“Lose 20 pounds in one week! No dieting! No exercise! No lifestyle change!”
I will admit that I’ve been sucked in by such snake oil pitches and pie-in-the-sky promises ever since I was first embarrassed by having to shop in the “husky” section of the boys’ clothing department.
Yet, decades later, such 127-point screaming headline proclamations remain as common fare across the back pages of tabloids; or enthusiastically, breathlessly broadcast on slick, highly produced infomercials featuring questionable “experts” interviewing “real people” experiencing “actual results.”
When we can turn down the magical thinking long enough to strap on our adult brain thinking caps, we know that losing weight is not rocket science; it’s a simple premise; keep your mouth shut longer and your feet moving further and you’ll end up at your correct weight. The bottom line is quite simply “calories in versus calories out.” Period; end of story; mystery over. Spend more than you take in and — voila! — a new skinny you.
Should you need validation of this fact, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report a while ago, that proved that as long as a diet reduced one’s caloric intake, the result was weight loss — regardless of the diet’s make up of fat, protein, or carbohydrate. They asked 811 overweight and obese adults to try one of four different low-fat, high fiber diets. Activity was encouraged, and participants could receive group and individual support to keep them motivated. What they discovered was that craving, fullness, hunger, and diet satisfaction were similar across all four diets; and that all participants lost weight and reduced their waistlines — irrespective of the type of diet they followed.
Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, says the study’s results are good news for those who hate dieting, mentioning that the key to success is to find something you like so you will stick to it for the necessary period required to obtain your goal. “If (people) are trying to adhere to a diet they don’t like, it’s not going to work long term. If you don’t like it now, you won’t like it two years down the road. So whatever you are doing, if you don’t like it, try something else.”
Of course, common sense must prevail; not all calories are created equal and the real objective is good health, not simply a number on a scale. As illustration, let’s assume your body needs about 1500 calories a day to maintain its weight. You decide you want to lose a pound a week, requiring you to shed approximately 500 calories a day. To do this, you switch to the “All Beer Diet.” “Drink only beer and lose weight!” the promoters proclaim. At about 125 calories per serving, that equates to eight servings a day and nothing else.
Question: Would you lose weight?
Answer: Sure, it’s calories in versus calories out.
Question Two: Would you be healthy?
I’d love to be the one to unveil a new magical solution to weight loss; on that requires neither changes nor adjustments. I’d also like to be able to flap my arms and fly. Neither is going to happen. However, if I flap often enough, I could burn off a few calories; drop a few pounds, and even firm up that wiggly part under my arms.