Long-term weight loss considered nearly impossible

Thanks, Cory, for being candid about your own weight-loss experience. I think it’s important to talk about how much hard work it can be for some, but with hard work it can pay off.

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Over a 10 year period, people get 10 years older and most people’s metabolism slows significantly over 10 years


Losing weight is hard. Maintaining the loss is hard too, but not unsustainable. It might be deemed unsustainable in a large meta-analysis simply because a majority of people don’t discover a solution that works for them. But that conclusion is purely mathematical and academic. Individual success has nothing to do with large sample statistical data (unless, possibly, if you are highly susceptible to the sucking-vortex of the herd-mentality).

I tried the exercise and (reduced calorie) diet route for years (the herd!). I was in great shape, riding 1000 miles a month, but always carried about 20 lbs more than I wanted (which sucks when you really enjoy hill climbs on a bike). I finally discovered the (LCHF, NSNG, Paleo, Atkins, Primal, WAP diets). So many different names for essentially what amounts to a whole-foods diet. I lost 30 lbs in about 6 months. Stopped bike commuting (due to birth of daughter) and started walking. It’s been 18 month now. Weight is still off. Waist has gone from 38 to 31. Pre-diabetes has reversed. Several other health markers have only improved. Cardiac scan show zero signs of heart disease (at age 47). Oh, and cholesterol…forget about it. I’ve always had normal total cholesterol levels, but it’s also always been pattern-b (“too many” small LDL particles). And as we all “know” pattern-b will “give” you heart disease. Well, the scientific jury is still out on this one (although the press jury, and government-jury have reached their decisions). So I have pattern-b cholesterol, but no other indicators or risk factors for heart disease. Cholesterol doesn’t matter, at least for me.

The diet has morphed into a lifestyle now (i.e. I don’t have to “work” at it any longer, its just there). I don’t count calories. I feel better than I have in years.

NSNG is the best term I’ve stumbled across that describes the diet. No (added) Sugar, No Grains. Everything else is game. Meats, yes! Eggs, lots! Cheese, you bet! Nuts, love 'em. Minimal, but some, non-sugary fruits. Lots of veg. I hate the term “Everything in moderation”, but there are exceptions, like sushi rice (which (may) have it’s own benefits. Google “resistant starch”).

We’ll see where this goes in 5 to 10 years. I’ve seen what the SAD can do to a susceptible person. My mother, who’s became diabetic (strong family history) in 1985 has no kidney function (dialysis 5 days a week), and no left leg, no strength, no mobility, and a host of other medical condition. I’m not going down that road if I can help it…meta-analyses be damned. Seeing that can be very motivating.

The thing to keep in mind is that by the time a scientific study makes it out of the science community and into the press and blogosphere it has been massaged (and perverted) so much as to be almost meaningless.

A great book on the subject of interpreting health related studies and data: Death By Food Pyramid This is not a diet book, it is a history book. Well worth a read.


In my view it’s pretty worthless to list random foods people shouldn’t eat unless you tell them why they shouldn’t eat them.

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Relax, they’ll solve this problem eventually, everyone will get skinny and then being fat will be fashionable again. I don’t go in for trends.

If you’re talking about the ‘No Sugar No Grains’ above I can recommend Why we Get Fat by Gary Taubes as an excellent light-reading primer on ‘why’.

Or, if you’re interested enough to stomach the giant, heavily researched and footnote-heavy version of the same thing, ‘Good Calories Bad Calories’ is definitely worth the read. Also the best explanation I’ve read on how exactly bad science, good intentions and commercial interests combined into the perfect storm of worse-than-useless status quo policies regarding weight gain.


I lost 40 lbs or so when I finally started making an effort to exercise about 10 years ago, dropped 6" on my waist, got as low as 120 lbs, which I was happy with but might have been a little low even for a short arse. Maintained 125-130 for years, but having to travel a lot with work led to eating out too much and not enough exercise. Arrival of Daneel Jr has also made things a little tricky but I’m still well below my peak weight and just starting to get my focus on exercise back, also making a real effort to cut out the booze.

Oddly enough I was just reading about this guy…

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I was talking about a comment that now seems to have been deleted. I’m familiar with the “no sugar” stuff, but I don’t personally buy the arguments for no grains that I’ve read.

It could be that some people have chronic low-level allergic reactions to grains, but personally I was (apparently mis)diagnosed as celiac as a child, so I’ve gone through several stomach biopsies before and after high-grain diets and I’m about as confident as it’s possible to be that huge amounts of wheat and other grains do not irritate my stomach.

Avoiding refined grains, though, is solid. I do that.


My experience matches what many of you are writing. I stopped eating sugared and processed foods and cut down on carbs. I eat everything else. I exercise a few times a week. I have gotten back down to the weight I was in high school (I’m almost 50 now), and I have kept it there for years. I have more energy than I’ve ever had in my life and I feel great.

I didn’t “go on a diet”, I changed my lifestyle and plan on keeping this lifestyle for the rest of my life. It took about a year before the processed junk that is everywhere didn’t tempt me anymore.


Far be it for me to criticize a method that works for others, but I too am puzzled by the no grains thing. I eat a load of grain carbs, for most of my life grains and fat pretty much sustained me, and I’m very skinny. Maybe I have a crazy high metabolism, but honestly the times when I am forced to eat a meat heavy diet (like when staying with friends who are into it, or when in France) I feel gross. Either I’m very hungry or I feel unpleasantly full. Different strokes for different folks?

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When I eat primarily non-starchy vegetables and a little meat (4 oz per meal at most), and do 20 minutes of elliptical a day I lose weight rapidly. If I add too many fats and grains and added sugar I put it back on rapidly. My problem is I never really adapt to my diet. I just put up with it, and then after a while rebel against it and put a bunch of weight back on.

Taubes talks about refined grains in ‘similar hormonal response to sugar’ terms in weight gain.

Some paleo-related diets suggest avoiding some categories of grains (mostly gluten or glutenlike-substance-containing ones) for other reasons, the most compelling one to me being strong apparent links to a giant list of autoimmune diseases via intestinal permeability or other mechanisms.

The very existance of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a hotly debated topic in some circles, with the recent study pointing to FODMAPS instead of gluten being a more likely factor in irritable bowel syndrome being a good example.

The thing is, trying an elimination diet for 3-4 weeks usually can give anyone a decent if unscientific starting point to answering most particular ‘does X affect my Y or not’ type questions, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

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[quote=“mathew, post:20, topic:33726, full:true”]In my view it’s pretty worthless to list random foods people shouldn’t eat unless you tell them why they shouldn’t eat them.[/quote]It seems to me that it is relatively easy to list any random bunch of foods and come up with superficially convincing reasons why people shouldn’t eat them. That is, after all, part of the reason why they manage to keep selling diet books, is it not?

Likewise, if you show any particular exercise plan to enough people, there will inevitably be someone who will vehemently insist that it is Completely Wrong and will only cause problems in the long term.

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Yep, I could’ve gone the rest of the day without having visualized that.

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Thanks for mentioning those two books (GCBC and WWGF). I wanted to in my post but since I’m a newbie commenter I was limited to two links.

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You eat latkes for breakfast? Sacrilege. That’d be like wearing t’fillin for minchah, fer crissakes.

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I adopted the No Grains approach about six months after my wife adopted her gluten-free diet (lightly mocking her for it initially). For her, going low-grain and gluten free definitely improved her irritable gut situation that she’s had the entire time we’ve been married (18 years at that point). Presumably she suffered before we were married too! I’ve never had any real gut distress during my 45 years of consuming grain. I did it for the purported weight management and diabetic prevention benefits (reduce high glycemic foods to reduce chronic insulin production and fat storage). If it didn’t work wonders for me I’d be eating grains again. While I didn’t perceive any gut distress, it was in fact there. It was just low level enough not to raise any red flags for me. I will say that since dropping grains and grain products my gut has been much more predictable and has completely eliminated those occasional times when getting to a bathroom is the most important thing in the world. I haven’t taken any antacid, pepto or immodium since.

I forgot to mention in my original post the one other thing that I have significantly reduced in my diet: High Omega-6 Oils. All my O6 fats now come from whole-foods sources, not from industrial seed oils. I really think this has also had a positive impact on my results.


Ever find the “I have zero interest in trying or learning more about [insert dietary hack that seems to work for some people], but I’ll bash it anyway as pseudosciencey placebo bullshit, and bash you in turn for having any interest in this crap” behavior when telling your story of feeling better?

I think the fact that some possibly-not-great-for-our-health things like wheat flour, added sugar and seed oils are so prevalent in our world (many of us can eat that stuff every single day since childhood and not even realize it) that even some “I’m perfectly healthy” types would, indeed, realize they feel better about something they though was just a normal part of life/aging/genetics/whatever after a few experimental weeks of less or no [thing] in their diets. Stuffy noses, bathroom problems, and who knows what else.

Or not, right? But at least you can know for sure if you try instead of forming strong beliefs based on…?

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I went from 300 to 220 over the past few years, but have crept up to 230 recently. The reason really is threefold. Primarily, I have MS, which makes me absolutely exhausted. When I feel crappy I tend to make myself feel better by skipping exercise and eating pizza. I keep trying to be better about this, but it’s incredibly difficult to summon the willpower to eat better when I have trouble with the willpower to get out of bed and get to work when I’ve barely slept.


All the time… To the point now that I really avoid bringing up the topic unless I can detect a true sense of interest.