UPDATE: My new book Fuck Portion Control has better, easier, and more permanent ways to slim down and look good, though I don’t tend to recommend low fat diets any longer, this article can be used to make the experience better for those who want to do it. But seriously weight loss is not this difficult, much more pleasant methods are in the book.
CALORIES AND WEIGHT GAIN/LOSS
Instead of the ripped body it promised, the calories-in-calories-out philosophy of fitness endowed me with thyroid cancer. Those who laud this asinine idea of a beneficial calorie deficit are usually male, young, and eternally fit and continue to promote calorie deprivation long after such diets have left them as beautiful as dried roadkill—As if any organism on this planet thrives on food shortage. Most women, and men who've struggled with weight intuitively understand the fallacy of the calorie deficit concept, because when they try it they get exactly the opposite of what is promised.
In defense of calorie deficit proponents it does seem confusing because it really seems to work. For them anyway. They see a decrease in body fat (and ignore muscle loss). But the way calorie deficit diets work is through the utilization of stress, and being young and healthy their bodies respond to stress differently. I was absolutely perplexed when the calorie deficit backfired. It had worked for me before, but no matter what I did I continued to either retain fat or gain more. I tried new ideas including paleo, a medically endorsed low-carb diet, one endorsed by a liver expert, and one outlined by "a nutritionist to the stars" in which she prescribed eating vegetables before meat because we have a mile-long intestinal tract and tigers eat meat but you're not a tiger so meat rots in your non-tiger intestinal tract...you can see where this is going. I lost some weight only from the medical low-carb diet but it destroyed my health and I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer within a year.
A NON-STRESS METHOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS
After years of suffering (my cancer is gone, thanks) I have lost 50+ lbs of unwanted weight using very little exercise and no uncomfortable diets. My health has also improved and I'm better off than I have ever been since adolescence. A low fat diet can actually work to lose weight and improve health, but it has to be done correctly or it will backfire. A low-fat diet does not utilize stress to achieve weight-loss, and it is in no way necessary for weight loss. Both health and weight loss can be achieved by significantly increasing good fats in the diet, especially using dairy, cocoa butter, or coconut oil. The low-fat diet simply speeds the rate at which fat is shed. The absence of fat and the increase in carbohydrate also helps to direct sugars to glycogen storage instead of fat deposition or wasting. Fat slows the metabolism, even good fat. Many types of fat also interfere with sugar metabolism. These fats block the proper use of sugar and instead direct it to fat storage or eliminating it in the urine. Fat can also reduce testosterone, though good fat has the least effect and can actually stabilize your health, indirectly improving testosterone and other good hormones. A low fat diet is good not because fat is bad for you, but only because dietary fat can slow the metabolism, and also prevents any possibility of bad fats from being consumed, which are the most destructive. Fruitarians (which is something I warn against for the lack of protein) often consume 5,000 calories a day of fruit, because the lack of fat makes their metabolisms run at such high speeds (incidentally this also causes cancer in the long run, because the body lacks protein and fat). Many people, however, could benefit from increasing the amount of good fat in their diets. You'd be a candidate for increasing good fat intake if you have lackluster skin, low libido, insomnia, cancer, or other metabolic diseases. There are many conditions a low-fat diet will not help, and a general rule if you feel uncomfortable—stop, and eat some butter.
MOST DIETERS FORGET THE PROTEIN
On a low-fat diet protein intake is often inadvertently reduced, because many sources of protein have fat. This is one of the ways a low-fat diet backfires because the body needs large amounts of protein to create hormones and repair tissue. Early in my recovery some people recommended trying a diet of only orange juice and milk. This diet made me lose some weight but because it lacked enough protein and calories, and because I was already deficient in vitamin B2 and it didn't provide enough, the weight loss was due to stress hormones and I regained even more weight afterward. Due to the increased metabolism of the body on this diet, you will need even more protein and calories than usual. If you do a lowfat diet and do not increase your protein intake your body will catabolize your own tissues, and you'll switch to a state of stress in which the body stores fat rather than shedding it. Finding enough protein on a low fat diet can be challenging, which is why I find it helpful to supplement with a good protein powder (good meaning very few or no additives). Soy lecithin is common in powders and supplements, but is a highly toxic additive. It dramatically damages the metabolism and lowers body temperature. Do not buy brands with this ingredient (it's also in lots of cheap chocolate). I use Naked Brand Casein. I also like their Whey/Casein mix.
Another danger from so called low-fat diets is that the food sources used often contain small amounts of really bad fats. Because the diet lacks significant amounts of good fats, these bad fats have a disproportional effect on health and is often the reason why low-fat diets can cause discomfort. It is much better to eat a diet high in butter and low in all other fats than it is to do a low-fat diet that might contain any kind of bad fat. Chicken is a good example of this, while a chicken breast is high in protein it also has enough bad fat to cause metabolic problems.
CARBOHYDRATES AND SUGAR FOR FAT-LOSS
The other equally important component to a successful low-fat diet is getting an excess of good carbohydrates, to keep the blood sugar elevated at all times. When reducing the amount of fat in your diet, you're reducing the amount of calories—calories your body needs which must be replaced. The increase in metabolism will also create a demand for even more calories, and if you don't fuel this increase you will experience an increase in stress hormones, and cause harm to your body instead of healing. Some young people can probably get away with eating grains with this diet, though I never recommend grains. But if you want to do this diet you probably have health issues and shouldn't be eating grains anyway. Good carbohydrates are foods that digest easily such as fruit, sugar, and vegetable fruits, but even Coca Cola is better than going without calories for as soon as you do you trigger stress hormones and we are trying to avoid that at all costs.
One very helpful tool on this diet is the vitamin Riboflavin (B2). Most weight gain is actually a direct result of the body's inability to direct sugar toward oxidation and storage as glycogen, and since sugar isn't helpful sitting in the blood stream is directed instead toward fat synthesis or for elimination from the body. Riboflavin helps to direct sugar to glycogen storage, helping to prevent it's deposition as fat, and thusly ensuring generous supplies of glycogen to aid in sleep and other important metabolic functions between meals. Because Riboflavin's function in storing glycogen, don't take it at night. Morning is the best time for supplementation. Vitamin B7 can also help improve health markers, enabling more efficient and proper metabolism of all the macros and help the body synthesize it's own good fats from the carbs you will be eating (you will still lose the same amount of weight. Also, don't use supplements with silica added).
Whenever I do this diet I shed 5-8 lbs over a week or two (I'm 6'7" so normal sized people it would be 3-5 lbs?) never going hungry and finding an increase in energy and libido. HELLO! Please do not adopt a long-term low-fat diet, as many important vitamins such as A, E, and K are only absorbed when fat is present in food, and long term low-fat diets can cause a deficit in some vital nutrients. Also, Chewing Your Food will help lead to weight loss.
Since normal meals are unlikely to be eaten in this diet, it is important to make sure all of the necessary minerals are being consumed. The most important is salt, so if you aren't getting it in your foods it will be necessary to supplement some. Normal daily recommended values are fine.
If you're one of those people who finds it difficult to lose weight, please read about persistent weight gain in The Truth About Fat.
NO-FAT DIET LIST
50 GRAMS PROTEIN/DAY
EXCESS OF NON-GRAIN CARBOHYDATES (FRUIT/JUICE/VEGGIES/ETC)
RIBOFLAVIN and THIAMINE (or Nutritional Yeast)
MAINTAIN BLOOD SUGAR