Question on dieting re: "calories out"

Please no comments about “take the fork out of you mouth” or exercise more. This is specifically about the calories out part of dieting with metabolism, ghrelin (satiated) vs. leptin (starving), “paleolithic” biology, weight-loss plateaus, etc.

Mrs Cad read about a diet that simulates the feast and famine our ancestors faced. You know - kill a mammoth and gorge but starve the rest of the time. It involve one day you eat anything you want as much as you want. The next three days are healthy meals and the next 3 are near fasting, lean and nut protein, maybe some vegetable (not sure if fruit is allowed).

I said that sounds like a great diet in terms of cutting down the calories but it seems that your metabolism would crash during the 3 day “fast” and that you are spiking your ghrelin and leptin (remember they use the same brain receptors) and psychologically would be hard late day 2 and day 3. Instead one should alternate regular and fasting days to keep you metabolism at its highest level and keep your food hormones at a much more stable level.

So in terms of burning calories and overall not-being-hungry and all else being equal, which is the better diet plan.

I wonder if the science is worked out enough to treat this as a question and not a debate. What I always come back to on this issue is if our knowledge of medicine and biology was advanced enough to understand the mechanisms of body fat regulation, why are so many people still fat? If we truly knew how it worked, we’d have a solution that works more than 5% of the time.

Having said that there are some tidbits worth considering.

Leptin levels drop on a diet, but I dont know how fast they drop. Does it take a day or a week?

Refeeds above maintenance will bring leptin back to baseline, but mainly if you eat glucose. So if you do a refeed to rebuild leptin levels, but you eat low carb your leptin won’t rebound. If you do eat carbs but it is lactose or fructose, levels will not climb. For whatever reason, feast days require eating at or above maintenance with a lot of glucose to bring leptin levels back up. That is what I’d heard.

I don’t know how long leptin levels remain elevated after a refeed. An hour? A day? A week? I don’t know. Does a refeed need to be one meal, one day or several days? I don’t know.

Metabolic slowdown is I believe mediated by a drop in t3 thyroid levels. Again, I’m unsure how long it takes or when they normalize or if refeeds affect them.

Always better to avoid gimmicks like feast-and-starve, in favor of portion control and increased exercise, a long-term healthy winning strategy.

A great impetus is a health scare which turns out to be unfounded, but which pushes you into good eating habits. So far this is working nicely for me.

Naturalistic fallacy: Just because it’s how our distant ancestors lived doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

(Even assuming it is how our distant ancestors lived.)

Diet is not about “calories out” at all. Diet is the “calories in” part of the equation. Exercise (and just living and metabolizing, whether you exercise or not) is the “calories out” part.

Exercise is an important part of being healthy, and it will make it easier to lose weight. But you don’t lose weight by exercising. You lose weight by eating less. Exercise can help you eat less, but it isn’t the exercise that makes you lose weight, it’s the eating less. Fasting, gimmicky diets, food restrictions and certain exercise plans can all help someone eat less through psychological means, but they are hit or miss for each individual, and in any case it’s the eating less that causes the weight loss, not the gimmicky diet or the fasting itself.

I’ve gotten by eating once every 10 days (I had to lose weight to compete in athletics). I weigh a paltry 135 now (35 lbs less than my normal weight). Losing weight isn’t hard. Discipline is.

This sounds like a variation on intermittent fasting. Like practically everything else, there is some evidence that it works sometimes in the short term, and very little that it helps keep weight off in the long run.

Our ancestors weren’t slim because of the timing when they consumed their calories; they just didn’t have massive amounts of highly concentrated food available. And they got more exercise because they didn’t have any choice. They didn’t get heart disease and cancer as much as we do because they didn’t live as long as we do - heart disease and cancer are typically diseases of old age.


except you lose muscle mass when you do that.

We have solutions that work 100% of the time. I absolutely know how to lose weight. The reason I don’t is that I love cheeseburgers, beer, cake, etc. Even if we knew exactly what controlled metabolism and the optimal way to eat, when to eat, how to eat, the majority of people wouldn’t follow through because it’s hard and less enjoyable in the short term than eating what you want.

Abstinence only education works 100% of the time in the prevention of STDs and out of wedlock pregnancies if people will just clamp down and do it.

But most people don’t promote abstinence only as the solution to these health problems because they recognize the solution doesn’t work.

To my knowledge there are few/no studies that have found diet and exercise works for the long term (long term, not short term) management of obesity for more than a tiny percentage of people.

Short term yes diet and exercise lower bmi and body fat. But long term the results are horrible. Very few people are able to permanently cure their obesity with lifestyle alone.

Seeing how 1/3 of the human race is overweight, we’d need something more effective.

This makes no sense. It’s like saying, “I’m not broke because I spend too much. I’m broke because I don’t make enough money”.

You can eat as much as you want as long as you burn more than you eat.

Only 2 responses before someone ignored the OP? Does that tie the record?

Please answer the question I asked - not the one I said to please NOT answer.

And another who ignored the OP and answered the question I said do not answer.

No diet works if you can’t stick to it, and a diet that includes multi-day fasts is going to be really tough to stick to.

And no diet can be based on how you’d eat a mammoth, if it doesn’t include the step of “hunt down and kill a mammoth”.

My mom’s diet seems to work fairly well, and she’s stayed on it for over a decade now: She eats ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day, plus whatever else she wants. Simple and it allows for a lot of personal variation, but it works.

Yet again, not asking for diet ideas. Let me simplify the question:

What would have a greater impact on burning calories through keeping the metabolism higher and less hunger:

A) Pigout - eat - eat - eat - fast - fast - fast


B) Pigout - eat - fast - eat - fast - eat - fast.

Please limit yourself to those choices and do not add your own diet plan or exercise plan.

Everything I’ve read indicates that there is no difference, or not enough research to conclude.

Not exactly what you described in the OP, but the conclusion should be similar.

This thread reminds me of ones I’ve seen here and elsewhere, where someone posts about wanting opinions on an alt health intervention based ONLY on respondents having tried it themselves. They get indignant when there’s a response about it being a bad idea and why.

In this instance I’m not just parroting “eat less”. I’ve been living this for the past six months or so, and celebrated a total 30+ pound weight loss today. Obviously I’ll have to maintain the unlearning of bad eating practices long-term and there are no guarantees.

But for now, it feels pretty damn good to be down two pant sizes.

Again, I’d forget about gimmicks like gorge-and-starve. It may have “worked” for cavemen, who were vastly more at risk for starvation than obesity.

I don’t see why that sort of thread reminds you of this one. the OP here is not asking to just hear what he wants to hear. He wants a factual answer to a factual question, and mildly complained that what’s being discussed isn’t regarding what he asked. That’s reasonable.

This probably isn’t the right board for this kind of topic to be honest.

If you are interested, go on google and look up terms like ‘leptin refeed’ and see what other people there are saying.

Its not really a settled science right now by any means. But as I mentioned above a few things are known.

Leptin levels rise after eating a large amount of glucose based carbs (spaghetti, rice, etc high in complex carbs). However you may have to engage in a 3-4 day refeed to see sustained leptin level rises.

But that may not matter either, because leptin levels start to drop within a few days of dieting. I think I saw one study say leptin levels were down by 40% by day 4 of a diet.

So if anything the ideal situation may be

Eat above maintenance (120% of maintenance, high in carbs) - Eat above maintenance (high in carbs) - Eat above maintenance (high in carbs) - Eat above maintenance (high in carbs) - Diet (40% of maintenance) - Diet - Diet - Diet

Doing that you’d only end up cutting 20% of your calories but I ass-u-me that it would possibly keep leptin levels high.

Or not, maybe they’d yo-yo up and down which would have its own negative effects. Like I said, its not a settled science.

You may find this article helpful:

It includes your choices above with links to studies.

Short answer is there appears to be some benefits to it (particularly for those who are obese) but the data is not clear and more study is called for.