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weight loss tips?

My beloved omnivorous brother has been dieting and exercising to lose weight over the last several years, and has hit a rough plateau.  I'm hoping someone on the Vegweb forum will have insight that our family can research and implement to improve his situation.  He's been absolutely motivated and inspiring, and I don't want to see him discouraged by a slough.

He started out pretty heavy, and he's about halfway to his goal.  He is a very big man of 6'8" and a strapping, muscular build under the extra pounds.  He's wrought wonders for his health and has lost so much weight, but his doctors are trying to put him on diet pills and he doesn't want these dangerous stimulants in his diet; at the same time, he doesn't want the pounds.  I'm worried about any unnecessary medication, and proud of him for not taking the decision lightly. 

There's hardly much to shave out of his diet anymore, and he exercises five days a week, for an hour a session (heavy weight training 2 days, running 1 day, cardio 2 days).  He's lost something like 125 lbs. so far, but is getting discouraged, since he has stopped losing weight.  He visited the doctor today to have bloodwork done to test for thyroid problems, and has no thyroid trouble, but does have some minor hyperlipidosis of the liver, borderline hypertension, and elevated triglycerides.

He consumes roughly 2000 calories per day.  He isn't getting enough fiber (we figured out that he's only getting about half the RDA) but otherwise his diet is about as healthy as an omnivorous diet can be.  He gets quite a lot of protein (as you might imagine with the exercise) but the only animal products in his diet are 3/4 cup of 1% milk, 3 ounces of cheese, and 11 ounces of chicken breast on an average day.  (His days are overwhelmingly average-- he's conscientious).  I think he's getting extra fat calories from the flavored grapeseed oil he likes to use as seasoning, but he consumes it in only very small amounts.

I recommended boosting fiber (and a mineral supplement in case it inhibits mineral absorption), substituting vegan sources for hidden eggs and milk (to improve lipids), and adding flax to his diet (for mood and fiber reasons.)  Anyone have other guesses I can look into?

Thanks in advance! 

After my last child was born, there was a lot more to me than there had ever been before, and I had never had difficulty getting rid of it before. Without even considering the effect it would have on my weight, I went cold turkey vegan for two weeks ( a homeschool project with my children that proved very enlightening. . .we're back). We didn't use any convenience foods, and baked a lot of wheat bread ourselves (according to the book I was referencing to understand veganism --written in the '70's -- homemade wheat bread and fortified soymilk are the daily requirements for nutrition). I didn't try at all to lose weight at that time, just trying to complete the project and learn a new perspective, but about a week in I literally lost my way-too-tight jeans as I was walking across a room. The extra weight, and I think a little weight that I needed too, just ran away. I think it was probably a combination of the made from scratch, the abundance of wheat (which left everyone feeling too full to eat most of the time) and the shock to my system of going "cold tofurky". I don't know if he'll be willing to go that way, but it worked too well for me. ;)

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Have you thought about ways to boost metabolism?  Exercising in the morning will help this, and also (possibly) some Yerba Mate tea to start the day.  I've been drinking Yerba Mate a lot recently (it's finally become cheap enough for me to afford. Hurray!) and there is a definite boost in metabolism for me.  I've read other teas are helpful in this way too (green) --- just you have to consume 3-4 cups to get the desired effect.

http://idealbite.com/tiplibrary/tip.php?tip=20060103

PS.  I'm about 133 lbs and 5'5---probably 20 lbs heavier than a model, but a much healthier weight.  I'm not overly concerned about my weight, but I've noticed now that I've entered my 20s a little extra weight lumping around my middle, and the tea is helping!  So, if that's any indication of tea as an effective weight-loss tool, I hope it might help out your brother.  Also, I've been on a vegan diet over a year now and I don't attribute any weight loss to my conversion (in fact, I gained a little eating this way!  I love love love nuts (I'm a cashew-addict), seeds, and of course, the guilty pleasure--sweets  ;D).

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Thank you so much, guys-- great ideas.

I know what you mean, Idioglossia-- I am actually pretty darn round, and becoming vegetarian or even going vegan for short stretches has not budged a bit of it.  :)

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Hi. I'm on weight watchers and I plugged in those protein values into the points tracker and it was quite a large number.  Three ounces of cheese doesn't sound like a lot but it is a majorly fattening food and the three ounces of cheese "costs" more in weight watchers points than the 11 ounces of chicken breast.  My suggestion is to severely limit the cheese or substitute fat-free cheese, which is really gross by the way. Also, the other thing he should be doing is actually measuring out the oil with measuring spoons.  It is amazing and completely unfair how many calories are in a wee little dram of olive oil.

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I don't think he'll give up the cheese easily, but he may indeed be motivated to eat less of it and use lower-fat versions.  It's also possible that I overrepresented the amount he told me (I couldn't fathom eating 3 ounces of cheese in a day right-out-of-the-package, which is pretty much how he likes it.)  Well, not since my teen years.
 
I'll let him know how it stacks up against his chicken in terms of fat/calories.  He's considering a trial run of veg*nism, so he may see pleasant surprises!  Great suggestion on the measurements, too!

How cool is it that you can do weight watchers as a veg*n?!  I had no idea!  How is it working out for you?  Are they prepared for dietary restrictions?  Are there tugs of war over nutrition?  I really should look into it: I'm way, way overweight (about 300 lbs at 5'8").

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First of all,  ;D WOOHOO ;D for your brother for taking control of his diet and exercise.  Some people consider it their 'right' to be overindulgent on a regular basis, then are shocked when they realize they've gained weight.  I think that making the commitment to lose weight is the hardest and most important part.

I did Weight Watchers a few years ago and it worked wonderfully!  I'm 5 ft. 7 in., and I went from 172 lbs. to 145 lbs. using just Weight Watchers.  Since I went vegan in January, I have lost another 15 pounds.  However, my husband and I also moved from a one bedroom condo to a four-story house, so I am definitely being forced to exercise more.   ;) 

I think that monitoring not only the quality, but also the quantity of food you eat is what makes WW so effective.  I know that when I started the program, I was already eating healthy foods, just too much!  For the first few weeks I was pretty hungry, but eventually I learned to bulk out my diet with lots of fresh fruit, homemade vegetable soup, and other low calorie snacks.  I think keeping a food journal might help your brother - just be sure to include calories, fiber and protein, too!  HEALTHY FOOD STILL HAS CALORIES!!!  Weight Watchers does have a very inexpensive online program that has all of the food/points calculators, recipe ideas, etc. http://www.weightwatchers.com/plan/www/online_01.aspx?navid=onlineaag

I also drink about 1.5 gallons of water a day, which seems to keep my energy levels up and my body detoxed. 

Best of luck to your brother!!!

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Look at your library for The Rotation Diet. Your brother may think the amount of calories is too restrictive, but the premise is that in general all diets will lead you to a plateau. So you have to trick your body by varying the amounts of calories you intake. He could read this book and then adjust his own calories using the general formula.

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You guys are great!

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Wow! He has done a remarkable job so far! How much more does he want to lose?

If he needs more fiber he could add a Yerba Prima Daily Fiber Forumula drink to his diet. I mix 2 teaspoons in a 16 ounce glass of 1/2 oj & 1/2 water. Shake & drink. I would suggest he start with just 1 teaspoon. If possible, drink another glass of water after the fiber drink. Even if it's an hour later, the additional water will work with the fiber. I drink one a day.  ;)

He could check out John McDougall's diet for a few weeks. Anyone who has lost 125 pounds can certainly give up meat, cheese & fat for a few weeks.

http://www.drmcdougall.com/

Good luck to him!

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I think he wants to get rid of about another 125 pounds; that's where the nutritionist and trainer he works with told him to aim.  My family nurtures through food, and both of us were madly indulged throughout our youths.  Neither of us is inclined to exercise for fun, although (bless his heart) he's really learned how.

Thank you all for your warm, quick, and insightful advice!  I love this forum.

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MDVegan: I too have plateaued, I lost about 30 lbs and then gained about 12 back, and need to shift them and a couple more. I agree, I have to watch it when my "treats" (such as a glass of wine, or black olives, or other calorie-rich treats) become "necessities"--as in you always have some around. I'm in an online weight loss support group and have learned so much! One of their credos is, "If it's in the house, it'll end up in your mouth." I've also learned to differentiate between calorie-rich and nutritionally dense (which explains why soy products make me gain so!).
For a woman of my build and activity level I have discovered that I only need about 50 *grammes* of protien *per day*--not even per meal! If only I could learn to give up my cheese and stuff...maybe someday.
It's good your bro is in the hands of a nutritionist; does this person have any suggestions?

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Great question, yabbitgirl!  The major problem for him may be that his nutritionist moved away right before he hit the plateau.  After trying to budge the pounds with accelerated exercise goals from his trainer, he has sought nutritional advice from his trainer (who has been timid with suggestions). His nutritionist left him with a weight loss gadget (it measures co2 and o2 input/output and suggests dietary changes in concert with a diet tracking computer program), but it unfortunately was inaccurate and led him to gain back 15 pounds in a month (from following its poor recommendations.)  Not surprisingly, he's not the only person to have gotten bad info from the gadget, and the company has gone under.  :-[

Maybe a month or two ago, he began seeing a holistic medicine practitioner, and he's very hopeful that they will see progress, but this fellow is sensibly checking out my brother's general health before making any major dietary suggestions.

I, on the other hand, am being a busybody big sister and telling him to eat more fiber.  :)

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mdvegan: you drink 1.5 gallons water a day? :o how much is this in litres?

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About 5.5 litres in 1.5 gallons  :)

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Two things struck me right off.  One, 3 oz is a lot of fat and it is a lot of lactose.  Also, if he is eating 2000 calories a day, he is high in protein (even for a man) and low in fresh veggies and probably some fruit.  One has to be careful of the amount of fruit they eat because it is high in sugar, but the trade off is in fiber.

The second thing that struck me is that he is lifting weights.  When the males of the human species do this, they grow muscle as fat as they lose fat.  Lean muscle tissue weighs more then fat at the same volume, i.e. if you had a cup of muscle tissue and a cup of fat, the muscle tissue weighs more.  He may be actually losing fat, but gaining muscle in equal amounts.

While not a fan of the usual Zone diet, those books do contain a formula for measuring lean body mass.  My guess is that he has a lot of lean body mass and the scales are not really telling the story. As important as weight loss is, what are his cholesterol numbers?  What do his triglycerides look like?  His blood pressure? His blood sugar?  I wish he had taken his waist measurement about once a month since he started his diet because that would tell quite a different story as compared to the scales.  Ask him the fit of his clothes and you might get interesting answers.

Unfortunately for those of us who are female, this muscle gain fat loss is more common and a lot less noticeable.  We lose weight more slowly and it doesn't matter what we do! 

For some interesting weight comments about being a vegetarian/vegan and how even on this good diet, most of us do not experience a weight loss very easily.

http://vegkitchen.com/

Look for her blogs because this is where so many were venting.

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Hi! WW is VERY veg-friendly.  I did it a few years ago and lost of ton of weight, and I gradually put a lot of it on over the years of having kids. So I went back to it last year, but I did  the online version only because I knew I'd never get to the meetings.  I have about ten pounds left to go, and I sort of lost steam.  There are a bunch of discussion boards, and one of them is devoted to vegetarians.  I think that was where I found out about the veganlunchbox lady, but don't get me started! :)

There is a traditional "points" plan where everything you eat is given a certain value and you can eat a certain amount of points a day.  There is another plan--the "core" plan--where there is no counting involved but you eat from a more restricted food list that is very low in fat and sugar and high in whole grains, beans, fruits, etc.  It is a very very healthy way to eat but it was too much work for me, although others have reported great success with it.

The depressing thing about weight watchers is once you get going you realize how little food we really need to eat to survive and even thrive.  It's amazing that we're not even fatter than we already are!

PS:  Unfortunately, it's not hard to eat three ounces of cheese. In fact, it's quite quite easy.

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Too awesome, jkl.  I had no idea!

Dragonfly, we're in complete agreement: I think he needs more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains and less protein.  I can understand why he's been on the protein (the exercise regimen) but it seems like SUCH a lot, in its ratio.

Fortunately, he has been very diligent on measuring his thighs, upper arms, chest, waist, etc... I just don't have his numbers.  :)  He's definitely been gaining muscle mass (you should see the change in him: his torso is V-shaped under the extra pounds and his limbs are firm and shockingly defined, especially compared to my jelly limbs).  But I am under the impression that he doesn't think he's just replacing fat with muscle, because the transformation has slowed.

Fabulous advice.  You are all marvelous and I appreciate the help: I'm going to nudge him at this thread from time to time!  (I'll invite him to sign up and give details I don't have, but he may or may not.)

Thanks again!!

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howdy. all of the advice on here is so great!

but i'd like to add a few things.

First, it's not AT ALL unusual to be able to lose a lot of pounds quickly with diet/exercise and then all of a sudden to plateau. worse still, it can be VERY discouraging.

here are a few ways to turn it around.

First,

DRINK LOTS OF WATER!I would say a gallona  day minimum and even more if your brother  is active (yup) and still overweight (yup) everyone was expressing amazement at the poster who drinks 5 litres of h20 per day--but many people are chronically dehydryted--so their bodies retain large amounts of water.  "flushing" your system out by drinking lots OF WATER is not just good for your skin and kidneys, it can lead to "losing" weight as well. so your brother should be constantly dirnking water throughout the day.

also, as was already pointed out--muscle weighs MORE than the equivalent amount of fat--so if your brother is GAINING muscle (yup) and burning fat (yup) that might be one reason for the dissapointing scale results. it is NOT reason to give up or get unduly discouraged!

One more thing to think about is his training. his body may just need a "wake up call". have him shake things up.  if he usually does 3 days of walking and 3 of lifting have him try 3 of swimming (or 3 of biking) 3 of lifting and a weekend hike.  change up (or better yet INTENSIFY) his training and he can bust right through the plateau! thsi can include all sorts of things-walking rather than driving short distances, stairs rather than eleveator.  every iota of physical activity helps!

finally, remember that he should be COUNTING CALORIES. weight loss is all about energy in versus energy out.  burn 3500 more calories than you consume and you'll lose one pound.  so COUNT THE CALORIES not the portion sizes or the protein content or anything else.  many times "low fat" products actually have MORE calories in them than regular (low fat peanut butter, for example usually ahs 20 more calories per serving for the low or reduced fat variety).  so make sure your brother is reading labels.

If he doesnt already keep a nutrition log he SHOULD START. have him try writing down everything he eats in a day. the very act of recording stuff helps us realize "oh wait. when i thought i only had a "few" potato chips, i actually had 6 serving sizes. woops."

while he's at it--eating frequently--say every 3-4 hours helps blood sugar levels stay even and helps us avoi overeating out of hunger later in the day. 

Also, whenever eatinga  high carb food (breads, pastas etc.) have him eat a small amt. of protein or fat with it. this helps even out blood sugar response as well.

GOOD LUCK and CONGRATULATIONS to your brother for getting healthy!

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Hi everybody, I'm the aforementioned brother, and thank you for all the advice.  I really appreciate it.  Sometimes it's hard to think of the next thing to try.

There was some questions as to numbers.  I'll give a brief history.  When I started, December 2003, I weighed somewhere north of 600 pounds.  Probably close to 650.  I'm 6'8", and built big besides, but things had gotten out of hand.  My gut was 77 inches, my thighs were 44.5 inches each.  Biceps was 24.5. My hips measured 70 inches.  I was sure I was dying.

I got a trainer, and a nutritionist.  I dropped my calories to 2000 per day, very low fat.  Later, I discovered that the low/nonfat choices cram in the sugar and salt, so I changed to more natural products.  I excercise a lot.  Lately it has been two days custom circuit training, weight heavy, one day hiking a very steep hill, one day swimming, and two elliptical excerciser days a week.  Last year, I was running two days a week, but my ankles couldn't take it.

The results have been great. I lost down to 511.  My gut is down to 69", hips down to 63".  My thighs have dropped to 31.5".  My Biceps are about 19.5".  I'm very healthy. I look better, and feel great. My resting heart rate is 59.  My blood pressure is borderline high, at 140/75.  My Cholesterol is 162, up from 143 a year ago, but I recently followed nutrition advice and raised my calorie intake to 3000, and have only recently brought it back down.  The blood test was at the higher intake. My blood glucose is 95.  My triglycerides are a little high, at 197, and I've been told that's largely because of my weight.

What I've had is, about a year of plateau.  It started January first, with a severe ankle sprain that held me back from running, or really pushing cardio for about three months.  My weight has not moved more than three pounds down, or four pounds up, until recently, when on the advice of a nutritionist, and the BodyGem metabolism test, I increased my calories.  In a month, I balooned up to 529.  Now I'm back to 2000 calories.

Oh, and I do keep a food log, almost daily.  It's really hard to do every day for three years, I tell you.

Thanks again for all your help and advice.  I'm increasing my water intake to see if that will do it, and more fiber.

I really appreciate the help.  If anyone has any more questions or advice, they will be appreciated, and answered.

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Hey, Giants-among-us, welcome to VegWeb! You have accomplished so much already, I'm impressed! Great job!  :D

I wanted to suggest another site for you to check out: http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/

Besides some excellent advice on weight training & fitness in general, there is a forum where you can discuss, well, just about everything! But there are lots of discussion & support for fitness & weight loss. I love it over there. And don't forget to check out the recipes forum for some great tasty treats!

I know you're not vegan, but you will not find a more supportive group & very knowledgable too!

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