The simple math of weight control
In few areas of American life is there more silly, but often very profitable, misinformation than on dieting and weight control. You probably don’t need a special diet, and we’re not going to try to sell you one. What you need is to eat a reasonably healthy balanced diet in moderate portions. When looking at a “diet” you should ask yourself if you can eat that way for the rest of your life; if not, it’s not something you should consider. Attitude Media is not about quick fixes; not in investing, not in politics, not in business, and certainly not in diet. Listen to us, but decide for yourself, and focus on the long term.
Nutrition is a complicated subject, and there is some legitimate debate as to what foods are best at fighting certain illnesses. However, fundamentally, weight control is not complicated; you will lose weight if your calorie expenditure exceeds your calorie intake. The single greatest mistake people make is to overestimate the amount of calories they burn in exercise while underestimating the calories they take in from eating and drinking.
Strength and tone: hard come, easy go
The basic truth is the one we outline in our essay on valuism it is much harder to create value than to destroy it. In terms of exercise, this means that the rate of muscle decay is twice as fast as muscle creation; if it took you 3 months to get in good shape, and you stop exercising completely, you will lose most of the strength you built up in 6 weeks. The rate of decay for cardio fitness is even faster; take a couple weeks off from running and you’ll quickly see what I mean. In the context of nutrition, this rule means that the amount of calories you burn off in thirty minutes of vigorous exercise can easily be exceeded by a few minutes of eating the wrong foods.
The illusion of fad diets
Some people point to the good results of fad diets as “proof” that they work. But they often work in unintended ways. For instance, if you cut out carbohydrates, red meat, or dairy products, from your diet you may well lose weight, not because those foods are “bad” foods but simply because by constraining your diet your overall caloric intake will be somewhat less than otherwise. If you have a diet that tells you to eat unlimited amounts of Twinkies, or bacon, or anything else, you will probably lose weight just because you get tired of eating the designated food, and thus your overall intake is smaller. If you don’t eat any type of bread, you may well end up eating more of other things, but, overall, your caloric intake will be somewhat smaller, and you will probably lose weight. But you will also have a less balanced diet, with negative health effects.