How does a 19 year old couch potato lose 50 pounds?
December 9, 2008 10:07 PM   Subscribe

Ok I’m an overweight college student here. I’m a male coming in at 6’2” weighing 275 pounds. I want to lose 30 in 30. Ideally I want to shed 50 pounds and get down to 225 lbs, which is what I was back in highschool.

According to my BMI I need to lose 70-100 pounds.
I’m allergic to all nuts, fish, turkey and oranges.

What I eat:
3 Scrambled eggs; cheese and or Katchup, or 3 Over easy eggs; 2 pieces of toast
Lunch, Sandwich (usually grilled cheese, or ham/turkey sandwich) or soup with pringles chips
Usually Pasta for dinner, maybe a cheese burger, soup or a steak, salad always with ranch, a veggie maybe jello
Two days a week I get anything from pasta, donuts, chocolate, basically leftovers at work
2-5 starbucks style coffee’s a week have cut down sizes to mediums, some times smalls
Friday night’s are Pizza and a bottled soda with friends, I’m not giving that up. Pizza is home made, usually IBC root beer or cream soda. One thing I refuse to give up.

I work out 3 days a week, usually 30 minutes on the treadmill, 2 miles, then some ab/chest workouts
Realizing how badly I do eat. I need to cut out what I eat, or atleast down 50%, increase my work outs.

That being said, to get where I want to be, what would you recommend for me?
I need diet ideas and work out ideas, plans etc...
Any helpful suggestions would be apprenticed!
posted by BoldStepDesign to Health & Fitness (54 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm no professional, but it seems as that you're eating a pretty unhealthy diet, especially at dinner time.
posted by k8t at 10:14 PM on December 9, 2008

You need to seriously up your cardio, both in length and intensity, particularly during your weight loss (you'll be able to ramp down once you're in maintenance-mode). 15 minute miles (on a completely flat treadmill, right? I never get why people don't take advantage of the incline feature) for 30 minutes 3 times a week is nothing. I would think you'd need to be doing an hour, 5-6 times a week; it doesn't have to be crazy OMG-I'm-going-to-die intensity, but you need to keep moving for an extended period. Mixing it up would probably help, too- one day you run, the next day you do a spin class, the next day you swim...
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:18 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Losing 30 pounds in 30 days is extremely tough if you want to keep it off. You're better off with a slower loss rate combined with a permanent change in eating habits and lifestyle.

There are ways to take weight off that fast, but people who use them nearly always gain the weight right back again.
posted by Class Goat at 10:21 PM on December 9, 2008

Response by poster: Ok.
As of late. I have been running an incline of 1-2%, varying intesity, so run for 1 minute usually 7 mph, then walk 3.7 mph for 4 mintues, run, walk, run, walk, run, walk, run, walk. I want to keep this weight off. So. I'm looking for a lifestyle change.
posted by BoldStepDesign at 10:24 PM on December 9, 2008

A lot of little changes could help a bunch. In addition to the exercise advice, there are changes to your diet that can start out small and lead to bigger changes.

You have a lot of cheese in your diet. Reducing that could help, especially since you are not a vegetarian and it isn't a major source of protein for you.

Trying to have low fat ranch or away from ranch dressing completely with your salads.

Even though, they are leftovers and therefore free, try to avoid the donuts and chocolate trap. Keep it to a once every two weeks kind of treat, rather than twice a week.

By "2-5 starbucks style coffees a week" I assume you mean some flavored latte or frappe drink. If possible, go to drip coffee with lowfat or nonfat milk and no sugar (if possible).

All of these steps will help cut out calories, either empty or fat.
posted by piratebowling at 10:40 PM on December 9, 2008

Those are some pretty lofty and possibly dangerous goals to set. 30 lbs in 30 days is totally doable, ask any wrestler, but that doesn't mean it's safe and you're almost certainly going to gain that weight back. The reason you'll gain it back is because you're trying to gain way too fast of results, the work needed to do that will be a pain in the ass to maintain for long periods of time. You need to go gradual, don't ever say the word diet ever again, diets are part time, health and fitness are lifestyle changes. You can still have your pizza nights on the weekend but sorry to say your diet kinda sucks. Eating a salad with ranch doesn't count as healthy, you need way more fruits and vegetables in your diet. And drink shit tons of water, all the time.
posted by BrnP84 at 10:41 PM on December 9, 2008

Sustainable weight loss is no more than two pounds a week.
posted by neuron at 10:44 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

(Relatively minor part of your question, but)

This is how you cut out calories at Starbucks:

-- If you're drinking frappuccinos, stop. If you won't, at least cut out the whipped cream and you'll knock off almost half the calories. Ideally, switch to frappuccino lights. (Swear on my life, people. A venti Strawberries and Cream Frap has like 700 calories. And the latest culprit: the new(ish) Signature Hot Chocolate and its counterpart, the Espresso Truffle. Both have about a bajillon calories per ounce. Steer clear.)

-- If you're drinking lattes, switch to nonfat milk, and again, no whipped cream - you might be shocked how many calories the whip adds.

-- Try to wean yourself down to smalls all the time. If you really wanna be hardcore, order the 8 ounce Short size.

-- If there's syrup in your drink of choice, switch to sugar-free if possible. At Starbucks this is an option for vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, and cinnamon dolce.

-- Adding shots of espresso to your drink adds almost no calories.

-- *Really* ideally, switch to drip coffee, which has almost no calories, unless you add a bunch of half and half or sugar - again, don't. Use skim and Splenda if applicable.

-- Vivannos (the nourishing blend smoothies) have surprisingly few calories for how filling they are, and are full of protein and fiber. And can be doctored up if you don't like the Orange Mango Banana or Banana Chocolate as is.

-- None of Starbucks' pastries are worth the calories, IMO.

...since you said "starbucks style" it's not clear if you're actually drinking Starbucks or not, but some of this might apply even if you're getting it elsewhere. Also, you'll save yourself a lot of money if you cut down to even 2 drinks a week over 5 a week.

Not that I would ever be encouraging that, since I work there.
posted by Quidam at 10:49 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Also, you have more muscles on your body than just your abs and chest. You can always pick out the guys who work out their chest too much because they walk with their arms kinda in front of them, you have to work opposing muscles with each other. If you work out your chest make sure you also work out your back, either on the same day or different days but just make sure you hit them both. And do squats, if you really want to boost your metabolism than your legs is where you're going to do it, your legs hold the biggest muscles in your body, more muscle mass means more calories to maintain and faster metabolism. And no one in gyms ever use the squat rack so there's no line.
posted by BrnP84 at 10:50 PM on December 9, 2008

You want to lose fat not muscle.

To do this NEVER starve yourself.

Just exercise a lot more and eat slightly less.

Shoot for a steady loss rate of 2lbs/week. Any more than that is too much starvation and deprivation.

2lbs a week is 1000 calories of shortfall a day. At your size this is probably a 2500 calorie diet + 1000 calories of exercise -- about 2 hours.

Do this for 25 weeks -- 5 months, and you'll have your 50lb goal.
posted by troy at 10:56 PM on December 9, 2008

I'm by no means an expert, but your diet looks pretty abysmal.

Replace sugar -- and especially high-fructose corn syrup -- with artificial sweeteners like Splenda. This entails switching to diet sodas (and at least try some diet rootbeer on pizza night), and avoiding candy as much as possible. Sugar causes people to pack on pounds faster than anything else.

Switch to breads, pastas, and pizza crusts made from whole wheat flour instead of bleached white flour.

For dairy products, including the fancy starbucks drinks, go skim. Avoid cheese when possible.

Cut out the potato chips.


And read the nutritional information of everything you buy.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:57 PM on December 9, 2008

(Just wanted to remind people that college students often don't have control over what they eat, if they're on a meal plan and eat in dining halls. I've considered asking a question specifically on how to make healthy choices in dining halls.)
posted by MadamM at 11:11 PM on December 9, 2008

In the last year or so I started paying close attention to the nutrition labels and it's pretty shocking how bad everything is. Especially processed or frozen food. I always look at fat, sodium (salt) and sugar and look at the % daily value. Something like a rich ice cream bar is 60% of your daily fat. One cup of instant noodles, 50% of your daily salt. One can of coke, 30g of sugar which is 75% of the recommended daily 40g (which for some reason they don't print on the labels).

If you don't know the nutritional content of the food you eat, start paying attention. Cheese for example has tons of fat; a few slices can easily get you to half of your daily fat intake. And if you often buy food at Starbucks you can look up the info online.
For example, one grande frappucino: 58g of sugar, nearly 150% of recommended daily intake.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:12 PM on December 9, 2008

dude, your diet sucks, but at least you were honest.

1) Cut out all the crap - donuts, starbucks, chips, etc.

2) you're allergic to my two diet standby's: salmon and turkey. So instead, you're going to rely on chicken. Lots of chicken.

3) You can have the steak, but have it with broccoli or some other veggies. Skip the salad if you insist upon eating it with ranch.

Honestly, there are a lot of diet threads on exactly what to do for situations exactly like this.

But, I don't think you're ready to lose the weight, yet. Seriously. You want to lose 30 lbs in 30 days, which is basically impossible, but you're not willing to sacrifice everything to get there.

Aim for 2-3 lbs a week. if you want to lose 75 lbs, that's going to take 9 months. You could potentially be 200 lbs by next August, if you started today, but you really need to clean up your diet.

Everytime I feel like making a poor diet decision, I always ask myself, "is this occasion memorable enough that I'm going to remember eating this specific meal 2 weeks from now?" Thanksgiving - yes, go all out. Birthdays - go all out. Pizza every friday with the guys (which honestly sounds like a camraderie thing- why do you have to eat pizza to have the brotherhood moments?)

Working out 3 days a week by running/walking 2 miles in 30 minutes is not really working out. This is called walking. A lot of people do this everyday, on their commutes.

You're a big guy, so i think you should check out weighlifting. Your body already has a lot of muscle just from supporting all that muscle. Start lifting weights, and I feel like you'll get a kick out of how much you can lift- this positive energy will hopefully encourage you to lift more frequently and more often, and I feel like this will result in more caloric expenditure than walking two miles.

If you insist on the light jogging, I would suggest doing it outside. The treadmill sucks- you're running in place and it's too easy to coast along and not push yourself. Run outside, where you can vary the tempo and distance based on how your body feels.

I know this sounds like tough love, and to be honest, I'm not really optimistic that you're going to lose the weight, but hopefully this sets you on the right direction. Sorry to sound discouraging. I'd love to eat my words though and prove me wrong. PM me if you make it - it'll restore a little bit of my faith in human willpower.
posted by unexpected at 11:15 PM on December 9, 2008

Just wanted to remind people that college students often don't have control over what they eat, if they're on a meal plan and eat in dining halls.

Kinda true, but unless your dining hall serves only doughnuts and pizza than you really have no excuse. I would like to think that any reasonable college would give a decent variety of foods, our dorms did but it was up to us to choose the right choices. Yea it was easy to eat fried chicken and baked ziti everyday but at a certain point you just gotta start making choices like cottage cheese and grapefruit. Sorry for all the advice but if weight loss is your goal than you have to look at more than just the numbers, it's ok to indulge every once and a while, I imagine hell being a place where I can never eat gyro's and fried chicken. But you always have to be mindful about everything you eat, it's tough if you're a picky eater, I was raised to love vegetables which makes it a little easier. I guess my main point is that you have to get this 30 lbs in 30 days mind set gone, that's not going to work in the long run, guaranteed.
posted by BrnP84 at 11:21 PM on December 9, 2008

As far as your diet goes, consider keeping track of what you eat and counting calories. If you sign up at a site like the daily plate, you can give them your weight/height/age and they'll calculate how many calories you need to eat in a day to lose x amount of pounds. (Though the lowest they go is two a week, I think, because that's the most you should be losing to be healthy and sustain the weight loss.) I find counting calories really useful because it gives you a concrete plan to stick to but you still have all the choices you want.
posted by you zombitch at 11:26 PM on December 9, 2008

I don't think you're workouts are hard enough. If they were, you wouldn't be able to eat what you do without puking/cramping during or after exercise. Your body is a pretty good guage of what you can and can't handle. If you start by improving your workouts you may find your body will tell you what you can and can't eat without having to read labels or make exotic plans.

Weight training is a great way to get in shape but a satisfactory workout does not look like this:

Bench press 10 reps
sit on the bench for 1-2 minutes
Repeat 3x
Go home

You should incorporate 2-3 exercises at once, taking no more than 30 seconds rest between each set. So it should be sort of like this:

lat pull downs
pull ups

Then take a 1 minute rest and repeat

Now move on to the next activity

upright rows

Then finish up with some auxillary stuff:

bicep curls
tricep push downs
calf raises

You should do torso both before AND after your weights. Pick 3 exercises and rotate twice through.

Pick up Arnold's Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, which has tons of great exercises. Pick some that you like and create routines for 3 or 4 days per week. You can do cardio on the off-days, but honestly 30 mins on the treadmill isn't doing much good at all. Your better off to get a bike and use it instead of your car, or find some kind of competitive activity like basketball or soccer that you can stay interested in being active for at least an hour to 90 minutes.
posted by b_thinky at 11:38 PM on December 9, 2008

Friday night’s are Pizza and a bottled soda with friends, I’m not giving that up. Pizza is home made, usually IBC root beer or cream soda. One thing I refuse to give up.

Why don't you add a green salad to the menu? Eat the whole salad before you have one slice of pizza. Your digestive system will thank you.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:39 PM on December 9, 2008

I would suggest that you keep a record of what you are eating (if you don't do so already.) It will probably surprise you how much you are eating (it surprised me!)

How much ranch do you have on your salad? I have friends who eat more ranch than lettuce and would do well to cut it out entirely. Their salads consist of some lettuce, maybe some veggies like carrots... but mostly bacon/ham, cheese, croutons, dressing.

Have more salads, make them all veggies. No cheese or meat. If you want dressing, get a low fat ranch on the side and dip your fork in. You still get the taste but you're not drowning your lettuce in it.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:04 AM on December 10, 2008

For the working out you definitely need to start piling on some muscle. If you are new to working out you should check out
Starting Strength

I would follow this for a few months as it will definitely pile on the muscle.

As for diet this could be a tricky one with your allergies as I would normally suggest the Zone diet. It might still be something you could follow but would take a look more jiggling about to make it work for you.

A great resource for the zone can be found over at Crossfit Forums.

If you are after a quick way to sort that diet out just cut all the sugars, some of the bread and definitely the cheeseburgers. Replace the bad carbs you are eating now with fruit, also drink a LOT of water!!!
posted by moochoo at 12:24 AM on December 10, 2008

Everyone's made good comments so far, but an idea for your pizza night: keep the pizza, sure, but change the toppings. Why not try lots of sauce and veggies, and little or no cheese? Call me crazy, but it's delicious. I eat a vegan diet so I always eat my pizza cheeseless, and it can be quite good with the right veggie toppings. You'll save the fat and calories from the cheese, and you'll get the benefits of veggies!

Some of my favourite toppings for pizza:
*sundried tomatoes
*bell pepers
*thin tomato slices
*artichoke hearts
*carmelized onions (very tasty!)
posted by fantine at 1:40 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Chinese saying: "Eat your breakfast as an emperor, lunch as a king and dinner as a poor peasant". As long as you are active at day you can eat good food (but stay away from the carbs). My best advice (which really helps) is to not eat after seven at night. It is healthy to go to bed a little hungry, because your body don`t have to fight excessive calories.
posted by Archers of Loaf at 2:43 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Get rid of soda, all kinds - especially diet soda! With a diet like yours I am betting you drink a truck load of soda a day, but are not putting it down. Drink water instead. It will take a few days to get over your 'soda cravings'
posted by lamby at 3:01 AM on December 10, 2008

Drink a shit-ton of water. WIth flavored Crystal Light packets, you can put down a gallon a day and not feel waterlogged.

Kill the salads. With Ranch, you're not doing yourself any favors. The *only* way to salvage salads is if you take the dressing on the side, and just point the tines of your fork into the dressing before each bite.
posted by notsnot at 4:14 AM on December 10, 2008

Your diet is terrible. You have stop eating pasta and dairy in large evening meals.

3 Scrambled eggs; cheese and or Katchup, or 3 Over easy eggs; 2 pieces of toast

This is protean + protean + sugar + starch. It isn't a good way to start the day. Eat a banana instead. (is the toast buttered?)

Swapping large coffees with regular won't do much if you are filling up an all the other crap.

No doughnuts at all. The worse thing you can eat.

A treat on Friday night is fine.

Cut out on meals between meals, it's hard at first- your stomach has been spoilt- you need to show it who's boss. If you eat sensibly, you stomach will get used to the new regimin and it won't be craving food.

Losing weight is a lot like giving up smoking, you need to work at it. Once you get into it, it becomes easier, weight falls away, you'll feel fantastic and want to keep it off.

Try to walk 5km (thee of your miles) a day
posted by mattoxic at 4:15 AM on December 10, 2008

I've never found a way to lose weight that doesn't involve counting calories.

Everybody hates it when I say so though. My ex-husband was over yesterday asking how I lost all my pregnancy weight and I could see him stop listening to me the second I said "X calories a day and Y calories twice a week." He's kind of seriously hoping I'll tell him I lost thirty pounds eating bananas for four months, just because, hey, all you have to do is buy bananas.

That said, if you're the one person in a thousand who's going whoo-hoo! Lose weight and do math! I'm in!!! There are calorie counts at and a calorie counter to tell you what you should be eating at the Mayo Clinic website. Subtract what you lose via exercise for a net daily total and there you go.

It's math! (For years I didn't realize this and thought everyone else was immune to the lasting effects of mozzarella sticks and Oreos and I had some sort of particular vulnerability to what fried cheese does to your ass.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:18 AM on December 10, 2008 [5 favorites]

Congratulations on wanting to lose weight and get healthy! That's an awesome first step to take.

First things first. 30 lbs. in 30 days is unhealthily rapid. It's not good for your body and you just won't keep it off. Aim for 1-2 lbs. per week.

As others have noted, the thing is that your diet is a train wreck. Because of how unhealthily you are eating, you need to first focus on understanding nutrition and your body's needs and then worry about weight loss. I truly believe that lifestyle change is the only sustainable way to lose weight. Otherwise you are just dieting and when you reach your goal weight you will slip back into old eating habits and gain the weight back.

I suggest you sign up for SparkPeople (yup, I'm a shill. It's a great service/resource and it's all free) which will not only help you count calories and log fitness, it will help you set goals for daily calorie intake based on your current weight and exercise level. It has a lot of good articles, quizzes and resources for understanding nutrition, which, from looking at your diet, you desperately need.

Off the bat: pasta should be whole grain. The grilled cheese sandwich, if you aren't going to part with it entirely, needs to be on whole grain bread with lowfat cheese and toasted or baked, not fried in oil or butter. The burger should be swapped for a leaner meat like turkey and on a whole grain bun. The pizza should be on a whole grain crust with lowfat cheese. Instead of eggs fried or scrambled in butter or oil, try poached eggs on whole grain toast. Delicious. Ranch dressing should be swapped for something lower fat, like a lowfat vinaigrette. Honey mustard is great, too. Cut out all the soda. Period. And the Pringles. Look at the store for healthier, baked, whole grain chips/crackers. All Starbucks drinks need to be non-fat with either no syrup or sugar free syrup. You need a lot more fresh veggies and fruit. This means raw or steamed, not cooked in tons of oil. There are lots of delicious ways to eat healthy. A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with avocado, tomato and lowfat cheddar cheese with honey mustard a few whole grain crackers is delicious, for example.

You don't need to deprive yourself of what you like, but you definitely need to adjust what you eat so that it's not so high in fat, simple carbs and refined sugar. You just won't lose weight otherwise.

Your workout regimen needs more cardio--either more intense workouts or for longer periods of time. As far as lifting, as folks say, you can't cut and build at the same time. Trying to lose weight while intensely lifting isn't going to work. I would do some low weight training for overall strength and health, not for building muscle mass. Again, Sparkpeople has exercise regimens to recommend and video demos of every single exercise.

Good luck!
posted by Rudy Gerner at 4:39 AM on December 10, 2008

I lost 60 pounds in 60 months. It was hard, but I have kept 50 of it off for over a year now.

Count EVERY calorie that goes in. Look them up on the net, over estimate if you have to estimate. Read serving sizes and count (I bought a set of measuring cups and spoons just for the purpose).

Then I spent an hour and a half in the gym 5-6 days a week. I could do a workout that would burn 600-900 calories with a lot of cardio and weights.

You have to want it and hold yourself to it. If you don't want it more than the old lifestyle it won't happen.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 4:49 AM on December 10, 2008

That should be 60 in 6 months, oops.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 4:49 AM on December 10, 2008


As long as you actually eat your vegetables, a vegetarian diet is a good way to lose weight without starving yourself or counting calories. If you base your main meal every day on beans, rice, and vegetables, you can afford to have your soda and pizza on fridays.

Good luck!
posted by dunkadunc at 5:14 AM on December 10, 2008

I don't know why everyone is saying your diet is terrible. It's not 100% optimal, and it's keeping you fat, but it's not like you are eating donuts covered in butter 24/7.

What you want, in terms of both your eating and your activity, is to find sustainable, long-term changes that you can live with over the next five decades. You don't need the 30-day miracle diet -- you need a lifestyle that makes you healthy and happy.

But the really good thing is that you are actually reasonably close to that -- I think that as long as you are willing to make comparatively minor changes, and keep with the program, you'll see results over the next few months. But it will probably be gradual change, rather than getting you ready for wearing the banana-hammock at spring break.


Trim the extras and watch the portions. (Programs like Weight Watchers have really good tools for figuring out what are "normal" portion sizes -- we have been so trained by restaurants and sometimes our families that what we think of as "normal" is actually "supersized.") That might mean two eggs for breakfast, no cheese, and no butter on the toast. Make sure the toast is as whole grain as you can manage (it depends what your choices are, especially if you are eating in the dining hall).

At lunch, skip the potato chips, or just eat two or three for flavor. Make sure to eat an apple, some salad, or some non-greasy vegies -- not just fat, protein, and carbs. Again, make sure the bread is whole grain if you are getting a sandwich, and leave off the really fatty extras.

Double the amount of salad you are having at dinner, but use a lot less dressing (and pick a non-creamy dressing, too). When you get a burger, leave off the cheese, bacon, and other yummy additions. Steak is great, but you need to learn what is a good portion -- just because they serve you a 16 ounce slab of tasty meat, doesn't mean that you have to eat it all.

For pizza and soda nights, can you switch to diet soda? Eat an apple as an appetizer? Make pizza with less sausage and more mushrooms?


Your 30 minutes a few times a week is a great start, and is an excellent base to build on. Could you go swimming or hiking or bicycling for 30 minutes on a few of the days that you are not already going to the gym? Or, as someone suggested, start lifting some weights, also in addition? The sad fact is that it takes an awful lot of exercise to match even one donut, so this isn't a magic solution, but as you gradually start ramping it up you should start seeing some good results.

Everyone is different, but I find that I will work a lot harder if I am doing something "real," rather than something that feels more artificial like walking on a treadmill. Walking outdoors, there are hills and creeks to jump over and things like that. Or can you sign up for an intermural sport like ultimate frisbee? You should be honest about your starting fitness, but most UF groups are really cool about working with both the jocks and the people who can't throw a frisbee or run more than a minute or two -- and if they aren't cool about it, find the group that is.

Or go on hikes with the old ladies in the local Native Plant Society, or whatever -- the point is to take what you are already doing, and build on it, until physical activity becomes something that simply permeates your life. (And the really great thing about this is that the more you are active, the more you need to eat, so before long you can be back to eating 16 ounce steaks and butter-covered-donuts, while still being healthy.)
posted by Forktine at 6:21 AM on December 10, 2008

In terms of products that help keep calorie counts down without ruining your life, light mayonnaise is a decent product, as is Ken's light Caesar dressing. Another way to cut down calories is to look for smaller portion sizes, a lot of manufacturers make smaller slices of bread, for example. Aside from the two products above, I don't buy "lite" products--I like food and those products are usually pretty crappy. But those two are good.

I think weight loss is actually fun, because I love food and love to cook, and the constraints force me to be creative and try new things. I like pasta with raisins and chard, for example, which would have been something I'd never have tried if I weren't trying new things.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:30 AM on December 10, 2008

I'm not sure you can be allergic to turkey, but that's beside the point.

In addition to cutting out the obvious stuff like donuts and chocolate, you're probably consuming a lot of calories by drinking sweetened beverages, like soda. Switching to diet soda and avoiding fruit juice can save a significant number of calories.

Also, you probably don't have a firm handle on what serving sizes look like. If you're eating 4 slices of pizza, that's pretty much 1200 calories at minimum. Add two cream sodas on top of that and you're at 1900 calories, which is a little less than the total number of calories you want in an entire day. If you have two slices, a salad with no dressing and diet soda you knock it back to about 600.

A single serving of pasta is about the size of a tennis ball. Single serving of steak is about the size of a pack of cards, etc etc.
posted by electroboy at 6:55 AM on December 10, 2008

The only way for you to preserve your unhealthy lifestyle (the "non-negotiable" parts) and still lose 30 pounds in 30 days would be if you spent 8 hours a day on the treadmill. Sorry.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:03 AM on December 10, 2008

I don't think 30 lbs in 30 days is feasible, but my husband, who has a similar body type to you, lost 30-40 lbs over 6 months by doing some relatively simple things.

1) 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week.
2) 30 minutes of moderate-intensity weightlifting 5 days a week, mostly presses, push-ups, and squats.
3) Eating a diet pretty similar to yours, although not as much pasta - consider rice and chicken rather than pasta and pasta sauce. Also, a large increase in greens anywhere he can, like spinach on his sandwiches and brocolli or asparagus with every meal.
4) Also, and this has made a big difference for me, eat a lot slower and listen to your body. It's pretty smart about how many calories you need in a day. Don't reach for seconds or for another slice of pizza unless you really are hungry. Be ready to stop in the middle of a serving of pasta.

Forget your BMI, by the way. It's a completely meaningless number that assumes you have no muscle at all. If you're lifting weights and eating protein every day, there's no way you're going to hit your target BMI.

Honestly, all the above sounds like a lot of work for most people. It's basically one hour every weekday devoted to cardio and strength training. Most research I've read shows that diets that include Calorie restriction, no matter how well-intentioned, only work in the short term at best.
posted by muddgirl at 7:08 AM on December 10, 2008

I am 6' 1" and 239 lbs. Back in August I was 265 lbs. I have changed the way that I eat. I actually feel hungry sometimes (not that I'm starving myself, but my old eating habits had me walking around feeling stuffed all the time), in fact that's one of the ways that I know that I need to eat a snack or something. I walk or bike almost everywhere I go (I sold my car this year) unless I'm going long distances--then its the bus (which usually entails more walking). When I am not bogged down with finals and papers I work out 3 times a week (mainly weights as I get quite a bit of cardio from walking/biking).

It seems to me that your eating habits really need to change. Not a diet, but your mindset about your eating habits. When you say things like, Friday night’s are Pizza and a bottled soda with friends, I’m not giving that up. Pizza is home made, usually IBC root beer or cream soda. One thing I refuse to give up, well I can tell where your priorities are. I used to be that way. That does not work. You have decided that the food is more important than being more healthy. That's not a criticism, you just need to be aware of it. If that is what is more important to you than make that decision.

I have really had to rethink my ideas about food. There is no such thing as food that I have to eat. Food will always be there, sweets (my particular weakness. . . Hello, my name is anansi and I'm a sugarholic) will always be there. I'm not missing an opportunity if I decline to eat. I don't have to eat just because I want something. I eat because I'm hungry. This doesn't mean that I don't still enjoy food, I just don't eat compulsively (which had me at one point up to 275 lbs).

My goal is to eventually get to a point where I'm more comfortable with myself. I'm not shooting for an actual weight, just to be able to do certain things without feeling like shit. Like running. I have no expectations of getting back down to 200 lbs (my eighteen-year-old, run 10 miles a day, lifting weights 5 days a week weight). But I want to feel more comfortable in my clothes and become more active.

I am 35, it has taken me years to get to this point. Mostly because I was unable/unwilling to change my ideas about food. You have to want to be healthy, more than you want to eat pizza, donuts and cheeseburgers.

*I still eat pizza, donuts and cheeseburgers. But I am perfectly capable of not eating them at any given time. I don't feel disappointed if I miss the regular friday pizza outing. There will always be another one.
posted by anansi at 7:13 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was about to write the same thing anansi explained about your relationship with food. You "refuse to give up" your pizza and soda, eh? I'd just go ahead and throw those 30 lbs. in with things you "refuse to give up".

A lot's been said about your (let's all be honest) abysmal diet, so I'll just touch on a couple things:

- Pasta for dinner on a regular basis, even whole wheat, is not a good idea. You're packing your body with a ton of complex carbs at a time when it's focusing on storing energy rather than spending it. Not following up that massive calorie intake with a big energy expenditure the next morning is an easy way to pack on pounds.

- Do you eat bread with meals? Skip it. SKIP IT.
posted by mkultra at 7:30 AM on December 10, 2008

Not an expert here but I would start out by cutting calories and using proportion control. For breakfast you always want to eat something small. Fruit or a cup of yogurt... bowl of cereal (go for whole grain, raisin bran is fine). For lunch I try to eat something with veggies on it. Subway foot long is fine for this. They range from 500-600 calories. For dinner this is where I slip up sometimes. I try to have a meal that is about 1000 calories. I usually keep my weekly diet under 1800-2000 calories a day. If you do that you will see weight loss. Now on to working out. You cannot lift weights for muscle gain and loose weight at the same time. You need to lift light weights with many reps. If you are doing cardo, pick a goal for the month like I want to be able to jog 3 miles straight in 30 minutes by the end of the month. Then stick to it.

As for diet (which is 80% of all weight loss btw) you need to look at things that are huge amounts of calories and get rid of them. A couple biggies are sodas. They are useless and full of fat gaining sugar. Do without them at all costs. Start drinking water and green tea (unsweeted... McD's sweet tea defeats the purpose completely). For starbucks, I can appreciate needing coffee as a college student but cut out the latta this and the heavy cream that. Like soda you don't need the added calories. Stick with regular plain old fashion coffee. Don't drink five of them either! Have 1 or 2 cups if you need a jolt. (your energy levels should come from exercise anyways.) Now on to donuts... dough (carbs) fried in lard (fat). There is nothing good about them. Cut them out completely or have one every two weeks. For dinner quit eating pasta. Too high in carbs. For salad, get use to oil and vinegar. Ranch is all fat with spices.

Also take a picture of yourself right before you start your serious diet. Then take pictures every week to see your changes. Before and afters are a moral booster and can be used to see if something is working.

Lastly keep your pizza night. This is your "free meal" for the week. It is your personal moment of zen, your reward for sticking to your diet. Just don't go overboard and eat a whole pizza with a whole 2 liter.

Believe in yourself! You are not doing this for anyone else but you. We on here have more important concerns (like our own diets maybe?) You are the only one who is going to make you loose the weight and keep it off.

Best of luck
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:30 AM on December 10, 2008

Chocolate, cheeseburgers, jello, and doughnuts are treats and should be eaten occasionally, not on a regular basis.

Thirty pounds in thirty days in unrealistic. How about 15? Cut your calories and fat. Look for healthy alternatives to your pasta and eggs. Instead of three eggs and two pieces of toast you could have one egg on a piece of toast and an apple. Instead of a massive plate of pasta you could have an actual serving of whole wheat pasta (or fiber fortified pasta) with marinara, a side of broccoli and a big salad with light ranch. Once you count up the ketchup, the ranch, the junk, and the big servings, you are probably consuming a massive amount of calories and fat.

A healthier plan would be:

Breakfast: One or two eggs on one piece of whole wheat toast with a scrape of margarine, fresh fruit. Or, egg white omelet with one yolk scrambled in with onions and peppers, one piece whole wheat toast. Or, slow cooked oats, fruit.

Snack: fruit or sugar free jello or hard boiled egg (if you didn't have eggs for breakfast) or a couple pieces of turkey breast, or whole wheat crackers and one piece of low-fat string cheese.

Lunch: Subway 6" turkey or chicken breast on wheat roll, no cheese, lots of veggies, mustard, a dribble of vinegar and oil, fresh fruit. Or large salad with lots of veggies with turkey and/or hard boiled egg with low-fat dressing.

Snack: see above

Dinner: chicken breast or other lean meat with massive heap of cooked veggies, small portion of rice or one baked potato with light margarine and low-fat sour cream, salad with light dressing

On Friday nights have two or three (max) pieces of pizza and Diet IBC.

Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up.

Eat regularly (every 3 to 4 hours) but not too much. Your body will be a fat burning machine.

Drink plenty of water.

Do this combined with exercise and you will see the weight fall off. Do not starve yourself. Always be prepared. Stock up on fresh produce and other staples every 3 days. Buy a few Lean Cuisines in case of emergencies. Don't go hungry and don't skip your snacks. If you skip meals you are more likely to overeat at the next one.

Journal your intake and your exercise. (I do this in my email program and save it as a draft) It helps you stay on track.

The attitude "I'm not giving up pizza" is not conducive to losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time. You've had pizza a million times. You know what it tastes like. I think you should still have a couple of slices every Friday night with your friends, because nothing should be off-limits and you should be realistic and you're more likely to keep the weight off if you're reasonable, but you should realize that pizza is full of calories and fat and does nothing to help you lose 30 in 30. If you want to lose 30 in 30, pizza is not on the plan.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2008

Lastly keep your pizza night. This is your "free meal" for the week. It is your personal moment of zen, your reward for sticking to your diet. Just don't go overboard and eat a whole pizza with a whole 2 liter.

I wouldn't say that you can't have the pizza. But, to keep it as something that you must do, to see the food as a reward is part of the whole food relationship thing. I've tried that. It doesn't work--not on a long-term basis. If you want to lose weight and your eating habits are fundamentally unhealthy, you must change your ideas about food. Food is not a reward. Food is energy for your body.

This does not mean that you cannot enjoy food. I do, quite a bit. However, it is not something that I allow to define me.
posted by anansi at 7:41 AM on December 10, 2008

I dropped 30 pounds by changing my crappy student diet and exercising more, no counting calories. (I also work in an obesity research lab, so take that for what it's worth.) All the below advice is assuming you aren't on a cafeteria plan. If you are, implement what you can, as best you can.

Breakfast: Complex carbs provide lasting energy. There's nothing wrong with eggs for breakfast, but try dropping it to one egg rather than three, and adding in some whole-grain carbs. My wife and I buy Thomas' light English muffins (the 100 cal / muffin kind, no HFCS). Have one of those with an egg, skip the ketchup. Try some Tabasco instead, the chipotle stuff is thick like ketchup and adds a kick without adding all the calories and salt (it's hot, so it's self-limiting: You can't eat it if you pour it like ketchup!). However, if you're going to eat one big meal a day, make it be breakfast. If you can't cut back on the amount you eat in the morning, it's OK but definitely less eggs and more complex carbs. If one egg + one muffin isn't enough throw in a bowl of cereal or better yet oatmeal (quick-cook, not instant). For cereal, you can't go wrong with Kashi; anything else, check ingredients: If you see high-fructose corn syrup in the list, skip it. Oatmeal may not sound like the tastiest thing in the world, but it's actually a damn good comfort food, especially in the winter. Allow yourself one spoonful of brown sugar (preferably raw cane if you can find it), pour some skim milk on, top with fruit (we like to throw a quarter cup of frozen blueberries in just before it's done cooking). It takes a few minutes, but if you have time for cooking eggs you can cook oatmeal. It has an added advantage for a student: Quaker 5-min oats are damn cheap.

Lunch you aren't doing too bad with, but go for deli sandwiches more often than the grilled cheese. Also, make sure it's whole grain bread, no HFCS. There are some brands now that proudly proclaim themselves to be corn syrup free on the label - look for those. We have been loving the Pepperidge Farm or Brownberry German dark wheat bread for several years now and are not even close to tired of it. Keep the meat to a minimum - two or three slices (if they're thin) per sandwich, allow yourself a slice of cheese if you want, and use light mayo. The Miracle Whip made with olive oil is my personal choice. You can also afford to buy better quality lunchmeat. Even something pricey like Boars Head is only going to be $12 a pound at the most, and 1 lb of thin-sliced lunchmeat ought to be more than enough for a week of lunches, at the cost of one or two trips to a fast food place. Definitely add in fruit of some kind. An apple or banana with lunch adds fiber, and fills you a bit more without adding a lot of refined sugar calories. If you must have something crunchy and salty like chips, grab pretzels instead. Rold Gold has HFCS in it. Look for the Snyders pretzels instead. (If you can find the rye + onion ones, hell yes, those are awesome and I can't get them where I live.)

Dinner should be lighter than breakfast. Salad is OK but it's also a trap: It's really, really easy to add things to make what looks like a pile of veggies into a huge pile of calories. Skip any toppings that are made of meat (diced ham, etc.) or eggs if you already had one for breakfast. Go for spinach or romaine instead of iceberg lettuce, if possible. Use a plain oil and vinegar type dressing: Light Italian, some sort of vinaigrette, or make some yourself (tablespoon of olive oil, teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, touch of honey and mustard, mix, pur over salad). Avoid fat-free dressing at all costs, because 99% of things labeled "fat free" jack up the sugar content, usually with HFCS, to make up for the lack of fat flavor. If you go for a burger, try ground chicken or a veggie burger instead. I know, veggie burgers, right? The secret is to not pick the ones that pretend to be beef. Pseudo-chicken patties are actually pretty darn good. If you can find it, the Quorn brand stuff is really good (try the gruyere or goat cheese crusted cutlets for a treat - man!) Black bean burgers are great, and thanks to Kelloggs you can find the Morningstar brand of meatless products pretty much anywhere, for not that much money. Think of it this way: If you eat meat less often, you can afford to buy better meat when you do eat it, both wallet-wise and health-wise. You do need to be careful with vegetarian products though, a lot of fake meats have high sodium content. Check before buying. When you have a steak, remember that one serving should be about the size of a deck of cards. Look for leaner cuts, less fat, and top it with the aforementioned chipotle Tabasco. Yum. Go for grass-fed or Angus if you can find it in your price range, it tastes a hell of a lot better than the hormone-packed grain-fed beef you usually see in the meat counter. Also, if you're used to adding starch to your steak, go for half a sweet potato rather than a white potato. Don't forget to add in some veggies at any rate - frozen corn, green beans, etc. are quick to heat up and a lot better for you than canned. If you do pasta, do whole wheat only, and check ingredients in the pasta sauce before buying: HFCS = not in your menu. Newman's Own is always a safe bet, for pasta sauce or for anything else, for that matter.

Don't kill pizza night, but do start trying whole-wheat crusts. Use less cheese, and try to use cheese made with 2% milk. Add more veggie toppings and reduce the meat. My wife's favorite is green olives and banana peppers, I like a lot of garlic and tomato, a Mediterranean-style pizza with chunks of goat cheese or feta rather than a load of processed shredded cheese is a nice change. Go nuts. Pizza is one of the foods that can always be healthy and tasty if you're careful. Check the sauce for added sugar or HFCS of course. Try plain crushed tomatoes as a sauce, or fire-roasted stuff; you might need to drain them to keep it from getting too watery. If your friends give you shit for becoming a health nut and making them get whole wheat, etc. be frank and honest with them - you'd rather start being healthier now than end up taking cholesterol medicine in your 30's. I'm sure you know a few people, in your family etc., that are already on that kind of medicine at a fairly young age...

Coffee and other beverages: Check the calorie count, and you may be surprised. You ever get energy drinks? Unless it's the sugar-free Red Bull, stop. "Energy drink" = "a big can of fat". Starbucks coffee. Ugh. If you're getting that, you aren't actually after coffee, you're after fat and sugar. Wean yourself onto plain brewed coffee, and get it somewhere besides Starbucks (their plain coffee is burned on purpose, it's not what you want to introduce yourself to black coffee at all). One large cup of plain coffee is less than 90 calories. It's practically guilt-free, and will cost you about a third of what a typical "Starbucks-style" drink would run. As for soda, unless you're willing to commit yourself to the Coke Zero-type stuff, you'll have to cut it out. It isn't a bad idea to cut down in the first place. Now, because you're 19 I don't have to tell you to cut out beer, because assuming you're American, clearly 19-year-old college students don't buy beer for another two years, right? Right. But when you are legally able to obtain beer, remember that alcohol packs a lot of calories. So, for future reference, if you buy expensive beer you won't have as much on hand to drink, and not only will you cut out calories, but you'll impress your friends and have the ability to scoff at the fools drinking PBR or MGD or whatever light beer the kids are drinking these days. Think microbrew, think quality instead of quantity, and take comfort in knowing that you're more likely to go broke than end up passed out in the corner with a massive hangover looming. If you do plan to indulge in quantity drinking once in a while, a light beer packs less calories even though most light beers suck (I don't trust a beer I can see through).

OK, some reminders: Check ingredients for high fructose corn syrup or other added sugars, remember that fat-free nearly always means added sugar, remember portion control, and keep some low-cal filling snacks like fruit or raisins or pretzels on hand as a small bite here and there reduces overall hunger and propensity to overeat at mealtime. Keep in mind that healthier food costs more, but you're also saving yourself a shit-ton of money on healthcare in the future if you start taking care of yourself now.

A final note. BMI is misleading. If you can find a scale that checks body fat (foot-to-foot bioelectrical impedance) do so. Buy one if you have to, they are more expensive than standard bathroom scales but you ought to have access to one regularly. Check your body fat percentage. You want to focus on that, not on BMI. Depending on your ethnicity or build a perfectly healthy person can have an "unhealthy" BMI - an NFL linebacker with 5% body fat can have an "unhealthy" BMI, because the measurement is based solely on weight. Muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle also burns more calories than fat. Muscle is good. Ramp up the workouts, but don't be surprised if your BMI doesn't change. What you want to do is change your body fat percentage, replacing fat with lean muscle. Good luck.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:44 AM on December 10, 2008 [8 favorites]

I prefer weightlifting to cardio because at the gym there's more variety, and seeing your numbers go up feels more tangible to me. At some point you're also going to be forced into changing your diet into a high-protein one to keep progressing and when you have a lot of muscle you'll feel more motivated into doing so. As a big guy you already have a major advantage over scrawny guys. Starting Strength is a good book, but the core of it's program is:

Day A
3x5 Squats
3x5 Bench Press
1x5 Deadlifts

Day B
3x5 Squats
3x5 Overhead Press
3x5 Power Cleans/Bent Over Rows

Work out 3 times a week. Each day add 5 or 10 pounds to each exercise. Being able to squat your own bodyweight is a good milestone to reach for.
posted by rq at 7:52 AM on December 10, 2008

You should try to eat paleo.

My buddy did what you're talking about doing, successfully, by eating like a caveman. He raves about it.
posted by rocket_johnny at 8:22 AM on December 10, 2008

Small changes that together might make a difference:

Eggs: take out at least some of the yolks. Try hot sauce instead of cheese or ketchup. Or, better yet, fresh tomatoes.

Sandwiches: use very high fiber bread or pita bread. Check the calories, fat, and fiber. You want lower calories, higher fiber, lowest fat. Use mustard not mayo. No cheese. If you must have cheese, seek out a low calorie alternative--vegetarian cheese slices, those laughing cow light cheese wedges, or a little hummus might help.

Soup: brothy soups, not creamy soups. Instead of Pringles have some really high fiber crackers or crispbread with it.

Salad: find a different dressing you like. Just go to the market and look at labels and try out some of the lightest ones. There are so many options, there's no reason to be eating ranch dressing if you're trying to lose weight. Make sure the ingredients are all veggies. I also like a chopped hard boiled egg. I just pop out the yolk before chopping.

Coffee: rather than switching to artificial sweetener, it's probably better to try to acclimate yourself to a less sweet coffee. You can drink a huge coffee if it's black. If you like a ton of cream and sugar, just try it with skim and less sugar. Then less, then less. You learned to like coffee in the first place, you can learn to like stronger tasting coffee.

Dinner: whatever your normal choice is, make it a small portion and pad it out with a bazillion steamed veggies. Use salt and pepper to flavor it, not butter.

If you like hot dogs, Hebrew National makes these 97% fat free ones that seriously taste the same and are like a third of the calories. It's awesome.

And: write down what you eat, and how much. Others are right--to lose that much weight, you have to count calories.
posted by lampoil at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2008

I swear to god I could have written this question word for word, and was planning on doing so. Thanks for saving me a question.

To contribute, check with your university fitness center about having a body fat assessment done. My BMI is terrible, but I had a body fat assessment done as part of a health care project and was surprised when I came out in the "acceptable" range (though higher in that range than I would like). Realizing you may not have as much to reverse may make you feel better about the struggle.
posted by Benjy at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2008

To add to the avalanche of advice you're getting, this is the diet that let me lose 70 pounds last year, and keep it off (so far)...

The Hacker's Diet.

It's an incredibly useful reference, an easy-to-use diet system for smart people, it takes into account the fact that you live in the real world and not uber-nutritional la-la land, and it works. Oh, and it's free.
posted by MrVisible at 9:04 AM on December 10, 2008

BMI isn't actually all that bad, as long as your recognize its limitations. Generally the normal to overweight ranges are reasonably accurate, as long as you're not extremely muscular, which you're probably not. It's true that NFL linemen may show up in the obese category, but a lot of them are obese, even though they're also very muscular. But they also tend to suffer the same problems are people who are in the BMI obese range (joint problems, heart attack, etc.).

Also, the "muscle burns more calories than fat" thing is technically true, but they've found it's a lot less than people think. 1 lb of fat burns about 2 calories per day, while muscle burns about 6 calories per day.
posted by electroboy at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2008

Portion control. You'd be amazed how little it takes to actually fill you up.

If you do find yourself hungry between meals, try eating smaller meals more often. Or you could have a healthier snack like almonds, walnuts or seeds. I happen to love sunflower seeds and snack on them constantly.

I'm also a big fan of spray butter which has very few if any calories. Substitute veggies into your dinner and hit them with salt and spray butter.
posted by DrDreidel at 9:09 AM on December 10, 2008

Just be careful with the spray butter, the reason it can claim 0 calories is because the spray delivery format limits serving size so much that they can round down. Read the label. You must stick to the # of sprays it says is one serving. If you're spritzing like 100 spritzes on your veggies, it's basically pouring vegetable oil on them. That said, I do like the spray salad dressings because it makes it easier to distribute the dressing on the entire salad without using too much.
posted by misskaz at 9:34 AM on December 10, 2008

2 pieces of advice I haven't seen here:

* Eat slower. This sounds stupid, but it works. We Americans tend to consume amazingly fatty and mushy foods, which means less chewing and we can (and do) swallow faster. Stop that. It takes a few minutes for your brain to go "Oh, duh. I'm full".

Eating slower is easier with a dinner companion. If you're alone, it may be hard. Maybe try eating dinner while doing other things (not watching TV, I mean homework or something of the sort).

* Interval runs. Way-back-when I lost a lot of weight (from 210 to 170 in about 2 months. While it wasn't unhealthy, I didn't keep it off for too long. Been stable at 180-185 for a while now), I was doing interval runs. You don't need to run for 500 miles and 9 hours every day. I only worked out for 15 minutes every morning.

Start off with some muscle workouts - pushups, pullups, squats, etc. I did this as soon as I woke up, so it helped me fully wake up.
Now, hop on the treadmill. Go up to an easy jog, and take note of the settings and speed. Now increase as high as you can go. Dead sprint for as long as you can take it... little bit more.... 5 more seconds... ok, now drop back to your easy jog level. Catch your breath as best you can, and repeat.
Do this for 1 or 2 miles. Then go take a shower and go about your day.

It works, believe me
posted by phrakture at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you're going to have the pizza, maybe you could cut it back some? I used to eat a half a pie each time I had pizza. Now I limit myself to 2 slices a week. Also, try to avoid meats on the pizza, especially pepperoni. 'Roni effectively doubles the number of calories on each slice. If you absolutely must have meats, at least sponge them off with a napkin first.

Also, cut back on the carbs. I didn't realize how caloric they were until I started baking. Each cup of flour is 450 calories. A pizza dough usually has 3 cups. That's over 1000 calories and you haven't even added the cheese yet!
posted by valadil at 10:57 AM on December 10, 2008

electroboy wrote "BMI isn't actually all that bad [...] Also, the 'muscle burns more calories than fat' thing is technically true, but they've found it's a lot less than people think."

electroboy - I'm fairly new to the obesity field myself, and I'm a PhD, not an MD. I will gladly defer if you authoritatively know what you're talking about here, but without providing references for those statements I tend to believe the MD I work with, who has been performing clinical obesity research for longer than I have been alive. BMI is a poor measure of obesity, with a large number of known problems. Muscle typically makes up 40-50% of total body mass, so even a small increase in tissue-specific energy expenditure over fat results in a major difference in total energy expenditure by tissue type: in short your basal metabolic rate is very strongly influenced by skeletal muscle. References in the links.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:26 PM on December 10, 2008

The first link isn't working for me, cookie session error or somesuch.

I'm not sure I expressed myself clearly with regards to BMI. What I meant to say is that while BMI can have errors in some outlier cases, it is generally a reasonable guide to assess body weight. And, that there is a significant increase in mortality and other obesity associated problems once you cross the BMI "obese" threshold. There have actually been some studies that show people with an "overweight" BMI have slightly reduced mortality over the "normal" range.

I'm having a little difficulty following your logic. Clearly skeletal muscle influences metabolic rate, however you are unlikely to significantly increase your metabolic rate with strength training because it's difficult to gain significant muscle mass. So, essentially, whatever energy needs his body has now due to his muscle mass is unlikely to change significantly because his muscle mass is unlikely to increase significantly.
posted by electroboy at 3:20 PM on December 10, 2008

Given that you're 19, I assume that high school was about 18 months ago, and you've gained 50 pounds. If that's more or less the case, you've been overshooting your caloric needs by an average of about 325 calories a a day. To lose 30 pounds, you will have to cut out 105,000 calories. To do it in 30 days, that's 3500 calories per day off of your baseline caloric needs, or 3825 calories from what you're currently eating. Unless you are an olympic-caliber swimmer, this is not a realistic goal.

If you meant 30 pounds in 30 weeks, which is a considerably more realistic goal, that knocks out to 546 calories today from your current diet.

I don't mean this to be discouraging -- I think it's great that you're taking charge of this, but the only way to be successful in this is to have a good grasp of the reality of what you've got to do. It really does come down to a numbers game...there's no cheating conservation of energy.

Good luck!
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:11 PM on December 10, 2008

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