It’s February my fellow readers.
How many of you are still following that fantastic 500 calories a day diet no fat, carbs, sugar nothing…?
How many of you already lost tons of Kg, stones, lb etc etc?
Ok…we are talking now…
Why diets are not working
I am not a dietologist or an expert in the field.
What I can tell based on my experience is that I tried many diets, I am in a pretty good shape (normal weight BMI even thought I was lightly overweight for a couple of years) and I read a lot of books, articles, whatever on the losing weight topic coming to 3 conclusions:
1) Diets say everything and its contrary.
Eat low carbs….no low fat…no low sugar…skip lunch…I mean dinner…no beer only wine…I mean only red wine…pasta yes…pasta no…mediterrean diet is great…wait but bread is not good…only white rice diet…the nutrition pyramid is the mantra to follow…well but so many carbs etc.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many theories and buzzs around losing weight?
Food industry (and its derivate) is the biggest industry in the world.
What I mean with derivate?
Everything that orbits around food:
1) Food packaging, transportation, fertilizer, infrastructures, real estate, (btw do you know that the real business of Mc Donalds is Real Estate and not burgers)??? , commercials etc.
2) Health care related to food. Abuse of food generated diseases…diseases generated trillions of money to treat them.
3) Gyms. Most of the people going to Gym is there to lose weight. No fat on our waist no big dollars in Gym owners.
4) Dietary Supplements for weight management: zillions of dollars spent every year in those products (I wonder with which results…)
2) Relying only on Calories Balance is wrong
How many times did you hear the following equation ?
Calories In = Calories Out + Exercise + Weight Gain
It seems simple…making sense.
Eat less, move more and you control the weight.
This is only a part of the equation.
This because not every calorie is the same.
Or better…not every calorie has the same effect on your body:
e.g. a calorie you get eating an almond is processed differently by your body vs a calorie you get from carbs like bread)
Additionally reducing Calories In has a direct impact on Calories Out because our body has the natural tendency to reduce the Calories used (Calories Out) in case it starts receiving less Calories In (it’s a natural process of avoiding starvation and death).
I don’t want to go into the details since I am not a Doctor and the argument is long and complex but I might suggest you some interesting reading from Dr. Jason Fung like The Obesity Code and The Complete Guide to Fasting.
Again, I cannot say Dr. Fung Theories are the Undeniable Truth but they do give a different interesting prospective on diet, food, diabetes and some common mistakes.
I personally used some suggestions like Intermittent fasting and I got benefits both from general feelings (e.g. more energy, less bloated) and losing weight (2-3% of my original weight..again I was not particularly overweight when I started).
2) There is too much emphasis on exercise and not enough on resting.
Exercising seems the panacea for losing weight.
I have a bad news…it’s not.
It might help but it is not.
In one hour run (that I am pretty sure you don’t do it daily) you are going to burn around 600-700 Calories.
Half an hour and it drops to 300-350 Calories.
Considering now the total budget of 2000 Calories for someone who tries to control his weight.
Three hundreds calories are 15% of the total. (20% if he is on a 1500 Daily Calories budget).
Or…do you know how many calories there are in one pizza?
Download the app MyFitnessPal and play with it…
Roughly 820 calories (yes you would need to run for 1h 15min to burn it).
Drink two beers (230 Calories) or a couple of glass of wine and you just drank your run.
Watch out I am not saying you don’t have to exercise.
You must on the contrary because exercising have tons of benefits.
I am just saying that the contribution of exercising on losing weight is much less than you think unless you run very long distances (marathons or ultramarathons (I can tell you based on my experience that when you run 50-60 miles per weeks (90-100Km) you definitely lose weight).
What about resting (sleeping)?
Everyone associate sleeping as a synonymous of laziness.
Executives shows their budget of productivities claiming that they sleep only 4 hours per nights!
Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite. Recent epidemiological and laboratory evidence confirm previous findings of an association between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity.
I am not the one of stating it but Professors from the Department of Medicine, University of Chicago.
Similar study are everywhere out there but nobody is talking about it?
Lack of Money.
There are no money surrounding the statement Sleep more (and without pills or whatever external help) while there are tons of money around saying Do that and buy my products in the process.
If you are still unconvinced I suggest you a great book on the importance of sleep:
Why we Sleep (from Prof. Matthew Walker).
Below is quick look at the Professor and his theories on other benefits of sleeping (and the damage of lack of it).
So what now?
Losing weight is a complex equation that involves:
- What we eat,
- How much we eat,
- How much we sleep,
- How much we exercise,
- When we eat.
Society is pushing toward an exaggerate diet mostly based on highly processed carbs with the results of an epidemic of obesity.
Conversely (especially in the USA) we see people eating low fat diets , new gyms popping up everywhere, many people panting trying to reach the 10,000 steps on their brand new bracelet but we see those same people severely overweight and dying of hearth attack or developing diabetes 2 in their 40s.
There is something wrong here…and usually when you cannot find a logic answer to a solution just follow the money*…
Did you follow the money?
Here are my suggestions:
- Watch out the Calories In-Out balance (I personally use and love the App MyFitnessPal (free with some Premium features) . This is one important step but not everything.
- Drastically reduce carbs like bread, pasta rice etc. and highly processed food.
- Eliminate white sugar as much as possible
- Exercise seriously (at least 1h 5 times of weeks of aerobic activity)
- Try some intermittent fasting to regulate the insulin in your body (e.g. 16:8 or more aggressive Warrior Diet).
- Read Read Read. Try to get some exposure to books, article, researches from independent and entitled professionals. The mantra here is Do not follow the money.
- Track your weight daily: where you focus results appears…Don’t forget to track your weight for one month and discover you are 10 lbs (5Kg) heavier.
- If you can eat at home. Not only you will save a lot of money and learn something fun but you will drastically reduce the processed food you ingest and improve the quality of the ingredients.
*Let me ask you…what is the food with highest content of Vitamin C in the world…the Orange right…? That’s what most of the people think but it’s not true…have you ever wondered why?