Metabolic mysteries: why some people can’t lose weight even when they eat less

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 17:06
Comments Off on Metabolic mysteries: why some people can’t lose weight even when they eat less

It's a familiar complaint: "I simply can't lose weight, no matter how little I eat."

As a nutritionist, I've worked with patients who fail to lose weight even when their food diaries show that they are being diligent about their diets.  They assure me that they are accounting for every bite of food and correctly estimating portion sizes.  They're convinced that a faulty metabolism makes it impossible for them to lose weight.

Yet a recent study suggests another possibility. In a 12-month weight maintenance study (other details of which are being discussed in this recent post), the subjects kept diet diaries, which were examined by the researchers at regular intervals. However, the researchers report that "it was apparent that, on average, women in both study groups had underestimated their food intake."

And not by a little bit.  On average, the women reported having consumed 1370 calories per day.  The researchers calculated that their actual calorie intake was 2044 calories per day. That discrepancy of 674 calories a day adds up to over 5 pounds a month!

The men, on the other hand, were spot on: They reported average intake of 1765 calories, the researchers estimated actual intake at 1771.

Anyone have any theories as to why women would be so much less accurate at recording what they eat, despite the fact that they traditionally do more of the cooking and food shopping and are presumably familiar with the weights and measures involved?

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