Quick answer: 1500 calories a day, and LOTS of protein to keep hunger away. No exercise beyond such activity as day-to-day life demands.
Because I've wrestled with weight all my life and hated being fat. I worked damn hard for years to take the weight off but rarely got anywhere. I know what it's like to feel like there are no answers. So once I figured out something that worked for me, and far easier than most of what I'd previously tried, I wanted to help other people in the same boat.
No, just a person who is delighted to find the pounds coming off, and wants to share what he's figured out. Do check with your doctor if you're concerned about trying this.
I don't believe so; I'm not suggesting special foods with magical properties. All I'm recommending is taking in fewer calories than you burn, and a way to make it a pretty comfortable process. I still recommend following the general principles of nutritional balance, but leaning into protein to make weight loss workable.
Consider it a nice round number. They say the average man needs 2500 calories a day just to maintain his weight (a little more if you're heavy-set), and the average woman needs 2000. Consume less on an ongoing basis and you lose weight. Maybe 1500 calories is too aggressive/ambitious for your purposes, which is fine. Make it 1800 calories or whatever best suits you. (Myself, I rarely hit 1500 exactly, but I usually keep it below 1600.)
One way or another, it takes a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound. Expect weight loss to be a gradual thing; it's hard to lose more than two pounds a week. On the other hand, that's 100 pounds a year, assuming it's sustainable.
Surprisingly, no. Our bodies' hunger signals seem to be adaptable, and my body figured out after a couple days of low-calorie that it needs to get used to tapping into fat reserves. My body's mostly fine with it. But high protein helps a lot too. And, on the days I am actually hungry, I eat a little more.
Protein is a source of calories too -- about as dense as carbohydrates (roughly 4 calories per gram, while fat is about 9 calories per gram) -- but protein takes a long time to process. Rather than give you a spike of energy and then you come down, it will give you a steady burn that will help you feel full. That's why I recommend protein; your mileage may vary. Eat whatever makes you feel full, so long as you can hit 1500 calories (or whatever).
Here are some protein sources to turn to. Each of these portion sizes is 250 calories, so you could do six of these a day, in whatever combinations or schedules you prefer:
If you aren't finding that high protein sources are doing it for you, maybe try some high fiber foods. Conventional wisdom is that fiber can make you feel full for a long time because it slows down digestion of carbs, but as I haven't actually tried a high-fiber diet, I can't attest to that. This site exists because I want to share what has actually worked for me, and what has worked for me is protein. But if it doesn't work for you, fiber might be a workable substitute.
Personally I'm skeptical about fiber, if all it's doing is tricking your body. Protein, at least, provides amino acids that go to building tissue. Fiber passes through your body undigested.
I do find that lentils are more filling at 20g than some of the higher protein options, so maybe there's something to the protein / fiber combination. (My go-to foods are pork and yogurt, but I've tried all the other options at least a little. Except for the 15 egg whites at one sitting. This isn't the Cool Hand Luke Diet.)
I do a lot of diet beverages and sugar-free Jello. And on days when I haven't reached 1500 calories, I might eat something that's delicious but bad for me.
Yeah, you will. That sounds like a pain, but remember: you got heavy exactly because you took in more calories than you were expending. To fix the problem, you'll need to start paying attention to how many calories, so you can figure out best options.
Look at the calories and grams of protein. Then multiply the protein by ten. If that's more than the calories, it's a solid protein source. If it's slightly less, it's still probably okay. But if it is much much less, it's not a very good protein source.
For example, a MorningStar Garden Veggie Burger is 170 calories and 16g of protein. 160 is pretty close to 170, so that will probably do. On the other hand, a slice of wheat bread is typically something like 70 calories and 3.5g of protein ... 35 is way way less than 70. You can still eat wheat bread if you so desire, but understand that it won't be very filling and so you may end up exceeding your daily numbers.
Sure, they're good for you! Also there's a lot of fiber, and again, that might help with satiety. But bear in mind that fruits can be calorie-rich too, so you'll need to count calories. Salad dressings can also turn otherwise-healthy salads into gastronomic abominations, so be mindful of the numbers.
No, but bear in mind that calories add up, and 1500 calories isn't much to work with. You'll quickly find you need to choose your calories strategically.
This is where it's worth learning to cook just a little. Lentils are very good with tomatoes and basil, and there are a thousand lentil chili recipes online. Ground pork / turkey / chicken can be turned into sausage just by adding spices. Wheat gluten can be fashioned into pseudo-meat. Chicken paprikash, if made with fat-free sour cream and TVP, is pretty nutritious (the recipe posted there would result in seven servings of roughly 250 calories and 35g of protein, assuming 2 cups of TVP). Italian sausage plus mozzarella cheese plus tomatoes is delicious.
I miss sandwiches: I find that I can't fit much bread into my diet (70 calories per slice of white bread), and there are days I could really go for a salami sandwich. Also, I miss eating according to whim; it gets a little old sometimes, planning my food and trying to calculate whether mozzarella sticks are going to put me over my total.
But the compensations are more than worth it. Feeling better about myself, having more energy, being able to walk longer distances, not wondering exactly how disgusting of a blob I will be when I finally ruin my body altogether ... it sure is nice to see a better future. Also, I sleep better, and I haven't awoken with heartburn in months. I sure don't miss that.
Disclaimer: exercise is very important to overall health, and I strongly recommend exercise to people in general.
HOWEVER -- if the biggest problem in your life is weight, then you need to make losing weight your priority. And unfortunately, for as valuable as exercise is, exercise puts demands on your body that run exactly counter to weight loss. Exercise requires increased caloric intake for recovery and building muscle, while weight loss requires reduced caloric intake. And exercise doesn't even burn up that many calories ... but it does make you hungry.
Almost all weight loss regimens tell you to exercise, but as far as I'm concerned, they're instructing you to sabotage your own weight loss efforts. And that makes me angry. Millions of people are trying to get themselves healthy and are being told to do so by methods that cannot work. No wonder such a small percentage of people lose weight! No wonder people give up: you work your ass off trying to work your ass off and you get nowhere ... because people have told you to undermine your own efforts.
So, I am recommending against exercise programs, if losing weight is your top priority. That said, as the pounds come off, you'll almost certainly find yourself becoming more active; a certain amount of exercise will find its way into your life just because you can do more. You'll take on more projects, you'll do more things, and isn't that kind of the point?
Look up the numbers on how many calories you consume with any given exercise, and then figure out how much exercise it would take to burn 3500 calories. That's just a single pound of fat. For example, walking a mile will burn 120 calories, give or take. So you'd have to walk something like 30 miles just to lose a pound. (Jared Fogle claims he lost weight by walking more and then eating sandwiches with hundreds of calories of bread. I don't buy it.)
That is something of a trick question, because it looks like diet management is going to be part of my life from now on. The question is more, what will my life look like when I'm no longer doing only 1500 calories a day? Well, I'll probably bump it up to 2500 calories, but I'll still be mindful of what I eat. There will be more sandwiches in my life, but within caloric limits. Also more deliberate exercise; I enjoy bicycling, and look forward to it not being an exhausting process.