What Can I Do to Lose Weight Faster?

Dear Davey,

I’m 44 years old and weigh 327 pounds. In the last 20 months I have lost 214 pounds. Yes, I used to weigh 541 pounds… and I’ve been overweight since I was 3 years old.

I came out in July of 2010 and started losing weight after I fell in love with a man that broke my heart. It threw me into a deep depression and I lost my appetite for several months. After not eating for 4 months, I had lost a considerable amount of weight and, when my appetite returned, I limited my meals to just one per day and that is how I have continued to lose weight.

Even though I go to the gym, my weight has slowed down in the last couple of months and now I am struggling to lose weight. Is there anything more I can do activity wise to speed up my weight loss?

Regards,
Al

Dear Al,

I’m really touched by your story.

Congratulations, first and foremost, on coming out of the closet. I think you’ll agree that life is too short to spend it hiding who you are.

Though your weight loss journey didn’t start under the best circumstances, perhaps your situation is an opportunity-in-disguise to create a new, healthier lifestyle for yourself. But because of the underlying issues and depression, I would encourage you to reach out to a trained professional.

I’m not surprised that your weight loss has plateaued.

Our bodies are very smart. When you starve your body, your metabolism comes to a crawl; your body tries to burn as little calories as humanly possible to stay alive. Your body goes into survival mode.

When you do eventually start eating again, you’re stuck with this slower metabolism. Because you are consuming calories and burning very few, it’s very hard to lose weight. And continuing to starve your body with only 1 meal a day isn’t helping.

There are two things you need to do: Eat and exercise.

Your body needs food – and you need to feed it. Instead of eating one meal a day (and wrecking havoc on your body’s metabolism), opt for three well-balanced and nutritionally-sound meals. This government website provides guidance for building a healthy plate of food with appropriate portions. In short, it’s about selecting lots of veggies, some fruits, whole grains, protein and dairy.

Beyond three meals, give your body healthy snacks in between. A handful of unsalted nuts or an apple or carrot sticks and hummus will help curb hunger throughout the day. And be sure to drink lots of water; it nourishes your body and boosts your metabolism. Speaking of boosting your metabolism, here are 9 effective ways to do just that!

When it comes to exercise, it’s great that you’re hitting the gym. Exercise will get your heart pumping and it will incinerate calories – even after your workout is complete. Make sure your combining both cardiovascular exercise and strength training as both are needed to maximize your results. And if you’re feeling unsure or uncomfortable at the gym, it’s always a wise idea to hire a personal trainer (even if it’s just for a few sessions).

Again, I’m very touched by your story – and I wish you the best of luck as you transform your body and your life.

Love,
Davey

If you have a fitness question for Davey Wavey, ask him!

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Comments

  1. Way to go on the weight loss! I’ll be rooting for you!

  2. Davey Wavey,
    Thanks for your awesome blog and youtube channel. I’ve been following you for a while now. The pecks drew me in, but the content made me stay, :-p .
    You usually give decent advice in these columns, but with Al, your advice on what he should do may send the wrong message to him. Firstly, thank you for suggesting he see a trained professional. Secondly, you are right when you suggest that the plateau is due to his metabolism slowing. But where you are incorrect in, is suggestion this might not be normal. The subtext sounds almost as though it were bad.

    People tend to have the misconception that skinny people have fast metabolisms and fat people have slow metabolisms, where as you know, based on the Basal Metabolic Rate (Resting Metabolic Rate), the opposite is true (in terms of calories). One’s BMR/RMR depends on the total weight of the individual, so the heavier you are, the more your body burns calories when you are sitting still, in order to simply keep you alive. People with a smaller body weight have lower BMRs/RMRs.

    Al has not plateaued because he is not eating enough. That is physiologically incorrect, and to suggest eating more may lead him astray. Rather, the plateau is caused by him now consuming enough calories to sustain his weight. He is still thinking that his meals are limited, but that was only the case for his 541 pound body. His now 327 pound body views this once “limited meal” diet as the new norm. Simply put, he no longer has a calorie deficit, or at least it is not as large as before.

    The correct advice is not “Eat and Exercise”, it is “Diet and Exercise”. He will likely have to restrict his diet even further in order to maintain a new calorie deficit for further weight loss. For the weight loss, it does not matter if the newly calorie restricted meals occur only once a day, or several times a day, so long as the TOTAL Daily Calorie Intake is the same in either system.

    It is true that one meal a day is not as “healthy” as several meals a day. But weight loss is an inherently “unhealthy” practice that leads to positive health “results”. In any other case, if a doctor saw his patient lose 300 pounds, he would be concerned and investigate the cause as possibly pathological. As far as he knows, it could be tape worms, cancer, or abnormal thyroid activity. All of these are treated as negative health conditions, even if they only cause weight loss. Dieting to lose fat mass should be thought of as similarly “unhealthy”, except it is understood that at the END of the weight loss period, the patient returns to a stable diet of eating enough calories to maintain his new weight.

    Additionally, you are perpetuating the myth that exercise is a large part of fat mass loss. Now, while one certainly burns calories through exercise, and can create a deficit that way, for your average person and your average exercise routine the deficit would be so small as to only have a negligible effect on fat mass loss. Most of the “weight loss”, as they say, is done in the kitchen. I hope Al does not think he needs to run a marathon everyday in order to lose weight, but how else would you expect him to lose hundreds of pounds of fat mass through exercise, when each pound of fat needs a 3,000 calorie deficit in order to be burned it off.

    Simply put, in terms of numbers, if he was 25 years old and of the average height, 5’9”, then at 541 pounds his BMR/RMR would be 3,215 calories per day. That is the amount of calories he would burn if her were lying absolute still in a coma. At 327 pounds the BMR/RMR is 2,284 calories per day. This also means that your body will require you to consume this amount of calories per day. If you merely ate until you were satiated, you would never lose weight. And that is physiologically how it should be. Overweight people DO NOT Overeat. They eat as much as their body tells them to, just like everyone else.

    I hope you can correct your advice to Al, and stop treating him as though he is lazy, and his diet is unhealthy. He is eating the amount his body thinks it needs. In order to lose further weight, he will need to eat LESS not MORE, regardless of how frequently he eats during the day. And this is not because he over eats, but rather in order to lose weight, one must do something inherently unhealthy; *Under Eat* (at least in terms of calories. It is possible to do this without dealing with gnawing hunger and malnutrition.)

    [Please see your doctor for more information on fat mass loss. Any and all Weight loss should be monitored by a doctor as it is an inherently unhealthy state that can result in complications, such as muscle mass loss, which includes the muscles of the heart. Severe calorie restriction diets can lead to eating disorders, malnutrition, dehydration, and death.]

  3. AndyMorrow says:

    Congratulations to your success in weight loss and kudos for seeking out advice to keep pursuing those goals. Mystyc’s response is a bit convoluted regarding how to progress in your weight loss. I context this as a physician and weight management consultant. Yes, the bottom line in losing weight is that input must be less than output. However, the manner in which this is approached DOES matter and can either assist or prevent the achievement of weight loss goals. There are three primary components of weight control – basal metabolic rate, diet and exercise/activity expenditure. This requires dietary and exercise strategies and in a manner that will not blunt the body’s own metabolic rate, which can change depending on what you’re doing with your diet and exercise. Davey is on point suggesting your plateau be addressed by considering ALL three components, the most important of which during plateau is recalibrating the metabolic rate. The body is a marvelous instrument of adaption that responds to any situation it is given. By restricting food consumption to a single meal, one loses the benefit of keeping the body out of starvation mode through most of the day. It’s sort of like a fireplace. The best way to keep it going and staying warm throughout the day is to throw a little fire wood on it every few hours, rather than dumping all the firewood at one time and then letting it fizzle out the rest of the day. The body will keep your metabolic level at a higher level (more weight loss) if you allow it to see it will have regular and frequent food intake throughout the day (3-5 meals) and does not have to hold onto body fat. The best way to maximize your metabolic level is to have a fairly normal caloric intake (2000 calories +/- 250), but at the same time, compensating with increased output through exercise. This will also elevate your metabolic rate, even while not exercising. It’s best to restrict weight loss to 1-2 pounds per week (if you want to keep your metabolic level higher and not work against yourself), which is the equivalent of a caloric deficit of 500-1000 calories a day. One pound of weight is 3,500 calories, not 3,000. Half of the caloric deficit should come from diet and the other half from exercise. So, a dietary caloric deficit of 250-500 calories a day and exercise caloric output of 250-500 calories a day. It may take a month or two to re-establish your metabolic rate. Davey Wavey has some great material — keep studying it.

    • Thanks, Andy for addressing some of the short comings of my explanation, such as my error of the number of calories per pound of fat. However, I do not understand how you concluded my explanation is convoluted, particularly when you make a number of factual errors yourself related to the concept of “metabolism” that lead you to give dangerous advice.

      Firstly, in the medical literature there is no such phrase as “recalibrating the metabolic rate”. Furthermore there is no known mechanism for doing that. In fact, the concept of “metabolism” in the medical literature differs from the incorrect concept that is typically used by nutritionists and weight management consultants. Metabolism itself, merely refers to the chemical reactions that sustain life. When talking about the rate at which this occurs with regards to calories, all we can really speak of is the Basal Metabolic Rate.
      (See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_metabolic_rate )
      The basal metabolic rate depends on things like your height, age, weight, and gender. It does not depend on how many times a day you eat, or what you eat, or even how much you eat.
      You can read how it is usually estimated in the wikipedia article, which is referenced by the medical literature. Feel free to review the references cited in the article.

      The metabolic rate of a heavier person IS FASTER than that of a skinny light person. That means the number of calories required by a heavier person is MORE than that of a skinny light person. To suggest that any given individual consume 2,000 calories, irregardless of knowing their state of health, or even something as basic as their weight, height, age, and gender, is little more than irresponsible. I did not suggest any calories or any sort of new regiment because it is not my place to do so. Davey recognized this, and gave only as much information as he could. I am just saying his advice to eat more is incorrect. I did not even say what is correct, other than seeing a professional.

      Now rather then saying, “exercise more” or talking about how much of an effect that will have, simply refer to an exercise calorie calculator, such as this.
      http://www.prohealth.com/weightloss/tools/exercise/calculator1_2.cfm

      I did not give any explicit advice before, but do to the irresponsible advice given I shall try to counter that a little.
      Al, seeing a physician is a good idea to continue losing weight, but it is important you do so BECAUSE of the weight you already lost, and how fast you did that. Here are 4 reasons to see a physician, other than losing more weight, that will nonetheless ultimately effect how you lose more weight.
      1.) Excess skin. One of the most common problems in major rapid weight loss is that the skin is not elastic enough to respond to your new contours. You do not see the full effects of your weight loss because of this. You may have to see a surgeon about removing that excess skin. Now, some insurance companies will cover that, but only if you were already seeing a physician ahead of time.
      2.) Malnutrition. It sounds like you might have been too depressed to watch your nutritional intake. I don’t blame you. A lot of guys are heartless dicks. But as a result of losing, what seems to be over 10 pounds per week, likely has resulted in some malnutrition effects. You are not getting healthier, and can possibly damage your kidneys and or liver (if you haven’t already). As a morbidly obese individual, you might not be a top candidate for organ transplantation, or you may be considered too high a risk to undergo organ transplant surgery. As a stop gap measure, consider taking some multivitamins (normal dosage), but still see a doctor. Really.
      This is a real problem. My sister was morbidly obese, and recently died of kidney failure (june 7th). We could not find a doctor willing to operate on her. I was just not able to save her……
      3.) Overhydration/Dehydration. You get a lot of water from food, and while not eating much, you need to make up for that water by drinking more, otherwise you will easily become dehydrated. But the problem is that if you drink too much water without electrolytes, you can easily become overhydrated. This happens to athletes because they sweat a lot, and that is why they drink Gatorade. Gatorade has a lot of sugar in it, so an easy alternative is to squeeze some lemon into a fully glass of water, with just a pinch of salt.
      But the effects dehydration or overhydration will have already taken their toll on your body and kidneys. Have you felt particularly sluggish lately? That could be an electrolyte imbalance.
      4.) Other medical conditions. Everything I said applies to you, only if you were in perfect health before. But most people are not. If you have any issues with your health, then your diet restriction could have aggravated it. It may also be that there is a medical condition that led you to become overweight to begin with. For example, hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). If left untreated, you will gain the weight back. All of it.

      So, the only advice you should take away from anyone here, is to see a doctor and get a full check up; blood work and everything. And have him help you with further weight loss. Make sure to mention any excess skin issues so that it can be put in your medical records for later use by you.

      Lastly, beware of nutritionists and weight management consultants. All are good intentioned, and have results to support their methodology, but none of them are scientists or doctors. Learn more about what you are trying to do, as in all the science behind it. Ultimately experts can fail you, including me. An informed patient can make better decisions than an uninformed on. Learn about calorie restriction, BMR, calories burned while exercising, and the such.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie_restriction

      I have one last trick to share with you. You have gotten through the most of your weight loss already, but you must have felt god awful starving. One trick to healthily stave off hunger is to eat foods that are large in volume, but low in calories. This usually covers vegetable, fruit, soups, and even well cooked pastas (if it absorbed a lot of water).

      Okay, one more last bit of info. I promise that is it!
      Go see a licensed therapist or psychiatrist as well (preferably the later). Depression is real and it sucks. Just because it lead to an interesting result in you, does not mean it is gone or even treated.
      You essentially almost killed yourself via starvation, but like many suicide victims you survived. But unlike the negative health results of surviving a deliberate poison, you lost an absurd amount of weight in a short period of time. Being a person who struggles with depression, the best advice that I can give you is “Don’t struggle alone”.

      • AndyMorrow says:

        The Resting Metabolic Rate reflects a variety of factors that ARE modifiable and CAN be increased. It’s the entire message Davey Wavey was communicating to Al and for which I affirm.

      • Hi Mystyc:

        First, let me say thank you for your response. I do appreciate the advice. I am going to be totally open with you in my response.

        I do understand that my eating regimen is totally off the mark for eating a healthy balanced diet. I’ve tried to continue with the one meal a day regimen as that is what brought me the most success with my current weight loss. I am, however, currently struggling with weight loss and hunger. I realize that my body goes into “starvation mode” due to my eating habits and holds on to each calorie I put into my body for fear it will not be given anymore calories. I have continued with my eating regimen and try to consume only 1,200 calories (or less) per day, which is hard to do due to my hunger. I do eat a banana or apple prior to heading to the gym. The personal trainer I worked with at the gym last year told me that I should eat half a baked potato prior to working out at the gym as that will provide me more energy and help my metabolism function better. I’d never heard that before. My thought process with regard to potatoes is carbs, carbs, carbs which are bad, bad, bad. But at this stage of the game I’m willing to try anything.

        As for my health, ten years ago I was newly diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. I’ve been on medication for the last ten years and have seen doctors regularly to make sure my numbers stay in the healthy zone. Over the course of losing all this weight, I’ve been able to discontinue my cholesterol medication and my blood pressure medication. I was also able to stop taking Insulin and now only take a small dose pill once a day for my diabetes. In January 2012 I had my yearly physical and my doctor told me that I am “the picture of health” on paper. My doctor told me I’m the only diabetic patient he has with a normal A1c. As stated, I do take a very low dose medication for my diabetes, but I also stay away from all refined sugars. My total cholesterol was 107 (HDL was 49 and LDL was 45); Triglycerides were 63; Thyroid tests were all normal; Kidney functions were all normal; CRP (Cardiac) was normal as well.

        As for excess skin, you are correct in that I am dealing with that in a big way. Currently, I have over 4 inches of excess skin hanging down from my upper arms. My doctor has nonchalantly mentioned to me that my insurance company will cover the expense to remove the excess skin when I reach my goal weight. I definitely have doubts of what my insurance company will and will not cover. One thing I do know is that insurance companies love to accept monthly premium payments but rarely like to pay for things that they deem not “medically necessary.” I’m also dealing with a lot of excess skin in my lower abdomen and groin area. I work so hard at the gym and it’s very daunting not seeing results from my hard work. There are guys at the gym who are of normal weight who have defined muscle definition whereas I do not. IT’s very discouraging and seems like a losing battle. I’ve been working out for over a year now and having nothing to show for it in my appearance.

        As for depression, again, you are correct. I suffer from severe depression. It started after I met Ryan, the man I fell madly in love with in May 2010. When I first met Ryan I just knew this was it, I had finally found happiness. I remember getting on my knees, has hard as that was at 541 pounds, and thanking God for this wonderful blessing. It was short lived, very short lived. I didn’t have the experience nor the knowledge to know that most men (not all) who are into morbidly obese men are usually players just looking for some side action. That is what happened in my case. Four months into being with Ryan (here and there), I found out Ryan had a long term boyfriend who was a body builder type. Ryan could walk down Santa Monica Blvd. (in Los Angeles, CA) with his head held high and his boyfriend by his side, but he couldn’t do that with me because of the way I looked. Ryan was your stereotypical smart gay man from Los Angeles with an athletic gorgeous body and a great personality. He was so easy to talk to and the things he said to me made me feel so loved by him.

        After meeting Ryan, I knew I had to come out because I told myself I was finally going to be in a relationship with a man. My blessing from God turned into a curse faster than my brain could acclimate to what was really happening. At the end of four months, I wrote Ryan a long letter telling him how I felt about him. He sent me a text message a day later thanking me for my kind words and said, “good luck with life.” That was the last time I heard from him. Two days later I took steps to end my life. My attempt failed.

        In September of 2010, after getting out of the hospital, I tried to put my life together. It has been a long hard struggle and I am far from there. Everyday is a fight to want to continue on this journey.

        In January 2011, I joined my local gym and started working with a personal trainer who taught me the proper way to use the weight machines, etc. I also started attending a predominantly gay church (MCC Los Angeles) in hopes I would meet other gay people and become close friends with them. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people at church, and they are close acquaintances, but not close friends as I had hoped. At that time I also started volunteering for The Gay & Lesbian Center in hopes of also making friends. That has not come to fruition either. What I have learned over this past year is that the gay community is a very judgmental community, more so than I could have ever imagined. If you don’t look “normal” gay people don’t even want to speak to you. My thought process is until I look “normal” I will always be alone, which has been my experience throughout my life.

        I have so much energy; I want to experience all the things I never got to do in my 20’s and 30’s. I’ve never dated in my life. I wanted to date Ryan, but he always had an excuse as to why we couldn’t go out. Currently, I would love to go out to clubs, meet positive accepting people, have fun, and yet I’m told I’m still too fat and now I’m told I’m also too old. When I met Ryan I thought he was going to help me on this path, but I was so wrong. Everything I have done thus far I’ve had to do all alone and it’s been extremely difficult. Most people have a couple of good friends who will help them along the way, e.g. go to clubs, do fun things together, talk, etc. I’m not one of those lucky people. I live 35 miles south of Los Angeles in suburbia. You would be hard pressed to find any gay people where I live.

        I started seeing a gay therapist in Oct. 2010 and I continued to see him for eight months, but he was of no real help to me. I do continue to see a psychiatrist every two weeks for medication, which is also not helping much as I’m still dealing with severe depression and have been for almost two years now.

        I stopped volunteering at the center a month ago because I couldn’t bear seeing the happy gay couples coming to the events I would volunteer at. It tears a bigger hole in my heart knowing that I am so alone in this world and that no one wants me or even wants to get to know me.

        When I came out in July 2010 to my brother, father and relatives, they were all shocked. It’s coming up on two years this July and it’s like I’m still in hiding. With regard to my family, they know, but it’s not something that’s discussed. A couple of weeks ago I made the comment in front of my father how much I wished I had a boyfriend and he got upset with me asking why I have to use that word (“boyfriend”), and asked me why I can’t say I want a “friend.” As I said, they’ve accepted the fact that I’m gay, but it’s not something that is talked about. I can’t really talk to them about my homosexuality so I keep to myself.

        Currently, I want to try to lose as much weight as I can so I can fit in to what the world deems “normal”; so I can belong; so I can be one of the normal looking gay men out in the world that someone wants to come up and talk to. In the last four months I have been gaining and losing the same 15 pounds and I need to do something different so I can start losing and keeping the weight off. My hunger is my biggest issue right now.

        I wish someone could tell me how to live my life like the dream I have is real, but I guess everyone wishes they could live their dreams.

        I’m sorry to hear about your sister. My mother was on dialysis for 2-1/2 years before she passed away. I feel your pain and wish you the very best.

        Kindest regards,

        Al

  4. im 46 yars old and would like to get rid of fat and other stuff how can i do it??

  5. Harryjoy says:

    Hello sir,

    My name is harry. I am a young guy 22 years old & height is 5″5′. My body has no stamina. My arms are like cotton and also my face & whole body is not in proper shape. I have been masturbating for 10 years. I do it daily & sometimes i do it two to three times a day. May be this is a cause of my Unfitness . Please tell me what to do?? from where to start. I got sick of my body. Please mail me your suggestion on my mail id harryjoy95@yahoo.co.in.
    If any one reading this please suggest me what to do on my mail id

    Thanks & Regards
    Harry Joy.

  6. How fascinating topic do you have. I was touched by your story.Exactly, depression can lose appetite but it may lead to disease.You can eat but try to minimize it or just eat a bit.

  7. Davey,
    Im not happy on my weight i weigh 216 pounds and i have never weighed this much before…i used to have problems with being bulimic and anorexia and i dont want to go back to doing that because i know its not healthy for me and its very hard for me i really do want to lose weight. PLEASE HELP

    Thanks,
    Michelle

  8. Hi there I’m a 27 year old I weigh 248 gained a lot of weight since 2000 I never been this big I start a diet and exercise routine and I stop can you help me to jump start this fat off me

  9. artsycreation says:

    Very inspiring story. I am in a similar situation and found this very helpful.

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