1.5 Why Does the SWLL work?

The Scot­tish proverb “Mony a mick­le maks a muck­le” means that many small things add up to a large thing.

So it is with the SWLL. There is not one “mag­ic bul­let” that en­ables you to lose weight and keep it off. In­stead, there is a col­lec­tion of mech­a­nisms.

Each com­po­nent of the SWLL makes only a lim­it­ed con­tri­bu­tion to weight loss. But all of them, tak­en to­geth­er, will cause you to lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life.

Your weight is what it is be­cause of two things: the calo­ries you in­gest and the calo­ries you burn.

Most di­ets ad­dress only the calo­ries you take in. By lim­it­ing calo­ries, you lose weight. To main­tain the low­er weight for the rest of your life you must con­tin­ue to lim­it what you eat and drink. Most peo­ple find this dif­fi­cult, so the weight re­turns.

Un­like most di­ets, the SWLL ad­dress­es both parts of the equa­tion.

On the SWLL you will in­gest few­er calo­ries but you won’t no­tice it. This is be­cause the SWLL diet is based on two ideas: sub­sti­tu­tion and sati­ety.

Sub­sti­tu­tion means that you will re­duce or give up some of the foods that you cur­rent­ly eat, and you will re­place them with oth­er foods. For ex­am­ple, you will sub­sti­tute diet soft drinks for full sug­ar drinks.

Sati­ety means that the SWLL diet fo­cus­es on foods that make you feel full with­out a lot of calo­ries. Such foods in­clude: sal­ads, low fat soups, veg­eta­bles, fruit, rice, and whole grain pas­ta. They fill up your stom­ach but have few­er calo­ries. Foods such as burg­ers, French fries, bread, cakes and cook­ies, and ice cream are com­pact and calo­rie dense. You will eat these spar­ing­ly.

The oth­er side of the equa­tion is the amount of calo­ries you burn. The SWLL ad­dress­es this in three ways.

First is ex­er­cise. On the SWLL you will do both aer­o­bics and weight train­ing. Ex­er­cis­ing burns calo­ries di­rect­ly, as you do it. There are also im­por­tant metabol­ic ef­fects that cause ex­tra calo­ries to be burned even af­ter you have fin­ished ex­er­cis­ing.

When you eat food it takes en­er­gy to di­gest it. This is called the ther­mic ef­fect of food. The SWLL diet em­pha­sizes foods that take more en­er­gy to di­gest.

Fi­nal­ly there is NEAT, the calo­ries you burn dur­ing ac­tiv­i­ty that is not re­lat­ed to ex­er­cise. Stud­ies have shown that there is a marked dif­fer­ence in the way lean and heavy peo­ple go about their lives. On the SWLL you will re­train your be­hav­ior as it re­lates to dai­ly ac­tiv­i­ty.


This book at­tempts to quan­ti­fy each el­e­ment of the SWLL’s con­tri­bu­tion to weight loss. Ex­am­ples are:

  • Walking a mile at a brisk pace causes a 150 lb. person to burn about 100 calories.
  • Changing from the typical American diet to the SWLL diet increases the thermic effect of food by about 2%.

Such quan­tifi­ca­tion is use­ful in sev­er­al ways. It shows you which changes con­tribute the most to weight loss. You can as­sess whether the amount of ef­fort need­ed to make a par­tic­u­lar change is worth the re­sult that can be achieved. It helps you to judge how many changes you need to make. Do you need to adopt ev­ery­thing in the SWLL, or can you achieve your goals with just a sub­set?

As you read the num­bers, there are some things to keep in mind. The num­bers must be ad­just­ed based on your own char­ac­ter­is­tics. Ex­am­ples:

  • The 100 calorie per mile figure will be less for a 120 lb. woman and more for a 200 lb. man.
  • A young person will gain more muscle mass in weight training than an older person.
  • The number of calories burned depends on the intensity with which an exercise is performed.

Most of these num­bers are backed by a sci­en­tif­ic study. How­ev­er, there are of­ten oth­er stud­ies that come to dif­fer­ent con­clu­sions. Usu­al­ly this is be­cause each study is based on dif­fer­ent pa­ram­e­ters or method­ol­o­gy. For ex­am­ple, a study in which the sub­jects are in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment yields more re­li­able re­sults than one which re­lies on the self-re­port­ing of sub­jects in their nor­mal en­vi­ron­ments.

Fi­nal­ly, re­search is on-go­ing. New stud­ies are done all the time. New fac­tors are shown to be im­por­tant. For ex­am­ple

  • The contribution of NEAT has only recently been proven to be important in weight maintenance.
  • A protein snack immediately after weight training enhances muscle development.

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