Click here to see a youtube video titled “Eat What You Want and Still Lose Weight”
The law of conservation of energy states that the energy in a system will remain constant over time. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only move from one place to another. This is an important principle when applied to weight loss. It essentially means that if you burn more calories than you eat you will lose weight.
Most people think that the types of food you eat will impact your weight. In reality, the type of food you eat is less important than the amount (of calories). The above video helps to illustrate this important principle. Dr. James Painter is a nutritionist who created a documentary called Portion Size Me. In the film, he takes a group of students and has them eat only fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the same time he controlled the quantity of calories they ate so they burned more than they took in. In the end all the students lost weight in spite of eating only junk food.
Of course, I cannot in good conscience recommend that you eat only fast food (for a variety of health reasons). I am merely trying to emphasize an important point. From the standpoint of weight loss the problem with junk food and fast food is that you get way too many calories way too fast without realizing it. This was illustrated by the focus group in the video above. When the subjects were not conscious of what they were eating they took in twice as many calories without knowing. Both groups felt satisfied with how much they ate but one group ate twice as much.
This is the reason it is nearly impossible to lose a significant amount of weight without controlling or (even better) counting the calories you take in. If you’re not doing this, significant and sustained weight loss is not likely to be successful.
I personally use a website called myfitnesspal. The site is available on my smart phone or any internet connection. It calculates how many calories a day I have to eat. I enter my height, weight, daily activity level, and how many pounds I want to lose each week. The site then calclulates how many calories a day I have to eat to meet my goals. The website has a database of thousands of foods including restaurant items. I enter what I eat and the program subtracts from my totals. There are many similar programs out there and I highly recommend that you use one. You will probably be surprised how many calories you are eating without even realizing it.
The bottom line is:
If you’re not counting, you’re probably not losing.
That’s amazing! Congrats! It is so hard to lose wehigt, and it sounds like you’ve done an amazing job. I agree that changing your whole lifestyle/ outlook can be necessary, as opposed to just going on a diet. It’s a healthier way to do it as well. I also adore sweets, and what works best for me is allowing myself to have some sweets, but not overindulging (easier said than done!) I am also trying exercise portion control by not continuing to eat when I’m full (again, easier said than done). My other trick is having a very low cal or calorie free drink when I’m craving sweets (eg. diet soda, coffee, club soda etc).
To figure out what your healthy weight is you have to calculate what you need to weight for a BMI of 25. You can find that out by doing an internet search for BMI calculator. See my post titled "What is a Healthy Weight" from March 29th to see where that number comes from.How much you weigh now will determine how much you need to lose. Less important than the goal is the rate. Many studies have found that it is best to lose about 1-2 pounds per week. So on myfitnesspal.com, type in your goal weight and then select how fast you want to lose and you're on your way. Also see my post called "Surviving the Holidays" from April 5th to help you create a powerful mindset to help you get to your goal. Good luck and tell me how you're doing!
I've heard about myfitnesspal before – I know two people who have successfully lost weight using this tool. I know that myfitnesspal determines the calorie counts you need to reach your goals, but do they provide any guidance as to what your goals should be? I had a conversation recently with a coworker who wanted to lose weight for her wedding, and it sounded like her 30 lb weight loss goal was just like a number picked out of the hat, not necessarily appropriate or realistic. I'm trying to eat better ad eat less junk, but I realized that I don't actually know what my goal should even be in the first place. Maybe I need to lose weight, but I don't even know how many lbs I need to lose. How do you determine appropriate and realistic goals in the first place?
Weight Watchers essentially allows a person to calorie count only they use a slightly different format. If you stay under your point limits you almost certainly are decreasing your caloric intake. The fact that they focus on calorie control is the reason why Weight Watchers is the only commercial weight loss program to be shown effective in a large clinical trial comparing multiple programs. Remember that for weight loss to be effective and durable it has to be something you can stick to forever. The minute you stop working for the diet is the minute the diet stops working for you. So if Weight Watchers helps you los weight and if you think you can stick with it indefinitely, go for it! Good luck!
Great article! Are there downsides to the Weight Watchers program? While members are calculating everything they eat via fat, carbs, protein, and fiber, they are not counting calories. What are the potential implications if any?