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A woman lost 44 pounds after ditching fad diets and excessive cardio. She says 2 simple lifestyle changes helped her lose weight.

Rachel Hosie   

A woman lost 44 pounds after ditching fad diets and excessive cardio. She says 2 simple lifestyle changes helped her lose weight.
  • Bethany Dobson ditched fad diets and learned how to use calorie counting to lose weight sustainably.
  • Dobson lost 44 pounds by making lighter versions of her favorite foods and eating four meals a day.

Like many women, Bethany Dobson grew up watching her mother and grandmother go on fad diet after fad diet. For a long time, she thought she needed to do the same.

But it wasn't until Dobson, a 22-year-old from Manchester, England, learned about calories, macros (protein, carbs, and fat), and eating the right amount of each that she realized fad diets are ineffective in the long term and potentially harmful.

She put these lessons into practice and made two lifestyle changes that helped her lose 44 pounds over a few months: making lighter versions of her favorite foods and eating four meals a day rather than three. Now, as an online fat-loss coach and personal trainer, she helps others lose weight healthily and sustainably, too.

"I just got obsessed with the fact that you could eat kind of whatever you want in a sense, but as long as it's macro-friendly and it's obviously using better ingredients, it can be suitable for fat loss," Dobson told Business Insider.

Marketdata has estimated that the US weight-loss market will reach $93.8 billion in 2024, but Dobson's approach to weight loss — without using fad diet plans or supplements — goes back to basics.

Dobson started making lower-calorie versions of her favorite meals

Dobson said that as a child, she was "a bit chubbier" than other kids at school. As a teen, she thought she needed to follow restrictive diets with boring meals and do excessive cardio to lose weight, and started doing boot camp workouts and running even though she didn't enjoy it. When she was about 17, she started partying, drinking, and eating greasy take-out food, meaning she never lost the weight she wanted to.

Things changed when Dobson was about 18, and her new partner introduced her to weight training and healthy fat-loss methods.

Dobson went from believing there were "good" foods and "bad" foods that cause weight gain to learning that overall calorie intake is what determines whether you lose, gain, or maintain weight.

Dobson gradually started partying less and tried losing fat by counting her calories while eating nourishing foods, including plenty of protein, to ensure she was in a gentle calorie deficit (eating less energy than you burn). Protein helps to keep you feeling full and hold on to muscle.

It's the same approach recommended by many registered dietitians who have spoken to BI about healthy fat loss.

"It was my first time losing fat without it being a diet where I'm starving myself and cutting out food," Dobson said.

A big part of this was making lighter versions of her favorite foods, such as pasta, quesadillas, and cookies.

Dobson felt strongly that she didn't want to feel too restricted or deprived when losing weight.

"Food is such a massive part of my life, and I don't think that even if you are losing fat, you shouldn't just have to eat just chicken and rice," Dobson said, describing a staple "gym bro" meal.

"Fat loss isn't just nutrition," Dobson said. "And I always like to tell people that if you only focus on nutrition when it does come to fat loss, you're not going to get very far because your mindset has a huge contribution to it."

She soon realized health and fitness were her passions and qualified as a personal trainer. During the Covid pandemic, she started posting her own lower-calorie, higher-protein recipes on Instagram. Her following swiftly grew (she now has 689,000 followers), and she started her own company coaching others on fitness, nutrition, mindset, and accountability.

Dobson has since released multiple recipe e-books, and the latest is out on June 5.

"I went from just doing cardio and dieting to actually losing fat in the right way and actually training to build muscle properly," she said.

Eating four meals a day helped with sticking to a calorie deficit

Dobson also started eating four meals a day instead of three, which she said had actually helped her stick to her calorie deficit. This is an approach Dobson recommends to her clients because it can help keep hunger at bay and prevent them from reaching for less-nutritious, high-calorie snacks.

For example, you could have an afternoon snack of a wholemeal wrap with chicken and vegetables for about 300 calories, which would keep you full and satisfied. Otherwise, even if you think you can't eat anything until dinner, you may cave in and find yourself reaching for cookies, chips, and candy, which are often high in calories with low nutritional value.

"Your brain's registering that you're actually having a meal rather than just picking all the time, you then come away from it feeling satisfied," Dobson said.

That's not to say you can never eat less-nutritious foods that you enjoy — dietitians don't recommend cutting out foods because it can lead to bingeing — but cutting down can help you hit your goals.

"It's about choosing ingredients tactically for your hunger levels," Dobson said. "This is what has worked for me in the past."

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