Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Secret to Losing Weight Revealed

Now and then, Steve Barnes cranks up a discussion on his blog on fitness.

It always amazes me how many people come out of the woodwork armed with tons of rationalizations as to why being way overweight is okay, and how it's not their fault anyhow.

Okay, so here's the deal: I'm going to save you all that money on the latest, hottest diet book. If you want to lose weight, slim down, so you are happy to see a picture of yourself in a bathing suit, here are the four methods that don't require amputation:

1. Eat less.

2. Exercise more.

3. Do both 1. & 2.

4. Photoshop.

That's it, period. All the stuff about hormones excuses three out of a hundred, and only partially so. The good calories versus bad ones theory doesn't excuse anybody -- it's a simple equation. Eat more than you burn, you gain. Eat less, you lose. It's basic chemistry and physics, folks, not magic.

It's not easy, it takes discipline, but those are the secrets to doing it.

Any questions?


radiantfitness said...

As a personal trainer, I keep telling people my whole business is based on 1, 2, and 3 (though I like 4). Really feel like I should be out of a job by now, sometimes.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit more complex than that I'm afraid. I was slim all my life and always worked out, but slowly started putting weight on. Once you have the extra weight on it is very hard to get it off, and just loosing a lb a week doen't encourage you to stick to a diet.
You need to loose a lot quickly to keep you motivated, although that is not a long term is best to do a low carb diet for a couple of weeks and you can easily loose 10 lbs during that time.lets be honest if loosing weight was easy then there wouldn't be any fat people.

Wim Demeere said...

#4. Good one. :-)

It's true, there are no other ways. All the rest is marketing.
I've worked as a personal trainer for 15 years now and keep telling clients just that. Those who accept it lose weight, those who don't zig-zag.

Steve Perry said...

I didn't say it was easy, Anon. I said that's how it works. And crash diets seldom work because to adjust the body's homeostasis takes time.

The honest part is the cause and effect. If you are holding steady then you have your food intake and exercise balanced. If you are gaining weight, you aren't and to stop or reverse it, you have to change something -- less food, more exercise, or both.

That's how it works. It's not complex at all.

The reasons that people overeat might be complicated, but what to do about it on a purely physical level aren't.

Steve Perry said...

And insofar as *what* you eat, that's a gimme, too:

Lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, some nuts, lean meat, fish, like that. Non-saturated fats -- olive oil is better than butter. Have a beer or glass of wine with dinner, fine. Not a six pack or a whole bottle of port.

Lay off the bacon-double-cheese Whoppers with sides of onion rings and fries. Ease up on the steak burritos with sour cream drenched in cheese and mole sauce; no more two-carton Haagen Dazs nights, or twelve-egg omelettes, and don't deep-fat fry anything ...

This isn't news to anybody, either. Indulge yourself once in a while, sure. But once in a while is not the same as thrice daily, and snacks on Sunday ...

Formosa Neijia said...

That's the problem: it's too simple. So some other "reason" has to be at fault.

Scott said...

If I stop eating flour and sugar I lose weight fast; hunger disappears much faster. Steve mentioned a 12-egg omelette; I could *never* finish an omelette that big...

But if you added flour and sugar - served me 12 eggs worth of French toast with maple syrup, say - I probably *could* finish it.

Steve Perry said...

There are people out there who could eat a twelve-egg omelette's worth of calories and burn them off. Check out Michael Phelps's diet when he was training. (Before he smoked dope and got the munchies.)

The balance of carbs to protein to fat can be jiggered around -- some folks burn hotter than others, and need more of one than the other.

Serious bodybuilders adding muscle will eat anywhere from a gram of protein per pound of lean mass to twice that. So the MDR of protein for a pencil-pusher of 30 grams/day, pales compared to somewhere between 200 and 400 g/d. (Hard on your kidneys, that much.)

A guy pumping iron four hours a day and doing another hour of cardio, or swimming five miles has a different energy requirement than somebody ass-warming a chair. But, of course, serious jocks all know this, it's part of the training. I can't offer anything to serious jocks, they know more than I do about their needs. But people who are obese either haven't gotten the message or can't apply it. Or they don't care. To some of those folks, I might could offer something useful.

Viro said...

For an adult in America, the path to losing weight is easily found: stop drinking alcohol.

The problem is that no one wants to step on that path.

Steve Perry said...

Depends, Viro, on how much you drink. One beer a day might add 150 calories to your intake. A glass of wine, a little less than that.

A bacon double Whopper with cheese is more than a thousand calories, pushing seventy grams of fat, and that's not counting the fries -- another 360 calories and twenty grams of fat, if you don't Super Size 'em, nor the 300+ calories from the sugar in the big Coke or Pepsi ...

If you are a sedentary fifty year old man, that puts you close to what you get to eat all day, vis your BMR to hold steady, and over your total allowed fat.

Have a turkey sandwich and an apple instead, you can drink a six pack or that many glasses of vino and still not equal the King ...

Anonymous said...

A recent study showed that folks who cut Carbs lost more weight than folks who just cut calories. the nice thing about eating protein is that it takes away hunger faster than carbs........I eat loads of eggs and cheese, and it works for me in a couple of ways. Firstly you loose weight with no hunger, but then secondly you get used to eating less, so that when you come off your diet you are less likely to over indulge
What I do is eat low carb all week .then on a friday I have a mega carb up. weight goes up again but the following week you loose more

Steve Perry said...

Studies show a lot of things. Eating loads of this, that, or the other might or might give you what you want;, it might also give you something you don't want.

Clog up your arteries with too much bad fat, you could look like a Greek god and fall over from a heart attack -- especially if you have other risk factors -- smoking, no exercise, family history of heart problems.

I remember when Don "The Ripper" Ross, a bodybuilder with veins like garden hoses who was ripped to the bone dropped dead at forty-nine from a massive MI. Red meat and potatoes and beer, and he thought exercise would make him immune.

Coffee was bad for you, according to the research. Then it was good for you, then bad again. This week, who knows?

One alcoholic drink a day is supposed to be good for you; except if you have a strong family history of, say, kidney disease, or liver problems, or breast cancer, in which case, it isn't good for you at all.

Losing fat is not the same as eating healthily, nor being fit. There's a larger ball of wax here. One of the most unhealthy and fattest men I know is a vegetarian. Usually, that's not the case, because people who get into that do so for health or moral reasons and they pay attention. But" if you live on potato chips and sour cream and Cheese Whiz, you are gonna have all kinds of health problems -- not if, but when ...

Follow around the great apes as they graze and see what they eat, and that's probably closer to what we ought to be doing, our digestive systems allowing.
Fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, a little road kill now and then ...

heina said...

My friend used to precede that advice with, "Unless you're a miracle of thermodynamics, energy burnt needs to be greater than energy consumed."

Odd how the laws of physics escape some people.

Anonymous said...

The first time I dieted (weight watchers), I lost it easily. After 6 years, I've gained it back plus 20. I've tried many times to diet during those years, but failed. I've more stress than before and I never gave up (or reduced) refined sugar and white flour. It's been frustrating but I've always said I won't give up trying to get control of my weight.

Now I've looked into calorie restriction (for optimal nutrition) and it seems more about food choices than anything else. Also, most sources say to take it slow (which I think might help it stick). Since it isn't about the weight anymore (health and longevity), it's easier to stay positive.

I'm excited. :-)

I think people try new diets because the ones they've tried already have been unmaintainable (for whatever reason). Zig zagging is better than giving up.