1.4 What is the Sustainable Weight Loss Lifestyle?

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.

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