Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Diet Book Review: The Shred Revolutionary Diet

[Full disclosure: I was sent a free review copy by the publisher]
Written by physician Ian K. Smith I have to say, I was a touch concerned from the get go as before the book even begins is a "Note to the Reader" which includes this statement,
"The author has endeavored to make sure it contains reliable and accurate information. However research on diet and nutrition is evolving and subject to interpretation and the conclusions presented here may differ from those found in other sources"
This book works by means of a very simple philosophy. It's a 6 week meal plan. Follow the plan and lose weight - no thinking required which certainly will appeal to many,
"Each day is thoughtfully planned out so that your need to think about what works and what doesn't is kept to a minimum."
Though the bulk of the book is made up of the various menus, there were a few times when the text reminded me of Dr. Smith's note to readers. First was something he called "Diet confusion" - a concept I've certainly not come across (and one I'm not aware of the literature supporting or refuting),
"The second thing that could theoretically happen is that by eating the same food all the time, the body becomes acclimated to eating those foods and more efficient at processing them"
And then came toxins,
"All of us, even those who eat as healthfully as possible - accumulate some level of toxins in our bodies. We want to eliminate these toxins as efficiently as possible. Sometimes livers can be overwhelmed, so occasionally it's beneficial to give them a little boost in carrying out their jobs"
Rather than wade into toxins myself, I'll steer you to my friend, pharmacist Scott Gavura's take, but at least no pills or potions are being recommended,
"The SHRED cleanse has you eating particular foods and drinking certain beverages that nautrally activate enzymes in the liver to enhance the detoxification process"
About halfway through the book I came across this statement,
"Think about the last three weeks as a descent into a cold dark pit. Each week you went deeper into the pit. At the end of week 3, you hit bottom."
Sure doesn't sound particularly inviting to me and perhaps as a consequence, before I started crunching caloric numbers, I was expecting to see that the Shred Revolutionary Diet was highly, highly, restrictive.

It actually isn't.

I calculated the calories provided by Day 1 of each of the 6 weeks of Shred's program. Here's what I came up with:

Day 1, Week 1: 1,781 calories
Day 1, Week 2: 1,621 calories
Day 1, Week 3: 1,426 calories
Day 1, Week 4: 1,406 calories
Day 1, Week 5: 1,276 calories (this is the "detox" week)
Day 1, Week 6: 1,572 calories

In fact those numbers up above are middle of the road numbers. Shred offers quite a few mix and match style options and I'd bet if picking the highest calorie options many days will easily clear 2,000.

Dr. Smith shares my belief that preventing hunger is crucial to success and recommends regular meals and snacks so as to reduce our physiologic drive to eat. He also advocates for significant amounts of exercise to supplement his meal plan. If followed carefully expect to exercise between 3 and 3.5 hours weekly.

At the end of the day, interesting "interpretations" and warnings of cold dark pits aside, of all the diet books I've read this New Year, the meal plans included in Shred, except perhaps for the "detox" week, are actually pretty reasonable.

If you're a woman of average height, this plan might in fact be a good one for you - that is assuming your preference would be to follow a meal plan carefully and include regular exercise. But you'd better follow it carefully because if you're not accurate with your measurements and you don't include the exercise, this plan might easily lead you to consume more calories than would lead to weight loss.

If you're a man of average height, if followed carefully this plan might well leave you hungry and if you're following it make sure you add in higher calorie solid options.

Both men and women following - not sure why Dr. Smith is so fond of juice. Much more sating to eat calories than to drink them - would adjust your days accordingly.

Remember though - whatever you do to lose the weight, if you stop doing it, you'll gain it back. Dr. Smith recommends when you see the weight starting to climb if you've reverted to your old lifestyle post Shredding, that you simply re-initiate the program or week/s of your choice.

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46 comments:

  1. All diets have the same flaw---they expect you to be able to follow the instructions, especially when they assume that all it takes to keep you compliant is to keep hunger at bay. For some of us there can never be any diet book that will ever work. We have to deeply examine our own behaviors, routines, preferences, tendencies, and particularly how our brains work to determine how to transition through lifestyle changes that will lead to true life transformation.

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    1. ^^^This is the single MOST Intelligent statement (and TRUTH) I've ever seen about dieting and weightloss.

      -Life Long dieter (and now FINALLY a BIG LOSER -80lbs)

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  2. Any diet that recommends NOT thinking cannot prepare one for the real work ahead: maintenance. There are bazillions of ways to lose weight. It's actually not that hard in the grand scheme of things. The challenge of weight loss (while retaining health) is maintenance, and since the research is nascent with regard to maintenance, it requires initimate self knowledge, not planned ignorance. Thumbs down on this diet.

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    1. Anonymous12:41 pm

      Having done the diet successfully, I know that what Dr. Smith refers to by "not thinking" is that you don't have to worry about calorie counting, weighing, etc. when starting the plan. There is "thinking" involved, since he sets guidelines on things like sodium, sugar, and carb content on things you choose to eat. You're learning to read and understand product labels, you're learning what foods are healthier than others, you're learning what portion sizes are meant to look like, and you're developing a good exercise routine. I find it easy to maintain because by the end of it, I had gotten a good education. Learning by doing. Both my thumbs are up on this diet.

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    2. Congratulations. How long have you maintained?

      I ask this not to diminish you, but I have come to understand that after a diet there is a "coasting" phase in which it feels easy to maintain a loss. (The "if I can do it anyone can" phase.) In my limited exposure to actual maintainers (connecting through my blog mostly), I estimate that phase lasts anywhere from 3 months to 3 years for most people, depending upon the intensity of one's exercise regimen -- the more intense, the longer the "coast." But even people who seem to have habituated a really intense exercise regimen eventually hit a wall where it gets difficult. As a runner, I actually didn't hit the wall until I reached year 4. I was granted a really generous "coast." Now at a decade of maintenance, I speak with some authority on this, and I'm telling you it will get harder, and may require more detailed analysis of your food management than this one book provides. I see some promise in your paragraph. Please know, however, that what and how much you find satisfying now may change. Also, you may develop "eat impulses" that are confusing. They aren't like insulin-triggered hunger (that you can merely rate on a scale of one to ten and then manage accordingly), they are likely caused by the endocrine responses of dozens of peptides and hormones that are different for a former obese person than a person at his or her natural weight, and these chemicals have been only marginally studied to date. I wish you great luck and fortitude in your endeavor to maintain your loss. May you be in the 3% club of "long-term" radical weight-loss maintainers at five years (assuming you're not already there)!

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    3. Anonymous5:55 pm

      No problem; I don't "diminish" easily! I've maintained for about 3 months now. Not sure if you read the book and tried the plan or just read this review by Dr. Freedhoff (who probably doesn't need to try the plan!), but if you read the book, you would know that the plan is meant for those who find it difficult to "lose that last 20 pounds". Let me clarify: I am not, nor have I ever been, an obese person (I, too, am a runner, although I would call myself a reluctant runner, which is why I need to be set straight every so often), and I am not a doctor, so I don't know about the physiological differences an obese person may or may not have, compared to a person of normal weight. I do agree, however, that it is difficult to maintain normal, healthy weight, but wouldn't that be the case after reaching your goal weight with any plan you're following? Granted, if you're following the cabbage soup diet, you're probably not going to have much success maintaining. But this plan uses a variety of real, healthy food that is available at any market (I'm sorry, but I don't have time to search for Buckwheat Groats!) I learned a lot about healthier food choices and switching up your exercise routine on this plan. I only replied to your post because I know that this plan worked for me because I tried it; I would never defend it if it didn't. And, more importantly, I would never blindly comment with disparagement on something I hadn't tried myself.

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    4. Anonymous9:27 pm

      Oops. Maintaining for 13 months, not 3. Didn't see the error when reviewing my reply!

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  3. If this topic interests you, Anon, you may wish to go visit Arya Sharma's blog. His last six posts have been on weight-loss maintenance -- his interpretation of the profiles that the National Weight Control Registry has produced. I was mostly a "Julie" for four years, and now I'm more a "Janice," but not exactly on either account. You sound like a "Mark." All I know is that we must remain compassionate and open-minded on this topic. There are so many know-it-alls -- or people whose publishers force them to take a know-it-all approach in their writing -- who presume to offer the universal answer for permanent weight-loss, and over and over and over, good hearted and disciplined people find that they are failed by these solutions in the long run (but instead of blaming the plans, they blame themselves for failing). It's a cruel environment for fat people now, especially those who regain weight, and we maintainers need to stay humble and appreciative for as long as we have the stamina, medical good fortune and resources to maintain our losses.

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  4. I have read the book and am actually following the plan now (reluctantly). I gained a few pounds over the last quarter of last year, 7 to be specific, after moving to another state and completely jacking up both my workout and eating habits, including 2 weeks of eating next to nothing (busy and stressed) and losing weight only to regain that and some. I am not usually a fan of diets but thought I'd give this a try to get me back on track. I have not fallen in love with this book and I do not find it revolutionary, but I am very routine so since I started it I feel compelled to complete it although I'm not sure how much longer I will continue. I don't find the book to be very educational and that may be because I have followed meal spacing for many years, I had actually heard about the concept of diet confusion or calorie cycling, and I am very knowledgeable about healthy foods. The first week was fine, but did little for me because it was not a huge lifestyle change. Plus, I disregarded Dr. Ian's advice not to strength train because I feel that is important and was not trying to go another 6 weeks without building or maintaining my muscle tone. Plus, the first week seems designed to get you in the habit of the diet while allowing "all you can eat" and so many report that they are not hungry - which is obvious but they should wait until they see the other weeks before they decide. Week 2 wasn't bad either but working on a corporate job and expecting to eat a salad or a bowl of soup at 4 PM is crazy (at least for me). Currently on week 3, I am even less impressed. I am not a fan of the all liquid diet and all the fruit smoothies seem like they may be a little too much sugar in my opinion - albeit naturally occurring sugar. Plus, I'm not seeing all the variety in food choices this week - seems to be the same thing day after day, with a little change every 4 days. The other annoying thing was the layout of the book. The intro section of each chapter was very repetitive, so there was nothing to learn there. In either case, I know many people love the book and are having huge success from it, but it's not for me. The more time goes by the more annoyed I become and the waste of paper as well as at Dr. Ian - with his non-revolutionary revolutionary diet. Besides, I read somewhere else where Dr. Ian said many "Smashers" are now "Shredders". If Smash wasn't successful for them long term why would this be. I guess one might argue the difference is diet confusion. Repeating this diet again is not something I would ever look forward to. The underlying principles of this book - smaller portions spaced appropriately throughout the day along with not eating the same meals or way every day - makes sense - but that's not unique to Dr. Ian and I'd certainly rather do that with whole foods.

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  5. Anonymous11:08 pm

    The guy doing the review is dead on. By the end of the 3rd week, my wife was too busy working 10 hours a day and watching kids that she couldn't get all her workouts in. She ended up gaining a pound and a half and became very frustrated. I was always hungry at 201 pounds and did lose 8 pounds down from 209, but I work out almost 45 minutes each day. I also ended up having an allergic reaction from some of the fruit (apples and pears) and had to work them out of my diet. Was never allergic to them prior to eating so much of them. Word to the wise. If you follow it to the book you will be ok. But I would follow something like Body for life or something similiar so that you can eat regular foods, just in smaller portions.

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  6. Anonymous12:18 pm

    I am currently in week 5 of the plan. Because of work and little ones, the only time i can excercise is at 4 am. I run walk for 45 minutes before the house wakes up. This diet doesnt require thinking as some have mentioned, but for me it works. Ive lost 23 pounds in four weeks. I am currently at 205 pounds, not hungary, and will probably do another round of it...minus the detox week 5.

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    1. Anonymous12:02 am

      Way to go!!!!

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    2. Anonymous2:49 pm

      That is impressive, keep it up. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Anonymous10:08 am

    I have been following this diet for about 2 weeks now and have lost about 4 pounds. I only need to lose about 7 pounds. I agree that it is almost impossible with work to space out the meals as the book suggests. I cannot just whip out a snack when I am working with patients. Sometimes I get so busy I forget to eat. The book has just given me some good ideas for healthy eating and I have added some more fiber to my diet. I will often substitute the items for a given day with other low calorie items that I like better and find that the between meal snacks do help keep hunger at bay so I don't overeat at regular meals. My main problem is wanting to snack in the late afternoon, and having that 3:30 PM meal has been helpful to snack on the right things. Being completely on this diet is very difficult unless you live alone and don't have to cook for a family. No one else in my house wants to eat like that.

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  8. I have read all the previous posts. I am really thinking about trying this diet. I work part-time and should be able to follow the meal plans as long as I can make substitutions. I also need to start a regular exercise program again and I am hoping this will help with that as well. I'm trying to get my sister to do the diet with me so we can keep each other motivated. Well I will buy the book tonight and get started at the beginning of next week.

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  9. Anonymous5:00 pm

    so over all is this diet worth it

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  10. Anonymous12:24 pm

    I am confussed by week 5 calling for 2 tablespoons of flax oil daily. by my count this is about 450 calories.

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    1. Anonymous12:18 am

      U need to read up on Flax oil.....

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  11. Anonymous8:47 am

    About to get this shred party started. Looking forward tov success. Wish me luck!

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  12. Anonymous11:39 am

    I am now going through the cycle for the 2nd time-- on week 4 again- I've lost only 18 lbs, but am now noticing more inches lost than lbs. :) Just have to keep remembering to MEASURE as well as weigh in. It has been a challenging ride...albeit, worth it in that it has truly changed my eating habits for the better. That, in itself, has been a Godsend. I have 70-100 to lose,so this is a last ditch effort for me... Just having a tough time fitting every meal into a busy schedule. The soups is the hardest- everything else is easy to prepare ahead... Does anyone have any good tips? Thanks.

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    1. Anonymous2:21 pm

      When you have a day off, make a very large pot of vegetabel soup. put equal amounts of beef broth and water, add the veggies (everything except potatoes), bay leaf, garlic, parsley. Each time it calls for veggies take one cup of the soup. Each time it calls for soup, take 1.5 cups. Easy to put into "to go" containers. Worked for me.

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  13. Anonymous9:44 pm

    I have been Shredding for almost 12 weeks (2 Cycles) and have lost 30 pounds without hunger. I feel great and look so much better than I did on January 7th when I started. I am a big fan!

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    1. I agree best diet ever!!!!!! Starting shredding 11/18/13 its been only 5 days I have lost 10 lbs!!!!! . I'm a 51 year old woman and I can't believe I have finally found something that works for me and is completely healthy. Thanks Dr Ian!!!

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  14. Anonymous2:31 pm

    I am checking out the diet because a friend of mine told me about it. She has lost 35 pounds since the first of January. That is impressive and I wanted to see what the diet is all about. I have been counting calories using healthy food choices without exercise and have lost 21 pounds since the 9th of January.I may just try adding exercise to what I am already doing and see if that steps up the weight loss.

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  15. Anonymous9:40 am

    I know someone who has tried this diet. Don't know how much she has lost, but her weight lost is very apparent. I am thinking about it.

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  16. Anonymous6:06 pm

    My husband and I are just starting week 4 of the cycle. I have lost just over 12Ibs so far and my husband's gut has almost disappeared. I will admit that we do occasionally feel hunger and get a little cranky with each other, especially on days that include mostly protein shakes, smoothies or soup. However, my husband has allowed some cheat days for holidays and he told me that he did much better with his portion control because he felt full; this is a huge triumph for him. The timing of meals can be very challenging but we make do as best we can. I feel like this is a good teaching tool. Not to mention, I have never seen my husband eat so many veggies in my life!

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  17. Anonymous11:46 am

    Wow way to go I hope you don't mind me asking but are you a man or women. I'm a women and I don't think females will lose that much as fast.
    -M

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  18. Anonymous1:25 am

    I'm pleased with some of the responses I have read...I'm doing a 8 week body challenge n I'm in week 2...I will start Dr. Smith program on this upcoming Sunday...I have a problem with counting all my carbs, fats, n protein for every meal....hopefully this will increase my weight loss and inches (body fat)

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  19. Anonymous5:51 am

    Currently on week 4 of the diet, first cycle... For those of you on the diet who are exercising a lot... I teach Zumba 4 classes a week (one day 2 classes back to back) and run te other days for at least a 5k (training)... Have you been to a point where you have burned all the calories you ate? And at that point what do you do? I have stuck with the diet closely but with the amount of exercise I do sometimes, depending on the day and food, find that my body feels like it is eating itself... Help!

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  20. Anonymous6:28 pm

    I started the Shred diet last week and lost 4lbs. This is quite motivating to me; therefore, I plan to stick with it. I am concerned that I will be running a conference during Week 4 and will be unable to prepare smoothies and protein shakes as I'll be living in a hotel for a week. Does anyone have any substitution suggestions?

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    1. I'm not sure if this comment is old and I'm not sure if you have these where you're too, but I've been using individual Arthur's Smoothies. They're already made not-from-concentrate fresh fruit smoothies with very little preservatives (if any) and appropriate calorie counts. I find them at the grocery store in the produce section where they keep cold drinks and sometimes salad dressings. They're great!

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  21. Anonymous1:47 am

    will this shred diet work with little exercise.I have MS and in a wheelchair ,very little mobility?

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  22. Everyone seems to miss the point of the book. It's a revolutionary diet because it's based off a healthy diet - it's not really a "diet" at all. It gives you the tools to learn how to eat healthy. It's so easy for doctors to say "hey, eat fruits and veggies and lean protein and work out" but this book tells you how to actually apply that information to your life. *** Granted, week 3 has mainly liquid meals and then week 5 is the detox week - those are strictly diet activities that may not fit into everyone's lifestyle - but this is a book about weight loss, after all. *** For the most part, the book basically just says to eat healthy, what healthy foods to eat, and when to eat them - hence the "no thinking" thing. I'm currently coming up on the end of week 1. The schedule has helped me actually not just exercise but CARDIO exercise for the first time in I don't know how long. The schedule has helped me eat green salads and fruits that I usually wouldn't have bothered to pick up. So far, I'm feeling FANTASTIC. My daily afternoon fatigue that I've had since I was 13 (22 now) completely disappeared. Tomorrow is a cheat day (I decided to give myself one a week in case I thought this was hard) and I don't even think I want to "cheat" because I feel great, this is so easy, and I can tell good things are happening with my body. Isn't that part of what being healthy is all about?

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  23. Anonymous1:52 pm

    I just started the Shred Diet on Sept. 30, it is day 3 and I have lost 6lbs. I know you are not suppose to weigh in every day, but that is my routine. I have 70lbs to lose. So far the diet is not bad

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  24. Anonymous12:13 pm

    After 3 cycles....I lost 50 pounds. I worked out everyday and maintained my weight loss for 3 months. Now I'm doing another cycle to get that last 15 pounds off. Dont be a naysayer if you haven't given it a chance. The I'm too busy excuse is simply that. My health and life are far more important and making excuses simply isn't an option. I'd also like to point out that the word "diet" is misleading
    ...this is a lifestyle.

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  25. Anonymous3:55 pm

    does anyone know how many calories or the amount of soup you can have on the shred diet all it says is a bowl of soup but not how much

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    1. Anonymous9:40 pm

      Depends on the week your on. It tells you if your soup/smoothie/protein shakes are 300, 250 or 200 calories. Look closely at your directions at the beginning of each week.

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  26. Are artificial sweeteners OK?

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  27. Are artificial sweeteners OK?

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  28. Anonymous8:00 pm

    Since oatmeal is listed as one of the choices for breakfast...is it ok if you wanted to, to eat oatmeal for every breakfast or do you have to stay to what he has down as choices are for that day? He also says nothing about artificial sweeteners.

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    1. Just Keep Running7:17 pm

      He actually tells you to eat something different every day and for every meal. It's all about changing it up and keeping your body from getting comfortable or in a routine.

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  29. Anonymous1:20 pm

    I am 40 years old 5 foot tall and weighing 185lbs. Ouch. I hurt my back and neck a few years ago and I can hardly do any exercise. I went from 115lbs to 185lbs. I am afraid that if I start the SRD I would gain instead of loosing. Any help?

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  30. Just Keep Running9:00 am

    I understand that not all diets work for everyone. This particular diet takes a lot of planning and a little sacrificing, if you aren't used to working out as many days a week as he requires. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it's worth it.

    I have always been a little overweight. Not enough to be worried about my health, but enough to just not feel as beautiful as I could or comfortable in my skin. I've tried all sorts of diets and I've been "successful," but it always comes back. Through it all, the only thing I've learned is to be afraid of food. This book has completely changed my perspective. I am 5'7" and I started out at 196.4 pounds. I just finished up week 2 and I weighed in at 185. I realize I have a long way to go, not just with the remainder of the diet, but with the maintenance as well, but I am feeling the best about myself that I ever have. My confidence is boosted, people around me are noticing, and I have no intention of stopping.

    So it takes a little planning...doesn't everything else in our lives require the same? Personally, I just sit down at the end of the day when I have a few quiet minutes and write down a couple day's worth of meals in a journal. It helps me prepare and I know what's coming. I'm not going to promise this will work for you, but I would highly suggest giving it a try.

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  31. Would someone please answer the artifical sweetner question....please?

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  32. Anonymous12:47 pm

    This stuff absolutely amuses me. The only thing you need to know is "calories in vs. calories out". That's IT. There is no magic solution, no wave of a wand, nothing. The problem is that people are under the impression that there are "bad foods". Food is FUEL - if you assign emotion to food, that's exactly where you're going to go wrong. Anything is fine IN MODERATION. Chocolate is not "bad" for you, but if you treat it like it is, you're going to be frustrated, feel guilty, and you'll end up going off track. I eat chocolate, pizza, anything I like - as long as it FITS MY MACROS and calorie goal. All of these silly "diet plans" are formulas to fail.

    Google "if it fits your macros". That's what works. It must - I've lost 112 pounds in the last 18 months, so.

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  33. To Sookie and Karen: I guess artificial sweeteners are okay although I prefer the real thing - if I use sugar at all because I do not have a sweet tooth, e.g. black coffee, no sugar - to the artificial thing. And, yes, it is a no brainer: lots of energy in, no energy out equals weight gain. However, I have lost 11 kg in the past 10 weeks on a modified SHRED; I snack on oranges if I feel really hungry. I also walk between 2 and 4 miles daily and that means 7 days a week.

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