The effort to lose your first 50lbs looks nothing like the effort to lose the last 5.
Ask any person who’s BECOME lean. Ask competitive figure athletes and bodybuilders. Ask people who have dieted down to low single digit body fat. None will tell you that the beginning of a fat loss journey for average Americans should look remotely like what they did to get to trace amounts of body fat.
While you’re losing your first 50-100lbs, you’re doing it all wrong if you’re approaching from the perspective of “don’t have” or restriction, abstinence, avoidance, removal, detox, subtraction, depletion, “can’t,” elimination, deficit or suppression. I have 30 years of obsessing about this, and 15 years of professionally working with tens of thousands of people - I’m telling you that you will NEVER EVER ACHIEVE HEALTHY MAINTENANCE if you begin with that mindset. That’s dieting way too hard way too soon.
I have clients losing 40-70lbs still eating fast food and ice cream every week, alcohol most weeks, and the typical “no-no’s.” I don’t prescribe that. But because we begin with SUFFICIENCY of needed nutrients, the occasional “treat” does nothing to reduce results.
You don’t need to suffer to have basic healthy body comp.
Sure, don’t be eating in a way that is actively trying to give you colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. But in the first 50-100lbs, the first steps should be SUFFICIENCY. Let me be clear: I have yet to do a single initial intake with anyone who is micronutrient sufficient or protein sufficient by World Health Organization standards, let alone weight loss studies and exercise science research.
People are starving on needs even when they’re gorging on crap food. You won’t accidentally hit your B vitamin need for the day no matter how many snickers and McDonalds fries you shove into your pie hole. And as you begin to “diet” by reducing intake, you will not magically get any closer to hitting sufficiency on omega 3s, vitamin A, vitamin K2, fiber, protein, and basically everything that all research has concluded will put the body in a healthy state.
Avoidance doesn’t lead people to MORE micronutrients when all they ever ate was processed food devoid of the nutrients to begin with.
Some day, wayyyyyyy down the line, if you want to go PAST your goal (which I recommend), yes, you will have to eventually approach this from a dearth perspective. You will have to fast. You will have to suffer a little. You will have to restrict. But in the meantime, all you have to do is move a little bit, regularly, and eat like you don’t have a suicidal death wish. Just eat like a 25% rational adult. That’s it. Really. Severe restriction is for the trace body fat road.
In fact, most of the time I discover that people are compressing caloric intake too low too long to make progress. This sounds counterintuitive if you’ve never administered metabolic tests or studied metabolic stress adaptations. But when people who aren’t in an outright fast push their “caloric deficit” beyond 1000 kcal per day for long periods of time, paradoxically they usually get fatter, not leaner. Even if they lose “weight”, a good amount isn’t body fat.
When you’re trying to get ultra lean, two-a-day training with obvious food prep and a whole litany of foods you don’t have is just fine. That’s what it takes. But for most of the populace, your first 100lbs of body fat loss can come from just being a grown up and exerting basic adult decisions. This needs to begin with sufficiencies, consistently, every day, for the rest of your life. It doesn’t have to be about punishing restrictions and never ever enjoying a single food.
It’s established physiology that you’d do best to either fast completely or incur around 500kcal deficits daily. If you weigh nigh 300lbs, your resting metabolic rate is over 3000. When you stand, lift, or do a 30 minute walk daily, you’ll burn 3500-4500 per day. This means you need to eat 3000+ to lose fat. People are trying to burn 5000 and eat 500. It won’t work. It doesn’t work. Your thyroid crashes. Your injury healing repair time elongates. You stimulate the receptors in fat cells. You gain. Or you lose “weight” comprised exclusively of bone tissue and muscles and organ integrity.
Just work basic mature steps. You’re dieting way too hard way too soon if you’ve got 50-150lbs to lose and you “can’t ever” have things you enjoy. Start with sufficiency and eating in an emotionally grown up way. THEN, you can do subtractions down the road some day.