This past weekend I was walking around Greenlake, listening to the podcast, "Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness," hosted by Sarah Fragoso and Jason Seib. On the podcast, Jason Seib read about a study out of the University of Pennsylvania, from Jonathan Bailor's book "The Calorie Myth". The study, meant to simulate yoyo dieting, was performed on rats. The rats were made to lose weight, and then gain the weight back, lose weight, gain the weight back, lose weight, and gain the weight back. The mice that were made to lose weight, after having gained the weight back the first time, lost the weight 100% slower, and then gained the weight back again 300% faster. Also within that study they found that rats that yoyo'd a second time stored calories as body fat 400% more efficiently than rats that ate a fattening diet.
All of that is to say that weigh loss through calorie reduction is not an effective means for permanent weight loss, and is actually damaging the body's metabolism every time weight is lost and then gained back. Transforming one's own body is so much about the food than it is about the quantity being eaten. A notable exception might be if one is morbidly obese, and their calorie intake is 8000 calories per day, then they should be cutting back calories (if they are not an olympic level athlete). By no means though should that person be cutting back to a 1200 calorie diet.
I personally believe that 80% of weight loss comes from diet (that's not calorie reduction, but changing how one eats), and 20% comes from physical activities like walking, and weightlifting.
In my opinion, the four best things anyone can do to achieve sustained and healthful weight loss are:
- Eating healthily (i.e. eating real food, and drinking water).
- Walking (slowly, and low-impact).
- Getting 8 hours of restful sleep (preferably in a pitch black room, with as little ambient light as possible).
- Developing strong stress management skills (breathing exercises, physical activity, reading... whatever is relaxing and stress relieving).