The weight loss trail starts here………..

27 Oct

In  2005 I (further) infuriated my “weightloss lecturer” on a reps accredited weight management course by actually buying my own (expensive copy) of ‘cognitive behavioural treatment of obesity”  by Cooper et al., and the “Handbook of Obesity Treatment” edited by Wadden and Stunkard. At that time, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), in obesity treatment,  reigned supreme.

It was the antidote to “insane” and “improper “diet regimes like the zone, paleo, atkins etc. According to the commentators and dietians,  the food pyramid combined with CBT, would do the trick. In all fairness it was the “new” government pyramid that actually  suggested that refined sugar was “not so good”. A few years before, anyone daring to suggest that Carb was not God was  pilloried as a charlton.

CBT treatments (BTW)

1) are based on a cognitive conceptualization  of the processes that maintain the problem
2) are designed  to modify maintaining mechanisms, the predication being that this is necessary  for there to be lasting chane
3) use a combination of cognitives and behavioural procedures  to help the patient  identify and change the targeted maintaining mechanism

Anyway, thank God for long term studies. according to  Zafra Cooper in

“Testing a new cognitive behavioural treatment for obesity: A randomized controlled trial with three-year follow-up” “featured in Behav Res Ther. 2010 August; 48(8): 706–713.)

“Two main conclusions may be drawn from the findings. Neither is new. The first is that among people with obesity it is remarkably difficult to maintain a new lower weight following weight loss. It can be done (Ikeda et al., 2005; Wing & Phelan, 2005) but it is not common. The reasons for this are not known. It is possible that the processes specified by the CBT theory do indeed operate but that our treatment was not sufficiently effective at changing them. Thus it is not possible to determine from this study whether the theory is incorrect or whether CBT was not sufficiently potent. Alternatively or additionally, other processes may be largely responsible for weight regain.
The second conclusion has far-reaching implications. It stems from the finding that sustained behaviour change in people with obesity is remarkably difficult to achieve, unlike the situation with people with eating disorders (e.g., Fairburn et al., 2009). This is a sufficiently robust finding to make it ethically questionable to claim that psychological treatments for obesity “work” in the absence of data on their longer-term outcome. A further implication is that psychosocial research on obesity should perhaps shift away from work on treatment and instead focus on prevention”

Wow. Its all crap!

Its good though to look at the escalating endorsement of low carb approaches; look at Foster et al,  Ann Intern Med. 2010 Aug 3;153(3):147-57. “Weight and metabolic outcomes after 2 years on a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet: a randomized trial” which concluded

“Successful weight loss can be achieved with either a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet when coupled with behavioral treatment. A low-carbohydrate diet is associated with favorable changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors at 2 years”

Who knew

Keep an eye out as Crossfit London starts  its process of  reviewing and assessing obesity treatments that work. we will be needing volunteers to trial approaches, so, if you are interested in being a part time guinea pig  drop me  or kate an email.

63 thoughts on “The weight loss trail starts here………..

  1. really interesting read andrew – though their conclusion that focussing on prevention is more effective than treatment means people currently obese aren’t left with many options, eh?

    My 2 cents not having read the study – maintaining weight loss depends on the way you lost the weight in the first place, and while CBT may not effective – I often see the compulsive overeating that leads to obesity as a form of addiction (similar endorphin release, compulsion etc) and would be interesting to look at maintenance of weightloss in formerly obese people in comparison to addiction recovery rates to see if they are similar.

    Finally, I think that the earlier you become obese (and the length of time you’re obese) has serious long-term effects on your metabolism, meaning recovery and maintenance exercise levels maybe more challenging than for people who’ve just gradually put on a few pounds as adults…

    Anyways, just a few thoughts.

  2. Is there a study of the impact of real vs. processed food on health markers and obesity? It seems a lot of these papers are focused on macro nutrient proportions but not the quality of the food itself.

  3. Efe, ill do a proper review on that issue. the next article is a review of Leptin, followed by Lectin.

    and Brie, i think you have hit one aspect on the head, many weight loss strategies work “well” if all you need to do is to knock a couple of pounds off. The isue of long term obesity throws up lots of biochemical and other issues.

    on another level, CBT works well with eating disorders , which is why everyone hoped it would do so well as a general “cure”

  4. More importantly Andrew are you referring to Bobby or Jacky being pilloried?
    Brie although I think what you say may make sense I suspect it’s more to do with ingrained habits concerning diet than anything to do with metabolism. I thought (and I can’t quote the studies) that it had been fairly well established that two people of the same weight all other things being equal (proportion of muscle and physical activity) will burn the same amount of calories.

  5. I’d like to see some studies on metabolism, but I don’t think it’s that significant a factor.
    It’s calories consumed/calories burned – that simple. For a formerly obese person, long term maintenance of a lower weight means a constant, unremitting vigilance around this (believe me!) The long term effort, tolerating constant hunger, old habits – it’s no wonder people just give up and pile the weight back on.

  6. Kate: I think you’d be surprised how much your metabolism accounts for calories burned. I also think many people would be ridiculously surprised at how many calories they are taking in eating food vs how much time and effort they would have to put in in exercise to balance it out.

    I know from my own experience that I can eat extremely well and not much changes (bar performance at the gym) or eat pretty terribly and still not much change at all (bar performance plummeting) and I have to attribute a lot of that to my metabolism.

  7. Would echo what Si says. I don’t notice any correlation between what I eat and my weight which I attribute to metabolism. If you look around the gym, some guys pack on a lot more muscle than others, but anecdotal conversations etc reveal they arent necessarily eating significantly more. Which I’d put down to metabolism as well.

    I do notice a correlation between the type of exercise I’m doing and my weight though. I’m heavier doing more crossfitting than doing more running

    No science behind this but would be interested if anyone thought the body just had a natural weight it was happiest being, and aiming to go significantly above or below it was in the long run a struggle to maintain. I’m ignoring obesity here.

  8. Oh yeah definitely Pat, the body is an incredibly smart thing and everyone has a weight range that their bodies will try and stay within by upping or decreasing the metabolism. To put on a lot of (good) weight or lose weight (as in bodyfat without sacrificing lots of muscle along with it), you really have to trick it with various different methods.

    This is the point where I would usually find a scientific study but i’m feeling lazy at the moment so you’ll have to excuse me and do some further research 😉

  9. In my humble opinion, Kate is spot on. Losing or alternatively gaining weight is a simple calculation. Eat less, exercise above and beyond your calorific need for the day and you will lose weight, do the opposite and you put it on.

    BMR (heigh x weight and adjusted to your age) x Activity level (1.2-1.9 increases depending upon activity level).

    I don’t really get the metabolic rate stuff sorry Pat/Si. There are so many factors to take in to account – are you fidgety, nervous, do you spend a lot of time on a hot underground, how much do you walk during the day, do you have sugar in your tea?. etc Again covered by energy in energy out equation. If you have an increase in body mass it requires an increase in energy to service the muscle – so you burn more across the 24 hour period.

    Just as an aside, if you were to eat your daily requirement of energy solely in fat or carbs or protein – you would remain at your current weight. If you ate less than your daily requirement in one form you would loose weight. It is however very difficult to do as your body doesn’t like it and it puts other pressures on you. You can do it for short periods (ATKINS is a good example), but as Dr Atkins proved its not necessarily a formula for long life.

    Quick rant – one thing that really winds me up with the whole weight loss debate is the use of weight and BMI as a steer for being a healthy. It is a nonsense, one person can weigh 100kg and have absolutely no excess fat and another can weigh the same and have 50% of their body mass made up of fat. In my opinion body fat % is a much more useful tool. Calipers are a more invasive procedure than jumping on a set of scales but give a much better understanding of body composition.

    There is so much pseudo science in this area – keep the message simple, keep people active and happy (both linked), eat a balanced diet over a long period of time, deal with the real cause of the weight increase (psychology of weigh gain is really important), and change habits.

  10. Ben…

    Agree that the majority of the equation is calories in vs calories out, I was just stating that metabolism plays a large role and should not be underestimated. Was not saying Kate’s statement was incorrect at all, as it is pretty accurate.

    “If you have an increase in body mass it requires an increase in energy to service the muscle – so you burn more across the 24 hour period.” I don’t have the study to hand, but I’ve read before that the increase in muscle burning more is pretty negligible and burns much less than people think.

    “Just as an aside, if you were to eat your daily requirement of energy solely in fat or carbs or protein – you would remain at your current weight.”
    Will have to politely disagree here, you’re completely disregarding the effect on hormones that is produced by food amongst other things. All was not created equal. You should know that refined carbs are very good at spiking insulin in the body which is a fat storage hormone. You should also know that protein has a thermic effect which encourages the body to burn more.

    I do however agree that BMI is a terrible measure, but I think everyone here should know that. I’m close to the upper end of the healthy BMI range….

    A massive amount of this is psychological and ingrained in habits which are often very difficult to change.

  11. I’ve been struggling for 10 minutes to try and figure out how to participate in this conversation…ugh!
    Here are my points (hopefully presented in a non-rambling manner):
    -i believe calories in/out is a great guiding tool, but doesn’t take into account a whole range of personal factors that affect what your body does with the fuel you put in. I don’t think any of us can say all of our bodies metabolise the food we consume in the same way. Si can eat anything and stay the same. phil rolling needed to force himself to drink a gallon of milk a day just to gain a kilo, I can’t even look at a cupcake…hormones/environmental factors/the types of food we eat all can lead to a different out come with the same calories in different bodies. However, some of the most successful times I”ve lost weight were simply calculating calories burned through exercise and calories consumed. For those of us who lose touch with what normal eating patterns are, its a great way to recalibrate what we think we need. So I’m a big fan of calories/in and out…
    My next point is purely unscientific, but I will hold steadfast: I do believe being obese has lasting physiological effects – whether its your brain chemistry or metabolic rate.
    Being obese is a complete alienation from your bodys own ability to self-regulate your size (almost like a blown internal circuit) but what makes it difficult is identifying these physiological effects in isolation from the psychological aspects of obesity. Its a hunch – but its also my personal experience. Whether its as simply as a tendency for your metabolism to gradually slow without constant vigilance, or your body is always ‘trying to get you back’ to the size you once were, you’ve crossed your internal wires and you can no longer trust your own feelings of hunger or fullness and just simply ‘cant eat the way your friends do’.
    I have to echo what Kate said as another formely obese person – maintaining your weightloss is psychological nightmare, but I also think you’ve just somehow done something to your body that you can’t quite put right… I don’t have the science to prove it, and I would never use it as an excuse – but I just know in order to stay a healthy weight, for whatever reason, I have to work a lot harder than most people…

  12. Oh, and here are a few scientific articles showing that formerly obese patients (and rats!) have lower resting metabolic rates than control subjects:

    however, this article seems to feel that its environment – not metabolism, that drives you to return to obesity. very interesting!

  13. Hi Si,

    I don’t disagree with the importance of BMR my point is that weight loss/gain is about energy balance. Basal Metabolic Rate is calculated by weight and height plus age, there are some calculations that take in to account variations in lean body mass also – more accurately apparently. BMR is used in all the calculations used to work out what the energy balance is therefore it is implicit.

    My point is more that you can’t estimate activity accurately and therefore it is difficult to work out exactly what someones energy output is and also most people are not good at estimating their input – so you have to do it by recording it. People tend to underestimate their input and overestimate their output.

    As far as a remember and I am going back a few years 🙂 insulin is a hormone involved in moving simple sugars in to either the cell for respiration or storing it as fat. If the body energy requirement is at balance then the sugars would be used and not stored. Insulin spiking can stimulate hunger after eating – so that could push you over your daily intake of calories if you listen to it!?

    Its a good point on thermic effect – I was keeping it simple…however it is the same principle, you just need more grams of protein to provide the same level of energy. Ultimately all thermic effect means is that rather than a gram of protein being worth x amount of energy it is only worth x-1 as there is an energy cost associated with converting it. You still can work out how much you would need to eat a day to remain at equilibrium.

    I absolutely agree with you that is 100% psychological and hard work!

  14. I should add rules change if the body goes in to starvation mode.

    Interestingly what Pat said about running versus weight training is correct – I had always assumed that this was due to an increase in lean body mass and the body working hard to develop the muscle (is there a thermic effect of converting proteins in to muscle tissue?). Would be interested to know if this is the case.

  15. “I was keeping it simple…however it is the same principle, you just need more grams of protein to provide the same level of energy.”

    Here’s the problem. It’s totally not that simple. A lot of this stuff is still unknown and not researched properly and a lot of conventional wisdom is presumed.

    It is widely accepted that there are 4 calories per gram in protein…yet also in carbs? How can a macronutrient that spikes your insulin vs a macronutrient that increases your metabolism have exactly the same rating? This is my issue with trying to take the simplistic view that all macros are the same if their total calorific value is the same.

    There have been some scientists who have wanted to modify protein’s values for a while to downgrade it to 3.2 calories per gram to account for the thermic effect once consumed.

  16. Hi Si,

    I agree with you that they are both 4 cals. This is a uniform measure, I did a really dull experiment with a bomb calorimeter – so dull – this gives a value when you burn a set weight of a substance. Burning it still produces the same energy. The difference is the conversion from a protein to a format the body can use as energy.

    It would be interesting to know what causes the difference though – my guess would be that the same amount of energy is liberated from protein but there is a cost of producing the enzyme that breaks down the protein.

    I am a little unsure why insulin spiking is a problem / an inevitable problem, the way that our bodies normally deal with it is by eating a mix of food sources and also a range of complex carbohydrates that take time to breakdown in the gut and give a more constant release of glucose in to the blood. The only time it becomes a problem is if you consistently eat haribo which gives you a sugar crash and will stimulate your hunger.

    My original point above is still valid though – by taking the simplistic view of energy balance it takes out the complexity (and fad diets) that from a practical perspective don’t help people lose weight.

    Just out of interest are you currently on a particular diet?

    From a practical sense it is genuinely that simple but I 100% agree with Brie weight loss is an absolute nightmare.

  17. Recording what you eat – I’ve just done this for the first time in months and was quite horrified by the result. No wonder I have the amazing vanishing pullups.
    Yesterday I ate what I thought was a restricted diet (95% paleo in zone proportions) I got through 1900 calories and went to bed still hungry.

    If you want an easy way of recording everything you eat (and you can set it up in 40/30/30 proportions) try this
    Great for the CBT aspect of dieting, and those who aren’t may be surprised by exactly how much they’re eating.

  18. Ben: I try to eat fairly Paleo the majority of the time and avoid bread/pasta/rice etc. but I’m not too fussed about dairy (I’ll occasionally have some). Life is too short though so I don’t stay crazy strict and I try and have a cheat meal/day once a week.

    I don’t really view it as a diet though…it’s more a way of life for me eating-wise now.

  19. kate – isn’t this where 1900 calories is deceptive? if you trained that day, you were probably right where you needed to be in order to maintain your current weight… or have a small deficit. hardly overeating! a bit annoying to go to bed hungry, but i’ve found with paleo if you don’t eat sufficient amounts of meat you can end up nibbling away at nuts until you’ve eaten way too much…

  20. I didn’t train that day, and I was eating in zone proportions so plenty of meat (chicken, lamb, corned beef) I only ate 9 almonds. Im aware of the nut nibbling unrestricted nature of paleo which is why Im wary of it. Thing is, it doesn’t take much overeating each day (of any sort of food) to add up and up and result in pounds gained. I’m the proof!

  21. Cut out booze and lots of LSD works every time for me! (the one occasion I stopped drinking that is) one other thing I found was once body fat % drops to the point where and I quote Helen here “you look like an anatomical diagram” 1RM drop significantly over night and the aerobic capacity drops right off!

  22. Agree with Trev that LSD does seem to shed the pounds pretty quickly – I really struggled to keep my weight up when I was doing a higher volume of running than I do nowadays. Fine if you don’t mind having arms like pipe cleaners… with crossfit I’m not battling to keep above 60kg and I’ve stabilised at around 65-67, but I’m still finding it really difficult to go beyond that. Would like to get to 70+ and see what difference that makes to my lifts.

    Saying that, and this is purely anecdotal, I’ve known people put ON weight whilst training for marathons / triathlons. I think the main factor in this is that after doing a 10-20k run it’s tempting to think that you’ve “earned” the bigger portion of chips or the ice cream that you’d perhaps think twice about otherwise – swimming gives me the munchies like nothing else! Also, guzzling down energy gels and carb drinks whilst on runs and rides where you probably don’t need anything but water can make a difference I think.

  23. I can be as much as a stone lighter when doing a lot of running so I’d echo what Trev and Chris say. Long slow distance is a no brainer if you ask me in terms of weight maintenance and loss and I never understand why it’s not recommended more. Has been the mainstay of boxers, footballers etc for time immemorrial

    If you break down a crossfit class (and this is not a criticism) you are not spending anywhere near the full hour actually constantly moving so it’s not really surprising the defecit created is lower. As a few have mentioned above, people often hugely overestimate how many calories they are burning exercising. I think crossfit is probably even worse for this, because people wrongly equate how hard something is with how many calories it’s burning.

    @Trev- do you mean you find your aerobic capacity drops off or anaerobic? Would have thought you’d feel better being lighter on the bike. Or are you talking about crossfit wods etc?

  24. Obesity articles = gotta luv ‘em lol. Well I’m with Brie – weight loss is very individual…not to mention getting increasingly peeved off with the consistent idea that fat people all just sit around over-eating. Less calories yes…but how much less is individual and down to their entire make up. Not simple! Despite best effort I’ve never been able to get back to my previous fab army figure which was the result of lots of running around and the crappiest food you wouldn’t feed your dog/cat, or whatever. Yes I sit at me desk for about 10hrs+ a day now but I ain’t stuffing me face either.

    Case in point – have tracked calorie intake since starting Crossfit in Feb at 1500cals (mynetdiary is quite good too Kate) during week and 1800 – 2000 on the wknd to give a break (I was definitely not always perfect but extreme punishing has always followed the naughtiness). Crossfit and random other exercise were thrown in. Technically to all experts I require 2050cals daily to maintain weight. October Outcome = have actually gained 8kgs+ of weight without changing dress size! Makes-me-feel-better Conclusion = must be all muscle – though I find this very hard to believe and I have failed to loose much fat as am still ms rolly polly. Also taken into account I had previously managed to not put on any weight since 2007, though did not do Crossfit then = very odd. Probably would all be fixed if I could run again but as of yet I’m still not signed off by the doc…go figure!

    So for the fitness know-its any bright ideas, explanations lol?!! Up for any guinea pig testing Andrew (as long as doesn’t damage health and no dairy products = yuck :), though guarantee will be a tough and perplexing challenge for you and me. If you can get something to work with me then it’ll work with anyone 😀 Bring on the onslaught of should ‘aves and behavioural therapy lol!

  25. Cian: LSD = Long Slow Distance…any monostructural “Cardio” such as running/rowing/cycling done for a prolonged period of time (e.g. 5kms/10kms/marathons)

  26. right on colm!

    tasha – i sympathise. i would worry that 2050 is a slightly high calculation if you’re at a desk for 10+ hrs a day… at my height (5’9) an online calculator said 1850 to maintain which I try and stick to (or ignore, whatever)….but at a fitness first they once told me 2250 so you never know!!! I basically add all calories burned through exercise onto a baseline of 1850, and try and track my calories from there. But god – if there is anything I’ve learned in the past 7+ years its that sometimes the weight just disappears without you trying and other times it piles back on and its not until you’ve got a bit of distance from that moment that you can see what went on…

  27. Brie/Tasha – interesting stuff.
    I was looking around for a calories-burned estimator, and found this (a very quick search, others are available) You enter sex, height, weight, age and activity levels at different times of day.
    (this website has various other fitness calculators too)

    Interesting and telling results:
    For me, on the days when I sleep, watch TV and do my desk job, requirements = 1613 cals
    As above, plus a brisk lunchtime walk = 1834 cals
    As above, plus Crossfit/run = 2178

    This seems to chime in with my experience closely. I don’t cardio train hard every day, but I was eating as if I did

    “In 2011, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published new energy recommendations.The new UK Department of Health Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) are a daily calorie intake of:
    2079 calories per day for women (up from 1940)
    2605 calories per day for men (up from 2550)”
    And presented here with no indication of activity levels

    Well, I’m on day 2 of a 5 week “Zone lockdown” at 11 blocks, so hopefully I’ll see some good results before the Christmas fun begins

  28. Thanks Girlies! Though the mystery remains why the puppy fat don’t budge lol despite 1500-1800cals predominately and I don’t increase intake on workout days. Though the mystery may lie in my rather large (body mass) Irish family lol.

    Have tried that link Kate but it puts me at 2195 for rest days and 2435 for workout days with me sitting on me backside for 15hrs and sleeping for 8 so something’s wrong lol. Oh well maybe I’ll go bk to my triathlon training regime as that was only when it budged but it was a bit extreme. Onwards with an increased strict diet then (after I’m done my current bout of tummy bug making me live off dry crackers lol)

  29. For me calorie counting is a no go – my addictive personality would mean i would spend my whole life reading food packets and stressing about foods. Over the last month i have kept a food / exercise diary with no calorie measures. I just stick to a paleo diet but not super strict…i have a cheat meal/day once a week which usually means i eat cake or chocolate. I avoid dairy/ bread/ pasta and rice and try to stick to a low GI. I found this really useful:

    I am also a big fan of my supplements and do believe they have made a difference. I take Fish oils and Zinc every day. In addition to drinking green tea.

    Something else you ladies may want to check out is this link:
    Shocking when i entered some of my products and found out they are pretty toxic which can affect weight loss.

  30. Cutting booze out and eat a lot less meat and dietary fat imo is best policy. Live like an in season professional footballer (well maybe avoid copying their lifestyles to the letter :-))

  31. “Cutting booze out and eat a lot less meat”

    Woah woah woah…did this guy just advocate living more like a vegetarian!?

  32. I think its a typo, surely he meant “more” meat? And cutting out booze? Madness!

  33. @patrick – but professional footballers are such fragile creatures – they fall over at the slightest push, writhing around in agony afterwards…. whatever they’re eating, it can’t be that healthy, poor souls.

  34. Hey Tasha – this is a great article if you can’t figure out why you aren’t losing weight:

    even if you don’t want to go paleo/primal (i try and avoid being anal about food) there are great principles in there…

    For me the two keys in the above article are: making sure you get 5 hours of low level exercise a week (crossfit isn’t enough!) and incorporating sprinting. I am good at the first and terrible at the latter – I just walk to work and back – 80 mins a day, 4-5 days a week. easy peasy! sprinting… I try to avoid, and probably only get it through the occasional crossfit workout.

  35. yes colm, diet of champions.

    Good article but incorporating sprinting makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You just need to look at the injury record during the cf endurance experiment done here and elsewhere (and that was with people looking to actually improve their running rather than losing weight)

  36. Woah Pat you’re on a crazy roll today…first no meat and now no sprinting!? Very much have to disagree with you there.

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water…sprinting is one of the most primal movements we have and our body mechanics are made for it. It is a great way to improve all areas of fitness and should be incorporated in to EVERY fitness regime in my opinion.

    I have heard that some people got injured in the CFE experiment at CFL, but I only know of one person who actually was injured. A major component of all the CFE workouts was the POSE technique, which can lead to quite a few injuries when athletes are learning it and first doing it, as it is very new to their bodies and they often struggle to do it properly to begin with. Once good technique is established however it has been shown to be more efficient and reduce injuries in the long term.

    However…sprinting is very different to endurance running and they should (and do) use very different mechanics and POSE is not really a factor in sprinting. Generally sprinting doesn’t generate too many injuries, save for occasional hamstring pulls/tears in very extreme circumstances which are nearly always because of the individual not warming up properly.

  37. man I am loving the new more interactive cf london website

    Si there were wods such as 10×100 meters. Can’t comment on how we did it here as I wasn’t involved but on the website it will specifically say “sprint” or “all out”. It has very little value to do anything other than sprint a wod like 10 x 100 m.

    Agree with you there’s benefit to incorporating it. Just pointing out it’s arguably even more technical than running (also very easy to tweak muscles) so for the purposes of weight loss (where presumably the sprinter will be quite a lot heavier) maybe not the best idea. Also given how taxing it is Id question it from a recovery perspective.

    Meat comment suggested cutting quantity not cutting out. I’m not hating on meat as a clarification

    I should bill for this advice, it’s hugely valuable 🙂

  38. Pat: You said “incorporating sprinting makes no sense whatsoever” and then you say you agree with me “there’s benefit to incorporating it”…which is it? 😀

    I know what you mean about it having very little value to do anything other than sprint 100m intervals, but different people’s ideas of sprinting max effort can vary drastically.

    Would somewhat agree in that it could be considered as more technical, although that’s compared to someone running with normal (bad) heel-striking technique, as everyone knows that. I’d say though that sprinting technique is simpler and easier to pick up than correct POSE running.

    There are hundreds if not thousands of studies out there that show that for the purpose of weight loss, sprints and HIIT are superior to LSD. Some are outlined here:

    I don’t think you can use the taxing/injury route either as Steady state cardio has been proven to result in increased injuries through the constant pounding on the joints, and the fact that it actually raises cortisol and increases inflammation.

    “The benefits of interval training (sprinting in short intense bursts)
    – increases muscle fiber strength
    – increases aerobic capacity (work ability)
    – increases muscle mitochondria (the main energy production center in muscle)
    – increases insulin sensitivity
    – increases natural growth hormone production

    The costs of chronic (repetitious) mid- and high-level aerobic work
    – requires large amounts of dietary carbohydrates (SUGAR)
    – decreases efficient fat metabolism
    – increases stress hormone cortisol
    – increases systemic inflammation
    – increases oxidative damage (free radical production)
    – boring!” (From a previous marathon runner)

    However, i’m not bashing LSD or endurance events, I think they definitely have their place in a good fitness program, just used smartly and in moderation in combination with sprints and other intervals.

  39. Day 4.
    Pounds lost 4.
    Jeans fitting much better!

    Have decided to combine my Zone lockdown with the Movember thing – I’ll donate an extra £5 to the moustache charities for every pound I lose this month

  40. wow! good idea kate. since this coincides with my paleo 30 day plan (and I don’t weigh myself) maybe I should donate 5 pounds per inch I lose? though somehow men growing facial hair and women losing weight just a) don’t seem equal and b) might send the wrong message… but ah well! lets do it anyways!!!

  41. Vivre la difference, say I. We would be doomed to failure if we swapped roles (at least on these challenges). Mind you, at my age I can Mo with the best of them 😉

  42. The only time I have been truely skinny is when I’ve doing a lot of ‘LSD’. This involved doing a lot of events and stuff at the weekends, which was fun but it is a big commitment. For example, I have done quite a few adventure races, essentially large scale orienteering in the countryside somewhere, that has both running and cycling components (they’ll often include kayaking, climbing etc too). Having done both 2 day, 12 hour and 5 hour events, I can vouch for the fact they are tough but very rewarding.

    Even just getting my mountain bike out for a weekend and going to Wales, is incredible fun and there is no way you will ever burn as many calories doing any kind of short sharp exercise as being out on a bike all day for two days.

    Please note, however, I don’t do this as much anymore for two reasons:
    1. It takes up too much of your weekends, if you’re doing this all the time.
    2. Too much LSD makes you look like a lollipop head.

    But if you want to lose weight you can’t look much further than this lifestyle change!!! I don’t think Crossfit will keep you slim.

    *Disclaimer: currently I could probably do with losing a few pounds myself 😉

  43. I was really disappointed when I read the explanation for LSD – I thought Trev actually meant he lost weight by tripping out!

  44. Cian, in your skinny times were you skinny and lean or skinny with a little belly? For me the main argument against LSD, regardless of how many calories it burns, is that you are not only burning fat but also the lean body mass if you do not suplement your runs with strength training. Another thing that the proponents of LSD should remember is that it reallly is not for everyone. I would prefer to kill myself than to go for a 5k run. Part of the reason I did not exercise literally for years was that I associated fitness with endless runs on the treadmill in the “fat burning zone”. When I learned about Tabata I was ecstatic and with Crossfit I finally feel like I found something that can become a long term component of my life. But yes I agree Crossfit will not keep you slim. What will keep you slim is your food choices. If one overeats/eats crap it does not really matter what type of activity you do on the side, you will get fatter regardless. However, exercising regularly at least in my case helps me keep focused on my diet which is how I see Crossfit contributing to keeping me slim. It really is not just about counting the calories that you burn during an activity.

  45. @ Si to clarify. I meant incorporating sprinting makes no sense whatsoever for someone trying to lose weight first and foremost. I agree there’s benefit to incorporating it if weight loss is not the goal though

    Re technique I meant there more chance pulling a hammy sprinting than running slower. And this may be even more of a problem for someone bigger. Was not comparing with running heel striking (incidentially I dont think this is nearly as common in people that do a lot of running)

    Not a scientist so cannot disagree with the sources you posted etc but I’m just going by my own experience of endurance type work, bit like cian’s example. Simply put, I don’t see many people who run a lot who are overweight.

    Also as an FYI I will probably eat a steak tonight

  46. Very nice post Veronika. Although the comparison between suicide and a 5k was a little extreme!

    Pat: I’m very proud, make it a good one!

    You’re not going to see many people who run a lot that are overweight. Simply because yeah they are burning a lot of calories by spending endless hours running. What i’m saying is there are better methods that are proven to be more efficient and have many more benefits and less drawbacks. They won’t be overweight, but they will most likely not be in totally good health, with the repetitive injuries, inflammation and cortisol increases. Many LSD runners suffer from the “skinny-fat” syndrome.

    Also Cian’s example is flawed in a way. Obviously if you compare two days of long distance cycling to “short-sharp exercise” you will burn more calories on the former, simply because of the time comparison (i.e. say 2 x 6 hours for the first, and 2 x 20 mins for the second). It’s like weighing a kilo of apples and 5g of oranges and saying that the apples are heavier.

    What I am trying to get across is that if you were to compare them like-for-like, one has simply has more benefits than the other and very few of the associated drawbacks. The caveat to this is that you are partially right in that you aren’t going to be able to perform a large amount of sprints/interval training due to the heavy CNS component and recovery times.

    But, as with everything, isn’t training about being smart and utilising the best, most effective and reduced injury options?

    P.s. To echo what you said earlier, I am liking the recent increase in participation on the site, these discussions are awesome!

  47. @Si I know what you’re saying, in a minute by minute comparison high intensity exercise would ‘win’ in terms of weight loss. But my point was around a lifestyle change- finding something you enjoy that allows you to do LSD and isn’t merely going through the misery of running just to lose weight.

    @Veronika I didn’t really have a belly. But I definitely had little upper body muscle, hence looking like a lollipop. I feel much better now… But the target for me is to remain sporty, able to do more endurance things and be Crossfit strong. I don’t think they’re all incompatible, I just know I will never be able to truely excel at any.

  48. @ Si, don’t disagree with you on the benefits/drawbacks comparison at all.

    I guess my point was if you were trying to burn calories it to me would make more sense to do LSD as you could do more of it, and recover more effectively. You could also add it on to a crossfit or strength training routine you were already doing, without impacting your wod/ and lift performance.

    @Si/Veronika- Don’t really know what you mean by skinny fat syndrome. I don’t think it’s an issue personally, assuming you are doing some resistance work. Also the muscle burning thing is a myth- it’s really really hard to actually do this. You would need to undereat severely and have a phenomenal mileage.

  49. Pat: It will affect your WOD/lifting performance if you’re exhausted from hours and miles of running and your body will also suffer as it is already beaten up and inflamed and you’re adding to it further. Combining Crossfit with LSD would have to be done carefully to avoid overtraining and damaging progress.

    I got sent a request to post some info/points from an external person:

    “1) sprinting is not just running. you can sprint on a bike, a rower and on a bloody elliptical trainer – so it doesn’t always lead to injury

    2) in terms of weight loss, sprinting is most useful in terms of preventing or breaking through plateaus – which are the biggest problem of LSD training. As you get thin it takes less calories to haul your body around and if all you do is LSD you’re going to easily be able to do that before you hit your goal weight and your progress will stall. throw in a bit of HIIT and you’re good to go again.

    3) LSD burning muscle mass is NOT a myth. I don’t have time to google scholar all the science, but if you have excess body fat, after a certain point your body finds it easier to breakdown muscle when its starved for calories (such as during an LSD workout) than fat, and you don’t really need a lot of muscle to maintain LSD activities

    4) using LSD to lose weight is not sustainable unless you plan on maintaining that level of activity forever. Your body gets used to burning a certain amount of calories per day and if you suddenly stop you’ll balloon. for example when eddie izzard finished his marathon of marathons he had to gradually taper his activity for almost as long as it took him to do the endeavour in order to prevent weight gain.

    In addition, LSD does not affect your metabolism the way building up muscle does – and thats the only thing, in my mind, that is going to keep you skinny long term – Building muscles to burn the calories you’re eating. Sprinting builds muscles and aerobic capacity – very important for those who aren’t in good shape. THAT’s why people don’t just run for hours and hours to lose weight and is one of the principles behind crossfit: randomized training”

    Some good, valid points.

  50. I was supposed to jump in a while ago, but to clarify Simons position ( and indeed the position of Crossfit London, and indeed Crossfit)..

    underpinning “cardio” activity is an essential part of what we do. Crossfit actively embraces distances like 5k, 10k, 15k ( which appear regularly on the internet programme at cf HQ).

    Crossfit was originally developed with soldiers and beat officers in mind, professions that require lots of “activity”.

    The clinical experience of Crossfit london is that those clients who arrive by bike, or add some type of distance to the crossfit regime (in their own time), do better. The alternative suggestion would be to “do 20 minutes of work, then be sedentary for the rest of the day” . I argue this to be wrong.

    our best athletes , on the whole cycle/run/walk to work, do the crossfit London regime 3/4 times a week and eat well.

    The value of high intensity is beyond doubt. Its part of the tool kit, but equal with strength, aerobic activity and good diet ( its possible, but in my mind presently debatable, to add massage and flexibility to this list: the jury is out on this one)

    This said, we do not set this as part of our wods. We hope you get the hint. We do not expect our clients to battle through london during rush hour to be set a 5k run that they could easily have done at home, nor to we waste our clients time making them squirm on the floor doing flexibility regimes they could easily do at home.

    At the gym we give you access to a unique combination of coaching excellence, bars to drop and the company of intelligent caring fellow exercisers.

    So cycle/walk/run to work, have active holidays that involve swimming and cycling, get out and get some vitiman D from the sun shine, and, according to all the studies, get as much safe sex as your mattress/ or kitchen table will allow.

    Whats not to like:

    Crossfit London. The best affiliate. Ever

  51. Thanks Andrew – just to say, I don’t think anyone was confusing Simon’s participation in this lively (and enjoyable) debate with crossfit london’s official position, or indeed crossfit’s official position… just a conversation!

    what I find most interesting is what strong opinions some people seem to have about what needs to be done to lose weight!

  52. I was informed by Andrew that apparently my comments came across as aggressive and that I was only saying we should sprint (and this could be putting off new clients). Clearly all of my comments hadn’t been read, and some had been glimpsed at out of context, as that was not what I said.

    I clearly stated:
    “However, i’m not bashing LSD or endurance events, I think they definitely have their place in a good fitness program, just used smartly and in moderation in combination with sprints and other intervals.”

    All of my statements are of my own opinion and do not represent the opinions of Crossfit London.

    To Pat and Cian etc., apologies if anything I said offended any of you. I’m pretty sure since we are all friends, nothing that was said offended anyone and that debate is healthy and is how other people can learn and equally how I learn from other people. We were also asked to try and get people talking more on the website and posting more results and interacting, which has happened recently and is good and I have been trying to promote and help.

    However, this will be my last post on this matter and probably most others.

  53. Didn’t offend me at all in the slightest si. Always enjoy these types of discussion with people even when we differ in viewpoint. Keep on posting please! 🙂

Comments are closed.

Pin It on Pinterest