad nauseum every time the discussion comes up.

Over the long haul, no it's not. They all have different levels of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats, and proteins. Please try eating 2000 calories of sugar a day and nothing else for a while and see how long it is before you puke your guts out.

Yea, but the calories in a kg of vegetables is different than the calories in a kilogram of meat right? Or put another way, a hamburger might be the same weight as a plate of veggies and they're calorically quite different.

> it's just reduced caloric intake

Right, but the point is it is easier to stick to this kind of regime than counting every calorie. And if you stick to the regime it also keeps you focused and conscious about not eating too many colories in general, you don't "forget" that you are trying to lose weight.

Further I've read that fasting kicks your body into a state where it starts to burn the extra reserve fat you have, which should make you feel less hungry after the start of the fast. SO rather than taking calories in, you are using what you already have. I don't know if 16 hours is long enough to get this fat-burning process started but perhaps.

I almost follow this same regime but I often slip and eat all night after the fast :-) But the account above gives me more inspiration to try a lit bit harder. Don't eat after 8pm. Skip the breakfast. How easy is that

I think this is a fair argument but not what the top comment was arguing.

He associates fasting, kale and "super nutrients" with this lifestyle transformation -- when it's just about reducing calories.

If his argument was, "It's hard to count calories, if you stick to this approach you'll automatically cut your take without having to journal every sip of OJ" -- then yes, I wholeheartedly agree.

There is some evidence that fasting can be good but people are so different it's hard to generalize-- others will over-eat in their feeding window. For some micro-meals throughout the day is a better technique to managing their hunger and keeps their metabolism up.

There's no one-size-fits-all technique. My main point is, when reading about "How I lost weight, it's so amazing" is caveat emptor.

Sorry if it came across that I'm associating kale with magical weight loss. What I was getting at was I break my fast with a burst of fresh nutrients that my body can easily absorb.

I think the whole approach of strict fasting, along with the plant-based diet is what worked... and I can't see how it won't work for others, but then again I have no idea. People are radically different, and certainly, I was super motivated to lose weight because I never, ever wanted to be obese.

When I was a kid I used to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Will Smith did a bit about Dunlap Syndrome. When my Doc told me I was going to be obese that bit from Fresh Prince flashed in my mind's eye and it was like Will Smith was laughing at me lol.


"Burst of fresh nutrients" -- there are fresh foods but just nutrients. Not super nutrients, not fresh nutrients, just nutrients.

Hey it's a good strategy. Works for you, can work for others. But the magic is not in breaking your fast with a "burst of fresh nutrients" -- it's in reducing your overall caloric intake, as well as eating a balanced diet.

Good luck and congrats again.

>Don't eat after 8pm. Skip the breakfast. How easy is that

That's the easy part of your regime. No meat, no dairy, no refined carbs is the hard part.

Actually no meat is easy, the other two are harder for me.

There are diets that make much easier to reduce calories intake. Low-carb high-fat is one that do that for me. Intermittent fasting too. It is counter productive for me to dismiss all of these as just ways to disguise calories intake reduction.

But not only that, I don't think it is as simples as "a calorie is a calorie". Different food are digested differently and trigger different responses for the body. To use an ad absurdum example, if I drink gasoline I don't get fat.

> It is counter productive for me to dismiss all of these as just ways to disguise calories intake reduction.

I didn't "dismiss" these, of course these are useful techniques that help people. My point is to not associate non-scientific properties to having kale smoothies or avoiding carbs.

Losing weight is great. Many ways to do it. To say there are such things as "super nutrients" distorts the real process at work here, which is reducing over-eating.

As for a calorie being a calorie, you're misunderstanding my argument. I'm not saying all _foods_ will have the same impact on you biologically. Of course not. Human biology is extremely complex and people should eat a balanced diet.

But what happens too often is people confer special, almost mythical properties to foods or nutrients (like kale, or omega-3 fatty acids, or plant-only diets, or carbs, etc) when the most fundamental process is calories in vs calories out.

Yes, it's possible to lose weight and still be unhealthy (just eating 1500 kcal of McDonalds per day, e.g.), but most health benefits associated from dieting come from weight loss, not isolating particular properties or compounds or ingredients.

Sure, but honestly from where I'm sitting, it feels like magic. I'm sure the result can be completely explained with science but I'm not going to sit down and work it all out. I just care that I'm a healthy weight again and that I found a method of healthy living that I can stick to.

And that's great. It's inspiring to lose weight and be healthier.

Not trying to take anything away from what you accomplished, just trying to sort out where the health benefits are coming from: it's weight loss. From reduced caloric intake.

Personally, I like fasting. In an era when food is available 24/7 I think it helps teach self-discipline and clearly reduces the likelihood one will overeat.

I also like vegetable-heavy diets. Clearly good for you. But to say kale smoothies have "super nutrients" is not scientific. While it's tempting to confer special properties on the foods which have helped transform your life, most likely these are just methods to reducing over-eating.

Congrats again.

This is misinformation. Just as one small example, fat keeps you satisfied far longer than protein or carbs. All calories are not equal. Yes it eventually comes down to calories consumed vs. calories expended. But what those calories are made up of have a profound effect on when you eat next and your energy levels. And we haven't even gotten into psychology and effort. Counting calories is a lot of work and annoying for some people. Stopping eating at 8pm and not eating until lunch soon just becomes a very easy to maintain habit that requires no effort and barely any willpower.

People like you never realize the value in the fact that not everyone has the same physiology as you. Some people do well with keto, some do well with IF, some do well with vegan. It's not all about caloric restriction, that is a facet, not the key goal. The goal is to find a meal plan you can deal with that doesn't lead to you feeling deprived and starving at the end of the day. That is doomed to fail. I agree that cleanses are bullshit as are most nutritional supplements. There are nutrients though. Getting carbs from whole wheat bread is a lot better than getting it from white "enriched" bread.

> It's not all about caloric restriction, that is a facet, not the key goal. The goal is to find a meal plan you can deal with that doesn't lead to you feeling deprived and starving at the end of the day.

The second sentence here is the reason why the first sentence is exactly wrong. The best way to maintain the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss is if you can find a way to not feel hungry while maintaining that calorie deficit. But that calorie deficit is absolutely the most important goal of a weight loss plan, and is a necessary and sufficient condition for its success.

>Glad you lost weight but kale smoothies and fasting are not magic--it's just reduced caloric intake conferring most of the benefits you're seeing.

>As if fasting or kale give you more energy (they don't).

Your comment implies that all food is more or less equal, which doesn't seem to be the case. Couldn't the OP's change in "energy" reflect the reduced intake of hormones and other unhealthy additives that are present in the supply chain for most meats and other processed foods?

No offense but

> I avoid all processed sugar (no cola or any refined sugar products), I avoid all dairy, and of course, avoid meat.

Sounds like it has a lot more to do with your results than

> So I made a total lifestyle change to a 16/8 intermittent fast (16 hours water only, 8-hour feeding window)

Also, if you were counting your calories before and after this transition, you likely missed or underestimated the calories before. I do the same 16/8 window (never been a breakfast person anyways) and have no problem maintaining my weight at about 2.5k calories a day

I'm in the same boat. I don't stick to it extremely strictly, and the window moves around a bit but generally I follow 16/8 too and haven't noticed much of change in body fat (but I don't carry much anyway).

The reason I stuck with it was that, as someone who wasn't ever a breakfast person either, I don't have the stomach discomfort / bloating anymore which a carb-heavy breakfast would give me.

For me the nicest part about IF becoming trendy is that I don't feel that slight pang of guilt anymore which I used to feel when skipping breakfast.

Everyone is different but I was formerly obese and doing a 7 hour fasting window in the morning (7am-2pm) I dropped into a healthy BMI shockingly fast.

I ate meat, processed sugar, and dairy throughout. In the past I tried cutting those things out (except meat) and I struggled with weight loss.

The one other factor that probably played a role is that I cut out restaurants.

Skipping breakfast is so damn effective because in the morning blood-cortisol levels are quite high, making it easier for your body to store so energy, energy we provide by breakfast but generally don't even need at that time.

I believe the research shows that skipping dinner is much more effective — in fact, there is debate as to whether skipping breakfast is even beneficial (anecdotally I would say it is).

I wish I understood the mechanism better, though.

> The one other factor that probably played a role is that I cut out restaurants.

You would be shocked how many calories restaurant food has (usually >1k calories in a single dish -- no matter what kind of restaurant -- and probably more in the US). Personally, I would've assumed this is the more likely primary factor for your weight loss (combined with the fact you probably eat less food overall because you only have two meals when doing IF). You could try going to restaurants again for a few weeks and see if you start gaining weight again.

But, if it works for you -- it works for you.

To be clear, I have tried going to restaurants both before and after I lost a majority of my weight and I still lost weight but not as rapidly.

It appears as though cutting out restaurants made a difference but it’s also easy to underestimate the power of having a morning-based feeding window. People are more insulin sensitive in the morning and have reduced appetite (hence everyone saying “IF is easy, it’s so easy to skip breakfast”).

Definitely. Coming home after traveling to the US for more than few days means constant hunger and snack cravings for a week or so. The last few times I’ve been trying to limit the unnecessary sugars from sodas and other sugar rich food since you get so much more sugar than in Europe in the regular restaurant food.

I always tell my wife that the easiest way to get healthy is to become poor. No more restaurants and you're golden.

Jokes aside, I feel we all underestimate how much eating out and/or socially forces you to eat more than necessary. Personally when we're cooking, we rarely go overboard. When you eat out, it's so easy to eat more than what you need.

No offence taken :-)

I'm not a professional, and I didn't track anything except my body measurements and weight during this process so I don't know exactly where all the results came from. I wasn't chugging bottles of Coca-Cola, but I was having processed sugar in my multiple cups of coffee every day.

As for calorie counting, my research indicated that calorie counting is a myth (see The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung). Certainly, I always struggled with a calorie-restricted diet, so I knew that if I always felt hungry, anything I did wouldn't work. I know it sounds odd but during the 16 hours I am fasting, I just don't feel that hungry. If I feel a little hungry I just drink some water and I feel fine.

I think the key was satisfying the ghrelin by eating as much as I liked during my 8-hour feeding window. I know it sounds crazy that you can eat as much as you like and still loose weight but it happened.

> my research indicated that calorie counting is a myth

Given that calorie counting (or rather, being in a caloric deficit) emphatically does work[1] (it's roughly just a matter of thermodynamics), I would (respectfully) argue that your research was insufficient.

It is true that the vast majority of people underestimate their calorie input, and there are some special cases (such as diabetics) where calorie counting doesn't give you the results you expect (insulin resistance increases the amount of energy required to "burn" a certain amount of fat because insulin is used in fat expenditure). A disturbing amount of weight-loss studies depend on subjects to self-report the amount of calories consumed -- which almost always invalidates the conclusion (people always underestimate their calorie consumption, doubly so when they've just started a diet!).

However, for the vast majority of people, the standard formulas for total daily energy expenditure[2] are more than accurate enough for accurate weight loss (especially for people who are >15% body fat -- once you get really lean there are other considerations when trying to reduce body fat). They definitely aren't perfect, but they're usually accurate to around ~5-10% (more than enough to get a good idea of how many calories you should be consuming, and how much of a deficit you need to be in in order to lose a certain amount of fat at a certain rate).

> Certainly, I always struggled with a calorie-restricted diet, so I knew that if I always felt hungry, anything I did wouldn't work.

Did you change what kinds of food you ate when eating with caloric restrictions? Usually you want to eat very low-caloric-density foods like broccoli (your body's "fullness" reaction is determined by the volume of food you eat, not the nutritional content). A common mistake is that people will try to eat the same types of food (high-caloric-density), just less of it -- this is a recipe for disaster because it will lead to inevitable hunger tautologically (not to mention most high-caloric-density food has lots of sugar which triggers an insulin response -- causing more hunger after you've eaten it).

The primary reason why people lose weight when doing intermittent fasting is because they consume less calories as a result (you would have to actively stuff your face to get the same amount of calories in 8 hours). Have you tried counting calories now that you intermittently fast, and compared it to how many calories you ate beforehand? You might be surprised to find that's where the real change lies.

All of that being said, feel free to do whatever works for you. Personally, I found it easier to count calories and eat higher-density food. Then again, I usually skip breakfast so you could argue that I also intermittently fast.

> I know it sounds crazy that you can eat as much as you like and still loose weight but it happened.

I very strongly doubt this is true, purely due to thermodynamics. If you ate 10k calories every day (with intermittent fasting) you would gain weight (if you don't believe me, try it for a month and see what happens -- you should gain a few kilos a week depending on your existing weight). I would guess it's more likely that you simply felt that you ate more (but actually started eating less). Do you weigh your portions of food (most people are awful at estimating even how much mass of food they eat, let alone the caloric content)?

[1]: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-calorie-counting-w... [This goes through common tropes in papers which are often misunderstood to say that calorie counting doesn't work.] [2]: https://tdeecalculator.net/

It sounds like you know a lot more about this stuff than me. It is my fault in so much as I should have used more precise language. What I meant by 'calorie counting is a myth' is that a calorie reduction diet is a myth. Sorry for the confusion. Also, I admit, I could be wrong. I'm going off of the research I have done.

That said, there is a lot of stuff happening in our body with regards to our food intake that I had no idea about. Insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and of course, testosterone for a man, is extremely important. Even limiting xenoestrogens as a man is extremely important.

Also, people seem to forget somehow that your body can excrete calories.

I agree with you about the problem of "people will try to eat the same types of food (high-caloric-density), just less of it". In the past, I tried a vegetarian, calorie-restricted diet, and I just felt hungry all the time. It wasn't a one for one diet to what I eat now, but it about the same.

In terms of why intermittent fasting works, I don't know for sure, but from what I have read, your body's metabolism doesn't crash because your feeding window controls the ghrelin in your system. With your metabolism maintained, and by only drinking water during the 16-hour fast period, your body is forced to consume your fat stores for energy.

Having said all that, you could be right... perhaps I just consumed fewer calories as the plant-based diet was just less calorie-dense. The volume of food may have made it feel like I was eating more when I wasn't. Honestly, I just don't know for sure.

Calorie counting works, when someone else is controlling your food supply.

When I control my food supply, my hunger will almost always override the cold math of the calories.

It's a bit like how abstinence can prevent pregnancies, so you don't need condoms or pills. It's of course true in a technical sense, but real world people aren't strong enough to remain abstinent.

This was my experience until I started using a fitbit to get an accurate daily burn count. It showed that I was setting my calorie count way too low, hence the hunger issue. If I eat the fitbit daily burn minus 500 calories I lose 1 lb a week with no hunger issues.

> When I control my food supply, my hunger will almost always override the cold math of the calories.

That's a case of your hunger causing you to eat more calories, not a case of your hunger causing you to gain more weight from the same calories. The math still works just fine if you count the calories that your plan says you shouldn't have eaten. It's the plan that isn't working for you, not the math.

You're stating the obvious.

One would hope, but there are plenty of people who double-down on the obviously-wrong interpretations of ambiguities such as in your comment. People are surprisingly willing to misattribute the causes of of their diet's success or failure.

Well, apparently I'm not "people" in that sense.

Unfortunately, every lifestyle change requires hard work. You can't learn to dance or play an instrument without putting in the hours. Same thing applies to losing weight and getting healthy.

Sure, there are "tricks" (such as eating lots more low-calorie-dense food such as broccoli or cucumbers to quell hunger pangs) but those are just tools that still require hard work to apply.

The keto diet takes the opposite approach. Very calorie dense fatty foods turn out to take a long time to "turn around" to where you get hungry again.

A lot of people lose weight doing that without the hard work, aside from abstaining from all your favorite sugary foods. But there is plenty of delicious fat & protein food.

It was my understanding the point of the keto diet was to trigger ketosis -- in which your body starts using fat reserves more readily.

But yes, one of the driving factors of "hunger" (when people eat high-sugar foods) is the insulin spike and associated cravings. Cutting out all carbs gets rid of sugar, which results in no more insulin-spike-driven "hunger". But really, all you needed to do to do that was to reduce your sugar intake. It's also quite hard (though definitely not impossible) to load up on lots of calories without carbs. Most high-calorie food is also high in carbs, because refined carbohydrates are ridiculously calorie dense and it's hard to find something that's easy to eat lots of that matches it. You can't really eat a whole tub of butter, but you can eat a whole loaf of bread or plate of pasta.

> aside from abstaining from all your favorite sugary foods

That is the hard work I was referring to. While it might be a slog when you start out, exercise can be surprisingly addictive thanks to the rush of endorphins you get. But you don't need to exercise to lose weight, nor is exercise alone sufficient -- you can't out-exercise a bad diet.

I'm no keto expert, but I think you can do it in a lighter form that doesn't reach the ketosis trigger point, and still get a lot of benefits. If that should rightfully be called a "keto diet" is a linguistic question i don't worry much about.

Back when I switched to the paleo diet some 10 years ago, I was ready for a huge fight with my cravings as I gave up all the sugar and grains etc. But nothing of the kind happened. I just started eating other food that I liked just as much, and felt fine. Lost 25 pounds over 6-9 months.

Maybe it was unusually easy for me. And paleo does allow some carbs, though I definitely cut down a lot.

Agree 100% about your exercise point!

We have been brainwashed into thinking that "cravings" are psychological. Ketosis shows that carb cravings are physiological.

Energy in, energy out. You lost weight because your ate less than you burned, full stop. IF is just a way to curb hunger until later in the day, so you effectively take in less calories than you normally would.

Why do you believe the calorie in calorie out hypothesis is correct? Do people digest all food equally? If I eat 4,000 calories of olive oil, will I metabolize every last bit of it without waste? Obviously not. But what about different ratios of fats and carbs. After to failing to lose much weight on a low fat diet I had resounding success on a low carb diet, and I can say without a doubt I consumed far more calories on the low carb diet.

> If I eat 4,000 calories of olive oil, will I metabolize every last bit of it without waste? Obviously not.

And if you were 200 meters tall or 5000 years old, the TDEE equations also wouldn't apply to you correctly. Most calorie counting studies are done with intake of "normal" foods, not just pure olive oil. In those circumstances, for the most part, calorie counting works well enough for you to lose weight. Yes, the TDEE equations aren't perfect (and neither are nutritional information labels) but they're all within enough of an error margin for you to be able to comfortably lose a kilo every 2 weeks without breaking a sweat.

It is also true that you should tailor your diet not just for weight loss but also for general health (so cutting calories isn't enough, you should also change your eating habits) -- but weight loss is (for the most part, and the vast majority of people) just a matter of TDEE and counting calories.

> After to failing to lose much weight on a low fat diet I had resounding success on a low carb diet, and I can say without a doubt I consumed far more calories on the low carb diet.

Did you measure the changes in your fat weight? Low-carb diets can cause additional weight loss, which is not actually fat loss because some carbs are stored elsewhere in your body[1,2]. Now, that doesn't mean you didn't lose more weight. It just means that you didn't lose more fat. Whether or not that matters to you is a different question.

[1]: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-calorie-counting-w... [subsection 3] [2]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1615908

I lost 43lbs so obviously it was nearly all fat that I lost. How many people losing drastic amounts of weight on a low carb diet, while consuming more calories than before, would it take to convince you that counting calories is seriously flawed?

Why is it obvious that 4000 calories of olive oil is not metabolized without waste? Please provide sources.

> Please provide sources.

This is sometimes even lazier than not providing sources.

There's always waste. If not I'd been a lot fatter than I am because at times I ate much more calories than I burned.

What is true is that a steady calorie deficit will cause weight loss in the long run, and can to some degree be calculated and predicted.

Calculating the effects of calorie surplus on the other hand is a bit harder.

BTW: https://www.google.no/search?&q=absorbtion+and+metabolism+of...

Respectfully you are coming from a certain frame. There is always the possibility that other frames exist that may be a more accurate representation of reality. If you are open, check out The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung.

Conservation of energy still applies.

Weight management has a strong mental component, but only because of the current abundance of calories.

PS: And yes we are included poop calories. That’s how olestra and artificial sweeteners work.

Energy in/out, at least in the sense most people and your grandparent refer to, can be wrong without violating conservation of energy. E.g. if you poop out food from which not all calories have been used.

See, I wouldn't define pooped out unused food as being "in". If you want, you can define it as "in", but then you need to also include the pooped out energy in the "out" column.

That’s really not how food calories are defined. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atwater_system

Now, a lot of simplification goes on and it’s true food labels are based on heathy digestion. But, that has little to do with the actual definition.

PS: I think this goes back to how the description of how Calorimeter’s are used. Yes, they give a value from burning food, but that’s not the only number being considered.

The solution to this issue is not to start claiming things in violation of thermodynamics. Instead you should call attention to the fact that nutrition labels do not always accurately count the number of bioavailable calories ("calories in"), and that unusual circumstances can drastically change an individual's ability to extract energy from their diet. Rejecting "calories in = calories out" is a distraction from the real challenges, and has the side effect of making you sound much less scientifically credible.

Edit: see this comment for an example of reasonable discussion that doesn't oversimplify to the point of contradicting basic science: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20860678

The thermodynamics matter only as much as they are a tautology (which means: not at all), or as an upper bound.

Thermodynamics predict that you'd be better off drinking gasoline (12kcal/gr > fat's 9kcal/gr), and just as well eating wood chips (a carbohydrage) -- even though you get zero energy from either.

"But we're not using calorimeter data, we're using atwater factors"; Well, those actually DO vary from person to person, IIRC as much as 50%; and other things also matter (e.g., adding activated carbon to your food will result in less energy extracted in general; using Ally would result in less energy extracted from fat).

And that's just for the "calories in" part; metabolic rate can also vary as much as 80% along time and between people, depending on muscle volume, or other random, less understood factors - so without a proper measurement chamber you don't know the "calories out" either.

The food labels and general activity tables serve as a good general approximation that describes probably 80% of the public quite well. But invoking thermodynamics (except as an upper bound for calories in) is not justified by our current understanding of metabolism.

> But invoking thermodynamics (except as an upper bound for calories in) is not justified by our current understanding of metabolism.

The problem is when people claim that they can lose weight without running a calorie deficit. This is what's obviously wrong, and it is completely fair to invoke thermodynamics as a way to immediately and soundly refute such claims. When someone claims to have anecdotal evidence of losing weight while not running a calorie deficit, the error is not with the "calories in = calories out" equation but with their poor accounting of where the calories are going.

In my experience, people who promote their pet dieting theories (especially ones that promise dramatic weight loss without requiring exercise) using thermodynamically impossible claims are far more prevalent than people who mean lab calorimeter data when they talk about the calorie content of their food. Your comments about gasoline and wood chips are an insulting straw man, because nobody is ever referring to those numbers in a casual context. They're talking about the calorie numbers that can be found on nutrition labels, and those are meant to approximate metabolisable energy, not heat of combustion.

> The problem is when people claim that they can lose weight without running a calorie deficit.

Of course people can lose weight without running a calorie deficit. It's a commonplace experience nowadays, and absolutely trivial to demonstrate. You can test if for yourself if you are even slightly interested in checking the validity of your theories.

The death of the ridiculous thermodynamic model of human nutrition can't come soon enough.

I agree about the prevalence of pet theory, but my example wasn’t a strawman.

Your thermodynamic argument involves values that you take on faith (Atwater factors) which have been shown to have 50% variance, and values like BMR that also have 50% variance. As a result, invoking thermodynamic impossibility is not justified.

I agree with the gist of what you are saying - but not with the validity of the thermodynamic reasoning as proof.

> Your thermodynamic argument involves values that you take on faith (Atwater factors) which have been shown to have 50% variance, and values like BMR that also have 50% variance.

No, it really doesn't. Just look at the sibling comment that claims once again that it's possible to lose weight without a calorie deficit. That statement is wrong no matter how good or bad an approximation you have of what fraction of the heat of combustion is metabolisable.

If someone believes that they are losing weight while eating a diet whose nutrition labels indicate a much higher calorie count than their estimated calorie expenditures, then it's obviously wrong for them to claim that they are not running a calorie deficit. Instead, the reasonable and scientifically valid claim they could make would be that they are metabolising a much smaller portion of that diet than a normal person would, and thus they are running a calorie deficit because lots of calories pass through them unabsorbed.

Yes. Thermodynamic principles are tautological in the sense you just described and arguing against them isn’t helpful.

However, as the GP claimed the “gasoline is a strawman”, and “that’s not what people refer to when counting calories”; these two cannot live together with a thermodynamic argument in any useful sense, because it amounts to “well, if your food labels say a number higher than your exercise machine and BMR, the your numbers are wrong for reasons I cannot point to”, that’s about as helpful as a religious argument.

You can lose weight easily without caloric deficit in any sense - water weight (limited amount of course). There are several other ways in which the body loses fat - e.g. through the skin and scalp (negligible amount for most people, but not all people).

Invoking thermodynamics as an end-all be—all argument is dishonest even if it is a useful approximation.

It’s very useful when studying diets. There are meaningful differences between undigested calories, excreted calories in urine or Methane, and increased metabolism. For example increased metabolism resulted in extra body heat which needs to be removed.

Water weight is similarly important and still conserved in terms of energy. It might seem meaningless to you, but an athlete who wants to stay at absolute peak performance may want a more accurate picture of what’s going on.

It's the CICO crowd who are ignoring basic science when they claim the human body will perfectly digest food.

Across time a person's ability to extract calories from food changes because their gut flora changes.

> It's the CICO crowd who are ignoring basic science when they claim the human body will perfectly digest food.

That's not at all what anyone is claiming when they say you need to run a calorie deficit to lose weight.

>> Conservation of energy still applies.

Of course, but in this case we can only measure energy intake, and only semi-accurately (not everybody metabolizes every food 100% efficiently).

The body is known for up-regulating and down-regulating energy expenditure based on a wide variety of factors, especially blood sugar level. So what you eat matters as much as how much you eat.

'Calories in, calories out' has been pretty widely debunked - at best it's part of the story. More important is meal timing (i.e. fasting), resting insulin levels, the source of those calories, etc.

> 'Calories in, calories out' has been pretty widely debunked

Could you provide some sources? This is the first time I'm hearing of this.

Not OP, but the general logic behind "calories in = calories out" is obviously fine. However, just knowing this doesn't really tell you anything about the best way to go about decreasing "calories in" or increasing "calories out" in a way that will result in meaningful fat loss and improved health. For example, it is plausible that someone could reduce "calories in" by eating less and their body could make up the difference by reducing "calories out" via lower BMR instead of having "calories out" remain constant with the difference being made up by burning fat stores. Maybe some fat loss will occur initially at the expense of being more tired and hungry but this change eventually becomes unsustainable/unhealthy if they aren't eating the right foods.

On the flipside, you can increase calories out by exercising but you could end up starving and/or exhausted as your body tries to compensate for the increased activity, depending on what is going on in your body hormonally. Or you just have no energy to spare for exercise as it is right now, and have a very hard time getting in to an exercise routine. All this is to say that "calories in = calories out" is all fine, but these variables are not independent. Having some knowledge of how and when the human body burns fat and when it stores fat goes a long way in coming up with a strategy to lose weight. This is where these trends of low carb diets and (intermittent) fasting have originated from.

You nerd to get a new Dr. or nutritionist if that's what they told you. If you just got that from rando internet bro science you should talk to a Dr. or nutritionist or try to back your statement up with some clinical research.

No, it has not. It is very well supported by studies.

Different energy sources metabolize differently, so energy in, energy out is technically correct, but not very useful in real life. Additionally, as others have mentioned, there are other factors which affect how the energy in is handled or metabolized besides just the pure energy you consume.

This is misinformation that ignores the findings on gut biomes (and how they affect both our body and brain), how different foods affect insulin sensitivity, psychology, and other factors like effort and convenience. IF isn't "just" a way to curb hunger.

You didn't contradict the person you responded to, if you consider "calorie counting is a myth" to mean that calorie counting doesn't help you lose weight.

The frame can be correct, but inefficient as a mental model.

High-level languages may be "just" a way to run the right assembly code...but I still prefer them over assembler.

it's probably slightly coupled though, avoiding cravings put your mind into a different consumption mode. When you didn't eat for that long, you won't go for a chocolate bar, you'll aim at actual proteins.

> I never expected the mental benefits to be so pronounced. Indeed it is fair to say it has had a nootropic effect.

People can define normal how they want, but if you were eating lots of refined products, I suggest considering the way you are now as normal and that those products were making you sick.

I had to look up nootropic. To say fruits and vegetables act like "drugs, supplements, and other substances that may improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals" (quoting Wikipedia) suggests how much those products hurt you.

Maybe I'm a minority, but I don't consider fruits and vegetables drugs or supplements. I don't consider my memory and cognitive skills when I eat them enhanced. That's regular life. It sounds like life before was suffering and I don't know how else to say the opposite of "improved cognition function" other than dumber.

Glad to see you post-change. Were the refined products worth it?

You make a good point about "considering the way you are now as normal and that those products were making you sick." That is exactly how I think now, but if you grow up where it is the norm to eat a high-sugar, processed food, meat-based diet, you think this is the norm.

As for your question about refined products worth it... no, I don't think they are. I only go off script for say a birthday party or a social situation where it is impossible to stay within my self imposed dietary constraints.

Not that I know much about fasting, but by fasting you mean you skip breakfast, eat healthy and that's it? That sounds like a lot lower hanging fruit than I thought it'd be, thanks!

Yeah, lol... you aren't wrong. There is a little more to that though. My research into this indicated that the benefits of autophagy start at the 16-hour mark, so you really need to make sure your fast is at least 16-hours long.

Also 'eating healthy' can mean a lot of different things to different people. My research indicated that a plant-based diet was the way to go. In a way, it is more about the elimination of things (alcohol, meat, dairy, processed carbs, processed sugar).

The first week was hard, but then after that, it got easy. Also the first week I lost 2kg so I knew I was on to something.

16/8 IF basically means 'skip breakfast, no nighttime snacking' in practice for most folks. For many people, nighttime snacking is a big chunk of their intake.

If you go to sleep at midnight, it means "skip breakfast, skip lunch, have your first meal when you get out of work." It has the added benefit of skipping lunch time and getting out of work at 4pm.

Very glad to hear your positive experience.

> Also, there is no calorie reduction

Sure there is, that's why you lost so much weight. You just did it indirectly through this lifestyle change.

> Most restaurants cater for vegans or at least have a vegetarian option...I avoid all processed carbs (no bread or pasta), I avoid all processed sugar.

This can be a hard combo. Often the lone veg option is a sandwich (often breaded) or pasta in my experience. Obviously you can prioritize your needs and glad you do, just expressing how annoying the heavily constrained problem can be (I used to eat vegetarian).

> > Also, there is no calorie reduction

> Sure there is, that's why you lost so much weight.

It's important to appreciate there's more nuance than simply calories eaten vs. calories expended.

Some calories are more bioavailable than others. The OP described eliminating refined carbs and sugars, and adding substantial sources of dietary fiber. The effect of this is switching from quickly absorbed (and likely stored) calories to slower to digest, less available sources.

It's entirely possible for sugars locked up in a web of dietary fiber (i.e. fruit) to pass through the small colon and be consumed by bacteria in the large colon producing flatulence, or pass through entirely. If that same sugar was consumed in more accessible form, as with a cup of coffee, it would entirely be available to the person at a fast rate, accompanied by an insulin response making the energy likely to be stored as fat.

Understanding this is key to appreciating how one could even increase their oral caloric consumption and still be losing weight, all else the same. Just because it goes down the hatch doesn't mean 100% of those calories reach the bloodstream. What you eat matters a great deal, both in terms of availability and hormonal response.

The difference between the calorie ratings of foods and the actual energy a person gets out of that food is sharpening the pencil far too much for someone who lost 50lb in a couple of months. The drastic caloric reduction is first order.

How long ago was this?

In any thread on these topics I feel that there will be a number of people reporting their relatively recent smashing success with some method. I’ve had multiple smashing successes myself, lasting over a year, but have always eventually slid back — and then never replicated the success despite lots of effort using the same method. It hasn’t been until I switched to something different that I’ve found success again.

It’s like the body eventually learns both physical and psychological tricks to accumulate energy under any regime.

To stick, it does need to be a lifestyle change. If our diet and exercise (etc.) cause our health to degrade over the long term, then we probably need to change our habits in a way that avoids that.

That is, normal for us should be what provides continued health, rather than something we have to “fix” now and again with special diets.

Also, I’m not the person you asked, but to answer your specific question, I changed my lifestyle about five years ago, and — although I needed to make adjustments based on whether I was looking to lose weight or gain muscle or whatever — the overall idea going in was that this would be permanent. And that’s worked for me.

I started on, or around 27/05/2019. I say that because I think I actually started a day or two before, but I can't remember now.

you should check out this talk to understand why that's the case and it might be different with fasting


>I am now back to a healthy BMI, but I no longer use BMI as a measure, I use the Relative Fat Mass Index (RFM) because my research indicates that this is a more accurate measure for tall people (I'm 6'3").

This uses waist circumference, which is an excellent measure. I wish it were emphasized more: it's easy to do, and is a great complement to weight. Abdominal size is a great indicator of fat + correlated to many health problems.

One question: what scale does RFM use? I found the formula, and got a number, but I don't know what it means. Is it body fat percent?


I've been tracking waist and weight circumference each morning. I wrote a Shortcut that uses those measures to calculate body fat percentage and lean mass using the US navy formula, and log everything to apple health.

It's really sped up my fitness improvement, as I'm focussing on keeping lean mass UP, and waist circumferencn DOWN.

IF is great, and it's something that doesn't take that long to get used to (I'm rarely hungry). I follow a similar fasting time period 12-8 or 9 depending on my schedule that day. I workout everyday when I wake up (and sometimes again at night) and always have plenty of energy. I'm also not very strict on my diet other than mostly avoiding sugar. I lean towards meat and veggies with every meal, but am not militant about passing up a good tasting carb.

I ended up losing ~15 pounds over 9 months w/o weight loss even being the goal.

Peter Attia has discussed fasting for cancer patients (and pre-surgery) on his podcast multiple times. He posited that it could have positive effects on patients, but understands how long it takes existing dogma to shift. It's great news this study was done and will hopefully lead to more research.

>I workout everyday when I wake up

I read that you shouldn't put too much strain/weight on joints within an hour of getting up in the morning, because there is more liquid in the joints.

I didn't do any research on it because I don't work out in the morning anyway, so this may well be complete bullshit. Just mentioning it in case you want to get to the bottom of it.

I've read that too. That the soft tissue around the joints fills with fluid while sleeping and it takes time to get back to normal. During this time it is supposedly easier to get injured.

I've worked around this a few ways. One, it takes 10 minutes to get the the gym. I also have to get up, brush my teeth, put clothes on, etc... Second, when I do any workout, I warm up. Walk on the treadmill, then some stretching, and finally warm up to the weight I'm going to use.

I've never had an issue, except now that I'm older it can take longer to get going :)

I have found that getting rid of the sugar and refined carbs from my diet is an effective way to lose weight and keep that weight off (for over a decade now).

I've made no effort to exercise more, control portions or avoid fat and dairy.

I did switch over to cooking all my meals from scratch.

I follow everything else but what's the health benefit of avoiding meat?

I wouldn't say there's benefit to _avoiding_ meat, but if you're going to restrict your diet in some way, trading meat calories for veggie calories is a good move. The typical US diet is missing a LOT of fiber, not to mention the nutrients that are in plants that you won't get from meat. Meat is so dense, calorie-wise, that you can help yourself out a lot by trading meat for veggies on a selective basis. This is without having any intentions of becoming vegetarian.

Also, fiber makes you feel full, and slows down and improves digestion. So a high fiber diet would make it easier to eat less.

There are some important "carninutrients" that are in animal products, like vitamin B12 or taurine or carnitine. But you can find them in supplements and energy drinks.

But there's also a lot of downsides to meat. If you don't cook meat properly, you are at risk for salmonella or e coli, and other horrible pathogens. But if you do cook meat, there are all manner of carcinogenic chemicals that are formed, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heterocyclic amines, and advanced glycation endproducts.

Meat also often contains antibiotics, natural and artificial estrogens, nitrosamines, and high densities of bioaccumulated pesticides.

And traditional corn-fed animal products contain an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and other possibly less-optimal levels of nutrients like CLA.

to add on other comments: correlation between colon cancer and red meat

Yes, this, I do 16/8 5-6 days every week and I have been able to keep my weight under control for 2 years now, even when I'm eating carbs. I also keep sugar and simple carbs to a minimum, but I always did that. It's a glorious method.

> avocado/cucumber/kale/spinach smoothie

This sounds interesting! Would you mind posting the specifics of how you make this? what else goes in it? Protein powder? Ice cubes? etc? I have been enjoying smoothies but noticed I was inadvertently making them calorie-bombs by adding a lot of random stuff (chia, flax, avocados, honey) without thinking and wasn't losing any weight. So now I am a lot more conscientious about what I dump in there and portion everything out. Yours sounds interesting!

Put the following into a bender:

* Half a cucumber (skin on) freshly juiced * A chunk of skinned ginger freshly juiced (about 4cm^3) * One tablespoon of chia seeds (freshly milled if possible) * One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar * One juiced lime * One avocado (skinned and pitted) * A large handful of rinsed kale * A large handful of rinsed spinach * Approximately 150ml of coconut water

Blend this up and consume.

Initially, I also juiced an apple for sweetness but now I don't need it anymore.

PS- have you calculated the calories in this? If not, I'll add it up in MyFitnessPal but thought you might know if you're making it often. Cheers and thnx again.

Sorry I have no idea of the calorie content. It seems like a hot topic in the discussion is calorie counting, but I never did it. I just ate whenever I felt like it, until I was full, during my 8-hour feeding window. Perhaps I was consuming fewer calories because I was eating healthy. Perhaps I wasn't, but my body was excreting them out. No idea ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Cool; thanks for the reply and the details... added to the grocery list, will try this week! Cheers :)

I've had a similar experience but with low carb. I eat two meals, one extremely low carb, and one "normal" meal for lunch and dinner and do the 16/8 plan. Have dropped 42lbs in 4 months. I have much better mental clarity and more energy, and cut way back on caffeine as a result. I could never do a vegan diet because it goes against my personal research as to what humans should be eating, but I think that IF can be used for any reasonable diet (caloric restriction) plan.

> Also, there is no calorie reduction... I eat as much as I like in my 8-hour feeding window

Maybe no deliberate calorie reduction, but I'd bet you you're consuming less calories.

How much of this do you attribute to fasting vs diet change. I’ve done 16:8 fasting with no diet change and didn’t experience this kind of dramatic result.

I don't know; I did forget to add that I cut out all alcohol as well. Maybe doing both 16/8 fasting and eating super clean, super healthy, was synergistic?

There's a reasonable chance that cutting out the alcohol was responsible for a huge chunk of the changes you experienced. At best, it's an extremely confounding factor

Thing is I don't drink that often. Maybe two or three times a month, and not heavy drinking either... just a few pints after a Meetup or a glass of wine with a restaurant meal.

Cutting alcohol is likely responsible for a pretty large calorie reduction, a pint of beer is ~200 Kcalories...

There’s nothing wrong with eating chicken and other lean meats on a daily basis, and based on the summary of your daily eating, you could probably benefit from the complete amino acids the meat gives you.

There's no amino acid provided by meats that you can't get from plants. Soy is a complete protein.




Now, to be fair, soy _does_ have a low level of tryptophan. Leafy greens are the best way to boost that, if that's your concern.

Soy also needs to be avoided by people with thyroid problems.

Sure, there's also a fair number of people with allergies to soy. It's not the only complete protein from the plant world though. There's also:

  * Quinoa
  * Buckwheat
  * Hemp & Chia seed
  * Spirulina
  * Mycoprotein

Not to mention the estrogen effects on the male body caused by soy. (Yes, the studies say it doesn’t affect testosterone levels of men, but men also need a certain level of estrogen to be healthy and too much..not good)

The studies show it doesn't affect testosterone levels because the phytoestrogens in soy for the most part don't react with estrogen receptors to trigger a response from your body (at least not when going through normal digestive mechanisms). The amount of phytoestrogens you consume has no causal relation to the amount of estrogen in your hormone system.

Sure, do whatever is right for you. My research into the meat industry indicated that I was actually consuming a lot of stuff along with the meat that just isn't good for you. Sure you can go fully organic, free-range etc, but the meat we eat today is nothing like when we were hunter-gatherers. In those times we ate wild animals that lived free and healthy. As far as I can tell, it is impossible to get that level quality of meat at your local supermarket.

Elsewhere you said you occasionally eat fish for the omega fatty acids, what kind of fish?

There's been a number of reports describing farmed fish as some of the most toxic food sources on the planet. It's definitely changed my attitude towards defaulting to a fish option at restaurants where its provenance is unknown or at best ambiguous.

My goto has become canned wild sardines in water, consumed similarly for omegas in an otherwise mostly plant-based paleo-like diet.

My prio list is as follows:

Salmon > mackerel > sardines > herring > trout.

I love salmon, but any of the above will do. I also switch it up for variety.

Honourable mention is shrimp, which only has 1/4 the Omega of salmon, but is usually the easy option at BBQs (and avoids the annoying conversations about how not eating meat isn't manly).

I make sure I go for wild fish, and also buy it fresh (never in packaging unless I'm absolutely desperate).

Apart from the environmental impacts right?

Everything you do on Earth has an environmental impact. You think your veggies are collected and sorted and shipped to stores without impacting the Earth at all? Sometimes you gotta pick your battles and I think eating chicken is pretty low on the list of bad things we’re doing to the environment.

You mean growing soy in the area of the rain forest? (scnr)

And the chickens' perspective, which matters to many people.

And the workers' perspective depending on the source of the chickens.

I wish I had the mental strength to forego one of the few pleasures of life without looking back.

It's amazing to me how someone can (almost) exclusively eat vegetables and enjoy it.

Is it all about habits? Genes?

Everyone says that taste is unique for each individual. For me, no amount of good seasoning on a vegetable will ever beat the taste of a steak. I cannot even fathom doing that FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I guess if I had no option other than dying, that would change my priorities. But aside from that, it feels like you're trading so much to look a little bit better (I know everyone says it's always about health, but let's face it, that's not true a lot of times).

> It's amazing to me how someone can (almost) exclusively eat vegetables and enjoy it.

I think this is a common misconception. Vegans don't eat only vegetables, they eat every type of food, except animal products. It's very likely that most of the dishes you enjoy have a vegan version that tastes great. If you live near a big city, try out some of the vegan restaurants to see what chefs are able to do nowadays.

Also, tastebuds change and you'll eventually get the same steak dopamine hit by eating something else. I, for instance, used to hate Indian food, and now Chana Masala is one of my favourite dishes.

> I cannot even fathom doing that FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

That's not a logical way to think about things. When I go out for a run, I don't think "I have to run every day for the rest of my life otherwise it's worth going". I don't think anyone would ever exercise if they followed that logic.

> try out some of the vegan restaurants to see what chefs are able to do nowadays.

Well, can't hurt, right? :)

> That's not a logical way to think about things. When I go out for a run, I don't think "I have to run every day for the rest of my life otherwise it's worth going". I don't think anyone would ever exercise if they followed that logic.

I was being hyperbolic but when it comes to eating habits, if you stop the change, you will sooner or later get back to square zero.

If it's a time bound diet, it only works for the short term. That, for me, is the biggest issue of all. The thought of having to fully commit to a change like this if you want to actually get lasting results.

It's not like exercises where you get to a state where you are healthy and as long as you don't completely stop, you're fine. With food if you go back to bad habits you lose everything you achieved in the blink of an eye. At least that has been my experience with multiple types of diets.

Speaking personally, it's very easy to me to be able to completely separate the thought of food from having to be enjoyable. I don't drink water because it tastes good, I drink water because I know I need to drink water. I don't eat a plain sandwich at lunch because it tastes good, I eat that sandwich at lunch because I am hungry and know I need to eat. I don't need my food to taste good for me to eat it. If that has to do with habits or genes, I have no idea.

And that doesn't mean I don't get enjoyment from eating. I certainly enjoy an occasional nice steak or a few slices of cake every now and then, but I don't eat meat every meal despite it tasting enjoyable, just like I imagine you don't eat cake every meal despite it tasting wonderful,

An important factor often overlooked is taste preferences. I have many friends who are lifelong vegans, and tried vegan myself for a while before deciding I couldn't do it, and in my experience healthy vegan food (i.e. not French fries) is overwhelmingly on the sweet or sour side to my taste. I actively dislike both sweet and sour flavors, you'll never see me eating desserts or fruits, which greatly reduces the spectrum of palatable vegan cuisine. I imagine anyone with similar taste preferences as myself would have similar issues with a vegan diet. Vegetarian cuisine, by contrast, has a more balanced spectrum of flavor profiles in my opinion.

I experimented with many diets to find my own optimal tradeoff between great tasting food and healthy diet. I landed at low-carb diet where I am de facto vegetarian multiple days per week, but still eat a modest amount of meat and I don't feel like I am sacrificing anything because I built up a large repertoire of vegetarian (and even vegan) dishes that I happen to love that are also low carb. I think it could be properly characterized as a vegetable-heavy ketogenic diet, but I am not that formal about it -- these are guidelines for good living, not rules. Both Indian and Mexican cuisines are good starting points for low-carb vegetarian fare that is rich and satisfying.

You can adopt a vegetable-heavy diet that is tasty and satisfying even to an unrepentant carnivore, but it requires doing a lot of work, exploration, and experimentation to find vegetable-centric dishes that you actually love and find delicious. I think the big gap for many people is that low-carb, salt-forward flavors, a common preference for meat eaters, is poorly represented in popular vegetarian cuisine. Even though I eat vegetarian much of the time and live in a vegetarian friendly town, I won't eat most vegetarian restaurant food.

From my perspective it's about balance. I was completely vegan for about 2 years, and now I'd call myself a mostly-vegetarian. I'm not dogmatic about it, I just think that if we eat less meat it's probably better -- for us, for the environment, and for the horrible treatment of most factory-farmed animals.

Back to what I was saying about balance -- you're right: steak is fairly tasty, but so are lots of other things that I probably don't need to eat all that often. If I ate exclusively things that are as tasty as possible I'd enjoy them less. So now if I'm in a special situation I'll maybe order something with some meat -- but it's the exception rather than the rule.

I found that my body started to crave vegetables. It is really weird because I used to get sugar cravings, and now my body has completely flipped to vegetable cravings! My experience is that I felt more in tune with my body, and I could 'hear' what it wants, or doesn't like.

Another thing I didn't put into the original post is that I struggled with a blocked/stuffy nose since I was a little kid. Two weeks into my diet change, the life-long symptoms were gone (and continue to be gone). "I can now breathe through my nose" might not seem very miraculous to most people, but it is to me.

Having had a life-long diet of meat and processed food, I don't really miss it so much as I now actually love healthy food and I can 'smell the roses'.

I eat a plant based diet but mostly cook myself and only eat out at places that know how to work with vegetables.

It all comes down to seasoning and knowing how to cook, but all the mind blowing flavours still exist and can be invoked at every meal.

Suggesting people are vegan just to look better is very unfair.

If they're vegan for ethical reasons, it's like suggesting that people choose not to rape, despite how good pussy feels, just to look better. Because you couldn't event fathom going without raping for the rest of your life, so those people must need extra benefits like vanity.

Nobody said that. You're projecting.

I only added that side-note because I believe the majority of our SOCIETY wants to LOSE WEIGHT (nothing to do with veganism) to look better under the guise of healthiness.

Which is fine, I guess. I just hate the pretending.

> Always consult a medical professional before you do any drastic changes like what I've done, and do your own research on this stuff so you have the confidence that it's the right choice for you, and that you'll stick with it.

Intermittent fasting is not drastic.

Of course don't do it if you're too skinny, drink water, avoid physical activity when you're fasting... The best is to ask a doctor, but intermittent fasting is easy, not really risky and will yield good results.

Going from a normal eating schedule to not eating anything 16 hours a day can have a drastic (yes, drastic) affect on your blood sugar, hormone levels, blood pressure, and more. It is absolutely a drastic change.

It will most likely be fine for most people, but could be very dangerous (ie death) for someone that is, for example, diabetic or is taking medicines for mental stability.

Bioaccumulation is a big issue with fish. Have you tried getting omegas from algae supplements?

Exactly, that is why I limit the fish to only once per week. As for Omega replacement, chia seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids (as well as other good stuff), but I haven't looked at algae supplements. It really is an area I need to do more research on.

Cool story, but this has nothing to do with the article.

You lost 22kg in exactly 2 months doing this?

Having lost a similar amount of weight in 3 months by switching to keto (pretty much the opposite diet from OP, but similar IF schedule) I'm not surprised.

If I'm being totally honest I attribute most of the gains in weight and mental clarity to reduced drinking, particularly before bed. Also apparently the occasional basket of french fries / onion rings was really adding up.

In my case I dropped from 102 kg -> 79kg. I'm tall and naturally very slender, but I'd gained a lot of weight while working at Amazon.

I also attribute the change to quitting a high-stress job, thereby removing a lot of "stress eating / drinking" in addition to using a rigid rule (NO CARBS) to avoid most of the fried garbage I'd binge on.

I'm not that surprised - I was eating and drinking like it was my job to gain weight and keep it on, then I stopped.

I’ve been favoring fish, protein, and veggies for some time, and trying to prefer lean meat, and I’m surprised at how flabby just one greasy meal or large soft drink will make me feel. I can’t really explain it, but it’s like once my body became accustomed to the current diet, I can now feel when I deviate from it. Still haven’t found any evidence for what I’m feeling though.

I had a very similar experience doing this too. Lost about 21kg in 2-3 months and went from 98kg to 77 kg in 3 months which is a lot for a guy who is 5'7. 16/8 IF(Intermittent fasting) , mostly plant based and one day was a cheat day.Didn't exersise at all for the majority of that period and even when I did the intensity wasn't high enough to put a dent in caloric deficit coming for eating less.

I did this 5 years ago and am still doing it and haven't gained my weight back. But I'll say that retaining my weight is harder now.I was 22 when I did that and stabilized at 71/72 kg for couple of years but now at 27 I am stable at 76/77 kg.Although exercising more and maybe having gained some muscle mass might account for that extra weight.My body fat percentage (assessing only visually) seems lowest than it has ever been.

Yeah, that's about 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) per week. Might be possible/healthy if you're starting at 500 lbs, but based on the stats we know that's not the case.

He was borderline obese, probably going on the first "diet" of his life. This is possible, although it's a little faster than is healthy. It will take a while of maintenance to avoid yo-yoing.

Borderline obese is not that high a bar. At 6'3" an "obese" BMI is 240 lbs.

Just for fun, let's use that popular "3,500 calories in a pound" estimate. You'd have to run a 2,750 calorie deficit per day to lose 5.5 pounds consistently, every week for two months. That would be a 24/7 fast, not 16/8. Remember, they said there was no exercise involved either so this is purely calorie deficit. Maybe they forgot to mention a limb amputation.

My suspicion for anyone losing this much weight this fast is that a big chunk is water weight. With a big change in diet there’s a good chance that the body will quickly find a new equilibrium with the amount of fluid cells will retain, especially since both salt and glucose are necessary for osmotic pressure in cells.

I also suspect sudden weight loss from diet change can partially be attributed to mass within the colon. If you have 5 lb of dense food packed in your digestive system, and suddenly eat nothing but high fiber low calorie foods. You’re going to easily shed a couple pounds in the next day or two.

If we assume half of the weight loss was not directly calorie related, a 1400 calorie deficit could easily be 1 american meal a day. Not totally out of the realm of possibility.

Yes, 100%! No word of a lie.

At 7,500 calories per kg you would therefore lose 82,500 calories in one month to lose 11kg. Assuming a generous 31 day month this is 2,661 calories per day. Therefore the required caloric deficit for the day is larger than the total calorie intake meaning no calories would have to consumed to achieve this weight loss.

So how could this have been achieved? It could partly be inaccuracies in weighing, difference in body weight from food contents in digestive tract, water contents etc. The alternative is an increased energy expenditure which could partly account for it. Of note, generally consuming less than 1200 calories a day regularly is thought to be harmful on the basis that it is difficult to get minimum necessary nutrients in this time.

If I have made a mistake in my calculations, someone let me know.

This is assuming it's all fat. Guaranteed at least 30% of that was water weight and fat free mass, depending on whether he was weightlifting and how intensely.

I might have misunderstood what you meant, but it seems like you're saying his problem is that the required deficit to lose that amount of weight in that time is more than a typical daily intake?

If that's the case, it could just mean that his starting intake level was 2*(that deficit), for example. Lots of people just overeat. Apologies if that's not what you meant though.

Ah sorry, I think I see now. Do you mean that his baseline amount he uses every day is less than the deficit, so even if he consumed nothing, it still wouldn't be enough?

If they were eating 5,000 calories a day every day before starting the diet (without being a serious athlete), their starting BMI/weight would have been much higher.

I started measuring results 27/05/2019 when my weight was 104kg, BMI 29.43 (I think I started a day or two earlier). 03/06/2019 102kg. 25/06/2019 97kg. 28/06/2019 96kg. 08/07/2019 94kg. 26/08/2019 82kg.

I didn't measure myself at the same hour, and obviously, the measurement dates aren't spaced out equally. When I saw that this approach was working I stopped measuring all together.

Granted it might have taken slightly longer than 2 months to lose the 22kg, I don't really know, but I remember my weight stabilised so I wasn't worried about losing too much weight.

I calculated a similar deficit in another comment, although the "x calories in a kg/lb" number is just a guideline.

Any explanation involving water weight, digestive tract contents etc. would be nullified by the time period. It's not a week or two, it's two months.

Your coffee / awake levels have me interesting. How much coffee do you find wanting?

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