Weight loss: one of the most talked about topics on the internet. And yet, people are still fat. In 2014, around 28% of adults in the UK were obese. Why? What’s the mystery? How can it be possible to lose weight?
How To Lose Weight
Many overweight people, if you ask them about it, seem totally clueless about why they’re overweight. “I don’t even eat that much!” they say, bemoaning the way that some fit people seem to be able to ‘eat whatever they want’. But for anyone who knows how the human body works, there’s no mystery at all.
If you are gaining weight, you are consuming more calories than you’re burning.
In other words, you’re eating or drinking too much, and you’re not exercising enough.
Calories In, Calories Out
If you want to lose weight, the ONLY thing that matters is that you start consuming less calories than you burn. Nothing else matters. Not time of day, not gluten or lack of it, not whether the food is high or low in fat. Only calories matter.
The simplest way to put this into action is to start tracking your calories. Sign up to one of those online fitness trackers, or get yourself an app, and start recording and measuring all the food you eat. Use the internet to find out how much calories it contains, and you’ll know how much you’ve eaten. Make sure you include calories from drinks.
What about the other side of the equation? Well, the calories you consume in a day can be calculated easily too. It’s the Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE, and you can find a bunch of calculators for it just by googling that. Ta da! Just make sure this number is about 500 more than the other number, and you’ll lose weight at a steady, sensible rate.
But What About X/Y/Z Diet?
It’s no secret that there are a ton of popular diet plans, a lot of which even seem to work. Some people cut out grains or eat low carb. Some people eat low fat, or even vegetarian or vegan. Some people use a points system, as in Weight Watchers. Some people even fast for some of the days of the week. Does this mean CICO is broken?
No, it doesn’t. All of these diets work for weight loss because they trick people into eating fewer calories in total. Perhaps the food is more filling for the same amount of calories, or perhaps they help people to deal with hunger better, or stop eating out of boredom. Ultimately, if one of these diets works better for you than tracking calories directly does, feel free to use it. I know I get bored tracking things. Just remember to adjust it a bit if you’re not losing weight yet.
What About Those Thin People I Saw Eating Cake?
Occasionally, you see an overweight person make the argument that some skinny people can eat whatever they want and stay skinny, whereas they just have to look at some cake and they get fat. Realistically, though, the skinny person is probably doing one of several things to balance out their cake habit.
- They could be really tall. Tall people have a higher TDEE. Yes, it’s unfair for short people, but you have to work with what you’ve got.
- This could be the only piece of cake they’ve eaten in two weeks. Overweight people will often eat treats that are supposedly ‘just this once’ on a surprisingly large amount of days, because it’s ‘Friday’ or ‘Monday’ or ‘my neighbour’s friend’s dog’s birthday’, or whatever. A thin person saying ‘just this once’ probably means it.
- They could exercise regularly. Perhaps they go to the gym five days a week. If they’re actually doing intense exercise, that’d burn quite a lot of calories, increasing their TDEE by a lot.
- They could be a fidgeter. Some people just naturally fidget a lot, myself included. Generally, even when I’m apparently sitting still, I’m not ACTUALLY sitting still for longer than a few minutes. A really energetic fidgeter might even burn an extra 300 calories a day.
Weight Loss Is Simple
As we’ve seen, the secret to losing weight isn’t exactly rocket science. In CICO, we have a simple rule to follow. As usual, that doesn’t make it easy – you’ll still need to stick to your weight loss plan for months, and if you go back to your old diet at the end of it, you’ll put the weight back on. But this is Death To Complacency, and here, we don’t shy from difficulty. You can do it. You can lose weight.