Stop Dieting Now!

Many times you’ve heard people say with delight “I’ve lost weight!” But the real question is what sort of weight?  Suppose you lost 16lbs.  What is that?  16lbs of what?

To see what effect a diet can have, have a look at Jenny’s experience below.  First you need to know the state of the play before Jenny started her diet.

Before Diet 1          Body Weight                          200lbs

Muscle mass                          110lbs                     55%

Body fat                                  76lbs                       38%

Jenny desperately wants to lose weight and so goes on a diet.  It’s tough but as a result she sheds 50lbs.  However, after a while she just can’t stand the regime, the deprivation and feeling hungry.  So she goes back to her old eating habits and very quickly finds that she’s regained the weight.  So now she’s 200lbs again and she’s feeling a bit down because nothing has changed.

But in fact she’s wrong.  Even though she’s the same weight things have changed.  There’re worse.

After Diet 1              Body Weight                          200lbs

Muscle mass                          102lbs                     51%

Body fat                                  84lbs                       42%

How did this happen?  When Jenny was dieting she often felt hungry. Her hunger was an indicator that her body didn’t have the necessary nutrients coming from new food.  Muscle is made up of nutrients so her body would cannibalise the muscle she already had and break it down to get at the nutrients it contained.

Because Jenny really wants to lose weight she eventually decides she’s going to pull herself together and start dieting again.  So she repeats the pattern.  This time though it’s harder to lose weight and she wonders if she’s just weak and lacking the self-discipline other people must have who don’t seem to have her problem.

She is unaware that she has stacked the odds against herself by reducing the muscle mass from 55%-51% during her last diet.  Why does this matter?  All food is converted into energy.  Muscle – and only muscle – is what burns energy.  The less muscle you have the less energy (i.e. food) you’ll be able to burn.  The less you can burn the more you will store as fat.

However, she struggles on and eventually loses those 50lbs again.  But she’s paid a high price as far as self-denial goes.  Her salad regime is unsustainable and eventually she goes back to her old eating habits.  This time the weight seems to go back on much faster than before.  Here’s why.

Body Weight          200lbs

Muscle mass          94lbs                       47%

Body fat                  92lbs                       46%

For every pound of muscle she has lost Jenny has decreased her metabolic rate by 35-50 calories. (The actual number depends on the individual).  That means she has lost the capacity to burn those calories – so they’ll get stored as fat.

35-50 calories doesn’t sound much but she’s actually lost quite a lot of muscle.  In fact she’s lost 8lbs of muscle on the first diet and another 8lbs on her second diet.

So although she still weighs 200lbs she’s actually lost 16lbs of muscle.  This has major implications for how many calories she can consume without putting on yet more weight.

After Diet 1              8×35 = 280 Calories                               or 8×50   = 400 Calories

After Diet 2              16×35 = 560 Calories                             or 16×50= 800 Calories

The Dieters Yo-yo Cycle

It’s muscle that burns those calories and Jenny had just lost 16lbs of muscle burning capacity.  That means that if she eats just the same as before we can guarantee she will put on weight.

Jenny now needs to consume 560-800 fewer calories per day just to stay at the same weight.  560-800 calories – but that’s a meal!

Two important pieces of information that Jenny doesn’t know are:

  1. Muscle burns calories.
  2. 3500 calories = 1lb of body weight.

What this means is that if Jenny continues to consume those 560 calories she’ll gain 1lb every 6 days. And this is best case!  Worst case is that if Jenny consumes those 800 calories she’ll gain 1lb every 4 days.

The Power of Incremental Change

Instead of going in search of a miracle and choosing a crash diet suppose Jenny just decided to take a few manageable steps one at a time.  Suppose she had combined increasing her total muscle mass, doing some regular exercise everyday and cut out a few of the obvious indulgencies*.  Not only would she have achieved her goal; more gradually – but she would also have made some MASSIVE changes that would be PERMANENT.

*For example: Every day Jenny rushes out of the house to work and finds that she doesn’t have time for breakfast.  Instead she has a soda (120 cal) and a lovely glazed doughnut (290 cal) mid-morning because by then she’s really hungry.  Each year that soda adds 12lbs to her body weight.  But that’s nothing compared to the doughnut.  Each year that doughnut adds another 30lbs to little old Jenny.  On average in any given week she has second helpings three times which amounts to 600 calories in all.  That’s another 9lbs by the end of the year.  So by the end of the year threes three habits have added 51lbs to her body weight.


Jenny’s example demonstrates why diets don’t work.  There are 3 fundamental principles that are essential for losing weight permanently:

You must lose weight slowly.  (1-2lbs per week maximum)

You must increase your muscle mass and metabolism through exercise.

(This can be walking or yoga; it doesn’t necessarily mean intensive gym sessions)

You must “listen” to your body; only eat when you are hungry.

The good news is that this is exactly what the WinningMinds Weight Management Programme focus is on.  We ensure that you easily and naturally make the lifestyle changes; this leads to a more positive, confident and happy outlook on life as well as losing weight permanently.