Escape the Diet Trap : lose weight for good without calorie-counting, extensive exercise or hunger


Dr John Briffa’s latest book – Escape the Diet Trap – promises to put an end to yo-yo dieting and fluctuating weight.

The book shows how conventional advice – to ‘eat less and exercise more’ – actually causes the body to resist weight loss and dooms us to failure in the long term.

Escape the Diet Trap turns traditional advice on its head, and offers a science-based and sustainable approach to weight loss that works with the body, not against it. The book reveals how to achieve lasting weight control with ease, and without any of the calorie counting, extensive exercise or hunger typical of conventional approaches.

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Two days after publication, Escape the Diet Trap tops the ‘diet’ book charts on amazon

Escape the Diet Trap reveals:

  • The 10 reasons why eating a low-fat, calorie-controlled diet makes sustained weight loss virtually impossible.
  • Why the less hungry you are, the more weight you’ll lose.
  • How different types of calorie have different fattening potential.
  • Why weight is not just about calories, but the impact our diet has on key hormones including insulin and leptin.
  • Why you can stop worrying about saturated fat and the impact it has on your cholesterol level.
  • Why you should ignore foods labelled ‘low fat’ or ‘light’.
  • Why eating unhealthy foods occasionally need not derail you.
  • Why aerobic exercise has little impact on weight loss, and the type of exercise that does.
  • The simple mental tricks and tools that ensure success.

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The full Introduction to the book along with a comprehensive overview and chapter breakdown is available via Facebook.


Escape the Diet Trap Contents:


Chapter 1. Diets Don’t Work

We know that diets don’t work, and this chapter reviews the results of studies of conventional dieting, with or without exercise, over time. Research reveals that, even in the very overweight, eating less and exercising more bring average losses of no more than a few pounds in the long term.

Chapter 2. The Obesity Paradox

The body mass index (BMI) is the most commonly used measure of weight, and we’re urged to conform to normal and ‘healthy’ BMI levels. This chapter reveals why the BMI, although popular, is a wholly inadequate tool for assessing body weight. It also presents evidence that ‘bigger is better’ for overall health, especially as we age.

Chapter 3. Toxic Waist

Recent research shows that the location of accumulated fat determines its likely impact on health: fat packed in and around the abdomen turns out to be the most harmful for both the body and brain. This chapter explores the risks of ‘abdominal obesity’, and provides guidance on how to assess and monitor this quite simply.

Chapter 4. The Burning Issue

‘Eating less’ is a central tenet of conventional weight loss advice. This chapter shows, though, how when we consciously cut back on calories, the body puts a brake on its metabolism. This makes it progressively more difficult to lose weight, and can cause weight to return alarmingly quickly once food restriction is relaxed.

Chapter 5. The Hunger Within

A major reason why traditional diets fail is the hunger they almost inevitably induce. In this chapter, we explore the sometimes devastating impact dieting and hunger have on psychological and general wellbeing.

Chapter 6. Low-Fat Fallacy

Fat contains twice as many calories as carbohydrate or protein, and low-calorie diets therefore tend to be low in fat. Yet, as this chapter reveals, dietary fat does not drive obesity, and eating less of it is ineffective for shifting body fat. These observations are explained through an understanding of how fat stores are regulated in the body. Insights here suggest that conventional low-fat diets are possibly the worst kinds of diet if lasting weight loss is our goal.

Chapter 7. Is a Calorie a Calorie?

Many weight loss experts claim that ‘a calorie is a calorie’. The idea here is that, where body weight is concerned, it’s only the number of calories we consume, not the form they come in, that counts. Others claim, however, that some diets bring weight loss that cannot be explained by calorie content alone – the so-called ‘metabolic advantage’. This chapter presents evidence for this, and reveals the sort of diet that appears to offer it.

Chapter 8. Hunger No More

While some see hunger as a prerequisite for weight loss, the reality is that the less hungry people are, the more weight they tend to lose: keeping the appetite under control is what makes healthy eating easy and sustainable. In this chapter, we explore the type of diet that is most effective for keeping hunger at bay.

Chapter 9. Inflammatory Arguments

Fat stores in the body are ultimately determined by the action of specific hormones. In this chapter we explore how low-level inflammation can disrupt hormonal functioning, and in turn may lead to weight gain. The chapter focuses on the impact of inflammation on two key hormones – insulin and leptin – and goes on to explore the role of diet in improving hormonal function and bringing about lasting weight loss.

Chapter 10. Diets on Trial

Low-fat diets are the mainstay of conventional approaches to weight loss, though ‘low-carb’ diets have gained in popularity in recent years. There is considerable debate about which of these diets is best for weight loss. This chapter reviews a decade’s worth of research into the relative effectiveness of ‘low-fat’ and ‘low-carb’ diets, and reveals the latter to be the clear winner.

Chapter 11. The Primal Principle

Research reveals that low-carbohydrate are the best for weight loss, but what about health? This chapter argues that the healthiest diet for us, in theory at least, is a diet that reflects that of our ‘hunter-gatherer’ ancestors. Here, we explore the diet that sustained us for the vast majority of our time on this planet, as well as the dietary detours we have taken in relatively recent times.

Chapter 12. A Matter of Fat

Primally-inspired nutrition tells us that saturated fat is something we should be well adapted to, yet we’re warned that eating it gums up our arteries and hastens our demise. This chapter starts with a thorough analysis of the science on saturated fat and heart disease, and reveals the absence of incriminating evidence here. The chapter also explores the health effects of the other major dietary fats including monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, as well as industrially-produced fats found in processed foods such as margarine.

Chapter 13. The Question of Cholesterol

Cholesterol is famed for its vessel-clogging effects, and we’re urged to put keep levels of it under control. This chapter reviews the relationship between cholesterol and health, and reveals that our fears here are largely unfounded.

Chapter 14. Grain of Truth

Grain-based foods such as bread, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals are recommended as staples in our diet, particularly in their ‘whole’ and unrefined forms. Yet, grains are relatively recent additions to the human diet, so are they really the staff of life? In this chapter we explore the potential for starchy carbohydrates to impact on the body’s chemistry in a way that actually contributes to the burden of obesity and associated ills. We also revisit the idea that eschewing grains risks us falling short in essential nutrients.

Chapter 15. Sweet and Sour

This chapter explores the effects of refined sugar, including fructose and ‘high fructose corn syrup’, on weight and health. The chapter also investigates the supposed benefits of artificial sweeteners as an aid to weight control, and reveals research which suggests that they might actually promote weight gain over time.

Chapter 16. Sacred Cow

Dairy products are widely recommended on the basis that they are essential for building healthy bones. As this chapter shows, though, neither calcium nor dairy products have much bearing on bone health. The suitability of different dairy products regarding weight control and other aspects of health is also discussed.

Chapter 17. Appetite for Change

Following on from Chapter 8, here we explore other dietary strategies for sating the appetite, allowing us to eat less, without feeling hungry. The chapter focuses on the importance of blood sugar control here, as well as the avoidance of food ingredients that stimulate the appetite. A section on emotional eating is also included, as well as advice on overcoming it.

Chapter 18. Prime Fuel

In this chapter, all the major foods are rated according to their effects on body weight and health. Practical recommendations regarding their consumption are made.

Chapter 19. Fluid Thinking

Here, the most common beverages including water, fruit juice, soft drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol are assessed from a body weight and health perspective.

Chapter 20. Make a Meal of It

Knowing what to eat and drink is one thing, putting our knowledge into practice can be another. This chapter offers suggestions and practical advice about healthy eating, including meal plans and snack ideas.

Chapter 21. Affirmative Action

The research shows that ‘aerobic’ exercise such as walking, running and cycling is not effective for weight loss, and this chapter explains why. The chapter goes on to explore the benefits exercise does offer, and provides practical information and advice about sustainable forms of activity.

Chapter 22. Going Lower

For a few, fat loss can be slow going, or they may find themselves ‘plateauing’ at a weight that is higher than they would like. Should slow or stalled weight loss be an issue, this chapter provides two powerful strategies for overcoming this in the form of ‘intermittent fasting’ and ‘high intensity intermittent exercise’.

Chapter 23. Long Gone

Sticking to new-found habits can be challenging sometimes, and obstacles can come up along the way. This chapter explores the common pitfalls to making and sustaining healthy changes, and how to address them using simple psychological and behavioural strategies.

Chapter 24. Escape the Diet Trap in a Nutshell

The key insights and recommendations of the book in a handy ‘dos and don’ts’ form.

Scientific References