The Best Weight Loss Diet – by Craig Good on Quora

Weight loss diet scale

This is a re-post from Craig Good’s blog article on Quora. I found it very interesting and thought you might enjoy reading it.

Diets don’t work. Don’t diet.

So many questions on Quora are about losing weight, asking about this diet or another that I find I’m having to give essentially the same answer over and over. So here’s the generic answer.

If you’re using diet as a verb you’re doing it wrong.

A healthy diet is a varied diet, mostly plants, not too much or too little. Anybody making claims more specific than that for a diet is selling something.

Since there is no nutrient that you absolutely need every day (even water, but don’t skip that for more than a day), another way to look at it is that what you eat today doesn’t matter, but what you eat this month does.

Especially don’t do elimination diets for weight loss. You can lose weight while eating any kind of food you can imagine. Any food can be part of a healthy diet. There is no reason to punish yourself with food you don’t like. Weight (and we’re talking fat, not muscle) is entirely a matter of calorie balance.

If someone tries to tell you that you need to avoid a certain food or eat a certain food to be healthy or lose weight, run screaming and never listen to them again. They don’t know what they’re talking about. And the more sure of themselves they sound the less they know.

Consult your doctor before starting any weight loss program. You should see a doctor as soon as possible if any of the below are true for you, as it could be symptomatic of a serious eating disorder. There is help for those, and you need to get it.

  • You are restricting yourself to fewer calories than your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Even for a tiny woman that’s going to be at least 1,200 calories/day. You can calculate your BMR using a BMR calculator.
  • There are any foods that cause you fear or make you feel anxious.
  • You are upset or obsessed by numbers like body weight, calories, or nutritional content.
  • You are a teenager who is losing weight.

Assuming it really is safe and appropriate for you to lose some weight, I highly recommend Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again to anybody trying to diet to lose weight. Read it if you want to understand the science and psychology behind what I’m about to suggest in this brief summary. The book could easily pay for itself if it keeps you from wasting money on a weight loss program.

  • Don’t diet. Diets don’t work. They just cause stress, which is bad for you.
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food, and use smart strategies to avoid having to rely on “willpower”.
  • Eat your veggies first. At home, serve the vegetable course before serving the main course. This actually works.
  • Put obstacles between you and the foods you know you should eat less of. That can be as simple as moving it out of arm’s reach, believe it or not, but it’s even smarter to just not have it in the house. Keep fruit around for snacking, for example.
  • Don’t make rapid changes to your body weight. This is a long term process, and your weight will fluctuate during it.
  • Get exercise. Exercise is good for just about everything. But don’t work out to lose weight. Do it to be healthy. Exercise is a big appetite enhancer. When people dive into the gym to lose weight it often backfires. See Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies.
  • Be realistic about your weight. If you eat a good diet your body will settle in at a weight within a range that’s determined mostly by genetics.
  • Being overweight is not as unhealthy as you’ve been led to believe. Overweight people are not lazy or lacking in willpower. Your weight naturally fluctuates daily, even hourly. Don’t obsess over numbers.

One more note from me: What another person weighs is none of your business.Don’t be one of those people who treats fat people worse just for being overweight, or who teases people for being skinny.