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5 tips for lasting weight loss
There is a lot of confusion about the best way to lose weight for two reasons. First, because there are many ways that work and second, because so many people lie to make a buck off the lucrative fat loss industry. Here I will lay out how you can lose weight and keep it off forever. Its a lot of hard work but you can do it! Please read last weeks article, “7 things everyone is afraid to tell you about weight loss” before reading this. Lets get started.
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Weight loss is 95% nutrition and 5% cardio - doing more than 30min cardio a day does not help. Its very easy to out-eat your cardio even if you exercise for hours a day. If you try to lose weight by simply doing lots and lots of cardio thinking this will let you eat whatever you want then you are sadly mistaken. I have been on month long bike treks biking 8-10 hours every day and still gained weight. For weight loss, an optimal amount of cardio seems to be about 30 minutes done 7 days a week. Doing more cardio seems to increase the appetite and make losing weight more difficult. The cardio should be ability-appropriate so if you are 260lbs and out of shape then walking is best for you. If you are a twenty something powerlifter then running is for you. Abs ARE made in the kitchen, not the gym!
For permanent fat loss you need to increase your metabolism by gaining muscle. A successful permanent fat loss program must include resistance training for you to gain muscle. Muscle is metabolically the most expensive type of tissue in the body and it requires far more calories a day to maintain than does fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your calories This need for adding muscle is why its vitally important that you do not cut your calories by more than 25% because it can lead to cannibalizing muscle.
Choose the fat loss strategy that works best for you! The truth is that there are a lot of ways you can lose fat, you just need to find the one that you can stick with for months or years. All that is required for success is that you maintain a 15-25% caloric deficit every month using good nutrition until you achieve your goal. Depending on how much fat you have to lose, this might only a few months if you are a competing bodybuilder or it could be well over a year if you are someone who has let yourself become clinically obese. All these successful strategies for fat loss have one thing in common: they insure you will never be hungry because that is the only way you can keep up your caloric restriction long enough to get results. Hunger leads to binging which leads to failure. Lets look the four most successful, healthy fat loss methods:
Calorie counting. Its a lot of work to weigh and measure every single thing that passes your lips but it works every time. If it doesn’t work its because you are not counting all your calories (cream in your coffee, ranch dressing on their salad, mayo on your sandwich, etc) or you are over-counting your exercise. Its not just calorie counting, you have to make good food choices. You need lots of non-starchy vegetables, legumes, lean meats, fruits, and some good fats like in nuts. If you are calorie counting, then calculating your daily caloric target is critical to success. The first step in setting your daily caloric intake is to determine your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) and you do this using a calorie calculator. Then you subtract 25% from that so you lose weight. I have found 25% to be the sweet spot for caloric deficit as it allows you to lose fat as fast as possible while still allowing you enough calories that you can gain muscle with your weightlifting program. Set your daily caloric intake based upon your total number hours of strenuous cardio a week, and then eat that amount of calories every day regardless of whether you did cardio that particular day or not. When you use a calorie calculator, it will ask you for your "activity level". Most people fail to lose weight because they over-count their exercise so if you want to lose weight then ignore your fitbit and the calculator's wishful thinking definitions of "activity levels" and use the following instead. If you do huffing and puffing, dripping sweat, strenuous cardio like jogging, jumping rope, swim, or biking up mountains then include those hours in the activity level, otherwise tell the calculator you are “inactive” even if you walk daily.
If you do 1-3hrs strenuous cardio a week then select "somewhat active"
If you do 3-5hrs/wk cardio a week then select "active"
If you do more than 7 hrs strenuous cardio a week then select "very active".
Eating only low calorie density foods. The second fat loss method is to simply eat foods that are not calorie dense. If you only eat grilled chicken breast, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and spinach you will not need to count calories to lose fat because these foods have such a low calorie density that your stomach will be stuffed to the limit before you consume an excess of calories. This fat loss strategy is also extremely healthy but many find it too boring.
Keto or low carb. In my opinion, the main reason that these nutritional styles are so successful for fat loss is that in todays world, highly processed, calorie dense but nutrition-less carbs are everywhere. Eating fat is not what makes people fat, its eating these trash carbs that is the problem. With both keto and low carb, you don’t eat ANY of these - problem solved! Low carb allows lots of filling non-starchy vegetables like green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens and also nonfat greek yogurt because its protein content is so high. Keto is more restrictive and basically only allows meats, fats, leafy greens and spinach. Note that many people combine keto and low carb with calorie counting for optimal results. The first few weeks of low-carb and keto are difficult but most people find that after this period their craving for carbs goes away. Note that with these two nutrional styles, having a carb-based cheat meal like cake at a birthday party means you have to start the whole brutal 2-3 weeks of weening off carbs again.
Intermittent fasting. This one I only mention because it is so popular and it does work for some people. With intermittent fasting you have a “feeding window” of a specific length that is much shorter than 12 or 14 hour time between first and last meal that most people are used to. Here is the problem, 9% of Americans have eating disorders and there is no better way to trigger an eating disorder than to deprive them of food. If you want to read how starving yourself can scar you mentally for life, read about The Minnesota Starvation Experiment. If you have any history of eating disorders in your family, please, do NOT try this method of fat loss. Remember, that with intermittent fasting that what you eat is still more important than when you eat it so please, eat healthy and eat clean.
Eat your calories rather than drinking them. When you are hungry, you can satisfy your hunger with fewer calories by eating them rather than drinking them in some “weight loss shake”. Eating slows down the intake of calories so that the stomach/brain feedback mechanism has time to say “Whoa!, Stop eating”. In addition, simply the act of chewing helps you feel more satisfied.
Drink lots of water. Sounds stupid but water does fill you up. Before your meal, drink 3 or 4 glasses of water and you will find you do not need as much food to satisfy your hunger.
What about the carnivore diet? What about the paleo diet? In my opinion, these fad diets are unhealthy and should not be used.
Next weeks newsletter will be about WORKOUT PLANS!!!!
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Shortcuts to weight loss
Weight loss shortcut! “Take my money dammit!!” Not so fast. Here are things that millions of people use and whats wrong with them.
Ozempic and Wegovy. Both these drugs are injectable semaglutide. The original use was simply for type 2 diabetes but it also drastically reduces appetite. In addition to the serious side effects of depression, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and gallstones here are the common side effects:
44% of people get nausea
30% of people get diarrhea
24% of people have vomiting
7% of people have abdominal distension
5% of people have acid reflus
3% of people have hair loss
As you can see, these weight loss drugs are not without risk. These drugs will drastically lower your appetite so you eat less and can lose weight, but so what? These drugs do not teach you healthy nutrition, they dont teach you portion control, and they do not change your lifestyle. ALL of these things are necessary if you are to keep the weight off long term. Do you plan on taking them for the rest of your life at $1000/mo? If not, the weight will bounce right back onto your jiggling belly the moment you go off them.
Cool sculpting is a non-invasive fat reduction procedure that involves no anesthesia, it’s actually spot fat removal that works. Am I endorsing it? No, and here is why. Like with Ozempic and Wegovy, in cool-sculpting the fat is removed without having to exercise, learn about good nutrition, learn portion control, or change your lifestyle. What this means is that the fat just comes back time after time and it costs $2000-$4000 each time. If you are rich and dont care, maybe you will care about this. In 1% of cases something called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) occurs which means that the number of fat cells goes up rather than down in the treatment area and becomes a hard mass. The more cool-sculpting procedures you have, the more likely it is to occur. The only way to remove the hard growth of fat cells is surgery.
Liposuction. Is surgery requiring general anasthesia that costs between $3,000 and $12,000 depending on the extent. Any time you have surgery, there are very serious risks. The main problem though is the same as for the other shortcuts, since you dont have to learn anything about good nutrition, portion control, exercise, or lifestyle changes the fat immediately just comes back which means repeated operations.
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