In this episode, Dr. Scott and Tommy review research on calorie and exercise tracking. The data shows that we significantly underreport our calories and that even long-term "diet resistant" subjects have perfectly functioning metabolisms, but aren't creating the calorie deficit they think they are when dieting. The implications of these findings and how they relate to weight loss, diet outcomes, and finding simplicity and control through fasting are all discussed.
Discrepancy between Self-Reported and Actual Caloric Intake and Exercise in Obese Subjects N Engl J Med 1992; 327:1893-1898 DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199212313272701
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Fasting For Life Ep. 56
[00:00:01] Hello, I'm Dr. Scott Watier, and I'm Tommy Welling, and you're listening to the Fasting for Life podcast, and this podcast is about using fasting as a tool to regain your health, achieve ultimate wellness and live the life you truly deserve.
[00:00:15] Each episode is a short conversation on a single topic with immediate, actionable steps. We cover everything from fat loss on health and wellness to the science of lifestyle design.
[00:00:25] We started fasting for life because of how fasting has transformed our lives, and we hope to share the tools that we have learned along the way.
[00:00:40] Hey, everyone, welcome to the Fasting for Life podcast. My name is Dr. Scott Watier, and I'm here, as always, with my good friend and colleague, Tommy Welling. Good afternoon to you, sir. Hey, Scott. How are you doing? Fantastic. And rocking and rolling. We've got a challenge coming up. We'll talk a little bit about that. We have a really cool study that has just kind of overlaid itself over the last 12 months of our journey on this, rolling out these fasting plans and programs to everyone and so excited to dive into some of the the the main takeaways and the main points and just kind of anchor ourselves to making sure that we're coming up with actionable, repeatable things that can get people results. And I think this study is going to talk directly to a couple of those things. And I like the way that you framed it in terms of the wording and the mindset behind it. So, yeah, I just really excited to start the year off with this upcoming challenge. And then a couple of takeaway points regarding what we can do to make sure that we're getting people the results they're looking for.
[00:01:50] Yeah, I think it's interesting as the conversation kind of evolves, because you and I get to hear more and more people speaking about their journey and where they started and where they are with their own fasting journey and and what kind of struggle points that are coming up for them and how they're getting through them and and and what seemed to be the sticking points for them. And and this study really speaks to a few of those things that that we keep hearing on a recurring basis from people in all different all different steps along the fasting journey.
[00:02:23] Yep, yep. And it's perfectly timed at the beginning of the year, the New Year's resolutions, if you've been getting our emails, you can see that there's an undertone to them in that it's a new year, new you. But resolutions isn't the way to get there. So the challenge that's coming up on the 20th of January where you had a waiting list for it. So there's a lot of excitement around it because a lot of people we have fifty five people go through the one in the fall and we'll we'll speak to the results from that as well for a second and kind of compare them to what reality is and then to talk it through the framework of the study. But the challenge coming up on the twenty eighth is really going to be going back to the basics and simplifying it again, distilling it down to a point where, you know, providing hope and encouragement and enlightenment on why the weight loss resistance, why the diet resistance, why the low and slow, why my metabolism? Oh, it's my thyroid. I think it's genetic. All of these different factors that play into it. The challenge is really going to dispel all of that and get down to the nitty gritty, what it is that you need to do, how to get the wins under your belt the quickest and then most importantly, leave feeling like you have control again. And I don't know about you, but coming out of twenty, twenty to twenty, twenty one control, which you can control, control the important things and kind of let all the other stuff just fall by the wayside. And one of the most important things you can control is your health. And typically for a lot of people, that starts with the weight loss struggle.
[00:03:59] Yeah, specifically when you eat and what you're eating is are two of the main things that that we can control, even when there's there's very little outside control. And I think, like you said, 20, 20 kind of highlighted that. And, you know, it's it's time for us to do something about those internal feelings of of control and that that really makes for an important feeling for our quality of life to, you know, a sense of control is important for us as human beings and even even some semblance of that, knowing what you're going to do and having a plan and being able to to do it and execute it and stick to it and understand where you're going, I think is is a really important thing to be able to lean on for all of us.
[00:04:43] Yeah. And that's huge, too, because, I mean, speaking of external forces, that you can't control, some of the people that didn't sign up for the challenge in December, you cited some of their concerns about being able to handle this type of thing in the holiday season. Right, right. The holiday season is over, so that excuse respectfully does not exist anymore. So now it's all right. I'm going to start with the New Year's resolutions. I'm going to get back on track to be my best year. Well, we figured out some stuff in that, you know, support and community is a big part of it.
[00:05:15] And the other part is really understanding what's going on from a physiological standpoint. So the study, which I thought was cool, was it's an older study. It's out of the New England Journal of Medicine in nineteen ninety two, and it talks about the discrepancy between self reported and actual caloric intake and exercise B subjects. So it's looking at this self reporting piece, which Tommy, you've called slippage.
[00:05:47] Right? So that's one piece. And then the other piece is going to be if there actually is a physiologic energy, low energy expenditure type situation going on.
[00:06:01] Yeah, like a like a basically a metabolism that's not working well or that has been slowed down either from some sort of pathophysiological process or from a history and a history of dieting, because most of these subjects had a history of of diet and weight loss attempts and had been reporting themselves as diet resistant and basically treating themselves as if they had a slow metabolism already, which is one of the main fear and concern points that we hear from people coming into the challenge and sending us emails and and talking to us is that they're concerned that either they've already slowed down their metabolism or that they that if they begin fasting, they will slow down their metabolism. But what the research shows is that in most cases, that's simply not not the case. So the the duration of the farce and what you're actually consuming when you do break the fast tend to make up the overall calorie intake. Combine that with with daily calorie needs. And then you you end up with either a calorie surplus or a calorie deficit or you are maintaining weight and with a balanced calorie intake.
[00:07:26] So I thought it was interesting in this study that basically everyone who was coming through was self reported as diet resistant, but they did a few things to determine if that was actually the case. So they were taking measurements of calorie intake of food, journaling, of self reported exercise, as well as taking actual physiological measurements to see how many calories were being burned by each of the subjects in the study, which was which was really interesting to me because. It made for it made for a very large graphical difference between what these subjects were reporting that they were they were eating and what they had actually eaten. So even within a very short time frame, to be able to accurately estimate how many calories and the size of the food portion, how many bites did you take, how much of the plate was filled up, all these kind of things that would lead to the overall number of calories and thus the calorie deficit or the calorie surplus? Those were very difficult for four subjects to accurately report.
[00:08:43] So it's really interesting, Tom, because what I'm hearing there is, you know, when we're looking at the study, the self reporting issue, the intake issue is they wanted to kind of weight and rule out, is it actually the lower energy expenditure? Is there a physiological issue or is it really just the bad patient? Right. The air quotes like, is it the bad patient? Is the patient not reporting what they actually are eating? And what they found was that there was no difference in the two groups in the thermic effect of food. So their energy burning. Right. The how they actually burn the energy in the two groups of the self reported diet resistance or thyroid or genetic or familial type situation where I just can't lose weight, I just struggle versus the group where, you know, they were looking at the difference between the two groups, I should say, and it became clear that there was no physiological difference. It really came down to the major underreporting of food intake and the major overreporting of exercise. So it was a discrepancy of of around 12 to 13 hundred calories.
[00:09:59] And the I want to frame it the way that you do every day, every day, 12 to 13 hundred calories per day. So people were thinking they were ingesting less than twelve hundred calories per day and it was actually closer to twenty five hundred. So dollar. Right. Well over a week. So let's extrapolate that. So you're talking about a third of a pound of fat. Do that over a week. You're talking about over two pounds of fat per week just in the difference between what people thought they had ingested and what they had actually ingested so they could literally see the scale tick up two pounds.
[00:10:38] So this this comes down to where I felt like this study kind of overlaid the challenge and what we've seen with our continuity, our group coaching and some of our one on one clients and all of them, dozens of messages that we get a week via Facebook or our website or email saying, hey, it's just not working. Like, I just I don't understand.
[00:10:59] There's a lot of room for error in the tracking side of things. Technology's made a little bit easier. But when we look at those numbers that you just broke it down, I feel like the overlap is this. You know, the last few challenges we've done, we'll see people and not just one person, we're talking to people that follow through and engage in the challenge. We typically see anywhere from six to eight pound on the low end all the way up to a 14 and 15 pound weight loss in 10 days. Right. So that is not normal, nor is it sustainable long term. It is normal when you combine the fasting cycles that we show you, meaning the timing of when you're eating your food and the hours in between, and you really hone in on those specifics. Like when my dad came down to visit, he was doing it at home, seeing great results. And then here with him, with us in this house for 10 days, he actually called, had to call his doctor and came off two medications while he was here because his body had had down regulated so much that he no longer needed one of the blood pressure and one of the the the diuretics. It was literally giving him really low blood pressure readings because his body had changed so much in just the 10 days that he was here.
[00:12:10] So we're not talking about sustaining that for month and month and month and month, month on end. It's when people come into the challenge, they lose this weight. And then comparing that to what normal is right. We hear industry standard zero to two pounds a week, but week to week, depending on when you're actually weighing yourself, because, you know, you can go out and have a weekend where you can five to ten thousand caloric surplus in one heck of a party weekend, one bachelor weekend, one wedding weekend, one date, you know, staycation weekend, whatever it is, you can really set yourself back. And then even on a smaller scale, you know, just a few hundred calories a day could be a couple of pounds each week. And the scale is a really gross representation of what's happening physiologically where the downward trend of fat loss should be. Visually, it should be trending downwards like kind of like a straight line over time. But the scale the weight is going to fluctuate anywhere between two to four kilograms per day, depending on your body mass, the amount of fat you have, the amount of lean muscle you have, the level of activity you have, the consumption patterns that you have, et cetera, carbohydrates, alcohol, all of this different stuff.
[00:13:18] So these people come into our challenge and it's like, man, I've struggled, I've struggled, I've struggled. So they fit into this conversation of how this study was looked at was OK, is it truly a physiological issue? Like you have a lower, slower output in terms of how your body processes the energy that's in the food? Right. How it breaks it down, how it burns it off, etc.. Or, you know, could it be the opposite where it's like you just have this disconnect between what expectations should be and then what your daily habits, rituals and reality actually is. And I think that's the cool part where we look at it and we're like, well, the difference is when and I want you to break it down in terms of looking at a two thousand calorie intake for a male and a six hundred calorie intake for a female, what that actually looks like using fasting, which we believe is the simplest way to get into that deficit, never mind build in some of that margin for error, which is why I think there's a really cool comparison here with what the results in the winds that we see early in the challenges and then all of these other touch points and sugar points that people have had when it comes to weight loss, resistance.
[00:14:30] And I think the simplification also comes down to the fact that no of eating opportunities is is really that that opportunity to to underreport or to to not to misunderstand how many calories you just you just took in. Please use a budget example, please. So, you know, if if we're talking about simplification and we think about one meal a day, which is one eating opportunity within let's call it a thirty, forty five minute window versus two, three, four or more eating opportunities every time, every time you're in taking food, you have an opportunity.
[00:15:12] If you are tracking these calories you have an opportunity to under-report. Because what we what we saw in the study was that nobody ever overreported calories, just like if we're doing a financial meeting, no one is ever overreporting the number of dollars they wasted at or Starbucks or know the beard salon or whatever.
[00:15:34] Like, yeah, you don't want to it's we don't want to enjoy the overreporting, so you don't want to admit to it.
[00:15:41] You don't you know, you just don't your brain wants to block it out and just forget it ever happened.
[00:15:46] It was the elf right. Elf on a shelf. Did it. Elf on it. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:15:52] It's something I know it ate the calories. It spent the money. Don't worry about it didn't happen. Everyone underreported. So you know, if you've ever underreported, you're not alone. Everyone who's reporting is underreporting. But if we understand that, that's just the baseline default of Watier. Brain's going to do then we can start putting up the boundaries and protect ourselves from from what we're doing subconsciously, so with fewer eating opportunities during the day, we have less opportunity to underreport. And I think that's that's big. And getting to the example, if we had, let's say, a sixteen hundred calorie per day female, if you were doing one meal a day on that and you were eating roughly half of your your calorie needs in that one meal, then you'd have roughly an eight hundred calorie deficit each day for seven days.
[00:16:44] Fifty six hundred calories. So that's one point six pounds of fat that that you would be losing. And that's consistent potential throughout a week. Right. And that's, that's with strict eight hundred calories and that's also with. That that's that's with consistent one meal a day. And so one point six pounds, but, you know, if like you said, if you had if you had a weekend, you had any sort of celebration or something like that, it would be easy to to consume more than you thought.
[00:17:17] It would also be easy to weigh in after something like like the weekend. Typically, the most common day that people weigh in is Monday, which tends to be the worst day of the week, right? Terrible, terrible, terrible. So if you tend to have any social functions on the weekend, your best day would probably be Thursday or Friday to weigh in so that you actually had your lowest point so you could kind of see the movement. But either way, removing some of that volatility across the weekend and other times that come up can be really helpful to not be discouraged by what you see on the scale and be the example for for two thousand calories a day or for four that you would you'd be at roughly seven thousand calories a week and you'd still be at at about two pounds of fat per week if if you were looking at two thousand calories a day so it can go up from there. A larger frame might be looking at three pounds per week, but still looking within that range. It's not a huge margin of error, especially compared to what, what, 10 days, what your first 10 days of fasting could do if you put those cycles together like we do in the challenge. So, you know, understanding how the scale might move after that, I think is a really important thing to know.
[00:18:31] And that was one of my favorite sentences in this study was thus important. Basic psychological issues require elucidation before this form of diet resistance can be properly understood. And what I took away from that was the real life application of how our diet world works and the negative psychology that's built into it. And really, we want to focus on the habits that create consistency over time where, yes, you might lose eight to 10 in the first week of a ten day challenge, but we factor in the glycogen stores and the water loss, et cetera. And then we look at, OK, what can you expect to do over the next three to six months? Well, if you add up two pounds a week, eight times four point three, you're looking at eight to ten pounds a month. If you do that consistently over six months and you got one hundred pounds to lose while you're well over halfway there. Right. So it's it's there's so much negative. Brought on with the scale, right, it automatically tells our brain a different story or then we have the other side of it with the underreporting and never mind, we'd even talk about the the exercise portion of it, which I'll mention here in a second. But the underreporting is like, oh, you know, especially we hear a lot, especially now with the you know, a lot of people working from home, being at home, school from home.
[00:19:58] If you're making you've got multiple kids and you're making them food three to four times a day or getting them snacks if they're younger, there's a lot of opportunity for the slippage, Tommy, that we talk about, which is the. Yeah, you know, I had my one meal, but oh yeah, I do eat a handful of cashews midday. Oh, yeah. I did have that piece of sausage off of the thing. Oh I did put I had two cups of coffee with creamer today. So there's all these stumpage points and what we want is simplicity. Simplicity allows you to regain the control the fastest and really fast thing for us was that was the missing piece. And never mind, you get all the other physiological benefits of fasting. Right. But in terms of weight loss, it allowed us to build in some some some room for error. It allowed us to not have to be ridiculous with our tracking in our weighing in our counting our calories that we burn during exercise, which is the second piece of this where those energy trackers and all those fit bits and everything can overestimate up to 90 plus percent can be wrong in terms of what you're actually burning.
[00:21:04] And that's why I love this study, because they did such specific measurements on these people that there was no way that it was the actual physiological process of the individual. But it had to be the over the the overreporting of their of their exercise. Right. So these trackers, technology that we have today allows us to track more specifically. But then we have the other side where you're going to overestimate your actual expenditure, and that's why you don't ever add in your calories burned in a workout into your daily allowance, because who knows, it could be 90 percent off. Right. So right. Really, we want to look at the simplicity and that's why we love the challenge so much. So expectations, poor psychology, bad habits, the the the failure over and over and over again, you start to believe the story that, yeah, I'm diet resistant. We'll know there's a few things we can do and really honing in and teaching you and showing you exactly what we've learned, which is, you know, let's put together a plan, let's make it fit your life and then just go do that for the next four to six weeks and you're going to see an incredible transformation.
[00:22:15] Yeah, consistency and simplicity are definitely the key. And one of the other things that I thought was so enlightening and empowering about this study was that they they really did look at the potential that these subjects were actually and did actually have a slower metabolism. They measured for it and they found that even the ones who had everything that was self reported of of underworked metabolism and a slower metabolism and diet resistant potential thyroid issues, potential of family and genetic aspects, all of these things, none of this large group of of obese subjects had anything wrong with their metabolism, despite some of them having twenty plus extreme or significant diet attempts in the past.
[00:23:07] Right. And that was there's not just this one side, but I think this one references six or eight other studies that show the underreporting issue. Right. And the reason I find this so powerful is one of the reasons is we have a 70 percent of the population is overweight, so BMI of over twenty five or greater and we're on pace for 50 percent population being obese. Thirty or greater on the BMI scale, which again, is not the most accurate way of health, but it is there are correlations between being in those categories that result in poor health outcomes, shorter lifespan, more medications, more health care costs, more disease, et cetera.
[00:23:49] So if we can look at this from a different perspective where we know that we, you and I and other people are not some magical unicorn that's immune to the natural laws of thermodynamics and how our body burns our food, but that it could be us, it could be the way we're taught, could be our outside influences. It could be us. Bring in the dirty laundry with us into the new diet for the new year of twenty twenty one. Right. We really want to set the stage. And that's why I'm super excited about the challenge at the end of this month and actually in ten days from now, because we're really honing in on these types of conversations and not just what should I eat and should I use my.
[00:24:34] Fitness pal, right, and then going going into the long term habits and how to sustain it and how to keep the momentum going and how to keep seeing the wins on the scale, as well as what may be more important, even some of the non scale victories that that get reported within the challenge as well. And so just just figuring out. Yeah, figuring out what what your own individual struggle points are or what those things are that can derail you or that you need help with figuring out how to make small tweaks that lead to long term habit changes. That's that's a big part of what we go into and the challenge as well. I love that part.
[00:25:15] Yep. So a couple of take on things here. What can you do? Well, actually, step number one to sign up for the challenge. So just going to supplement their share the podcast with a friend, give us a review, reach out to us if you have questions and info at the Fasting for Life Dotcom. The challenge is Tommy. The website is fasting for life forwards live, correct?
[00:25:37] Yeah. Be fasting for life dot com forward slash live. OK, so I'm sorry. The fasting for life dot com forward slash live.
[00:25:48] You can find that on our website. You have questions. Like I said, go ahead and reach out and to land the plane, as we like to say, take away from this conversation is there's a lot of consistencies that we've seen with looking back at all of the conversations and questions and people that we've worked with over the last year. And underreporting or misreporting can be a big problem. But then there's also that life application where your life becomes the diet, your diet. The plan should actually be centered around your life and allowing you to live and express and have fun and enjoy and not being so restrictive and admitting that you just give up and fall off the wagon like there's so many different layers here. So take home message. Underreporting or misreporting is a real thing. It's been documented. If that's you, you know what to do. Hop on board. That's get you into this challenge. Tommy, I'm super excited. Can't wait for the twenty eighth. Let us know if you have questions and yeah, we will talk soon.
[00:26:53] Right. So you've heard today's episode and you may be wondering where do I start. Head on over to the Fasting for Life Dotcom and sign up for our newsletter where you'll receive fasting tips and strategies to maximize results and fit fasting into your day to day life.
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