The Skinny on Calories and Dieting

DIET. Magnifying glass over association terms.

(DGIwire) — Many people try to lose weight or get rid of excess fat that never seems to disappear. Some have tried all the latest diets and failed; others have successfully lost weight, only to gain it back.

These people may be looking for a “secret” to lose their excess fat and finally have and maintain a lean, healthy body. Yet according to one health expert, the only real “secret” they need to know about is caloric restriction: eating fewer calories than one uses for a long enough period to reach one’s goal.

“Without exception, all successful dieters—regardless of the program they use, the foods they eat or the supplements they swallow—have restricted their caloric intake below their maintenance level long enough to reach their goal,” says boomer generation health expert Tom Griesel, co-author of the TurboCharged book series.

“The problem with dieting is that people see it as something temporary and often quickly return to their old eating habits, which caused them to become overweight in the first place,” Griesel adds. “This approach eventually puts them right back where they were before, and often in a worse place.”

The diet business is going to keep offering new choices in order to get people to try something “new” just one more time, says Griesel; it also hopes to get some of their hard-earned cash along the way. Diet, weight loss and supplement products are a multi-billion dollar business; the marketing skills of those in the business are exceptional and their pitch always sounds perfectly reasonable. However, no credible study has ever shown that anything other than caloric restriction will result in weight loss.

Healthy weight loss and unhealthy weight loss are separate and distinct activities. Both result in lower scale weight. However, healthy weight loss improves body composition and also improves almost all health biomarkers. Unhealthy weight loss results in unchanged or worse body composition and health. The primary and proper goal for any diet, Griesel says, is improved health and body composition with scale weight reduction as a desired but secondary effect.

In general, the healthiest diet is the one with the highest nutrient density per calorie. Eliminating calorie-dense foods and replacing them with moisture and nutrient-rich food choices allows a similar or larger volume of food intake with lower total calories. This alone will often create enough of a caloric deficit to see results in addition to better overall nutritional quality.

It seems that the only secret for healthy weight loss and lasting results is a lifestyle change, which includes proper diet and activity choices that can be maintained over a long period of time–which maybe isn’t a secret after all.