Analistas 16/05/2016

Are weight-loss efforts doomed by biology?

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One recent flurry of very popular articles, at The Times and elsewhere, has involved dieting and the reasons that it doesn’t work for many people who are trying to lose weight. Now, I have zero professional expertise in this area, only personal experience. But for what it’s worth - which is very little - I wonder whether the despair about dieting is overdone. (Again, this is just personal, and if you don’t want to know, well, nobody says you have to read this.)

I’ve lost a lot of weight - just compare a recent photo of me with any of the older ones you can find on the Internet. I’m not sure exactly how much I weighed when I started (I didn’t want to know), but I believe I’ve lost about 45 pounds, most of it in 2012-13. And my Fitbit log says that my weight has been more or less flat since the beginning of 2014, with my waist shrinking further as I put on some muscle.

I did it with - surprise - a combination of diet and exercise: intermittent fasting, otherwise known as the “5:2 diet,” working out almost every morning and moving to New York, where it’s easy and natural to walk a lot. If my metabolism has declined with the weight loss, I can’t see it. On normal days, I eat what I want and drink wine; I only do low-calorie days when my weight rises above target, and often that just means once over the course of two weeks.

Maybe everything will fall apart one of these days. And I can think of a couple of reasons I have had it relatively easy: a flexible schedule that makes it easier to work out and lets me fast on days with less work pressure, not to mention urban living, where I can walk most of the way to the office and do almost all my errands on foot.

Still, I’m really glad that I didn’t read a bunch of articles telling me to not even try, because the effort was doomed by biology.

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