Monday, February 1, 2010

A crack in the surface

**Today, a rant about the CalorieCount forums:** is obviously a website that advocates losing weight by counting calories, but they recommend a more reasonable, healthy approach than what your typical anorectic would follow. I have no problem with that. I read through the forums when I'm bored, and am constantly surprised by the willingness to attack certain posters for truly insane reasons.

The willingness to spread misinformation regarding 'starvation mode' and being underweight is really irritating. Everyone who posts in the forums is quick to angrily rebuke anyone who dares to eat less than 1200 calories per day, telling them that they will immediately enter starvation mode and gain weight. I understand the desire to prevent people from trying an unhealthy level of calorie restriction, but they undermine their position when they say ridiculous, untrue things.

For one, it's patently obvious when looking at people needing 3,000 calories to gain weight that restricting won't necessarily cause weight gain. Also, it would be impossible to become underweight if starvation mode was an immediate, unerring phenomenon.

Another argument that seriously annoys me is that you will lose an inordinate amount of muscle when eating less than the magic, arbitrary 1200 calories. This doesn't take into account someone's age, height, frame size, or activity level. Someone who is very short will in many cases need to eat under 1200 calories to lose just one pound a week.

Any time a person loses weight approximately one third of that weight lost will be muscle, regardless of how fast they lose it. Of course, if a person loses weight very quickly and doesn't get any activity they are more likely to lose extra muscle, but this is not a given. If the body enters ketosis extra muscle loss will not happen, as ketosis allows the brain to more directly utilize the energy from fat stores and prevents the depletion of protein stores (in muscle).

One of the most annoying points of contention is the truly insane and hypocritical way the forums posters look at BMI. They are quick to tell anyone they can that the upper limit isn't really fair and doesn't take into account frame size or body composition, and then turn right around and vilify people whose weight (or desired weight) is anything less than a BMI of 20. Even though 18.5 is still considered perfectly healthy, these people act as though a BMI if 19 is a danger sign of anorexia, and go so far as to say that anyone with a BMI of 17 who dares to exercise is liable to drop dead if they so much as pick up a dumbell.

This is patently ridiculous, coming from someone who had no trouble (beyond my general laziness) exercising with a BMI of 16.4. I certainly never came close to dying. I would say that exercising with a very low BMI is no more dangerous than exercising with a very high BMI, and it depends entirely on the actual health of the person doing the exercising rather than an arbitrary number. Even in treatment centers patients with low BMIs are allowed to exercise when they reach a certain level, for goodness sake.

The fact that these forum posters and moderators (who claim to know what they're talking about) are so quick to spread and believe crap like this is annoying to no end, and more than a little insulting. I certainly do not advocate starvation diets for anyone. I want people to be healthy. But when you try to turn someone away from a behavior using information that is so clearly untrue, you risk having them catch on to your lies and choosing to disregard even the true things that you say. That's what happens when you reveal yourself to be dishonest and untrustworthy.

**End rant**

I do have to say, if it wasn't clear already, that I obviously hold myself to a different standard when it comes to healthy eating. I am fully aware that in this area of my life I am not being logical, but that is a choice I am making. I wouldn't wish an eating disorder on anyone, but I'm also not going to go on a crusade trying to convince others to give up eating disordered behavior if they don't wish to. I'm happy to provide advice to those who do want to get out, but ultimately the decision to eat healthy or not belongs to each individual.


  1. u rock! love the rant! thanx for the info!

  2. Thanks so much for the comment, and I LOVE your profile pic!!!

  3. I find that some people who use excuses like those tend to not really want to lose weight. they think that by eating 1 less bag of crisp they will lose weight. like people who say i don't do weight lifting because i dont want muscles like a man. which we know is rubbish. they just cant be bothered.