Are Low Calories For Fast Weight Loss Bad? Part 2.

Follow up to my last article: Are Low Calories for Fast Weight Loss Really That Bad? If you didn't read it I suggest reading it first.

A discussion on my post yesterday in a group inspired me to write a follow up, so here we go. This productivity shit is getting out of hand...

Yesterday in a supposedly "research based" group I had a woman say that my post was wrong. She said cutting should be done on as many calories as possible and used reasons like adherence, energy, standard things that most would have issues with when on low calories. She said cutting on as high as possible is "optimal," and low calories can be dangerous. She said yoyo dieting isn't how to do it. She finished by saying low calories are NEVER an option and my post didn't help anyone, and could hurt people.

(Edit: She also pointed out Lyle says in the RFL handbook that nobody should ever do a crash diet but he wrote it to show them how to if they decide to anyways, which isn't exactly true. He also wrote this great article on whether it's right for you or not, and also I wanna stress again how good the RFL handbook is. Buy it.)

This was very sad to see, because it ignores the very most important aspect of fitness and coaching. Specificity.

Let me repeat that. Specificity. Fucking specificity (I realize I'm using this in a slightly different context than often used for programming, but it fits). People do well on different things, and stating that everyone should cut on as many calories as possible (or any other method) is ignorant. Some people do best on low carbs, even though they aren't ideal for performance. Some do best on paleo even though it's something some random guy pulled out of his ass with no scientific backing at all. And some do best on very low calories even though it's disastrous for the majority. Every individual is different.

Not everyone will yoyo on low calories, not everyone will feel like shit and plummet their NEAT, and not everyone will have hormonal issues. And guess what, if they do by choice who the fuck cares? Without adherence no plan will work, and without specificity adherence is unlikely. If someone who needs to lose 50-100lbs likes the fast results of low calories which helps adherence are we really gonna sit here and tell him he should eat more to avoid running into issues? If that's what works for him does the risk of running into issues really outweigh the benefits of his weight loss? There have been many posts recently about dietary superiority and telling everyone else your method is best so I won't go too deep into that, but come the fuck on, what somebody will adhere to is almost always best (maybe not in super extreme circumstances), and what someone will adhere to varies drastically between people.

The other thing i want to address that she mentioned is the word optimal. I actually have been meaning to write about this for awhile as nobody has really talked about it the way I see it. I try to avoid using the word as there is now a stigma attached to it, but I think it's a great word. In my opinion, optimal in this context means what would work best physiologically without context. For example, low carbing isn't optimal as it will affect performance. Low calories aren't optimal due to lbm retention, energy/performance decline, and a plethora of other things. Those methods aren't optimal.

However, optimal doesn't trump specificity. No matter how optimal a plan is in theory it's not optimal for the person unless they adhere. "Optimal" in general training or nutrition discussions is irrelevant when context is added. What is optimal for the individual is what they do best on, regardless of how optimal that is in general. So I don't think we need to dismiss the word as something only "dyel abstract warriors" refer to, we just need to keep it in perspective and understand that once you add individual context what is optimal in general doesn't matter if the person can't adhere to it.

Another edit: Lyle made a very good point about low calories I never thought to mention on either post. Losing 1-1.5lbs a week when you're obese can be very difficult, and those that haven't been obese don't always understand that. I can personally vouch for that, and if i had been forced to only lose 1-1.5lbs a week when i first got into fitness and lost 100lbs in a year there's no way i would've succeeded, I would've given up and would still be fat today.

To sum everything up, specificity is most important and ignoring it is very stupid. Optimal does exist in a general sense and shouldn't be ignored, but has to be kept in perspective.Optimal to an individual is as optimal as possible while adhering, and without adherence it means nothing.

If you think you might be one of the minority who does well on low calories, or just need some guidance feel free to fill out the form on the contact us page.

Here are some studies on vlcd's since apparently there are people out there that think they're too dangerous for anyone to use. The last one is a medically supervised year long fast, very interesting read. Remember vlcd's in the literature also are far from optimal compared to a proper low calorie diet like Lyle's RFL, so issues would be even less in practice when done right.

Very-low-calorie diets and sustained weight loss.
The evolution of very-low-calorie diets: an update and meta-analysis.
What are the long-term benefits of weight reducing diets in adults? A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
Use of very-low-calorie diets in the treatment of obese persons with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
Benefits and limitations of very-low-calorie diet therapy in obese NIDDM.
[Very-low-calorie-diets: is there a place for them in the management of the obese diabetic?].
Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days' duration