Introducing my Ounce-for-an-Ounce Diet™

How to lose five pounds or less a year

"Nothing to buy. Not much to do."™

© Pam Walatka

This column originally appeared in the Los Altos Town Crier

I've been losing some ounces. I am decades beyond the age when I could drop pounds at will, but I can do ounces.

Pounds are too big a unit. Losing a pound is too hard. An ounce is doable.

Roughly speaking, to lose an ounce, you only need to eat an ounce less fat.

Fats contain 219 calories per ounce. If you eat an extra ounce of fat, or any 219 calories that you don't need, your body will store those calories for you - as an ounce of fat!

Everyone's metabolism is different. The numbers are different for different people and in different circumstances, but, rounding off the averages, you can think of an ounce of food fat corresponding to an ounce of body fat.

Do you need to lose weight? If you are already thin, stop reading this and go do something more fun. Still reading? Then here is my Ounce-for-an-Ounce Diet.

Rather than making drastic changes in your eating habits, try making tiny changes. Eat just a little bit less every day. Take smaller portions. Do not take second helpings. Learn to recognize when you are full and throw away the last two bites.

Don't be afraid of a little hunger. Your stored fat is sitting there, waiting for you to need it for fuel. The primary purpose of fat is to store calories until you need to burn them for energy.

You may find that after half an hour of being hungry, your hunger goes away because your metabolism has switched to burning fat. When you are hungry, pat your biggest fat deposit and tell your metabolism, "Eat this!"

Are you asking yourself, "Do I have to exercise?" Yes, dear reader, you do. Just a little bit more than you already are. Adding a 10-minute walk, four times a week, could (depending on various factors) burn up about an ounce of fat a week.

For many years, I was gaining a pound a year. About six years ago, I started eating less breakfast and putting more effort into my daily exercise. In those six years, my regular-normal weight (as opposed to daily fluctuations) went down 22 pounds.

You might be saying, "I need to lose 22 pounds in a month, not six years." But is that working for you? Is that something that actually happens in the real world?

Doing the math, I figure that 22 pounds in six years works out to just over an ounce a week. Losing an ounce a week is something you could do if you wanted to. Life is long. There is plenty of time.

The basic idea: Every extra ounce of fat you eat gets stored in your body as, roughly, an ounce of fat.

To start losing fat ounce-by-ounce, consistently eat an ounce less of food fat (or 219 calories of anything) and consistently add 40 minutes of exercise to your week. It all adds up. Or subtracts.

OZ4OZ Diet

  1. Every day, eat one ounce less food than your pre-diet normal.
  2. Every day, exercise five and a half minutes more than your pre-diet normal.
  3. Don't be afraid to be hungry; hunger triggers the metabolism of fat.
  4. Expect slow but lasting results.

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