Weight loss fads are here to stay whether we like it or not and if you want to be able to discern between a diet fad and a sensible weight loss approach, you might feel lost.
Many trendy diets have a piece of truth in them, which makes the further claims more believable. Especially if you get it from a friend who miracously lost 10 punds in a week! Still, 80% of the dieters who manage to lose weight, gain it back.
Here is the good news, you don’t need to be a scientist to understand how successful diets work and to discern truth from exagerations and even diet lies.
Melody Schoenfeld, MA, CSCS, a highly educated, certified personal trainer with well over 20 years of training experience in many different disciplines and American records holder in all three lifts in powerlifting (squat, bench press, deadlift) helps you to succeed with her new book Diet Lies and Weight Loss Truths and
I was live on IG with Melody to discuss the book and what people can take from it. Here is the summary of what we talked about.
Why Melody wrote the book?
The reason for writing this book was the questions she has been getting repeatedly asked. People constantly go on and off the diets and as a coach who cares, Melody was compelled to shed light into the darkness of diet lies that exist to sell products.
There is a lot of information online that is easily accessible, but a lot of the information is cherry-picked (when someone picks a part of study or information that fits and supports their narrative) to promote specific diet and products. Unfortunately, not all of us have knowledge, resources or time to go through all of these claims.
Intermittent Fasting Diets
Just like any diet, IF works by cutting down your calories. IF does it in a clever way by reducing the time you can eat food and therefore indirectly makes you eat less. But it does not always work as we see in practice. Not all people lose and keep losing weight or keep it off by adhering to the IF itself.
Melody mentioned how she could easily eat several big pizzas during the right hour window many people follow.
I started my dieting journey with IF as well and I remember eating 1m pizza for dinner. Not the best thing you can do before sleep. Actually, I gained some weight during that time despite being on my feet the whole day.
Even if you follow and like to do IF, you still need to practice portion control and make healthy eating choices.
One more thing to note about intermittent fasting. Most studies showing beenfits were demonstrated in rodents, which cannot be extrapolated to humans.
Detoxes & Cleanses
What are we detoxing the body from? Metals, chemicals? Pollutants? It is often said that detoxes and cleanses helps you remove toxins from your body that we accumulate from food, water and environment. Detox juices from fruits and vegetables should help you ‘detox’.
“It is just an expensive way how to get fewer calories.” Melody noted.
Our body detoxes the body all the time and if you want to help it, do it by eating healthily most of the time, not a few days a year.
What diets have in common
The reason why people are attracted to different diets, whether it is IF, detox, paleo, keto or any other is the magic bullet mentality.
“If only I follow this set of rules, I will lose weight. And I don’t need to count calories or weight food.”
We get a false sense of certainty that if we do it this way, we will get the results.
It is true you don’t need to count calories to lose weight, don’t forget that calories count even if you don’t count them.
The most important factor for a diet to work is adherence. People who successfully lose weight and keep it off found a way how to eat that works for them! That is also the reason you cannot look at your friend and think that what he or she does will work for you!
The thing is that when you follow a diet, you start paying more attention to what you eat, when you eat, or how much you eat. If you lose weight, eat better, you will feel better. Not because of some magic. Caloric restriction is the mechanism behind it.
Why people have hard time accepting the CICO model
CICO is an equation between Calories In Calories Out. It is well established and probably the most researched aspect of bodyweight change.
Still, people have hard time accepting it, which according to Melody comes down to the magic bullet thinking.
Not all calories are created equal either. Fats contain more calories than carbs or protein. Junk food does not give you all the micronutrients of fresh fruits and vegetables. But in the end of the day, it is the old good calories in, calories out.
I think that not understanding it precisely is what makes people not believe it. When someone says “not all calories are created equal” or that “insulin is a storage hormone therefore you should avoid carbs to keep the insuline low and you will not get fat” it sounds logical, scientific, and plants a seed of doubt into the CICO model. Therefore people who don’t know better, can easily fall for these claims. It happened to me too!
Exercise recommendations for weight loss
We know there are countless ways how to exercise. Crossfit, bodybuilding, running, rowing, jumping, skiing, tearing books like Melody loves to.
The ideal for weight loss is a combination of aerobic and strength exercise. But many people have hard time following that because they might not love lifting weights or calisthenics while other night hate cardio.
The essential thing is to find the exercise you will be able to continue for the rest of your life. Melody found herself in powerlifting and doing strongman feats of strengths later. As she mentioned during our conversation, in her family exercise was not encouraged. She had no athletic background and she started exercising when she got a part time job at her brother’s gym. Melody wanted to walk her talk and so she started exercising with her brother Brad. She found out that lifting weights came easy to her and that she enjoys it. Once there was a competition and she was hesitating to join. She wanted to get better before competing, but her brother and friends insisted she should join. “What are you waiting for?” She joined and won. Since then she has held the records in all three lifts in her weight category and keeps enjoying it t this day. This was over 20 years ago.
Experiment, try new stuff you will enjoy and that will make it keeping the weight off and being healthy easy! Women had been lead to avoid weights in the past but you don’t need to follow the trend. Take example from Melody.
Melody advices her clients who have the “no-time” excuse to split the workouts into several smaller. You don’t need to do 40 minute workout all at once. You can get the results even if you do four ten minute workouts! That makes it much easier to fit a busy schedule. We covered micro workouts deeper with K. Alisha Feathers.
Aa an example you can aim to get 200 repetitions of a single or multiple exercise on a a day.
Exercise is health promoting and also builds your confidence.
One of the biggest challenges Melody faced was cutting down on sugar. She has always liked sweets and there was no food that would be too sweet for her.
When she worked in office, she noticed that it started to get out of hand. Every day she went across the street to a candy shop where she would buy jelly beans. She liked like likerish and cinnamon flavored beans that noone in her office liked. That meant two pounds of goodness just for her!
“Even though it made me feel sick and I swore I would never do it again, I did the same thing the next day.”
If you have ever done it, you know how disempowering it feels.
Melody decided that she did not want to be controlled by food and so she removed all processed sugar from her diet. No more syrups, jelly beans or sugar packets.
She thought that she could still eat dried fruit, which she loved and assumed that her low-tolerance for it (it would cause her stomachache) would prevent her to overeat on the natural treat. It was not the case. Like for an addict, one was too many and thousand was too little. Melody had to exclude even dried fruit and quit cold turkey.
She mentioned how first days were terrible, but each day was getting better until her cravings deceased. She would still have them but not so strong that she would run to the shop across the street to get sweets.
Four months later, she had a cake with friends and to her surprise, it did. It trigger her. Actually it felt even too sweet for her, who though that “too sweet does not exist”.
The topic of sugar and food addiction is very discussed and there are good arguments for the both sides. Personally, I lean to the group that food addictions do exist. Like Melody, I also experienced these cravings when I was exposed to the peanut butter. Two pounds tube was a dessert for me even if it made me feel sick afterwards.
But like Melody, I found moderation.
Many others share similar experience with sweets and peanut butter and also with caffeinated drinks.
If you cannot moderate a food, you might need to exclude it completely to avoid being triggered. Sometimes only for a certain period of time until you find how to moderate it. We recommend working with a professional who will guide you as there can be underlying mental issues.
How to start your successful weight loss Journey
Observing your friend losing several kilos/pounds in a week can make you envious and they will also get a lot of attention. Often, this is not what is sustainable.
My question to you is, would you rather lose 5kg/10pounds twice a year and get 9 back each time, but in the end of the year be 1kg/2 pounds lighter, or lose weight steadily over time and be 2kg/4pounda lighter?
Yo-yo dieting is less optimal for weight loss, health, and it can crush you mentaly.
Melody’s recommendation is not fancy but effective. Just like she described in her book, we often take on ourselves too much. Rather set a goal that you can adhere to for a week or two, however small they are. Once you can adhere to it, set a new goal. Just take it slow and steady.
My thoughts on the book
The book is easy to read. There are real life stories and examples across the book. Each diet (there are ten in the book) listed in the book has listed pros, cons, and lies associated with it so you can see what it really is about, without bias.
Vegan diet got the most space, probably because Melody is a long-term vegan herself and there is also a lot of cherry picked information used in it’s promotion.
Further in the book you will also find meal examples, which I think can give you a better idea of how that diet would suit you if you are deciding to follow any specific diet.
You will also find chapter on exercise and mindset that will help you overcome every-day challenges associated with weight loss.
All in all, I liked reading this book as it is easy to read and every claim is supported with studies (although I did not check the every reference 😉 ), which is a good practice in case you want to check the validity or something spark your attention. But don’t be expecting a heavily scientific book. If you are a nerd, this book might give you some ideas, maybe challenge your bia and beliefs and prompt you to research it better.
If you are an average Jane or Joe who is tired with dieting and not getting results, give Diet Lies and Weight Loss Truths a go and you will learn a lot.