The truth about weight loss

IMGP2737cI’ve written quite a few articles on how to lose weight, both dieting techniques and exercise routines, but one thing I haven’t clearly stated is the simple truth about weight loss so to make up for my mistake, here it is as clearly as I can make it:

If you eat more than you need for your level of activity, you will get fat.

For a person with no other medical conditions (for instance, thyroid problems, hormonal issues, food intolerances, cancer – all of which can be ruled out by visiting a doctor), this statement cannot be truer. Many so-called experts talk about the need for protein shakes, eating healthy/balanced meals, special diet pills, eating a big breakfast, not eating carbs after 6pm, not eating carbs, not eating meat and so on. And then there are the dieters on the other side looking to lose weight fast or kickstart their diet. The reality is that for any of these diets and approaches, if you eat more than you need for your level of activity, you will get fat.

So with this simple bit of information, how can you proceed?

The first thing you will need to do is work out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure using a calculator (see Resources, below).

Now, subtract 20% and that is your daily target to eat. You don’t have to be 100% accurate but note that eating under this is more likely to have you feeling hungry all the time which leads to bingeing and giving up. You have been warned.

You will find it useful to log everything you eat everyday using a diet diary (see Resources, below). It’s very easy to plan your day’s eating so you don’t undereat or overeat.

You will soon figure out how much you can eat without having to log.

Tips to help you with your weight loss

Eat more protein. It keeps you feeling full for longer. It also helps to avoid muscle loss so your physique will become more aesthetically pleasing as you lose weight.

Don’t be afraid of fat – not all fat is bad for you, and whilst it contains more calories, food containing good fats can help you feel full for longer.

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Strength training can help not only to burn fat but to maintain muscle. You won’t get bulky unless you eat excessively. Starting Strength is a very comprehensive book on the subject.

Exercise is optional but it means you can eat more. If you play with the TDEE calculator you will see what I mean. Doing some kind of fun exercise such as Zumba is more likely to keep you doing it.

Be truthful with yourself and log every bite or sip – nearly everything has calories in it and it all counts. As they say, what you eat in private shows in public!

Body types – there’s a certain truth to people having different body types that result in you gaining weight or losing weight more quickly than someone with another body type, but ultimately, you still need to eat under your TDEE.

Get used to hunger. It’s just a signal to tell you to eat. Distract yourself with work or some kind of hobby.

Don’t drink your calories if you can help it – teas/coffees with two sugars add up to many calories and are not as satisfying as eating food. My personal favourite for replacing these popular drinks is white tea, a Chinese tea with similar health properties to green tea: white tea on

Don’t be hard on yourself – it’s good to try to eat healthily but the occasional naughty treat, whilst not good for your waistline, is good for your morale and will keep you focused.

Think about the long-term/lifestyle solution – if you go for a quick fix solution, then you’re more likely to fail; you’re also more likely to ruin your health (hair loss, low immunity and fatigue are just some symptoms of Very Low Calorie Diets).

Expect weight fluctuations in both directions – you’re best off weighing yourself once a week or more infrequently to avoid disappointment.

Eating a hearty breakfast won’t “fire up” your metabolism as it doesn’t dramatically change overnight but eating breakfast will avoid the 11am chocolate binge. The downside is that it means you have fewer calories left in your “budget” for lunch and dinner.

Healthy snacks won’t “keep your metabolism stoked”.


If you eat more than you need for your level of activity, you will get fat.


TDEE calculator:

Diet diary: