Collectively, Americans spend almost a quarter trillion dollars annually on weight-loss or related products, plans, medical procedures, and pharmaceuticals.
You can’t walk 100 feet in a grocery store without seeing a “diet”, “sugar free”, “low-fat”, or “light” product, or a magazine article about losing weight, tightening abs, or being fit.
For all the money we spend, and all the products and “information” in the pipeline, we consumers know woefully little about fundamentals of healthy weight loss and management.
How do I know? The number of us that are overweight or obese is growing. Currently it’s about 2/3 of us in the US, and 1/3 on the planet. Given the highly publicized negative correlation between weight and health, I believe, in general, people would take the healthy option of being thin and fit, if they knew how.
[/caption]Not to worry! Here are some things that were valuable news to me and others on our weight loss journeys. These may help you too.
It doesn’t have to be so hard, and you don’t have to suffer!
1. Weight loss and management is about learning and applying simple techniques: modern culture works against us.
Our medical/pharmaceutical sector and packaged goods companies have complicated the information environment.
The minimum dietary requirements of balanced macro-nutrients, enough water, and simple, natural ingredients have been twisted and complicated. Increasingly, we’re confused and resigned about the “rules” of “healthy” eating. I recently spoke to a friend who was concerned about eating grapes because she’d heard they had too much sugar. Since she became convinced no carbs were healthy, she gave up and resigned herself to a life of overweight.
“3 meals a day” may have worked well for highly active shift workers in fields, factories, and job sites. This was the bulk of our domestic work force in the first half of the 20th century.
However, today’s sedentary office worker may have access to high calorie food all day long. In addition, busy schedules leave limited opportunities to burn those calories. For many, a more frequent and smaller-meals eating plan may work better.
2. Eating less can cause you to weigh more: eating too little can lead to uncontrollable cravings.
Many people who believe they’re managing their weight responsibly by “eating like a bird” are actually shooting themselves in the foot when they later experience “uncontrollable” cravings and eat like a starved animal. Read more about this here.
3. Eating less can cause bad behavior, negativity, and mood swings: are you ever “hangry”?
Apparently because it was adaptive when we had to hunt to eat, some humans get nasty when we’re hungry: “hangry”. We’re not all aware we have it! It took me becoming an endurance athlete to become aware of this phenomenon. By that time, I’d already lost over 100 pounds. Knowing this earlier could have saved me many arguments and relationships. Learn more about this here.
4. Coffee and tea may be keeping you fat.
- Are you “never hungry in the morning”?
- Do you start the day with a cup o’ Joe or tea?
- Have you ever wondered why companies serve free coffee all day long?
This was hard for me see and accept…
Caffeine is a well-known performance enhancer and appetite suppressant. It reduces our sensations of pain and discomfort.
When I start the day with a cup of coffee, then get busy at work, the morning flies by. I don’t think at all about food because my caffeine-wired nervous-system is over-riding my metabolism’s hunger and low-blood sugar messages.
With a late-morning top-off of coffee, I can easily work into the mid-afternoon without eating my first meal of the day.
Now read #2 above, and you’ll see how coffee and tea may be affecting your weight.
It’s worse… Have you noticed the mid-afternoon energy lag? I’ve developed a reliable habit of mid-afternoon coffee, since college. However, very recently I learned that a small afternoon snack including carbohydrates also knocks out the mid-afternoon energy drop. This just delays sufficient eating until later in the day, which reinforces my insufficient daytime eating and evening binge problem.
5. You CAN lose weight entirely through diet: weight loss through exercise alone is more difficult.
While many people begin an exercise program for weight loss, most people do not succeed this way.
It’s often easy to overeat our calorie burn unless we’re exercising a good, hard couple hours a day.
Worse: one problem of the standard American diet is its high carbohydrate and fat content may leave us feeling tired. When our body is busy metabolizing fats and carbohydrates from our most recent meal, we don’t want to exercise!
Finally, a typical beginner exercise program usually lacks significant intensity (difficulty) and duration (time daily). It can’t reduce appetite and burn enough calories that we’re able to out-exercise our eating plan.
When we eat like most Americans, it’s hard to burn all the empty calories from:
- sodas and other sugary drinks,
- potato chips and other high-fat foods, and
- carbohydrates from just about every pre-packaged food product sold in a bag, box, or bottle.
Above all, please don’t interpret this as an argument not to exercise. Exercise is valuable for improved cardiovascular health and stress management.
Just don’t get fooled into thinking exercise will be enough to kick off your own weight loss program. If you try it and it doesn’t work, just know you’re not the first, and you’re not alone.
Do you have anything to add?
Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on social media! (Let me know you saw this article).
For more information
- Costs of weight loss products and programs (USA): $66 billion
- Costs of overweight (USA): $15 billion
- Costs of obesity (USA): $150 billion
- The vast majority of American adults are overweight or obese, and weight is a growing problem among US children
- Obesity is a National Security Issue: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling at TedXMidAtlantic 2012
- The mathematics of weight loss | Ruben Meerman | TEDxQUT
- The secret to self control | Jonathan Bricker | TEDxRainier
- Is Caffeine an Appetite Suppressant?
- Meal timing and weight loss: Does it matter when you eat?
Also published on Medium.