People say weight loss is about 70% diet and 30% exercise. For weight loss that's probably right but for long-term weight loss success it's probably more than 70% diet.
What many people don't realise is that when it comes to your diet, there are very few things that matter in terms of achieving weight loss and keeping the weight off.
These two factors account for 95% of your results:
- The amount of overall calories you consume.
- The amount of protein you consume. (This is because it takes the body more energy to digest protein compared to carbohydrates and fat. Protein has a higher thermic effect of food.)
Out of these two factors, number one is by far the most important said connectedcongress.org website.
All other factors have little or no direct impact on your weight loss results:
- Meal timing
- Meal frequency
- Good carbs vs bad carbs
- Processed foods vs unprocessed foods
In the end the number of determinant of your weight loss results is calories and not the "quality of your food".
Yet despite this fact there are thousands of diets that promise you their specific way of eating gets you the best results.
What these different diets are trying to optimise indirectly is your adherence to the diet.
In other words, the 4 Hour Body Diet says that you will lose weight by avoiding all kinds white carbohydrates.
Atkins tells you to avoid carbohydrates altogether which is what is supposed to make you lose weight.
Paleo tells you to eat like our ancestors, like cavemen or hunter-gatherers.
What all diets have in common is that they use some kind of mechanism to create a caloric deficit.
The best diet for you is the diet that will make you stick to it and keep eating at a caloric deficit until you reach your goal.
In other words your perfect diet makes you sacrifice foods in areas where you are happy to sacrifice and lets you keep enjoying other foods that are important for your overall satisfaction. That is the kind of diet you can stick to in the long-term.
So what successful dieting really comes down to is optimising sacrifice based on your individual preferences.
We all have different preferences so there is no one diet that will work for everyone.
Let me illustrate this in terms of my own preferences and how I've been able to sacrifice while still losing weight consistently:
- I used to drink sugary sodas regularly. I think this is one of the habits everyone can and should kick. These are really just empty calories. So I substituted sugary sodas with drinking water with every meal. If I really feel like something sweet I will have a have a fresh mango smoothie with very little added sugar. Changing this habit can save you 300 to 500 calories per day, which can equate to almost a pound of fat per week.
- I enjoy going out and having a few drinks. I used to drink beer regularly both during the evening as well as on the weekends. I now substituted drinking beer with drinking whiskey-soda which will save me hundreds or even thousands of calories over my lifetime. If I really feel like drinking a beer sometimes I will still have it, but it's only occasionally.
- I also realised that intermittent fasting works very well for myself. When I eat I prefer eating larger meals because it is more satisfying. I'm better at fasting during certain times and eating more when I'm actually eating. Again this is an individual preference, some people prefer having many small meals. In the end it's the total amount you eat per week that will determine whether you gain or lose weight.
- Similarly, I switched from cappuccino or latte to black coffee with a splash of milk, no sugar. These days I enjoy black coffee with a bit of milk much more than the other milk heavy version. The difference between the two is about 100 calories per drink. I have about three coffees per day. That's 300 calories per day just by opting for black coffee with just a little bit of milk.
You get the idea.
At the same time, I still continue to enjoy foods with drinking tea that I really like that most people would not consider part of a lean diet. I eat ice cream regularly. I'll have a burger or a whole meal at a fast food restaurant regularly. And like I said, I still drink alcohol regularly.
Because if I wouldn't have all of these foods I would eventually get really dissatisfied and binge eat anyway. By still eating them, I'm always happy and don't face any problems in regard to binging.
You need to find out for yourself which foods you are happy to give up in order to lose weight and which foods should still be a regular treat in your diet. Thereby you optimise your sacrifice based on your personal preferences.