Most people who read my articles and e-books know me being a science guy who likes to quote studies and apply research to everyday problems for example weight loss, bodybuilding, and also other health/fitness related topics. However, sometimes you will need to step back from the science and consider the big picture to help you bring people back to focus, so they can start to see the forest for the trees, as they say.
For most people reading this article, finding an effective diet that works usually must seem as complicated as nuclear physics. It is not, but there are a bewildering amount of choices for diets available. High fat or no fat? High carbohydrate or no carbohydrate? Low protein or high protein? In addition, there are a million variations and combinations towards the above diet scenarios to increase the confusion. This indicates endless and causes a lot of people to throw up their hands in frustration and quit. In this article I will try to change all that.
There are some general guidelines, recommendations, and ways of viewing an eating plan program that will allow you in deciding, once and for all, if it’s good nutrition for you. You may not always like some tips i have to say, and you should be under no illusions that is another quick fix, “lose 100 lbs. in 20 days,” guide of some sort. However, if you are fed up with being confused, sick and tired of taking the weight off and then put it back on, and bored with wondering how to take the 1st steps to deciding good nutrition for you that will bring about permanent weight loss, this is the article that could change your life…
Does your daily diet pass “The Test”?
What is the the biggest reason is diets fail long-term; above all else? The number one reason is…drum roll…too little long term compliance. The numbers don’t lie; the vast majority of people who shed weight will regain it – and sometimes exceed what they lost. You knew that already didn’t you?
Yet, what’s happening to avoid it? Here’s another reality check: just about any diet you pick which follows the essential concept of “burning” more calories you then consume – the appreciated “calories in calories out” mantra – can cause you to lose weight. To some extent, they all work: Atkins-style, no carb diets, low fat high carb diets, all manner of fad diets – it does not matter in the short term.
If your goal is to lose weight quickly, then select one and follow it. I guarantee you will lose some weight. Studies generally find any of the commercial weight loss diets is certain to get approximately the same quantity of weight off after Half a year to a year. By way of example, a recent study found the Atkins’ Diet, Slim-Fast plan, Dieters Pure Points program, and Rosemary Conley’s Eat Yourself Slim diet, counseled me equally effective. (1)
Other studies comparing other popular diets have come to essentially the same conclusions. For example, a study that compared atkins, the Ornish diet, Weight Watchers, and The Zone Diet, found them to be essentially the same within their ability to take weight off after twelve months. (2)
Recall what I said about the # 1 reason diets fail, the lack of compliance. The lead researcher of this recent study stated:
“Our trial learned that adherence level as opposed to diet type was the primary predictor of weight loss”(3)
Translated, it is not which diet they chose per se, but their ability to actually stay with a diet that predicted how much loss success. I will just see the hands rising now, “but Will, some diets has to be better than others, right?” Are a few diets better then others? Absolutely. Some diets are healthier then others, some diets be more effective at preserving lean muscle mass, some diets be more effective at suppressing appetite – there are several differences between diets. However, many of the popular diets is useful for taking weight off, precisely what is abundantly clear is adhering to the diet is the most important aspect for keeping the weight off long term.
Just what is a diet?
A diet is often a short term strategy to lose weight. Long term weight loss will be the result of an alteration in lifestyle. We have been concerned with life long weight loss, not quick fix weight-loss here. I don’t such as the term diet, mainly because it represents a short term try and lose weight vs. a general change in lifestyle. Want to lose a bunch of weight quickly? Heck, I will give you the information on how to do this here and now for no charge.
For an additional 90 to 120 days eat 12 scrambled egg-whites, one whole grapefruit, plus a gallon of water twice a a day. You will lose a good amount of weight. Will it be healthy? Nope. Will the load stay off when you are done with this diet and therefore are then forced to get back on your “normal” way of eating? Not a chance. Will the weight you lose result from fat or could it be muscle, water, bone, and (hopefully!) some fat? The point being, there are many diets available that are perfectly able to uncover weight off you, however when considering any weight loss program designed to lose weight, you need to ask yourself:
“Is this a way of eating I can follow long term?”
Which brings me to my test: I think of it as the “Can I eat doing this for the rest of my life?” Test. I know, it does not exactly roll off your tongue, nevertheless it gets the point across.
The lesson this is: any nutritional plan you decide on to lose weight must be part of a lifestyle change you’ll be able to follow – in a form or another – forever. That is certainly, if it’s not a way of eating it is possible to comply with indefinitely, despite you get to your target weight, it’s worthless.
Thus, many dietary fads you see out there are immediately eliminated, and you also don’t have to worry about them. Now you ask not whether the weight loss program is effective in the short term, in case your diet can be followed indefinitely as a lifelong way of eating. Going from “their” means of eating back to “your” means of eating after you reach your target weight is really a recipe for disaster and the reason for the well established yo-yo dieting syndrome. Main point here: there are no short cuts, there is no free lunch, and only a commitment to a life style change is going to keep the fat off lasting. I realize that’s not what most people want to hear, however it is the truth, like it or otherwise not.
The statistics don’t lie: obtaining the weight off is not the hardest part, keeping the weight off is! With a close look at the many recognized fad/commercial diets out there, and you are honest with yourself, and apply my test above, you’ll find most of them no longer work for you as they once did. It also brings me with an example that adds additional clarity: For those who have diet A that will cause the most fat loss in the shortest timeframe but is unbalanced and essentially impossible to adhere to long term vs. diet B, that will take the weight off with a slower pace, but now is easier to follow, balanced, healthy, and another you can comply with year after year, which is superior? If diet A gets 30 lbs off you in 30 days, but by pick up you have gained back all 30 lbs, but diet B gets 20 lbs from you in the next 3 months with another 20 lbs A few months after that and the weight stays off after that year, the better diet?
Unless you know the answer to those questions, you might have totally missed the aim of this article and the lesson it’s looking to teach you, and are setup for failure. Go back and read this section again…By default, diet B is superior.
Teach a male to Fish…
A common Chinese Proverb is – Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a guy to fish and also you feed him for life.
This expression fits perfectly using the next essential help how to decide what eating plan you should follow to lose weight permanently. Will the dietary plan you are considering teach you the way to eat long term, or can it spoon-feed you information? Will the diet plan rely on special bars, shakes, supplements or pre-made foods they furnish?
Let’s do another diet A vs. diet B comparison. Diet A will supply you with their foods, along with their special drink or bars to eat, and tell you exactly when you ought to eat them. You may lose – say – 30 lbs by 50 percent months. Diet B will almost certainly attempt to help you learn which foods you ought to eat, how many calories you have to eat, why you need to eat them, and customarily attempt to help show you how to eat within a total lifestyle change that will permit you to make informed decisions about your nutrition. Diet B creates a slow steady weight loss of 8 -10 lbs a month for the next 6 months and the weight stays off as you now know how to eat properly.
Can remember the Chinese proverb. Both diets will assist you to lose weight. Only one diet, however, will educate you on how to be self-reliant after your experience is finished. Diet A is simpler, to be sure, and causes faster fat loss than diet B, and diet B takes longer as well as some thinking and learning on your part. However, when diet A has ended, you are right back where you started and have been given no skills to fish. Diet companies don’t make their profits by with instructions on to fish, they generate their money by handing you a fish so you must use them indefinitely or return to them after you gain every one of the weight back.
Thus, diet B is superior for allowing you to succeed where other diets failed, with knowledge gained that you could apply long term. Diet programs that attempt to spoon feed that you simply diet without any make an effort to teach you how to eat without their help and/or depend on their shakes, bars, cookies, or pre-made foods, is an additional diet you can eliminate from the list of choices.
Diet programs that offer weight loss by drinking their product for a number of meals followed by a “sensible dinner;” diets that allow you to eat their special cookies for the majority of meals along with their pre-planned menu; or diets that try to have you eating their bars, drink, or pre-made meals, are of the diet A variety covered above. They’re simple to follow but destined to fail, long term. They all fail the “Can I eat doing this for the rest of my life?” test, unless you really think you can eat cookies and shakes for the remainder of your life…Bottom line this is, if the nutritional approach you use to lose weight, be it coming from a book, a class, a clinic, or perhaps e-book, does not teach you how to eat, it’s a loser for too long term weight loss plus it should be avoided.
The missing link for too long term weight loss
We now make our strategy to another test to assist you choose a nutrition program for too long term weight loss, plus it does not actually involve nutrition. The missing link for too long term weight loss is exercise. Workout is the essential component of long term weight loss. Many eating plans do not contain a training component, which means they are losers for long term weight loss from the very start. Any program which includes its focus on fat loss but does not will include a comprehensive exercise plan is similar to buying a car without tires, or a plane without wings. Individuals who have successfully kept the load off overwhelmingly have incorporated exercise within their lives, and the studies that look at people who have successfully lost excess weight and kept it off invariably find these people were consistent with their diet and exercise plans. (4)
I am not going to list all of the benefits of regular exercise here, but frequent exercise has positive effects on your metabolism, allows you to eat more calories but still be in a calorie deficit, and can help preserve muscle mass (LBM) which is essential to your overall health and metabolism. The various health benefits of regular exercise are very known, so I won’t bother adding them here. Tha harsh truth here is, (a) in case you have any intentions of getting the most from your goal of slimming down and (b) plan to keep it off long term, routine workouts must be an integral part of the extra weight loss strategy. So, you’ll be able to eliminate any program, whether it’s book, e-book, clinic, etc. it doesn’t offer you direction that assist with this essential part of long term weight loss.
Side Bar: A quick note on exercise:
Any exercise is better than no exercise. However, like diet plans, not all exercise is built the same, and many people often pick the wrong form of exercise to maximize their efforts to lose weight. For example, they will do aerobics exclusively and ignore strength training. Resistance training is an essential part of fat loss, as it builds muscle vital to your metabolism, increases Round the clock energy expenditure, and possesses health benefits beyond aerobics.
People will also note I said fat loss above not weight reduction. Though I use the definition of ‘weight loss’ throughout this article, I do so only because it’s a familiar term most people understand. However, the true focus and objective of a properly set up nutrition and use plan should be on fat loss, not weight loss. An emphasis on losing weight, which can include a loss essential muscle, water, and even bone, as well as fat, is the wrong approach. Losing body fat and keeping the very important lean body mass (LBM), is the goal, and also the method for achieving you can do in my ebook(s) on the subject, and is beyond the scope of this article. Bottom line: the type of exercise, intensity of that exercise, time period doing that exercise, etc., are crucial variables here when attemping to lose FAT while retaining (LBM).
Psychology 101 of long term weight loss
Many eating plans out there don’t address the psychological element of why people are not able to be successful with long lasting weight loss. However, many studies exist which may have looked at just that. People, the psychological aspect is an essential for long term weight-loss, and probably the most underappreciated component.
Studies that compare the psychological characteristics of people which have successfully kept the extra weight off to people who have regained the body weight, see clear differences between these groups. For example, one study that viewed 28 obese women who had lost weight but regained the extra weight that they had lost, when compared with 28 formerly obese ladies who had lost weight and maintained their body weight for at least one year and 20 women which has a stable weight within the healthy range, found women who regained the load:
o Had a tendency to gauge self-worth in terms of weight and shape
o Were built with a lack of vigilance with regard to weight control
o a dichotomous (black-and-white) thinking style
o Had the tendency to make use of eating to regulate mood.
“The results claim that psychological factors may provide some explanation as to the reasons many people with obesity regain weight following diet and lifestyle ..”
This particular study was completed on women, in order that it reflects some of the specific psychological issues for women who live – but make no mistake here – men have their own psychological issues that can sabotage their lasting weight loss efforts. (6)
Additional studies on men and women find psychological characteristics for example “having unrealistic weight goals, poor coping or problem-solving skills and occasional self-efficacy” often predict failure with long-term weight loss. (7) Alternatively, psychological traits common to people who experienced successful long lasting weight loss include “…an internal motivation to lose weight, social support, better coping strategies and talent to handle life stress, self-efficacy, autonomy, assuming responsibility in life, and overall more psychological strength and stability.” (8)
The main point of this section is always to illustrate that psychology plays an important role in determining if individuals are successful with long lasting weight loss. If it’s not addressed within the overall plan, it can be the factor that makes or breaks business energy. This, however, isn’t an area most nutrition programs can adequately tackle and should not be expected to. However, the greater programs do generally attempt to help with motivation, setting goals, and support. Possibly yourself in the above lists from the groups that didn’t maintain their weight lasting, then know you need to address those issues via counseling, organizations, etc. Don’t expect any weight loss program to cover this topic adequately but do search for programs that try and offer support, setting goals, and resources that will keep you on track.
“There’s a sucker born every minute”
So just why don’t you see this type of honest information about the realities of long term weight loss more often? Let’s be honest here, telling the truth is not the best way to sell bars, shakes, books, supplements, and programs. Hell, if by a few miracle everyone who read this article actually followed it, and sent it on millions of other people who actually followed it, makers of said products may be in financial trouble quickly. However, they also know – because the man said – “there’s a sucker born every minute,” i really doubt they will be kept up at night worrying about the consequences that I, or this short article, will have on their business.
Why don’t we recap what has been learned here: the important picture realities of permanent weight loss and how you can look at diet program and decide yourself if it’s for you determined by what has been covered above:
o Permanent weight loss is not about locating a quick fix diet, but building a commitment to life style changes which include nutrition and exercise
o Any weightloss program you choose must pass the “Can I eat like that for the rest of my life?” test,
o The load loss program you select should ultimately show you how to eat and turn into self reliant so you can make informed long-term choices about your nutrition.
o The weight loss program you select should not leave you just a few commercial bars, shakes, supplements, or pre-made foods, for the long term success.
o The body weight loss program you ultimately choose must have an effective exercise component.
o The load loss program you select should attempt to help with motivation, goal setting, and support, but cannot be a replacement for psychological counseling if needed.
I want to take this final section to add some additional points and clarity. First of all, the above advice isn’t for everyone. It’s not meant for those who really have their nutrition dialed in, for example competitive bodybuilders and other athletes who reap the benefits of fairly dramatic modifications in their nutrition, such as ‘off season’ and ‘pre-contest’ and so on.
This content is also not designed for those with medical issues who might be on a specific diet to take care of or manage a specific condition. The article is intended for that average person who wants to log off the Yo-Yo diet merry-go-round for good. As that’s probably 99% of the population, it will cover thousands of people.
People should also ‘t be scared off by my “you need to eat this way forever” advice. It doesn’t mean you will be dieting through out your life and have just starvation to look to. What it does mean, however, is you will have to learn to eat properly even after you reach your target weight knowning that way of eating should not be huge departure from how we ate to lose the load in the first place. Once you get in your target weight – and or your target bodyfat levels – you will go onto a maintenance phase which generally has more calories and choices of food, even the occasional treat, like a slice of pizza or whatever.
Maintenance diets really are a logical extension from the diet you accustomed to lose the weight, but they are not using the diet you followed that squeeze weight on to start with!