Lessons Learned From Rush Limbaugh's Weight Loss
David Letterman, the comedian, might say, “Hey, how 'bout that Rush Limbaugh losing 80 pounds in just 21 weeks? Isn’t that something?” Mary Hartley, the nutritionist, might say, “Kids, don’t try this yourself at home.”
The Rush Diet
Rush told American Superstar Magazine that he’s using a diet plan from Florida-based Quick Weight Loss Centers, and he said he is eating about 1500 calories a day of real food with a couple of supplements they provide. The 80 pound loss occurred between March 9th and July 31st, but I can’t seem to make the math work no matter how hard I try.
Let’s see: according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Rush is a 58 year old male, 5’11”. He said he weighed 290 pounds (at the start of the diet) with a presumed sedentary activity level (he’s not a big fan of exercise - see below) and a daily calorie requirement of 2,589 needed to maintain 290 pounds. I figured Rush would have lost about 45 pounds in 21 weeks consuming 1500 calories a day.
(Note: To get the numbers above, I used the Calorie Count Calorie Target calculator, which is based on the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids developed by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.)
Here’s the math: 2589 calories required - 1500 calorie intake = 1089 calorie deficit every day and 7623 calorie deficit every week; 7623 calories x 21 weeks = 160,083 calorie deficit. Since one pound is lost for every 3,500 calorie deficit, 160,083 / 3500 = 45.7 pounds.)
But, Rush said he lost 80 pounds. Is my math off? Well, Quick Weight Loss Centers explains that their “nutritional plans provide up to 1,500 calories a day," but by my calculations, Rush would have to eat an unhealthy 650 calories to lose as much weight as he said he lost.
(Here’s the math again: 2589 calories required - 650 calorie intake = 1939 calorie deficit every day and 13,573 calorie deficit every week; 13,573 calories x 21 weeks = 285,033 calorie deficit. Since one pound is lost for every 3,500 calorie deficit, 285,033 / 3500 = 81.4 pounds.)
Could the supplements be accelerating his weight loss? If they are the supplements sold by Quick Weight Loss Centers’, they might contain (in alphabetical order): apple, banaba leaf, birch, bitter orange extract, black pepper extract, borage, camellia sinensis, cassia senna (a laxative), chromium, citrus aurantium, EPA + DHA (fish oil), ginkgo biloba, ginseng, gracinia carabogia, green tea, guarana, gum resins, hibiscus, hoodia pordonii (an appetite suppressant), juniper, nettle, nutmeg, paseolus vulgaria (white bean extract), rosemary, theobromine (like caffeine), vitamins A, C and E, and a multivitamin-mineral supplement. I checked out NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) as well as the University of Maryland Medical Center Complementary and Alternative Medicine Index (CAM), but I could not find enough scientific evidence to support the effectiveness those herbs for weight loss.
Is Rush burning calories through physical activity? If his recent comments about exercise are any indication, probably not. On his show, Rush said, "Those of you who regularly exercise - you're the people getting injured... Showing up at the hospital with busted knees, tendons, skin cancer (and other problems caused by exercise). All you exercise freaks - you're the ones putting stress on the healthcare system... What happens when people don't regularly exercise and keep their weight relatively under control? Nothing! They probably don't even know their doctors names".
The National Institutes of Health convened an expert panel to study evidence-based research to develop key recommendations for assessing and treating overweight and obese patients. The clinical guidelines recommend a calorie deficit of no more than 1,000 calories a day for an average weight loss of 0.5 to 2.0 pounds per week depending on the patient's starting weight. The recommendations are made to promote effective weight loss while safeguarding the patient's health.
Rush told American Superstar that he actually doesn’t know how his diet works. He said, "It’s too complicated. I mean putting the menu together is a jigsaw puzzle every day. It would take me 45 minutes... to tell you what the diet plan is."
I say, if you can't easily explain how you got there, how difficult will it be to keep the weight off? Apparently, Rush doesn’t expect to stay at his new weight. On his show Rush said, “What I’m thinking of doing this time is... losing 25 (more pounds) than I want to so I have another year of fun and frolic to put it all back on.”
I’m still not sure how Rush dropped the weight he lost, so please educate me if I’m missing something. There’s no mystery about one thing though. If he doesn’t follow a more sensible approach to weight loss, the pounds will be back in no time.
Have you tried a quick weight loss plan?
Note: Since Rush is a controversial public figure, please limit your comments to weight loss. Political comments will be removed.
Rush Limbaugh responds to our discussion during his radio program on August 14th. Click here to read the transcript.