Due to the upcoming Spring season, I feel especially inspired to write on a subject I’m passionate about: weight management. It’s application is broad: nearly 70% of US adults are overweight, and many of us dislike the way we look largely due to the amount of body fat we carry. I believe that, although in principal, everyone is responsible for their self-presentation, almost every American has been set up for aesthetic failure via a lack of nutritional education and knowledge. So for the sake of spreading truth and dismantling some misconceptions, I’ve written the following article that addresses the diet industry, how it prevents Americans from getting or staying lean, and how to actually lose all of your excess fat permanently.
Many American’s weight loss methods stem from completely skewed sources. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, a vital key to understand is that the majority of weight loss companies do not teach you how to lose fat. They propel a false narrative, spun up within a web of dishonest hyperbole, in order to make money—not help you stay lean. General “fitness” magazines are not written to teach weight loss principals; they are written to make money. They do not provide an effective weight loss method to help their readers; fitness magazines’ intentions are to inspire readers to stay subscribed and continuously purchase their product. Why continue to buy the magazine if your first issue teaches you how to stay lean? No, despite advertising intentionally misleading products, almost all fitness-oriented magazine, supplement, and diet programs are not intended to fix the problem, but instead work alongside it. However, it’s understandable that these misleading products are economically-beneficial for companies. The majority of people are far more likely to be interested in the following empty promise: “Quick and easily lose ten pounds this week WITHOUT dieting!” rather than the truthful but more grim alternative: “Permanently alter your lifestyle, shopping habits, and entire approach to food in order to, over time, become and stay lean!” But understand that quick or easy changes—including cutting wheat out of your diet for a week, eliminating all sugar until after 9:00 o’clock, or eating five small meals rather than three normal meals—are designed for people who are overweight to make them temporarily fluctuate in their weight; it’s not built to completely or positively change someone’s habits. The current dominating diet and supplement industry isn’t in the surgery business, but the Band-Aid business: it temporarily provides a new stimulus or idea that facilitates an immediate, noticeable difference, whilst doing nothing to fix or change the problem in any long-lasting way. A Band-Aid, when placed upon a broken arm, is cheap to apply, requires reliable replacement, and demonstrates and immediate and seeable change. On the other hand, no patient wants a surgery—which in this analogy, is an effective diet program—which requires months of habit-changing, investing work, and a potentially permanent change in the way his or her arm moves.
So if cutting out carbs and gluten don’t cause fat loss, how do I actually lose weight? Manage your calories. That’s it.
For most of you, a diet focused on managing caloric intake has either never been implemented or has been implemented incorrectly. However, according to modern science and discernibly accurate demonstration, the only way to lose or gain weight is to change your caloric intake. That’s it. For most of you, the following objections will arise towards this sentiment: “Wait… wait… that’s not true, Slade! When I went on a smoothie diet, I lost five pounds, and I never counted calories.” Or perhaps: “But Slade, everyone knows that it’s not how much food you eat; it’s what you eat.”
For the sake of potentially bettering yourself, I’d request keeping an open mind to the following information that I’ll present. To put blatantly, a calorie deficit (less food) is the only way to lose fat. And just because you’ve been on a diet that didn’t involve counting calories does not mean you didn’t unknowingly consume less of them.
Firstly, I’ll define calories. Technically, a calorie is a measurement of heat energy; 1 calorie can convert 1 gram of water to 1 degree Celsius. However, in more applicable terms, it’s a measurement of food. In almost every case, it does not matter what the calorie is made of; eating two-thousand calories of ice cream will, broadly speaking, maintain your body-fat the same way that two-thousand calories of salad will (albeit 2000 calories of salad won’t make you feel like death).
So, now that there’s a basic understanding of calories, how do we apply them to lose weight?
As stated above, the only way to lose weight is to get into a caloric deficit. What that means is that you have to calculate how many calories you need a day—for some of you that’ll be 1500, and for others that may be 2500. Once your daily caloric intake requirements have been determined, then subtract 300 to 500 calories from them. Your body, slightly deprived of calories, will start using stored fat (the reason you hate wearing swimsuits) as a replacement for the lack of energy you’re taking in. Thus, over time, you will lose weight—more accurately, you will lose fat. In the same manner, exercise can also assist in weight loss: if you eat the same amount of food to maintain your weight, but burn 300 calories a day via jogging, then you will put yourself in a caloric deficit, resulting in the eventual loss of bodyfat.
Well if this principal is true, regarding weight and fat management completely revolving around caloric intake, then why do I lose weight when I go on (insert Atkin’s, smoothie diets, Paleo, etc)?
Well as I’ve briefly touched on, simply because you were unaware of your caloric deficit does not mean that it wasn’t responsible for your body’s fat loss. Using the smoothie diet as an example, V8 Splash smoothies are only 90 calories per bottle. Most smoothies are made up of fruits and vegetables, which are very low-calorie genres of food. Drinking three smoothies a day, supposing each one is 500 calories, adds up to 1500 calories—a whopping 500 short of what many American eat each day! So many of these fad diets work, at least temporarily, because they are often calorie-restrictive. However, without a proper understanding of calories, no diet is guaranteed to make you lose weight, especially not over time.
Thank you for reading through my article. I hope that, if you’ve been armed with new knowledge, you apply it to your lifestyle and reap the benefits. If you have any questions or criticisms, please comment them below and I will do my best to respond to them.
Citations: 68.8 percent of US adults are overweight: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjrg_mnmNXSAhWExVQKHYHlDe8QFggeMAE&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.niddk.nih.gov%2Fhealth-information%2Fhealth-statistics%2FPages%2Foverweight-obesity-statistics.aspx&usg=AFQjCNE2KPwvCgdos36gvV-bZUEV5R6Clg&sig2=2rEsnc2HE3Lq5NPwaZD48Q
Weight Loss Industry finances and celebrity model paychecks: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/100-million-dieters-20-billion-weight-loss-industry/story?id=16297197
If you’re interested in beginning to count your calories, whether it be for fat loss, weight gain, or simply being more aware of what you eat, I’d highly recommend starting an account on My Fitness Pal. I am not sponsored by this company—I simply believe that it’s the best free calorie tracker on the market: