Lots of women (and a few men) ask me about losing weight.  There are some confusing messages out there and I think a lot of people can relate to this email that a patient sent me.  She said it was OK if I shared it with everyone.  I’m going to call her Annie (unless she reads this and tells me she wants a different made up name).
I’m trying to lose 5-10 pounds and get some lean muscle. I’m motivated to get healthier. Right now I weigh 127-130(the scale is always jumping around). I guess I don’t have a particular weight I’m aiming for, I just want to get rid of my “love handles” and feel stronger. 
I’ve been more faithful about doing cardio or interval training for a couple months because I noticed it helps my moods. My friend who is a personal trainer recommended I start doing some weight training and I am going to. Now I’ve been looking into how I should eat.
Of course I know not to eat more calories then I burn, but after that I have seen many conflicting articles about how to eat. I have a sister who says to go all vegan but I could never do that. A couple friends said I should count macros. When I did the calculator it said to eat 50% carbs, 20% fat and 30% protein. A different article says to lose weight I should eat low carbs and high protein. 
So what would you recommend I start doing? Maybe scratch all that and do something else? I know I need to cut out as much sugar and processed foods as possible. But after that should I even worry about my balance or just focus on eating more veggies?
Your advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!”

My response

Hi Annie,
This is the question I’ve been researching for the last 11 years though there is still a lot to learn.
First, if you don’t mind I’d like to comment on your goals.  The goal that I like on your list is to “feel stronger.” I would never recommend that a woman your size have a goal of losing weight.  You are in a healthy range and there is no reason you should even be weighing yourself let alone setting goals about losing weight.  The other goal of getting rid of your love handles is also, in my opinion, not going to help you.  Love handles are too subjective to make a goal about.  I’ve seen very thin people complain about love handles and it is not helping their health to believe they need to be gotten rid of.
Now if the goal is to feel stronger, feel good about your body and be healthy.  Those are goals I can get behind. (You will probably gain weight or stay the same but
If you want to do that, then you can forget everything people are saying about carbs and protein and fat.  Counting macros or avoiding certain nutrient groups has nothing to do with being healthy. They are all gimmicks to get people to eat fewer calories and therefore lose weight. The only nutrition pattern proven to prevent heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes while supporting a healthy weight is a habit of eating more whole plants than anything else.  (fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains)
You only have to remember one rule: Most of your calories should come from eating whole plants (tip: if it doesn’t look like a whole plant, it is no longer whole, example: bagels are made from plants but are not whole plants). That means processed foods of any kind (including Cheerios and other whole wheat products) make up a small minority of the foods you eat.
With regards to exercise, probably the most important thing you can do is just plan it into your week.  Most of us are out of shape not because we are doing the wrong thing when we go to the gym but because we don’t get out and do anything.  Make sure you are putting your shoes and workout clothes out before you get to bed and make sure your friends will be expecting you so you are sure not to blow it off that day.
I’d be happy to talk more about this with you.  Let me know if you have any questions.
Also, would you mind if I subtracted your name and posted your question and my answer on our website?