How to Eat More to Lose Weight, the Right Way

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The China Study" by Colin Campbell. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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When we want to lose weight, our first thought is usually to cut calories. The mantra “burn more calories than you consume” has always guided Westerners on their weight-loss journeys, prompting them to starve themselves and head to the gym. But what if you could eat more to lose weight?

Although it seems counterintuitive to eat more to lose weight, it’s actually the healthiest way to do it. But you can’t just eat more white bread and meat and expect to lose weight. According to the “Eat More to Lose Weight” philosophy, what you eat is more important than how much. Learn the secret to eating more and losing weight the healthy way.

You Should Eat More to Lose Weight

Decreasing calories doesn’t necessarily decrease your body weight. Especially if you’re not eating the right food.

In the famous China Study, researchers comparing the weight and diets of typical Americans and people living in rural China found that rural Chinese actually consume more calories than Americans. Still, their body weights are significantly lower. Why?

Because rural Chinese engaged in more manual labor and were, therefore, more physically active than typical Americans, researchers compared the calories consumed by the least active Chinese with the calories consumed by the average American.

The least active Chinese ate 30% more calories per kilogram of body weight than the average American. But the bodyweight of these Chinese subjects was 20% lower than Americans’. In other words, the Chinese consumed more calories than Americans but weighed less. They eat more to lose weight.

The Science Behind Eating More to Lose Weight

Some people lose weight and don’t know why, wondering, “Why did I lose weight after eating more?” It’s common for some healthy eaters to eat more and lose weight. But why?

This is because what we eat influences how we store fat in the body. If we eat a diet high in fat and protein, we store more calories as fat, as Americans do. Conversely, if we eat a diet low in fat and protein, we lose more calories as body heat, as the Chinese do.

Other Benefits of Eating More to Lose Weight

You won’t be hungry and therefore tempted to cheat.

Even if your aim is to lose weight, you shouldn’t starve yourself. Over time, hunger sends a signal to your body to slow your metabolism to conserve energy. This means you burn less fat.

The key to eating more to lose weight is eating lots of plant foods. Even when study participants eating a plant-based diet ate fewer calories, they were fuller than meat-eaters because they ate a larger volume of food. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are full of fiber, which keeps you feeling satisfied. Eat lots of plant foods to stay full.

Some studies show that participants eating a plant-based diet consume more calories than meat-eaters. But they’re still slimmer. That’s because plant-eaters have a higher resting metabolism, meaning they burn more calories as heat rather than storing them as body fat.

The Takeaway

Don’t go hungry. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, eat enough. As long as you’re getting the majority of your calories from plant foods, you’ll probably lose weight without restricting calories. Being hungry makes you vulnerable to falling back into your old eating patterns, so it’s not a good strategy for losing weight. Eat more to lose weight, and the weight loss will be sustainable.

How to Eat More to Lose Weight, the Right Way

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of "The China Study" at Shortform . Learn the book's critical concepts in 20 minutes or less .

Here's what you'll find in our full The China Study summary :

  • Why animal proteins (meat, milk) might cause cancer, diabetes, and other diseases
  • Why the medical institution is structured to hide the truth about disease and food
  • The precise diet you'll need to eat to live longer and feel happier

Amanda Penn

Amanda Penn is a writer and reading specialist. She’s published dozens of articles and book reviews spanning a wide range of topics, including health, relationships, psychology, science, and much more. Amanda was a Fulbright Scholar and has taught in schools in the US and South Africa. Amanda received her Master's Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

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