Can’t I just put a cap on the number of calories I eat each day and lose weight? Why do I have to abstain from sugar and flour?

I think it’s better to have categories of food, rather than a caloric cap.

Having a caloric range is a good start, but a plan like that will only work for someone who is quite low on the Susceptibility Scale and whose brain isn’t wired for hunger and cravings. If you do three meals a day, stick within a caloric range, and are still eating sugar and flour, your brain will still harass you with hunger and cravings and it will all fall apart eventually (subtly, but eventually).

So this brings us to a plan comprised of three meals a day with no sugar or flour—that’s pretty much Bright Line Eating (BLE). There are three reasons why I think it’s better to have categories of food rather than a caloric cap.

First, I think it’s actually helpful to have some caloric wiggle-room in the plan. If you know you have a really labor-intensive day ahead, it’s nice to be able to choose heavier proteins (nuts instead of nonfat cottage cheese, for example) for staying power.

The second reason is psychological. When you’re out to eat, having specific categories of foods you’re looking for on a menu narrows your perceptual field and actually filters out all the non-BLE foods on the menu. You’re literally thinking to yourself, “where’s a protein on this menu I can have? Where are the vegetables?” You never even see the pastas and the desserts because your brain simply sees what you’re looking for. That’s kinda cool and makes it much easier to navigate when you’re out and about, sticking with your plan.

The third reason is clear categories and amounts ensure that you eat the right proportions of foods (enough vegetables, for example).

For all the above reasons, I think a plan that’s structured like the BLE plan is more likely to be successful long-term than a plan consisting of three meals a day with a caloric cap. I tried a plan like that a few years ago when I left BLE briefly. It didn’t work for me. I stayed obsessed with food and was constantly figuring and jiggering with the calorie amounts.

Of course, if you want to try it, feel free! I never deny anyone the right to do their own research. God knows I’ve done mine.