How Do People Really Lose Weight?

How do people really lose weight? How do they keep it off? Which things work and which do not? Where should you focus your efforts?

Today’s information comes to you via All Out Effort., which is consistently one of the best blogs out there on the topics of personal training, nutrition, exercise, weight loss, and so on. It’s run by Sam Yang, one of the most well-regarded personal trainers in the Los Angeles area.

Sam is running a very busy personal training studio that aggressively works with people on both diet and exercise. He’s also a big numbers guy. This post is fascinating to me, because it’s basically raw data from the past 4 years of his studio. It’s a sample size of almost 300 people, but what’s more important is that it is accurate data. Sam simply kicks out people who fudge their numbers, because it screws up all the work he does.

In the world of nutrition and weight loss, self-reported data is always the Achilles heel. People forget to fill out meal logs and the scramble to recall what they had for lunch two Wednesdays ago. Or, they lie, because they don’t want to admit it. Sam has systems in place to fix this. For example, everyone texts him pictures of their meals for the first 2 weeks. If you don’t keep up with that, he’ll kindly recommend that you find somewhere else to train. So this data set is just far better than what you normally see in a typical “weight loss study” where a “food log” is considered enough of a system.

This raw data set is full of eye-opening factoids from the past 4 years. You really need to read the post to understand what’s going on, but here are some eye-poppers:


  • For clients who lost 30 pounds or more, 83% did it on a grain free diet, and 23% did it on a carb-restricted diet. Perhaps there is something to the Paleo diet? And maybe something to the South Beach as well? But the big kicker: only 5% of people who lost 30 pounds or more did it with a calorie restricted “counting calories / weight watchers” type of diet.
  • 63% of people who trained 3 or more times a week lost 20 pounds or more.
  • Clients who lost 15lbs or more in the first month had the hardest time maintaining weight loss. Going too fast is unsustainable.
  • Of the people who lost 20 or more pounds, 76% did mostly strength training. Only 19% did just cardio.
  • Almost 70% of the people who quit training did it after they had an unexpected life issue come up that knocked them out of training for a while. It is very, very hard to come back after a gap. Just don’t stop, no matter what.

Hit the rest of Sam’s article here to get the full details. The essential points to remember, though are these:

If your goal is to lessen body fat and lose weight:

  • Make working out consistently a habit
  • Focus more on strength
  • Measure your muscle mass
  • Eat less grains, carbs, and sugar
  • Get better sleep
  • Don’t rush, create a sustained pace.
  • Don’t force it, integrate it.

Request information

Request Information Now!