I’ve been losing weight recently. Like, a noticeable amount of weight.
I don’t bring this up to brag (well, okay, maybe a little). I bring it up because, inevitably, people ask me about this weight loss. They want to know what “plan” I use or which macros I’m eliminating to achieve such results. How can I achieve significant weight loss without following the advice of some diet guru in a white lab coat toting a bestselling recipe book?
It’s simply because I control my calories in vs. calories out, I tell them. Yes, that’s it.
I am continually stunned by the number of people who tell me I’m wrong when I tell them this. They tell me that THIS diet or THAT eating plan will help me lose more weight or will cleanse the toxic chemicals that make me fat in the first place. They tell me that because they avoided gluten or ate like a Japanese grandma they had lost weight, too, and they felt so much better than when they ate processed junk food!
I usually just nod my head at this point, because it’s a casual conversation and I need to resist the urge to call them on their ignorance. But in my mind, I’m practically screaming, it’s the calories, stupid!
As an example, let’s look at the long-lived Atkins diet. Here’s a suggested Atkins diet menu on the official Atkins website. I picked a day from their “Stage 1” menu — Wednesday of Week 1 — and totaled up the calories. The result? 1500 calories, which is a common “dieting level” recommended on many diet & fitness websites and books. It’s not just Wednesday, either. Every day in the first two weeks of the sample Atkins menu adds up somewhere in the 1200 – 1500 calorie range.
Atkins is old news, though. Let’s look at something trendier: the Paleo diet. Eat like a hunter-gatherer, be lean like one, too. Once again, I went out and found a typical starting Paleo diet meal plan and totaled up a typical day’s calories. And once again, each day added up to 1200 – 1500 calories, depending on portion size (the menu’s a bit vague).
For the hat trick, I looked up the Mediterranean Diet, too. I didn’t even have to do the math this time, these websites did it for me. And no surprise, both sample menus add up to about 1500 calories.
Will you lose weight on these diets? Yes! But not because you’re avoiding carbs, or eating a lot of fish, or mimicking the cavemen. You’ll lose weight because each plan has you reducing calories to typical “dieting” levels.
The popular extreme example of the calories-in-calories-out premise is, of course, the Twinkie Diet, where a nutrition professor lost 27 lbs. subsisting solely on cakes, chips, and cookies. I am not on the Twinkie Diet, but I’m also not denying myself some pleasure foods. Here’s a partial list of things I’ve eaten in the last week: chocolate chip cookies (homemade); a Taco Bell burrito and chips; a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Latte (not skinny); a pasta dinner with garlic bread; and a container of Wendy’s french fries. And yet, in that time, I’ve also lost three pounds, because I have simply burned more calories than I have eaten.
It seems obvious, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe I need to package this simple truth in such a way as to make people take notice. So, I’m starting my own diet plan.
Announcing: the Skeptoid Diet!
Need to lose weight? Feeling ugly and bloated? Tired of fad diets with ridiculous restrictions based on shoddy science? Then try the Skeptoid Diet, the only diet plan scientifically proven to help you lose weight.
The Skeptoid Diet works by using the ancient secret of kilocaloric cellular respiration (KCR) to help you burn off excess pounds. For thousands of years, the Chinese, Mayans, and Finnish have been using the secret of KCR and its vital, all-natural partner, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), to keep fit and thin. Maintaining proper KCR is the hidden diet trick that doctors don’t want you to know! It’s true! Just try asking them about KCR; they’ll probably report you to the NSA! [Oh, heck, the NSA was probably already listening.]
But now, for the first time ever, we here at Skeptoid are going to reveal the secret of weight loss via KCR to you!
- Step 1: Eat fewer calories.
- Step 2: Burn more calories.
- Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you die of accident, natural causes, or whatever ultimate end the world has in store for you.
I know what you’re thinking: can it really be that simple? Of course it can! But if you really want more, then don’t hesitate to put in your pre-order for The Skeptoid Diet: The Book! and The Skeptoid Diet: The Cookbook! where we will provide you with a complete list of what foods to eat (hint: all of them) and which to avoid (hint: none of them), as well as delicious recipes that reflect the core of the Skeptoid Diet plan (all of which you could probably find online somewhere). The Skeptoid Diet: The Book! and The Skeptoid Diet: The Cookbook! are both due out next year, sometime. Maybe. Makes a great gift!