Finished the book three days ahead of schedule! I sent the manuscript off the Archangel Ink for editing and formatting yesterday. Tomorrow night we fly off to Cabo for a two week vacation on the beach.
Some thoughts from my writing experience.
As I researched and wrote the book, it became quite clear how important calories are in the grand scheme. I know that the word “calorie” is taboo in the dieting world, and every blogger worth his salt has written about the futility of counting calories for weight loss. But, the sad truth seems to be that if you are not counting calories your weight loss journey will be short-lived.
The holy-grail of dieting is finding a way to eat that allows you to lose weight without counting calories. Some diets, like Weight Watchers, substitute “points” for calories, or have lists of foods you can eat as you please only limiting certain foods, e.g. “carbs,” fat, sweets, etc… This is all just a smokescreen to hide the fact that weight loss can only be successful when your diet is hypocaloric.
Here’s the problem with diets that don’t track calories: You will overeat on “allowable” foods and stop losing weight.
A big problem with calorie counting is that people get too focused on the number of calories, and lose focus of food quality. So I think it’s best to split the difference. Focus first on eating high-quality food, but also track how many calories you are ingesting daily. At some point, you’ll begin to lose weight and this weight loss can be sustained indefinitely by carefully adjusting the number of calories eaten daily.
With the technology available today, counting calories is very easy. There are tons of apps and websites with free calorie counting programs. Some even let you take a picture of your food and it will estimate the calories in the meal.
My Little Experiment
Starting January 2nd this year, I started counting the calories I was eating. Upon examination, my normal diet consisted of 2500-3500 calories daily, and I was weight-stable. I’ve been eating this way for many years, not worrying in the least about macro ratios or calories. My weight has remained between 175 and 185 pounds for many years.
On January 2nd, I weighed 183 pounds. I began limiting my calories to 1500/day. I used a free program found on www.fitday.com to track how much I was eating. A sample day (Hopefully you can zoom in to see):
About 12 pounds lost over 6 weeks at 1500cal/day, mostly. I had a couple days over 2000 calories, but none significantly under 1500. My average throughout this period was 1550 cal/day.
Eating 1500 calories is not that hard. Especially when you load up on low-calorie foods like berries and veggies. You quickly learn to identify food that takes up way too much space in your daily allotment of calories..butter, cheese, etc. have very low payback for the amount of calories they contain.
12 pounds in 6 weeks is definitely not as sexy as 5 pounds in 5 days like I could have gotten from the Potato Hack, but I think 1500 calories of real food is much easier than eating 3-5 pounds of potatoes a day. And more sustainable, especially if someone needed to lose a large amount of weight.
It dawned on me as I wrote the book and did this experiment that the biggest reason for diet failure is failure to accurately track calories. There is no way to “eyeball” a specific calorie count. You have to use technology. You need to carefully measure and log everything you eat, unpleasant as that may sound. Once your diet is truly hypocaloric, weight loss will ensue. If the food you are eating is mainly wholesome and nutritious, you don’t need to count grams of fat or carbs, just calories. If you do not lose weight, you have to lower the daily calories until you start losing. For every human, there will be a level of caloric intake that results in weight gain, weight stability, and weight loss. This is universally accepted in medical literature. Caveat: There may be certain illnesses that prevent weight stability.
What about you? Any arguments? Agreements?