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Calories in vs. Calories out "debunked" article


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The issue people have with keeping weight off is that they think that it is a one and done proposition. If people approached weight as something to be managed cyclically, whether training for better b

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You are all wrong.  The absolute most important factors in weight loss are how many bananas you eat in a day.  If you aren't eating at least forty bananas a day, you won't lose weight.  Forty organic bananas, and 600 grams of protein.  Also two pounds of bacon. I'm pretty sure there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up.  Someone else go find it for me though. 

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You are all wrong.  The absolute most important factors in weight loss are how many bananas you eat in a day.  If you aren't eating at least forty bananas a day, you won't lose weight.  Forty organic bananas, and 600 grams of protein.  Also two pounds of bacon. I'm pretty sure there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up.  Someone else go find it for me though. 

 

There's some hot chick on YouTube who promotes the 40 bananas thing.  That's obviously scientific evidence.  No to the bacon though.  Meat rots in your stomach and intestines after you eat it.  She said so and she has fabulous abs so I'm pretty sure she's right.

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Its chemistry moreso than physics.

Gasp, macronutrients AND micronutrients are CHEMICALS

 

Gasp, the law of conservation of energy governs aspects of both chemistry and physics, therefore both are correct. Gasp, two people can say two different things, and both can be correct.

 

I've noticed a compulsion to simultaneously "correct" and insult people in a great number of your posts, Waldo. We are all trying to level ourselves up. You would do well to remember that this is one of those games you never win. 

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Gasp, the law of conservation of energy governs aspects of both chemistry and physics, therefore both are correct. Gasp, two people can say two different things, and both can be correct.

 

I've noticed a compulsion to simultaneously "correct" and insult people in a great number of your posts, Waldo. We are all trying to level ourselves up. You would do well to remember that this is one of those games you never win.

Sorry, but technophobes/chemophobes irk me to no end.

Stupid ideas deserve to be treated as such.

We all might be trying, but most people reading this are going to fail. Its just the way it goes, especially here (NF has an extremely high turnover rate if you haven't yet noticed that).

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Sorry, but technophobes/chemophobes irk me to no end.

Stupid ideas deserve to be treated as such.

We all might be trying, but most people reading this are going to fail. Its just the way it goes, especially here (NF has an extremely high turnover rate if you haven't yet noticed that).

 

 

And I'm sure that technology and chemicals irk them to no end. Who are you to say that your being irked is any less irrational than theirs?

 

People who hold stupid ideas do not deserve to be treated as stupid people, simply uninformed.

 

These are forums; what's new? Being a dick isn't going to encourage people to stick around. If you aren't part of the solution....

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I'm going to leave it with this.  I have studied nutrition and am formally studying it now, as well as fitness. There will always be a "Waldo" on the forums.  Basically someone that is an enthusiast that got a little carried away with his own ideas, or the ideas he has studied.  There will always be disagreements in fitness and nutrition, mainly because not everyone has the same goals.  While there is no defined 100% right way to peak fitness, and peak nutrition, there are a lot of right ways.  Anyone, like Waldo on the extreme end of the spectrum usually only has a partial message correct.  I respect his knowledge and am not going to insult him, because it's petty and we are just trying to improve our knowledge.  

 

I can definitely see why there is a lot of turnover here, both because of the support eliminating the need for the forums, and the negativity turning people off.  Nerds have taken a lot of abuse in life, and really are able to dish it out well on the internet. 

 

There are a lot of nutrition and fitness experts that have evidence both for and against the ideal diets.  There are people way more informed than myself or Waldo that are releasing this information.  To call someone stupid because experts have come up with different definitions of the right way to do things is pretty ridiculous.  

 

I plan on turning my knowledge and studies into a business in order to help people get healthier and fitter, and Waldo could definitely do the same.  That was one of the reasons of me joining the nerdfitness movement, because of a new perspective, and new ideas to help me run my business.  If Waldo was a little less abrasive, I could see him making a great living off one of his passions.

 

I'm not here to pick a fight with Waldo, or challenge his authority or knowledge, but I will express my opinions, and my nutrition knowledge that I have learned from various world renowned experts.   

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I don't think your argument with Waldo is petty.  If you're really out to understand these things, wouldn't you want to sift through the ideas for what's right and wrong?  And if you wanted to do it in a scientific way, wouldn't that mean presenting studies to address your point - and discussing the merits and limitations of those studies - rather than leaving it at "It's not even worth proving that I'm right?"  That's not how progress is made.  As you say, it's fine if people have different interpretations of the facts, but I think it's a problem if one side doesn't even see the need to discuss the other in a FAIR way.  That's just not science, and we're nerds who love science.

 

Also, I think the turn over here has very little to do with the support people find on the forums.  I've seen tons of first posts that have received boundless support only to never post again.  Rather, getting fit requires a huge amount of discipline and mental readiness.  Not everyone gets there at the same time, no matter how much motivation they think they get from a bunch of anonymous people online.  In general, I think the kinds of people who are drawn to this particular forum are the same kinds of people who struggle the most with real-world discipline; they can get excited about the idea of getting fit and starting an adventure like a character from a video game, but when it comes time to face the grind, very few find they're truly mentally ready.  If harsh words from a forum avatar like Waldo are enough to knock someone off the grind, they were never going to make it that go around anyway.

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I'm happy to discuss things, but I'm not here to take insults from someone.  One of the reasons I came on here is to learn more about the "fitness world's" perspective on nutrition and health.  I can learn plenty without condescending comments from non-experts.  

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Find a study that shows that food quality matters.....Are you kidding me?  That's a joke, right?  

 

It matters for some things (if people want to avoid sugary mood swings, or stop gorging on carbs whilst neglecting protein, or if they subscribe to beliefs about 'chemicals'), but for weight loss? You can get just as fat on organic grass-fed homemade burgers or carefully crafted salads of the finest olive oils, pasta and free-range mayo. When you see posts like "I started eating clean but I'm not losing weight!" do you guide them on calorie content or stick to topics of food quality?

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My problem with this and similar debates is that we're supposed to be a community of nerds.  We are analytical, data driven people.  We as a community like to have evidence to support our ideas and theories.  And in debates like this, there's always someone making a claim or an argument that doesn't have the data to back up their position. 

 

rjanke7, you say you don't want condescending comments from non experts.  But you mock comments from Waldo, and have yet to submit anything of merit to back up the argument that you started.  You go further in an attempt to qualify yourself, stating that you are studying fitness and nutrition, and that you have knowledge learned from "world renowned experts."  That's all well and good, and I'm not about to refute those claims.  For all I know it's probably all true.  But making all these claims without any evidence is pretentious, at the very least.

 

Waldo is a pretty well educated guy, and well respected on these forums.  Please substantiate your position.

 

Edit:  I mentioned a certification in this post originally, but have omitted it as I don't actually see the post I thought I was referencing.  My apologies.

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Waldo- you crack me up with how absolute your knowledge is. CICO is not some end all authority on nutrition. Just as the amount and quality of your workout is important, so is the amount and quality of your food. You are in a minority in the nutrition community that believes in strict CICO

 

This is true for a healthy living: ''Just as the amount and quality of your workout is important, so is the amount and quality of your food.''  

 

But a calorie IS a calorie and what counts at the end of the day, if you're trying to lose weight, is the overall calorie deficit. 

 

However, if you want to workout your body, better do it with a ''clean'' diet. If you constantly eat Mc D's and ice cream, refined sweets, bad carbs, etc...you're not helping your body. You cannot ''live'' constantly on bad food while trying to be ''healty.. by working out. In the end, your body will lose fat because of the deficit but it will lack proper nutrients that are necessary in the composition of your body. 

 

A couple of cheat treats can be allowed though, if you're in your calorie range for the day.

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I'm happy to discuss things, but I'm not here to take insults from someone.  One of the reasons I came on here is to learn more about the "fitness world's" perspective on nutrition and health.  I can learn plenty without condescending comments from non-experts.  

Aside from the fact that reality continues to operate as it will regardless of "expert" opinions, I hold a CSCS, a degree in biochemistry from a top tier science school and am a current medical student AND I've lost 20 pounds in the last few months without counting anything. 

If all of that paperwork qualifies me to have an opinion, I can echo the conclusion of Gnolls.org about the research:

 

 

  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it at a different time of day.
  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it in a differently processed form.
  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it as a wholly different food.
  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it as protein, instead of carbohydrate or fat.
  • A calorie is not a calorie when you change the type of fat, or when you substitute it for sugar.
  • A calorie is not a calorie at the low end of the carbohydrate curve (< 10%).
  • Controlled weight-loss studies do not produce results consistent with “calorie mathâ€.
  • Even if all calories were equal (and we’ve proven they’re not), the errors in estimating our true “calorie†intake exceed the changes calculated by the 3500-calorie rule (“calorie mathâ€) by approximately two orders of magnitude

(This is a multi-part series. Return to Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VI, or Part VII.)

Link: http://www.gnolls.org/3615/intermittent-fasting-matters-sometimes-there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-calorie-to-your-body-part-viii/

 

This link is the most recent installment, the entire series is linked in the post and above in my quote.

 

My personal area of interest is in another calorie-independent weight change phenomenon: hormones.

 

If insulin is kept consistently high, a person's body will literally not allow them to discharge fat from their fat cells no matter what. This is why prediabetics and type II diabetics are universally obese despite sometimes valiant efforts: they don't need fewer calories, they need a complete change in the hormonal state of their bodies. This is also the wisdom behind bodybuilders eating many small meals per day - the constant insulin response from their bodies keeps them in a constant anabolic state.

 

There are also several hormones a person can produce in their body via habit changes that will similarly force their body to mobilize fatty acids that can even override the effects of insulin.

 

Lastly, and I don't think even Gnolls has touched on this, what of changing metabolic rate? Nobody ever talks about changing metabolic rates in discussions of weight loss.

 

Well, Layne Norton does and so do a few other experts, but they are exceptions. Generally peoples' mental model of weight loss is that a person has a maintenance calorie level, and that maintenance calorie level is eternal and unchanging. Eating even one calorie above that maintenance level will cause weight gain (because it is impossible to excrete calories undigested) and eating even one calorie below that maintenance level will cause weight loss, because metabolic rate would never change in response to imposed demands.

 

In reality, metabolic rate is very plastic. Bodybuilders know this, which is why they diet down gradually: they view weight loss as an arms' race between their food intake limitation and the slowing of their metabolism. I was just reading something the other day about how bodybuilders at competition levels of leanness display a profound metabolic depression to the point that they have heart rates in the 40's. During this time, their "maintenance calories" would be only a little under a stray cat's "maintenance calories." My medical biochemistry textbook has a graph in the obesity chapter that shows response to calorie restriction as sigmoidal - when calories are cut to a new lower level, they lose weight until their metabolic speed compensates, then weight becomes constant.

 

Similarly, metabolic rate can be sped up. That's Layne Norton's whole thing; training people to eat progressively larger amounts of food without gaining an ounce until they have metabolisms so fast they can stuff themselves to the brim with literally anything they can lay hands on, all day, every day and still be totally ripped to shreds.

 

So in summary:

-calorie math is probably wrong for a million reasons (gnolls.org)

-hormonal manipulation (via things like keto dieting, IF-like feed windows, stimulants) can give excellent results without counting stuff

-changes in metabolic rate can cause dramatic differences in response to the same number of calories in the diet

 

If these are true, what is the need of the theory of calories at all?

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Mall-  

 

Thanks for that great summary.  My interests lie more in working with people than the science behind it, and I have not delved into technical details as you have.  I guess that makes me a pretty poor nerd.  I do plan on checking out the gnolls series, because I haven't yet.  

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I'm new to all this, so these are genuine questions:

  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it at a different time of day - OK, so what does this mean? If I eat a 100 calorie cookie in the morning, is it not 100 calories any more? Is it 90? Is it 120? What if I eat it in the evening? At midnight? After midnight?
  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it as a wholly different food - but... it wasn't a food at the beginning of the sentence. We're talking about a unit of energy. Electricity is still electricity whether it's in my oven or my toaster. Or does this mean my 100 calorie cookie is so wholly different to my 100 calorie pear that I was gain weight with the cookie and lost it with the pear? And how does this occur - by what process?
  • A calorie is not a calorie at the low end of the carbohydrate curve (< 10%) - I have no idea what this is.

I feel like the word 'calorie' is being used in place of 'food item'. A food will have a different effect on the body if it's a carb or a protein, a food might have a different effect on the body based on the time of day (not sure I've seen evidence of this, but let's move on), but a calorie - it's a unit of heat! 'Calor'! Like 'watt' or 'joule' - it doesn't have feelings, it can't change what it is and does based on phases of the moon or position of the tide. Isn't this like a lightbulb manufacturer was telling us he had special lightbulbs that alter the very nature of what a watt is or does? His lightbulb may behave a certain way - as does an entire food - but the base unit is surely so, well, base, that all of these factors don't and can't apply to it.

 

I'm open to learning, sure - but like everyone else (perhaps women especially, and parents too) I've been bombarded with a different message of 'health' since childhood, from 'no sweets!' to 'juice cleanse!', 'detox' to 'pesticides', 'bad carbs' to 'I ate 500g of protein a day and nearly died.' Just today alone I've had friends telling me they're going to do 150 crunches a day to 'lose weight and get abs', a restaurant-loving party girl tells me she intends to 'go paleo' to 'lose weight fast', and someone declining adding an egg to a bacon sandwich because 'eggs make you fat'. It is like a relentless tidal wave of marketing, myth and outright lie and it affects everyone and it never ends!

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Also, I think the turn over here has very little to do with the support people find on the forums.  I've seen tons of first posts that have received boundless support only to never post again.  Rather, getting fit requires a huge amount of discipline and mental readiness.  Not everyone gets there at the same time, no matter how much motivation they think they get from a bunch of anonymous people online.  In general, I think the kinds of people who are drawn to this particular forum are the same kinds of people who struggle the most with real-world discipline; they can get excited about the idea of getting fit and starting an adventure like a character from a video game, but when it comes time to face the grind, very few find they're truly mentally ready.  If harsh words from a forum avatar like Waldo are enough to knock someone off the grind, they were never going to make it that go around anyway.

Very true.

However the paleoness of NF, especially how confrontational its beginners can be (especially about the basics, such as this thread, calories debunked), have driven off many very successful people.

My MFP friends list is full of ex-NFers, still active there, not so much here, (plus I know of a few others that post at other forums); whenever I ask why they don't at NF anymore, paleo is always the reason, especially the paleo beginners who just annoy the shit out of non-paleos after a while. See that request by El Ex for an IIFYM forum instead of or in addition to the general forum, there's a damn good reason for that; threads like this one that serve no purpose but piss people off.

Here at NF I'm a bit like a guy whose lived 20 years in a nursing home. All my friends are dead. This has actually occurred a few rounds now; its depressing and one of the main reasons I don't do challenges anymore.

 

I plan on turning my knowledge and studies into a business in order to help people get healthier and fitter, and Waldo could definitely do the same.  That was one of the reasons of me joining the nerdfitness movement, because of a new perspective, and new ideas to help me run my business.  If Waldo was a little less abrasive, I could see him making a great living off one of his passions.

I am a professional engineer; very, very, very few people in the health/fitness industry make what I make or have a job as intellectually interesting as mine. I'm very happy with my current career.

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From what I understand The body breaks down foods like so:

 

Any carbohydrate gets broken down into Simple sugars then transported to fat stores or muscle

 

Any Protein into Amino Acids (leucine, Valine, Isoleucine etc...)

 

Any Fat into fatty acids to be reassembled into triglycerides in fat stores or used up in the fatty acid form

 

 

So to me it seems that a calorie is a calorie.

 

Donuts and sugars from organic apples get broken down into the same simple sugar for use by the body.

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Lastly, and I don't think even Gnolls has touched on this, what of changing metabolic rate? Nobody ever talks about changing metabolic rates in discussions of weight loss.

 

Well, Layne Norton does and so do a few other experts, but they are exceptions. Generally peoples' mental model of weight loss is that a person has a maintenance calorie level, and that maintenance calorie level is eternal and unchanging. Eating even one calorie above that maintenance level will cause weight gain (because it is impossible to excrete calories undigested) and eating even one calorie below that maintenance level will cause weight loss, because metabolic rate would never change in response to imposed demands.

 

In reality, metabolic rate is very plastic. Bodybuilders know this, which is why they diet down gradually: they view weight loss as an arms' race between their food intake limitation and the slowing of their metabolism. I was just reading something the other day about how bodybuilders at competition levels of leanness display a profound metabolic depression to the point that they have heart rates in the 40's. During this time, their "maintenance calories" would be only a little under a stray cat's "maintenance calories." My medical biochemistry textbook has a graph in the obesity chapter that shows response to calorie restriction as sigmoidal - when calories are cut to a new lower level, they lose weight until their metabolic speed compensates, then weight becomes constant.

 

Similarly, metabolic rate can be sped up. That's Layne Norton's whole thing; training people to eat progressively larger amounts of food without gaining an ounce until they have metabolisms so fast they can stuff themselves to the brim with literally anything they can lay hands on, all day, every day and still be totally ripped to shreds.

 

So in summary:

-calorie math is probably wrong for a million reasons (gnolls.org)

-hormonal manipulation (via things like keto dieting, IF-like feed windows, stimulants) can give excellent results without counting stuff

-changes in metabolic rate can cause dramatic differences in response to the same number of calories in the diet

 

If these are true, what is the need of the theory of calories at all?

You do realize that:

- I talk about this all the time.  In fact this subject is talked about all the time, I guess it depends on the circles you associate with.

- I wrote an article on this subject (which does need some updating/citations).

 

I'm pretty excited about some of the beige fat research coming out in the last couple years, because it provides a mechanism for the adaptive thermogenesis dark energy (people threw out reasons for it, but in reality none of those reasons really had the calorie capacity), and also explains some observed effects very well (being cold when metabolism is significantly throttled).

 

I'm just going to leave this here.

bulk-fall-2013.jpg

 

Just so happens to be a weight chart of mine I have handy, from the bulk I did last fall.  The dots are daily weight ins, the white line is my average daily weight (9 day average, forward/back).  The vertical scale is lbs (5 lb grid lines), the horizonal scale is days (7 day grid lines).  The red circles are the day I started and stopped my surplus.  The red line is the calculated rate I should be gaining based on my intake.  12.5 weeks.  I hit my expectations within fractions of a pound. 

 

There is no better proof than precision that calories are the ultimate weight controller.  It is only because of a failure to believe precision is possible that even allows for the entertaining of thoughts that the calorie "theory" is wrong.

 

That is by no means a cherry picked chart either (I could pull the exact same thing from any time scale or diet state in the last 2.5 years), I just happened to have it handy, using it for an article I'm writing about bulking, as it is a perfect example of what I call "the waves".

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I'm new to all this, so these are genuine questions:

  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it at a different time of day - OK, so what does this mean? If I eat a 100 calorie cookie in the morning, is it not 100 calories any more? Is it 90? Is it 120? What if I eat it in the evening? At midnight? After midnight?
  • A calorie is not a calorie when you eat it as a wholly different food - but... it wasn't a food at the beginning of the sentence. We're talking about a unit of energy. Electricity is still electricity whether it's in my oven or my toaster. Or does this mean my 100 calorie cookie is so wholly different to my 100 calorie pear that I was gain weight with the cookie and lost it with the pear? And how does this occur - by what process?
  • A calorie is not a calorie at the low end of the carbohydrate curve (< 10%) - I have no idea what this is.

I feel like the word 'calorie' is being used in place of 'food item'. A food will have a different effect on the body if it's a carb or a protein, a food might have a different effect on the body based on the time of day (not sure I've seen evidence of this, but let's move on), but a calorie - it's a unit of heat! 'Calor'! Like 'watt' or 'joule' - it doesn't have feelings, it can't change what it is and does based on phases of the moon or position of the tide. Isn't this like a lightbulb manufacturer was telling us he had special lightbulbs that alter the very nature of what a watt is or does? His lightbulb may behave a certain way - as does an entire food - but the base unit is surely so, well, base, that all of these factors don't and can't apply to it.

 

I'm open to learning, sure - but like everyone else (perhaps women especially, and parents too) I've been bombarded with a different message of 'health' since childhood, from 'no sweets!' to 'juice cleanse!', 'detox' to 'pesticides', 'bad carbs' to 'I ate 500g of protein a day and nearly died.' Just today alone I've had friends telling me they're going to do 150 crunches a day to 'lose weight and get abs', a restaurant-loving party girl tells me she intends to 'go paleo' to 'lose weight fast', and someone declining adding an egg to a bacon sandwich because 'eggs make you fat'. It is like a relentless tidal wave of marketing, myth and outright lie and it affects everyone and it never ends!

That phrasing - "A calorie is not a calorie if" - is a play on the conventional "a calorie is a calorie" wisdom.

 

It indicates that calorie math breaks down under many conditions. I'd at least skim the articles for a better understanding of what they mean and what research they were going off of.

 

For example (and this one is a mind bender), there was one rat study where they fed two groups the exact same amount of the exact same type of food, but in the experimental group they ground the food up into a powder while the control group got it in pellet form. The powder group got fat as all hell at an unbelievable rate while the control group stayed pretty well normal. That's the meaning of "a calorie is not a calorie from differently processed foods," all that detail is in the article. The bullet points are just takeaways collected from 7 long parts of this article series.

Hope this clarifies.

 

Waldo: Interesting article, I'm giving it a once over now. I like the idea that consistency/duration plays a much larger role than deficit size. I've noticed in bodybuilding circles that it seems like the people who try for a ginormous deficit to cut all their weight tomorrow end up turning into permafat crash dieters while the guys who do a -500 deficit for like 6 months straight get very good results.

Personally I don't in any form deny that limiting amount of food is an important variable in weight loss, especially for non-keto dieters. I just happen to believe that the conventional "calorie" is not the right measurement for food for those purposes. I also strongly believe that there are other hurdles (food quality, hormonal state etc) that play a greater or lesser role for some people on a highly individual basis. 

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threads like this one that serve no purpose but piss people off.

I'm sorry, my intentions were simply to hear what people thought of the article and how they interpret its content, maybe get a few good arguments or sources to tell/show the person in question (which in fact I did, so it definitely served its purpose).

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Waldo: Interesting article, I'm giving it a once over now. I like the idea that consistency/duration plays a much larger role than deficit size. I've noticed in bodybuilding circles that it seems like the people who try for a ginormous deficit to cut all their weight tomorrow end up turning into permafat crash dieters while the guys who do a -500 deficit for like 6 months straight get very good results.

Here is a recent study that actually looked at crazy crash dieting:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24602091

Here is a couple write ups on it since it is behind a paywall:

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/time-efficient-reduction-fat-mass-4-days-exercise-caloric-restriction-research-review.html

http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2014/03/more-than-2kg-body-fat-in-4-days-manic.html

A number of bodybuilder types (incl layne norton btw) have come to the conclusion that short fast dieting is vastly superior to long slow dieting (incl me obviously). The main reason is leptin. Leptin comes in pulses and levels seem "sticky". Yet most of the negative side effects of dieting can be traced back to leptin and a lack thereof. If one's starting point is longer term maintenance (or bulking), you can pretty much cut as hard as you want for 2 weeks before leptin dropping becomes significant. Leptin is muscle sparing (low leptin levels are when muscle loss is significant when dieting). Short intense cuts are the most efficient way to cut.

The competitive bodybuilder types you are referring to seem like the type that lack the willpower to cut and wait until the last minute to do so. This group's issues go beyond the basic mechanics of it.

The last time I cut for a long time, I had absolutely brutal metabolism throttling (think -500 cal); even with refeeds and diet breaks the low leptin levels became downright unbearable by the end of it (once you are getting significant ghrelin and serotonin interaction, it more or less makes life living hell, you are frantically hungry all day long and can barely think about anything else).

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