I want to rant a little about weight loss. It is time people got back to basics when it comes to weight loss and, furthermore, it is time people stopped making excuses for why they cannot keep better tabs on their diet and nutrition.
If you regularly read my blog, you'll know how I feel about weight loss and fat loss: a calorically appropriate diet is the most significant factor and contributor to one's success or, for most, lack thereof. People get caught up in and focus on secondary factors such as eating organic foods, avoiding sugar, the proportion of carbohydrate to protein to fat, and a myriad of other issues when they should be focusing on the one thing most do not: THE OVERALL VOLUME OF ENERGY (CALORIES) BEING CONSUMED.
If you've read my fat loss nutrition series, you'll know some of these secondary issues listed above do warrant consideration, but only if one first understands what an appropriate caloric intake should be for their goals, and, more importantly, has been consistently applying this understanding on a daily basis. All too often I'm asked by people interested in weight loss about things like glycemic index, high fructose corn syrup, how many times to eat per day, whether free range chicken will help them lose weight faster, etc. They think these types of things are what is "holding them back" when, in fact, it is the extra 800-1000 calories they are eating above their maintenance levels on a daily basis which they need to address first.
I often hear people say "I eat pretty healthy and still don't lose any weight" or "I make good food choices and still haven't lost any weight" or "I eat healthy the majority of the time". I don't don't doubt that they do. What I have found is that people's overall selection of food, by and large, isn't the issue...the volume of the food being eaten is. Generally, people "eat healthy" the vast majority of the time if we define "eating healthy" as eating foods with high nutritional value. Most people struggling to lose weight are not eating cakes, candy, chips, cookies etc. all the time. These foods may appear at times throughout the week, but they are the exception and not the rule.
People need to stop making excuses for why they can't read labels, measure out servings, etc. and apply this information when eating their meals. They need to stop "coping out" with "I try to eat healthy and it's not working" and the "Counting calories isn't practical for me" lines of thinking. If you understand, for example, you need to be eating 12 calories per pound of your current body weight each day in order to facilitate weight loss, there is no reason outside of laziness and a lack of dedication on your part why you can't adhere to your calorie requirements the vast majority of the time...I'm not saying you have to be perfect with it and I'll admit it's almost impossible to do so. I'm not saying you need to be obsessed with counting calories and measuring food. However, you do have to at least apply it more often than not.
Positive results, no matter what area of your life, do not come about by haphazard application of principles. You can't coast your way, at least not over the long term, to great results. You can't guess at things and hope to be very successful. I've said before weight loss is a part-time job you have to be willing to take on. You must be willing to apply the principles in order to get the job done successfully. You can't worry about secondary nutritional issues and methods without first understanding and applying the primary principles.
There is something called the "80/20 Rule" which I have found to be true in most areas of life, and, particularly to weight loss: 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. It's not the "fluff" or secondary nutritional issues which are responsible for the vast majority (80%) of your weight loss success...it is the 20%, the key principles, such as not exceeding a range of calories, which determine whether or not you are having success.
Bottom line: people over complicate weight loss and try to make it more complex than it needs to be as a way to cover up the fact that they haven't applied easily understood principles. I know it isn't trendy, but I still think weight loss comes down to input vs. output, and if you don't know what your input is, or are guessing at it (and research has shown most people drastically under estimate their calorie intake), it should be obvious you are not going to have much success. Don't try to walk (focusing on eating organic foods, the "perfect" percentage of macro nutrients, supplements, etc) before you can crawl (establishing caloric limits for weight loss and not exceeding those limits the majority of the time).