Weight Loss

So I’ve decided I’m starting to resemble the stereotypical OFWG (old fat white guy) a little too much for my taste. I can’t do much about the old, and can’t do much about the white, but I can do something about the fat. I’ve looked around and done some research a bit, and believe that a reduced-carb diet is the way to go. I say reduced, because some of these low-carb diets practically have no carbs in them, which just seems unhealthy. I’m going to try to keep my carbs under 100g a day on most days, with one day a week where I don’t give a crap what I eat.

I’ve been learning French cooking as well, going through the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I’m not going to be like that women who cooked her way through the book as a publicity stunt, but I’m trying to learn the basics. The French diet is heavy on fat but relatively moderate when it comes to carbs. I decided this venture was a good segue into trying to lose some weight by cooking elegant, but smaller portion dishes that don’t heavily feature carbohydrates, but nonetheless will be filling enough I won’t feel like I’m starving myself.

Anyone out there dropped weight? What has worked for you?

58 thoughts on “Weight Loss”

  1. Good luck! As a sometimes really fat/sometimes only a little fat (several 80 lb variations) but always old and white guy my experience is that there are 2 things that work:

    1. A really low carb diet, like Atkins. I realize there is debate on the “science” and it doesn’t seem to work for everyone and works for men more than women, but this was an amazing diet for me. I was eating like 6,000 calories a day (meat and greans, no bread or potatoes) and dropped over 80 lbs in 9 months and felt great — certainly better than being fat. The only problem was that I got tired of no bread and didn’t transition properly to a “maintenance” mode and ended up gaining much of the weight back. And of course there was that sickly sweet “atkins breath” that had me constantly eating breath mints.

    2. Anything that reduces your caloric input to less than you burn. For me, anything under 2,000 calories a day will make me lose weight, and exercising helps and allows me to eat more.

    The “fitday” app for a cell phone/PC/android is awesome for tracking daily calories and nutrition. I’m sure there are others as well.

  2. Lost 35 pounds in 4 months: I am 5’9″ from 205 lb to 170 lb

    A) weight yourself every morning
    B) use an app like “calorie counter” to keep track of everything you put in your mouth.
    C) 3 months of phentermine (prescription) to get rid of the cravings while your body gets use to the new regime.
    D) Zone diet, you can eat plenty of carbs but good ones, just forget about: pasta/bread/sugar/potatoes. Buy the book “Mastering the Zone”.
    E) Excercise, recommend Crossfit (google is your friend), 3 hours a week I am in the best shape of my life.

    By the way got a new job in Cherry Hill will be moving to PA (no intention of living in NJ) in a month.


  3. I’m about 20lbs down since last Thanksgiving when I really got off my ass.

    M-F I attempt my best to alternate a moderate upper-body weight-lifting routine, with some sort of lower-body cardio (walking, biking, elliptical)

    Weekends the wife and I try to do a bit of walking.

    And I’ve been working hard to cut back on my portions. I eat very healthy…but I eat too much.

    Once you get a routine that works for you and stick too it, it becomes pretty easy.

  4. I lost 10lbs, which is what I needed. I did it by reducing carbs/fat slightly, eating more fruits and veggies. But the big thing that helped was lifting weights. I had been doing tons of cardio and didn’t drop anything, but when I added in weights (not even all that much), it just came off.

    I also weigh myself every morning so I’m not tempted to go back to my old ways.

  5. I’m down 23 pounds since 01Apr12; about 2 pounds of weight loss a week. Energy up, not feeling starved, down to a weight I haven’t been at in at least 4 years. Seems to be working.

    However… it’s not easy. I occasionally want to mug a Grrrl Scout for her cookies. And with all the cheese that has crept into the diet, I’m fight constipation — and losing badly.

    I’m reading “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes for the scientific basis of my diet.

    Avoiding carbs to the extent possible seems to make sense — and it’s working!

  6. http://www.myfitnesspal.com/
    Get the ap, too!! Feel free to friend me. I will annoy you.

    I was 264 on December 1, now down to 222 (-42 pounds)as of this morning.
    Walking 1 to 3 miles at least every other day. I am umpiring baseball again, but that will be done in another week. I eat what I want, just now not as often. Ice cream now once a month. Sugar withdraw was tough the first month.

    It is a simple solution. Diet and exercise. (Less scotch, wine, beer, rum, and alcohol will only help… )

    Good luck.

  7. P90X certainly can’t hurt. It’s an exercise program (not computer program) that works. It’s not some gimmick. It’s just lots of hard work that pays off.

  8. Agreed with a few things said here already: low carbs and hit the weights. I’ve actually put on weight during my “diet” but that’s all lean muscle. I knew that I wasn’t going to be interested in eating rabbit food so I started a diet that put my body into ketosis (read up on it and definitely avoid it if you are diabetic). After dumping some weight, I really hit the gym hard. Not only do I look better and am measurably stronger, the extra lean muscle burns more calories so I can eat more or less whatever I want.

  9. Oh, and I started tracking everything on fitocracy. That’s another good motivator and right now it’s giving me dirty looks since I’ve been slacking off the last month.

  10. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost–the bathroom scale insisted that I had lost not a pound, while the balance at the doctor’s office showed more than 10 pounds in about six weeks. So I threw away the scale.

    I do know that since I went to a low-carb, high protein diet that tastes really good (fried eggs in butter for breakfast, often with sausage or bacon), my clothes are now loose, and my cholesterol numbers fell so much that my doctor had me go off Lipitor for three months as an experiment. Things I avoid as best I can: potatoes; rice; bread; pasta; donuts. Things I eat: steak; broiled chicken; sausage; bacon; steamed vegetables; Mexican food (in moderation); fruit; ice cream.

    Practically everything that was being promoted as a “healthy” diet for most of my life was clearly wrong.

  11. Carbohydrate restriction worked for me. The most compelling explanation of the science of fat metabolism and diet is from Gary Taubes. I’d recommend you take a look at one of his books if you want to have a better understanding of when and how the body stores fat. Hint: it’s not because you’re eating more calories then you’re burning.

  12. We went with the low-to-no-carb diet, getting our carbs from fresh vegetables (roasted/grilled) with mainly protein from meat. I’ve lost 10 lbs without really trying.
    I don’t handle carbs that well anyhow, they just turn to sugar and my body doesn’t handle sugar very well anymore.

  13. I used the loseit.com site and app for my last few months in Iraq and, with the addition of a moderate amount of exercise I lost 35lbs. The best thing about that site is it is really easy to track overall calories, which is the key to weight loss.

    I don’t believe in a one size fits all diet, but a good tracking mechanism is very useful.

    1. Truth is, you can’t count calories in any meaningful way.

      You can estimate how many calories you’re eating, but you can’t estimate closely enough to maintain a constant weight.

      An extra tablespoon of mayonnaise on a sandwich is 49 calories, and 49 calories a day is five pounds a year.

      And you can’t measure how many calories you’re burning, at all.

      The only tool you have is the scale, and the problem with that is that the normal variation of your weight throughout the day is five-eight pounds, which swamps the more moderate long-term changes you need to be able to measure, to determine whether you’re meeting your goals.

  14. Reduced carb works (it did for me) although like most diets the trick is keeping it off. 100g/day is actually still a whole lot of carbs. Atkins suggests 20g. South Beach is more generous (and realistic) at something like 50g.

  15. Reduced carb is the way to go for most people. Also, if you drink soft drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners, taper off and quit. I’d rather see someone drink the occasional full sugar coke than diet soft drinks daily. If you want to drink (say) a glass of fruit juice, eat a piece of fruit instead. An apple won’t hurt you, because it’s likely you will only eat one and be satiated: A glass of apple juice from concentrate may have the fructose of 5 or more apples in it.

    Sugars are bad, generally: Fructose is REALLY BAD.

    As a rule, eat things that are green, or have a face :) Minimize portions – eat what you want, but only what you want. A lot of overweight is behavioral.

    And I often tell patients to read Gary Taubs books: Good info there that is well supported by the biochemistry, if not the weight loss industry.

  16. Oh, and remember: It took you a while to get where you are, it will take a while to get back from it.

    And GOOD LUCK!

  17. I’m going to agree with what most people have said: reduce the carbs – especially refined carbs and sugar. While you’re at it, watch this:

    No, really. Watch it. The guy has a blog too (he’s a programmer FWIW).

    Also, look into eating Paleo (ie what your body was designed for):

    I don’t eat things like bread, potatoes, sugar, rice, fruit juice, etc. And while I also set 100g as the max for daily carbs, I generally just try to eat as few as possible, while upping the fat considerably. Lots of coconut oil and coconut butter. I don’t restrict the amount of food I eat, since what I eat now just fills me up better. But I’ve lost about 10-15 pounds since I started eating this way in Jan. I wasn’t trying to lose the weight since I was at what I considered an OK weight already, but it just slowly fell off.

    1. I was going to post about MDA too. I lost nearly 30 pounds in 3 mouths on that lifestyle change too. And its EASY. I love meat, and I love fat. Fat is good for you- grains and excess carbs are not.

      I kept it off for two years as well. And I felt great!

  18. +1 on Gary Taubes book simple rules:

    If it has a food label it isn’t food
    Don’t go into the supermarket isles
    If it has an expiration date more than 2 weeks is not good for you

  19. I started gaining weight after getting laid off from work three years ago. I took the only logical action. I threw out the scale.

  20. All these diets are nothing more than fads that don’t work long term. You have to expend more calories than you take in. It really is that simple. You can bike, kayak, run, swim, walk, play basketball, really any physical activity. With that said, you also need to look at what you’re eating and where the empty calories are coming from. The easy target is calories from drinks. For a lot of fat white IT guys, you can trim 400 calories a day by ditching the sugar water drinks. 400 calories is also about the same as running 3 miles (you’ll burn about 125 calories per mile).

    As mentioned above, crossfit is an excellent option. P90X is a great option as well. I did p90x in the 9 weeks leading up the 50m/100 milers I ran. While I didn’t lose any weight with p90x (50 miles a week of running pretty much lets you eat what you want), I was much stronger and my recover times after the runs were fast – I was back running in 2 days after having run 50 and 75 miles at once.

    One of the attorneys I worked with, found himself fitting the mold of the typical fat white attorney. He started running with me and now he’s down 60lbs and has cut 30 minutes off his marathon time and a little more than 3 minutes from his 5k time. I’m pushing him towards running a 50 miler, I know he can do – I just have to convince him of it.

    You can email me if you want some more details on how I helped the fat white attorney from unable to run a block to now running a 3:30 marathon.

  21. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, period. Just watch calories with a program like myfitnesspal and you will see DRASTIC results. I lost 35 pounds in three months just by keeping my daily caloric intake at around 1700 calories, give or take. I did not excercise, and I didn’t care if the calories came from ice cream, beer, or tofu – as long as they stayed around 1700 a day.

    1. Except its not. The body processes different types of food differently, so the calorie of each food doesn’t matter.

  22. +1 for the Gary Taubes nod and Paleo. While I agree with “mobo” about the calories, I was amazed whenever I attempted any kind of “standard” dieting how I’d feel hungry to the point of being sick to my stomach and dizzy. Once I tried the Paleo, and moved to a more high fat and protein ratio, and cut all of the sugar, the difference in the way I feel hungry has dramatically changed my eating habits.

    While eating the standard diet, I couldn’t get by during a day without eating 3000 calories, but once I cut the processed carbs (sugar, bread, pasta, etc.), I can feel a little hunger pang here or there throughout the day but I don’t have to eat. That’s allowed me to drop my calories down to anywhere from 1200 to 1700 a day, and drop about 40 pounds in the past two months. All without feeling restricted.

    1. its amazing how eating primal makes you less hungry and more full.

      Thing about where we came from- would being starving after not eating or 4 hours really be a good survival skill? NO!

  23. What I like about the Zone diet (which is Atkins after the induction period) is that it tells you exactly how much you can eat. Most of the time the problem is the amount that your are eating.
    Follow it with vigorous exercise (lift weighting preferably) and you will see clear results in as little as two weeks.

    Here is a video explaining what is Crossfit:


  24. Lost 40 pounds by not eating flour, potatoes, sugar and white rice in 5-6 months. I’ll occasionally have some brown rice with food, but that’s about it. No counting calories, just don’t eat junk. (And don’t overdo the nuts and cheese.)

    Low carb is hard for the first week or two, then it isn’t.

  25. In 1997 I weighed 295. I have held 210 for well over a decade. If it is made with wheat flour I do not eat it. If it has more sugar than needed for sweetening, I do not eat it. I try to hit 40% protein, 40% fat, 20% low glycemic index carbohydrates.

    The gummitup says the diet is safe and effective. Seems to be for me, since my last checkup found open veins and arteries all the way around.

  26. 13 hrs.

    13 hrs/week that is.

    That is how much time I spend cycling, which will really get you in shape after 4 months.

    ps – not easy riding. I average 30 miles/day, so over 200miles/week.

  27. While a calorie may be a calorie, different types of foods (fats, proteins, carbs – and different types of carbs) are metabolized quite differently. Sugars (especially fructose) are really quite bad for the liver, and lead to direct conversion to fats (especially fructose) with little effect on satiety, so you keep on eating (the main problem with soft drinks, btw).

    So, eating a calorie of a soft drink affects you worse than a calorie of meat. It affects you much more badly. The same with a calorie of any sugar, especially fructose but really any sugar from a carb.

    I don’t avoid carbs (or even sugars) completely. I just had a piece of Earl Gray tea chocolate cake for desert…but it didn’t have a nutrition label on it, or an expiration date (I guess the components did). And it wasn’t loaded down with any artificial ingredients.

    Read Taubs books for more of an explanation.

    As my biochemistry professor in medical school used to say “Moderation in all things…except moderation”. The guy is in his 90’s now and still teaching, he might be on to something.

    As far as physical exercise, it is impossible to do any meaningful amount of exercise and lose weight, without reducing intake as well. Running is not the answer: A 150 lb man expends about 100 Kcal per mile, walking, running, or bicycling. Thats a coke a mile, folks.

  28. But… if you view a calorie as a calorie, and disregard where the calories are coming from, you will be forced to eat the right types of food anyway, because otherwise you won’t be able to stay under the daily limit. Even a single cup of coffee with a dollop of half & half and two teaspoons of sugar is 60-80 calories. A Dunkin Donuts medium coffee is almost 200 calories! You will learn pretty much automatically which foods you can eat and remain “satisfied”, simply by sticking to your calorie limits.

    I found myself eating a lot of plain greek yogurt (100 calories per cup) with a chopped up apple stirred in for a total of 180 calories. Rice and beans with diced chicken breast is under 400 calories, even with a fairly large portion.

    1. No you won’t- you need to focus on the food, not the calories. When you eat a lot of fat, veggies, and meat, you fill up quickly.

      1. Exactly my point, which is what you are missing entirely. Focusing on calories is the exact same thing as focusing on types of food. You will never get through a day by eating 1700 calories worth of potato chips and sodas, so your body will automatically tell you to eat high-protein foods like hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurts, chicken breast, etc.

        You WILL overshoot your calorie goal if you drink soda, eat high carb snack foods, etc. So as long as you stick to your calorie limit, you will tend toward the right types of food anyhow.

  29. Wow! No matter what the principal theme of any venue is, talking about dieting will sure attract participation!

    I’ll second everyone who said carb avoidance, and also everyone who said losing weight that way is not enough, and it will come back. I’ve done that twice, losing 25+ pounds in relatively short order, and eventually putting it back, plus a few.

    The trouble I found was that when I returned to a normal (not weight loss) diet, and monitored what I ate, for a long time I could put back things I had been eating before, and maintain my weight. So, shortly I’d stop paying attention, and before I knew it, was pretty far back toward where I had been. It appears the trick would be, to severely reduce carb intake to lose weight, and then maintain a lowered carb diet, avoiding or sharply reducing most of the things you eliminated in order to lose weight — and get used to it!

    Anecdotally, I knew someone who was a career man in the Navy, who needed to lose weight, and they put him on a zero-carbs diet for awhile; but he had the benefit of going for a blood test every day, so it was closely monitored by medics. Probably no one should try that without professional help!

  30. I’m a fan of the paleo diet: if I can grow it or kill it, I can eat it. However, that doesn’t mean grains. They’re a no-no. And dairy is a no-no too. Before you shriek, try it for 30 days. You’ll be amazed.

  31. Advice columnist Amy Alkon is always flogging the books of Gary Taubes, who others in the comments have mentioned. She also recommends the book Wheat Belly by William Davis. I guess it’s not for nothing that the gut is known as the “bread basket.”

  32. Lots of weight loss going on. I have a moderately active job, walk a fair amount on rough terrain. I’ve lost about 40 lb in 6 months. How? I eat a big breakfast and then maybe a snack in the afternoon, 3 beers and 3 whiskey and soda at night. Yah. It’s supposed to be “bad”. But the so-called “empty” calories don’t stick. Type 2 diabetes, controlled, A1c @ 5.6 glucose =/- 100. Stay away from most carbs and limit the intake. Oh, and no non-diet drinks other than the beer.

  33. Oh and don’t listen to QUACKS that somehow corn syrup is “more deadly” than sugar. A calorie is a calorie no matter how some junk “science” tries to define it.

  34. The French diet is heavy on fat

    Good old fashioned quality animal fat. Gargantuan doses of grass fed butter, cheese, lard, tallow, chicken fat, etc haven’t caused me to gain a pound yet.

  35. Losing weight (and keeping it off) is a lifestyle change. More importantly, the key is to be healthy. Eat things that provide you nutrition and stay away as much as possible from the those “foods” that don’t.

    Focus your diet around vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean protein in small quantities. Stay away from those foods that don’t provide your body any benefit. Added/refined sugars, fat, processed foods, refined carbs. Carbs are good for you, but stick eat 100% whole grain stuff. stuff like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, farro, barley, etc. Try and have vegetables be the primary part of your diet. As for meat, the less is better. If you do choose to eat it stay away from the crap. Eat quality, aka, hormone free, free range, pasture raised, grass fed, wild, etc.

    I am 5’10” and used to weigh over 230lbs and in 3-4 months of eating like that was down to 165lbs. Plus exercising more. Over 65lbs lost in a short period of time. I have been able to maintain my weight and the diet and am healthier than I have ever been in my life (both from the way I feel and what my doctor tells me).

    The key is to think about what you eat and ask yourself, “Is this providing my body with something that will make it perform/be better?” If not then don’t eat it. Once you get used to it and you see the difference, you don’t mind making that indulgence here or there because you know your mind is set on being healthy and you aren’t going to fall back to your old ways.

    Hope that helps. The old saying, it’s simple. Diet and exercise. Or as I like to put it, nutrition and exercise. Only guaranteed surefire way to live a healthy life that has been proved over the decades. [/endsoapbox]

  36. No fads, or special foods. Lost 30 pounds with plain ol’ Weight Watchers. Need to lose a little more, but now need to add some exercise!

  37. My observantion has been that mobo is right… While a calorie may not be just a calorie, using a tracker and learning a bit about your intake will tend to put you in the right ballpark. We’re fans of Lose It at work.

    My other observation is that all the advice is anecdotal. May not work for you the same way (or may be more effective). But scales, tracker apps, etc force you to pay more attention to consumption and exertion and the types of each.

    Dad had his heart attack last fall. Blood pressure was perfect. Total cholesterol was in the 90s. Had a blockage, anyway. He worked hard (still does), was active, but wasn’t getting cardio. That, and his HCL was too low, which is generally improved with cardio exercise. The real culprit was not paying attention. He pays more attention now.

    Good luck.

  38. A big concern of mine is that I need a diet I can stay on. If I follow the standard advice, I won’t stay on the diet. That’s one reason for trying to reduce carbs. I think I can probably do that, and keep doing it.

    1. Do you cook your own lunch and take it to work or do you go out to eat? That is a killer.

      Go through the kitchen and ditch all the crappy crap. It’s much easier to eat healthy when you have good food in the house and you’re making your own meals.

    2. What’s nice about the MDA paleo diet is that its pretty easy. The 80% rule applies- aim for 100%, but don’t be stressed if you only make it to 80%. Stress is bad, BTW.

      I found it really easy to stay on the MDA diet- because what I ate filled me up, and I didn’t get hungry 4 hours later. I found I could actually skip meals and not be troubled.

  39. Back in 2003, I lost 60+ pounds on the Atkins low carb diet, and have kept it off for nine years now. But 100 grams of carbs a day? I think you’re supposed to get them to more like 20-30.

    1. Well, it really depends on the carbs and what you are doing. 50-100 is good for maintaining for normal, sort of active people. Less than 50 is for starting out. 150-200 is for more active people.

    2. I didn’t want to go quite as severe as Atkins, which is extreme low carb. 100 is the limit I set. Realistically, most days I’ll be under that by a good bit.

      1. Sebastian, there is a physiological change your body goes through if it doesn’t get “enough” carbs. It enters a state called “benign ketosis,” in which it stops using carbs for energy, and starts using fat for energy, which results in the creation of ketones.

        100 carbs a day is too high to allow your body to enter this state. One of the side effects of ketosis is…anorexia. The real definition of anorexia is “lack of hunger.” That’s right, being in ketosis will kill your hunger response. You’ll be dieting, but you won’t be hungry.

        As long as you are burning carbs for energy, you are in a physiological state that is vastly more hostile to weight loss than when you are burning fat.

        Here’s something else: Carbs trigger the insulin response. When insulin is circulating in your bloodstream, you cannot burn fat, you can only store it. Insulin is the overweight person’s primary enemy, because it lowers blood glucose, makes you hungry, prevents you from burning fat, and forces you to store fat.

        All of that is avoided by putting your body into ketosis. This is the primary advantage of all low carb diets. Don’t throw it away if you can avoid doing so.

        I responded to your post at my place with a bit of my own experience, including horrifying pictures:

        So You Want To Weat 32″ Jeans…?

  40. What’s worked for me is John Walker’s Hacker’s Diet (How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition).

    The idea is that what is lacking in most diets is feedback. Are you eating too much? Too little? Gaining weight? Losing weight?

    Sustainable weight loss means moderate weight loss extended over time – five or ten pounds a month. How can you tell if you’re on target? Counting calories doesn’t work. Weighing yourself doesn’t work, either, because your daily variation is an order of magnitude greater than the daily decrease you’re trying to measure.

    Walker doesn’t offer any unique advice with respect to diet or exercise. What teaches, that others don’t, are basic statistical techniques for extracting the signal of weight loss from the noise of daily weight variation – primarly the exponentially weighted moving average. And then how to do basic linear regressions on that, to determine the one number that counts – the slope. The rate at which you have been gaining or losing weight,

    He has a websight that will do the math for you: The Hacker’s Diet Online. There’s another, the Physics Diet, that uses the same method, but generates prettier charts.

    Personally, I’ve been using a Withings Bodyscale, which uses wi-fi to submit your mesaurements to their website, which displays the pretty charts and averages. The only thing that the Withings scale doesn’t provide is the linear regression, but that’s not hard to extract from the data, and they provide a webservice API by which you can access it.

  41. French food is heavy on the fat & drinking wine instead of milk,soda pop,beer,fruit juice etc. Fat & wine- What can go wrong? I tried a low to no carb diet & after 2 weeks I’d a killed somebody for a flour tortilla. I was never satisfied. Anybody need a diet book I have about 60 of them.

  42. I’m 5’6″. 210. 50yrs old (NNNNoooooooo, it can’t be.) Stiff knees, bad neck, and no muscle tone. And I’m lazy and bore easily when it comes to exercise.

    Reading these…I’ve gotten some good ideas on how to change my diet.

    And then I saw this. http://youtu.be/qX9FSZJu448

    If that guy can do it, I can get off of my lazy butt. I don’t know anything about his exercise system, but if it improved him that much, I may have to look into it. P90X and Tapout look good from a “fast, if hard” fix. That helps with my boredom level.

    I see that I have to clear out my fridge and start over. And get rid of my “healthy” bite-size mini wheats.

  43. I want to add that I don’t know if Bitter needs to or wants to lose weight, but whatever you do diet-wise will be more successful (or possible at all) if you do it together. My wife and I can have willpower together, but if one of us slips the other jumps off the wagon right behind. If you try to diet alone, it’s almost impossible to be good while your partner is savoring a treat.

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