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Bob Johnson —

November 19, 2012

Trigger warning: This post is in response to a bunch of dimwitted meatheads who valiantly attempt to defend calories in, calories out. As such, it’s chock full o’ weight loss science and the links may lead to rage-inducing stupidity.

An interesting thing happened yesterday. Every once in a while we get some traffic from a reddit site called Fitness Circlejerk, which is a weightlifting community with a distinctly roid-ragey vibe. They refer to themselves as Fagocrats and they loathe fat people. Some of their more intelligent troglodytes write blog posts that compare human bodies to steam trains, and the rest of them bob their heads to the extent that their cinderblock necks will allow.

The author of one of these choo-choo train science posts is Fagocrat Jacques Chester (aka Dr. Og) who tries to dismiss the many factors that influence weight loss:

All of the hundreds of factors involved in body weight control have an impact. Sometimes quite a significant impact. But not one of these factors can overpower the simple fact that a body can’t burn dietary calories it didn’t receive… Controlled starvation studies have shown it; history has shown it (look at photos of Changi POWs) and — though it distresses me to draw a connection between acute human misery and chronic diseases of abundance — current events in Niger show it.

First off, I would love to know what “controlled starvation studies” he is talking about. There are starvation studies that take place after a disaster, most notably the Dutch famine winter of 1944. And then there is the one controlled starvation study, which also took place during World War II. That study used conscientious objectors in Minnesota, and no, it did not prove that calories in, calories out is a valid concept.

It seems that Dr. Og and his fellow Fagocrats were whipped into a the chest thumping over one of my blog posts. It’s an overview of why calories in, calories out (CI/CO) is bullshit and why health is much simpler than you think.

The concept of Health at Every Size®* (HAES) infuriates the Fagocrats because they firmly believe in the bootstrap theory of weight loss. If you just exercised some self-control and discipline, then the fat would melt right off your body and you would finally achieve what you’ve never been able to achieve before on a permanent basis. And this is coming from a bunch of weightlifters, almost entirely men, who seem to hate anyone who isn’t also a weightlifter or at least a perfect 10 by their standards.

The CI/CO bootstrap theory is the standard belief for pretty much the whole country, but like the Fagocrats themselves, the theory is bulked up beyond recognition. There’s a hostility to the idea that CI/CO could be wrong, and they verbally sputter their rage by going after our commenters, rather than the arguments outlined in the post because (and I’m paraphrasing here) words hard.

The most coherent argument of the bunch comes from MikeHolmesIV, who managed to skim enough to discern the following:

Her proof that calories-in/calories-out is a myth is that

the human body has a system in place to compensate for energy expenditure through adaptive thermogenesis.

She then spends 11,000 words citing studies that show that your calorie expenditure can change, and claims that this is proof that the whole thing is a lie.

Basically she spends the entire article attacking the wrong idea (that weight is purely about calories-in), and in the process accidentally proves calories-in/calories-out. Then she draws it to a hasty conclusion as she realizes that burger king is about to close. Fatties gonna fat, but not for the reasons she’s thinking. [emphasis mine]

Um… no, Mike. Sorry. You’re gonna have to try harder if you’re going to be King of the Cromags. The point was, actually, that when you reduce calories in, your body adapts by controlling calories out. That’s adaptive thermogenesis in a nutshell: turning down the thermostat to conserve energy. And that’s what they found in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, which unlike Dr. Og, I’ve actually read about (Pro tip: if you’re going to say that something substantiates your claim, you should at the very least brush up on Wikipedia. But if Dr. Og like book, I recommend The Great Starvation Experiment: Ancel Keys and the Men Who Starved for Science by Todd Tucker).

During the control period, subjects had an average basal metabolic rate (BMR is the amount of calories it takes to keep your body running throughout the day) of ~1,600 calories (PDF). The men began the control phase of the study with a 3,200 calorie diet to maintain their weight and began walking 22 miles per week. During the starvation phase, they consumed 1,560 calories per day. That’s 1,640 fewer calories per day. The 1,600 calorie diet should have been enough energy to fuel the BMR, notwithstanding the expected 3,000 calories per day total.

Yet, after 12 weeks of starvation, BMR dropped to ~1,090 calories, and at the end of the 24-weeks of starvation, BMR dropped to ~980 calories. After adjusting for body composition, the drop in BMR looked like this:

After 12 weeks, subjects burned 356 fewer calories per day and by the end of starvation they were burning 408 fewer calories.  This is adaptive thermogenesis at work.

And so, even though Ancel Keys predicted that subjects would lose 2.5 pounds per week, or 60 pounds, subjects actually lost an average of 1.5 pounds per week, or 37 pounds. In the end, weight loss under these conditions looked like this:

One of the more ridiculous Fagocrat claims is that caloric levels determine your weight… that everyone who eats 2,000 calories will settle at the same weight over time and that if you drop your caloric intake by 200 calories, then you’ll then be at the weight that people settle on when they eat 1,800 calories per day. We call it the Elevator Theory of Weight Loss. Know what you want to weight? Just plug in the calories and go!

But of the handful of Fagocrats who actually came to rebut my post, one stands out. Steve links to a blog post by Lyle McDonald that supposedly explains the “practical side” of weight loss.” The post begins with a question:

If someone is looking to reduce body fat and is not showing progress at 20% below their calorie maintenance level, what would be the next logical step to induce fat loss? This person engages in regular aerobic and resistance training.

So, you’ve got a person working out and not losing the predicted amount of the weight. The blogger explains that there are some highly technical, scientific reasons for this:

Trainees would be doing everything ‘right’ and absolutely nothing measurable would happen for the first four weeks.  And then sometime after week 4, there will be this big change in body composition, seemingly overnight.  On the Internet, this is often called the ‘whoosh’ (which usually comes after a ‘stall’).

Ah, yes, why look into the actual scientific research on adaptive thermogenesis when you can just turn to the internet to make up some terms for you. After all, reading is hard, folks. But stand back, McDonald’s going to try SCIENCE!

Some of it may have to do with gene expression in terms of mobilizing and burning fat off the body, these pathways seem to take some time to get up to full speed when people are just starting out.  Some of it may simply be the error in terms of making caliper measurements and our ability to measure small changes with current technology.  I suspect a lot of it has to do with water balance.  When in doubt, I just chalk it up to voodoo magic and acknowledge that it happens even if we don’t exactly know why.

So here’s our three options: genetics, measurement errors, water retention and voodoo magic (I love it when so-called experts throw out theories without substantiation). It’s like McDonald just throws up whatever comes to mind and all the knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers grunt and nod, while their simple minds drift to oats and squats.

I discussed the ‘whoosh’ phenomenon in The Stubborn Fat Solution and honestly think that water retention and such tend to ‘mask’ true fat loss in a lot of cases, at least over the short term.  Then seemingly overnight, it looks like someone has lost several pounds of fat; people wake up leaner and lighter.  At some point in the future, I’ll write a full article about the topic.

McDonald’s theory (with absolutely zero evidence to back him up, mind you) is that when weight loss “stalls,” the person is still losing fat, but that water retention “hides” the fat loss. So, the trainer is melting the fat, but your body retains more water and your weight remains the same. Then one day, the water retention ends and VIOLA! you’re skinny.

Except that actual, medical experts, like those at the Mayo Clinic, explain that initial weight loss is due largely to water weight:

During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part this is because when calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water. [emphasis mine]

Given the choice between Lyle McDonald’s voodoo magic theories or the explanation given by the Mayo Clinic, who are you going to believe?

Which brings us back to Dr. Og, whose steam train analogy tries to conflate engineering with biology by dismissing any evidence to the contrary with a wave of his hand:

My objection is that very few people have a genuine reason why simple calorie counting won’t work. Very few people. Yet everybody is quick to self-diagnose. “Oh!” they say when they hear the latest health journo blurb. “I must have that condition. I guess I’ll never be able to lose weight. I should just accept it. Pass the gravy, my glass is empty.”

Because that’s what is really going on here, right? People who claim to restrict calories and exercise, but don’t lose the predicted amount of weight, are just quitters who can’t wait to chug from the gravy pitcher. If only they had some will power, they would hit that magic WHOOSH! and reach their goal weight.

But after spending so much time explaining his theory on why weight loss doesn’t work, Dr. Og explains that he’s really just rehashing someone else’s work:

I am not the first to think of this analogy. Probably the best expositor of this way of thinking about the body is John Walker. In his book The Hacker Diet, Walker spends the first section discussing body weight as a control system. In fact, he does such a thorough, readable job of it that I recommend this book to anyone who wants a serious look at the bottom line of weight loss.

Ah, yes, why do the research yourself when you can simply read one pop-diet book and rewrite it with your own clever twist. No need to back up anything you claim with controlled or population studies. Some other guy wrote a diet book, so clearly it’s real!

And what’s more, Dr. Og came here to personally challenge to my CI/CO post, asking, “So … how does anyone starve to death?” He follows it up with “So why doesn’t adaptive thermogenesis work for poor people?”

Sadly, Dr. Og seems to have disproven the old maxim, “There are no stupid questions.”

People starve to death when they lack the calories needed to run the basic functions of your body (your BMR) for an extended period of time. With absolutely no food, you can last 30 to 40 days with hydration. And according to the Scientific American, a person can live on limited sustenance longer than you might thing:

Unlike total starvation, near-total starvation with continued hydration has occurred frequently, both in history and in patients under medical supervision. Survival for many months to years is common in concentration camps and during famines, but the unknown caloric intake during these times makes it impossible to predict survival. What is evident is that the body can moderate metabolism to conserve energy and that individual survival varies markedly. [emphasis mine]

Wait, you mean that adaptive thermogenesis is present during near-total starvation? You don’t say!

So, yes, if you restrict someone’s calories against their will and you can reduce their body weight drastically until they look like the men in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. But if you keep them on that diet indefinitely, the ones who survive are the ones who have the best adaptive response to starvation.

Those who can’t effectively store and preserve their energy balance will burn through their emergency energy sooner, triggering catabolysis (burning fat and muscle stores for energy), which causes organ damage. Those whose bodies are extremely efficient at both storing and spending energy during famines will survive.

People ill-equipped to survive starvation are those who, in our contemporary society, can eat whatever they want and never gain an ounce. They burn every calorie they take in and have a difficult time storing them. Meanwhile, those who are equipped to survive famines will store every single calorie as fat. These are the same people who are weight loss resistant because their body manages adaptive thermogenesis better. These are the people who look at a Twinkie and get fatter.

This is part of the reason why African Americans have higher rates of obesity in the United States. Africa is highly susceptible to famine, and African ancestors had to adapt to periodic starvation. But transplant that African into a country with food security for even the poorest among us (and poverty plays a role too, mind you) and you get people who are extremely efficient at storing calories, even when they don’t need them.

The Fagocrats scoff at adaptive thermogenesis because they don’t understand it. They think they do because some of their more literate members have espoused convenient analogies that reassure them that all fatties are just lazy, ne’er-do-wells who aren’t putting in the work necessary to achieve their goals.

But HAES has never been about saying that eating fewer calories and exercising more won’t lead to weight loss. It damn well may. What HAES means to me is that if you want to get healthy, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get some exercise (both cardio and resistance). Whether that leads to weight loss is irrelevant because it is the behavior, not the size of your butt, that will ultimately determine your health.

And what really seems to gall the Fagocrats is not so much that I’ve written a heavily-sourced post that explains why calories, in calories out is nonsense, it’s who I am that bothers them, if the title of the reddit post (and the subsequent thread) is any indication:

[Science][Word Count: 11,000] Local mom EXPOSES calories-in/calories-out myth in this SHOCKING report! Thermodynamics DEMOLISHED! (Spoiler: she “disproves” it by showing that calories out is not a constant)

Local mom? Really?

I realize that the hostility and hatred that dudebros have toward Fat Acceptance is largely due to the fact that they believe their pool of token wives is reduced by an increasing number of self-accepting fatties, but come on — not everybody in Fat Acceptance is a woman.

Get this, Fagocrats: I’m a guy. With a penis and everything. And thanks to the fact that I’m not pumped full of steroids, I still get to use mine!

Yeah… blew your fucking minds didn’t I? Now the only question left is, how are you going to insult me when you can’t rely on monosyllabic misogyny?

*Incidentally, HAES is a registered trademark to prevent it from being co-opted by commercial entities that may turn it into a pseudo-HAES weight loss diet.

133 Comments leave one →
  1. Duckie Graham permalink
    November 19, 2012 12:46 pm

    Excellent deconstruction! Keep up the good work!

  2. November 19, 2012 12:56 pm

    What the CI/CO devotees always overlook is that the CI/CO law applies only to closed systems. The human boduy is NOT a closed system.

    • Rick (FCJ Moderator) permalink
      November 19, 2012 3:38 pm

      So your contention is that the number of thermodynamic factors that can apply to the human body is so great that the calories in/calories out model is useless? I’m just curious as to the science behind this assertion.

      • Amber permalink
        November 20, 2012 12:01 am

        A closed system in thermodynamics is a system (defined area) which mass neither enters nor exits. Since humans consume and eliminate, we are by definition NOT closed systems.

        Since CI/CO relies on an application of the First Law of Thermodynamics, which can only apply to closed systems, CI/CO is a fallacious model.

        • Rick (FCJ Moderator) permalink
          November 20, 2012 12:53 pm

          I like that definition. Now please provide one example of a completely closed system.

  3. fatology101 permalink
    November 19, 2012 12:58 pm

    Fantastic, Atchka.

  4. g2-1b814e83aee5ec3fdf125bf1db332006 permalink
    November 19, 2012 1:02 pm

    YAY!!!! I found it. I first saw this explanation posted by La Di Da over at Shakesville:

    “It is true that the First Law of Thermodynamics must apply to the human body. And, given the simplistic approach which many dull normals take, lots of people are confused about what ‘consumed’ and ‘burn off’ mean.

    There are active control systems which reduce the amount of energy used involuntarily for many of the body’s autonomic functions. There are also significant energy excretion systems which are active in many bodies. A very basic enumeration is as follows; note that in real life you have to add a bunch of interactive arrows symbolizing the feedback controls (hormonal, and also enzyme regulation by product inhibition and allosteric interactions) which connect these systems.

    C – N – S1- S2 – S3 – I – H – E – V = 0

    C = calories eaten
    N = non-absorbed calories excreted in bowels
    S1 = calories stored as fat
    S2 = calories stored as carbohydrate
    S3 = calories stored as protein
    I = calories used in involuntary movement
    H = calories used for heat generation and other metabolic processes
    V = calories used in voluntary movement
    E = calories excreted in urine (Examples: fat converted to glucose in the liver, incompletely burned triglycerides and albumin)

    Note that there is “manual” control only on C and V. Deliberate variation of C and V will immediately cause feedback to all the other systems, and you have absolutely no control over the net outcome. None of these variables are independent of the others. All adjust to restore equilibrium when any one of them changes. So you can’t say that the amount of energy stored as S1 is “whatever is left over”, because there is no such thing as “left over” in a feedback-controlled homeostasis.

    So can increasing V and decreasing C result in less S1? Of course, provided that I, H and E don’t change enough in response to prevent that outcome. “Just try harder” is useless advice. You have no control over what your personal regulatory processes do with changes in voluntary input and output. And if you spend your life trying ever more drastic alterations of V and C in order to escape continuous public abuse by idiots, you can screw up the regulatory mechanisms even more.”

    • November 19, 2012 1:16 pm

      That’s a great way to look at it. You can’t account for all the variables, but we have seen the evidence and more scientists and doctors are admitting that this is what undercuts all our current efforts at weight management. Thanks for sharing!


      • Rick (FCJ Moderator) permalink
        November 19, 2012 3:42 pm

        Since you believe that current science is leaning towards agreeing with your assertions here, please tell me what factors have been identified that undercut the current calories in/calories out model. Surely you wouldn’t have us believe that these doctors and scientists have simply changed their established models of weight management without identifying quanitifiable variables that suggest an alternative?

          November 19, 2012 4:23 pm


        • g2-1b814e83aee5ec3fdf125bf1db332006 permalink
          November 20, 2012 12:14 pm

          The factors in the post further up the thread. If you don’t read the posts, how can you claim that they have no validity?

    • November 20, 2012 6:38 pm

      If this equation holds, then the premise that CI < CO yields weight loss is true. Summing some variables from your equation:

      CI = C
      CO = N + I + H + V + E
      S = S1 + S2 + S3

      and the equation becomes CI – CO – S = 0, which can be transformed to CI – CO = S. This equation is key, it says that the difference between CI and CO is equal to the change in calories stored. Intuitively, if CI < CO, the change in S will be negative (you will lose weight).

      I cannot think of any possible way you can refute CI/CO given that equation. However, what I think you and Shannon are saying is that a change in CI, over the long term, will result in an equal change in CO, such that S will be 0. If that is true, it does not mean that CI/CO is false, it just means that genetics are more powerful that C and V. I think this is what the true debate is, not whether CI/CO is true. If the body does indeed negate any and all changes in C and V, then thinking about weight loss in terms of CI/CO is probably not productive, but it does not mean that it is false.

  5. November 19, 2012 1:12 pm



    Move to call such fellows Eegah!s, in honor of the big slab of caveman in the movie?

    • November 19, 2012 1:14 pm



    • Rick (FCJ Moderator) permalink
      November 19, 2012 3:43 pm

      I am not particularly well versed in the vagaries of the HAES movement, but perhaps you can tell me what facet of it would lend itself to assuming that people who are muscular are somehow mentally inferior to those who are not?

      • Mulberry permalink
        November 19, 2012 4:47 pm

        I’m still trying to figure out why so many muscular people assume fat people are mentally/morally inferior.

        • Rick (FCJ Moderator) permalink
          November 19, 2012 5:00 pm

          I don’t think I’ve seen anyone on FCJ make that assertion. Generally, we assume fat people would rather invest more time and effort in excuses than in improving their physical well-being. Also, a great many fit people, myself included*, used to be fat until we made a conscious effort to change ourselves. It seems to me that there is a lot of persistent victim mentality in fat/HAES community, evidenced by the rise of concepts like ‘thin privilege’, which basic deduction could tell you is not actually any kind of persecution but instead a preference towards the statistical norm.

          If you look at the bottom of this page, you’ll see an offer by phrakture to counsel anyone who asks on matters of diet. Personally, I think turning down such an offer is the height of foolishness. If you look at phrakture’s post history on Reddit, you can see that he moderates r/Fitness and r/bodyweightfitness and is far from the meathead stereotype. I see a great deal of out-of-hand dismissal of typical dieting strategies here in this post and on other blogs but I see very little evidence than anyone has actually tried them. The fact of the matter is that no one, barring a thyroid condition so severe that the odds of it occurring are about the same as winning the lottery twice, is incapable of losing or gaining weight. Some conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome in women, make it difficult to lose weight, but it is still far from impossible.

          *I don’t say muscular because I don’t typically think of myself as such

          • November 19, 2012 10:55 pm

            What you’re actually saying is that us fat folks out here should try something that scientific evidence has proven fails 95% of the time. Where’s the logic in that?? That’s like suggesting that someone have surgery when there’s only a 5% chance of success. If my doc touted that surgery to me under those conditions, I’d be less than politely suggesting that I don’t like those odds and can he please pull his head out of his ass long enough to find another solution that actually works?

            When there’s plenty of scientific evidence to back up the facts that (1) 95% of people who manage to lose weight through diet or “lifestyle change” do not maintain that loss long-term and (2) that the amount of weight regained is nearly always greater than the amount of weight lost to begin with, I don’t think we need to “try” anything.

            • Rick (FCJ Moderator) permalink
              November 20, 2012 1:04 pm

              Thank you for validating my assertion that ‘fat people would rather spend more time and effort on excuses than self improvement’ statement.

              The issue with blindly pointing at statistics and saying something doesn’t work is that you’re failing to see the underlying cause of failures. Given the effort you put into your response, though, I can already tell that this is a waste of my time.

              • November 20, 2012 1:10 pm

                Dear Rick,

                you are a patronizing dickhead who doesn’t care what anyone else has to say. READ HER FUCKING POST. I don’t see how taking a gamble on a 5% chance is “self improvement”. I’d say it’s a gamble not worth the risk.

                Weight loss =/= health. I am overweight and I have good cholesterol, I exercise regularly. Does that blow your tiny mind? Honestly, you wonder why we ignore you … because you ignore any actual point that we might make. I don’t care -why- weight loss fails 95% of the time. I care that it does.

                Please, just go fuck yourself. Nobody wants you here. Nobody gives a shit about your kind-hearted, generous concern for the poor fatties. Go away. Go crawl back into your brain-dead hole. Do the world a favor.

                • Rick (FCJ Moderator) permalink
                  November 20, 2012 2:49 pm

                  Good Lord this formatting is awful. Please start another thread so I can read your comment.

  6. Aidan permalink
    November 19, 2012 1:34 pm

    You’ve used some very good science… in a very poor way. The human body runs on calories and the point that you can’t create any part of the body without material to burn remains true. Adaptive thermogenesis doesn’t change that. It simply proves that the body is a more complex energy system than people claim.

    Some people are thriftier about the way their body burns food, so they can extract more nutrients (10% – 15% more calories) than someone else eating the same food. Likewise, some people will use calories at a faster rate than others. Some bodies are much more aggressive about the way they hang on to fat stores. Metabolism will adjust to changes in external circumstances blah blah. There are also some circumstances in which the body will burn through fat at an abnormal rate, regardless of how much the person eats.

    So weight isn’t a simple matter of calories in and calories out. True.

    It’s a complex matter of calories in and calories out.

    You cannot build material out of nothing. There’s a lot of individual variation in how calories are processed, but it’s not endlessly variable. If a child who is genetically programmed to be tall is malnourished, they won’t achieve the height they otherwise would have. (The phenotype won’t reflect the genotype.)

    If someone who is very fat enters a period of prolonged deprivation, they will eventually burn through fat, regardless of how thrifty their metabolism. The evidence suggests their body may then compensate by adding more fat at the earliest opportunity. What the Dutch famine showed (and the Biafra famine) is that children conceived during the famines later became obese, probably as a result of this maternal deprivation.

    None of that changes the fact that calories count.

    • November 19, 2012 2:01 pm

      I agree with you, completely. There is still a calories in, calories out equation in play at a certain level, but the variables are too complex for us to calculate what the equation would look like on a population level, let alone an individual level.

      What you’re leaving out, and what I explained in the original post, is that caloric restriction is damn near impossible to maintain in a free-living society. It was hard enough for the Minnesota Starvation subjects, some of whom had severe psychological responses to caloric restriction. Now, it may be different with heavier people, but the evidence of semi-starvation neurosis has been found in obese dieters as well, namely the preoccupation with food and the increasing desperation with which they feel compelled to compensate for that restriction.

      So, yes, if you lock someone in a concentration camp, you can enforce caloric restriction, but very few people are capable of maintaining caloric restriction for more than a few months. And most evidence shows that even if you are one of the few who can do it, your weight will still creep back up unless you compensate with even further caloric restriction.

      The emphasis on HAES is on improving lifestyle choices (namely diet and exercise) and monitoring the metabolic indicators (blood pressure, sugar and lipids), rather than imposing some sort of health value on weight loss in and of itself. If you’re eating healthy and exercising and your metabolic indicators improve, then celebrate that, even if you haven’t lost 50 pounds.

      Weight loss for weight loss’s sake is not a prerequisite for health.


      • MinimumRom (FCJ Regular) permalink
        November 19, 2012 8:17 pm

        | And most evidence shows that even if you are one of the few who can do it, | your weight will still creep back up unless you compensate with even further | caloric restriction.

        I don’t understand this logic presented, because it is obvious that on a caloric restriction body mass will fall, leading to reduced caloric intake. The human body will do almost everything it can to remain at a static weight, which is to say that metabolic rate will get smaller as bodyweight drops and it will increase as size increases. This makes it progressively harder to lose or gain more and more weight. You are neglecting this idea in its entirety when you suggest that evidence shows that even if you are somehow genetically blessed with the ability to follow a diet that your diet needs will change with your body.

        Also, please don’t feel somehow that all people who are on FCJ are somehow roid-using meat heads because that is simply not true. In fact it seems ironic that someone who is such a proponent of health at every size would be just as quick to blast the guy who chooses to put hit time into diet and exercise with harsh names and accusations that are impossible to probe. I’m 6’7″ 250 and struggled with my weight for a long time being unhealthily underweight. I’ve gained roughly 80lbs and through it I have not taken anything considered a PED.

        I hope you have a nice day/evening and I am very interested in your response.

        • November 19, 2012 10:45 pm

          I’m writing a post discussing the name-calling. FCJ lobbed the first insults, and I fight fire with fire. If your people are going to talk shit about me on their domain, then I feel absolutely comfortable returning the favor on mine. I know you aren’t all meatheads, but we’re not all Twinkie-junkies either. If FCJ is going to be a dick about fatties, then fatties will be a dick about FCJ. I have friends who are weightlifters. I interviewed Holley Mangold, who is awesome, and her teammates seem great too. But when I see people attacking me and those like me, then I have the right and the obligation to respond in kind. And I find it laughable that that FCJ, of all places, should be complaining about stereotypes and mean names. Really?

          You have a good night too.


      • Aidan permalink
        November 20, 2012 1:45 am

        This isn’t right. There is a big difference between living on starvation calories and restricting calories, and it’s disingenuous to conflate the two. Often what is required isn’t ‘restriction’ in any real sense, but simply bringing calories into an optimal range.

        ‘Calories in/calories out’ works like a charm at the population level and nobody has demonstrated otherwise. It’s at the individual level that there is variation, and even this variation isn’t particularly wide. There are some well-known exceptions – people on particular medications, for example, or people at different ages.

        What has been demonstrated in a number of studies is that people who mysteriously can’t lose weight turn out to be underreporting intake, when their calories intake has been measured in a laboratory.

        The ‘people will always regain’ isn’t as cut and dried as that either. A search of the literature shows that the weight regain is 82% to about 93%, which is different from the ‘95%’ that is always thrown about.

        The weight regain literature is sparse and poor, and is usually based on populations of obese people in very unusual circumstances, such as people who were part of hospital-based interventions.

    • November 20, 2012 9:51 am

      You haven’t seen me throw out the 95% axiom because I don’t believe it’s scientifically accurate. I would agree with your assessment, although I reviewed another study that looked at “long-term” weight regain and the 95% rule in this post. But is 82% to 93% really all that much better?

      As far as restricting calories versus starvation level, yeah, there’s a difference. You’re putting words in my mouth if you think I’m saying that the only reason diets don’t work is because of starvation level caloric intake. There are many different approaches that will yield various results. I’m not sure exactly what you’re proposing, but the effects of caloric restriction run on a spectrum… the more you restrict, the greater the results, but the less sustainable — the less you restrict, the less the results, but the more sustainable. The more rational approaches to weight loss, including the EatRight Program out of the University of Alabama — Birmingham don’t have very impressive results either.

      Participants were divided into Maintainers (defined as those gaining less than 5% of body weight since completion) and Gainers (those who gained more than 5%). The “successful” Maintainers had a mean starting weight of 199 pounds, ended the program weighing 193 pounds, and two years later weighed 190 pounds. Mean followup time was two years.

      That means that after two years of following the EatRight program, they had lost nine pounds of their body weight, or 5% of their starting weight. And this is simply the mean. Consider those who weigh significantly more, say 300 pounds instead of 200. Five percent of 300 pounds is 15 pounds, or an ending weight of 285 pounds… still fat by mainstream standards.

      And if you read the contemporary research on weight loss, they all indicate that a weight loss of 5-10% is clinically significant and that this small amount of weight loss, when sustained, has a profoundly positive impact on health. And that is the whole point of HAES: what matters is behavior, not weight. And many people in FCJ (and the rest of the world) have simply assumed that HAES means eat whatever you want, play video games all day and you’ll be healthy. It doesn’t. It means that if you make healthy behavior changes, your health may improve, but your weight may not change much. Some of that is due to the fact that if you’re doing resistance training along with cardio, you’re building muscle, which, due to its density, can replace the fat without budging the scale.

      But FCJ, and the rest of the world, strongly believe that the only way to prove that you are healthy is to lose weight. But most of the scientific literature does not support the idea that losing 20% of your body weight is possible, let alone necessary. And if you need evidence of this, I can provide an overwhelming number of studies. Just say the word.


      • Steve permalink
        November 20, 2012 12:10 pm

        “the more you restrict, the greater the results, but the less sustainable — the less you restrict, the less the results, but the more sustainable.”

        Lessons from obesity management programmes: greater initial weight loss improves long-term maintenance.

        “…the literature shows that initial weight loss is positively, not negatively, related to long-term weight maintenance.”

        Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain.

        “According to our review, successful weight maintenance is associated with more initial weight loss…”

        Very-low-calorie diets and sustained weight loss.

        “There is evidence that a greater initial weight loss using VLCDs with an active follow-up weight-maintenance program, including behavior therapy, nutritional education and exercise, improves weight maintenance.”

  7. November 19, 2012 3:30 pm

    Give me absolute control over your diet for 3 months and I guarantee you will lose weight

    • pyctsi permalink
      November 19, 2012 4:06 pm

      Ummm, no thanks, I’d like to eat above starvation levels thank you, I trust very few people to give them absolute control over anything and someone with such a narrow view as your is gonna be too invested in proving their point to care if the ‘lab animal’ actually survives the experiment.

      I think I’ll stick to improving the quality of the food I eat where I can, getting a good balance of nutrients and calories and finding an exercise I can do regularly that I not only enjoy but I wont be shamed or harassed out of by narrow minded asshats.

      • November 20, 2012 12:35 pm

        I eat above starvation levels just fine. In fact, I just ate a burrito bowl from Chipotle along with some chocolate milk. That’s a fine lunch by most people’s standards. This clocks in around 800 calories. If I ate like that for 3 meals, I’d still be under my TDEE of 2800.

        I’m not sure why this is so black and white to you. Eating 100 calories less is not the same thing as “starving”

        • pyctsi permalink
          November 20, 2012 3:04 pm

          Problem I’ve eaten at almost starvation levels and I didn’t lose any weight at all, in fact once I started eating more than one very small meal a day I steadily gained weight despite eating less calories than the daily nutritional recommendation, I also wasn’t getting nearly enough nutrients for my body to work properly. Also I have a physical impairment which means I have to be very careful what kind of exercise I do until I build up my stamina and lots of people have the same social impairment that you have which meant I get treated like shit when I go swimming or to the gym.

          My doctor says I’m fairly healthy, my weight is not impacting on my health and I can overcome my impairment if I can slowly build my core muscles up, however every time I consider going to the gym I am reminded that judgemental assholes are gonna spend the entire time I’m there mocking me and slowing me down and treating me like garbage for daring to be fat in their special place which means I’m not really encouraged to try to find a gym where I can safely (for my mental health as well as physical) exercise.

          Oh and my current diet is around 1800 calories a day and I’m still obese, but at least I’m eating less crap than you appear to be.

          • November 20, 2012 5:21 pm

            > Oh and my current diet is around 1800 calories a day and I\u2019m still obese

            Do you happen to have PCOS? That’s the only legit disorder that would explain this… unless you’re like a 5’2″ woman.

            To put it in perspective, my wife who is 5’5″ and goes to the gym 3 days a week has an approximate TDEE of 1900

    • Kala permalink
      November 19, 2012 4:48 pm

      Weight loss is not weight loss maintenance my friend. If you think weight loss maintenance is such a viable and reasonable goal, care to cite to your sources backing it up, and suggestion what level of weight maintenance is reasonable?

      • November 20, 2012 12:31 pm

        You’re using terms that have highly subjective definitions. What are you calling “weight maintenance” in this context? Simply the ability to maintain a stable weight?

        • November 20, 2012 12:47 pm

          Weight maintenance is the ability to maintain your new weight after achieving your weight loss goal. These aren’t highly subjective definitions. These are routine terms used in weight loss research.


          • ......... permalink
            November 20, 2012 1:51 pm

            Ohh, you mean you go back to eating like you used to? You mean if you start eating more calories than your TDEE after you lose weight you will gain it back? Science.

    • November 19, 2012 10:11 pm

      I can do that on my own, thanks — and too fucking well. But I’d prefer not to re-trigger a restrictive eating disorder.

      • November 20, 2012 1:53 pm

        I notice that none of the fuckheads sliming their way in here has had the balls to reply to this.

        • November 20, 2012 2:37 pm

          Because I don’t give a shit about psychological disorders. It’s not my area of specialty. If you have an ED, you see a shrink about it. But that doesn’t change how biology works.

          Listen, if you want to say that OVEREATING is an eating disorder, I can also agree with that. I believe it is. But this doesn’t automatically make science invalid – it just means that the science of biology does not include human nature and psychology.

          • November 20, 2012 6:40 pm

            Hey, asswipe. I did see a shrink about my restrictive eating. She fucking told me to CUT MORE CALORIES.

      • Jacques Chester permalink
        November 20, 2012 6:43 pm

        Many ED specialists work with dieticians for this exact reason. To provide a healthy diet that doesn’t trigger a relapse into a previous ED.

        For example, I’ve been using intermittent fasting. Works an absolute treat for me. For lots of people with an ED history, yeah, I would not recommend it.

        But there is a difference between “eat less” and “eat nothing”. We’re not talking about a binary proposition here.

        • November 20, 2012 10:31 pm

          But there is a difference between “eat less” and “eat nothing”.

          And next you will be regaling me with the scientific discoveries that water is wet and that the view stinks with your head shoved so far up your own ass, no?

          I never said I “ate nothing.” I said that I had a restrictive eating disorder. Along with exercise compulsion (e.g., feeling that I must run 5k a day on a fractured foot), it meant that I was working with a daily deficit of about 450-700 calories per day. Add to that the fact that my actual intake was somewhere in the vicinity of 1400 calories per day… any competent and/or compassionate person should not have been — and should not now — be lecturing me about “eating less.”

    • November 19, 2012 10:52 pm

      Already have done; it’s called homelessness.

    • November 19, 2012 10:58 pm

      Goodness. Arrogance does not become you.

      • November 20, 2012 12:36 pm

        You misread confidence in my abilities as arrogance.

        • November 20, 2012 12:46 pm

          No, I didn’t. The arrogance comes from the implication that you know what’s best for us and we don’t.

          • November 20, 2012 1:53 pm

            Weight loss does not equal health. You’re so mature, not even having the balls to leave a name. Why should I listen to anything you say, tiny dick?

            • November 20, 2012 2:38 pm

              Care to post your latest blood stats to compare? I can look mine up from 3 months ago. I am astoundingly healthy and it is because of the life I lead.

    • November 20, 2012 7:53 am

      Sure I will. Will you be happy to assist me with managing my most certainly raging out-of-control thyroid issue while starving me? It’s not easy getting this hypothyroid to eat even less than the loss of appetite inherent in my particular condition dictates. You’ll also be getting a ton of 4am phone calls due to insomnia, demands for electric blankets because I’ll be freezing all the time even more than now and you’ll have to include massages in the deal as my sporting activities are hard enough to keep up while attempting to keep a balanced calcium/magnesium intake that doesn’t interfere with necessary medication. Oh yes, I forgot, you’ll have to fit all that around a full 16-hour work day that includes dinners out with clients at least three times a week, often with a fixed menu.

      I’m passing on the offer, thanks. I’d rather not be model-sized and instead able to manage my health and sleeping habits without too much extra med input.

      • November 20, 2012 12:27 pm

        I don’t understand how “absolute control over your diet” implies I will buy you electric blankets

        • November 20, 2012 1:06 pm

          Because diet affects body temperature, mental health and everything else about the body, dipshit.

        • Amber permalink
          November 20, 2012 5:35 pm

          On the off chance you honestly don’t get it, food intake does not exist in a vacuum. Giving you “absolute control over [my] diet” would also impact my work schedule, body temperature, ability to sleep, ability to move comfortably and without injury, mental health and social life (plus other factors). If you take responsibility for what I eat, you also get responsibility for the side effects.

          • November 21, 2012 2:52 pm

            ^That. Now excuse me, I’ll have to go dust off my old “Danger! Sarcasm!” sign I somehow forgot to put up.

  8. yes permalink
    November 19, 2012 5:21 pm

    Excellent write up!

    I love the part where you point out that everyone on FJC are misogynistic bastards making bad generalizations. And then… And THEN… you call them dudebros shot on streroids that can’t use their dicks.

    It’s really good!

    Keep it up!

    • Kala permalink
      November 19, 2012 5:51 pm

      Misogyny != Misandry.

      When us ladies are getting paid more than men for the same work, and men’s reproductive rights are assaulted by politicians, and men are catcalled and raped at the rate women see, talk to us then. Also let me know if they start leaving boy babies to die for being boys in developing nations.

      • Drew permalink
        November 19, 2012 7:13 pm

        I don’t see how any of that is relevant to the point Yes raised. Are you suggesting that it’s justified?

        The entire article is ridiculous.

        • Kala permalink
          November 19, 2012 7:33 pm

          Shannon can insult others however he pleases. My point is that there is no particular real-world parallel between misogyny and misandry. Real world misogyny frequently hurts women, real world misandry does not affect men even an iota as much. yes tried to make a parallel there.

          • yes permalink
            November 19, 2012 8:49 pm


            I tried to point out that by assuming everyone on FCJ is a meathead on steroids is just as bad as failing to understand that LOCAL MOM EXPOSES is just a recycled ridiculous web marketing campaign used for satire. Not misogyny…

            Oh wait…

      • November 19, 2012 9:14 pm

        I will have to respectfully disagree with you. Just because some men are dicks to women does not make it okay to be dicks to all men. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        • Jacques Chester permalink
          November 20, 2012 7:21 pm

          Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          And yet a few minutes ago you invited me to commit suicide. Please explain how this squares with being supportive to people with mental health issues.

          • November 20, 2012 9:35 pm

            Never did that escape my lips. Or fingers. If someone set you on fire, I wouldn’t cry, but I would never legitimately wish death on someone. Cancel the call to the FBI. Generalized misandry is not ok just because misogyny exists. That was my point.

            I just genuinely don’t understand why you all are here, if it isn’t to be as cruel and hurtful as possible. We’ve made it abundantly clear that we don’t want you here. But you persist – you either have no heart, no soul and no feelings, or you’re stupid, and I don’t think you’re stupid. My life has no bearing on yours – I haven’t been to the ER since I was fourteen, believe it or not. I don’t cost you taxes, because I have a job which pays for my health care. My food choices do not affect you; neither do my exercise or hormone or vitamin choices. This is my safe space, and when assholes come in, I want to defend it. You and your ilk disgust me – no matter how many times we say to go away. Why are you still here? We just want you gone.

            • Maintains Perfect Abs permalink
              November 20, 2012 9:49 pm

              I don’t know how to quote….but CC you posted this below.

              3. You’re a fucking asshole who has absolutely no care for anything anyone says that isn’t your own pretentious voice. Go to hell. Go away. Get the fuck off our site. No one wants you here. Vesta has gone through hell and all you want to do is talk about measurements. These are real, living breathing people who have real problems, and you don’t give a fuck because it doesn’t square with your narrative of all fat people being worthless fucks. Please do the world a favor and die in a fire.

            • Jacques Chester permalink
              November 20, 2012 10:07 pm

              but I would never legitimately wish death on someone.

              Simply does not jive with

              die in a fire


              which didn’t so much “escape from your fingers” as sprint out of your fingers and into the big bad internet.

    • Mulberry permalink
      November 19, 2012 9:29 pm

      Thanks, yes! We’re just assuming that you guys are treating us the way you want to be treated. (Golden Rule, ya know.) So if you treat us as a pile of stereotypes, you should expect to get a few flung back your way. Glad you appreciate it.

    • November 19, 2012 9:49 pm

      First of all, are all weightlifters as whining and thin-skinned as you? Because it doesn’t say much for your badass personae.

      Second, read the fucking thread that FCJ started. A bunch of your people start talking shit, so I fight fire with fire and in comes the chorus of outrage that I would dare insult you all. Fuck you and fuck all your kind. You’re a pathetic community of gasbags who feed on each others’ dickishness. I really can’t believe that people from your board would come here and say, “But you’re being mean to us!” Shut the fuck up.


  9. Jacques Chester permalink
    November 19, 2012 6:29 pm

    “Dr” is a generous promotion from my current academic status.

    Anyhow. Like pretty much every objector, you skimmed the essay because you’d already decided I was wrong. You missed the central thesis, which is that weight is a system (a noisy system, but still a system) that is amenable to a simple control mechanism.

    The centrifugal governor demonstrates that systems with many variables and feedback loops, which are only partially observable, can still be controlled with very simple mechanisms. Most importantly, control is possible without needing to know what the full configuration of the system is.

    Weight is a system with many variables, almost all of them unobservable. Yet it is controllable: you can do so with one sensor (appearance) and one input (eating less).

    The fact that you’ve half reinvented a pisspoor pastiche of first derivatives doesn’t change the fact that net calorie balance always determines average body mass over the long run.

    • Kala permalink
      November 19, 2012 7:30 pm

      As someone with a degree in Systems Engineering, I place a big nope on your post. Like many other engineers or computer scientists, you’re not the first to take a complex biological process and force it into a simple control loop with a big ol’ black box in it. It’s not a particularly useful exercise when systems folks do this with a model of a cell, and it’s not particularly useful here either. I think once you trim the verbiage of your post down, it’s not saying a whole lot.

      But at least you agree with me here:

      “Well, if it please the court: I’m guilty of this too. I’ve simplified enormously. Abstraction is the basis of my profession (software engineering).”


      “Patience, friends. Patience and consistency can achieve amazing things.”

      Patience and consistency still doesn’t help people who were formerly fat either get thin or stay thin, except for those rare individuals who are lucky in some way to achieve weight loss, and then must work several times harder to maintain their weight for the rest of their lives, than people of the same size who were previously never fat. And I hope by amazing, you mean, the typical clinically significant weight loss seen in weight loss and lifestyle intervention trials where 5% is large enough for the researchers to get really excited.

      • Jimmy permalink
        November 19, 2012 8:15 pm

        Patience, consistency, and calorie counting got me from 280 to 190.

        • Kala permalink
          November 19, 2012 8:37 pm

          And how long have you been at 190? If you maintain that for more than a few years, consider yourself special, because you’ve achieved a more substantial weight loss for longer than most people in weight loss trials. Your singular example doesn’t make the reality of weight loss maintenance more likely for someone else.

          • yes permalink
            November 19, 2012 8:50 pm

            The more you convice yourself that its impossible the harder it will be to stomp on your ego to actually make a change with your life. Maybe you wouldn’t have such a negative attitude about everything.

            This whole thing is a joke.

            • Kala permalink
              November 19, 2012 8:52 pm

              Hey genius, how about I’m not even fat?

              I don’t have a “negative attitude”, I’m stating the results of actual research, which I read by the way, because that’s what my work and education involves.

          • Jimmy permalink
            November 20, 2012 5:57 am

            Roughly ten years now. I didn’t make the mistake of thinking that my lifestyle change was a “diet.” I ate my way into being obese and I wasn’t going to solve my problem by temporarily reducing the amount of food I ate.

      • Jacques Chester permalink
        November 19, 2012 9:53 pm

        So you’re saying that when people stop controlling themselves, the system begins to behave in an uncontrolled manner?

        Colour me not-at-all surprised.

        As I have said elsewhere on occasions such as this, we are pissing about the envelope of causality.

        Whenever it is finally, begrudgingly admitted that net calorie balance is the forcing function for the weight system, the next fallback position is to widen the boundaries of the system model.

        “Too simple!” comes the cry. “You need to consider social / psychological / historical / personal factors too!”

        All well and good.

        But right down the bottom, ultimately, caloric deficit creates weight loss. Surplus creates weight gain. And almost everyone reading this is a volitional agent who can exercise higher brain function to override any instinct or habit. You are not an unconscious automata. You can override you desire to eat tasty food in the same way that you can override any other basic instinct.

        • Mulberry permalink
          November 19, 2012 10:20 pm

          My weight is totally out of control; I’ve never made a secret of that. But if your weight is as totally within your control as you claim it is, why the hell would you even bother to get fat in the first place?
          Also, why assume that we wish to lose weight? What I want is to be treated with civility and respect as a fat woman – or a thin one, or an old one, or whatever shape my body happens to assume.

          • Jacques Chester permalink
            November 20, 2012 3:17 am

            A perfectly reasonable request.

            Which doesn’t square with the unseemly, swolehating vibe of atchka’s post.

            • November 20, 2012 8:20 am

              Shut the fuck up, you ignorant turd. FCJ is the epitome of “dish it, but can’t take it.” You talk shit about other people, and when they fight back you get your poor wittle fee fees hurt. Give me a fucking break.


              • November 20, 2012 5:25 pm

                I think you need some CSS fixes

                • November 20, 2012 5:27 pm

                  I know, but I don’t have and I can’t afford a professional fix. Wish I could. No alternative with


                  • Jacques Chester permalink
                    November 20, 2012 6:45 pm

                    No, this is good. It looks like madman poetry.

                    Look on my works, ye CSS designers, and despair

        • Kala permalink
          November 20, 2012 1:36 am

          “And almost everyone reading this is a volitional agent who can exercise higher brain function to override any instinct or habit. You are not an unconscious automata. You can override you desire to eat tasty food in the same way that you can override any other basic instinct.”

          You know, I was humoring you. But at this point it’s quite clear you’re a pretentious dumbass. There, I said it : )

          • Jacques Chester permalink
            November 20, 2012 3:14 am

            I will definitely back myself for pretentious.

  10. November 19, 2012 11:04 pm

    What I simply CANNOT fathom is why any of you anti-fatty, CI/CO commenters care about what we fatties choose to do. My body has no effect on you; neither does yours on me. Are you that completely arrogant and controlling that you must be right at all costs? What is the point of belittling others who believe different things than you? Are you really that insecure? I’m truly utterly baffled that you think you have the right or responsibility to educate or control us about your beliefs while negating ours. Just … the arrogance is staggering.

    • Mulberry permalink
      November 19, 2012 11:57 pm

      Maybe they’re just hungry and need some way to justify all that self-deprivation.

      • Jacques Chester permalink
        November 20, 2012 3:18 am

        I laughed.

    • Hest permalink
      November 20, 2012 3:05 am

      Because they don’t want to live in your kind of society, much like people don’t want to live in a fundamentalist christian/creationist/flat earther society. It’s a public blog, hence the public is going to see it. If you don’t like it, you’ll have to retreat to some closed woo-woo colony, where any form of opposition is banned.

      HAES isn’t so problematic in itself; the science denialism is.

      • Kala permalink
        November 20, 2012 7:32 am


        Are you a scientist, a researcher, a graduate student? I somehow highly doubt it. How about if you really understood the logic behind HAES, you’ll find it not particularly butting heads with any prominent science out there. It’s a notion supported by a lot of evidence.

        Or are you yet another troglodyte who thinks that HAES is bound by a guiding philosophy of “eat shit, never exercise, you’re healthy the way you are?”

        • Hest permalink
          November 20, 2012 12:25 pm

          > [HAES] not particularly butting heads with any prominent science out there.

          that’s because the natural response from clueful people is to laugh at this silly nonsense.

          > Or are you yet another troglodyte who thinks that HAES is bound by a guiding philosophy of “eat shit, never exercise, you’re healthy the way you are?”

          I’ve read some debates on whether health should be considered a moral imperative, and whether it shouldn’t rather be Happiness At Every Size. I think it’d actually be more honest with that definition. Hedonism At Every Size would work well, too. Health and a little chub is fine, claiming you’re healthy at 200 kg … thbthbthbthb 🙄

      • November 20, 2012 10:00 am

        Guess what: nobody wants to live in your kind of society either, where assholes and dickheads belittle anyone they think is unworthy of their respect. And I have yet to see any actual science from FCJ. Appeals to engineering and systems theory, but very little in terms of actual weight loss research. Talk about science denialism.


        • Kala permalink
          November 20, 2012 12:44 pm

          You left out a word, I think you mean “lackluster appeals to engineering and systems theory”. Jacques blog post read like a little princess just got out of her first control systems engineering course. No I take that back, first control systems engineering lecture.

          • Jacques Chester permalink
            November 20, 2012 10:09 pm

            You seem fond of appealing to your own authority and thinking this is how arguments are settled.

      • November 20, 2012 9:30 pm

        “Our kind of society”?

        You sound like a fascist.

    • Oreo permalink
      November 20, 2012 9:08 am

      It’s the bad science that’s so offensive – taking good science and exploiting the unknowns to spin it a different way. And then when challenged sliding all round the topic by changing the terms of the debate.

      • November 20, 2012 9:19 am

        Not a single FCJ person has shared any studies backing up their claims. Not one. Show me a single study that I’ve cited that is factually incorrect. The vast majority of controlled and uncontrolled studies show that long-term weight loss is a joke. Until you can bring me proof otherwise, you’re the one who is dabbling in bad science. The most comprehensive argument I’ve seen so far has been an analogy to a train. That’s it. Sorry, science doesn’t work in analogies.


      • November 20, 2012 11:14 am

        Have you actually read my original argument or are you just making assumptions about what I said based on the echo chamber in RCJ. When I said that calories in, calories out doesn’t work, I’m referring to the literalists who say that restricting 500 calories a day will lead to one pound of weight loss per week. Obviously you never read my original post and you’re simply rehashing what you’ve been told that I am saying.

        And what the evidence shows is that when people try to lose weight, most of them lose between 5 and 10% of their starting weight (if anything at all) and very few (less than 5%, typically) losing more than 10% of their starting weight. Of those people, very few keep it off for the full five years. These are all very simple, and compatible, concepts, all of which is substantiated in the most recent and robust research.


    • November 20, 2012 2:29 pm

      Go fuck yourself.

      Shannon, I invoke the dickhead rule. This isn’t discussion, it’s hatred.

  11. November 20, 2012 8:29 am

    I lost 230lbs in 2 years, eating less and exercising more. It really is that simple.
    This post is laughable.

    • November 20, 2012 9:00 am

      Congratulations. You’re now one of the many people who have a before and after picture and whose life I couldn’t care less about.


      • November 20, 2012 10:03 am

        Well, so be it then.

        BTW – Looking over your blog posts and comments, you should really try to calm down a bit – Anger and obesity can cause some serious heath problems.

        • November 20, 2012 10:11 am

          There’s a difference between angry and irritated. Anger means I’m taking all of this personally and feeling some sort of personal rage toward those I’m responding to. Irritation is that I have to explain myself again and again to a group of people, most of whom haven’t actually read the post that FCJ originally linked to explaining my understanding of why weight loss doesn’t work. Plus, there’s the irritation of reading the reddit threads where a bunch of assholes insult fat people, but when I respond the same way, you all act incensed and offended that I would dare impugn your good name. Hypocrisy is irritating.


  12. Tardovski permalink
    November 20, 2012 2:34 pm

    (Since Shannon’s obviously been to busy to update this I’ll just leave this correction here)

    You claim “During the starvation phase, they consumed 1,560 calories per day. That’s 1,640 fewer calories per day. The 1,600 calorie diet should have been enough energy to fuel the BMR, notwithstanding the expected 3,000 calories per day spent on the mandatory walk” (emphasis mine) whereas your link says very clearly “the participants were expected to walk 22 mi (35.4 km)/wk and expend 3009 kcal (12552 kJ)/d;” the 3k calorie was their total daily expenditure, not their daily exercise allotment. For comparison, while all caloric calculators are rough estimates, a 165 pound individual walking at 3 mph for 7 1/3 hours (22 miles) would burn slightly under 2000 calories which is to say if the 22 miles were distributed across the week their daily exercise requirement was responsible for less than 300 calories a day. If you’ve ever tried (or observed) walking used as a primarily means of weight loss this is entirely unsurprising.

    Maybe you should hold off on calling people stupid until you can actually digest your own source material.

    • November 20, 2012 3:03 pm

      First of all, I did correct myself here. Second of all, I’m trying to respond to a torrent of your people, so I’m rushing through the data. Yeah, I got one part wrong, but the point still stands that the predicted amount of weight loss did not match the actual outcome.


    • November 20, 2012 4:35 pm

      I have updated this part now to pacify the people who are mad that I updated with an entirely new post and not the original. Now, settle the fuck down, people.


      • Tardovski permalink
        November 20, 2012 5:45 pm

        C’mon Shanny, be honest — you updated this part *after* deleting the comment that called you out for running back here where you can hide behind your cheerleaders and delete any comments you don’t have a stock comeback for. You really need to work on accepting everything about yourself, not just the size of your body.

        • November 20, 2012 5:48 pm

          That’s what I fucking said. And I’m deleting all the comments that aren’t contributing to the conversation. I left your whinging comment and after I saw the other one I thought, “Fuck, these people never stop complaining.” I mentioned the commenter in that previous comment but I deleted his comment.


          • Tardovski permalink
            November 20, 2012 7:17 pm

            It was my comment actually. You however haven’t acknowledged that the MSE is in no way indicative of the results of a controlled and healthy diet plan. Pulling out Keys as evidence of the dangers and impracticality of fat loss is like arguing against mountain biking with motorcycle fatality statistics. Someone on Weight Watchers might not manage to maintain their weight loss but they also don’t lose cardiac tissue in the process; the mechanisms and the scale don’t compare.

  13. vesta44 permalink
    November 20, 2012 2:37 pm

    I’ve stayed out of this argument so far but these RCJ asshats just don’t understand anything at all about being fat, weight loss, diets, weight loss surgery, losing weight, or maintaining weight loss. They’re men, and from what I’ve seen, men who gain weight can lose it and maintain that weight loss a hell of a lot more easily than women. Men don’t need need to have fat stores to bear children, men don’t need fat stores to nurse children. Women need those fat stores for both of those reasons and it’s damnably difficult to lose that fat after you’ve had children. Repeated diets don’t help, all that does is tell your body that you’re enduring a famine and it needs to hang on to all the calories it gets when the famine ends, just in case another famine (diet) comes along.
    In my case, as an adult, I weighed 175 lbs (age 17) and was 5′ 9″. I got pregnant and went up to 235 lbs. After my daughter was born, I tried to lose the weight, between May and September I managed to lose and gain 10 lbs. In October, I got hit by a car which fractured my pelvis in 3 places, fractured my tibia and fibula in my left leg, and broke 3 upper front teeth. I spent two weeks in the hospital, and 6 weeks in the nursing home (I was 19 at the time). Even though I was eating everything I could, I somehow managed to go from 235 lbs down to 165 lbs (and that was with a cast on my leg that went from my foot to halfway up my thigh). When I went back to work, walking to and from work, roller skating about 20 hours a week, my weight went back up to 175 lbs. It stayed there until I got pregnant with my son, and I ended up weighing 325 lbs just before he was born (I was 22).
    When I was 24, I saw a doctor and was given diet pills (amphetamines) and managed to get down to 220 lbs in about 6 months. I maintained that until I had to quit taking the pills because the doctor lost his license.By the time I was 27, I was back up to 325, and had tried Weight Watchers (lost 50 lbs in 3 months, gained it back while still following their plan, gave up). Tried Overeaters Anonymous, lost 50 lbs in 3 months, gained it back while still following their plan, gave up on that. Tried Weight Watchers again, same story as before. When I was 44, my nurse practitioner put me on phen-fen. I lost 75 lbs on that in 6 months. then it was taken off the market (I went from 350 to 275). After the phen-fen, I had given up on losing weight, I gained back what I had lost on the drug.
    Then the NP recommended weight loss surgery. Like a fool, I followed her recommendation and had a VBG (stomach stapling for those who don’t know what a VBG is). I weighed 350 lbs before the surgery and was pretty mobile, I was able to do my grocery shopping without using a mobility cart, I could walk several blocks without being out of breath, I could do all my housework without having to take breaks. I managed to lose 80 lbs in the first 6 months after the surgery, mainly because I couldn’t eat anything without vomiting it back up. Then, even though I still couldn’t eat much without barfing all the time, the weight started slowly creeping back, and it didn’t stop until I had hit 400 lbs. Part of the problem might have been the fact that I had an undiagnosed thyroid problem (it was enlarged and I had been told it was not a problem, to not worry about it). I eventually had to have my thyroid removed.
    It’s been 15 years since I had that WLS, and I can tell you that I’ve done everything I’m supposed to in order to lose weight and keep it off. The thing is, I don’t have a gallbladder anymore (another one of the things about dieting, if you do it enough, it fucks with your gallbladder and you end up having to have it removed). So with that, and my mutilated digestive system, there are so many things I can’t eat anymore unless I want to spend my day in the bathroom, shitting my brains out (fruits, vegetables, anything high fiber, anything with a lot of sugar, milk, and anything that’s greasy/fatty). That leaves me with a very limited amount of things I can eat, and I can’t eat them in very large amounts either – about one cup and it takes me 30 to 45 minutes to eat that. Add to that the fact that I’m now hypothyroid, and there should be no reason for me to be fat, but I am (and if you looked at pictures of my mother, my grandmothers, or my grandmothers’ sisters, you’d see that all of them were fat as well, so it’s probably a genetic thing as well).
    I eat less than 1000 calories a day, and have managed to diet my way from 175 lbs to 400 lbs over the course of 20 years (I gave up on diets after my WLS failed 15 years ago). Is it any wonder that I’ve given up on dieting as a way to improve my health and am more interested in figuring out what things I can eat that will lead to health and what exercises I can do that will lead to health and to hell with losing weight? The really sad thing about all of this is that whole time I was trying to lose weight because doctors kept telling me my weight was going to kill me in 5 years if I didn’t do something about it (the first time I heard that was 35 years ago), my blood pressure has been normal, my blood sugar has been normal, and my cholesterol has been normal. All the time these doctors have been telling me that my weight is going to kill me, I’ve been as metabolically healthy as a person can be – and according to them, I should have died 30 years ago, and I’ve managed to make it to the ripe old age of 59. My fat grandmothers both lived to be 86, and my fat grandfather lived to be 90. My fat mother managed to live to 75 after fighting ovarian cancer for 10 years. So I figure I’m going to live to at least 75 or 80, in spite of being fat.
    And yes, this is just anecdotal, which is not data, but I have a feeling that I’m not the only woman who has had these experiences. So all of you from RCJ who think you know it all about how to lose weight and maintain that loss – you might know what works for you, personally, but you don’t have a fucking clue what will work for me, or for anyone else.

    • Jacques Chester permalink
      November 20, 2012 6:50 pm

      There are two possibilities here:

      1. What we know about physics is wrong. The second law of thermodynamics is broken, implying that the heat death of the universe is not an inevitability, that perpetual motion is possible, that 100% efficient energy generation is now within our grasp. On the downside, the conservation of matter and energy is also broken, implying that we will need to retool relativity from scratch. We may even discover weapons of unlimited power. Still, exciting times!

      2. You measured wrong.

      • November 20, 2012 7:03 pm

        3. You’re a fucking asshole who has absolutely no care for anything anyone says that isn’t your own pretentious voice. Go to hell. Go away. Get the fuck off our site. No one wants you here. Vesta has gone through hell and all you want to do is talk about measurements. These are real, living breathing people who have real problems, and you don’t give a fuck because it doesn’t square with your narrative of all fat people being worthless fucks. Please do the world a favor and die in a fire.

        • Jacques Chester permalink
          November 20, 2012 7:18 pm

          Sorry, Straw-Jacques isn’t here. You’re talking to Actual-Person Jacques, who hasn’t anywhere proposed that “all fat people are worthless fucks”. Who is also a real, living, breathing person who has real problems you’ve no idea about.

          At what point have I actually directly said that I consider fat people to be morally deficient? Please quote me (hint: my gravy remark is as close I get).

          Don’t just make shit up because you are angry at someone who made a sarcastic but irrefutable point.

      • Kala permalink
        November 21, 2012 12:45 am

        See, you’ll post a semi-reasonable comment, but then you go and say that.

        What exactly has vesta not measured correctly? The amount of food she eats? Her exercise over the years? Her weight? Has she misread her own medical records over the years?

        How many people do you know that have had bariatric surgery? Have they all had stellar outcomes? Because the ones that I know have had very mixed results, and stories like vesta’s are not hard to find.

        You sit there, a young man probably not much older than myself, and you’re pretending that you know and understand the metabolic characteristics of a post menopausal woman with grandchildren, who has had her fucking thyroid removed? That in fact that you know her story to be so untrue, that you post some shitass snarky comment about how either she’s broken physics or that she can’t measure or understand her own self? Fuck you.

        • vesta44 permalink
          November 21, 2012 12:57 am

          No, Kala, what he’s saying is that I’m a liar. I’m lying about my caloric intake, I’m lying about the diets I’ve been on, I’m lying about the weight I’ve lost and regained, I’m lying about certain foods making me shit my brains out right after eating them, I’m lying about my metabolic health – basically, he’s saying that I’m lying about every aspect of my life, which is a good one since he doesn’t know me from Adam, doesn’t know a damned thing about me, and has never met me. He knows better than I do how my body works, which is a miracle, since he doesn’t live in my body, nor does he live with me, nor does he have access to my doctor or my medical records. So for him to make those assumptions form so little information is astounding. Makes me wonder what kind of genius he thinks he is……

          • Kala permalink
            November 21, 2012 1:13 am

            Well of course he thinks you’re lying. He probably thinks anyone who reports experiences that don’t agree with his worldview are making it up.

            But I guess he thought’d he apply a euphemistic “you measured wrong” to be cute.

            I can’t speak to his actual intelligence, as I don’t think writing alone is a good measure of that. But I can tell you that he’s a pretty pompous prick. Get this:


            I mean, come the fuck on. Let’s just say that I do pretty well for myself, but you won’t find me humble-bragging about my purported intelligence on a blog, and I certainly don’t do it here either. My incredibly intelligent software developer boyfriend would never be caught doing it. And the very intelligent folks I count among my friends are the same. It’s incredibly tasteless and a total red flag.

  14. VikingDiapers(ResidentFCJfatguy) permalink
    November 20, 2012 5:34 pm

    Fatty here. Also a FCJ’r here. FCJ has no issue with fatties. They have issues with delusional excuse making people that don’t want to do any work to achieve their goals. I’m probably one of the biggest people there and I don’t get any real grief about it because I work my ass off. A large (HAHAHAHA PUN) number of the members are former fatties. From my perspective it makes me cringe to hear fat people make excuses about why they are fat. CI/CO works for me. It works for every single lifter I have ever met that goes on a bulk/cut cycle each year. It works for every single person I know that has lost or gained weight. It works. Give it an honest shot for an extender period of time, stop making excuses, start doing hard work, and you too will cringe when you come to blogs like this and hear the victim culture making a grating noise. And what the shit? You demand body acceptance yet make fun of our bodies? That makes sense…

    • November 20, 2012 7:04 pm

      You’re so full of shit I can’t even know where to start.

      I don’t see anyone making fun of your bodies here; I see people making fun of your airbrained excuses for science. Don’t play the victim card here, pookie, it ill becomes you.

      • Jacques Chester permalink
        November 20, 2012 7:24 pm

        I don’t see anyone making fun of your bodies here

        You mean, apart from such gems as:

        and the rest of them bob their heads to the extent that their cinderblock necks will allow.


        And thanks to the fact that I’m not pumped full of steroids, I still get to use mine!

        • November 20, 2012 9:29 pm

          Oh, poor baby. When one of your people comments that they want death panels to exist for fatties so we could all die, I could give a shit. You are the aggressors here. You are the condescending fuckheads. You brought hatred and disdain. And now you’re in shock that we’re reacting exactly the same way you treat us?

          God, how many languages do I have to say Fuck Off in?

          • Jacques Chester permalink
            November 20, 2012 10:05 pm

            Oh look, Jacques is right again, guess I better move the goalposts.


            • November 20, 2012 11:39 pm



              • November 20, 2012 11:43 pm

                I’ve activated the comment filter. I’m going to moderate all new comments. There won’t be any more trolls tonight.


      • Kala permalink
        November 20, 2012 7:27 pm

        There’s no zeal like the zeal of a convert.

    • Kala permalink
      November 21, 2012 12:49 am

      Yeah, no problem with fat people you say?

      I’ll just leave this here. But yeah, this was most certainly posted for reasons other than the woman was fat and wasn’t making a face for a camera she wasn’t even looking at.

  15. enigma permalink
    November 20, 2012 5:47 pm

    I do not see any evidence that obese individuals need to eat near starvation levels for maintenance. And being able to maintain a healthy weight is what we are most concerned with. no? Adaptive thermogenesis is indeed a major obstacle to overcome on a caloric deficit as the Minnesota Starvation Experiment demonstrates, but on maintenance it is a difference story: the metabolic rate of a dieted down person rebounds such that it is nearly identical to naturally lean person. The difference in total energy expenditure according to this study was 1.3% –

    The biggest factor to why maintaining fails in these studies is a matter of adherence. I strongly question the methodology of these studies and their extrapolation to failure rates for dieting in the real world. On one hand you have the extreme VLCD – AFAIK rarely anyone uses this outside a medical setting. It should be intuitive to anyone that the more restrictive the diet, the lower the chance of long-term adherence. On the other hand are the typical hypocaloric diets set to some static number. In the face of adaptive thermogenesis, this is poorly planned. If you set an unchanging 1600cal/day and expect consistent weight loss, you’re going to be in for disappointment. Why aren’t there any studies that employ a sane, middle-of-the-road dynamic hypocaloric diet?

    Will it be harder for the obese to diet than the lean? Yes, definitely. No one claimed dieting is easy, and it is up to the individual to decide if it is worth it. What I find disagreeable is the weight-fatalism mentality of many advocates of the fat acceptance movement. Far be it for me or anyone else to police another person’s body. I’m simply here to refute hasty conclusions. Adaptive thermogenesis should not deter anyone who is seeking to lose weight.

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