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Old 12-30-2011, 03:14 PM   #1
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Default The Fat Trap

The Fat Trap
Published in the New York Times: December 28, 2011

For 15 years, Joseph Proietto has been helping people lose weight. When these obese patients arrive at his weight-loss clinic in Australia, they are determined to slim down. And most of the time, he says, they do just that, sticking to the clinic’s program and dropping excess pounds. But then, almost without exception, the weight begins to creep back. In a matter of months or years, the entire effort has come undone, and the patient is fat again. “It has always seemed strange to me,” says Proietto, who is a physician at the University of Melbourne. “These are people who are very motivated to lose weight, who achieve weight loss most of the time without too much trouble and yet, inevitably, gradually, they regain the weight.”

Anyone who has ever dieted knows that lost pounds often return, and most of us assume the reason is a lack of discipline or a failure of willpower. But Proietto suspected that there was more to it, and he decided to take a closer look at the biological state of the body after weight loss..."


For the rest of this article, click here.

A long, hard look at what it takes to keep weight off permanently -- and the biological effects obesity creates to perpetuate itself in the body. Really interesting reading!

I bet a lot of the Maintainers here at 3 Fat Chicks can identify with Janice Bridge, a member of the The National Weight Control Registry, and what she does to maintain her loss of 135 pounds.

Also striking to me is that a person who has lost weight is definitely not biologically similar to someone who is naturally exists at the thinner weight -- the dieter must maintain a lower total of calories to maintain without gaining, from 250-400 calories a day lower, for up to 6 years after their weight loss, or maybe permanently, according to preliminary research at Columbia. The why is fascinating, if aggravating!
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Last edited by BerkshireGrl; 12-30-2011 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:28 PM   #2
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OMG, I just read this article two days ago and was going to write a post about it, but you beat me to it. Its a pretty long article, but well worth the read. I found it highly interesting to see that big "losers" are biologically different than their natural weight counterparts. They have to eat less and exercise more because their bodies really hate them for losing the weight. It just goes to show that long-term weight loss/maintenance requires a program that one can maintain for the rest of their lives. Whatever one did to lose the weight, one must do (to a lesser extent) to maintain it. Glad I'm calorie counting because not only is it cheap (free), but I can do it forever and ever and ever!
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:10 PM   #3
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Excellent article; thanks for posting it!

I already decided I'm in this for the long haul (forever), and it's good to know where the battle fronts are.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:33 PM   #4
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WOW! That makes so much sense to me! I know this is a lifestyle change for me. Working out and watching what I eat will be like this for the rest of my life. Thanks for that article!

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Old 12-30-2011, 05:20 PM   #5
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im glad i consider this a lifestyle change rather than a diet. everyones bodies are so diff, ppl always tell me to eat like 2k calories because of my height but they dont take into account how seditary my life is or how damaged my metabolism is from past fad diets, 1400-1500 cals works great for me at this weight. im sure other ppl have found their bodies dont fit the height weight age calculations either. losing weight changes your body and you have to adjust and experiment and stick to it.

Slowly getting there one step at a time.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:53 PM   #6
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Default re:

I read this too. I wonder if people who have lost weight need to eat differently because they still have fat cells, which never go away and just shrink.

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Old 01-01-2012, 08:39 PM   #7
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Amazing article. Maintenance is definitely turning out to be harder than I thought, even though I am still not to my goal weight of 145.

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Old 01-02-2012, 03:16 AM   #8
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I haven't read the whole article yet, but I'm wondering if the discrepancies between the diet they used to lost the weight ("extreme low-calorie diet") and the diet they needed to keep the weight off may have been a big problem.

It says, "Nutritionists counseled them in person and by phone, promoting regular exercise and urging them to eat more vegetables and less fat."

It might be that some people weren't used to eating for maintenance, and so it was more difficult for them to learn/intuitively know what to eat.

Eating special, super low calorie diets doesn't help people learn to eyeball food portions to see if they're the appropriate size, or know how many calories are in things, or learn how their body reacts to kinds and amounts of foods.

Just a thought.
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:39 PM   #9
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LiannaKole, you raise a good point, but there is this towards the end of the article:

"One question many researchers think about is whether losing weight more slowly would make it more sustainable than the fast weight loss often used in scientific studies. Leibel says the pace of weight loss is unlikely to make a difference, because the body’s warning system is based solely on how much fat a person loses, not how quickly he or she loses it. Even so, Proietto is now conducting a study using a slower weight-loss method and following dieters for three years instead of one." (Rudolph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University in New York)

I agree with you that very low calorie diets are not educational, though they are very effective in the short term... that is, if one can stay on them!

I lost my first initial 50+ pounds (208 to 156) over a period of 2 years, on Weight Watchers, eating healthy, moderate meals and exercising. I still gained it all back plus some over the following 5 years.

I'm not knocking Weight Watchers, but I think maintenance truly has to be a lifetime daily thought and process, and the method of weight loss may not matter very much, as long as the dieter can stick with a healthy maintenance plan. It's tough! But worth it I did love being thin, but I was cocky and thought I could handle eating "free form" -- sadly no.

Losing weight -- and keeping it off -- is by far the hardest thing I have ever tried to do. And that's compared to graduate school, conquering binge eating and drinking too much.
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by BerkshireGrl View Post
The Fat Trap
Also striking to me is that a person who has lost weight is definitely not biologically similar to someone who is naturally exists at the thinner weight --
I am wondering if we are biologically similar in terms of disease risk. I think the incidence of diabetes probably goes down with weight (just my intuitive opinion based on too much knowledge about diabetes for my own good), but I wonder about things like cancer. Obviously it would put less stress on your joints to be slimmer even if there are other biological differences. "They" always say that we'll be so much healthier thinner, but I don't think they *really* know. I mean, how many people that were once fat and are now thin have they really been able to study? It looks from this article like it's not a lot. I think most of the stuff you read in the media about this is comparing fat people to always-thin people.

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Old 01-04-2012, 05:34 PM   #11
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A very interesting article. Much of the info co-relates to the conclusions I've made myself a long time ago.
I too, workout 6 days a week and track my food and can not loose more than 4-5 lbs a month. I am considered "morbidly obese" with normal cholesterol, sugar, blood pressure (low to normal). My husband always says that I'm one of the most dedicated ppl he's ever seen regarding exercise, maintaining my diet and healthy food choices and the weight just does not budge.
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:03 PM   #12
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Funny, but I've always felt this is the secret blessing of having been 100 lbs overweight. EVERYONE should be watching what they eat and getting regular exercise, but seems (generalizing here) the only ones who keep at it are trying to keep weight off.
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:21 PM   #13
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The article is interesting and did make a certain amount of sense. But I just can't get over that it started with asking people to eat 500 calories a day for months. People have died that way! I would just feel so much better about it, and trust it so much more, if they took the time to have the people lose weight in a healthier way.

Yes, I know that it said the time didn't matter, but it's possible that the damage to their bodies (not to mention their metabolisms) did.

It's like this, let's say I asked you to eat broken glass for my study. Then I told you that to lose weight you need to eat a calorie deficit (assuming you didn't already know that). Now, the second statement is perfectly true, but wouldn't you wonder about it after the glass thing? I have a hard time taking advice about my health from someone who asked people to do something so unhealthy. Even if he is right. Just my opinion.
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:27 PM   #14
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Excellent article! It's all so fascinating, how our bodies work. This article has facts in it that I will mention to those who tell me now that I've reached goal that I can stop working out (really, people, come on!) and I can afford to eat a slice of cake.

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Old 01-07-2012, 06:29 PM   #15
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Thank you for the article. Weight loss is certainly more involved than what we now know.

Knowing I will have to be careful about my weight and record everything I eat for life is sometimes depressing but on the other hand I have figured out many delicious and filling ways to eat low calorie food and mostly eat this way out of habit now.

I only recently encountered information about the hormone leptin and am trying to break my plateau by eating to fool it once or twice a week. If this works and a metabolism can be increased as well as decreased then everyone can keep weight off and maintain at the same amount of calories so long as we know how.
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