Many people ask “how to diet and lose weight” and in my opinion the simplest diet is a basic ‘just eat less’ approach to lose weight or ‘just eat more’ approach to gain weight. By making a conscious effort to eat less food over the course of the day, people reduce calories and in-turn end up losing weight. There’s no magic or crazy secret to it, it’s simply food proportioning. Such an approach to dieting isn’t fundamentally flawed and, when it works, it works fine.
At the next level of advancement are what we might term good food/bad food types of diets. Most people seem to think that some foods are good for them while others are bad in terms of bodyweight or health, and diets in this category feed into that psychology. Typically, a good food/bad food diet is indicated over the actual quantity of food being consumed, some diets will state that calories don’t matter, only the source of those calories.
Even the standard of every low-fat prescriptions are based around the idea that fat is ‘bad’, being the cause of obesity, and that by eating less of it, you’ll lose weight and be healthier.
A more common idea is all about carbohydrates, Many diets state refined sugar as the enemy, while more extreme and intense diets state that all carbohydrates (vegetables excluded) as the enemy. Since carbohydrates typically make up a rather large amount (50% or more) of total daily energy intake, restricting or removing them has the potential to cause rather large scale caloric reduction.
Most diets fixate and argue that it has to do with ones individual aspect of humans physiology in terms of weight gain and use that to defend the argument of why a certain food is ‘bad’. Anti-fat books will focus on the fact that dietary fat is stored as fat far more easily than other nutrients while anti-carb books usually focus on insulin levels.
Fiber is frequently stated as a miracle weight loss food and diets forcing you to eat lots of high-fiber, high-bulk vegetables work a similar way: by forcing you to fill up on low-calorie foods, you eat less of the higher calorie foods and end up losing weight.
Then there are ‘simple’ diets that aren’t so simple. They typically involve complicated rules (such as food combining) while still telling the dieter to ‘eat all they want’. when you look at the rules you’ll find that they actually are pretty limiting, For example, diets that only let you eat fat with protein (a common food combining approach) means that you can only eat fat (with all of its calories) at roughly half of all your meals. Compared to a diet where you can eat fat at all of your meals, this will generally cause you to eat less.
Many diets require that you fast (or eat small amounts of lean protein and vegetables) most of the day and then with one big ‘reward’ meal at the end of the day. But even that reward meal has a lot of rules: start with vegetables, then lean proteins, then starches (some diet limits the ‘reward’ meal to an hour as well). Over the course of 24 hours, you can’t help but eat less with such a diet: you’re eating only small amounts (or nothing at all) and you’re ‘eat all you want meal’ has a set of rules that prevents you from eating that much.
Now, many of these diets will occasionally claim that calorie counting may be absolutely necessary but most focus mostly on one food or another, based on the theory that eating less of that certain food will make people eat less without thinking too much about it, which sometimes can actually work.
Other approaches, such as switching from full fat to lower fat milk, or reducing refined starch intakes can regularly work just as well. Protein has been shown to be the most filling of the nutrients, causing people to eat less.
A diet where this is shown is the Dukan Diet
In a study made years ago, subjects were given a high-fat yogurt and either told it was low-fat or normal fat. The people who thought it was low-fat ate more of it. This was, of course, during the time when people had heard the message that ‘fat was bad’ and nothing else mattered. Which is why the wave of ‘non-fat’ foods that came to market didn’t do what was expected: people simply compensated by eating more of them.
A very real problem with simple diets has to do with caloric intake. Sometimes, the reason a dieter isn’t losing weight is because they are eating too much. In more rare cases, eating too little (especially for extremely prolonged periods of time) can be the problem. But unless you know what you’re currently eating with some amount of accuracy, you can’t know if that amount should be adjusted upwards or downwards.
There’s a potentially much bigger problem that I see quite a bit. When these books have programmed such diet failures with a ‘calories don’t count’ message, it becomes impossible to make people realize that the source of the stall is a simple calorie problem. People will find any reason possible for why the weight isn’t coming off anymore, anything to avoid facing up to the fact that they are going to have to start counting calories.
As appealing as simple diets are, there are times when they simply won’t be enough. It may be a situation where a simple diet has stopped producing results. As an alternative, many people prefer more complex and/or controlled diets. Also there is that small percentage that has to acheive maximum results in a certain time period for example bodybuilders and models.
So what do I mean by ‘Advanced dieting’? Advanced dieting consists of counting calories, weighing and measuring foods, and paying attention to nutrient intakes. It’s more of a hassle than simple dieting but if you’re in one of the situations described above, you don’t have a choice.
More advanced diets do offer some benefits rather than more simple diets. One of these is control; by knowing how much and what you’re eating, you can develop some expectations as to what types of weight changes to expect. This allows for better manipulation of the different dieting variables. By comparing what you’d expect to what you’re actually getting, you can make the appropriate changes.
A second benefit of real dieting is that it makes you aware of your actual food intake. Dieters typically underestimate and dieters trying to gain weight do the opposite and overestimate.
By actually measuring food portions, you develop food awareness. Over time, that type of awareness becomes more or less automatic and you do it subconsciously without thinking, you can get a generally good idea of how many calories a given meal might have or how much you’re eating in a day’s span. Until you’ve spent some time directly measuring your food, odds are you’re going to mis-estimate.
The third benefit is guarantees, For example, with a simple diet, there’s usually no guarantee that you’re eating sufficient amounts of nutrients, protein, or getting your essential fatty acids every day. But by tracking and being aware of your actual intakes you can avoid those problems. Tracking them won’t solve all of the problems related to dieting, but you can avoid the really prominent issues.
In short, simple diet changes can be just as beneficial as big changes, just as long as you stick to them. For many people they work, at least for some time period of time and, as long as they are working, they’ll have no problem with them, But when such the changes stop being effective and they end up quitting.
Which is when advanced diets come into play to help further the diet to whole new levels which we will talk about in future pages and posts.
But remember that staying motivated to carry on is only half the journey and you still need to act on what you want to achieve.