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Why other diets have not delivered long term results.

Losing and maintaining weight is hard work, takes enormous focused discipline, and if you are also worried about calcium, vitamin A, total carbs, total good fat, bad fat per day, fiber and Na especially at the start of a diet, it is a near impossible challenge to track everything - it's just too much, near impossible to measure, you will be overwhelmed and it will likely fail.

To follow Rule 1, we developed the Cal-Index, a simple single number, a one step metric, that is easy to remember, easy to calculate, allows me to compare foods, and helps make fast Rule 3 and 4 decisions. The Cal-Index is simply the number of calories per gram in the ingredient or product - it is the energy density of the food. The USDA provides the number of calories contained in 100 grams. We simply divided that by number 100 to get the Cal-Index. That also means I can weight any ingredient or meal on a scale in grams, and simply multiply the Cal-Index times number I see on the scale and I have an accurate caloric content. I also have one simple number to compare different foods and the same food maybe different brands. By using low CI foods, you get to eat more it is that simple, as long as you eat less than you burn.

The manufactures are great business marketers. While the front of the package says "Low Fat" or "Low Cal" the back label is confusing, with servings and numbers that even I have trouble comparing in the grocery aisle without a calculator. Today nearly everyone agrees; you only lose weight via Rule 1: (see
Freeman et. al. 2001), but the real problem is Rule 3 and 4. The Cal-Index rule 2, has solved that for me and I credit my 80 lb loss with it's simplicity. In my view the Cal-Index should be on the front of every product sold in US so everyone can try to do best at Rule 2 and Rule 3, and make Rule 1 decisions in the store. I sent a brief explaining the rational to the USDA, and it is my understanding EU has stated that system.

Many excellent and recent scientific reviews of all diet plans (see
Strychar, 2006). One of the major failure modes for diets has been difficulty in accessing the caloric value of any food - what we call Caloric Awareness - knowing what you ate with ability to calculate calories consumed. When diet plans become focused on specific content and nutrients (e.g. carbohydrates, lipids more steps added) steps are added and failure risk increases, and Ocam's razor is at risk. One recent study (Brazeau, 2012) found that 68% of diabetic subjects underestimated carbohydrate content of a diet plan. That inability to portion control or calculate energy or content of what you eat is not new news. The Mayo Clinic among others started an calorie awareness training program using flash cards and portion control (see Mayo Clinic Diet) and they emphasize that awareness is an important step to any weight loss program.

One solution to this portion control problem, and Caloric Awareness problem, is to buy pre-packaged meals from someone who can portion control and calculate calories on your behalf. Special portion controlled, diet meal programs; Weight Watchers, Atkins, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Medifast, Home Bistro, Diets To Go, to name a few all provide advice, support and meals and if you follow the plan you will lose weight - they all work. But near everyone gains all lost weight back within a year, because once they stop buying meals, do not have new eating habits to manage weight.


Barbra Rolls is the real pioneer in calorically reduced diets with her Volumetric's Diet. She introduced the concept of Energy Density (same as Caloric-Index) and relies on many of the same concepts we have rediscovered at Carnot. However, she expects the dieter to track things with paper and pencil. She provides many calorie reduced recipes that do not take advantage of either her ED concept or techno-tools, or what we know about receptors and satiety. She often contradicts goal of staying below CI of 1.0. In last two years Volumetrics seems to obtaining more traction it is a diet that has worked, and without many silly gimmicks. The CDC also has proposed weight loss by tracking Energy Density of foods (see CDC Report). I think the major shortcoming of both programs is they tell dieter to eat low Density Foods, but do not teach them how to portion control or track daily intake and outtake. In effect you are told to just eat lot of vegetables and fruits and you will lose weight. The recipes are all in cups and ounces not grams, so difficult to calculate or measure caloric content for a recipe.

Key to weight loss is not just selecting low density foods, it is also about portion control of those foods and ability to estimate caloric content of those portion controlled meals you cook. More than just following a recipe with single calorie count at end. You need to portion control all ingredients as well as entire dish. The entire restaurant industry has move to grams for that reason - not to lose weight but to manage costs. The
Volumetric Recipes all seem to skip that step - no information is provided about ingredients re weight, caloric density, or calories. The value of Cal-Index (and Energy Density) is once you know it for anything, an ingredient or meal, you can calculate caloric content, and can portion control often in your head; that in turn that skill is key to long term health and weight management.

However, Barbra Rolls is a true pioneer in calorically reduced diets and deserves a lot of credit entire field recognizing the value of energy density in nutrition.

Weight Watchers Point System Issues

Weight Watchers points started out as a simple division with total calories by 35 - plan was simple they calculated your BMR and AMR assign so many "points" per day and per week and you simply kept track of total - it worked however they sell meals and many manufactures place WW points on package. Most WW dieters gain it all back within a year or two because they never learned anything about food eating or food science - just how to count points.

In 2010 Weight Watchers to a wrong turn in the road - they developed Points-Plus
that added "biology" to the physics of weight loss, based on complex arguments that I can not even understand. For example, the points-plus system assigns bananas zero points, and a four oz glass of wine 4 points. That translates into 112 grams and the bananas is 101 calories, while the wine is only 90 calories ? They have a rationale, but someone has not read the literature of actually tried to lose weight in a rap program. Actually Wine does not add any more weight than fruit, and if anything it is much less - Alcohol actually has a very complex metabolic path that does not go to fat very easily. Can see my 80 lbs loss I never cut back on wine, I did include in daily CPT, but if I had used WW points would have blown entire day just on wine and dinner.

The new point system makes bananas zero (0) points. Bananas have a Cal-Index of 0.9 typical banana is 113 Calories - for me that a lot for a snack. I prefer AF roasted endive (10 mins @ 390F) with garlic; 62 Calories with 5 grams of oil, Cal-Index 0.56.

The points system was a brilliant idea that is screwed up beyond repair now. Moreover, with low cost scales and Cal-Index just not difficult to manage weight loss based on scientific fundamentals, and at the same time become Calorically Calibrated and learn food skills; become a Carnot food calorie expert without much help from a meal provider.

The McDonald's Diet

My favorite and proof that weight loss is all about physics not biology. McDonald's can claim they provide portion control meals, and you can lose weight if you eat McDonald's meals providing you stick to Rule 1 and eat less than you burn. (see
Science Teacher Story). This diet has a high carbohydrate, high fat content (see McDonald's Nutritional Information). I use a MAC and iPad program that has complied all the restaurant menus in US and UK in an easy to use Database called NutritionMenu also several good online reference sites (Nutritionix)

The Joe Cross Juice Diet

Joe Cross of Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, fame has millions of people losing weight on Juices. These juices effectively become portion controlled meals, and are high in carbohydrate The Joe Cross
Reboot Diet still ends being a calorically reduced diet of 1200 to 1800 calories. Both the McDonald's and Reboot diet illustrate that when losing weigh content really does not matter - all that matters is accurately managing calories in vs calories out.

The Zone, South Beach, Jenny Craig, and Post Diet Gain

Another dozen or so diets provide pre-packaged meals that are portion controlled and calorically limited. Many studies show that when obese individuals hit their target weight with any of these special diets they regain about 80% of weight back within 5 years (see
Anderson et al, Diet Science tab). The reason is simple if you use special meals or recipes, to lose the weight, after you hit target, go back to old meals of course you will regain the weight. You have not become Calorie Calibrated, you are not Calorically Aware when you hit your target weight because you paid someone else to do all of your home work for you - you did not learn on own. If someone else cooked, portion controlled and calculated calories for all your meals you do not have that skill to manage your weight going forward, you will never become a Carnot Ninja, not even a Brown Belt Ninja. If after you lose weight you change to a new meal plan, you will likely regain it all back.

I used
Home Bistro meals for about three months and I must say. the meals were portion controlled, and some of the meals were very good, and I did lose weight. However, I decided after listening Kathleen Finn's book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, a half dozen times, I too can prepare the same portion controlled meals, and they will be gourmet, with only the best ingredients. If I lose weight with meals that I cooked and I portion controlled, I can always change portions a bit when I hit my target, but I have the skill to manage my new weight and not gain it back for the rest of my life - I am now Calorie Calibrated, and a Carnot Black Belt Ninja.

It takes less time to cook or create a dish with accurate portion control using scales and grams over using conventional US cups ounces and tsps (volume) ….. Plus you have much less cleanup.
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