Weight Loss Basics – Diet Books

March 18, 2017

Business Books

Business Books

Weight Loss Basics – Diet Books

Major U.S. Industry

Weight loss publishing is a $ 1.3 billion a year U.S. industry. This should tell you that you would not have the tiniest of troubles finding books on the subject.

Bookstores have giant sections for diet and weight loss; magazine and newspaper ads sell them mercilessly; there are probably thousands of websites devoted to the subject, each promoting some book or system or other. Attend a book fair, toss a tennis ball in any direction, and chances are it will hit a new diet book book representative, and bounce onto another.

The words “densely populated” come to mind. And the problem, of course, is how to choose the book that is right for you.

The Shortest Book

The shortest (and truest) diet book would read (in its entirety):

Burn more calories than you consume. The End.

An expanded edition may carry this appendix:

The First Law of Thermodynamics

The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings.

Which in plain language says that you provide heat (calories) to your system (body) through food, you lose energy (calories) by work done. If you add more heat to the system than you lose as a result of work, you increase the internal “energy” which the body stores for future use, usually as fat. If your body uses more energy than it consume, you will burn these stores, and lose weight.

But even this expanded version would be too short; people would not want to pay $ 25 a copy.

Fad Books

Knowing that the only law at work in weight loss is the First Law of Thermodynamics, and knowing that you can’t sell that over and over, and certainly not for $ 25 each time, there’s an army of devoted “diet specialists” of varying degrees of authenticity out there working very hard devising new angles and renditions of the same subject.

Hence the string of fads diets that seem to mushroom whenever you turn around: “Cabbage Soup Diet,” “The Lazy Zone Diet,” “The South Beach Diet,” “The Chocolate Diet,” “Atkins Diet,” “Scarsdale Diet Plan,” “Amputation Diet,” “The 3 Day Diet,” “7 Day All You Can Eat Diet,” “Lemonade Diet,” “The Hollywood Diet,” “Russian Air Force Diet,” “Grape Fruit Diet,” and on and on and on ad infinitum.

I think that many of these fads are taken to heart by people who need new topics of conversation more than anything else. And it also strikes me that people as a rule seem to dislike simple, and seem to like-if not demand-complicated. Fad books meet that demand by tending to make the simple subject of weight loss complicated.


So, in this sea of books and systems, how do you tell the good (really wanting to help) book from the bad (just out to make a quick million bucks)? Ultimately, no one but you can answer that question, but whatever answer you arrive at, you should base it on the author’s intention.

With your BS antennae fully extended and finely tuned, read the sleeves and introduction of the book to get a sense of where the writer is coming from. Does smugness and self-importance seem to be a big thing with this person, or is he or she just too darn slick or smooth for comfort?

Be aware that some variations on the First Law of Thermodynamics are definitely more equal than others.

Variations that tell you how easy and painless it is to shed a hundred or so pounds are not being honest. Put the book back. Variations that offers money back guarantees every second or so paragraph are probably selling snake oil. Variations that tell you that you don’t actually have to cut your calories, it’s all in your head, or that you don’t have to exercise, it’s still all in your head, should have to write the First Law of Thermodynamics a hundred thousand times on the blackboard. Put the book back.


Books that point out the first (and only) principle of weight loss: Burn more calories than you consume, are starting out right. And if they go on to tell you that this is not going to be easy, and that you will have to really commit to this and probably work your butt off to get somewhere, now you are dealing with someone honest. Give this book due consideration.

And if you get the sense that this writer truly has your best interests at heart (without causing as much as a ripple in your BS antennae); give him or her due consideration.

Pudding Proof

Of course, the proverbial proof is in the pudding. If the book or system you have chosen leads toward your goal, week after week, month after month, and you feel better and better, lither and lither, happier and happier: well done, you have made a good choice.

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