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How many more diets...?

I’ve been watching diets come and go—for over thirty years (twenty as a weight management professional). A well marketed diet book can pull down big money for publishers and authors, but do they deliver for the consumers buying them that are looking for answers?

For the most part diet books don’t deliver. The vast majority of diet books waste your time on nonsense that won’t—ever—produce results. Every book has its “magic formula,” usually some special combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates that the author asserts makes calories not count, and of course only the author has the secret to! As I've written about before, that's all nonsense.

At this point we have several decades of reasonably well done research studies, which when analyzed as a group shows no difference (of practical significance) between widely varying proportions of protein, carbohydrate and fat.1 

That’s right, you can forget about playing Twister with protein, carbohydrate and fat, and just focus on eating in a reasonably healthy way that you also enjoy! 

What’s also clear is that weight loss results only from a negative energy balance.2 And furthermore, what still too few people understand—a lower body weight will only be maintained by maintaining a lower NET energy balance.3

Given these facts, what counts when you want to lose weight are behaviors that directly impact your energy balance. In other words, they directly impact your calorie intake or output. These behaviors are what I call “weight-loss-mastery-skills” and include:­ physical activity, calorie knowledge, record keeping, stimulus control, and social support

What is also critical is a foundation to support you in effectively utilizing the weight-loss-mastery-skills. That foundation addresses two key areas: 1) what’s going on between your ears: your self-talk, and understanding how not to backslide, and 2) active self-management: through planning and problem-solving, and leveraging structure.4

Successful weight management doesn’t just happen. That's because it's a complex and challenging project to manage, within a life that's likely already complex and challenging in other areas! You can trust, however, that by approaching your weight loss project with the right foundation and consistently applying the weight-loss-mastery-skills, over time, you can transform your current-weight into your goal-weight.

For more reliable information on healthy weight loss see my book The NEW Healthy Eating & Weight Management Guide.

All the Best!

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1. What is the optimal proportion of dietary fat, CHO and protein to lose weight if overweight or obese? The gist of this data is that when calories are controlled, there is no advantage to differing macronutrient combinations. In the short-term (six-months) higher protein diets tend toward greater weight loss, but the difference disappears after 6-months. Don't however, discount protein's value during calorie restriction. 

2. Hall KD, et al. AJCN 2012;95(4):989-994. Energy balance and its components: implication for body weight regulation. This is a consensus statement from a multidisciplinary team of researchers for the American Society for Nutrition. The takeaway, is that "human physiology complies with the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy can be transformed from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed." Contrary to some assertions this does not discount the second law of thermodynamics which is inherently accounted for within RMR itself.

3. Hall KD, et al. Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on body weight. Lancet 2011;378:826-837.

4. Robinson DD. The NEW Healthy Eating & Weight Managment Guide. Pages 24-31