Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Thermodynamic Diet (aka Exercise Diet) - the one that really works!

I've lost a bit of weight since Christmas.
I've been folowing the Thermodynamic Diet.
It's a great plan - you can eat what you want, when you want.
There are no odd pills or wierd sounding "healh foods" to take.
BUT ...
... there is of course, a bit more to it than that.

The Thermodynamic Diet works on the basic principle of calorie calculation.
The human body consumes energy at certain rates for certain activities.
Food is processed by the body to provide those calories.
Indeed, being warm-blooded, calories are consumed just keeping our body temperature correct
(that is the reason why certain animals go into "hibernation" - by reducing movement to minimum - just very slow breathing and heartbeat, and (depending on species) lowering their body temperatures a bit).
The amount we move about affects how much energy we use - simple as that.
Move more + more energy use,

So, to lose weight on the Thermodynamic Diet, you simply have to use more energy (in activity) than you add in food.
There are no excuses, such as being "big-boned" and all that poppycock.
In situations where food is restricted and physical exercise is high, then no-one comes out as "big-boned" - everyone loses weight, regardless of their starting characteristics. The most extreme demonstration of this simple truth is the Nazi concentration camps, where inmates were fed inaquate food and often were forced to engage in heavy manual labour. No "big boned" folks there!

Now I'm not exactly a light person - I weigh (as at this morning) about 212 lbs (96.6 kg, 15 stone 2). On the classic BMI charts, my height of 1.92m (about 6ft 2) gives me a BMI of 26.2, which means I come in as "Overweight".
Not so good, maybe.
Except that before Christmas I came in at 220 lbs (100kg, 15 stone 10), and my BMI was 27.1!

So what changed.
Did I eat less?
Did I eat "wierd stuff"?
Did I buy some (expensive) diet pills?

During January I cycled a minimum of 10 miles a day, every day.
Never mind the rain (we had a lot), never mind that I was busy at work (a lot of 11 hour shifts happened in January!). 10 miles a day - no excuses.

And that is the other side of the thermodynamic equation.
My energy usage went up, so my weight went down.
When I was about 19, I used to cycle 50 miles (80 km) a week, and run between 20 and 40 (32 to 64 km) miles on top of that. I used to eat quite a bit, and I used to eat quite of lot of hard cheese (a notoriously high-fat food!) Guess how much I weighed?
154 lbs (70 kg)
I had a BMI of 20, and came in as "healthy".

Lots of "instant" diets measure dehydration loss - the lowest weight I saw during January was 94.5 kg.
So I lost weight, right?
100 kg down to 94.5 kg.
Except that I weighed myself after a long cycle ride in hilly territory, on a trip where I didn't take any water bottles.
What I measured was how much liquid I had sweated out.
As soon as I started drinking water again, my weight started going up again!

So to lose weight over the longer term, the best way of doing so is to get more exercise.
This will also give you all the "side-effect" benefits of being fitter as well, like better health and a longer life expectancy.

Update 16th February 2014:
This morning I weighed in at 95.1 kg.
That 4.9kg (almost 11 lbs) lighter.
Over the 6 weeks I have been exercising more, there has been a gradual slight decline in my weight.
Just as importantly, if not more, there has been a noticeable increase in my fitness (I can use higher gears for the same hills!), as well as an imporvement in my general mood and energy levels. i lot of the mood and energy stuff is going to be psychological, rather than physical, but hey, give it a go, and see if you notice the same changes!

Update 23rd February 2014:
This morning I weighed in at 94.6 kg.
That 5.4kg (almost 12 lbs) lighter than before I started my exercise regime,and another half-kilo (one pound) lighter than last Sunday morning.
I haven't done much cycling in the past week - it is a school holiday week here, and although I had to work, I've been spending my spare time at lunchtime and in the evenings enjoying extra family time.
I actually had Saturday off work (unlike usual!), so I ended up taking my daughter and one of her friends for a couple of hours to the museums in Oxford - they loved it so much it got stretched into (including travelling) 8 hour trip, including 3 museums (Ashmolean, Museum of Natural History, and the Pitt-Rivers), a nice walk in a University park, which, amongst other things, included a philosophical discussion between myself and my daughter's friend on the nature of time travel and what happens to the cheese sandwich in your hand if you are holding one when you travel, while my daughter tried to think about a way of expressing sums of prime numbers with a general equation. Not unusual in a University park except that they are both 11 years old.
Oh, the wonder of youth, when the big ideas don't seem so big, and everything seems possible if you think about it enough.
Quality time well spent, but not on my bike.
Got in five quick warm-up miles (actually 9.16 kilometres) before the others got up this morning, though :-)
I am pleased my weight is still modestly dropping, even though I haven't cycled so much.
Mind you, I have an active job, and walk at least 5 miles a day at work anyway!

Having recently seen a report that basically states the opposite to what I am saying "The Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit medical research establishment in the US, reports that, in general, studies "have demonstrated no or modest weight loss with exercise alone" and that "an exercise regimen… is unlikely to result in short-term weight loss beyond what is achieved with dietary change."", the main counter to that is that the primary reason is that the persons tested were already restricting their diets, and were rewarding themselves with high calorie foods after the "success" they made at exercising more.
Hey, guess what, if you eat donuts all day, you have to run a lot of marathons to get thin!
Note also that the report makes conclusions on the "short-term weight loss".
Well, as we all know, short-term weight loss doesn't mean squat - anyone can achieve it by buying some nice, expensive, dietary aids, and dehydrating themselves.
Fine, until you actually start to drink again :-)
Anyone who weighs themselves several times a day at different times knows that their weights varies during the day anyway - more after you have had a litre of water, obviously, and less after you have just sweated it out again (also obviously).

So let's get this straight.
If you are on the "exercise" diet, you don't get to eat extra donuts every day as a "reward". I eat a donut once or twice a week - hey, I like them, but it was the same one or two a week last year (when I weighed 220 lbs (100kg) as the one or two a week I eat now (and I weighed myself half an hour ago at 208 lbs (94.6kg).
If you want proper long-term weight loss, you gotta move more!
Poor quality science supporting the dietary fad industry may be a comforting excuse for the lazy and the gluttonous, but it will not be any better for you than the current long list of unhealthy short-term diets on the market.

And guess what else?
I eat loads of carbs too. Nothing like a nice cheese sandwich after a busy work night.
Sometimes I eat high-quality, high-fibre carbs (think Germanic coarse-grained rye bread, not the American over-milled, easy-eating rubbish), and sometimes I eat low-quality carbs (a sandwich made with cheap white bread - the local regulations here mean it actually has added vitamins in it, a measure introduced many years ago to imrove the health of the poor), and sometimes somewhere in-between.

Mind you, I try to get my "five-a-day", too.
Home cooking ('er indoors) means we have less added salt and sugar (and preservatives) in our diet than the typical American, too.

Sometimes the old ways really are the best ways.
Exercise more, eat out less, eat less "TV dinners", eat a higher proportion of quality foods, and forget the diet industry.

Update 2th April 2014:
This morning I weighed in at 94.1 kg.
I was surprised at how I was that light.
Weight loss isn't a straight line either,
I have been up and down this week, even though I have tried to weigh myself in the same sort of conditions every day (in the morning just after I wake up, wearinf just my boxer shorts, with the scales on the same bit of flooring in the front room). Heaviest was 96.2 kg on wednesady morning. Lightest was this morning. But apart from that one "rogue" result on Wednesday, the numbers have been in the 94s all week.
But don't worry about the numbers for a day, or even the trend for a week.
Look instead at the numbers for a longer period.

For me, I have been about 100kg for several years.
After Christmas, I decided to do something about it.
I signed up for a 10 miles a day cycling challenge for January, and on January 1st, off I went, into the drizzle.
My "weight trend" is perhaps best established looking at the monthly average of the various daily weights I have recorded. There are some days where I have missed the weigh-in, but that doesn't matter - the trends will still be there.
Anyway, my "start point" was 100kg (220 lbs) just after Christmas (and to be honest, we don't sit around for several days just watching TV and over-eating anyway!
In January, my average recorded weight was 96.1kg (211 lbs) - that's the 10 miles a day cycling!
In February, I was down to an average of 95.2 kg (209 lbs) - but I had to do lots of things I postponed to get the 10-a-day cycling done in January, so I cycled a LOT less!
In March, I was down a touch further, to 95kg (208.5 lbs), and my cycling had picked up a bit, and I recorded the longest two rides of my life! (about 32 miles and about 56 miles! - both qualify as a "metric half-century", which is the smallest achievement than "enthusiasts" measure).
So far in April (20 days in) I am down to an average of 94.6 kg (208 lbs).

Overall then, a bigger step at first, then a very slow, overall decrease.
That's a healthy way to lose weight, and as the experts will tell you, a sustainable way, too.

I checked todays weight a few times - just to be sure.
Just to make certain I wasn't just fooling myself.
I moved the scales to a slightly different place on the floor (many modern electronic scales are quite sensitive to the floor surface - if I put the scales on carpet, they weigh "lighter" than if I put them on a smooth laminated wood floor! I weigh in the same place, on the wood laminated floor, just to keep the readings consistent).

I was especially surprised by my lightness as I had three (yes three) packets of smelly semi-soft french cheese yesterday - each packet weighing just under half a pound.
I can stay off the chocolate fairly easily, but the smelly french cheese - ARGHHH! - that's one of my weaknesses!
My wife hates the stuff. Hates the smell, hates the taste, hates the mouldy white outer - indeed the most she can be convinced to touch is the fairly firm centre of under-ripe brie with the white mould "crusts" trimmed off. She likes "hard" cheese - like cheddar and gouda, and edam, and stuff like that. If you are from the left of the Atlantic, think Monterey Jack and the like.
But me, my weakness is cheese.
Pretty much all cheese.
From crumbly textures to gooey, runny cheese. Goat's milk, cow's milk, soft, hard, blue-veinned, white, whatever. Cheese is the good stuff for me :-)

Surely, you say to yourself, cheese has lots of calories and is guaranteed to make you fat - after all, it is made of fat!
Well, not necessarily.
When I was a teenager, and thin as the proverbial garden rake, I used to eat a lot of cheese.
And cycle a lot, and move a lot :-)

The whole point of the thremodynamic diet is that it doesn't rely on any special "tricks" or "one odd tip from your grandmother" or stuff like that.
Food (all food) adds calories to you body. Life uses them up.
Then you go to the restroom.
So the calories "IN" (as food)  add to your weight, while the calories "OUT" (as exercise and "Restroom" ) reduce your weight.
If "IN" is more than out, you get heavier - if "OUT" is more than "IN" you get lighter.

So how many calories do you use doing different activities (even sleeping uses calories!)?
I have given the link to a well-respected university, because this is too important to rely on the hopeful speculation of the latest get-rich-quick (or get-thin-quick) scheme.
These are average numbers, and will differ a bit from person to person, but the overall ratios are about right.
So here we are, according to Harvard University:
sleeping equals 28 calories burnt for 30 minutes (for a 185 lb person)
Cycling, on the other hand, comes in at 311 to 733 depending on the type of cycling (311 is moderate  exercise on a cycling machine. 733 is 20+ mph on a cycle, and that would be on the flat with no head wind).
Sitting like this, using a computer, comes in at 61 calories per half hour, while watching TV comes in at just 33 (unless your team is winning, of course, and you are jumping about!).

Notice that the calorie usage for lighter weight folks decline in proportion - so they use less while exercising, and less while sleeping too.
The important thing to learn is that more exercise uses more calories, and, assuming you start at a steady weight, unless you increase your calorie intake, then you WILL get lighter.

The other way to lose weight is by disposing of some not-fully digested food in the restroom - so that more of the calories leave you body without being added to your "system".
Remember when you can't keep anything down? Or when you food just goes "straight through you"?
You lost weight then, right? So you know what I mean.
The only safe way to try this approach is to eat more dietary fibre, which decreases the time that food takes to pass through your system.
Brings lot of other health benefits too, like lower cancer rates of the various bits in you stomach/intestine/bowel system.
Fruit, raw/unpeeled vegetables, granola, wholegrains.
It's all good,

So, to summarise.
Less TV time, and more useful activities result in weight loss.

Update 26th April 2014:Time for a few pictures!

The "big picture" - the "monthly" chart .
My average weight, per month, is shown, starting with Christmas.
After a big initial drop (probably moving the extra Christmas food!),
a slow, progressive loss of weight. I gained the weight a little bit at a time,
and now I am losing it the same way!
Daily weight for the last 7 days, including today.
I weigh myself before breakfast each morning.
As you can see, there is a CONSIDERABLE daily variation/
But what matters is the overall trend, as shown by the
"monthly" chart, above.
Weekly average weight for the last 5 weeks.
Guess who went on holiday a few weeks ago,
and didn't cycle! What matters is the longer
term trends, not the figures from week to week.

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