Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Forget 'Small' Changes, Think Bigger For Weight Loss Success In 2006

Beth Hubrich pushes small portions and cutting calories to lose weight

Everybody and their momma is recommending weight loss advice for the new year and it's only gonna get worse over the next two weeks. Sigh.

When I saw this press release from a non-profit association of companies that product light foods and beverages called the Calorie Control Council, I just had to cringe. The headline reads, "Health-Conscious Trends for Weight Loss in 2006: Small Changes Are 'In'."

"Small" changes? Really? Is that what lasting weight loss is all about? Small changes? When I started livin' la vida low-carb on January 1, 2004, there were some IMMEDIATE and VERY BIG changes that had to take place. Those 18 sugary sodas I was drinking every single day had to stop! The gobs and gobs of sugary snacks I was consuming ended, too. No more rice, pasta, potatoes, white bread or anything containing high quantities of carbohydrates could enter my mouth.

This was a HUGE change that needed to be done so I could eventually become the 180+ pound weight loss success story I am today. While I am all for incremental changes regarding weight loss, I'm thinking more along the lines of when I will begin to cut back on the number of diet sodas I drink or consciously adding back more fruits and vegetables to my diet. But when you are needing to lose weight because you are overweight or obese, your goal needs to be BIG changes to bring about the results you need to get your weight under control.

According to a 2004 survey of 1,800 adults conducted by the Calorie Control Council, one-third of Americans, which amounts to 71 million people, are currently on some kind of weight loss program. They note that this is "the highest number
of dieters in the past 15 years."

While I appreciate that they recommend people implement "lifestyle changes" to bring about lasting weight control, I disagree with Executive Director Beth Hubrich's "small changes" recommendation.

"By reducing portions, controlling calories, adding more activity, people cannot only lose weight but also control their weight without feeling deprived," Hubrich contends. "These small changes are lifestyle changes and hopefully that is what 2006 will bring -- a focus onhealthy changes that can be maintained for life."

That sounds so simple doesn't it? Just eat less and exercise more and you'll make yourself fit and trim, buddy. Get 'er done! Unfortunately, this game plan is not based in reality. As someone who has heard this foolish message about how to control his weight his entire life, I could not disagree any more with it.

Controlling your weight is not about cutting back on the amount of food eaten, but rather on what kind of foods are eaten. Additionally, you don't need to count your calories or fat grams, but simply keep track of the carbohydrate totals in the foods you eat.

I can appreciate the "add more activity" aspect of weight control and I promote regular exercise as one of the reasons for my success in my book, "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."

As for the weight loss trends for 2006, Hubrich and the Calorie Control Council predict these are the answers to obesity coming over the next year (please allow me to respond to each one since they are so out in left field!). A quick look at the sponsors who have a vested interest in these findings should help you understand the rationale behind these dubious predictions:

1. Portion control becomes easier: For many consumers who have a hard time knowing when to stop, pre-portioned snacks may be an answer. Snacks such as the 100-calorie packs and mini-sized cans of soda allow adults and children to enjoy their favorite treats with fewer calories. Additional companies are likely to roll out similar product lines as these snacks continue to fly off the shelves.

No wonder Americans keep going on an off diets more often than Elizabeth Taylor changes husbands! The "portion control" lie we've been fed for decades has frustrated people who want to be successful at weight loss but quickly get tired of the hunger pangs that can literally keep them awake at night craving a Big Mac, Supersized French Fries, and Large Coke from McDonalds. Can you tell I've been in that boat before?

While those "100-calorie" snack packs are all well and good and may "fly off the shelves," they are not the weight loss answer Hubrich is making them out to be. The sugar content of those foods are still excessively high which means they are still full of carbs. In other words, you'll still be subjecting your body to the sugar spikes that so often lead people to crave even more sugar and more and more until you finally give in and eat a whole package of Oreo cookies in one sitting. Can I get a witness? I can't tell you how many times I've done that.

Not anymore, though! The low-carb lifestyle has ended my cravings for sugar carbs that I once thought I could never live without. Now I don't see how I could ever eat sugar again! Isn't God so good for bringing about such a dramatic change in me?! He'll do the same for you, too! :)

2. Consumers will make simple substitutions: The average American gains one to three pounds every year, according to the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Eating just 50 fewer calories a day can result in a five-pound weight loss over the course of a year, avoiding the dreaded weight gain. As a result, more consumers will begin making simple substitutions in their meals and snacks. For example, choosing a light yogurt in place of a full-calorie yogurt can save 130 calories and choosing light lemonade over the full-calorie version will save 98 calories. Many companies now feature light, low-calorie or sugar-free versions of their products and consumers will increasingly use these products to save calories.

While choosing a sugar-free version of a food you enjoy is an excellent way to keep your carbs under control, be careful of any packaging that advertises itself as "light, low-calorie." This deceptive marketing strategy may fool you into purchasing a product that may contain more sugar and carbohydrates than you really need. I cannot emphasize this enough -- READ NUTRIONAL LABELS!!! Stop worrying about calories (they count, but you don't have to count them!) and pay attention to the amount of carbohydrates you put in your mouth. This will save you a lot of heartache and frustration as you attempt to lose weight and improve your health.

3. Companies will continue to fight obesity with more corporate wellness: Obesity costs employers approximately $12.7 billion each year in health care costs (36 percent higher for obese employees), medications, paid sick leave and life insurance policies, according to the Washington Business Group on Health. According to Hewitt Associates (which specializes in Human Resources), 72 percent of U.S. companies are now offering programs to help employees lose weight and live healthier lifestyles. Corporate wellness and e-dieting programs discourage the "fad diet" mentality and instead teach health-conscious employees to count calories and make lifestyle changes. "Weight loss via the web has now been proven to be a successful method and gives people the benefit of 24/7 support," says Hubrich.

While employers want their employees to be productive, I don't think the advice to "count calories and make lifestyle changes" in and of itself is helping anyone right now. If it did, then America would be a fit and trim nation. Unfortunately, we are anything but that. The obsession with counting calories has got to be qualified for people. When you start livin' la vida low-carb and pay attention to your carbs, the calorie intake automatically decreases because you are more satisfied with the foods you eat and they keep you feeling full longer. This is so easy, I don't understand why everyone doesn't start low-carb? It's a no-brainer!

4. Sugar-free gum gains popularity: The popularity of sugar-free gum will continue to rise as consumers find small ways to cut calories from their diet. In 2004, sales of sugar-free chewing gum accounted for more than 70 percent of gum sales in the U.S., according to Information Resources, Inc. Sugar-free gum is a great alternative to a higher-calorie snack or dessert. Chewing gum also has additional benefits: Research from the University of Liverpool indicates that chewing gum not only helps suppress the appetite but may also help cut cravings for sweets. Sales of sugar-free gum and candy will continue to increase as companies produce different varieties and tastes, using an assortment of reduced-calorie sweeteners.

Why focus on just sugar-free gum? How about sugar-free chocolates? Or sugar-free yogurt? There are a while line of sugar-free food and beverage options out there to enjoy that will keep your body's desire for something sweet satisfied while keeping the negative impact of sugar on your health and waistline away. Sweet!

5. Pedometers track success at little cost: To help incorporate physical activity into their hectic schedules, more consumers will take advantage of the pedometer in hopes of walking 10,000 steps a day, which is approximately 5 miles. The pedometer will encourage people to get up and get moving. Programs such as "Colorado on the Move" and "Shape Up America" help encourage people to walk 10,000 steps a day to prevent obesity.

A pedometer is nice, but how about jumping on that treadmill for 30 minutes a day? That'll give you all the exercise you need to keep your heart healthy, get your blood flowing, and sweat away the pounds.

The Calorie Control Council believes these trends will help people "achieve the weight loss goal they hope for" in 2006. But don't count on it. It's going to take a radical change in your mind to make weight loss happen for you. It must begin with you desiring weight loss so much that you will be unwilling to give up regardless of the circumstance. Take that "can't-lose" attitude with you everywhere you go and stick with the plan. Come back in a year and celebrate your success with me.

Regardless of your weight loss method, it's time for you to make it happen. Stop the excuses and don't you dare give up! If you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off permanently, then you are the deciding factor about whether that will happen or not. Believe in yourself and don't let anyone or anything discourage you. This is about YOU and YOU alone.

Forget what has happened in the past because it is long behind you. Today is YOUR day to shine and make it happen. I've been in your shoes as a 410-pound man who nearly gave up hope and quite possibly could be dead today had I not lost an enormous amount of weight. It all started with that first step. Muster up the courage to take that first step and don't ever look back. Your new life awaits you in less time that you think!

Please feel free to e-mail me anytime if you need a lift!

12-24-05 UPDATE: A weight loss coach from overseas named Janice decided to blog about this post at her ThinkSlim blog.

With "news and views about healthy diets, fitness and weight loss," Janice attempts to help people who need to lose weight and keep it off for good.

She and I engaged in an intelligent and civil conversation about our differences in philosophy regarding weight loss methods. I appreciate her willingness to hear my point of view and I certainly respect her side of the matter as well.

See, we CAN get along even when we disagree. :)


Blogger Sandylp said...

This article about Calories Count is very much like the book that I just read, "Confessions of a Reformed Dieter" by A. J. Rochester. She lost weight by eating low fat, low calories and exercise. While the exercise was beneficial, she had to struggle daily with cravings and hunger on her weight loss journey. While she eventually lost her weight, it seemed to be much more painful than to just eat low carb. I've lost the same amount of weight (about 70 lbs) and with much less effort and suffering. I'd recommend the book....only to show how not to lose weight.

12/21/2005 1:39 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Hello Jimmy,

You know what is so tiring about the "controlled-portions" message we keep hearing over and over again? It's all about calories. It's the same old lame story, told over and over again as if it was cast in stone, A Undisputable Law Of Nutrition.

And of course, it is anything like that. The Calorie Theory in itself is a hard, scientific fact. It's all about the fixed amount of energy needed to heat a fixed amount of water under controlled circumstances. It's proven, it's a scientific fact. Yep, that is true... BUT... as applied to nutrition, it is simply absurd and outright dangerous.

Why do self-proclaimed "experts" keep touting it, then?

Well, because it SEEMS to work, at first. Most people do indeed lose a little weight when reducing calories. However, nobody (and I mean nobody!) tells that this weight loss is only a very, very temporary effect and that is exactly what makes it so difficult and even outright dangerous!

Why dangerous? The human body is an extremely complex, intelligent and wonderful self-regulating machine. It's easy perhaps to fool people into thinking that calorie-reduction is the "simple" answer to the "simple" problem of weight loss, but you cannot fool Mother nature. So the human body compensates. Within 2 to 3 weeks your body will no longer lose weight as a result of cutting back on calories. It will simply make automatic metabolic adjustments that compensate completely for the lower number of calories consumed. In other words: our bodies are so clever and, literally, survival-oriented that it will accept the lesser intake as a "fact-of-life" and will automatically compensate, whether you like it or not. The body wants to survive and is automatically geared and equipped to survive. Instead of fighting our own survival mechanism, of course, we should work WITH our body and do the right thing: focus on quality of nutrition, instead of quantity.

And this mechanism, the very natural mechanism that everybody has built-in, is precisely what makes calorie-restrition dangerous for dieters and anybody that wants to try control weight through this fake "method". It's a fallacy, a horrible lie - it will never work. And that is also the reason why it will never work for long-term health and weight loss.

Because, what will inevitably happen, of course, is that the poor soul trying to lose weight will notice a reduction, or more likely, a total stop of weight loss. THE ONLY OPTION LEFT, then, according to the simplistic logic of calorie reduction, will be to CUT FURTHER BACK on calories. And the entire, totally doomed cycle starts all over again. And again. And again...

And THAT is why cutting back on calories is so incredibly dangerous and will NEVER work as intended.

That is also why the advice of this Calorie Control Council is a total fallacy. It is impossible. The only thing that will result in the long term is inevitably, serious malnutrition (YES, that is possible, and often observed - an overweight person who suffers from malnutrition!) and, even more dangerously, a person that is literally starving him- or herself.

Did you know that in the 60's and 70's, when extremely slender (malnourished) models like "Twiggy" were the craze of the day, literally thousands of women died as a result of extreme calorie-reduction? Imagine that! In the richest, wealtiest country in the world, people were willingly starving themselves to death just to lose weight using the same, stupid lie - calorie c.q. portion control. Most of these women died of heart failure as a direct result of mineral- and vitamin- as well as nutrient deficiencies. This is the sad end-result of the calory theory as applied to nutrition.

And still there are thousands and thousands of dimwits -diaticians, health "experts" and bureaucrats- that keep touting this false gospel.

It doesn't sound nice, but calorie control or portion control really is stupid advice by stupid people for people intently kept stupid. It's the old "you are what you eat" thing - it is simply untrue, unscientific, unhealthy, and very, very dangerous.

Not to mention, of course, the constant hunger and pains, the cravings, the loss of health, et cetera, ad infinitum.... the very thought that literally millions of men and woman around the world are seriously jeopardizing their health and even their lives as a direct result of this kind of "advice" makes my blood boil.

The calorie theory is the biggest lie in nutrition and nutritional science. Stay away from it! Work with your body instead of against it - focus on quality instead of quantity, and count carbs. It's the only way, and the only natural way. The truth is that simple.

Good health to you all.

12/21/2005 1:53 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I will never be hungry again as I control my weight forever. THAT is a GREAT feeling!

12/21/2005 8:01 AM  
Blogger bhubrich said...

Thank you for your comments. It's great that so many of you have found a way to lose weight and keep it off that works for you. Congratulations, you should be proud of your success.

While eating low-carb may work for some, it does not always work for everyone. The advice included in the press release is supported by leading health organizations, such as the American Dietetic Association and government organizations such as the Food & Drug Administration, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, etc. Additionally, studies show that choosing lower-calorie and lower-fat diets can result in weight loss. In fact, results from the National Weight Control Registry also show that those who continue to maintain their weight loss do so by tracking their intake, exercise, reducing calories, etc.

Obviously, losing weight is not easy and that is not what was meant by the idea of small changes. In suggesting small changes we were recommending changes that people can live with for life so that they do not feel deprived. Leading obesity researchers agree that making small changes (as opposed to dramatic, "quick fix" type changes) can be helpful in weight control and weight maintenance -- especially over time.

As a registered dietitian, I have found that many people are more willing to make changes if they are small and they do not feel that they have to make huge sacrifices.

Again, we appreciate your comments and hope that this post has provided further clarification and insight about the press release. Happy Holidays and here's to a healthy New Year!

For more information about the Calorie Control Council, check out

12/21/2005 4:48 PM  
Blogger LindaLCforLife said...

Bhubrich, can you explain how your your dietary advice, backed up by leading health organizations, could possibly be correct when it has failed so miserably for so many millions of people over the past several decades? Is it because we've lacked your 100-cal snacks, your "lite" products or that magic gum the last 30 years while our obesity epidemic grew to major proportions and half of our children got fat. The fact is YOUR dietary advice may work for some temporarily (usually some teenagers and people in their 20s, the ones the media targets) but it definitely does not work for most people. I remember when I was young and stupid too, I starved myself on a 1200 cal diet to lose weight, had fatigue everyday and went to bed starving every night (which of course I never admitted to anyone). I shudder to think now about the damage I was doing to my body; but at least I ate healthy food on my 1200 cal diet, not junky 100-cal snacks. You call yourself a nutritionist? You don't even bother with the subtlities in your article that is so obviously geared to sell, pushing more of the foods and advice that have caused the problem in the first place. Do you ever look at people around you?

I'm reminded of those other companies who targeted teenagers and young people for years but eventually had their butts sued. Someday the food industries (and some leading health organizations) may be the ones being sued for lying to the public and targeting children and young adults. Shame on you Bhubrich. Bah Humbug!!

12/21/2005 5:55 PM  
Blogger LindaLCforLife said...

I left my prior comments after reading Jimmy's article "Forget 'Small' Changes.." and before I finished reading Bhubrich's comments above.

Regarding what you say, Bhubrich, about there being science to back up your dietary advice, I disagree. The fact is, aside from the numerous so-called "scientific" studies you mention on the dietary lifestyle you promote, there is actually no real scientific research in the literature that confirms what you say; NO hard science for your methods of maintaining weight loss. Frankly, I really don't care how many government health agencies, etc., doctors, experts, etc. blah, blah, blah, support it. That simply doesn't make it right. There have always been, and probably always will be, governments, organizations, so-called experts, fatheads, etc., etc., who were and are dead wrong about a great many things.

"There is one thing that the very powerful and the very stupid have in common. Instead of changing their views to fit the facts, they change the facts to fit their views." ---Dr. Who

12/21/2005 6:48 PM  
Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

This makes me want to eat 5 scrambled eggs alongside a juicy ribeye for breakfast even MORE! =D

12/21/2005 7:44 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

"There is one thing that the very powerful and the very stupid have in common. Instead of changing their views to fit the facts, they change the facts to fit their views." ---Dr. Who

This is a great statement, and absolutely true, Linda.

You know what is so significant about bhubrich's post? It shows so very clearly that these people keep missing the point. That's why "dr. Who's" quote is so telling.

Bhubrich states that "Additionally, studies show that choosing lower-calorie and lower-fat diets can result in weight loss.". Yes, indeed, bhubrich, we don't deny that. In fact, in the earlier post we even explain why that is indeed true. However, and THAT is the point, what you fail to mention is that this temporary weight loss is in fact the result of depriving your body of essential nutritients and also that it is, in fact, a doomed cycle - one will have to continue to reduce calories to continue weight loss - thereby depriving the body of all kinds of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients essential to health. Of course bhubrich will respond with "eat more pasta and fruit and exercise some more" but that is not the point. Just because calorie reduction SEEMS to work at first (and will continue to work as long as one continues reducing further) doesn't mean it is healthy! THAT is the point, bhubrich!

As I pointed out earlier, thousands of people have died as a result of this Caroly Theory lie, this fallacy! That is a hard and documented fact.

Personally, bhubrich, I have seen people on a 800 calorie starvation diet (this is about equal to what captives in Nazi Death camps got) that did not lose weight! I myself did not lose weight on a horrible (hospital) 1200 calorie diet!

But I do lose weight on a 2500 calorie low-carb diet! And I maintain my 200+ pound weight loss on almost 2700 calories.

How do you explain that, bhubrich, with your imbecilic Calorie Theory? You can't! There is no way to explain that - unless you admit the to the truth: the truth, the very fact that the Calorie Theory as applied to nutrition is total HUMBUG. Nonsense, simplistic nonsense for simplistic people.

I don't care how many Government agencies keep repeating this nonsense. It remains unhealthy, untrue, unscientific and especially dangerous. You, as a professional, should know that. Every nutritional scientist can tell you that the Calory Theory as applied to nutrition is totally absurd. Not questionable, or "perhaps" wrong, no, ABSURD.

So stop changing the facts to fit your views - instead, READ the scientific literature and research papers and then adjust your views to the facts!

That's the difference between low-carbers and you, bhubrich. People like dr. Atkins and countless others, including the real experts in nutrition, HAVE studied the facts and work WITH our bodies instead of dangerously starving ourselves.

"There is one thing that the very powerful and the very stupid have in common. Instead of changing their views to fit the facts, they change the facts to fit their views." - what a wonderful quote. I love it! It is SO true! Bhubrich just proved it conclusively.

12/22/2005 1:44 AM  
Blogger Janice Elizabeth said...

I admire anyone who can make big changes and stick with them. To go "cold turkey" and just make those changes to your diet and exercise program - fantastic!

But the fact is that most people do not have the willpower to keep up changes that turn their lifestyle upside down overnight for more than a few weeks. They go back to their comfortable old lifestyle.

So for the majority I would say small steps are good whether they are moving towards a low carb lifestyle or any other kind which would be healthier for them.

That's the way permanent change is made if you don't have a will of steel.


12/22/2005 1:55 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Janice,

As a weight loss coach, I know you have personally seen many people struggle with this weight issue for many years. The old methodology of treating obesity has apparently not been effective enough to bring about changes in the waistlines of people around the world.

For that reason, we MUST stop sugar-coating the truth to people about what they need to do to lose weight. It WILL take some BIG changes for lasting weight loss to happen.

You can't just "cut back" on everything and expect to lose weight and get healthy. Most people need a WAKE-UP CALL with a proverbial slap in the face to make the lifestyle changes needed.

I did NOT have the willpower and determination over food that I might have in other areas of my life. It controlled me for many years, but livin' la vida low-carb helped me overcome that. The low-carb life requires that you give up sugar, while flour and starchy foods.

It needed to be done. It had to be done. And I'm glad it was done. I am a changed man because of it.

12/22/2005 8:10 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

I just couldn't resist adding some words on this fallacy that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, like Beth Hubrich believes.

Here is some food for thought, that easily proves her wrong on all counts:

One of the Golden Rules of orthodoxy is: 'A calorie is a calorie is a calorie' – no matter where it comes from. This rule says that no matter what you eat, if you eat more calories than you use, you will gain weight.

The figure often used is that one kilogram of body fat represents about 3,500 calories. But according to the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare:

'On a high-fat diet, 4703 to 8471 excess calories were required for each kilogram of added weight. On a low fat VLCD [very low calorie diet], replacing fat calories with 8g/day of equivalent carbohydrate calories reduced weight loss by 1.68kg, corresponding to 3300 calories of carbohydrate/kilogram, possibly 2500 calories per kilogram for carbohydrate alone.'

Hey, wait a minute, what's that again! What they are saying is that it takes 4,700 to 8,470 excess calories from fat to add a kilogram of weight, yet it takes only 2,500 to 3,300 calories from carbohydrate to add the same amount. Therefore, 'a calorie is a calorie is a calorie' is not so meaningful after all: a carbohydrate calorie is obviously much more fattening than a fat calorie.

So obviously some calories don't count half as much as others. That should not surprise any of us who know the brilliant dr. Atkins, but I am sure that many of the likes of Beth Hubrich don't know about these scientific facts (or, perhaps, don't want to know about them?).

Anyway, I hope this clearifies the matter further.

12/22/2005 3:14 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home