Lawyernista’s Weight Loss Primer and Common Misconceptions

Moderate Exercise will help me lose weight.

Sadly, that it actually not true for most people. Moderate exercise helps you maintain your weight and it keeps you healthier (e.g., reduces the risk of developing diabetes by more then 50%). But if you want to lose weight you have to also restrict your caloric intake.

Walking burns a lot of calories.

Actually, walking at 2 mph only burns about 200 calories per hour (this is about the same amount of calories as a chocolate chip cookie has) but it contributes to your overall health and improves your mood.

As long as I exercise I can eat anything I want and I won’t gain weight.

That is true for athletes who burn enormous amounts of calories (e.g., Michael Phelps burns about 5000 calories per work-out) but this is not the case for the average person. Whether or not you gain weight while you exercise depends on the amount of calories you take in vs. the amount of calories you burn through exercising (just subtract what you burned from what you took in and you know approximately if you are likely to cut even, lose or gain).

If my friend and I eat the same calories per day we will maintain our weight equally well.

That is not true. People have different set points for body weight. For example, Molly may be able to eat 1400 cal/per day to maintain her weight while her friend Sarah can eat 1600 cal/per day to maintain the exact same weight at the exact same height.

It does not matter what time of the day I eat, all that matters is the total caloric intake per day.

This is still controversial. Personally, I find that not to be true. When I stop eating at 5 PM and go to bed hungry I find it easier to lose weight then if I consume more calories before bedtime. According to Satchin Panda, associate professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, there may be an explanation for this. Here is what she proposes: In order to burn the most fat, you need to go 12 hours without eating—say, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. During the day, your brain and muscles use some of the calories you eat for fuel, and the rest gets stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. At night, your body converts that glycogen into glucose and releases it into your bloodstream to keep your blood-sugar levels steady while you sleep. Once the stored glycogen is gone, your liver starts burning fat for energy. So, you burn fat while you sleep. The catch is that it takes a few hours to use up the day’s glycogen stores. So if you snack until midnight and sit down to your breakfast of oatmeal or eggs at 7 a.m., your body may never get the opportunity to burn any fat before you start reloading your glycogen stores again. Moreover, night owls consume an average of 248 calories more per day than those who go to bed earlier, and most of those excess calories rack up after 8 p.m., according to a 2011 study published in the journal Obesity. See Link to Fox News

Soft drinks are bad for me but fruit juices are good for me.

Wrong. Soft drinks and juices are equally bad for you if you want to lose weight. They both contain mostly sugar and, thus, empty calories. An 8 oz. cup of unsweetened orange juice has 112 calories (sweetened orange juice has more). The sweet taste of a fruit is nature’s way to trick you into eating the healthy fiber. If you pass on the fiber you miss the point.

I lose a lot of weight if I do a liquid diet.

It appears that way but the lost weight is mostly water (with some muscles and fat thrown in). At some point the body enters starvation mode during which it conserves body weight extremely well and you will no longer lose weight quickly. Eventually, you will be so starved that you will likely break down and eat whatever you can get your hands on and the weight will quickly return (hence, the term Yo-Yo diet).

 Counting calories does not help.

Actually it does. Once you know your set point (where you maintain your weight at a given activity level) you can then begin to either increase your activity level and/or decrease your caloric intake to start losing weight. Best is to do both.

There is no real formula for losing weight.

According to the Mayo Clinic there is. Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So if you cut 500 calories from your diet each day, you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). Because of changes that occur in the body over time, however, calories may need to be decreased further to continue weight loss. See Link to Mayo Clinic

Ok, so let’s look at this more closely in form of an example: Sarah can maintain her weight at 1800 caloric intake per day with a moderate activity level (Sarah walks everywhere). Thus, 1800 calories/per day is Sarah’s set point for maintaining her body weight. If Sarah reduces her caloric intake to 1300 calories/day then Sarah will begin to lose about 1 pound per week. If Sarah wants to increase her caloric intake by 100 calories to 1400 calories/day then she needs to make up for those extra 100 calories by adding a higher activity level that burns an additional 100 calories per day (e.g., bicycling lightly on her stationary bike for 30 minutes a day) in order for her to still lose 1 pound per week. At the beginning this formula will work beautifully for Sarah, however, after a few weeks the body adjusts to this new regimen and becomes a little more stubborn in losing the weight and Sarah may hit a plateau. Now, Sarah will have to reduce her caloric intake to fewer calories per day in order to keep losing 1 pound per week (how much depends on the individual person).

Bicycling is not such a good way to lose weight for me.

Well, I beg to differ. Take a look at the chart below to see how many calories you can actually burn just with bicycling. You can use bicycling (including stationary bicycling) to target your weight loss. It is an efficient way to lose weight even in the comfort of your home. It also maintains your overall health, increases your sense of well being, improves your mood, and maintains adequate blood flow throughout your body. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. Table below from

Activity (1 hour) 130 lb 155 lb 180 lb 205 lb
Cycling, mountain bike, bmx 502 598 695 791
Cycling, <10 mph, leisure bicycling 236 281 327 372
Cycling, >20 mph, racing 944 1126 1308 1489
Cycling, 10-11.9 mph, light 354 422 490 558
Cycling, 12-13.9 mph, moderate 472 563 654 745
Cycling, 14-15.9 mph, vigorous 590 704 817 931
Cycling, 16-19 mph, very fast, racing 708 844 981 1117
Stationary cycling, very light 177 211 245 279
Stationary cycling, light 325 387 449 512
Stationary cycling, moderate 413 493 572 651
Stationary cycling, vigorous 620 739 858 977
Stationary cycling, very vigorous 738 880 1022 1163

Disclaimer: is not a physician and/or trained nutritionist. This information is based on my personal experiences and accumulated research and I am not responsible for any issues that may arise from following these suggestions. Weight loss differs from person to person and hiring a trained nutritionist and/or physician is the safest way to remain healthy during your weight loss endeavor and is, thus, highly recommended.

This entry was posted in Health. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Lawyernista’s Weight Loss Primer and Common Misconceptions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s