There are three things that are undeniable as it relates to dieting successfully so let’s jump right in.
1. You have to be at a calorie deficit from what you were previously doing.
One of the most frustrating things for people that have followed virtually every diet on the internet is that they don’t always realize the mechanism that makes those work when they do. YOU ARE EATING LESS.
Calories always matter. Not just the calories you are currently eating to be in a deficit, but the calories you were eating before the deficit ALSO matter. In the last ten years I have been doing this, all manner of diets have come and gone. Remember when everyone was doing Whole30’s and then would have to “reset” because they had a peanut butter cup because they were starving? I sure do.
That was one of many “naughty and nice” approaches to food where some food god screams from the mountain tops what you can and cannot eat and if you deviate from that at all, you are made to feel like it’s a setback and you have failed. The current fad diets are Keto and Fasting, and now apparently combining both is the holy grail. Which if you think about it, is simply a drastic way to eat less. If you haven’t been around someone on a 4 day low carb fast and it’s their “cheat day”… like Ludacris said “Get out the way”. Being up 7 pounds after a binge fest like this is not uncommon.
What about low fat? While you can technically do Weight Watchers any way you like most people do it low fat, the math is simple, fat is very calorie dense. So once again we are talking a lot about calories and why they matter.
Also, while we are on the subject of Weight Watchers. People tend to bash Weight Watchers pretty heavily. But, just in case you didn’t know, the industry leader is Weight Watchers at their last quarterly report they had 4.5 million subscribers.
2. I lost 100 pounds doing what eventually became Eat To Perform but the difference is that I knew why.
Previously I had ALSO lost a lot of weight doing many of the versions of the diets above but I didn’t do the one thing that is required to kick start the next level and any future progress. If you have been dieting for as long as you can remember and you are not making progress…YOU NEED TO STOP DIETING!
Not forever but certainly for a bit.
People talk about metabolism like it’s some mystery thing and it’s not. You have to bring back food and I will go even one step further, you have to bring back a NORMAL amount of food for your metabolism to recover from your dieting cycle. I have had people say to me “after my dieting cycle I added a sweet potato”. I mean, let’s be real here for a hot second. A sweet potato is about 120 calories, so unless you loaded that thing up with peanut butter and bacon you aren’t close to normal and getting back to normal is important (and often why people need coaches).
3. It’s not just enough to move, you have to get better at moving and that requires food.
It also requires sleep, recently I had a few stressful things pile up on my plate and I started losing weight even though my macros are pretty high at the moment. So what did I do? I added another meal of about 600 calories that was well balanced (carbs, fats and proteins). We will see how that goes, but sleep is a major component as it relates to getting better at exercise and holding onto lean mass. If you sleep dramatically less than 8 hours you become more prone to blow through muscle (instead of fat) when you workout.
This is the other argument for getting calories up, a big part of getting better at exercise is holding onto the muscle you have and potentially adding more. You don’t do that under eating all of the time. When I used to body fat test people there were two numbers that were very common, for women it was 30% and for men it was 20%, even after long dieting cycles. Often the path they took to get to that place isn’t the path they need to follow to go lower and to go lower in terms of body fat, most of the time you need muscle.
I am going to end on this one note, many people are turning to bariatric surgery to solve obesity. I have good news and bad news related to this, the good news is that it’s the most effective method to under eat (once again, here is that calories thing again). Here is the bad news though, let’s say you were 400 pounds and you had bariatric surgery and you get to 280 pounds (for this example I am going to say this person is a 5’10” male) it would be hard to argue that you aren’t healthier but in that combination of weight you do lose fat and muscle. Once again, stick with me here, I am not arguing against it. The bad news is that in that process you have nuclear bombed your ability to maintain a robust metabolism.
So if you land at 280 and your goal is say 180, will you be happy? If not, what then? Let’s be real here, the discipline it’s going to take for you to lose 120 pounds can be started today and many people are opting for bariatric surgery at much lower weights than 400 pounds. It’s very difficult to say to someone that was 400 pounds that 100 pounds more might be impossible but that is in fact the case in a large percentage of examples.
When do you think you are going to have the most will? When you are hungry at 280 pounds or motivated to do something at 400 pounds? I would rather take the 400 pound person that is highly motivated any day over the 280 pound example. It’s going to take a bit longer but they are much more likely to get to a healthy weight, hold onto muscle and change their relationship with food with a high level of understanding of their problem rather than using the nuclear option. Once again, if it’s a health concern and you have tried everything under the sun including moving and sleeping, maybe bariatric surgery is the best option. I just need you to understand that when you under eat drastically it can have EXTREME consequences that will change your relationship with food, forever. You have to know that going in and just because you feel desperate now don’t discount how desperate you will feel with no options down the road.
Everything you do has consequences. Welcome to life. But the only real truth as it relates to dieting is that you have to bite it off in chunks. Are their examples that have done it all at once and survived? Sure there are. The number most often quoted is 3% of people are successful with that approach. So if you were making a 3 egg omelet, you would need to crack 100 eggs to make it. Maybe you are one of those 3% but the odds are against you.
The odds aren’t against you when it comes to a more sustainable and patient approach that is less fad based, guilt based and shame based. You can love yourself now and it will be that love that will allow you to keep moving on when things get tough but the more you chase whatever the current fad is, you are taking a detour from the real answer.