Is it possible to not lose body fat because you’re eating too little?

Excellent article by Tom

Q: Tom, Is it possible to not lose body fat because you’re eating too little?

A: Yes and no. This gets a little complicated so let me explain both sides.

Part one of my answer: I say NO, because if you are in a calorie deficit you WILL lose weight.

We all hear stories of the dieter who claims to be eating 800 calories a day or some starvation diet level of intake and yet is not losing fat. Like the mythical unicorn, such an animal does not exist. Every time you take a person like that and put them in a hospital research center or metabolic ward where their food can be counted, weighed, measured and almost literally “spoon fed” to them, a calorie deficit always produces weight loss.

There are no exceptions, except possibly in rare diseases or mutations. Even then I think metabolic or hormonal defects or diseases merely lead to energy imbalance via increases in appetite, decreases in energy expenditure or changes in energy partitioning. So at the end of the day it’s STILL calories in versus calories out. In other words, NO – it’s NOT your thyroid (unless you’ve got a confirmed diagnosis as such…and then guess what… it’s STILL calories in vs calories out, you’re just not burning as many as someone should at your height and weight).

One famous study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine years ago proved this point rather dramatically. After studying obese people – selected specifically because they swore they were eating less than 1200 calories but could not lose weight – Steven Lichtman and his colleages at St. Luke’s Roosevent Hospital in New York came to the following conclusion:

“The failure of some obese subjects to lose weight while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis.”

That’s right – the so-called “diet-resistant” subjects were eating more than they thought and moving less than they thought. This was probably the single best study ever published that debunks the “I’m in a calorie deficit but I can’t lose weight” myth: The lesson contained here is so important,

I did a full write-up on this research paper for my inner circle members:

The Real Reason For “Diet Resistance” And Weight Loss Plateaus:
Study Reveals The Shocking Truth

(burn the fat inner circle members only)

You can read the study abstract on Pub Med (US National Library of Medicine) for free:

Part two of my answer, YES, because:

1) Energy intake increases. Eating too little causes major, sometimes almost irresistible increases in appetite. With hunger raging out of control, you lose your deficit by overeating. this happens in many ways, such as giving in to cravings, binge eating, eating more on weekends or simply being inconsistent, so some days you’re on your prescribed 1600 calories a day or whatever is your target amount, but on others you are taking in 2200, 2500, 3000 etc and you don’t realize it or remember it. The overeating days wipe out the deficit days.

2) Metabolism decreases due to smaller body mass. Any time at all when you are losing weight, your metabolism is slowly decreasing due to your reduced body mass. The smaller and lighter you get, especially if there is a large drop in skeletal muscle mass, the fewer calories you need. So your calorie deficit slowly shrinks over time as your diet progresses. As a result, your weight loss slows down even though you haven’t changed how much you eat.

With starvation, you always lose weight, but eventually you lose so much weight/body mass that you can reach energy balance at the same caloric intake you used to lose weight on. You might translate that as “I went into starvation mode” which wouldn’t be incorrect, but it would be more accurate to say that your calorie needs decreased.

3) Metabolism decreases due to adaptive thermogenesis. Eating too little also causes a starvation response (adaptive thermogenesis) where metabolic rate can decrease above and beyond what can be accounted for from the change in body mass (#2 above). This is “starvation response” in the truest sense. It does exist and it is well documented. However, the latest research says that the vast majority of the decrease in metabolism comes from reduced body mass. The adaptive component of the reduced metabolic rate is fairly small, perhaps 10% (ie, 220 calories for an average female with a 2200 TDEE). The result is when you don’t eat enough, your actual weight loss is less than predicted on paper, but weight loss doesn’t stop completely.

There is a BIG myth about starvation mode (adaptive thermogenesis) that implies that if you don’t eat enough, your metabolism will slow down so much that you stop losing weight. That can’t happen, it only appears that way because weight loss stops for other reasons. What happens is the math equation changes!

Energy balance is dynamic, so your weight loss slows down and eventually stops over time if you fail to adjust your calories and activity levels in real time each week. I teach a system for how to adjust calories and activity weekly using a feedback loop method in my Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle program.

So what can be done to stop this metabolic slowdown caused by low calorie dieting and the dreaded fat loss plateau that follows? I recommend the following:

1) Lose weight slowly. Slow and steady wins in long term fat loss and maintenance every time. Rapid weight loss correlates strongly with weight relapse and loss of lean body mass. Aim for one to two pounds per week, or no more than 1% of total body weight (ie, 3 lbs per week if you weigh 300 lbs). For more info, read: The Two Pounds Per Week Rule and Faster Fat Loss

2) Use a higher energy flux program. If you are physically capable of exercise, then use weight training AND cardio to increase your energy expenditure, so you can still have a calorie deficit, but at a higher food intake (also known as a “high energy flux” program, or as we like to say in Burn The Fat, “eat more, burn more.”)

3) Use a conservative calorie deficit. You still need a calorie deficit to lose fat, but your best bet is to keep the deficit small. This helps you avoid triggering the starvation response, which includes the increased appetite and potential to binge that comes along with starvation diets. I recommend a 20% deficit below your maintenance calories (TDEE), a 30% deficit at most for those with high body fat.

4) Refeed. Increase your calories (re-feed) for a full day periodically (once a week or so if you are heavy, twice a week if you are already lean), to restimulate metabolism. On the higher calorie day, take your calories to maintenance or even 10, 15, 20% above maintenance and add the extra calories in the form of carbs (carb cycling). The leaner you get, and the longer you’ve been on reduced calories, the more important the re-feeds will be.

5) Take periodic diet breaks. Take 1 week off your calorie restricted diet approximately every 12 weeks or so. During this period, take your calories back up to maintenance, but continue to eat healthy, “clean” foods. Alternately, go into a muscle building phase if that is one of your goals. This will bring metabolism and regulatory hormones back up to normal and keep lean body mass stable.

As new research has emerged which helps clarify the complex nature of adaptive thermogenesis and neuroendocrine control of appetite, I have continued to update my information. What you have just read is the best quick explanation I can give based on the current scientific body of knowledge, plus what I know from many years of experience with both heavy and lean dieters – from the obese to the bodybuilding competitor.

There is much confusion about how your metabolism, hormones and appetite mechanisms are affected when you’re dieting, so this was really one of the most important questions anyone could have asked. If this didn’t click – I mean REALLY click – then please read my answer again because misunderstanding this stuff leads more people to remain frustrated and stuck at plateaus than anything else I can think of.

Food myths busted

Heres an interesting article

Do crusts make your hair curly? Does spinach make you strong? And will eating fish make you smarter? The experts look at the origins of some popular food myths.

* Spinach makes you strong

Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby, who has written nine books about food, blames Popeye the Sailor for this common misconception.

“Popeye used to swallow a can of spinach and his muscles would suddenly get big,” she recalls.

While spinach is high in iron, it is not very well absorbed.

Your best bet for big muscles is red meat, Saxelby says.

The reason the 1930s comic strip hero popped a can of spinach when he needed to bulk up was because of a misprint in a study on the leafy vegetable.

According to reports, an early study stated spinach had ten times the amount of iron than it actually did.

The error wasn’t widely known until it was uncovered by the British Medical Journal in 1981.

But for Saxelby one big question remains: “Why didn’t he have fresh spinach? Maybe it wasn’t as portable.”

* Eating fish make you brainy

Saxelby says the jury is out about this one, but recent research suggests it has some truth.

A Swedish study of almost 4000 15-year-old boys published last month found those who ate fish once a week had higher cognitive skills by the time they turned 18.

A weekly intake of fish increased a range of intelligence scores by an average of 6 per cent, according to the report in the journal Acta Paediatrica.

And tucking into fish more than once a week increased scores by about 11 per cent.

“For the time being it appears that including fish in a diet can make a valuable contribution to cognitive performance in male teenagers” the study’s author, Maria Aberg said.

Saxelby says the omega 3 fatty acids in fish are important for the development of cognition, concentration and memory in unborn and newborn babies.

“(But) Does it make you smarter than you would’ve been?. . . Does it make a kid go from average to super smart? I don’t know because there’s a lot more things come into it,” she says.

* Chocolate gives you pimples

Chocolate on it’s own will not make you break out in zits, but all the other stuff in your candy bars will, Melbourne dermatologist George Varigos says.

Dr Varigos, the head of dermatology at Royal Melbourne Hospital, conducted a study with researchers at RMIT university that involved lip injections however they revealed a link between diet and pimples.

“Your grandmother was partly right. . . (but) it does depend on the type of chocolate bar, so you have to be cautious,” he says.

“It’s not the chocolate bar that is fatty and hard, but it’s the chocolate candy (inside) that’s soft and juicy with sugar (that makes you break out).”

The study, involving about 75 boys aged 16 to 25, revealed High GI food fuels a peak in insulin, causing zits.

* Red wine good for your heart

Red wine is packed with antioxidants that are good for your heart, Saxelby says.

She says alcohol in all its forms has some health benefits in moderation, but red wine “has the edge”.

“It has a much higher concentration of antioxidants from the grapes.

“They keep your blood free-flowing. . . around your body, they stop it clotting and clumping. . . (and) open up the blood vessels.”

She also says red wine drinkers are more likely to have “a healthier lifestyle” than people who imbibe other types of alcohol.

But the Australian Heart Foundation (AHF) recommends getting the good stuff directly from fruit and vegies.

The AHF says over-indulgence can mean the alcoholic content of red wine cancels out any benefits.

“It is reported that drinking only a small amount. . . will provide the health benefit from alcohol,” the foundation’s nutrition manager Barbara Eden says.

* Crusts make your hair curly?

Both nutritionists like Saxelby and hairdressers like celebrity stylist Joh Bailey agree on this one, saying it’s a myth invented to get kids to eat their crusts.

Saxelby says children don’t like chewing, which is why many kids have a tendency to nibble around the crusts.

Bailey thinks the tale originated in the 1930s and 40s when it was “desirable” for girls to have curls.

“People used to set their hair and do all sorts of things to make their hair curly. . . and it was kind of torturous. . . and uncomfortable and not pleasant,” he said from his salon in Sydney’s Double Bay.

“I think it was a mother’s way of saying, if you eat your crusts you won’t have to be tortured into having your hair curled.

“There is no foundation to the fact that flour, particularly the part closer to the oven than the part in the middle, could possibly make your hair curl.”

* Carrots make you see in the dark

“Theoretically this is true”, Saxelby says.

Carrots are rich in betacaritine, better known as vitamin A, which is good for vision, in particular night vision, she says.

“That (is the) vision you get when you walk into a dark room and at first you can’t see something and then gradually objects come into view.

“So yes, carrots are meant to be very good for your eyes.”

But retina expert Dr Paul Beaumont describes this as a “complete fabrication”.

But Dr Beaumont, who has been studying human retinas since 1976, said the carrot theory evolved in World War 2.

“When the English. . . were flying at night they used radar but the Germans didn’t know that radar existed,” Dr Beaumont told AAP from his Sydney clinic.

“The English certainly didn’t want them to know so they put out a myth saying they were feeding their pilots carrots to improve their night vision and that’s why they could fly and see things at night.

“I think that is the greatest food myth”.

* An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Eating apples will not keep you out of the doctor’s surgery, nor is the fruit any better than an orange, Saxelby says.

She says she suspects the apple is a convenient symbol for all fresh fruit and vegetables.

“You see apples used so many times to convey something healthy. . . so I think an apple is just a visual symbol of all things fresh and good,” she says.

“I don’t think apples on their own are anything more superior than oranges or mandarins.”

Saxelby says this line harks back to biblical times when Adam and Eve munched on the apple in the Garden of Eden.

In her opinion, berries and citrus fruits are much more nutritious.

* More information visit

And on another more geeky note, good to see Stuff having cleaner nicer URLS ūüėÄ

Easter Bun Recipe (easy one)

This is Jo Seagers easy Easter bun recipe. Im all for simple and easy, and this seems to be it!

4t dried active yeast (15g)
1¬ľ C warm water, at bath¬† temperature
2t sugar
7 C white high-grade flour, or 3¬Ĺ C white and 3¬Ĺ C wholemeal
1¬Ĺ t salt
¬ľ C caster sugar
¬ĺ C raisins or sultanas
¬Ĺ C currants
¬Ĺ C chopped crystalised peel¬† (75g)
2T cinnamon
2T mixed spice
2C warm milk (500 ml), at bath  temperature
75g melted butter
1 egg, beaten

For the crosses

¬ĺ C flour
¬ĺ C water

For the glaze

¬ľ C sugar
2 T water


In a bowl combine the yeast,  warm water and sugar.  Leave in a warm place until the mixture becomes frothy  (approx 15 minutes).

In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry  ingredients and fruit. Make a well in the middle and pour in the warm milk,  melted butter, beaten egg and yeast mixture. Mix well  then turn the dough out onto a floured bench and knead  the mixture. I find it will  take at least 10 minutes (200  times).

Divide dough into 30 pieces and roll into buns. Place on two baking trays sprayed with non-stick baking spray, cover with  cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place (hot water cupboard) until the buns have doubled in size, approximately one hour.

Preheat oven to 220 [Degree] C. For the crosses, place flour and cold water in a small Ziploc bag, seal and squish it  together to form a sticky  paste.Snip one corner of the  bag and pipe out crosses on to the buns. Bake for about  20 minutes.

Mix the caster sugar and water glaze and brush over the hot cross buns as they come out of the oven. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 30.