top of page


Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 6.10.29 PM.png

Book:  Not a Diet Book

Author:  James Smith

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Smith, J. (2020). Not a diet book : lose fat. Gain confidence. Transform your life. London: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. The calorie deficit has been dressed up and packaged so many times now through the "next biggest diet," meal-replacement system, or "secret weight-loss supplement" that it's become almost unrecognizable. All low-carb movements, high-fat movements, fasting movements lead back to the calorie deficit. (pg. 38)

  2. I used to believe that the majority of my calories were burned while I was training in the gym, and that if I missed a session, the day was ruined and there wasn't even much point in trying to eat well. What if I told you that maybe not even 10 percent of calories you burn today will be burned while training? Knowing that the majority of your calories burned each day occur outside the gym can liberate you to no longer feel guilt or a sense of failure when you opt to pass on it one day. When someone wants to lose weight, their instinct may be to go to the gym. However, maintaining an active lifestyle can burn a significantly higher number of calories than your average gym workout. (pg. 59)

  3. The Sunk Cost Fallacy says we often irrationally make decisions based on the wrong factors, one of the most prevalent being how long or how much we've already invested. The more money, time, or effort the harder it will be to walk away. When I have to tell someone they need to break up with their partner, they'll say something like: "But we've been together for four years!" The amount of time you spend with someone should not impact the decision of whether or not you should be with them now. Sometimes your partner is creating drag on your progress. I'm not relationship guru, but I'm a firm believer that we need to be selfish in life and to perform daily actions that make no one but ourselves happy. I see people coming home from jobs they don't love into relationships they're not passionate about, but they don't have the guts to call it a day and end it. There is someone out there who will support every aspiration you have in your fitness journey, so never settle for less. I'm afraid the love of your life (so far) could be one of the biggest hindrances to your ability to sustainably make change in your lie. The person sitting next to could be the one who needs to adapt and support you or face the repercussions and become a part of your past, alongside your old lifestyle, exercise, and eating habits. It's time to cut your losses on anything that's going to slow you down. Be ruthless, be selfish - because ultimately this is about you. (pg. 121)


Other Key Ideas

Do you know what happens if you endure a bit of hunger for forty-five minute to an hour? Nothing. It goes away almost completely until your next regular feeding window. So next time you're hungry, don't eat, but give yourself an hour to test this theory. Hunger doesn't last forever. (pg. 41)

I have implemented the use of a calorie calculator as a starting point for determining calories. There are several different formulas to try to determine how many calories someone needs per day. I use one called the Harris-Benedict to which I've made some small adjustments. (At 38 years old, 6'3", 183 lbs. and an active lifestyle it says my target should be 2460 calories per day if I'd like to continue to lose fat.) (pg. 47)​

Don't rely on the scale and body fat measurements to determine how much progress you've made. Rather, the best measurement you can take is with pictures. Track your progress with photos. Imagine it being a scientific experiment, keeping the variables as similar as possible. This includes time of day, location, lighting, and hydration. (pg. 57)

Around 30 percent of the calories consumed in protein are lost/broken down purely in digesting it. (pg. 62)

A lot of what I built on social media was not so much what I posted about, but how I went about posting my content. Instead of worrying about how the post did, I just worried about posting every day. Instead of worrying about how engaging the article was, I just worried about writing it. I just kept my head down and did my daily post and article. I now run one of the world's largest email lists in the fitness industry. I started my list with one email to one subscriber. I didn't worry about growing the list, I worried about setting and ingraining the habit. Most people do not put in the time to yield a substantial return. (pg. 74)

So many people are looking to supplement and quick fixes to enhance their current situation, but little do they realize there is something out there that can boost recovery, performance, cognitive function, and help them stick to a calorie deficit. Getting enough sleep. Although sleep is free, there is certainly a place for investing in it with the right mattress, pillows, and your sleep set-up in general. (pg. 90)

The body can 0 and will - absorb more than 30g of protein in a sitting. When 30 to 80 g of protein is consumed there is no benefit of protein synthesis. However, there are plenty of roles for amino acids (protein) outside of MPS. They help regulate immune function, nitrogen balance, and even mineral absorption. So yes, protein beyond 30g will still help your body. (pg. 195)

Regardless of the form, supplementation with creatine has regularly shown to increase strength, fat-free mass and muscle shape and structure. Furthermore, creatine amplifies the effects of resistance training for muscle growth, improving the quality and benefits high-intensity speed training, improving aerobic endurance performance, and strength, fat free mass, and daily living performance in young and older people. Creatine is an addition that actually is effective in providing a range of benefits outside physical performance. Monohydrate is the only version you'll need. (pg. 207)

Aspartame is the most common and prevalent sweetener spoken about in mainstream media and, contrary to belief, it doesn't affect your appetite, glucose, or insulin levels and can, therefore, save you lots of calories in your diet, making subtle swaps and changes resulting in relatively easy weight loss. Artificial sweeteners should not be demonized outright. When implemented correctly they can play a very positive role in reducing calories. It's better to consume diet drinks than continue to consume vast amounts of calories through full sugar soda drinks. It's better to have aspartame in your system than over-consumption of calories on a chronic basis. (Pg. 216)

On the whole I find the keto diet very extreme. I fully back the notion that reducing carbs intermittently is a great protocol for creating a deficit. However, to eliminate them all together is not a good idea. Your friend or family member who lost tremendous weight or fat with a low-carb diet didn't lose it because of the lower cabs; ultimately, however you spin the situation, it would have been the fact that they consumed fewer calories. The mechanism behind the low-carb or keto diets remain because of the underlying principle of the calorie deficit. (pg. 237)

The harsh truth is that if you're looking to lose fat, although skipping breakfast is not a prerequisite, it is a very handy strategy for reducing calories in. When we wake up a large majority of us are not hungry. But the reality if you're looking to maintain or build your muscle mass is that it'd make sense to have breakfast. It's an opportunity to consume protein. (pg. 238)

bottom of page