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I am currently 18.6 stone. I started dieting three days ago and have massively reduced my caloric intake. For example, last night I had only 200 calories after subtracting my cardio, according to my calorie tracker (My Fitness Pal). Normally I would be over the daily guidance amount, but does this really make a difference? I read that the ONLY way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. So even though I cut off hundreds of calories from my diet, I still won't be losing weight as a result of it? Or am I understanding this wrong?

On a related topic, Subway is advertised as having healthy options. Is it possible to eat a meal there that would support my weight-loss goals?

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I'd venture to say that Subway has healthier fast food than any other fast foods, as a general overview, but fast food is exactly that, and isn't as healthy as something you would most likely prepare and cook at home. –  Nathan Wheeler Jul 5 '12 at 17:12
    
Also, in your calorie deficit, you have to figure in that on average people have a basic usage of ~2000 calories a day for the average, moderately active adult. Sedentary people obviously use less, and more active people use more, but when you talk about a deficit, that doesn't mean consume 2000 calories, and then exercise 2500 calories off to create a deficit. Your normal daily activities (walking around the office, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, etc) use calories from your pool and help create that deficit. –  Nathan Wheeler Jul 5 '12 at 17:26
    
Can you edit your title to actually state what your question is? –  Matt Chan Jul 5 '12 at 20:06
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2 Answers 2

Weight-loss is a bit more complicated than the simplistic views presented in magazines and tweaked in the ads.

Healthy meal is not necessary a diet-friendly meal. Subway sandwiches are generally good, but what is making them non preferable for dieting is the bread itself.

If you are looking for a book on the subject, I highly recommend you Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It.

The most effective diets out there, do not rely simply on reducing calories. What you need to do is reduce your carb-intake drastically. The Paleo diet and Atkins are low-carb diets that have been proven better than the majority of others, so if you are looking for concrete advice I suggest looking into Paleo.

The most effective first steps are:

  • Stop drinking sugar (non-diet sodas, juices, alcohol)
  • No bread, pasta
  • Keep your portions small/reasonable (I weight mine)
  • If you do cheating days, do it with very small 'cheats' - eat half a chocolate bar, eat a quarter. Don't cheat yourself.

As a really good source of my reasoning, for what diet to follow, watch this presentation by Christopher Gardner for the Stanford School of Medicine Medcast lecture series: The Battle of the Diets: Is Anyone Winning (At Losing?)

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Thanks for the advice. Something that confuses me most is the conflicting science on diets. Many, such as yourself say cut off the carbs. But the NHS site says to lose weight I should base my meals on starchy foods like pasta, rice and potatoes? –  neilH Jul 5 '12 at 13:20
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That is why I recommend a really good book, based on science. You should not follow a random guy's advice on the internet ;) –  Boris Jul 5 '12 at 14:09
    
'Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It' mentions often when and why the official advice differs from the scientific findings. –  Boris Jul 5 '12 at 14:11
    
Okay thanks. I will find having no bread especially hard but I will try. my snacking urges faded rather fast really. –  neilH Jul 5 '12 at 16:10
    
I'll throw in a video link: Sugar: The Bitter Truth. It's an hour and a half long, straight scientific approach to explaining why high-carb foods are bad for you. It also shows the correlation to when the USDA changed the food pyramid to include more starchy foods and the American obesity rate rising, as well as the obesity rise when we started replacing sugar with high fructose corn syrup, and scientifically breaks down why that occurs as well. It's a very fascinating watch, and well worth the hour and a half you'll spend watching it. –  Nathan Wheeler Jul 5 '12 at 17:08
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There is going to be a lot of conflicting view, simply because we don't understand a lot of the science behind it. Your best bet is to look at long term solutions, read everything you can from both sides of the fence, and come up with a sustainable solution that works for you.

In general, yes, if you take in less calories than you expend, you will eventually lose weight. It takes about 500 calories a day deficit to lose a pound a week.

Personally, I don't like the term "diet plan", as it generally has the connotation of being a short term thing. "Oh, I dieted and lost 50 lbs, now I don't have to diet anymore", which is why so many people fail to keep the weight off and even gain more back. I prefer something like "eating habits", or similar.

I personally try to follow the Atkins guidelines. I know for a long time they were put down, but there are a LOT of eminent physicians, cardiologists, etc. that are starting to get behind it. You need to read the plan to understand it though, too many people think "Oh, it's just eating steak every night", and it's not.

Boris is right: read the science, not the hype.

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[...] because we don't understand a lot of the science behind it... I personally think it's more "because we can confuse people and make millions of dollars", but that's just my personal opinion. I think the science behind most of the food research has been pretty well lined out, and well proven and documented. –  Nathan Wheeler Jul 5 '12 at 17:14
    
Possibly, but look at how reviled Atkins was (and to some extent still is), when it was introduced in the 70's. Look at the LDL/HDL, which is now starting to be downplayed somewhat in favor of triglyceride levels. The science of food itself is fairly well established, but the effects of food in the body is still somewhat in flux as far as understanding. (At least as far as my perception goes, I am admittedly light on the research in the past 5 years). –  JohnP Jul 5 '12 at 17:41
    
They've come a long way in the last few years... a lot of the reason why some of the well-known and established diet plans and stuff that have been proven to work are "reviled" is because of extremists and crazy people... nobody likes an extremist... check out that video I posted on @Boris' answer that talks about the full cycle of sugars in the body. I think it speaks volumes about how much further our understanding has come. –  Nathan Wheeler Jul 5 '12 at 21:12
    
Also true. The one that I run into a lot with triathletes (For some reason, triathletes embrace some really weird eating habits) is the China Study, trying to refute that with them is like pounding sand down a rathole. –  JohnP Jul 5 '12 at 21:48
    
@NathanWheeler Which diet plan has been proven to work? Do you have a link to a clinical trial where people lost weight and kept it off using some diet? (I'll answer that for you because it's so easy: "No") –  michael Jul 5 '12 at 22:30
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