==== ====For great tips on weight loss check this out:bit.ly/xFVyQt==== ====Most people who read my articles and e-books know me as a science guy who likes to quotestudies and apply research to everyday problems such as weight loss, bodybuilding, and otherhealth/fitness related topics. However, sometimes you have to step back from the science andlook at the big picture to help bring people back into focus, so they can see the forest for the trees,so to speak.For most people reading this article, finding an effective diet that works most of the time mustseem as complicated as nuclear physics. Its not, but there are a bewildering number of choicesfor diets out there. High fat or no fat? High carbohydrate or no carbohydrate? Low protein or highprotein? To make matters worse, there are a million variations and combinations to the above dietscenarios to add to the confusion. It seems endless and causes many people to throw up theirhands in frustration and give up. In this article I will attempt to change all that.There are some general guidelines, rules of thumb, and ways of viewing a diet program that willallow you to decide, once and for all, if its the right diet for you. You may not always like what Ihave to say, and you should be under no illusions this is another quick fix, "lose 100 lbs. in 20days," guide of some sort. However, if you are sick and tired of being confused, tired of taking theweight off only to put it back on, and tired of wondering how to take the first steps to deciding theright diet for you that will result in permanent weight loss, then this is the article that could changeyour life...Does your diet pass "The Test"?What is the number one reason diets fail long term; above all else? The number one reasonis...drum roll...a lack of long term compliance. The numbers dont lie; the vast majority of peoplewho lose weight will regain it - and often exceed what they lost. You knew that already didnt you?Yet, what are you doing to avoid it? Heres another reality check: virtually any diet you pick whichfollows the basic concept of "burning" more calories then you consume - the well accepted"calories in calories out" mantra - will cause you to lose weight. To some degree, they all work:Atkins-style, no carb diets, low fat high carb diets, all manner of fad diets - it simply does notmatter in the short term.If your goal is to lose some weight quickly, then pick one and follow it. I guarantee you will losesome weight. Studies generally find any of the commercial weight loss diets will get approximatelythe same amount of weight off after 6 months to a year. For example, a recent study found theAtkins Diet, Slim-Fast plan, Weight Watchers Pure Points program, and Rosemary Conleys EatYourself Slim diet, were all equally effective. (1)Other studies comparing other popular diets have come to essentially the same conclusions. For
example, a study that compared the Atkins diet, the Ornish diet, Weight Watchers, and The ZoneDiet, found them to be essentially the same in their ability to take weight off after one year. (2)Recall what I said about the number one reason diets fail, which is a lack of compliance. The leadresearcher of this recent study stated:"Our trial found that adherence level rather than diet type was the primary predictor of weightloss"(3)Translated, its not which diet they chose per se, but their ability to actually stick to a diet thatpredicted their weight loss success. I can just see the hands going up now, "but Will, some dietsmust be better than others, right?" Are some diets better then others? Absolutely. Some diets arehealthier then others, some diets are better at preserving lean body mass, some diets are better atsuppressing appetite - there are many differences between diets. However, while most of thepopular diets will work for taking weight off, what is abundantly clear is that adhering to the diet isthe most important aspect for keeping the weight off long term.What is a diet?A diet is a short term strategy to lose weight. Long term weight loss is the result of an alteration inlifestyle. We are concerned with life long weight management, not quick fix weight loss here. Idont like the term diet, as it represents a short term attempt to lose weight vs. a change inlifestyle. Want to lose a bunch of weight quickly? Heck, I will give you the information on how to dothat here and now for no charge.For the next 90 to 120 days eat 12 scrambled egg whites, one whole grapefruit, and a gallon ofwater twice a a day. You will lose plenty of weight. Will it be healthy? Nope. Will the weight stay offonce you are done with this diet and are then forced to go back to your "normal" way of eating?Not a chance. Will the weight you lose come from fat or will it be muscle, water, bone, and(hopefully!) some fat? The point being, there are many diets out there that are perfectly capable ofgetting weight off you, but when considering any eating plan designed to lose weight, you mustask yourself:"Is this a way of eating I can follow long term?"Which brings me to my test: I call it the "Can I eat that way for the rest of my life?" Test. I know, itdoes not exactly roll off your tongue, but it gets the point across.The lesson here is: any nutritional plan you pick to lose weight must be part of a lifestyle changeyou will be able to follow - in one form or another - forever. That is, if its not a way of eating youcan comply with indefinitely, even after you get to your target weight, then its worthless.Thus, many fad diets you see out there are immediately eliminated, and you dont have to worryabout them. The question is not whether the diet is effective in the short term, but if the diet can befollowed indefinitely as a lifelong way of eating. Going from "their" way of eating back to "your" wayof eating after you reach your target weight is a recipe for disaster and the cause of the wellestablished yo-yo dieting syndrome. Bottom line: there are no short cuts, there is no free lunch,and only a commitment to a lifestyle change is going to keep the fat off long term. I realize thatsnot what most people want to hear, but its the truth, like it or not.
The statistics dont lie: getting the weight off is not the hardest part, keeping the weight off is! If youtake a close look at the many well known fad/commercial diets out there, and you are honest withyourself, and apply my test above, you will find most of them no longer appeal to you as they oncedid. It also brings me to an example that adds additional clarity: If you have diet A that will causethe most weight loss in the shortest amount of time but is unbalanced and essentially impossibleto follow long term vs. diet B, which will take the weight off at a slower pace, but is easier to follow,balanced, healthy, and something you can comply with year after year, which is superior? If diet Agets 30 lbs off you in 30 days, but by next year you have gained back all 30 lbs, but diet B gets 20lbs off you in the next 3 months with another 20 lbs 3 months after that and the weight stays off bythe end of that year, which is the better diet?If you dont know the answer to those questions, you have totally missed the point of this articleand the lesson its trying to teach you, and are set up for failure. Go back and read this sectionagain...By default, diet B is superior.Teach a man to Fish...A well known Chinese Proverb is - Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man tofish and you feed him for a lifetime.This expression fits perfectly with the next essential step in how to decide what eating plan youshould follow to lose weight permanently. Will the diet plan you are considering teach you how toeat long term, or does it spoon-feed you information? Will the diet rely on special bars, shakes,supplements or pre-made foods they supply?Lets do another diet A vs. diet B comparison. Diet A is going to supply you with their foods, aswell as their special drink or bars to eat, and tell you exactly when to eat them. You will lose - say -30 lbs in two months. Diet B is going to attempt to help you learn which foods you should eat, howmany calories you need to eat, why you need to eat them, and generally attempt to help teach youhow to eat as part of a total lifestyle change that will allow you to make informed decisions aboutyour nutrition. Diet B causes a slow steady weight loss of 8 -10 lbs per month for the next 6months and the weight stays off because you now know how to eat properly.Recall the Chinese proverb. Both diets will assist you to lose weight. Only one diet, however, willteach you how to be self-reliant after your experience is over. Diet A is easier, to be sure, andcauses faster weight loss than diet B, and diet B takes longer and requires some thinking andlearning on your part. However, when diet A is over, you are right back where you started andhave been given no skills to fish. Diet companies dont make their profits by teaching you to fish,they make their money by handing you a fish so you must rely on them indefinitely or come backto them after you gain all the weight back.Thus, diet B is superior for allowing you to succeed where other diets failed, with knowledgegained that you can apply long term. Diet programs that attempt to spoon feed you a diet withoutany attempt to teach you how to eat without their help and/or rely on their shakes, bars, cookies,or pre-made foods, is another diet you can eliminate from your list of choices.Diet plans that offer weight loss by drinking their product for several meals followed by a "sensibledinner;" diets that allow you to eat their special cookies for most meals along with their pre-planned menu; or diets that attempt to have you eating their bars, drink, or pre-made meals, are of
the diet A variety covered above. Theyre easy to follow but destined for failure, long term. They allfail the "Can I eat that way for the rest of my life?" test, unless you really think you can eat cookiesand shakes for the rest of your life...Bottom line here is, if the nutritional approach you use to loseweight, be it from a book, a class, a clinic, or an e-book, does not teach you how to eat, its a loserfor long term weight loss and it should be avoided.The missing link for long term weight lossWe now make our way to another test to help you choose a nutrition program for long term weightloss, and it does not actually involve nutrition. The missing link for long term weight loss isexercise. Exercise is the essential component of long term weight loss. Many diet programs do notcontain an exercise component, which means they are losers for long term weight loss from thevery start. Any program that has its focus on weight loss but does not include a comprehensiveexercise plan is like buying a car without tires, or a plane without wings. People who havesuccessfully kept the weight off overwhelmingly have incorporated exercise into their lives, and thestudies that look at people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off invariably find thesepeople were consistent with their diet and exercise plans. (4)I am not going to list all the benefits of regular exercise here, but regular exercise has positiveeffects on your metabolism, allows you to eat more calories yet still be in a calorie deficit, and canhelp preserve lean body mass (LBM) which is essential to your health and metabolism. The manyhealth benefits of regular exercise are well known, so I wont bother adding them here. The bottomline here is, (a) if you have any intentions of getting the most from your goal of losing weight and(b) plan to keep it off long term, regular exercise must be an integral part of the weight lossstrategy. So, you can eliminate any program, be it book, e-book, clinic, etc. that does not offer youdirection and help with this essential part of long term weight loss.Side Bar: A quick note on exercise:Any exercise is better than no exercise. However, like diet plans, not all exercise is created equal,and many people often choose the wrong form of exercise to maximize their efforts to lose weight.For example, they will do aerobics exclusively and ignore resistance training. Resistance trainingis an essential component of fat loss, as it builds muscle essential to your metabolism, increases24 hour energy expenditure, and has health benefits beyond aerobics.The reader will also note I said fat loss above not weight loss. Though I use the term weight lossthroughout this article, I do so only because it is a familiar term most people understand. However,the true focus and goal of a properly set up nutrition and exercise plan should be on fat loss, notweight loss. A focus on losing weight, which may include a loss essential muscle, water, and evenbone, as well as fat, is the wrong approach. Losing the fat and keeping the all important lean bodymass (LBM), is the goal, and the method for achieving that can be found in my ebook(s) on thetopic, and is beyond the scope of this article. Bottom line: the type of exercise, intensity of thatexercise, length of time doing that exercise, etc., are essential variables here when attempting tolose FAT while retaining (LBM).Psychology 101 of long term weight lossMany diet programs out there dont address the psychological aspect of why people fail to besuccessful with long term weight loss. However, quite a few studies exist that have looked at justthat. In many respects, the psychological aspect is the most important for long term weight loss,and probably the most underappreciated component.
Studies that compare the psychological characteristics of people who have successfully kept theweight off to people who have regained the weight, see clear differences between these twogroups. For example, one study that looked at 28 obese women who had lost weight but regainedthe weight that they had lost, compared to 28 formerly obese women who had lost weight andmaintained their weight for at least one year and 20 women with a stable weight in the healthyrange, found the women who regained the weight:o Had a tendency to evaluate self-worth in terms of weight and shapeo Had a lack of vigilance with regard to weight controlo had a dichotomous (black-and-white) thinking styleo Had the tendency to use eating to regulate mood.The researchers concluded:"The results suggest that psychological factors may provide some explanation as to why manypeople with obesity regain weight following successful weight loss."This particular study was done on women, so it reflects some of the specific psychological issueswomen have - but make no mistake here - men also have their own psychological issues that cansabotage their long term weight loss efforts. (6)Additional studies on men and women find psychological characteristics such as "havingunrealistic weight goals, poor coping or problem-solving skills and low self-efficacy" often predictfailure with long term weight loss. (7) On the other hand, psychological traits common to peoplewho experienced successful long term weight loss include "...an internal motivation to lose weight,social support, better coping strategies and ability to handle life stress, self-efficacy, autonomy,assuming responsibility in life, and overall more psychological strength and stability." (8)The main point of this section is to illustrate that psychology plays a major role in determining ifpeople are successful with long term weight loss. If its not addressed as part of the overall plan, itcan be the factor that makes or breaks your success. This, however, is not an area most nutritionprograms can adequately tackle and should not be expected to. However, the better programs dogenerally attempt to help with motivation, goal setting, and support. If you see yourself in theabove lists from the groups that failed to maintain their weight long term, then know you will needto address those issues via counseling, support groups, etc. Dont expect any weight loss programto cover this topic adequately but do look for programs that attempt to offer support, goal setting,and resources that will keep you on track."Theres a sucker born every minute"So why dont you see this type of honest information about the realities of long term weight lossmore often? Lets be honest here, telling the truth is not the best way to sell bars, shakes, books,supplements, and programs. Hell, if by some miracle everyone who read this article actuallyfollowed it, and sent it on to millions of other people who actually followed it, makers of saidproducts could be in financial trouble quickly. However, they also know - as the man said - "theresa sucker born every minute," so I doubt they will be kept up at night worrying about the effects thatI, or this article, will have on their business.
So lets recap what has been learned here: the big picture realities of permanent weight loss andhow you can look at a weight loss program and decide for yourself if its for you based on what hasbeen covered above:o Permanent weight loss is not about finding a quick fix diet, but making a commitment to life stylechanges that include nutrition and exerciseo Any weight loss program you choose must pass the "Can I eat that way for the rest of my life?"test,o The weight loss program you choose should ultimately teach you how to eat and be self reliantso you can make informed long term choices about your nutrition.o The weight loss program you choose should not leave you reliant on commercial bars, shakes,supplements, or pre-made foods, for your long term success.o The weight loss program you choose must have an effective exercise component.o The weight loss program you choose should attempt to help with motivation, goal setting, andsupport, but cant be a replacement for psychological counseling if needed.ConclusionI want to take this final section to add some additional points and clarity. For starters, the aboveadvice is not for everyone. Its not intended for those who really have their nutrition dialed in, suchas competitive bodybuilders and other athletes who benefit from fairly dramatic changes in theirnutrition, such as off season and pre-contest and so on.The article is also not intended for those with medical issues who may be on a specific diet to treator manage a specific medical condition. The article is intended for the average person who wantsto get off the Yo-Yo diet merry-go-round once and for all. As thats probably 99% of the population,it will cover millions of people.People should also not be scared off by my "you have to eat this way forever" advice. This doesnot mean you will be dieting for the rest of your life and have nothing but starvation to look forwardto. What it does mean, however, is you will have to learn to eat properly even after you reach yourtarget weight and that way of eating should not be a huge departure from how you ate to lose theweight in the first place. Once you get to your target weight - and or your target bodyfat levels -you will go onto a maintenance phase which generally has more calories and choices of food,even the occasional treat, like a slice of pizza or whatever.Maintenance diets are a logical extension of the diet you used to lose the weight, but they are notbased on the diet you followed that put the weight on in the first place!Regardless of which program you choose, use the above big picture approach which will keepyou on track for long term weight loss. See you in the gym!References
(1) Truby H, et al. Randomised controlled trial of four commercial weight loss programmes in theUK: initial findings from the BBC "diet trials" BMJ 2006;332:1309-1314 (3 June),(2) Michael D., et al, Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone Diets forWeight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction. A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2005;293:43-53.(3) Comparison of Diets for Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction-Reply. MichaelDansinger. JAMA. 2005;293:1590-1591.(4) Kruger J. et al. Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successful at weight lossmaintenance. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2006, 3:17doi:10.1186/1479-5868-3-17(5) Byrne S, et al. Weight maintenance and relapse in obesity: a qualitative study. Int J Obes RelatMetab Disord. 2003 Aug;27(8):955-62.(6) Borg P, et al. Food selection and eating behaviour during weight maintenance intervention and2-y follow-up in obese men.Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Dec;28(12):1548-54.(7) Byrne SM. Psychological aspects of weight maintenance and relapse in obesity. J PsychosomRes. 2002 Nov;53(5):1029-36.(8) Elfhag K, et al. Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factorsassociated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain. Obes Rev. 2005 Feb;6(1):67-85Author BioWill Brink is an author, columnist and expert in the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weightloss industry and has been extensively published. Will graduated from Harvard University with aconcentration in the natural sciences.His often ground breaking articles can be found in publications such as Lets Live, Muscle Media ,MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Exercise For Men Only,and numerous others.He has been co author of several studies relating to sports nutrition and health found in peerreviewed academic journals, as well as having commentary published in JAMA. Will formerlytrained high level Olympic athletes, bodybuilders and fitness and now runs seminars for (SWAT).He is the author of Bodybuilding Revealed which teaches you how to gain solid muscle mass drugfree and Fat Loss Revealed which reveals exactly how to get lean, ripped and healthy completelynaturally.Find out more at http://www.bodybuildingrevealed.com & his personal website athttp://www.brinkzone.com
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