Plateauing after 7 pounds? Not fair!
April 19, 2011 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Why aren't I losing weight anymore, despite meticulously tracking my calorie intake and exercising?

Around the end of February, I started a new healthy-eating-and-exercise plan. I didn't intend for it to be a diet, but rather a big change in the types and amounts of foods I eat, and helping my body be stronger and healthier.

Because I am rather sedentary (at a computer most of the day), I calculated my daily calorie needs (for weight maintenance) at 1815. I aimed to lose a pound or so per week, so I subtracted 500 per day for an intake aim of ~1200-1300 calories.

I completely overhauled my crappy diet (lots of refined carbs, not much fruit, not much dairy) to include almost exclusively whole grains, tons of veggies, yogurt, and healthy fats. I use to track my intake, and I am as accurate as possible about recording foods.

Here's a typical day for me:

Breakfast - low-fat sugar-free yogurt, maybe some granola or an apple

Lunch - veggie burger with hot sauce, big serving of green vegetables or a large salad dressed with homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Dinner - boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled, with another big serving of veggies, sometimes with a small side of brown rice or whole grain crackers

Snacks - hummus and veggies, applesauce, roasted almonds, Larabars

6 days a week I do a P90X workout (30-40 mins of cardio or strength training) and most days I do some Wii Fit for fun.

In late February, I was at 154 pounds (at 5'4"). I lost about 6 pounds in the first 4 weeks, but have only lost 1-2 additional pounds in the past 3-4 weeks. I really haven't strayed at all with my calorie intake, in fact most days I ring in at 200 or 300 calories below my aim of 1200, mostly in an attempt to rev up the losses again. I can't possibly have to eat less than 900 calories a day, right? That'd be almost impossible for me.

There are only a few other lifestyle changes that might apply, I'm not really sure how though. I went off birth control (doesn't going ON it usually cause weight gain?) and started eating low-sodium.

What could be going on? This is really, really frustrating.
posted by rachaelfaith to Health & Fitness (68 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should probably rephrase my main question to be, 'Why might this be happening?' as well as, 'What can I do to fix it?'
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:40 AM on April 19, 2011

in fact most days I ring in at 200 or 300 calories below my aim of 1200

This is quite low. Could be your metabolism has slowed down in response to the calorie deficit. It sounds like you need to eat more. How tall are you, and what is your current weight? I'm 4'11 and 110 lbs and I need to eat at least 1400 calories a day.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

I can't possibly have to eat less than 900 calories a day, right?

Is it possible that you are eating too few calories?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2011

This is natural. The human body is pretty damned efficient when it comes to storing energy. You've cut your intake down and lost the weight it's going to be easy for you to lose. But you're presumably been around a particular weight for years now, and your body is doing what it can to maintain that.

I also find it pretty hard to believe that you're actually eating only 1200 calories while maintaining regular P90X workouts. Those are intense, and unless you're consuming far more calories than you think you are, you should be exhausted all the time.

Also, for a lot of people, myself included, weight isn't actually as important as shape. I've been watching what I eat for about three months now and have started working out a bit. I'm 5'11" and started around 205lbs. I'm down to about 195-198lbs now, but I've noticed significant differences in the way my clothes fit. BMI be damned, 195 is a healthy weight for me, and if I were to really get in shape I'd probably gain weight. If you're really doing P90X as much as you say you are, you should be noticing some changes along these lines by now. Stop looking at the scale and start looking at your measuring tape.
posted by valkyryn at 8:46 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

How tall are you, and what is your current weight?

She said she's 5'4" and 146-7 now.
posted by amro at 8:46 AM on April 19, 2011

If you are generally getting by on 900-1000 calories a day, you are likely not eating healthily enough to either lose weight OR gain muscle mass.

You have to trust your diet enough to give it time to work. There are times when I feel like I'm eating an awful lot, or feel full a lot, but then I remember that I'm commuting back and forth to work on a bike every day, and also working on the 100 pushup challenge, and also practicing kung fu. If your diet is in a healthy range (your 1850 sounded good!) then you just have to give it time for the effects to even out. Dipping down below that is undermining your workouts and slowing down your weightloss.
posted by hermitosis at 8:49 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am not a doctor, a scientist, a nutrionist, etc. As a fat person, however, I have spent over half my life on a diet.

It sounds like your metabolism has grown accustomed to your caloric intake and your level of activity. Two things I learned from working with a personal trainer: You do actually have to eat, and it sounds like you may not be eating enough, so maybe you should speak to a nutrionist about what you're eating and how much you're eating. The second thing I learned is that sticking to a strict calorie count that is the same every single day is really great for losing weight for a few weeks, until your metabolism adjusts, and then you're stuck doing increasingly strict things to lose weight. What worked well for me was changing up my calorie count -- for a couple of days in a row I'd aim for let's say 2000 calories, then I'd have a day of 2200 calories. After that, a day of 1800 calories. Then back to 1900 or so. Lather, rinse, repeat. Basically, if you're repeating the same actions day after day (same workout, same diet, yawn), your body is going to get bored. You need to change it up.

Consider working with a personal trainer, even for a few sessions. They can help you figure out things you might be missing.
posted by palomar at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your MeFi profile says you're in the Northeast US. Maybe your daily activity cycle is slowing and you're not burning as many calories. I used to live there and know its all cold and wet right about now, so you're not out and about as much.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2011

Skip the Larabars, they're packed with carbs (over 20 grams a pop - that should be your allowance for an entire meal).

Also, have the veggie burger without the bun.

Reduce portion size.

Ignore calories, focus on carbs. Don't have more than 50g carbs a day while you're trying to lose the weight.
posted by Dragonness at 8:52 AM on April 19, 2011 [19 favorites]

So one thing is what a few commentators have talked about: when your body senses it's not getting the appropriate caloric intake, it tends to slow your metabolism down to try to accomodate for it.

A few things that may be impacting you.

1) What are those calories made of? Larabars, are those essentially protein bars? A lot of them are very high-sugar to make up for their taste, which can cause problems. Also, when you're tracking foods for calories, it's also important to include the quantities. You may be eating more calories than you think you are.

2) When are you doing your workouts? If possible, you should shift them to the morning so it increases your metabolism for the day.

3) Another thing that's tough is that it is easy to lose those first few pounds, and significantly harder to lose after that. You will get there, but it is going to be a slow process. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing something wrong.
posted by corb at 8:53 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've found, that to prevent plateauing, the answer isn't to reduce my caloric intake further: it was to introduce shake-ups into my daily routine. (Re: palomar and changing it up.)

For example, one month I converted my home desktop into a standing desk. All that standing hurt for a while, but I got stronger.

Another month, I started running barefoot (on a treadmill). That forced me to significantly alter my running gait and made me work harder. This month, I've started running outside (finally warm enough), which is much harder than running on a treadmill.

I even cut back on the amount of carbs, making sure to replace those calories with lean meat.

I'm still above my target weight, but, like valkyryn says, it's a good shape.
posted by cherrypj at 8:53 AM on April 19, 2011

Actually sometimes eating way below what you need- like anything less than 1000 can put your body into starvation mode, and hold on to fat.

you might just want to go back up to 1800 calories for a few weeks. I've found that going back up can reset your body's flip out.

If you can afford to, a visit to a nutritionist would probably be a good thing. If you bring all your food diaries they can help you go through it and figure it all out.
posted by Blisterlips at 8:55 AM on April 19, 2011

You have to exercise to keep your metabolism up and build muscle, but you also have to eat enough to prevent your body from cannibalizing muscle. It doesn't sound like you're getting enough fat or protein in your diet. Don't be (as) afraid of calories. Just stay away from carbs.
posted by smorange at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you watching your measurements, or just the number on the scale? You may be replacing fat with muscle (this is good!)--when I go from sedentary to very active (weights, aerobic exercise) I *gain* weight but my physical appearance and measurements change for the better.
posted by availablelight at 9:03 AM on April 19, 2011

That sounds like waaay too much food for 900 (or even 1200) calories to me. If you're going to the trouble to diligently track calories, you should get a food scale.

However I'm going to guess that you may need a different kind of diet given all your exercise; I personally had a lot of luck with a very high lean protein % in my diet. Swapping (unsweetened) peanut butter for hummus might seem like a bad idea for a snack but it works for some people.

You should also take breaks on your diet every so often. I do ok with taking a weekend break every 2 weeks and eating normally.
posted by shownomercy at 9:08 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If it's only been two to three weeks, and you haven't had your period (assuming you're female) you might notice significant weight loss afterwards. I find my weight cycles monthly around this. And, to be honest, a month isnt' that long. Keep going. And yes, getting *too few* calories can backfire.

(Also, metafilter seems to be very anti-carbs. Wholegrains ARE good for you, and carbs aren't evil. Don't focus on not eating things, that makes it harder, focus on getting lots of fruits and vegetables instead and you'll naturally eat less of everything else)
posted by stillnocturnal at 9:11 AM on April 19, 2011 [8 favorites]

You're no longer sedentary! Which means that the amount of calories it takes you to maintain your current weight has gone up considerably. Using this calculator, assuming you're doing a moderate level of activity, it would take you 2156 calories to stay the same weight, so 500 calories below that should be 1656. You're eating 900-1200, if you're measuring accurately. No wonder your metabolism is slowing down.

If your workouts are actually harder than moderate, your maintenance level is 2399.

Also, seconding taking measurements. I've been weightlifting and working out harder than usual since January, and while I'm only six pounds lighter, I've lost 3" off my waist and 4" off my hips during that time, thanks to the combo of fat loss and muscle gain.
posted by telophase at 9:11 AM on April 19, 2011

Response by poster: I am watching my measurements but haven't seen too much change overall. Oh, except in my hips/thighs, I seem to have lost about 2 inches. I do notice clothes fitting better (that's a good feeling) but I guess I was just hoping to continue in that vein instead of slowing to a stop.

A few diet caveats: I really don't know if I can do anything low-carb. The only meat I eat is chicken, and I don't eat eggs or red meat or any of the things that I presume most people eat on low-carb diets.

The nutrient percentage I aim for is 25/50/25 (fats, carbs, protein) and I honestly believe I am tracking my calories correctly. I don't have a food scale, but I do use measuring cups to track portion sizes.

Ideally, I'd have a food scale and a nutritionist and a personal trainer, but funds are rock-bottom right now.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:13 AM on April 19, 2011

A few diet caveats: I really don't know if I can do anything low-carb. The only meat I eat is chicken, and I don't eat eggs or red meat or any of the things that I presume most people eat on low-carb diets.

Why not? What about pork or fish?
posted by unixrat at 9:17 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

rachaelfaith, based on your update, i would simply suggest that you eat MORE. if you're eating below 1000 calories a day and doing 6 p90x workouts a week, you are not eating enough.
posted by palomar at 9:19 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Honestly? I just don't find most meats palatable. I tried pork tenderloin a few weeks back to see if I liked it enough to eat it regularly, but didn't enjoy it. I know I should eat more fish, but again, I'm not a fan of the taste.

It seems so counterintuitive to eat more! I had an inkling that I might have to try eating a bit more, but I guess I got used to 'feeling hungry' as 'yay, weight loss!'

If I'm going to do that, should I eat more veggies? Fruit? Protein? I'd love a big plate o'carbs, but that's traditionally been my downfall.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:23 AM on April 19, 2011

I found a food scale at a thrift store for a dollar. It's a very handy thing to have.
posted by geekchic at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2011

metafilter seems to be very anti-carbs

Because MetaFilter is very pro-science. Read this to get you started.
posted by Dragonness at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

Best answer: You can get good food scales for $20. I would highly recommend one, as measuring cups can be deceiving. When one needs to aim for a lower caloric intake, tracking the details of calories--how much butter you use to cook something, etc etc, are very important. I mean, how do you measure chicken in a measuring cup?

I agree that you need to aim for more protein and less carbs. If I were you, I'd try to get 150g of protein and less than 50g of carbs. Sedentary people tend to be more sensitive to carb intake.

How do you feel? How is your sleep? How is your energy? How often do you think about food during the day? Do you eat and then wait for the next meal? How hungry are you? Did you see an increase in energy and then a drop-off?

As other commenters have said, doing P90x with 900 calories a day at your weight and height is going to produce deleterious effects. If you are starving, miserable, sore all the time from your workouts, low-energy, acquiring weird aches and pains, your sleep is suffering, you're preoccupied with food at all moments, some or all of these, you're probably not eating enough. If you're making it through the day just fine though with maybe some hunger here and there and you're seeing progress, or at least maintenance in your energy/fitness levels, then you're likely overestimating how much calories you're taking in.

Also: do you ever cheat? Like have a cheat meal, or grab some M&Ms from the company jar, or a beer or two at the end of the day? Women are way, way more affected by cheats then men are and have to be a hell of a lot stricter about deviating from their diet to get equivalent results.
posted by Anonymous at 9:28 AM on April 19, 2011

Also: the "Do you cheat" question is not meant to be accusatory. Most people will initially overestimate caloric levels or consciously or subconsciously cheat themselves on their diets here and there. It's important to be aware of the ways our minds try to subvert our attempts to change our habits (though you certainly don't want to go overboard into ED-land).
posted by Anonymous at 9:33 AM on April 19, 2011

ARGH and I am sorry for doing comment on comment on comment . . . But, 1-2lbs in 3-4 weeks is not a huge plateau for a woman, especially a formerly sedentary one. Weight loss for women is hard work and can go depressingly slow.
posted by Anonymous at 9:35 AM on April 19, 2011

Congrats on changing your diet and lifestyle! That's really hard to do!

Sounds like homeostasis. Your body is really, really good at staying put at a certain weight (or at least, easier gaining weight) than losing it.

Consider that if you're doing P90X, you're likely gaining muscle, so your weight may not change even though you're losing fat.

You put on weight over a long period of time. While you want to lose it immediately, it's going to take a long period of time to lose it. And you're also more likely to keep it off if you do it slowly.
posted by gramcracker at 9:37 AM on April 19, 2011

Wait a minute -- there's no problem here. You say you have "lost 1-2 additional pounds in the past 3-4 weeks," which is a healthy and sustainable rate of 1/2 lb per week for someone your size. Focus on that gradual loss, plus your fitness gains.

The food you listed looks like more than 900 calories, but in any event, you should not be eating that little. If you were really only eating 900 calories and doing PDX for 30-40 minutes you would be STARVING by the end of the day!
posted by yarly at 9:40 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just to chime in--it's perfectly possible to be very, very active on ~900 calories a day and lose very little weight. When I was all eating-disordered in high school, this is how it was for me--a fairly fast initial weight loss of twenty pounds and then...nothing much. And I was obsessed by calories and exercise to the point where I was eating 1/4 cup of dry raisin bran for snack as a treat--normally it was chopped raw mushrooms and a pickle. Meanwhile, I was walking, swimming, biking and doing aerobics--getting at least 2 hours of fairly vigorous exercise every day. I wasn't exhausted; I was obsessed and driven. I may be a little sloppy in my calorie calculations as an adult, but I wasn't then--I would only eat things whose calories I could know, nothing ambiguous.

I'd suggest a LOT of protein and more fat, plus a little less on the intense regulation of what you eat. Fewer carbs--replace the granola with some cheese, for example. Check on the protein content of your veggie burger. No applesauce.

Here's what I eat when I'm being successful (which basically means slow weight loss, little hunger, better health, more energy)

--whole wheat english muffin (healthy kind, 110 calories, protein, no HRCS or extra sugar) with serving of peanut butter

--legumes (often lentils) and some greens with a dressing/sauce, 1/4 cup walnuts, fruit

--noodles (protein rich kind) and 1/2 block soft tofu with pepper and hot oil plus greens if I'm organized; carrots

--couple of bites of chocolate

This whole thing clocks in around 1500 calories. I either bike ten miles or walk five, depending on the state of my bike and the weather, with random biking, hiking, etc on the weekends and a donut instead of the english muffin on Sunday. When I can stick to it, this is a good, comfortable diet on which I feel healthy.
posted by Frowner at 9:40 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really feel for you, because I could have written this a few months ago - I cut out all sugary snacks, lost two pounds out of my goal of ten pounds and plateaued. Then I started reading up on the effect of carbs and realized that for me at least, the lack of weight loss had everything to do with the snacks. Unless you have the metabolism of a hummingbird, you will not lose weight if you are eating more than 40-50g of carbs a day.

My money is that it's the hummus (36g carbohydrates per cup), applesauce (51g per cup if sweetened, 28g per cup if unsweetened), and Larabars (20-30g per bar). Each one of your snacks is nearly a whole day's worth of carbs! Alternative snacks that worked for me: eggs (deviled, hard-boiled, scrambled, love 'em all), macadamia nuts, berries in moderation. Good luck!
posted by Atrahasis at 9:41 AM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm pretty meticulous when it comes to measuring cooking fats and ingredients. I measure chicken by buying as close to a pound of breasts as possible and dividing it into 4 for four-ounce servings. I suppose I could invest in a food scale as an experiment.

My hesitance with carb reduction is that while I understand low-carb diets work for a lot of people, this dietary change was meant to be permanent, or at least a guideline for how I'd like to ideally eat. I really don't know if I could go 50g or lower- my most recent day where I went painfully low in carbs put me at 98g and I was craving pasta for the next 3 days. I could see doing that for a few months, but not forever. Even a few months would be torture.

I think about food constantly. Part of that is probably related to a history of disordered eating and obsessive tendencies. I am tired most of the time and I don't sleep too well, but that could be a variety of factors...

I cheat very rarely. This past weekend was an exception (emotional issues led to overeating) but that's the first time I've deviated since I began recording my calories.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:42 AM on April 19, 2011

You know, after reading metafilter I tried a less-than-100-carbs diet for a while. I was never hungry, I was nauseated a lot and I had this sort of weird "burnt" feeling all the time, plus a bad taste in my mouth. Plus it was super-expensive and I couldn't afford enough veggies or the allowed fruit (berries! melon! right.) on my budget. I would feel hungry, sometimes, but too nauseated to eat, even when I knew I needed to. I sort of had energy--I wasn't tired--but I had this enormous lassitude. It was no fun. So I stopped!

But since then I've really boosted my protein intake and dropped out a lot of routine carbs--I don't cook rice any more, I have carrots and peanut butter for a snack instead of an english muffin, etc etc. I also eat carbs only along with lots of protein - ie, noodles only with a huge heaping helping of tofu. I have no idea how many carbs I eat, but I know that eating less than before works well for me. I've also pretty much cut out high fructose corn syrup as a side effect.

I've really noticed that on days when I'm eating less-carb, I feel much better. Less puffy, more energy, stomach feels better, enjoy my food more. I can even handle, say, a couple of high carb meals in a week with no ill effects as long as I follow my regular diet--if I go out for Chinese and eat a bunch of noodles, I'm fine, but if I have days of sandwiches (as at a recent conference) I feel horrible.
posted by Frowner at 9:51 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm vegetarian and doing a low-carb diet. Check out Rose Elliot's book on the subject for some ideas of meals you could have. According to the book, even vegans can do low-carb so you should definitely be able to. As far as carb cravings, the Dreamfields stuff tastes just like regular pasta if you just can't do without it, but the book has ideas such as courgette ribbons to substitute for pasta and cabbage leaves for lasagna. It tastes better than it sounds, I promise.
posted by hazyjane at 9:52 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Don't get discouraged! Bodies are unpredictable and it can be really hard to figure out exactly what they're up to :)

There are two concepts which may be worth reading up on:

1. "Cheat days" or "re-feed days" - A lot of diets which restric calories and/or carbs will explain that (as others have noted above) the body is very good at adapting to its environment, and will adjust your metabolism to match. This can cause the kind of plateau you describe.

The idea of "cheat" days is that by periodically (e.g. one day per week) boosting your intake of calories, carbs, or both, you can "trick" the body into thinking supplies are again plentiful, and hence avoid this metabolic downshift. Over the course of the week you can still create the caloric deficit you need for weight loss, while avoiding the plateau effect. Of course it isn't really a "cheat" when you plan it this way!

2. Intermittent fasting. Scary name, but actually not a gruelling thing to do! Basically the idea is that instead of creating your 3,500kcal deficit in 500kcal chunks at a time, you instead do it in larger chunks, e.g. by skipping breakfast and lunch one or two days a week. This avoids the metabolic effects mentioned above and (to hear its proponents tell it) has lots of other positive health benefits (e.g. increased HGH production).

Personally I've found it produces far more reliable weight change than calorie restriction and is (believe it or not) a much more pleasant experience!

Happy to discuss either more by memail, provide links, etc.
posted by ChristopherS at 9:53 AM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

There is definitely a withdrawal and craving period after lowering carbs for most people, and it usually lasts about four to five days according to the literature (it was about three days for me). The good news is that the suffering is followed by increased energy and mental clarity - and of course, weight loss. As your body adjusts to not having carb-induced blood sugar swings, you would not have cravings - I personally could not handle months of that. Anyway, if it helps, this regimen helped me lose about 5 lbs over the last couple of weeks.
posted by Atrahasis at 9:53 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and please have the courage of your convictions about what you're eating--back when I was eating-disordered, people would second guess what I ate and how much I exercised all the time because I wasn't thin. Meanwhile, I was going down to 600 calories a day because I'd stopped losing weight.

If you're confident that you're counting and measuring, and you aren't (for example) ignoring the fact that you make a butter-based sauce every night for your chicken, don't worry about it. It really, truly doesn't matter if you're eating 900 calories tonight and 950 tomorrow because you ended up with an extra tablespoon of chicken.
posted by Frowner at 9:54 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have two things to add:

(1) What's the problem? If you're losing 1/2 lb a week, that's a perfectly fine rate of weight loss! You'll lose around 25-30 lbs this year in a controlled, healthy manner. That's wonderful!

(2) As others have said, you should try eating more. 900 calories just isn't enough. Maybe a handful of almonds or walnuts once a day? Perhaps a little more protein when possible? It's counterintuitive, but I promise you that's the first thing a trainer or nutritionist would recommend to you.
posted by griseus at 9:57 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Even a few months would be torture.

And you could hurt yourself. After a few sucky days of getting used to reintroducing carbs (furry teeth and fatigue) I felt so much better with a normal carb diet. I'm with you on this one. People have different metabolisms, different levels of adrenal function and reserve--low carb is not for everyone.

I think about food constantly. [...] I am tired most of the time and I don't sleep too well, but that could be a variety of factors...

But the simplest explanation is that you are not eating enough. Try eating more and give it time. When you start eating more, you'll probably feel worse before you start to feel better: Your adrenals will calm down and your body will need time to adapt, among other things.

Despite the calories in, calories out dogma, it's just not true. The body dynamically mediates metabolic rate and activity level in response to caloric intake. Sure you'll lose weight if you don't eat enough, until your body temperature starts dropping and your workouts become uncontrollably less intense. And to top it off, your body hoards fat because it thinks it's starving and cannibalizes lean tissue instead.

If you increase your caloric intake, you'll be even more hungry and you'll gain back weight because 1) your body will be healing itself from too little food, and 2) your body thinks that there's a food shortage so you're biased to put on fat. If you continue to eat healthy (complex carbs yes, refined carbs and sugar no), after months of weight gain you'll probably start to lose it again, without counting calories.

See this guy's blog: (warning--sound)

So, there's probably additional subtlety that'll make or break things, but this is my current understanding. IANAD, etc., etc.
posted by zeek321 at 10:00 AM on April 19, 2011

Dragonness - I am also pro-science, thanks, otherwise I don't know why I have this science degree. Unfortunately, that blog crashed my web page repeatedly and I can't seem to load any further than the title, but I would definately appreciate a link to some peer-reviewed papers if you have any.

Until then, I will say to the OP that yes, too many carbs are bad. Lots of refined carbs make me feel bloated too. However, I've lost weight eating whilst almost nothing but, and cutting down too much on carbs actually gave me terrible insomnia (my GP advised me to eat more carbs again). So I would suggest sticking to wholegrains.

I will also tell you that I have done a lot of research and reading up on dieting and weight loss. Nobody agrees, what works for some people doesn't work for others, and it's a bit of a crap-shoot. Focus on eating *healthily*, drinking enough water and getting your five fruit and veg a day (even more is better - the number 5 was chosen because they reckoned it was achievable, apparently)
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: My goodness, so many answers! Sorry if I'm chiming in a lot- I try not to do that, but it seemed relevant here.

That vegetarian low-carb book (and accompanying cookbook) looks like a good option for me, even if I decide not to go fully low-carb I could try reducing anyway. I don't really recall how I felt on days where I ate more carbs versus less- I should create a dietary journal to keep track of things that aren't just food intake.

A big thank you to everyone for your input thus far. I have a lot to read and consider.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:04 AM on April 19, 2011

50g of carbs per day is a lose-weight thing. Maintenance is more (100-150g, IIRC). The craving goes away/gets dialed back - I don't miss pasta or bread the way I did when I started this process (which began in January).

You're tired most of the time, and you're exercising a lot - these are clues. Another clue is that your protein intake looks way, way too low if you're working out as much as you say you are. Ditch the zero-fat yogurt for breakfast - start with something higher in protein. Adding (healthy) fats will help as well.

I've just looked over my Sparkpeople thing and, barring a few days when I haven't tracked (I tend to not track when I'm out of town, or have Something Special - like my trip to Seattle for the beer fest a couple weeks ago), my calorie intake is around 1500/day or a little less, and I've been losing a steady 1-2 pounds per week. I am lazy: this has happened with virtually no regular exercise on my part. I'm not exhausted and I don't spend all day thinking about What Meal Comes Next because I don't get the hungries the way I used to. I mean, I still think about food, but I've always thought about food - I like to cook, I like to eat. But I don't spend time daydreaming about M&Ms or something. As a data point, I've always had a fairly healthy relationship with food and have no history of eating disorders.

Everyone is different, so of course your mileage may vary. My low-carb thing means I count carbs, not calories, and the calorie reduction is not the goal but the result. I eat a varied diet and don't really get tired of what I'm eating. But what I eat also sounds much more varied than what you eat - I eat all kinds of meat, and I had scrambled eggs and cottage cheese for breakfast - 277 calories, 6g of carbs, and 31g of protein.

Long answer shorter: add protein, healthy fats, cut back some on carbs (or at least, track the carbs rather than the calories for a week or two).
posted by rtha at 10:04 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're not on a plateau. Weight loss will always be faster in the first couple of weeks, and then it slows down, because you've lost all the "easy" weight (mostly water weight). So, right on schedule, you lost a lot in the first couple of weeks, and now you're losing an average of 1/2 pound a week. You're a fairly small person and don't have a lot to lose, so that's a very healthy, sustainable weight loss rate.

Stop cheating yourself out of the calories your body needs, and keep it up. You're adopting a sustainable lifestyle for yourself, one that you'll be able to keep your whole life. You don't want to crash diet, which is what 900 calories a day is. Listen to your body. Eat the food you need to keep up with your (now pretty athletic) lifestyle. Your body will do the work you want it to do if you give it what it needs.
posted by decathecting at 10:05 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Last thought and I'll stop before going completely OT.

As your body adjusts to not having carb-induced blood sugar swings,

When I was eating low carb and then cheated or messed up, I had awful blood sugar swings. When I started eating normal (and sometimes massive) amounts of carbs, I no longer had blood sugar swings. Now I just eat according to taste without worrying about carb content at all.

Yes, I'm offering anecdote for anecdote, but low-carb dogma is too simplistic. Over and out.
posted by zeek321 at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with those who are saying you're probably eating too little. I also think that anyone who says certain things "always" or "never" work should be ignored. People are different. For example, I've lost 98 pounds, averaging 1.5 pounds a week, and I eat way more than 50g of carbs a day. I only eat complex carbs (except for the rare special occasion birthday cake or something), but I eat carbs. I eat fruits, veggies, lean protein, and dairy, and don't have sweets, white bread/pasta, alcohol, and sugary drinks. I eat three meals, plus 1-2 small, healthy snacks a day, and I rarely get very hungry.

Like you, I've being doing pretty intense workouts. Unlike you, I eat the calories I burn. For example, right now my caloric goal is around 1300/day. If I burn 400 calories at the gym, I eat 1700 calories that day. I use, which shows both the total calories and the net calories. As long as my net is within 50 or so calories of 1300, I consider it a good day. I am not a fitness professional, but I've lost a lot of weight, and I've done it in a healthy, sustainable way (see above re: rarely hungry).

You are losing weight, just a little slower than you'd like. It's good to try different approaches, but don't let people talk you into something that you don't think you can sustain.
posted by Mavri at 10:19 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I also agree with those who say you have to mix things up a little. Have one day every couple of weeks where you let yourself eat a little more. I've noticed that I'll sometimes have a jump in the amount of weight I lose after a week where I've been a little bad.
posted by Mavri at 10:25 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're not eating enough. You need less carbs, more calories, and more fat. Have whole fat greek yogurt for breakfast instead of the low fat crap with artificial sweeteners in it. Have two chicken thighs instead of a breast. Eat more peanut butter and whole fat cottage cheese. Lose the applesauce and the Larabars.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:31 AM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: I think about food constantly. Part of that is probably related to a history of disordered eating and obsessive tendencies. I am tired most of the time and I don't sleep too well, but that could be a variety of factors...

I cheat very rarely. This past weekend was an exception (emotional issues led to overeating) but that's the first time I've deviated since I began recording my calories.

Combining this information with the zero-to-60 exercise increase and the continual decrease in calories is a huge red flag. Now I'd be worried you're going for too much, too soon. 180-degree lifestyle changes are tremendously difficult to implement, and people with a history of ED (especially of the bulimia or binging type) and food-obsessiveness are especially likely to end up going all-out and then crashing and burning spectacularly the moment they hit a plateau or something goes wrong. Getting super-anal about your diet, and then getting even more super-anal and cutting calories further when things go wrong is a great way to slide back into old, bad habits.

Drop the number of days you're working out to 3-4. The other days, find activities that are genuinely fun (Wii-Fit, hiking, biking, golf, whatever) and do them. Be honest with yourself about whether they are fun or whether they seem like they're an activity that does the most work. I would only keep up the six-days-a-week P90x if you absolutely love it and it is the highlight of your day. You need to find an exercise regimen where the amount of physical activity you're doing feels good and energizing, not like a punishment for the way your body looks or feels. Gradually increase days of intense exercise over a period of months, and only in response to a feeling that your fitness gains are not increasing or a natural desire to push yourself more.

Regarding diet: continue to eat the quality of foods that you're eating. Replace the more carb-heavy stuff with fruit, veggies, and sources of protein. However, chill out about the quantity. Eat slowly until you're full, and keep this up for about a week or two before returning to measuring calories. When you start measuring calories, do not measure to cut, measure just to judge intake--don't aim for a level, eat until you're full and figure out how many calories that is. Do that for a week or two. Then start taking out 100-200 calories a day. For right now, you should not aim to drop under 1300 ever and you should aim to get at least 120-130g of protein ever day, even if it puts you over your caloric goal that day.

I would still suggest cutting back on carbs, because carbs can lead to a cycle of sugar rushes and crashes that can increase the likelihood of binging. It can also interfere with your natural hunger signals by causing cravings. If you have to do it gradually (150g to 125g to 100g to 75g etc) do it that way, but getting the sugar monkey off your back helps a great deal.


The above plan will, almost certainly, slow down your progress. However, you've expressed interest in a total, sustainable lifestyle change. There are some people who do best going 180 with their lives. People with past histories of food obsession/ED/whatever are often not these people because they go 180 too well. You end up bouncing between one extreme and the other.

So the best way to make a lifestyle change is to force yourself to do it gradually. You need to take this all slowly, so slowly that it seems almost too easy and you're not thinking about it. Yes, this will not produce the fastest visual results in the short-term. But for you, it is probably the best solution for the long-term. It is better to take a year, even two years to reach a sustainable place than to try to barge in and a year later find yourself struggling will the same demons in your head.
posted by Anonymous at 10:33 AM on April 19, 2011

Are you accounting for muscle gain? Were you this active before you tried to lose weight because that might account for some of the lack of weight lose mystery.

I agree with others that you should try eating more and stagger the calories; more one day less another more instead of trying to treat the calorie deficit as a absolute number that always needs to be followed. Like Mavri when I was a little bad once in awhile I'd lose weight afterwards.

Yes, I'm offering anecdote for anecdote, but low-carb dogma is too simplistic. Over and out.

I agree and, I'm on a moderate carb diet (waivers between 150 and 180gr a day when I monitor what I've eaten with cron-o-meter) and, managed to lose weight without having to completely give up everything that I enjoy about eating like fruit and certain veggies. Since losing all the weight, trying to lower my white sugar intake just made me hungrier despite eating a few more calories to compensate for lack of sugar.
posted by squeak at 10:59 AM on April 19, 2011

I am similar to you in size and weight-loss goals, and I'm sure I couldn't function on the kind of food/exercise routine you're talking about, but I have one very small suggestion that may help you out: change the way you weigh *yourself*.

Maybe you're already doing this but I've found The Hacker's Diet method of keeping track of my weight very helpful. I weigh myself every day and input the numbers into this super-geeky spreadsheet) to smooth out the results. I actually just went back and looked at my numbers and if, say, I had only weighed myself on Mondays, I would have appeared to have plateaued (there were three weeks where I weighed 148, then 148.2, then 148.4, yikes!), but I knew from weighing myself on the other days that I was actually still going down.

Just something to think about! I know a lot of people are very anti-daily-weighing and would be horrified by the thought, but for me it's really reassuring. I know that my weight can shoot up four pounds in a day and that that doesn't really mean much.
posted by mskyle at 11:00 AM on April 19, 2011

To preface this: I'm sure EVERYONE has an opinion - you'll have to find the one that works for you. This is what I saw with your diet and what I would change (my opinion only):

Switch up your diet:

Breakfast - low-fat sugar-free yogurt, maybe some granola or an apple

Sugar, sugar and more sugar. not to mention carb city.

Try this for a week: spinach and egg whites with some (and just some) black beans. Toss in some sugar free salsa, lemon juice and you have a nice meal with lots of protein to feed your muscles.

Lunch - veggie burger with hot sauce, big serving of green vegetables or a large salad dressed with homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Veggie burger - what's the carb count? Does it have enriched rice in it? (brown or white). Once again, hidden carbs. How about a lean meat? (or do you eat meat?) lean fish? hell - even a fatty fish. Change balsamic to a tasty oil (the fat count won't kill you)

Dinner - boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled, with another big serving of veggies, sometimes with a small side of brown rice or whole grain crackers

rice and whole grain crackers = carbs. carbs get turned into fat pretty quickly if you aren't running a marathon. How about instead of rice/crackers...try black beans (a few, they are carby...but not as bad).

Snacks - hummus and veggies, applesauce, roasted almonds, Larabars

yikes. hummus is okay but depends if you are drowning your veggies in that or not. Applesauce = sugar (even fructose). Roasted almonds...I can't remember the count, but I think a handful of almonds have more calories than a snicker bar. Larabars? Oh yikes - I only eat those if I'm doing a long ride (I bike) and one larabar would last me for a 10-15 mile ride.

6 days a week I do a P90X workout (30-40 mins of cardio or strength training) and most days I do some Wii Fit for fun.

Okay that's great - and I do a similar type of workout (but mainly on bike + strength training twice a week). But you are consuming a lot of carbs. And you've probably have flattened out for a while - in which now your gains are going to be minimal.

I'm just pushing past a plateau and it was eliminating most carbs in my daily consumption. For snacks I generally munch on raw broccoli.
posted by Hands of Manos at 11:23 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I understand that you don't want to go low-carb, and that's fine, but 25/50/25 is already a low-protein diet. Adjusting that ratio so it's between 40/40/25 and 35/40/30 (protein/carbs/fat) would be much better for you, I think, and would be nowhere close to a low-carb diet. In fact, you can easily get there just by eating the same amount of carbs, plus an extra serving or two of protein.

If I were you, I'd stop concentrating so much on carbs and/or calories and think about adding some protein. This recent thread has a lot of great suggestions on ways to incorporate protein in your diet without eating a lot of eggs or meat. This thread on high-protein veggie meals and this one on high-protein snacks might also be helpful.

For starters, I would really suggest a whey protein shake for breakfast rather than the fat-free yogurt -- a scoop of whey probably has about the same number of calories as the yogurt, but it has much more protein and calcium, and no carbs. You can get it in tasty unsweetened flavors, too (the strawberry-banana is great for breakfast). If you make the shake with 2% milk instead of water, that right there would go a long way toward improving your protein/carb/fat ratio without dumping the dinner-and-snack carbs you love.

Other than that, I agree with schroedinger; stressing over this will not help. Concentrate on small, long-term changes (like swapping the yogurt for the shake), not on forcing yourself to work out more, cut calories more, etc. There's a reason why people say that slow and steady wins the race!
posted by vorfeed at 12:16 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I lost about 6 pounds in the first 4 weeks, but have only lost 1-2 additional pounds in the past 3-4 weeks.

The first thing you lose is water weight and it goes quick. I lost 15 lbs in the last month after starting kung fu training.

After that, then you actually start losing weight solely on fat - which, if you're 500 calories under your needs a day, will be 1 pound a week, which is still really great.

Of course, you're also going to be building muscle with all the workouts you're doing, which means your weight on the scale may not drop as quickly or might stall out - but you're still burning fat. For most folks, the goal is shape and not actual weight (gymnasts, boxers, and horse jockeys, excepted).

Stick at 500 under and just recognize it's going to take awhile.
posted by yeloson at 12:18 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: It sounds like you've gone catabolic. If you don't eat enough while working out, your body will start storing fat, burning muscle, and doing everything it can to Not Lose Weight. Symptoms include being tired and grumpy, not having a lot of energy. Solutions include: eating more, sleeping more, and resting between hardcore exercise bouts. You want to be anabolic, building muscle (which burns calories!) and burning fat.

I've been part of a program where we're trying to reduce our body fat percentage and more than half of the women have gone catabolic at some point - it's really easy! If you don't have access to tools that will tell you when you're storing fat and burning muscle, just Listen to your body for the symptoms above.

Lots of good advice above on foods to add. And our licensed dietician would agree that you shouldn't go no-carb, but the 35/40/30 mentioned above sounds good. I've added more fruits, veggies, whole grains and protein (cottage cheese is Chock full of protein).
posted by ldthomps at 12:23 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hello diet twin! We are the same weight and height and I use Lose It! too. Some carbs are OK but the trick is to make them "hard to get", i.e. as fibrous as possible. This helps smooth out how quickly the sugars are hitting your liver etc. So, instead of applesauce (which is very concentrated) go for whole apples. Instead of the yogurt and granola, go for steel cut oats and blueberries - super yum and keeps you full for hours. Kill the Larabars and replace them with some protein (something like salmon would be great). Don't worry about this increasing the calorie count too much - you're not eating enough to sustain that level of exercise.
posted by media_itoku at 12:28 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Stop weighing yourself frequently. Check maybe once every 2-3 weeks. Best way to disappoint yourself is to check your weight very frequently.
posted by exhilaration at 1:37 PM on April 19, 2011

It just sounds like you hit a plateau. I would continue on and you'll likely break through it eventually. The last 10-15 pounds are VERY hard to get off. Also, you are still losing, just at a slower pace, so what you are doing is working, just not as quickly as you would hope. I'm around your BMI and losing 1 lb a week for me is fantastic pace, usually it's more like 1/2 lb.

I also strongly encourage you to measure yourself. It really can give you a sense of accomplishment when the scale isn't moving and let you know what you are doing is working. I measure my arms, thighs, waist and hips and then add them all together. It feels like a bigger accomplishment when the number goes down (as opposed to just losing 1/2 here or there, which feels like nothing week to week).
posted by whoaali at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2011

this question is answered and you have a whole lot of goot input here, but just to add my personal experience:

when I graduated from a professional dance training program, I was 5'2" and 120. shortly after, I went off the birth control pill for the first time in 3 years, immediately stopped getting periods, and gained 20 pounds. after 2 years without periods, I finally became regular again. I then promptly lost the 20 pounds I had put on.

My doctors, who I saw over the course of the two periodless years, eventually told me I had to stop dancing and eat more to make my period come back. I had effectively turned off my menstruation and caused my body to go into freakout survival mode: the body starts storing all calories as fat when it isn't getting enough intake (1200 cals is NOT enough intake if you do ANY physical activity, including getting to and from your sedentary job).

after graduating from dance school and putting on weight (assuming it was from not dancing full time anymore), I worked like crazy to eat well, exercise all the time, etc.

ironically, the only thing that did it for me and weight loss was sitting on my ass eating peanut butter and toast while finishing an undergraduate degree.
posted by ameliaaah at 2:39 PM on April 19, 2011

You wanted to lose about a pound a week. You've lost about a pound a week.

Not sure I see the problem. Just keep it going, don't obsess over the scales.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:59 PM on April 19, 2011

Stay off the scale and stick to the P90X diet plan that comes with exercise plan.
posted by notyou at 4:09 PM on April 19, 2011

Are you accounting for muscle gain? Were you this active before you tried to lose weight because that might account for some of the lack of weight lose mystery.

There's very little chance that the OP is gaining a significant amount of muscle with that caloric intake. The protein is particularly low.
posted by pollex at 7:55 PM on April 19, 2011

Seconding the people who say not to worry about carbs. Plenty of people lose weight and keep it off on diets with much more carbs than 50% (and contrary to what vorfeed says 25% is in no way a low-protein diet, average protein intake is between 15-20%. In an NHANES study the highest 95 percentile had a protein intake of 20.8%. So, 25% may seem low to low-carbers, but it is already very high compared to the general population).

Because MetaFilter is very pro-science. Read this to get you started.
It is a bit irritating that every single diet thread on Mefi has a chorus of people saying "you have to cut carbs". It is a fine way to lose weight, but far from the only way.

For people that are actually interested in science this blog is an interesting read about the Gary Taubes article Dragonness linked (you may hate the writing style, the author sure doesn't like Taubes, but on the other hand, Taubes himself isn't very kind about people he disagrees with either, so I assume his fans have no problem with that). As you can see in the article by Taubes himself, the Mediterranean diet actually had comparable results with the low carb diet. Another quote from the article that's relevant to this question: A study was done that controlled for calories (and as a bonus, protein) and varied carbohydrate content and measured weight loss. Result: weight loss was consistent independent of varying carbohydrate intake between basically all of non-protein calories and non of all-protein calories.
posted by davar at 8:19 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

(and contrary to what vorfeed says 25% is in no way a low-protein diet, average protein intake is between 15-20%. In an NHANES study the highest 95 percentile had a protein intake of 20.8%. So, 25% may seem low to low-carbers, but it is already very high compared to the general population).

The OP is doing P90X 6 days a week, and she's trying to get by on 1200 calories. What the "general population" eats has little or nothing to do with what she should be eating... especially since the average protein intake in the general population is much lower than what most people trying to gain muscle or participate in endurance exercise are eating.

The most commonly-accepted rule of thumb for people trying to build muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. The OP is nowhere close to that (by my math, she's at around 0.5 grams per pound), yet she's doing a low-calorie diet and a workout including strength training 6 days a week.

In short: her protein intake can afford to be very high compared to the average. This has nothing to do with "low-carbers" -- like I said, she doesn't have to do low-carb if she doesn't want to -- and everything to do with exercise.

A study was done that controlled for calories (and as a bonus, protein) and varied carbohydrate content and measured weight loss. Result: weight loss was consistent independent of varying carbohydrate intake between basically all of non-protein calories and non of all-protein calories.

That's fine, but controlling for calories and protein and then swapping the ratio of fat and carbs tells you roughly nothing about low-carb diets, because that's not how low-carb dieters actually eat -- as you yourself pointed out, low-carb diets are much closer to high-protein diets than high-fat diets. No one suggests that low-carb diets trigger weight loss in the absence of a change in protein; in fact, high amounts of protein are the main reason why low-carb diets tend to lead to calorie restriction, as it's more difficult to consume the same amount of calories from protein as from carbs.

Frankly, I agree that Taubes is kinda over-the-top, and that low-carb is far from the only way... but blogs which characterize research in obviously misleading ways aren't helping, either.
posted by vorfeed at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2011

I think protein requirements for active people who are not actively trying to build muscle are still somewhat controversial (your link says this as well). I also don't think that you're an athlete if you exercise 3 to 4 hours a week. If exercising for half an hour a day would increase your protein needs by almost 100%, what are the protein requirements for athletes who exercise 6+ hours a day? You are right though that she eats a lot less calories than most people so she would indeed need relatively more protein than most people. More calories would also be an option then though. I read your but 25/50/25 is already a low-protein diet as a general statement instead of specifically meant for the asker.

blogs which characterize research in obviously misleading ways aren't helping, either.
But in my opinion that is exactly what Taubes does (If Taubes is so "pro science" wouldn't he have at least mentioned the success of the Mediterranean diet in the study he discussed in the linked blog post?) so I thought it might at least be useful to read two sides of the story. I also think in the context of a response to Taubes it is not all that relevant how low-carbers actually eat since Taubes actually called for a controlled study to be done and since Taubes cited the study himself (so presumably he thought it was relevant). It is interesting for people who think there is something magical about protein or carbs and weight loss. There are still people who think that if you eat lots of protein you can eat all the calories you want, or that if you eat lots of carbs you will never lose weight, not because it is hard to restrict calories on some high carb diets, but because there is something magical about carbs that make you fat. I think that this study does support evidence for the idea that macro nutrient composition in itself is not all that important, and that's relevant I think. It doesn't say anything about whether low carb diets work or not, but I don't think that that was the purpose of the study or the blog post.
posted by davar at 1:00 PM on April 20, 2011

I also think in the context of a response to Taubes it is not all that relevant how low-carbers actually eat since Taubes actually called for a controlled study to be done and since Taubes cited the study himself (so presumably he thought it was relevant).

If Taubes called for a controlled study to be done, and Taubes is also familiar with this particular study, then it stands to reason that he did not think it was relevant in the way the author of the blog you linked to seems to think it is. And the reason why is obvious: because what the study did is swap fat for carbs and study the resulting insulin levels. It was not actually about bodyweight to begin with (for one thing, two successive three-week periods is not nearly long enough to measure meaningful changes in weight), and what's more, the results actually support Taubes' hypothesis (from the study itself: that "the insulin antagonism that develops with obesity might actually represent an adaptive mechanism to protect the obese person from hypoglycemic episodes resulting from the excessive intake of carbohydrate.")

There are still people who think that if you eat lots of protein you can eat all the calories you want, or that if you eat lots of carbs you will never lose weight, not because it is hard to restrict calories on some high carb diets, but because there is something magical about carbs that make you fat.

Well, there is something magical about carbs which (helps) make you fat: insulin response, which is what Grey and Kipnis were actually measuring. Given the number of people who are pre-diabetic in this country, it makes no sense to pretend as if "macro nutrient composition in itself is not all that important". It is that important -- it's just not the sole variable.
posted by vorfeed at 2:17 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

My best guess is that if you dropped the almonds and the larabars for a week, you'd be off that plateau. You can replace the calories with the foods you are already eating.

Nuts are quite often underestimated and overconsumed. Larabars pack a pretty potent sugar punch.

Good luck...looks like you've got a lot of info above this to go through. Personally, I know that nuts don't work for me when I'm cutting weight and the vast majority of processed meal bars are really just candy bars with well-designed wrappers.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 2:31 PM on April 20, 2011

There's a lot on the blog I linked about insulin. See here for example. I find the comments interesting as well and the author does respond to criticism.
I don't agree with Taubes that insulin is all that important for weight loss in healthy people (and I just see a post about that on CarbSanity as well). Even if it were, it is not as simple as "something magical about carbs" since protein raises insulin as well. In fact, beef raises insulin more than pasta. The authors of the study who found that (Holt et al, 1997) concluded "Macronutrient composition of foods has relatively limited power for predicting the extent of postprandial insulinemia".

I always wonder: if the amount of carbohydrate people eat were a very important factor for diabetes, wouldn't everybody in Asia have diabetes? And how can it be explained then that almost-vegan doctors like McDougall and Ornish have great success reversing diabetes on a high carb diet (I don't endorse these diets at all, but I do think they show that carbs in general are not an important factor, even for diabetes).
posted by davar at 12:28 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: If anyone comes back to this question, I ended up losing another 10-12 pounds before reaching my goal weight of 135 and have now maintained that for six months.

I ate more healthy fats but never did go low-carb. Just couldn't do it!
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:09 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Good job, you! Sounds like you figured it out.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 12:23 AM on December 21, 2011

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