On the surface, this sounds terrible. But we can use this knowledge to change the way we think about dieting. I'm good at working hard to lose weight. When I reach my target goal, I think that as long as I only eat when hungry and avoid fattening snacks I'll be fine. Instead, time and time again, the weight creeps back on. The storage bins of clothes in four different sizes in my basement prove this fact! This study tells me I need to change my thinking. I need to know that it is going to be a marathon and not a sprint. It also tells me that I may feel very hungry and not actually need to eat!
Math wins the day. We must track calories in and calories out in order to lose and maintain weight. There are several helpful apps out there that I reviewed in a post here. These apps will help you track calories in. But how do you figure out what your calorie intake should be? The 2000 calorie intake you've probably heard about is just a guideline. You can bet it doesn't apply to me at 5 foot tall and working at a desk job.
I used this calculator from the Mayo clinic. It takes into consideration your age, height, weight, sex and activity level. To maintain my current weight I can only consume 1550 calories a day. If I were to use that 2000 calorie intake guideline, I'd be gaining weight! To lose a pound or two a week, I'd have to limit my calories to 1100 to 1300 a day or increase my activity level!
Whether I choose to limit and count my calories or add exercise or some kind of combination, I now have a realistic expectation of what I need to do to get the results I want. Expectations are important. They are how we measure success. If I expect to skip snacks and lose weight, I'll feel like a failure when that doesn't happen. It's not a realistic expectation and I am therefore setting myself up for failure. If instead, I know it's going to be a long hard road from the beginning, I can commit to that and see my slow progress as the huge success that it is!
I'm also holding out hope that this study will lead to more studies and medical breakthroughs. I was just talking with a woman who lost 250 lbs through gastric bypass surgery but gained 150 back. Research like this might lead to the medical community offering some sort of long term support to individuals like her. Mentally and physically that kind of weight gain and loss takes a toll. We have an obesity epidemic in our country, but are only beginning to understand how to resolve it!