Book Review: Not a Diet Book

Verdict: I highly recommend reading this book if your goal is to lose weight. You will be enlightened with practical advice and a refreshing perspective on weight loss in general. The information is presented in a uniquely James Smith way, which personally resonated with me. Many of the ideas in the book are contrary to popular belief however are backed by scientific research which the reader is encouraged to investigate further.

I’ve read this book three times and have learnt new things each time I have read it.

Damning Review of the Fitness Industry

The book kicks off with insight into the sad state of affairs currently plaguing the fitness industry. James Smith is embarrassed that the industry is more focused on making a profit and trapping people in the endless obesity loop to guarantee a steady income rather than helping people live better and more fulfilling lives. As a personal trainer, James is on the front line dealing with real people who need help, so he makes it his mission to disrupt the current focus of the industry, dispel myths and genuinely help people achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.

Energy Fucking Defecit

A key concept of the book is eloquently described by James Smith as the ‘energy fucking defecit‘. See why this book resonated with me so well now?

Essentially, the successful outcome of any fad diet is always a result of creating an energy deficit i.e. energy in (eating) is less than energy out (being alive, physical movement). No matter if you’ve been coaxed into a juice cleanse, vegan, vegetarian, keto or some other new craze – weight loss will always be a direct result of an energy deficit.

It’s a simple concept, but it has been overshadowed in a world of buzz words, celebrity diet endorsement and fancy advertising campaigns. Although the reader is not ordered to immediately throw out all of their Keto Cookbooks, the intention is to arm you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about how you fuel your body for weight-loss.

Track Energy Intake

There is one surefire way to determine if you are successfully running at an energy fucking deficit and that is to maintain a food diary. The recommended app for this is MyFitness Pal which I have been using and found to be an excellent way of tracking my energy intake on the go.

I started by not changing my diet at all and tracking exactly what I usually ate for three days. It was horrifying. I could not believe how much energy was in the food I inhaled each day. Coupled with very little to no physical activity, it’s any wonder I’m rocking the DadBod.

I won’t go into too much detail here but basically you can calculate your maintenance energy requirements, then establish your deficit from there. There is a calculator on the James Smith Academy website to get you started.

I discovered that instead of a 2500kJ deficit, I was consuming a 2500kJ surplus. Weight gain is inevitable at this rate and I had no idea I was doing that to myself until I applied my newfound knowledge courtesy of James Smith.

Focus on a Protein Target

Another important concept is focusing on a macro target, specifically protein. Among the many benefits of consuming an appropriate amount of protein including muscle development, reducing appetite and regulating blood pressure, protein has the highest thermic effect of all macronutrients. That is, protein requires up to 30% of it’s own energy just to digest it and make it available for your body to use. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food (TEF).

You’ll need to read the book to get the details on this but essentially it involves a quick calculation to determine your individual protein requirements, then carbohydrates and fats can make up the rest of the daily energy requirements. You can then configure your MyFitness Pal app to match your individual energy requirements and track your progress each day.

Up Your N.E.A.T.

N.E.A.T. or Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is another key concept of the book which seems obvious now that I understand it but previously I hadn’t given it much consideration in terms of weight loss.

Put simply, N.E.A.T. is any energy expenditure outside planned exercise, eating or sleeping such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking to work instead of driving.

The reader is encouraged to Up Your N.E.A.T. in order to increase the energy deficit and I think that is a great concept as exercise can feel like a chore. Upping your N.E.A.T. is essentially exercise in disguise… free exercise, as it were.

N.E.A.T. and other physical activity forms part of the ‘energy out’ component of the energy fucking deficit. The greater the deficit, the quicker the weight loss so it makes sense to increase the deficit easily in our day to day lives without feeling like it is taking any more effort.

Performance Goal Setting

As perviously mentioned, exercise can feel like a chore. James Smith has an answer for this which is encouraging the reader to change their mindset and focus on performance goals which has resulted in much higher success rates for his clients and generally keeps motivation high.

If your goal is to loose weight, focus on this initially then transition into performance based goals. Not only will this help to maintain motivation but it will transform your mindset so instead of thinking like a low-self confidence, overweight, DadBod possessing sad sack, you will start to think like an athlete and you will become unstoppable.


Well, I’m still fat. However, this book has armed me with the knowledge, confidence and belief that I can loose my excess fat in the new year which I have now been struggling with for many years now.

If you’ve been looking at this book on the promotional stands at your local book store and thinking about giving it a go, I would encourage you to do so. I truly believe reading this book will benefit a lot of dads struggling with their ‘baby-weight’. It’s not just for the blokes either. There is a whole chapter dedicated to women’s mensural cycles and the effects on weight-loss. Give it a crack and let me know your thoughts by commenting on this post.

Thats right, I want you to get a bit fat at Christmas.

James Smith


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