Lesson #3: Dr. Pickert’s Incredible New Diet Plan – A Blueprint for success

March 17th, 2015 → 10:30 pm @ // No Comments



In the last two tips I debunked Food Fascism. The “Do this, not that” mentality that dominates the mainstream weight loss establishment. The “that” usually refers to foods and food groups that you know and love and you have eaten all of your life. They are to be replaced with “this,” so-called healthy food groups that you have always shunned. Sometimes this switch will be augmented with pills, proteins, powders, points or potions that will cost you a pretty penny as well. Of course, they need you to believe that this is all very healthy, nutritious and good for you. The fact that you don’t want to eat the new things never crosses their mind and if it does, is deemed irrelevant.

What should we do about this conundrum?

Let’s start there.

How to Approach a Better Diet Plan

STEP 1: Setting Goals

All diets start out the same. One day we get on the scale, don’t like what we see and say, “I think I want to lose weight.” Five pounds, ten, twenty or a hundred. It doesn’t matter. We all want to weigh less. Next we pick a time frame. This is the point where most people make their first mistake. Virtually everyone picks an unrealistic target. Whether influenced by deceptive advertising or unaware of how to decide, we aim for an objective that is much too optimistic. The problem with that shows up later when we realize we are not going to achieve our goal. Then we have a tendency to give up. It is far better to choose a much more modest goal and to be pleasantly surprised if we accomplish it more quickly.

With that in mind, what is the best, most practical way to make this decision? To answer that we need to do a little arithmetic. (I’ll keep it simple)

Every day we eat calories (energy) and we burn calories (energy). Some days we eat more than other days and some days we burn more than others. Despite day-to-day variations, these total numbers stay roughly in balance over long periods, even when we are overweight. The proof of that is seen on the scale where our weight remains fairly stable over time. Now let’s say that we start eating less and/or exercising (burning) more. By doing so we go into a calorie deficit. However, our bodies still demand the same amount of energy as yesterday. To make up for the shortfall, our bodies will turn inward and use up some of our energy stores. And exactly where is that storage area? You guessed it: our fat reserves. Once we go into a calorie deficit we start burning stored fat and hence start losing weight.

The problem with this scenario is that we lose weight fairly slowly. Why? Because to burn off an unnecessary pound of stored fat we need to eat less and/or burn more than 3500 calories below our daily needs. (conversely, if we overeat by 3500 calories we would produce an extra pound of stored fat) If your daily maintenance number is, say, 2200 calories per day, and you ate nothing all day then you wouldn’t even lose a full pound for your heroic effort.

Let’s say instead that you choose to save 500 calories. Every day. (More on how to do that later) In a week’s time you will have cumulated the magical total of 3500 calories and will have lost one real pound of fat. The scale may show more than that at first because the fat- burning mechanism is inefficient and gives off a lot of water. It is not uncommon to lose 3 – 6 pounds of this water in the first week of a vigorous diet but only one pound of that total represents lost fat. Eventually the water will stabilize and you may not lose more weight on the scale for weeks despite your best efforts. This is the dreaded plateau that has been the ruin of many a diet.

For most people saving and/or burning 500 calories per day isn’t so difficult. Thirty minutes of a brisk walk is worth about 250 calories which means that you only have to achieve dietary savings of 250 calories to reach your total. Add it up over a week’s time and presto, you’ve lost a pound. However, and this is a big ‘however’ you must keep it up every day. If you choose not to walk on a particular day then you will have to achieve your daily goal at the kitchen table.

From this arithmetic you can also figure out what your time frame should be. One pound per week is a decent, attainable, practical goal. Twenty pounds, twenty weeks. Fifty pounds, one year.


Many of you are probably wondering the same thing: if saving 500 calories per day is good for one pound of weight loss per week, why don’t I save 1000 per day so that I can lose two pounds per week? There are several reasons. First of all, that pace is difficult to maintain over a long period. At the beginning when we have a good can-do spirit 1000 calories of savings might be easy to attain. An hour of a brisk walk and cutting out 500 calories at mealtime feels easy when our determination to succeed is maxed out. Willpower is abundant at the beginning of a diet and we feel like we can do it forever. But most of us can’t. Eventually we will start to get bored and then cheat. Maybe we skip the treadmill for a few days or maybe we have a “reward” day and enjoy a pig-out. But eventually we won’t be able to keep it up and then we will fail. Bad habits will resume and the modest weight loss we enjoyed will become a distant memory.

Instead, we should stick to a less dramatic program. If we do, then the chance of success is much more likely. Why? Because we can easily save 250-500 calories per day through a combination of eating less and/or exercise without feeling deprived. When we try saving more than that deprivation takes over and eventually overwhelms our willpower. Using a more gradual approach will leave us in a better position when our goal is attained. We will have developed better habits and it will be much easier to maintain our success in the future.

The point is to avoid a quick fix

Then you can establish a practical regimen that can last forever.


A Reasonable Goal:

Then what is the best way to set a reasonable goal?

I have found from talking to hundreds of heavy and obese people that when they try to go on a strict, low-calorie diet, they reach a level of deprivation that is unsustainable in the long term. Again, I understand that at the beginning of the diet, when we are chock full of willpower, we think we are unstoppable, we can do anything. All we need is a bowl of fruit in the morning, a turkey sandwich made with lo-fat mayo for lunch, a playing-card-deck-size piece of fish or chicken for dinner with a small serving or two of green beans for dinner and …ah! That felt good, didn’t it? We can do this forever or at least until we lose 40 pounds or so. A week later we are down 6 pounds, yippee! And at that rate we will be done in 7 weeks or so, maybe less when we start some kick-ass exercising also. But then two weeks after that, the scale has barely budged, the morning fruit has been bulked up with a generous helping of yogurt, we hope we never see a turkey sandwich again, and the deck-sized piece of fish is now more like the size of the dictionary, along with a “small” helping of mashed potatoes. AND EVEN STILL WE ARE HUNGRY! A few days later is the pizza and shortly after that we have crashed and burned. What went wrong?

To figure out where we went wrong, first we have to do a little arithmetic again. (I’m sorry and I promise this is the last time) To figure out how many calories you can eat and neither gain nor lose weight, you take your weight and multiply by 11. If you lead an active life and are not a couch potato, you can use 12 or 13. (Don’t lie to yourself here. Most of us are couch potatoes and should use 11) So if you are a 190 pound woman and you lead an inactive life, your breakeven is approximately 2100 calories per day. For a 250 pound sedentary man, your breakeven is about 2750 calories.

In talking to these hundreds of heavy and obese people, I have discovered that when they undereat their daily breakeven by more than 20% they suffer a level of deprivation that is pre-destined to fail.

Let me repeat that: you should avoid eating less than 80% of your breakeven calories or you will probably fail!

So the 190 pound woman should not eat less than about 1700 calories per day (190 x 11=2090. 20% of 2090 is about 400. 2090-400 is about 1700) The 250 pound man should be satisfied with 2200 calories per day.

“HERESY!” I hear the Food Fascists saying right now17841440-vector-representing-kiki-dress-of-hitler.  “Absolute heresy! They should be on a 1500 calorie per day diet! They must learn to eat less!”

And what I say to the Food Fascists is: You are not going to bully us anymore.images (1) You have been pushing us around for decades and still we are overweight. We are not going to eat so little that we feel deprived to the point that we must fail eventually.

So now we know: Our goal should be to cut back our daily intake and/or burn more for a daily savings of about 20%.

Take your weight, multiply by 11. Take 80% of that total and that should be your goal.


previous post: Lesson #2: Dr. Pickert’s Incredible New Diet Plan – Debunking Food Fascism (Part 2)    next post: Lesson #4: Dr. Pickert’s Incredible New Diet Plan – Honesty Is the Best Policy








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