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Diets - the inconvenient truth

Updated on December 14, 2013

Couple walking

Out for a walk
Out for a walk | Source

Long term commitment is the key to effective weight loss

Steps to success

Every magazine you read, every story you hear and everywhere you go the word diet is sure to rear its ugly head. From the next fad diet, to the latest pill it is big business. After all the promise of life - changing results from following a “specialised plan” just proves too irresistible for some. Who can blame someone from wanting to look good, feel better and achieve a goal anyway?

However, the trick is a clever marketing campaign from these Companies, which aim to get you to believe they have the answer. The science behind weight loss stays the same that is to consume fewer calories than you burn despite the “secret” that some of these diet plans or pills claim. Of course, there is a little more to it than that but in its most basic form, there is the secret in black and white. The “secret” is the hook; it makes people believe that their product is the only way you can lose weight.

Another trick is the theory I call, “the blind you with science approach”, using words like RMR (resting metabolic rates), muscle atrophy, fat cells and so forth. Of course, some of this is true and if you are interested in this subject like me, that is fine - learn about it. If not why do you need to know it and overcomplicate matters? Well the fact is you do not, you just need to grasp the basics, no diets, no point counting, no personal trainers and no RMR’S – I promise! However, remember the truth is diets work because they are restrictive; they deprive you of the food you really desire.

Another problem is how people approach a diet. In today’s society with instant information, quick credit and a vast choice of goods we are used to getting what we want and quickly. In truth, people want instant results in life, I am guilty of this too, but to approach a diet like this is an absolute mistake. Think of DIET as Deprived, Impossible, Expensive, Trying, or rearrange the letters to TIED down!

Now I have had my rant, and without making this article unnecessarily complex, let us take a look at the simple things you can do in your life to lose that weight, assuming that is your goal of course. As a guide, current recommendations are to consume roughly 2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men, assuming you are already moderately active. If not reduce it by 500 calories, that is as scientific as it needs to get.

Therefore, with this in mind, and above all being realistic, one of the first and easiest steps to take is quite literally to increase your steps - by that I mean walking. See a short video from DR OZ for a brief explanation of the relationship between walking and weight loss. Aim to build this into your everyday activity, everything counts, housework, going to the shops, parking in the furthest car parking space at work or getting off a bus stop early and walking the rest of the way. Check the American college of sports medicine website for further reading on the health benefits of walking.

It is quite surprising how creative you can be in incorporating walking into everyday life. Sure life can be busy but with a little planning, you cando it. If you think what can walking do check out the following calories burn tables from the UK Department of Health.

What a 60kg person burns in 30 minutes

  • strolling (2mph): 75 calories
  • walking (3mph): 99 calories
  • fast walking (4mph): 150 calories

Source: At least five a week, Department of Health, 2004

If you are keen think of running, swimming, participating in a sport or joining a class- the opportunities are endless. Remember as a rule of thumb, and especially if you are currently inactive, really aim to get those steps in. Small goals are the real secret to your successful weight loss not an expensive diet plan or wonder pill. Secondly, do not deprive yourself of your favourite foods whether that is chocolate or crisps think more along the lines of cutting down not cutting out.

If you completely cut out your favourite food I can almost guarantee you –the cravings will increase. Instead of a full chocolate bar if that is your downfall have half a bar and so forth. If you have a packet of crisps every day or for dinner and lunch reduce that to just one packet every other day or once a day. Aim to slowly remove the high sugar and fat foods from your diet over a period and see them as a treat not an everyday blowout. That way you are in control and that is the secret to success.

Another point to emphasise is weight loss will occur but at a slower rate than a traditional diet, but more importantly, what you are doing here is changing your lifestyle and in the long term that means sustainable weight loss. Eating better and becoming more active, now that is the whole secret revealed – it really is that simple. Therefore, my take home messages today are -

  • To remember what DIET really stands for- Deprived, Impossible, Expensive, Trying

  • Understanding you are in control,

  • Slowly adjust your eating patterns at the pace you want to go at,

  • Aim to get those steps in everyday - walking is the real secret and a great start

  • Don’t waste money on the next fad diet or the outlandish claims of magic weight loss pills

  • Involve other people in your family to help keep you motivated

  • This will not cost you anything (dependant how far you take it of course)

  • Remember this is a lifestyle change and in the long term you will succeed

Andrew Picken.


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