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Eat Your Favorite Foods and Lose Weight

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We have all seen that claim before touting the latest miracle pill, powder, cream, injection, you name it. "Eat as much as you want and lose weight." "Lose seven pounds in seven days." "The four-day diet." My favorite just came in the mail today. It's a flyer with the title, "Lose weight in 24 hours, while you sleep." They have lovely before and after photos as well. I'm not quite sure what they want you to buy but if you look at the bottom of the flyer, in extremely small print, there is a disclaimer letting you know that "results are not typical" or "guaranteed."

There are so many weight loss scams out there it is hard to know where to turn. I know because I fell prey to many of them when I was desperate to lose weight. I was once on Penn and Teller's show called "Bullshit." They were exploring exercise vs. genetics, and they had me on talking about the truth about weight loss and exercise. I was on their side. They also interviewed an infomercial producer who produced a lot of weight loss and exercise infomercials. She was very honest and said that the companies promoting false claims about what their products can do for you, know very well that their claims are false. She explained that they include disclaimers and then set aside a good amount of money to fight, and/or settle, any lawsuits that might come in. Since very few people even use the money back guarantee, they pocket the $10 million that came in and pay off the small portion of people who go as far as suing. It's a racket. I was shocked that this producer came forward, but I guess she was sick of it too.

I tell people the truth about weight loss. I am a psychotherapist and former large person. I lost 50 pounds 24 years ago and have kept them off since. I will tell you my secret. It won't cost you anything. It also may not be what you want to hear, but it's the truth.

If you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Fat weight, to be exact. If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Fat weight, to be exact. Shhh! It's a secret. Please don't go telling everyone.

I am being facetious, of course, but honestly it's the truth, and if you can handle the truth you can figure out a way to eat your favorite foods and lose weight and keep it off.

Now, there is great debate about calories in vs. calories out as the true way to lose weight. People like to say that on Atkins they ate a ton of calories and lost weight. There is something to that, and let me explain. Protein is a complex molecule that makes the body work to break it down. That process is part of what we call the thermic effect of food. If you eat 100 calories of protein the body needs to use calories to process it. I have seen different figures on how many but one I found is 25 calories for every 100 calories of protein. So theoretically your body only registers 75 calories for every 100 calories of protein eaten. Protein will also help keep you fuller, longer so you are not as tempted to take in more calories. This is a good thing.

The other food that lowers your calories is fiber. If you eat 100 calories and that food is high in fiber, your body will pass some of it undigested and hence, will not use those calories as either fuel, or store them as fat. All foods eaten will create a thermic effect to burn and process them. The amount varies from person to person and food to food so the idea of trying to calculate exactly how many for each human is almost impossible. Add in the idea that some foods burn more calories to process and try to do the math and it will make you crazy.

So here is the basic formula I teach people, and it seems to work quite well. If you want to know how many calories a day you need, take your weight times 10 for women, times 12 for men, and that number is your basic starting point for how many calories a day you need to maintain your weight without exercise. Of course we are all different but this basic number is a good starting point for most people. For example, if I weigh 130 pounds I can eat 1,300 calories a day to maintain that weight. If I exercise I can add in the calories I burned and still maintain my weight. If I want to lose weight, and not just water weight but real fat weight, I need to take in less calories to create a deficit. My body will then turn to its fat stores and begin burning them and hence, I will lose weight. You never want to drop your calories down too low as the body is very smart and will attempt to lower your metabolism because it thinks you are starving and there is a famine. So when trying to lose weight, be moderate and your body will go along with you.

This means you need to keep food records and be very aware of what and how much you are putting in your mouth. You need to know the calories in the foods you eat and the drinks you take in that also have calories. You must be aware of how many ounces that piece of fish is in order to estimate correctly and all that takes time and effort. Ask anyone who has lost weight and kept it off and they will tell you it's worth it!

That's it for now. Good luck and let me know how you're doing!