Weight Loss

Guest Blog: Gain (or lose) weight by eating a one pound doughnut

The following was posted by a friend of mine on the forum of myfatsecret.com. He has long been one of my favorite posters who has also lost a significant amount of weight and shares his knowledge in a straight-forward and amusing manner. Without further ado, my first guest blog, by RJenkins:

mmmmm, doughnut

If you eat a one pound doughnut (mmmmm doughnut, grrrrrghhhhh), you will immediately gain one pound. If you want to test this theory, but not eat a doughnut:

1. Step on scale and note weight
2. Pick up one pound doughnut
3. Note weight – it will be one pound higher

If you want to subject yourself to the sugar high and subsequent crash to see what happens if you actually eat the doughnut:

1. Step on scale and note weight
2. Eat one pound doughnut
3. Note weight – it will be one pound higher

*note: You can do this with one pound of celery as well but Homer Simpson never said “mmmmm celery, grrrrghhhhhhh” so it isn’t as scientific.

Now, let’s see how to eat a one pound doughnut and actually lose weight!

1. Step on scale and note weight
2. Eat one pound doughnut
3. Go to sleep for 8 hours
4. Step on scale and note weight

Surprise! You will notice that you’ve actually lost weight!

Weight fluctuations have been the bane of dieters ever since scales were invented. When I first noticed my daily fluctuation of 3-5 pounds, it intrigued me enough to try to find out exactly why this occurs.

While I still don’t have a definitive scientific source, it stands to reason that it is mainly caused by being dehydrated in the morning (lower weight), retained water due to excess ingested sodium or due to muscle healing after a strenuous workout (higher weight), and the weight of recently ingested stomach/intestinal contents. For women, there is the addition of Aunt Flo’s monthly visit that affects weight.

(*Note: I had an Uncle Floyd who had the same affect on me, but it was because he didn’t like to drink alone. Uncle Floyd drank a lot and “light beer” was for “girlie men”.)

None of these has anything to do with what really causes long-term weight and health issues – stored energy in the form of body fat.

If we focused on reducing excess fat instead of weight, we would see things differently. Instead of looking at daily (or hourly) fluctuations in weight, we would look at it on a weekly, or better yet, monthly basis. Numerous studies have shown the ill health effects of excess body fat, especially fat stored around the internal organs, yet most “dieters” focus solely on appearance.

This is ok since losing weight to look better also reduces body fat, but why not switch the two around? Lose fat for health reasons as the primary motivator for eating right and exercising and then bask in the side effect of looking better.

Many of us believe that eating a couple slices of pizza is the reason we gained two pounds the next day. There is some truth to this, but it is two pounds of weight, not fat. This thinking is bound to sabotage our long-term goals by disconnecting the connection between what we eat, what we weigh, and how it affects the amount of body fat we store.

To compensate for this disconnect, many people reduce their daily calories to some minimal amount in order to see a lower number on the scale. This works for a while for two reasons:

1. Lower amount/weight of digestive contents (“ewww, digestive contents”)

2. Using energy store (fat) due to lack of ingested energy (food)

The first reason is easy to illustrate. Let’s say that at any given time you have 5 pounds of digestive contents. As you eat, it is replacing what is “expended” by:

Reason Number 1 – Used by body for energy/nutrients, and

Reason Number 2 – Number 1 and Number 2.

(*get it, number 1 and number 2?)

If you reduce the actual weight of what you eat per day by 1 pound, you will very quickly lose 1 pound of weight, but not really, because it is temporary for only as long as you continue to eat one pound less of food per day.

The second reason dramatically reducing calories works for a while is that you will definitely burn stored energy (fat) due to creating a significant calorie deficit. The body needs energy to function, but this is only temporary.

The human body is amazing at trying to survive at all costs. If it detects that the supply of food is low, the body will slow the metabolism in order to operate on fewer calories to prolong life in an attempt to survive long enough get past the famine.

The body has another way of dealing with famine. When times are good, it will store excess calories as fat in preparation for the next famine. If famine happened once, it will probably happen again. It does this automatically when a famine ends because the metabolism is already slowed to a crawl. When food becomes available, the body only uses a small amount due to the lowered metabolism, so the excess gets stored as fat.

If you combine this famine/feast cycle with not getting exercise, which also slows the metabolism, it is a recipe for massive amounts of stored energy (fat).

How many people do you know who can eat anything and not gain weight? The reason is that their metabolism is very high. This may be genetic (medically speaking, this is called LBS or “Lucky Bastard Syndrome” ), or it may be because they get enough exercise to keep their metabolisms working at peak performance. It may also be that their bodies have never detected famine conditions, and therefore never saw a need to store excess calories as fat.

The point of all this is an attempt to show that focusing solely on weight is not really the best way to judge progress in getting healthy. It isn’t even the best indicator of losing weight in the form of fat loss over a short time span.

If we are significantly overweight, daily fluctuations should be ignored, and I would recommend only weighing once a week in order to not get discouraged by the normal daily fluctuations of weight.

If we eat healthy, exercise, and have any calorie deficit at all, we will lose excess body fat over time. It is impossible not to do so.

As we get closer to a healthy weight, weekly fluctuations should be ignored. A two pound gain in a week is equivalent to the daily fluctuations noted above. This is due to the fact that as we get to a healthy weight, the body becomes more finely tuned and does whatever it can to maintain what it considers a healthy weight. This is the main reason very heavy people can lose weight while eating significantly higher calories. For one, their metabolisms are much higher than a thin person. The other reason is that it burns a lot of calories to carry and maintain all of the weight.

As we get closer to a healthy weight, patience is required, but the same principle applies:

If we eat healthy, exercise, and have any calorie deficit at all, we will lose excess body fat over time. It is impossible not to do so.

The second point should be to accomplish this without going into famine mode. Not only will it hinder our ability to burn excess energy by slowing our metabolism, it will encourage future stored energy (fat) if/when calorie intake is increased.

This is illustrated by the many people who have lost weight rapidly by severe calorie restrictions, only to gain everything back and more when the number of calories increased. This additional weight can be explained by the fact that by the time the body exits famine mode and the metabolism increases, it is already too late. I call this “metabolic lag”.

Here’s an illustration:

1. 5 years of 4000 calories per day = 300 pound man with a high metabolism

2. 1 year of 1000 calories per day = 150 pound man with a very slow metabolism

3. 6 months of 4000 calories per day = 250 pound man with a slow metabolism

4. 1 year of 4000 calories per day = 350 pound man with a high metabolism

While the numbers are hypothetical, you can see why yo-yo dieting is actually harmful over time.

This is why I highly recommend not only having a healthy daily calorie maximum that creates a reasonable calorie deficit for losing body fat, but also a healthy daily calorie minimum in order to keep the body out of famine mode.

Sure, this takes longer to lose “weight”, but if you focus on health rather than weight, it is worth the wait.

2 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Gain (or lose) weight by eating a one pound doughnut

  1. Long and informative post, but I actually prefer the exercise way. Weight training can help anyone lose a lot of fat in short time comparing to diet. muscle burn fat during exercise, after exercise and even when sitting down if you have big muscles. This may be not suitable for women as most women don’t like big muscles but you can stop whenever you want before you gain big muscles.

    Cheers,

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