Georgy Shpagin probably never cared about weight loss in his entire life. Growing up during several Russian revolutions, he was probably more worried about starving than losing a few pounds.
As you’ll see, however, his struggles led him to a conclusion that can help any aspiring dieter lose weight.
Born in 1897, Shpagin was drafted into the Russian Army at age 17 to fight the Germans in World War Ⅰ. After the war ended, he became a weapons designer for the Red Army.
He wasn’t very good.
Shpagin designed guns like a desperate dieter tries to lose weight. He made complicated and elaborate designs, hoping to create the next great gun. You probably know someone who takes a similar approach to weight loss — fad diets, supplements, and complex exercise plans in hopes of finding a magic formula that will make the pounds melt off.
For fifteen years, none of Shpagin’s work was noticed or mass produced. He failed, just as many dieters do.
After this dry spell, however, he changed his approach and created some of the most well known and effective weapons in the history of the world, several of which are still used today.
The secret? He changed his philosophy of weapon design — the same philosophy you should use to lose weight.
The Untold Truth about Weight Loss
“Complexity is easy; simplicity is difficult.”
– Georgy Shpagin
That was his secret.
Most diet books, supplement manufacturers, and weight loss gurus complicate your weight loss efforts. They create problems that don’t really exist, and then offer solutions to those problems. For example:
Fake Solution: “Don’t eat carbs.”
Fake Problem: “Your not losing weight because your body has too many toxins.”
Fake Solution: “Use this supplement, this diet, or avoid these foods to ‘detoxify’ your body.”
Fake Problem: “You have hormone imbalances that makes it impossible to lose body fat.”
Fake Solution: “Follow this diet, avoid these foods, use these supplements, and follow this exercise program to make your hormones help you lose weight.”
Fake Problem: “You need to reprogram your genes for weight loss.”
Fake Solution: “Follow this diet, avoid these foods, use these supplements, and follow this exercise program to use epigenetics to help you lose weight.”
In other cases, pseudo-solutions are created by people who aren’t trying to sell anything. They’re just wrong:
Fake Problem: “Eating late at night makes you gain more fat.”
Fake Solution: “Don’t eat after X o’clock to lose body fat.”
Fake Problem: “Waiting too long between meals puts your body into ‘starvation mode.’”
Fake Solution: “Eat many small meals throughout the day to stoke your metabolism.”
Fake Problem: “Fructose is toxic and makes you fat.”
Fake Solution: “Avoid high fructose corn syrup and other high fructose foods to help you lose weight.”
Fake Problem: “Gluten causes inflammation which makes you gain weight.”
Fake Solution: “Eat a gluten free diet to lose weight.”
This is noise. These fake problems are static that distract you from the things that actually help you lose weight and keep it off.
The truth is that weight loss is simple: You need to create and maintain a caloric deficit.1-3
This is not always easy, but it’s the only way any human has ever lost weight or will ever lose weight (besides surgery).
Yes, protein intake is important.
Yes, as you get leaner it can be harder to lose fat (but it’s still only coming off if you’re in a caloric deficit).
Yes, you may have to increase your physical activity or keep decreasing your calorie intake once you lose a certain amount of weight to maintain a caloric deficit.
Yes, it can be hard to eat less.
Nevertheless, you are never going to lose weight unless you create a caloric deficit. In addition, if you set up your diet intelligently from the beginning, most of these nuances are still not going to be an issue.
The Only Guaranteed Way to Lose Weight
At the end of the day, every successful diet is based around one simple concept — creating and maintaing a caloric deficit until you reach your desired weight.
Georgy Shpagin was right — complexity is easy; simplicity is difficult.
It’s easy to waste years of your life trying to lose weight with pseudoscientific fad diets, avoiding certain foods, and only letting yourself eat at certain times. It can be difficult to commit to a lower calorie diet.
Over the long-term, however, would you rather spin your wheels, living in frustration from never losing weight, or finally see the number on your bathroom scale drop?
If you want option two, listen to Shpagin. If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, create and maintain a caloric deficit.
Stop buying diet books.
Eat what makes you happy.
Ignore blogs and websites that offer fake solutions to fake problems.
Keep an honest record. Track your progress, count calories if necessary, at least to learn portion control until you start to lose weight.
Learn from people who know what they’re talking about. Read the work of Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, James Krieger, Brad Schoenfeld, Jamie Hale, Anthony Colpo, and others like them. They’ll make your weight loss efforts easier.
Start practicing Imprüvism — ignore what doesn’t work, find what does, and spend your time and energy on the latter.
Eat less + move more = lose weight.
It’s that simple.
1. Johnston CS, Tjonn SL, Swan PD, White A, Hutchins H, Sears B. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(5):1055–1061. Abstract: http://pmid.us/16685046 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/mFYu7
2. Schoeller DA, Buchholz AC. Energetics of obesity and weight control: does diet composition matter? J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105(5 Suppl 1):S24–8. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2005.02.025. Abstract: http://pmid.us/15867892 | Full Text: NA