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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You exercise. You watch your carb and fat intake. Maybe you’ve even cut meat and dairy out of your diet. If you’re working hard and seeing negligible results, you may be wondering, Why am I not losing weight?
There are many reasons for not losing weight. We’ll cover four reasons you may not be seeing progress and looks at realistic ways to meet your weight-loss goals.
Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
Reason #1: You’re Eating Too Many Refined Foods
These include chips, candy, pastries, and pasta.
Veganism is all the rage right now, and for good reason: Eating plants has been shown to help you lose weight, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of disease.
But Be aware that being vegan is not the same as eating a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet. You can be a vegan and live on potato chips and Oreos. The WF in WFPB, whole foods, is just as important as the PB, plant-based. You likely won’t lose much weight if you substitute junk-food products for animal products, and this is so easy to do when you first become vegan and you feel like your choices are limited. You actually still have many choices, but if you’re new to a plant-based diet, it might take a while to find the food that’s both healthy and appetizing.
You won’t commit to a WFPB diet if you’re not interested in what you’re eating. Explore different restaurants and try new recipes to find meals that you love. Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants often offer many plant-based options. They also use spices in unique and exciting ways that will make you forget to miss the meat.
Reason #2: You Don’t Exercise
Any diet is most effective when paired with regular physical activity. You can’t expect to meet your weight-loss goals if you don’t exercise. This is one of the main reasons for not losing weight.
Studies show that exercising for 15-45 minutes a day, every day, will help you lose 11-18 pounds and keep those pounds off. Daily chores like grocery shopping and vacuuming count—you can burn 100-800 calories per activity.
Reason #3: You’re Susceptible to Fads
Another reason for not losing weight is following fads that promise easy solutions to serious health problems like obesity.
High-protein, high-fat diets like the Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo diets teach us that cutting out carbs will help us lose weight and cure our diseases, even though these diets have been widely discredited and there’s a growing body of evidence that says they’re dangerous for us.
Everyone wants a quick fix, and companies know that to get customers, they need to promise rapid results. And sometimes, we can lose weight quickly from certain diets, pills, and methods. But these programs often damage our health (and our waistlines) in the long run.
If you’re wondering, “Why am I not losing weight?”, take a look at what you’re eating. Is it a weight-loss product? Does it come in a package? Stick to whole foods for the most effective weight loss.
Reason #4: You Have a Genetic Predisposition for Being Overweight
This isn’t an excuse to eat whatever you want. Diet and exercise are still effective. But for certain people, losing weight is more challenging than for others. If you’re eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, exercising regularly, and still wondering, “Why am I not losing weight?”, it might be time to see a doctor.
Strategies for Effective Weight Loss
As we’ve all heard before, diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss. But we may not have tried a WFPB diet.
Studies show that a plant-based diet is effective for long-term weight loss. For example, vegetarians and vegans weigh five to thirty pounds less than their meat-eating fellows. Additionally, BMI decreases the longer you’ve been a vegetarian or vegan.
Participants in intervention studies who ate low-fat, whole-food, primarily plant-based diets:
- Lost two to five pounds in 12 days.
- Lost ten pounds in three weeks.
- Lost 16 pounds in 12 weeks.
- And lost 24 pounds in a year.
Why a WFPB Diet Will Help You Lose Weight
If you’re wondering, “Why am I not losing weight?” and you haven’t tried a WFPB diet, consider these reasons you might want to check it out:
Reason #1: It’s Relatively Simple, Compared With Other Diet Plans
You don’t have to count calories. You don’t have to calculate the percentage of carbohydrates, fat, and protein you eat. There aren’t any points. And you can eat as much as you want, as long as the foods are whole and plant-based.
Reason #2: 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.
Even when WFPB study participants 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.
Some studies show that WFPB participants eat more calories than meat-eaters. But they’re still slimmer. Plant-eaters have a higher resting metabolism, meaning they burn more calories as heat rather than storing them as body fat.
Reason #3: You’ll Want to Exercise More
Studies have found that animals fed 5% casein diets exercised twice as much on the first day of the experiment as animals fed 20% casein diets. The first group continued to exercise more throughout the study.
As opposed to diets like Atkins, high-carb diets have been shown to reverse heart disease and diabetes, aid in weight loss, and prevent chronic diseases. This may be because complex carbohydrates contain large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and accessible energy.
Summary of Recommendations for Weight Loss
- To lose weight, avoid junk food and refined foods like white bread and pasta.
- Don’t spend time, money, or energy on weight-loss programs that promise quick fixes.
- Eat as much as you want, as long as what you’re eating is plant-based and unrefined.
- Exercise 15-45 minutes a day, every day.
If you’re aware of some of the pitfalls of transitioning to a plant-based diet, you should start asking yourself less and less, “Why am I not losing weight?”
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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