In order for weight loss to occur, ultimately you have to exert more energy than your caloric intake. This of course is one of the older paradigms of weight loss, and it works.
If you can just restrict your calories, exercise a lot, never get cravings again, and not have any emotional setbacks then you’ll be fine. You lose weight, it just takes time. Even if the food you eat is unhealthy, if your calories are low enough and your activities high enough you've got to lose weight.
But this has nothing to do with total health. This has nothing to do with eating so that you have a low inflammatory diet to help reduce physical pain. This has nothing to do with eating so that you don’t promote degenerative illnesses or cancer.
So calories are one factor. But they are one factor among many other important factors, such as eliminating processed food and reducing the amount of protein that you eat every day. You have to be cognizant of calories, but calories are not the most important thing regarding good overall health and a lasting lifestyle pattern in which weight control is a priority.
The more you clean up your diet, the more biologically efficient you become. The more efficient your body becomes, the more likely it is that you can consume a fair amount of calories and still drop some pounds.
You could easily do an internet search and type in your height, your age, and your weight, plus a question how many calories you need. Some diets have interactive apps to enable you to do so. They are likely to put you into a calorie deficit of somewhere between 1500 and 1800 calories a day. On a standard Western diet, it’s a fair assumption that a diet will be somewhere around 2000-2500 calories depending on the activity levels.
This doesn’t take into account that a person doing a juice fast can be totally nourished and sustain a 1500 calorie per day diet for a very long period of time. And it doesn’t take into account that If a person were to eat a 1500 calorie per day diet that consisted only of bacon, after about a month he or she would be on the brink of death.
A diet program that’s teaching someone to understand their eating patterns won’t just give out numbers to indicate how much a person may eat in a day. Some do practice diets based primarily on counting calories and they do very well. But most people fall short with such programs. And one reason that this is the case is that the problem is much more about what we eat than it is about how much we eat.
If we change our eating patterns, introduce wholesome foods, and allow our bodies to detox away from processed foods, our cravings will go down. And because of this we will eat less. If our diet consists of highly processed foods and junk foods, our cravings will soar. Subsequently we will eat more, our caloric intake will increase, we’ll gain weight, and we’ll feel terrible about doing so.
There are plenty of diets that you can go on that will crush your caloric intake as low as possible, enabling you to lose 3 pounds in a week. That’s a struggle not worth fighting for. You could lose 2 to 3 pounds in a week with the same caloric intake you had before just by doing the intermittent fasting program that I discuss later on in this book. Or you could lose 2 to 3 pounds in a week with the same caloric intake as in previous weeks by increasing your exercise activity dramatically. Or you could lose 2 to 3 pounds in a week with the same caloric intake by switching your diet to being 100% plant-based.
The second, third, and fourth weeks of a diet should be of great concern. What are you doing after the first week to make sure that you don’t create a sluggish chemistry? Or if you’re in a calorie deficit but are still eating processed food, you’re likely to stumble into a chemically-based depression.
I have grave doubts about the long-term effects of diets focused on calorie counting and deficits. I’ve watched scores of people in my career start their diets carrying small scales with them and weighing their food. Sadly, many regained their weight after a time. Their ingrained unhealthy eating patterns didn’t change over time.
The solution to weight control problems doesn’t come in the form of an app or a pill. The solution comes in retraining your habits and dealing with your emotions. It comes in adapting a program that takes into account the ways we think and the ways we feel. It comes in dealing properly with our delicate and fragile emotional world. When we do that, we can withstand setbacks and not feel the need to self-destruct by using food to repress painful feelings.
The companies that are sending food to the house in portion meals are giving us a temporary solution, and this could be a good thing in the short run. If we can see the types of foods that we’re supposed to be eating and then eat in a wholesome manner for a month or two, we might be able to interrupt our old unhealthy eating patterns.
But remember, just getting a box of food sent to your door is not enough. You have to deal with emotional issues that are at the root of weight control problems, and you have to deal with those issues every day.