Nutritional Medicine , Separating Fact from Fiction
Perhaps many do not realize this, but since 1952, or thereabouts, every medical textbook, nutrition textbook, nutrition expert was taught the golden rule: “3,500 calories = one pound of body fat and if you cut down 500 calories from your diet or increase your expenditure of 500 calories as exercise – per day – you will lose ONE POUND per week (500 calories x 7 = 3,500 calories) or 52 pounds per year. For real?
Nevertheless, the 3,500 calorie rule is flawed. This is why. In real life weight loss is not restricted to just fat, you lose muscle as well. Muscle weighs more than fat and contains mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, the generators of energy in our body and we don’t want that. If we lose muscle and mitochondria, our metabolism declines, we burn fewer calories, cannot lose weight as we did before on the same calorie level and in the end becomes very self-defeating. In the cave days it prepared us for starvation until the next kill and our genes did not plan for shopping in a grocery store.
In 20ll, Hall KD, et al, published a study in Lancet that essentially presented to the world another mathematical model for weight loss predictions. This one was based on an anticipatory pattern of free-living energy intake. He assumes in his model that after a great start in the beginning of a weight loss program, a progressive increase of energy intake occurs for many months before it hits a “plateau”. Hall developed a web-based simulator for prediction of weight change that takes into account a dynamic flux.
On the basis of his model, a change of 23.88 calories per pound per day will result in a 1 kg body weight loss with half occurring in the first year and 95% of the remaining weight loss will be over a course of 3 years.
Recognizing that calorie intake and expenditure exist in a dynamic interplay, Hall took his research findings and developed web friendly applications that individuals may use to figure out their own weight loss programs (see below, under Resources).
He called his web application the Super Tracker and is listed in the resource section.
If you want to try to do this yourself, here are the steps:
1. Start by figuring your baseline needs out by using the Mifflin St. Jeor calculator:
The Mifflin equation is the “gold standard” for predictions on resting energy expenditure. You need to know what you are burning now to figure out a weight loss program. Then a good rule of thumb is to:
2. Calculate 20% less than the amount given by the Mifflin formula. The 20% reduction can be achieved through a decrease in food intake and increase in exercise or what works best: a combination of both a reduction in calories and an exercise program.
Example: Baseline calories from Mifflin = 2200 kcal x.20 = 440 or 2200-440=1760 is the new caloric amount for the weight loss diet. Or, you can use the body weight planner located at https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/bwp/index.html .
The Body Weight Planner:
Reference to the Body Weight Planner:
Hall KD, Sacks G, Chandra Mohan D, Chow CC, Wang YC, Gortmaker SL, Swinburn BA. Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight. Lancet. 2011 Aug 27; 378(9793):826-37. (PMID: 21872751)
The Food Tracker
Super Tracker Tools