The Mathematics of Weight Loss and the Dukan Diet

I thought I’d share with you an article I came across about weight loss which helped explained to me why the Stabilisation Phase of the Dukan Diet is so important.  This article Weight Loss Is Math, Sort Of written by Dr. Suzanne Koven.


In the article she describes one of her patients an obese lady in her 60s who explains to her that she is gaining weight eating almost nothing. Traditionally weight loss has been thought of as a simple mathematical equation where you need to burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weigh.  Dr Koven challenges this theory by making the observation, “If it were [true], it wouldn’t be so hard to lose those last 10 pounds, and certain very disciplined dieters (often female) wouldn’t lose weight more slowly than their slacker counterparts (often male).

She explains that our background, age, hormones and muscle mass have a part to play in the weight loss equation but she also includes our relationship with food and how and where we eat it and how it is grown and distributed as factors.

Dr Koven linked in her article to an interview with a mathematician Dr Carson C Chow  published in the New York Times.   In the interview he provided what I considered to be some very insightful comments

  1. Reducing your calories intake by 3,500 calories doesn’t equate to losing a pound of weight.  This is because the body changes as you lose weight and an extra 10 calories puts more weight on an obese person than a thin one.
  2. It takes about 3 years for a dieter’s body to take on a steady state.
  3. If you eat 100 less calories each day over three years you’ll lose 10 pounds.
  4. The obesity epidemic is due to the over abundance of food.
  5. If we did not waste so much food we would be more obese.
  6. Large portions of oil saturated, restaurant food are now a common part of the average American’s diet.
  7. After losing weight dieters don’t  wait  to see what weight they will stabilize at.  They return to their old eating habits and the weight slowly creeps back on again.
  8. Large variations in the amounts of food consumed do not cause weight variations if your average food intake is the same.
  9. There is no magic bullet. You need to cut calories and be vigilant for the rest of your life.
The comments which helped explain the importance of the Stabilisation Phase to me were, the length it takes a dieter’s body to stabilize, the fact that dieters don’t wait to see what weight they stabilize at and return to their old eating habits and put back on the weight they lost and finally that you need to be vigilant for the rest of your life watching the food that you eat.


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