An overweight man running on a treadmill, showing the science behind losing weight.

What’s the science behind losing weight? What psychological elements do you need to consider on your weight loss journey?

On 2 Bears, 1 Cave, Layne Norton and Tom Segura explore the complexities behind dieting and weight loss. They discuss the physical and psychological aspects that inform our eating habits and the strategies to manage them.

Read below for an in-depth view of the psychology and science behind weight loss. 

The Real Impact of Calories on Weight Loss

Norton emphasizes the role of calorie balance in fat loss, highlighting the physiological changes that occur with weight loss. He points out that many people underestimate their caloric intake, leading to misconceptions about why they’re not losing weight. The crucial detail is that NEAT, the calories burned by incidental activities, can significantly decrease—for instance, by around 500 calories daily after losing 10% of one’s body weight—therefore reducing the overall caloric expenditure and impacting weight loss efforts.

Moreover, Segura shares his personal journey with the keto diet when discussing the science behind weight loss. He acknowledges that even though he initially lost weight, the lack of sustainability led him to eventually regain the weight, demonstrating the challenges of long-term adherence to restrictive diets.

Behavioral Aspects of Eating and Obesity

Norton delves deep into the psychological influences on eating habits, touching on how individuals may resist the concept of energy balance due to the uncomfortable implication of personal responsibility. 

He also suggests that finding dietary methods that feel least restrictive to the individual can significantly aid in sustainable weight management. 

He shares a profound insight on the connection between obesity and trauma, revealing research that demonstrates a higher likelihood of obese women having faced sexual assault. This indicates that for some, food can be a defense mechanism against the pain of trauma.

Crafting Sustainable Dietary Habits

With Bert Kreischer’s weightlifting as an example, Norton shares practical advice on diet and alcohol management, likening it to budgeting in personal finance. He underscores the value of consistent, small actions and the need for strategic planning to ensure dietary adherence. 

For long-term health and maintainability, Norton and Segura agree on the preference for a balanced diet that can be sustained over time, rather than extreme restrictions or fad diets. Norton advises the use of meal prep services across different cities as a valuable resource for travelers like Kreischer to maintain their diets.


In the quest for weight loss, many individuals turn to dieting as a means to achieve their goals. However, understanding the underlying concepts and challenges associated with dieting is crucial for long-term success. Calorie balance plays a central role in weight loss, as it determines whether one gains, loses, or maintains weight. It involves striking a balance between the calories consumed through food and beverages and the calories burned through physical activity and bodily functions. By creating a calorie deficit through consuming fewer calories than expended, individuals can promote weight loss. However, adhering to restrictive diets over an extended period can be challenging due to various factors such as cravings, social pressures, and psychological influences.

Psychological factors heavily influence eating habits and weight management. Emotional well-being plays a significant role in determining one’s relationship with food. Stress eating or using food as a coping mechanism are common responses to emotional distress. Moreover, trauma can have lasting effects on an individual’s mental health and contribute to obesity. Traumatic experiences may lead some individuals to develop unhealthy eating patterns or use food as a source of comfort or control.

While short-term diets may yield initial results, sustainable dietary habits are essential for long-term health outcomes. Restrictive diets often fail because they are difficult to maintain over time due to their inherent limitations and potential negative impacts on overall well-being. Instead of focusing solely on strict rules or quick fixes like fad diets such as keto diet plans that severely restrict carbohydrates in favor of high-fat intake—individuals should strive for balanced nutrition that includes all essential nutrients while being mindful of portion sizes.

The Psychology and Science Behind Losing Weight

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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