I really have enjoyed this mini series of 4 programmes and will miss the women who have made it such fun. Anna Richardson has been brilliant throughout also.
The last in the series aired on Thursday 14th January and the final weight loss was impressive: Bev lost 12lbs; Lissy lost 9lbs; Gail lost 8lbs; Pam lost 7lbs, Debbie and Josie lost 6lbs and Anna lost 5lbs over 2 weeks. This weight loss may have been a reflection of what had been eaten before and moving from cakes, pies and takeaways to 1,200 calories a day has to work in the short term.
The interesting thing about weight loss on low calorie diets is (as it says in the first blog on this programme) is that it is not sustainable. The body will adjust as soon as it can to the shock of the insufficient fuel intake and reduce the body’s need for fuel, conserve energy and so on (all detailed in “Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight…”
The other thing that is so great about programmes like this (and Britain’s Biggest Loser 2009) is that they single handedly blow apart the calorie theory. In fact every calorie deficit study ever done blows apart this theory and yet we still assert “To lose 1lb of fat we need to create a deficit of 3500 calories.” If this were the case, then Gail (the lightest starting weight in the group) should be able to keep this up until New Year 2010 and she should be under 2 stone by then. And that would only account for fat loss. Gail would also lose lean tissue and water and probably therefore would be weightless after a year. This is totally ridiculous, but that is what the theory asserts.
There should also be hardly any variation in weight loss. If the women all had a similar calorie requirement (the average 2000 per woman, which is so often used), then a 1200 calorie a day diet should result in 800*14/3500 = 3.2lbs as a FAT loss over 2 weeks – that’s what formulae are all about. Then there should be more on top for lean tissue and water loss – an estimated 13% (Bozenraad 1911 journal). That’s 3.6lbs. So for Bev to lose 12lbs and Anna to lose 5lbs makes a mockery of the formula in just 14 days. Yes the women will have different calorie requirements and not all have an average need of 2000, but this won’t be able to explain the 7lb difference between highest and lowest weight loss. Take Debbie (12.8 starting weight) and Bev (11.10 starting weight) – Debbie should have had a slightly higher calorie need (size is one of the best indicators, as a rule of thumb), but their weight loss should have been very similar – maybe Debbie’s slightly higher. But Bev’s was double that of Debbie!
There was a lovely bit when the dietician, Ursula, was talking to the coca-cola addict and she used this 3500 formula the other way (it has to hold both ways to be valid) and she said that him drinking 800 calories of coca-cola a day should lead to him gaining 6 stone a year. The maths here is 800 calories ‘extra’ per day x 365 days = 292,000 calories ‘not needed’. This should have turned into 292,000/3500 pounds of fat i.e. 83.4 lbs of fat – which is 6 stone. As he had been drinking this amount of cola for 25 years, he should have gained 150 stone during that time (he would have been in the Guinness Book of Records over 10 years ago!) Oh, and all of this is just fat remember – given that the body is approximately 50% water, he should have gained 50-75 stone of water in that time also. How can anyone still believe this urban myth formula?! The bit that made me smile was Ursula’s face when she said this – she almost looked baffled as if to say “you should be gaining 6 stone a year, but that can’t be right and/or I don’t know why you’re not”)!
A great show – for the calorie theory assassination alone. But there were also some great guests – Dr David Kessler, former head of the USA Food & Drug Administration was a joy to listen to. The analysis of Pringles (one of the labels I most often quote) was fascinating. I skipped through all the games placing 5 foods in different calorie order – who cares! We need to pay infinitely more attention to the nutritional quality of food and be far more aware of the foods that facilitate fat storage (carbs) and the foods that disturb fat burning (carbs again!) The trouble is low calorie = high carb and you can see why 30 years of calorie obsession and telling people to eat carbs has resulted in an obesity epidemic.
Do another one next year Channel 4 – but manage carbs, not calories. Have people eating real food (meat, fish, eggs, veg, salad, dairy products, fruit & whole grains) and no empty calories (sugar and low value flour calories) and then see what happens. You’ll be able to follow up with this group two months down the line also, as they won’t be hungry and are more likely to have made a lifestyle change.