On this losing weight subject

I’ve lost quite a lot. And kept it off for some years, apparently the difficult thing to do.

Really, what I did was stop drinking fizzy pop.

Oh, bit more exercise, maybe, but not really. Little less booze but not particularly. And really, no change in food, not very much.

Umm, so, err, what’s all this difficulty then? Cut out the 400 to 800 calories from the soda and what else needs to be done?

67 thoughts on “On this losing weight subject”

  1. Problem is psychological – many people finish their diet and then go back to doing whatever it was that got them fat in the first place, such as 2L of coke per day, or whatever.

  2. Did you switch to Diet or just cut it out altogether? The tinfoil hat brigade would have words to say about aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.

  3. Cutting out carbs worked for me. I do like meat and cheese – I could see how it would be difficult to keep up otherwise.

  4. Gave up sugar in my tea and coffee. Given that I used to drink six teas and three coffees a day x 2 spoons of sugar, that all added up to a large bowl of sugar a week. Made a difference.

    The thing is, to make a diet successful, you have to find an element of your current intake that you can remove completely and keep removed.

    Oh, and spirits aren’t fattening. Despite what the public health warriors tell you, I don’t believe that alcohol is bio-available, or, if it is, it is inefficient: plenty of fat beer drunks, not so many fat whisky drunks…….

  5. I only ever drunk coke in my ultra marathon days, as an energy drink during races, funnily enough I had no weight problems back then.

    I’m not prepared to cut down on the booze so I control my weight by exercise, mainly a x-trainer in front of the tv, and light breakfasts (Dorset cereal) and lunches.

  6. +1, BG.

    I’m down 17 pounds from March. Cut out in between meal snacks; replaced lunch with some boiled peanuts (I make ’em) and a Bud Light.

  7. ‘What’s all this difficulty then?’

    When the weight started coming off last, it was coming off so easy I got a little scared that something was wrong!

  8. @Gamecock – it’s that early period when your gut is emptying and you’re burning through your glycogen reserves when it just plummets.

    What I found slightly hard was the various plateaux that happened at various stages, but then a little effort and it would drop again.

  9. ‘What’s all this difficulty then?’

    Unfortunately what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.

    Like you, I stopped having fizzy drinks – no difference.
    Like Recusant I stopped having sugar in beverages – no difference.
    I’d love to find my magic bullet but I’ve tried all sorts and so far nothing much short of starvation and misery has ever worked to any significant degree.

  10. “Like Recusant I stopped having sugar in beverages – no difference.”
    Why would you expect it to? It’s equivalent to not eating the very small plastic wrapped biscuit, also comes on the saucer with the coffee. There’s nothing sinisterly weight enhancing about sugar. It’s just a carbohydrate, like all the other carbohydrates. Scoff one less fork-full of mashed potato, for the same effect.

  11. Pretty much similar here. Cut down (but not out) the carbs. Carbs I have mainly wholemeal now. Doubled the protein (meat! Steak and chicken, hoorah!), bit more in the way of supposed good fats (esp salmon and avocado). Cut down massively on beers and drinking generally. Making a point of making myself a bit hungry before meals (not snacking). Worked a treat for me in last 18 months! And I enjoy it!
    This time if year? Sod it: cheese, chutney and general muck. It’s my pay-off 🙂

  12. For me the largest aspect was cutting out the bottle of wine of an evening and beer almost exclusively. That was the biggest factor and after a month I felt a lot better for having done it.

    After that, reducing the amount of food I ate to below 1,000 calories per day paid dividends.

    I started off with the intention of following the 5:2 Fast Diet recommended by Michael Mosley, but after getting over the initial transition period (gnawing hunger, headaches and other bullshit caused by your body demanding food you aren’t giving it), I found the 5:2 Fast regime too tame and switched to Alternate Fasting every other day which I’m happy with.

    Currently losing about 2lb’s per week, which is also about the recommended rate of loss to achieve sustainability over the long term.

    Still a long way to go though.

  13. Getting rid of concentrated sugar is the big one. You can still eat fruit/dried fruit, but laying off soda, cakes, sweets is what did it for me.

  14. I changed to a different GP a few months ago, so in preparation for the new-patient-checks I kept a food diary for a couple of weeks mainly to see how balanced it was. I went through it a couple of days ago converting it to food calories, and I’m averaging 1500 a day – ideal to lose a stone or so over several months – but annoyingly I’ve been a steady 15-16 stone for six years.

  15. All other things being the same, ceasing to drink fizzy pop would result in weight loss. But all other things are not the same; your blood sugar lowers sooner, and you get cravings earlier in the evening that you might sometimes indulge.

    Sir, what you did was not (just) stop drinking fizzy pop. What you did was set out to lose weight. This resolve let you ignore the resulting additional twinges of hunger later.

  16. PS to Gamecock–Diet beer is the biggest con job going. Half the alcohol, two-thirds the calories. Before, you would get 150 calories on the way to your desired level of relaxation. Now, you have a pair (200 calories) to get to the same place.

  17. Back when I had a heart attack the doctor told me to cut down on sugar.
    I have a lot of home cooked meals from fresh or frozen ingredients, have usually one cup of tea a day with two sugars. Most of the time have no added sugar at all.
    The same doctor wanted me to get an hour’s brisk exercise a day, physically impossible with balance problems and M.E.

    Spoke to a nutritionist who is married to a friend of mine, she had no problems with my diet except the salt intake, which has to be high. No way round that, doctors orders.

  18. Bud Light is the most highly consumed beer in the U.S., by a wide margin.

    I have a Heineken with my evening meal.

    But thanks for trying to help.

  19. I think my problem is the hole going in is bigger than the hole going out. Sorta builds up… I’ve had people off to rip me a new one, but so far I’ve declined.

  20. “Diet beer is the biggest con job going.” On the contrary, if I have a 250 ml glass of 0.5% with dinner I leave room in my booze budget for a small sticky afterwards. Much more sociable.

  21. Started playing rugby again in my 40s and put on a stone in a year, might have something to do with the post match refreshment…

  22. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I went ultra low carb for a while and got skinny while still drinking booze (32″ waist). Then it crept back up again. I quit drinking six years ago and I haven’t put an ounce on since. I could still stand to lose some weight but I’m a 36″ waist at nearly 50 so I’m not too bothered. The one thing I kept over from the low-carb era was being religious about not drinking full-fat fizzy drinks. I actually prefer the diet ones to the sugary version now. For the Xmas weekend I was a ravening beast but yesterday I ate virtually nothing and it’s now midday two days after the last blowout and I am just contemplating a snack for the first time today.

  23. I’m going through pics of me as a kid with my family. We look like a bunch of folk rescued from Belsen. For that reason, I was a 34 inch waist when I was 26 and I still am.

    That said, I exercise a fair bit: 15 min walk each way to/from the office plus at least 2-3 sessions in th gym each week. And I watch what I eat: I never snack or eat between meals, only three squares at the same time each day; I don’t overeat, especially at night; and I try to vary what I eat, cooking most dinners from scratch myself. I also don’t like beer, preferring spirits. So I’ll die of liver failure looking like one of those emaciated Russians you see sleeping rough in Moscow.

  24. “I quit drinking six years ago and I haven’t put an ounce on since.”

    You paid too much for your whistle.

  25. Just had a light rice-based meal for the first time in ages. It’s less than 2 hours since, and I’m already hungry again…

    Experiment over, I think…

  26. @Tim Newman, December 27, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    …I was a 34 inch waist when I was 26 and I still am.

    I’m 5′ 8″ had a 27″ waist from 16 to 35, then things changed and gradual increase to 33″ when 45 where it remains and I feel fat.

    PHE should be closed, all employees sacked not redeployed.

  27. I’m 5′ 8″ had a 27″ waist from 16 to 35, then things changed and gradual increase to 33″ when 45 where it remains and I feel fat.

    I should perhaps have mentioned I’m 6’4”. 🙂

  28. Bloke in North Dorset


    “Problem is psychological – many people finish their diet and then go back to doing whatever it was that got them fat in the first place, such as 2L of coke per day, or whatever.”

    Exactly. When I decided it was time to lose 20kg I just changed my lifestyle, eat less, move more.

    Going on a diet implies ending the diet.

  29. I lost 12 kgs (25 lbs) earlier this year. I kept eating exactly what I are before, just less of it.

    We had a competition to see who could lose the most at work. Eating KFC and drinking beer I still won. It’s not what you eat, it’s how much.

    The issue is other people determine my portion size, and my wife is slowly increases my serve size. After-dinner snacks are the other killer.

    I mostly drink red wine, and it seems to have zero effect on my waist.

  30. Tim

    This will be less about the calories and more about the insulin response to repeated sugar intake.

    The science on this is compelling but, in short, insulin spikes activate fat storage in the liver. Cut out sugars and the fat storage effect is diminished and general satiety increased (leading to less perceived calorific need).

    Gary taubes has literally written the book on this. Highly recommended.


  31. Incentives matter. We are told this often, and the data is always convincing, especially so at the margins.
    So what is the incentive scheme that makes the UK one of the 2 fattest countries in Europe? – not levying VAT on food, no co-payments on trips to the doctor, brothels being illegal, or something else.
    As often happens it will be a combination. Tom didn’t mention his incentive to get fitter and svelter – I wonder what it was.

  32. I think it is selfish for fathers and grandfathers to give up booze. More than half the Christmas and birthday presents I receive are booze or booze related.

  33. 63, 6’2, 12½st, 34″ waist.
    For years I was a 32″ waist, then sometime in my 40s I decided 34 was more comfortable, occasionally some things fit better if 36″, but not always.
    I eat whatever I like, always have; no sugar in tea or coffee but plenty of sugar in jam and cakes. Plenty of meat,potatoes and pasta, sometimes green vegetables, rocket salad in summer, tomatoes and apples.

  34. Gary taubes (sic) is full of shit. He did a wonderful job of dispelling the magic food BS of fats.

    Then threw it all away declaring that, “NO, the magic food is CARBOHYDRATES!”

  35. Going on a diet implies ending the diet.

    This is the most important point imo. You need to switch to a new lifestyle that will facilitate the body shape you desire. You can’t just go on a diet, lose weight, and then stop it. Problem is I think people do these crash diets and within a few months have lost the fat they wanted to but have no idea of the lifestyle required to maintain that weight. Better to change your lifestyle and lose the weight more gradually. If you find the new lifestyle doesn’t lose you as much fat as you wanted then after 4 months or so you tweak it a little.

  36. “The same doctor wanted me to get an hour’s brisk exercise a day, physically impossible with balance problems”.

    Weight training – but obviously 1 hour every day isn’t realistic. And depending on your balance problem MMV, but cycling is massively easier than walking.

  37. “bis is correct. A teaspoon of sugar is only 17 calories.”

    The issue here is not the calories but the insulin response it provokes, which results in the calories – plus the calories of everything else you’re eating at the time – largely being stored directly as fat rather than being available as energy (meaning also that you’re hungry again soon after.) It the same even with some zero calorie sweeteners, or at least the associated bulking agent: sure there’re no calories, but the body’s insulin response means that a lot of the calories from the stuff you’re eating at the time gets locked away as fat. By contrast, in the absence of carbs, calories taken as a good quality saturated fat are the healthy option and remain available for the body to use as energy. With carbs largely eliminated, your body burns fat rather than sugar, meaning it’ll burn your spare tyre just as readily as it will dietary fat. And because you’re now readily burning body fat you feel the need to eat even less. Your fat tummy is the meal. Two meals a day is plenty on a low-carb high-fat diet, and such optional “intermittent fasting” – not eating for maybe a 16 hour stretch overnight and late into the next morning – brings its own reinforcing benefits.

    I was resigned to inexorable middle age spread as it seemed nothing – even eating what seemed like a prisoner’s diet – could reverse or stem it. But I find the keto diet pretty effortless and am positively trim in comparison with my two-years-ago self. As the guy on Youtube says, ‘butter makes your pants fall off.’

    Plus on a keto diet you can broadly expect not to get heart disease or any of the other chronic modern conditions, which are all diet related; whereas on the standard high card diet you can broadly expect you will.

    p.s. The medical profession is equally wrong about salt.

  38. “I don’t believe that alcohol is bio-available”

    Alcohol is highly bioavailable, but it is not a particularly efficient energy source. So yes – it’s the other tasties in beer and wine – that are responsible for their greater fattening effect than whisky.

  39. Since we’ve been doing height/weight comparisons & swapping diets:
    5’9″ 10st
    Up from 9 1/2 in September when I was going flat out & sleeping 2 hrs a day. In the UK for 9 months, couple years back and living a fairly sedentary life, managed to get up to a happy 11 1/2 st. But that fell off when I went back to my Spanish lifestyle.
    Diet: I try to get down +4000 calories a day. Heavy on meat but a lot of carbs. I try to down half a kilo tin of condensed milk a day to ensure that 4000 because sometimes I forget to eat for a day or more. Alcohol moderate but regular, with occasional & very enjoyable binges. Mostly spirits & wine. Formal exercise zero. But I’ve a big house to look after & some very complicated & demanding obligations. So never watch TV or slump on a sofa for more than 5 minutes. I get around town on a bike in the summer, when parking’s impossible. Mid 40s temperatures don’t bother.
    Smoke 20-30 a day. Although that can rise under stress.
    Health: I’m mid 60’s & last time I needed an MOT, doctor reckoned I was pretty good for mid 40s. Recommendation to reduce smoking ignored. Blood pressure was a bit on the low side. But it always has been.
    Lifestyle advice? Live it flat out. You only get one shot. Old age scares the shit out of me. Can’t see the point.

  40. Lots and lots of low to moderate physical activity, in other words recreating part of the lifestyle that meant our recent ancestors weren’t blobs. Not all can manage it (physical reasons) but most can. Time is not a factor, nor is family – people used to have much larger families.

    As for the sugar thing, I remember homemade cakes were always around, people weren’t blobs.

  41. Christ on crutches. There was me, a newcomer to this site, thinking I was among like minded bods who ate, drank and were miserable. Now, like a bunch of girls, it’s all stories of weight loss, giving up drink and exercise.
    I’m 18 stone, 40″ (ish) waist, never take exercise, drink at least a bottle of red a night and eat whatever’s in front of me. Always have, always will.
    I’m 6’3″ and 73 next April.
    I think it was the late lamented Kingsley Amis who declared that he didn’t want to give up any vice he had in order to extend his existence in some foul nursing home.
    Merry Winterval.

  42. Five days at the Gabba drinking beer from 10am and the festive season have seen me pile on about 7kg. It’ll be off by the end of February if not before. I shall exercise hard and eat light breakfasts and lunches, but I shall drink as much beer, red wine (typically a bottle each evening), G&Ts and whisky as fancy takes me.

  43. “Going on a diet implies ending the diet.”

    Yes, it is about goal setting.

    Bad: “I’m going to lose 15 pounds.”

    Good: “I’m going to become a 150 pound person.”

  44. “The issue here is not the calories but the insulin response it provokes, which results in the calories – plus the calories of everything else you’re eating at the time – largely being stored directly as fat rather than being available as energy (meaning also that you’re hungry again soon after.)”

    One wonders what in your life made you susceptible to believing such nonsense.

    “The medical profession is equally wrong about salt.”

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to stick with the medical professionals on this one.

  45. My gran used to smoke 60 fags a day, ate chips with everything, chocolate whenever she wanted, never did a moments exercise and her first beer was at breakfast and she carried on drinking until she passed out in the early evening.

    She died of a heart attack aged 34.

  46. @djc, December 27, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    63, 6’2, 12½st, 34″ waist.

    I’m envious. Congratulations, your GP must hate you for being better than him.

  47. @john the bridge, December 28, 2017 at 10:39 am

    You’re welcome here whatever you eat, drink, smoke, consume or weigh. Plenty have said they do.

    Freedom of choice and speech with minimal Gov’t tax & intervention is what I and most believe in.

  48. @Pcar
    I don’t have a GP, last time I saw one was circa 1984.
    My plan for life is to carry on doing whatever I like and hope I keel over and go out like a light before I fall into the clutches of the medicine men.

  49. what they call ‘metabolism’ also matters – some of us just don’t put on weight like others.

    I can’t sit still, never could, continuously up and down our stairs, will walk 2 miles rather than wait ten mins for a bus etc, and I’m skinny – but the point is, there is no effort on my part, I eat what I want and remain slim, either the fidgeting or walking or insulin or whatever stops me laying down fat.

  50. “I eat what I want and remain slim, either the fidgeting or walking or insulin or whatever stops me laying down fat.”

    Yes, that’s how it works. That’s the lipostat theory.

  51. Homeostasis is the biological principle saying that an organism’s internal biochemistry is *precisely controlled* to keep levels within set bounds. Blood salinity, blood sugar, blood oxygen, blood pH, water, temperature, blood pressure, and energy storage are just some of the many hundreds of biochemical feedbacks the body maintains. If you eat too much salt, you excrete the excess. If you drink too much water, you excrete the excess. If you drink too little water, you stop excreting so much. It’s all automatic and effortless, and when the system is working correctly you can just leave it to look after itself. Nobody faints through lack of oxygen because they carelessly or lazily forgot to breathe enough!

    If it goes up, it’s because your body thinks that’s healthier for you. If the mechanism is broken – i.e. you have an illness – then your body can get it wrong, But for most people, your biology probably knows what it’s doing better than any “health campaigners” do.

  52. The fact is, virtually all weight loss diets work — the specific diet plan is irrelevant. They are merely whatever gimmick people will buy. By cutting calories, most everyone will lose weight initially. Just long enough for those before-and-after photos.

    But, regardless of the diet or weight loss method, weight regain within five years is guaranteed for virtually everyone.

    This was not lost on the researchers, either. Buried in the discussion section they mentioned that “weight-loss trajectories for each group had not stabilized…suggest that longer follow-up would likely have resulted in progressively diminished group differences.”

    Only long-term results, after weights have stabilized, are relevant when evaluating any diet and, more importantly, any actual impact on health outcomes. This short-term study was unable to credibly determine health outcomes — beneficial or harmful — so we’re not even going to bother going there.

    Doesn’t it ever strike you odd that virtually no popular diet study ever lasts even five years? In a century of diets and weight loss programs, you would think more than one would have. Yet, it is well-known and openly acknowledged among professionals that to demonstrate any degree of effectiveness for a weight loss intervention, people need to be followed for at least five years.

    So when you say: “I’ve lost quite a lot. And kept it off for some years, apparently the difficult thing to do.” Was that for *five* years?

  53. Five years? Not so far. But no cravings to go back to the previous diet either. And no effort being expended in not doing so.

  54. “Five years? Not so far. But no cravings to go back to the previous diet either. And no effort being expended in not doing so.”

    “No effort” indicates that the lipostat “set point” got reset. You’re not ‘on a diet’ – you don’t need one. Congratulations on being so lucky! But the stuff about diets being hard and not working in the long run is about those people who want to be thin, but whose lipostat is still set to ‘fat’.

    But do check back with us when it gets to five years…

  55. My fizzy pop has a certain malt and hop content.

    I use the old “Diets Don’t Work” formula and every meal is no more than the size of my fist. Works like a charm. I gave my beanpole son an old suit that I never wear anymore and he was surprised to find it was tight on him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *