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The cost of not eating too much

In a study by Yanovski et al of holiday weight gain, the typical American gained about 1.3 pounds (0.6 kg) per year, about half of it during the holiday season. The subjects in the study were selected from among those on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD — likely a more health-conscious group than say, a random selection from the Wal-Mart checkout lines. On the other hand, living near NIH has its inherent risk of weight gain because one of my favorite restaurants is right down the street. Suppose we suspend our disbelief momentarily and ponder what it means if this study is representative of the larger population (no pun intended).

Weight gain of 1.3 pounds per year equates to a calorie excess of at least 4,550 per year; that's about 12 calories too much per day. Twelve calories too much isn't much. Evolutionarily speaking, if our appetite is going to err on too much or too little, chances of survival were probably better with too much fuel intake versus too little. But what's 12 calories a day?

Suppose every overweight adult American were to cut his/her calorie intake by twelve calories a day, and that the calories cut were in the form of a cheap food such as pasta. Twelve calories worth of pasta is about 3.5 grams - a couple of strands of spaghetti. At retail prices, the 3.5 grams of spaghetti costs the consumer about a penny. Cheaper than dirt. The adult overweight population numbers about 130 million (306 million x 72% over age 20 x 60% overweight).

If every overweight person in the USA cut out that one cent worth of pasta every day ($.01 x 130,000,000 x 365 ) those 12 calories not eaten means 474 million dollars lost to the food industry. Do you see why they'd much rather you exercise more than eat less? And why they want you to "Eat Right" rather than just not eat? If those same 130 million people actually wanted to lose weight instead of just maintaining their current weight, they'd have to cut more — maybe two to three cents' worth — and the food industry would be hit with a loss of about a billion dollars or more. The fitness, pharmaceutical and bariatric surgery industries wouldn't be fond of the plan either, and we're only counting the USA population.

Now, what if the worldwide overweight population were to adopt the Fast-5 way of eating, which cuts about 150-500 calories from the typical appetite (that's a ballpark figure — we're working on building a research fund, but we're not there yet, so there's no study to cite)... What would you spend your share of the $6,000,000,000 in savings on?


Indeed. ;)

Bert, I'll be curious about that study if you ever do one (about seeing how many calories people cut out in the Fast-5 diet compared to their normal eating). I have been doing Fast-5 all week (did other IF for a month before that), and just for the heck of it decided yesterday to count my calories just for a day or two to get a feel how much I'm consuming. I ate whatever I felt like, though, just so you know that part.

My average was around 1,200 or less, which is amazing because last year when I was TRYING to follow a simple eating plan of eating healthier and keeping my calories at 1,600, I almost NEVER was able to do it. The two types of hunger you talk about in the book are the exact reason why! That was very enlightening for me. Now it's so easy and I'm not even trying!! I also find it easier fasting only 19 hours vs. 24, and having an eating window vs. feeling like I have to stop and start at an exact time. I want to thank you so much for sharing this with the has been a blessing!!



It may be a long time before such a study is done. I think it was about 20 years after Atkins published his first book that the medical establishment initiated studies to look at what he had been saying and what, by that time, a lot of patients were telling their doctors. It wouldn't surprise me if intermittent fasting as a collection of all of its forms (Fast-5, Eat Stop Eat, alternate-day fasting etc.) or one of these methods individually grows in popularity to a degree that it follows a similar path.

Some simple calculations.
1 lb of body fat = 3500 Calories.
Pepperidge Farm Milano Milk Chocolate cookies are $3 for 15 cookies = 900 calories
3500 calories worth of cookies would cost $11.66
The 50 pounds I'm going to lose is then worth $583.33 in cookies not consumed. :-)

Next time you step on the scale , think of the value of the cookies you've lost.

For the record, I've lost nearly $200 in cookie money.

Hi Bert. First of all, thank you thank you thank you for sharing your theories on the Fast Five lifestyle. I am a woman from Holland, and I never thought there would be something so perfect for me. It's just amazing.
I have been with my boyfriend for over 4 years now (he's 30, I'm 34), and a couple of days after I started with the Fast 5 lifestyle, I suddenly realised a funny boyfriend was doing this all along! He never eats before 3 or 4 pm, and usually doesnt eat after 9 pm.
Before this, I thought he was just 'lucky' with his body. He just looks so good, he's in shape, and I know he eats a lot because we have been living together for over 2 years now. I used to worry for him because he never ate breakfast, but on the other hand...why does he stay thin while he eats and doesn't work out too much??
Now I know...
I have started around september, and I hope to overcome my fear of the scale around march 2013. So far I havent had ány trouble following it, and I have been pretty loyal to it.
Why did I comment on your blog 'the cost of not eating too much'?. Well...because we are saving money! I eat so much less during the day, that each week we have money left over from our budget.
Thank you thank you

Suzanne Kesler

It's nice to see the saving money part -- one of the dividends you don't often see with a diet that works. My hat's off to your boyfriend for resisting the cultural dogma about eating breakfast.

Best wishes for your success!