Our blog this past summer about the 600 calorie diet was prompted by a study at Newcastle University in the UK which showed amazing results in the loss of fat deposits around internal organs and the remission of diabetes type 2 of obese people that stayed on a 600 calorie diet for only 2 months. These results seem to indicate that it is the extremely low calorie diet forced on the patients after the surgery, rather than the removal of a patient’s intestines, that provides the benefit of the popular gastric bypass operation.
Though we have lost weight during our four years in Hawaii, the results have been extremely slow, particularly when compared to advertisements for weight loss products, programs, and the participants on the Biggest Loser TV show. We were eating below the 2000 calorie diet that is used by the government for their recommended daily allowances (RDA) of vitamins and minerals (Tyler at 5’11” was eating 1600-1800 calories a day and Chris at 5’ 8” 1200-1400 calories a day). But getting below a BMI of 25 (being Not Fat), seemed years away at our level of progress. The frustrating thing was that we were exercising 6 days a week and our goal was only to lose 4-6 pounds a month, nothing over the top. We wanted to lose fat, not the muscle that we are painstakingly working to keep and enhance. We would have been happy with losing only 2 pounds a month; but instead we were losing about a pound every other month.
The results of the 600 calorie diet study combined with the outrage from doctor’s that claimed 600 calories a day was equivalent to starvation, highlighted for us the current distorted view of how many calories an average person needs in a day, especially older adults like us. So in August, we started greatly restricting our calories and carefully writing down everything that we ate. Chris started quizzing every thin 60+ year old women she met to find out how many calories they were eating. She was surprised to find that most knew exactly how many calories they consumed each day and their numbers were all near or under 1000 calories a day!
We set our goal to 600 calories a day, but in reality we were never able to eat only 600 calories. However, just having the goal reduced our calorie intake substantially and suddenly we started making progress on our weight loss.
As a part of cutting our calories back, we had to make every calorie count in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to keep us healthy and energetic and we took supplements. From July to November of this year (5 months) we both lost the 20 pounds needed to get our BMIs under 25. We were able to maintain our moderate exercise regime and rarely had hunger attacks. Eating so few calories, we were able to identify the amount of calories we can eat and not gain weight. For Tyler, the best daily intake turned out to be 1250-1450 calories and for Chris it is 900-1100. Now, when we occasionally overeat, just 300 to 400 calories seems like an incredible, overfilling feast.
With these calorie levels, we hope to continue to lose weight toward our "Wealth BMIs" and remain trim as we grow old.