How to Lose Weight

Revision 3
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It is quite simple

When you diet, you are restricting your calories. You can consume a diet entirely of chocolate or McDonald's food or cotton candy, but if your total calories are restricted to (slightly below) the level of energy that your body needs daily, you will lose weight.

However if the things that you eat are unnutritious, you will be hit by cravings. Your body will classically nag you like a child whom you've neglected. It will compel you to eat even if your stomach is full of unnutritious junk, and even if your stomach is aching from being over-full. So long as you don't get the proper nutrients that it requires, you will feel that something is missing.

Your body is a biological computer. You have to program it to switch to weight loss mode. Certain bad programs switch it to weight-gain mode, such as eating a bunch of peanut butter each day.

The key to losing weight is therefore to set your caloric budget and then stick to it. The problem you need to solve is simply: How will I eat the things I want to eat, without going over my caloric budget?

But again: Your body needs certain nutrients. Many fun foods largely lack nutrients, for example chocolate. If you consume only those types of foods (empty calories), you will be programming your body to enter starvation mode even while you are consuming perhaps far too many calories. Your body will compel you to keep eating and your dieting effort will fail. If you don't eat enough nutrients of the right types, you starve even as you get fat.

Therefore, the problem you really need to solve is: How will I eat the healthy things I want to eat, without going over my caloric budget? So it is a budgeting problem.

Or another way to look at it is like a packing problem. Imagine you are going to relocate for work, and drive a long distance to the new job. You have to put all of your worldly belongings inside your car. How would you pack them all in, and what would you leave behind? Your daily diet is like that car. It is a limited space into which you can only put the best things. If you load it up with junk, will you be helping yourself?

In addition, if you're no longer growing, your body will have relatively limited need for food. Many adults can easily survive on 2000 kcal per day. Your car using the analogy above, is thus smaller than that of a teenager. You can fit less in it. Therefore you need to make your choices about what will be in your diet even more carefully.

It turns out, creating a daily food budget is not a hard problem to solve. Why? Because there are many delicious healthy foods. Nutrient-rich foods give you the feeling of being full as well as satisfied.

One example is this no-sugar, low-fat chocolate smoothie:

  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp cocoa
  • 1-2 bananas
  • 1 cup frozen mango