I didn’t plan to write this book—I was forced into it.

Imagine that you had a moderate interest in a common problem.

What if, while casually looking at this problem, you noticed an issue with how people were addressing the problem? You noticed that even the “experts” and “mavericks” had it wrong.

Imagine looking all around you to see if anyone else saw this, but feeling like you were the only person who saw the real problem and the real solution. What if you were in a position to help, but it would take a lot of your time and energy to do it? With only moderate interest in the topic, would you step in?

This has happened to me, and last year, I felt compelled to write a book about weight loss. Weight loss is an interesting topic to me, sure, but I never planned on getting involved. It’s daunting. But there’s a fatal problem with the weight loss industry, and I couldn’t ignore it in good conscience. I guess this is as good a reason as any to write a book.

Over the last year, I’ve fueled my research and analytical efforts into this project. My findings have made me even more upset at what’s out there and eager to share these ideas with the world. Here’s a brief overview of the real problem.

Dieting Is Broken

If you look for weight loss books, what will you find?

  • “The BLAH Diet”
  • “The NEW BLAH BLAH Diet”
  • “Celebrity Diet #283: Buy it Because She’s Famous!”

You’ll see all types of dieting books. Amazon’s category name is even called “Weight Loss & Dieting,” as if the two concepts have been married, as if weight loss has fallen in love with dieting, and any other suitors are too late.

“Are there any who object to this union?”

I do. Vehemently so!

The current marriage of weight loss and dieting is quite saddening, because dieting—the entire concept—is broken. Like some spouses, it doesn’t work. Any couple is supposed to make each other better, but while weight loss makes dieting billions of dollars every year, dieting is hurting weight loss. Dieting has ruined millions of peoples’ beliefs in their ability to lose weight and keep it off.

It isn’t that people diet and only lose a little bit of weight. In a meta-analysis that every person should know about, UCLA researchers looked at 31 long-term studies on dieting and found that across the studies, dieting caused 33% to 66% of participants to regain more weight than they lost while dieting. Do you know what that means?

Dieting is a reasonably effective and reliable weight gaining strategy.

That’s why I’m calling for a divorce. Scientifically speaking, dieting has cheated on weight loss with her worst enemy, weight gain!

We Got the Wrong Guy!

Have you noticed the one variable that the weight loss industry is bent on changing? The type or quantity of food we consume. That’s it. Book after book after book. It’s the carbs, it’s the meat, it’s the calories, it’s the wheat! Here’s the formula.

  1. A new dieting book comes out
  2. The book explains why other diets don’t work—too many carbs, not enough fish oil, too much fruit, too little fruit, the wrong ratio of macronutrients, insufficient diet soda intake (!), too many calories, not enough exercise, too much wheat, etc.
  3. The book presents a new theory about the “ideal diet.”

Nothing is inherently wrong with this process. It makes sense to question the foods we eat and seek to find the ideal. The problem, however, is that this is the wrong focal point. It’s not the formula that we’re missing, the problem is the broken dieting framework we insist on using. Even those books with clever titles about being the “non-diet solution” to weight loss proceed to incorporate the exact same principles of dieting into their plan.

The broken concept of dieting is to switch from one way of eating to another all at once, often (but not always) for a set period of time.

Whether it’s a plan designed for life, one for 10 days or 30 days, it’s always the same: Switch to eating this way, and you’ll lose weight. Go ahead and get motivated now. Good luck!
Because of this broken framework, authors have tried everything in their power to get it to work.

They make diet plans in which there are no rules and you just try to eat the right foods. This is closer to a real solution because it’s flexible, but it isn’t structured or strategic enough to change someone’s habits.
Others devise food delivery services to take decision-making out of the process. This is also a decent idea if you can afford it. But aside from being expensive, what about vacations, holiday gatherings, and social events centered around food? Eventually, people will make their own food choices.

Some ignore the types of foods we eat and simplify the goal to counting calories, but calorie counting is a pain to maintain, it’s inaccurate, and it doesn’t focus on proper nutrition. In his book, The Calorie Myth, Jonathan Bailor succinctly describes the accuracy problem with calorie counting: “Since the late 1970s, we have gradually worked our way up to eating an additional 570 calories per day. But let’s estimate that over those few decades, we each ate a more modest 300 additional calories per day. According to traditional calorie math, the average American should have gained 907 pounds of fat between 1977 and 2006.” That didn’t happen because traditional calorie math is bunk. Our bodies are not calculators. It’s not “calories in, calories out” (CICO), it’s more like “calories in, complex biological reactions happen, calories out.”

All of these methods are doomed to fail from the start. Weight loss “experts” have made it the norm to give yourself almost no chance at sustaining changes and developing new lifelong habits. They say to “jumpstart” your weight loss journey with a quick 15-pound weight loss in 10 days, but what it really means is they’re throwing you into unsustainable change.

It seems like common sense. The food we eat is how we gain or lose weight, and change is necessary, but like with everything other change, it’s the strategy of implementation that makes or breaks weight loss plans. If a person tries to change their entire diet overnight and sustain it for life, they’re highly likely to fail. Despite this, every “new” plan introduced to solve the world’s obesity problem basically reiterates to eat the same healthy foods with a minor twists.

The real problem is our failure to reroute the habitual eating patterns that makes us fat.

If you’ve tried dieting… has it ever lasted? When you’ve quit a diet, you’ve probably told yourself that it was too strict, too complicated, or too bland. That is probably true, but the flawed assumption is that you’ll ever find “the right diet.” People gain weight because they like weight-gaining foods more than weight-losing foods and struggle to change that preference.

Let me just tell you: the next popular dieting book won’t work any better than the previous ones. It’s going to tell you—as creatively as possible and with just enough twists to make it “unique”—that processed foods make us sick and fat and vegetables are good for us.

What about calorie counting? Aside from the inaccuracy of CICO and the hassle of calorie counting, can you guess which foods are low calorie? Fruits and vegetables. There’s no need to count if you eat the right foods.

Here’s an example: Frozen mangoes are one of my favorite snacks. One night, I ate an entire 284g bag of sliced frozen mangoes. It was a massive amount of fruit to consume, and it was delicious. I thought I overdid it until I looked at the back and saw the entire bag was only 200 calories. For reference, a single 52.7g Snickers bar contains 250 calories. If you’ve heard about calorie density, this is it. The bag of mangoes is five times heavier than the Snicker’s bar, and yet, the bar has 25% more calories! You can’t just blame it on the higher fat content in the snicker’s bar, either. Avocados get 82% of their calories from fat, and yet a 150g serving of avocado only amounts to 240 calories, which makes it three times the weight, almost all fat, and still fewer calories than a Snicker’s bar. Count up those numbers and let me know what you conclude about what makes a low calorie diet possible.

Studies on dieting have found that most diets work in the short-term. This is hardly surprising, as your body will improve as you eat more real food and less junk food. And nearly all diets, for all their differences in opinions, still recommend less junk food and more real food like vegetables. Hooray! Everyone wins! But wait, with so many people dieting to eat the right foods, and the proven track record of weight loss for many diets, why are obesity rates continuing to rise?

Remember that framework issue I mentioned? The crux of weight loss is not whether or not you eat blueberries or grapes. It’s not about if you’re a paleo or Mediterranean diet fan. It’s not about if you can eat the perfect diet for 30 days. The crux of weight loss is whether or not you can sustain healthy lifestyle changes in the long term.

The consequences of not sticking to your changes (yo-yo dieting) is an increased propensity to gain weight. Go about dieting the wrong way, and not only will you lose time, but you’ll hurt your metabolism in the process. But even if you’ve already done that, you can repair the damage with the right strategy.

What’s The Alternative to Dieting?

We have an unbelievable number of diets, and they share the same broken dieting strategy. As insane as it is, this is our current reality. This is not my opinion, either. In a commentary on a meta-analyses done on 53 separate studies involving 68,128 adults, Dr. Kevin Hall concluded, “What seems to be clear is that long-term diet adherence is abysmal, irrespective of whether low-fat or other diets, such as low-carbohydrate diets, are prescribed.”

Let me be clear: The failure of the weight loss industry is not the fault of the diets, it’s the fault of dieting (but all diets use dieting for implementation).

Most of these diets will work if you stick to them, but you can’t just “do whatever it takes” to stick to them. We need a smarter strategy that infiltrates our underlying habitual systems like a ninja. That’s where we run into another problem: many habit development books are as worthless as dieting books, as they too subscribe to “get motivated” change theory I’ll discuss in the book.

Why do we all trust in the framework that’s been failing us for decades as obesity continues to march on unchallenged? We’ve got the wrong guy! The diet formulas are constantly blamed. Low carb camps say low fat doesn’t work, who points to Paleo as ineffective, who screams at low calorie diets as the problem. We’re blaming the ball for passing through a shredded racket. The ball is fine. Get a racket that can hit things.

Even worse, almost all of the information we have on diets and dieting is short-term. Major conclusions are drawn from diet studies that last a year or less. Major consumer decisions are based upon seeing a friend drop 12 pounds in two weeks. But guys, I’ll tell you a secret. Do you know the single most effective short-term weight loss solution? Don’t eat any food for a week and you’ll drop a lot of weight. I guarantee it. It really works! I’m a genius!

Short-term solutions are as worthless for weight loss as they are for anything else. Just because a diet says 30 days instead of a week or lets you drink green smoothies instead of completely starving yourself doesn’t make it long term and sustainable.

If you’re curious about an alternative to dieting (and for the record, calorie counting and any named diet are all under the dieting umbrella), I’m going to show you a fundamentally different approach to weight loss, not in its recommendation of what foods to eat (though I’ll touch on that as well), but in the application and long-term sustainability of changing your dietary and movement habits.

If you’ve tried one diet, you’ve basically tried them all. They are different flavors of the same dieting approach. It’s time for a new approach. It’s time for Mini Habits. The world’s most effective change strategy is going to be applied to one of the world’s greatest problems. It’s a wedding you won’t want to miss.

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