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Breaking Diet News: Someone, Alert the Media!
2009.03.02 (Mon) 21:25
In a shocking surprise that shocked and surprised nobody (except people who really, truly believe that fad diets work), the results of a surprisingly shocking research study published in the New England Journal of Medicine came to this shockingly surprising conclusion:
Conclusions Reduced-calorie diets result in clinically meaningful weight loss regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize. ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00072995 [ClinicalTrials.gov].)
Wait, what does that mean? Maybe this excerpt from an AP article will spell it out a little more clearly:
Low-fat, low-carb or high-protein? The kind of diet doesn't matter, scientists say. All that really counts is cutting calories and sticking with it, according to a federal study that followed people for two years. However, participants had trouble staying with a single approach that long and the weight loss was modest for most.
As the world grapples with rising obesity, millions have turned to popular diets like Atkins, Zone and Ornish that tout the benefits of one nutrient over another.
Some previous studies have found that low carbohydrate diets like Atkins work better than a traditional low-fat diet. But the new research found that the key to losing weight boiled down to a basic rule — calories in, calories out.
"The hidden secret is it doesn't matter if you focus on low-fat or low-carb," said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the research.
Limiting the calories you consume and burning off more calories with exercise is key, she said.
Sweet, tangy Jesus with a small side of corn bread, who would have ever foreseen this outcome? Oh, wait — we would have. And did, years ago. Our brief entry on fad diets in the Score says the following:
Fad diets come and go. Right now, the Atkins Low Carbohydrate diet is all the rage. However, the simple truth is that in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. Period. Nothing else will work in the long run. This means that you either must exercise more, or eat fewer calories, or both. Many fad diets work for the short term, but will fail in the long run, either due to the dieter's inability to stick with the program, or the fact that the short term weight loss is based on water weight dropping, or some other short-lived impact.
And the fact that we unraveled this "hidden secret" years ago doesn't make us unique, special snowflakes — this is a basic and obvious concept that fucking fad diets simply ignore, in favor, of course, of encouraging people to waste their money on "secret" weight-loss techniques, equipment, supplies, or other fatuous and vacuous assistance. Losing weight is about consuming less calories and/or burning more, period. Everything else is just window dressing. Quite expensive window dressing, in many (if not all) cases, but window dressing nonetheless.
What else did the study find? That restricting only calories instead of entire classes of food (like carbs, or fats) leaves more leeway to design a diet that will satisfy a person's individual preferences in the long run. In other words, someone is more likely to stick to (and therefore derive useful results from) a low calorie diet that allows them to eat smaller amounts of their favorite foods than a diet that doesn't allow them to eat one or more of those favorites at all. Again, this information hardly boggles the mind. This can be extended culturally as well. If you're hazy on what we're talking about there, go discuss it with an Italian-American who has tried to stick to the Atkins diet despite the fact that Italian-Americans are, practically from birth, force-fed pasta on a daily basis. It's like saying, "You know, you should really cut down on the smurfberries, Handy Smurf."
The article also takes a jab at a certain crappy fad diet that will remain nameless (though not linkless):
The study compared high quality, heart healthy diets and "not the gimmicky popular versions," said Katz, who had no role in the study. Some popular low-carb diets tend to be low in fiber and have a relatively high intake of saturated fat, he said.
But let's get real. In defense of crappy fad diets, if the people pushing these diets admitted the truth (that their silly little schemes and plans and bullshit rules are really totally useless and beside the point), then there would be nothing at all to differentiate their bullshit diets from the scores of other bullshit diets. As such, no one would buy their foods, supplements, books, DVDs, clothing, and skin care products, and no one would enroll in classes teachings their useless methods. So we feel their pain. Really.
In fact, we'd like to offer our own secret weight loss formula. If we weren't semi-anonymous, we would post some before and after pictures of Jeff who, in six months during 2007 (after some unfortunate medication-and-lifestyle-induced ballooning), lost about 80 pounds. What was his trick? Scratching Ass.
That's right, every day (more or less) for those entire six-plus months, Jeff had, at least once a day, scratched his ass, and the result was that he lost a whopping 80 pounds (and has kept it off). What could be more scientific than that?
Oh, a few disclaimers. Our statements haven't been evaluated by the FDA, and Jeff's results were not typical so your weight loss may vary. In addition, his approach was effective when coupled with a decrease in caloric intake (while still eating the same crap he loves — "sweet tooth" doesn't begin to describe the bastard), and an increase in caloric expenditure (that would be exercise, folks — quite a good amount of it). But we're pretty sure that last bit — lowering caloric intake and burning more calories — is totally incidental. Really. Totally. So if we designed some "Ass Scratching Diet" T-shirts and bottle cozies, how much would you pay for them?
Listen, we know that the fad diet companies are selling something — everything from those weird-ass giant rubber bands in 1950s newsreel footage that shake your belly fat away to the African weed that kept hunter-gatherers' minds off their hunger during tough times (but was not used for fucking weight-loss, you lazy-ass New Romans — and when hunger isn't the only reason you eat, a hunger suppressant is not going to help you lose weight). And, though we're not big fans of the practice, they naturally mislead folks in order to make their money, while "staying inside" the very hazy lines of Truth In Advertising.
All we're after is an educated public. Will that put asshats like the fad diet folks out of business? Sure, if we're successful, but that's peripheral. More importantly, it will make for a population that, even if they're still obese, won't be placing false hope in false methods. They'll know that if they're still fat, it's because they're eating more than they should, and exercising less than they should. And maybe, just maybe, they'll start taking responsibility for their own goddamn problems.
But then, that's our fad: personal accountability. And we've been fanboys of that franchise for quite a while. Just don't ask to read our slash fic.
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[ Filed under: % Bullshit % Science & Technology ]
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