I find diet culture both fascinating and horrendous at the same time. But mostly horrendous. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I am above this by any stretch of the imagination. I have fallen for some things in the past, but now I like to think that I can see through a lot more than I could previously, and I hope that this means that I don’t fall into any traps in future.

The biggest issue in the diet industry as I see it, is over-complication. At the end of the day, for the vast majority of people (and I’m sorry but you are unlikely to be in the minority), losing fat comes down to an equation.

Calories in Calorie out = fat loss
Calories In Calories out = fat levels maintained
Calories in Calories out = fat gain

It really is that simple. Yet we overcomplicate it with tea-toxes, appetite-reducing lollipops and strange diets. The diet industry overcomplicates things to hide the only thing that you really need to do to lose fat and, more importantly, to sell you stuff. You won’t buy diet books, shakes and teas that make you live on the toilet; you’ll just eat a bit less and move more.

We all want a quick-fix and nobody wants to do the hard work, this is human nature (and from an evolutionary point of view makes sense as our brain was all about preserving energy). The diet industry prays on this to make you think that buying their products will make the weight fall off in 10 days. But think back to a time where you, or maybe one of your friends or family, bought into this. Did you keep the weight off? Or did you gain it back? That’s if you even lost any weight at all.

Like the Tortoise and the Hare, the most efficient way to lose fat is to be slow and steady. It is thought that it takes 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat, but only 700 to burn a pound of muscle. When your body is in a calorie deficit, your brain panics and tries to preserve energy where it can (you can’t blame it, it is just trying to keep you alive). Where this happens, and not many demands are being placed on your muscles, then your body actually prefers to burn muscle than fat. And also think about it from a purely mathematical point of view, did Brenda in Fat Club* really manage a calorie deficit of 17,500 in a week (which would be needed for it to be pure fat), or did she also lose muscle and water? This is why losing large amounts of weight in a short period of time is not beneficial. And I purposely say weight here as there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. Not only is a smaller calorie deficit more sustainable and easier to adhere to (which means that you are more likely to be in a calorie deficit rather than a binge-restrict cycle), but it is also more enjoyable.

*Not a real club but it could be.