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.