The typical diet program, such as the Atkins Diet or the Zone Diet, focuses on one thing: what you eat. Regardless of the underlying rationale, they all facilitate weight loss by the same mechanism: calorie restriction.
The SWLL is different. Weight loss is achieved by several mechanisms, each making a small contribution. Calorie restriction is much less than conventional diets and is achieved in a different way. On the SWLL you will adopt behaviors that increase the number of calories that you burn.
The SWLL Diet
In most of this book “diet” is used to mean the sum of all that you eat. That is, the word is used as in the sentence “the traditional Chinese diet is based on rice.” In this usage, “diet” is always a noun.
The other meaning of the word is to restrict calories to achieve weight loss. It can be used as a noun, as in “Abigail has been on a diet for two months and she’s lost fifteen pounds.” Or it can be used as a verb, as in “Abigail has been dieting for two months.”
When you adopt the SWLL, your diet will be different to that of the typical American.
The SWLL diet is low fat. The typical American gets 34% of his or her calories from fat. On the SWLL diet, this is reduced to 10%. Also, the kind of fat will change. Instead of eating burgers, fries, whole milk, cream, eggs, and mayonnaise, the emphasis will be on fish, nuts, and olive oil. In other words, healthy fats will be substituted for unhealthy saturated and trans fats.
The calorie gap caused by the reduction in fat consumption will be mostly made up by eating more complex carbohydrates. The emphasis here is on “complex.”
Carbohydrates consist of molecules made up of chains of carbon and hydrogen. The complexity of the molecules varies from sugars, which are simple, through starches, which are more complex, to fiber, which is the most complex of all the carbohydrates.
Many foods contain sugars. Examples are lactose in cow’s milk and fructose in fruit. Getting sugars from these sources is fine, since the amount is moderate. However, sugar from processed foods presents a problem. The amount of sugar tends to be excessive, causing processed foods to be a dense source of calories. Also, added sugar provides calories but no other nutrients. Because of this, the SWLL diet emphasizes carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
The average American consumes 10 to 15 grams of fiber each day. The SWLL diet increases this to 30 or more. Some breakfast cereals are a good source of fiber. Other sources are fruits and vegetables, often eaten with their skins.
Protein is an important part of any diet, and it is particularly important on the SWLL diet. The US Department of Agriculture recommends that we ingest 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. For example, the metric weight of a 150 lb. person is 68 kg. Multiplying 68 by 0.8 yields 54. Thus, according to the USDA a 150 lb. person should eat 54 grams of protein every day, or about 2 oz.
On the SWLL, you will eat more protein than this. There is evidence that the 0.8 value is too low for older people. Also, you will do weight training on the SWLL and you will need a higher protein intake to build muscle. The SWLL recommends that about 15% of calories should come from protein.
Finally, there is the issue of when you eat. The SWLL echoes the advice given by most nutritionists. Eat a good breakfast every day, and eat five or six small meals instead of three large ones.
On the SWLL diet you will not be hungry but you will lose weight. How can this be? The answer lies in the composition of the SWLL diet. We each tend to eat the same weight of food each day. If some of the fat in that food is replaced with complex carbohydrates, then the calories are reduced. This is because a gram of fat contains 9 calories whereas a gram of carbohydrates has only 4 calories.
The SWLL emphasizes two kinds of exercise: aerobics and weight training.
Aerobics are any exercise that raises your pulse into its cardiovascular conditioning range and keeps it there for several minutes. This range is 65% to 85% of the maximum heart rate for your age. Your maximum heart rate is 208 less 70% of your age. So, the maximum heart rate for a 30 year old person is about 187 beats per minute. The cardiovascular range for this person is .65×187 to .85×187 or 122 to 159 beats per minute.
Examples of aerobics are jogging; walking uphill or upstairs; rowing; exercising on a machine such as a treadmill, elliptical or stair climber; and cycling.
The essential feature of weight training is that you perform each exercise until your muscles fail and you cannot do another repetition. This failure will take place with as few as eight repetitions, or it might take as many as twelve.
Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
NEAT is the calories you burn in activities that are not formal exercise. This includes walking around the supermarket, cleaning your home, gardening, walking up the stairs to your den, cooking a meal, dancing, carrying luggage and moving furniture. Under the SWLL you will analyze your NEAT pattern and you will seek ways to enhance it.
The Role of the Mind
The actions you take to lose weight are all physical, but it is your mind that selects and controls these actions. It is important to recognize and remove the barriers to successful weight loss. Similarly, it is important to adopt the mental tools that aid weight loss.
Barriers to weight loss include: improper goals or expectations; emotional conflicts, such as are present for binge eaters; the mechanisms of rationalization and denial; the corrosive power of guilt; and placing too much importance on the opinions of others.
Mental tools that aid weight loss are: understanding the proper method of making choices; understanding the proper definition of self-esteem and its importance as a precondition of successful weight loss; and the primary tool, on which everything else depends, is introspection.
The SWLL involves lifestyle changes aimed at weight loss and maintenance of the lower weight. These changes have an added benefit: they improve your health. With just a little more effort, the SWLL can be tweaked to deliver optimum health benefits.