Not A Diet Book summary

Not A Diet Book by James Smith Analysis and Summary

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Life gets busy. Has Not A Diet Book been gathering dust on your bookshelf? Instead, pick up the key ideas now.

We’re scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have the book, order the book or get the audiobook for free to learn the juicy details.

About the book

This is NOT a diet book. Are you ready to change your life? Welcome to the James Smith revolution. Self-confessed disruptor of a billion-dollar diet industry, James is armed with every tool you’ll ever need to achieve incredible results from dieting, training, and staying in shape to identifying the fads, phonies, and nonsense that get in the way of genuinely lasting progress. But this is so much more than just losing fat. It’s getting to the root of why you always wear black; why you get undressed in the dark; why eating the foods you love make you feel guilty; why you’re afraid to step into the gym; why your confidence is at an all-time low; and how all of this is having a negative impact upon all areas of your life, relationships, and happiness. So, be prepared to transform your attitudes, fix bad habits, lose fat, gain confidence, and become the best possible version of yourself with the last diet’ book you’ll ever need. It’s so much simpler than everyone wants you to believe…

About the Author

James Smith is the world’s fastest-growing online personal trainer. Honest, unapologetic and outspoken, yet erudite, authentic and endlessly passionate about exposing the toxic myths within diet culture, and committed to helping people to reach their goals and make a positive change for good.

Summary of Not A Diet Book

I’m angry. Angry at the state of the fitness industry. There is an incredible amount of misinformation out there about fitness because the fitness industry doesn’t care about spreading the facts anymore. They instead focus on small details such as Carbs being the enemy or magical fat loss pills that are marketed as that one incredible trick. It’s how they make money. And meanwhile, most of them are on steroids and lie about it because when you look big and strong, people will follow you on social media. But the principles of fat loss and muscle gains are really not that complicated. This is why we’re going back to the basics of fat loss and muscle gain with James Smith’s new book: Not a diet book.

Calorie Deficit

There’s a fundamental truth in fitness that seems to be forgotten in the sh*tstorm of misinformation. Calories in… vs calories out. 

Just to keep your body functioning optimally your body already burns a significant amount of calories. If you’re like me; 25 yo, 184 cm (or 6 feet), and weigh 78 kg (171 pounds); you already burn 1810 calories by doing nothing. But in my case, I cycle to work and I work out a decent amount. I burn about 2610 calories on average per day.

Now here’s the fundamental truth that should be on the forefront of every weight loss or weight gain conversation. If I eat MORE than 2610 calories per day, I gain weight. 

And if I eat LESS than 2610 calories per day, I lose weight. Calories in vs calories out. It’s that simple. Even if I eat 2000 calories in ice cream only which is primarily sugar and fat. I will still lose weight because I’m in an energy deficit. It’s just a law of nature. So if you want to lose weight, eat fewer calories than the amount you burn. And if you want to gain weight, eat more calories than the amount you burn.

“Calorie deficit, also known as an energy deficit, is a term that you may or may not have heard before. It is the scientific equation that is required for human beings to lose body fat. It is, in fact, the principle behind every fat-loss diet in history.”

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Macros (Carbs, Protein, and Fats)

Now, these calories can come in the form of three macros. And you know them. 

Fat, carbohydrates and protein. It’s important to note that none of these macros is inherently bad. Every gram of protein and carbohydrates is 4 calories while a gram of fat is 9 calories.

So let’s keep working with my calorie counts. 2610 if I want to maintain my weight.

Ideally, you get around 20%-30% of calories from fat. Less than this can be detrimental to our production of essential hormones, which we need in order for our bodies to feel, look and perform at their best. 

The amount of protein required in a person’s diet is determined in large part by overall energy intake, body weight, and composition, physical activity level, and carbohydrate intake. James smith recommends around 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. So in my case, that would be around 120 grams. But for someone who does a lot of weight training, 2.2 gram per kilogram of body weight or (1 gram per pound) should be better as you need it for muscle recovery and muscle gain.

Then lastly carbs. Carbohydrates are in recent years the most attacked by these Fitness Influencers. They make it seem like these are the enemy. But carbs are the fuel your body needs for your body to perform. It’s much more likely that excess fat consumption will add fat to your body than excess carbs. Simply because it’s not efficient for your body to turn carbohydrates into fat. Why do you think that all of these real athletes eat so much pasta and rice? It’s 1) to have enough energy to perform and 2) to build muscle instead of fat. I know a lot of fitness influencers who don’t even have education in fitness say otherwise nowadays but trust me. They are just trying to sell you a trick or diet. Don’t just listen to me but do your own research and listen to the real athletes. So simply fill your carbohydrates until you reach the calories that you need for your long term goal.

You can track your calories and macros in MyFitnessPal or any other calorie tracker but I like myFitnessPal. Tracking your calories seems like a lot of work but it isn’t. It takes 5 minutes total each day. What gets measured, gets improved.

Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat

The most efficient way of gaining muscle or losing fat is to focus on one of the two at the time.

It’s fairly inefficient to try and do both at the same time as you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose fat and you have to be in a caloric surplus to gain muscle. If you want to do both, James recommends focusing on fat loss first.

If you’re trying to lose fat, all you need to do is stay in a caloric deficit. The bigger the deficit, the faster your body will eat your own fat. Don’t overdo it though, sometimes when people make the deficit too big it’s too much stress on the body and you won’t be able to maintain it. You don’t actually have to do cardio to lose fat, however, cardio is never a bad idea for your health and it will make it so that you burn more calories which means you can eat a little bit more and stay in a deficit. If you’re trying to lose fat but keep the muscle you’ve built. You should keep doing weight training to basically let your body know that you need that muscle. And keep that protein intake high.

For muscle gain, you should be in surplus. Ideally somewhere around 15% more than your maintenance calories. With that, you should have a weight training routine of at least 3 days a week with moderate to high intensity. Something that I like to do and James Smith also does is something called progressive overload. It’s pretty simple. Track your sets and reps with an app or a notebook and make sure that you do a little more volume every week in the gym for each body part. For instance, if you did 10 reps last week, try doing 11 reps this week. And move up in weight when you hit the upper ceiling of the rep range you’re training in. This will ensure that you’re always getting stronger.


So these are the fundamentals of fitness.

  • Stick to your calories and your macros.
  • For fat loss, stay in a caloric deficit and do some optional cardio.
  • For muscle gain stay in a slight caloric surplus and stick to your weightlifting routine with progressive overload.

Some more honorable mentions that we haven’t discussed:

  • Make sure you get a solid 7-9 hours of sleep. This is very important for muscle growth.
  • Get enough vitamins, especially vitamin D.
  • Cut unnecessary stress out of your life.

These are the fundamentals and it’s really not that difficult. If you do all of these straightforward things you will start climbing toward your goal as long as you’re consistent. 

Don’t let these fitness gurus confuse you into buying into their next product. They’re often overcomplicating things or just flat out lying. Because simple facts don’t sell. But a low carb meal plan combined with a 15 minute Get-ripped-in-30-Days Fitness Routine does

Hats off to Pim Meijer the creator of Lifelong Learners YouTube channel for this text shot.

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To learn the details, get “Not A Diet Book” here:

Comment below or tweet to us if you have any thoughts or feedback.

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