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Lose one pound per week with ease

We all struggle to do something that others do easily. My something is painting around the house.

When my sister-in-law repaints a room, it looks like page 33 of Better Homes & Gardens. When I do, it looks like a page from my nephew’s first coloring book.

But there are struggles shared by nearly everyone. Like keeping off weight lost through dieting.

When researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine asked about 14,000 adults who had lost 10 percent or more of their body weight if they were as light one year later, only 1 out of 6 said yes. Yet if my work with others is any indicator, your just-as-light-one-year-later odds are more like 5 out of 6 - if you fully buy into my system.

In the traditional sense, though, the system is not for sale.

There’s no book to buy, no video to watch, no podcast to listen to. The goal is not to swell my bank account, just shrink your waistline.

You don’t follow a one-size-fits-all diet, but experiment frequently with your own. You do so because you are physiologically unique.

For example, one of my cycling buddies who’s built like me but a dozen years younger eats what I call junky carbs, usually a pastry, in the middle of four-hour rides and rides well afterward. The one time I ate junky carbs when he did, a Philadelphia soft pretzel -a better choice than a pastry, I thought - the opposite occurred.

The highly processed flour in the soft pretzel increased my blood sugar level too quickly. I got lightheaded and felt weak.

In about an hour, I could barely turn the pedals.

This same cycling buddy swears he gains weight if he eats even the smallest amount of healthy food past 8 p.m. He also swears at me when I remind him I eat healthy stuff two or three times every night, for a total of 500 to 600 calories - after I first fall asleep.

Even though the way we metabolize food is unique, science can still direct your dietary experiments. In last week’s article, for instance, you learned how to lose weight yet still eat the same number of calories as before.

That’s possible because of what scientists call the thermic effect of food, the energy expended beyond your basal metabolic rate to process what you eat, as well as your body’s reluctance to store protein and complex carbs as fat.

Dr. Barbara Rolls suggests another strategy to control your body weight. The professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State University has written six books about what she calls volumetrics, including The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet (HarperCollins, 2012).

Her strategy can succinctly be explained in three sentences from that book. “A food that has a high CD [caloric density] has lots of calories in a small amount of food. The opposite is true for low-CD foods. They have fewer calories relative to their weight, so you can eat a bigger portion for the same calories.”

Since Rolls’ prior research established that the weight and volume of the food you consume usually doesn’t vary much from day to day and her diet replaces high-CD foods with low-CD foods, you eat until you feel full and still lose weight.

If you start making high-CD for low-CD swaps, keep in mind that most permanent fat loss occurs gradually. The general rule of thumb: Consume 250 fewer cals and burn an extra 250 cals every day for a month to lose 4 pounds of fat.

While weight loss occurs faster when you follow a bestsellers’-list diet, up to 50 percent of that lost weight is muscle. The more muscle you lose, the more likely it is that you will not only regain the lost weight eventually but also regain it as fat.

To guide your food-swap experiments, compare these low-CD foods from a graphic organizer in an article published in the November 2019 issue of Nutrients titled “Plant-Based Diets in the Reduction on Body Fat” to a few high-CD foods.

One pound of raw vegetables contains between 100 and 200 calories; raw fruits, 200 and 400; intact whole grains, 300 and 600; uncooked beans, 500 to 700; and lean meats, 600 and 800. One pound of typical snacking chips contains between 1500 and 2000 calories; unhealthy cereals, 1500 and 1800; fast-food French fries, 1400 and 1500; and fast-food burgers (bun and toppings included) 1200 and 2500.

One pound of a less-than-lean meat, bacon, contains more than 2400 calories.

In short, if you’re 5 to 10 pounds overweight and replace two or three high-CD foods with low-CD foods each day and create meals that take advantage of the thermic effect of food, you can lose 1 pound of fat a week for 5 to 10 weeks without ever feeling hungry - and keep it off as long as you eat this way.