Those last 20 lbs | Ad Libitum

Those last 20 lbs | Ad Libitum

It’s the age-old story, isn’t it?

Obese person decides to lose weight. She cuts down on junk food, eats half-arsed LC, loses the first stone or two effortlessly, no hunger, wow, great, awesome, THIS IS EASY. It takes a lot of calories to run a big body so she can still eat thousands of calories of LC food and lose weight without counting, weighing or measuring anything. Going from 3,000 calories of pasta, bread, Chinese buffet junk etc. which is what was required to maintain an obese body to even 2,500 calories of delicious fatty LC food is a walk in the park. Creating an energy deficit is trivially easy for an obese person. An obese body of course has greater expenditure too (contrary to popular myths) so even minimal physical effort like walking an hour a day further helps shed a tonne of weight.

As she leaves obesity behind and moves into the overweight range, things become more difficult. Suddenly the body isn’t so keen to give up its fat stores. Energy levels plummet, well-being is in the toilet, hunger returns, hormonal issues start. Our dieter has to double down on her efforts to continue losing weight. Ad libitum LC is no longer enough; all the non-essentials like cheese, nuts, berries, even vegetables have to be reduced or eliminated, moving closer and closer to VLC or even ZC. Calorie counting begins or else reduced meal number / frequency or even intermittent starvation, er, fasting is required. Snacks are a distant memory.

As our dieter’s weight approaches normal, it appears to do so asymptotically. The dieter begins to realise that old tricks aren’t working anymore because the body has its own tricks like hunger, lethargy, developing food obsessions / cravings etc. Even more crucially, creating an energy deficit is now very difficult. At an almost-normal BMI, your body only needs 2,000 calories to run itself so in order to create a sufficiently large energy deficit to even lose a pound a week, one must consume only 1,400-1,500 a day which is crushingly small amount of food. It is difficult to even get all the vital nutrients from such a small amount of food. You realise that the choice is between optimal health and thinness. BMI < 25 begins to look like an increasingly unreachable goal because one realises there's no painless, sustainable way of getting there short of neurotic food restriction / self-starvation which not everyone wants to engage in.


- people aren’t necessarily cheating on their LC diets if they can’t get rid of those last 20 lbs; there are perfectly valid physiological and psychological reasons for why not everyone can obtain a lean weight

- not even ketosis – the most powerful existing tool in the fight against metabolic disorder – can turn an obese mammal into a lean one

- one can only go from fat to less fat without pain

- being so close yet so far feels like abject failure