A majority of Americans are overweight and a full 40% are obese. Being overweight is the second biggest killer of Americans (second to tobacco use) taking over 300 THOUSAND lives annually. The worst part is that this problem is growing and getting worse. Some economists even think that obesity-related health problems could threaten to bankrupt this wealthy country in the future if our trajectory doesn’t reverse soon.
Odds are you’ve heard all of that before. We are all privy to the obesity epidemic and its ramifications, yet the problem keeps getting worse. What gives? Is weight loss really that complicated?
The short answer is no…and yes. Losing weight, from a purely mechanical standpoint, is very straightforward and simple. Eat less calories than you burn and, as long as you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients, you will lose weight and your health will improve. Sounds simple, right? It is! However, when we consider our psychology and our relationships to food, things get MUCH more complicated.
In my experience as a trainer, I often found that the best way to address complex issues was with simple solutions that are easy to remember and implement. I am going to give you 3 things you can do that are simple, clear cut and easy to implement. Following one or all of them should yield you substantial success.
1. Change HOW You Eat
Before you think “duh” to yourself, I am not necessarily talking about changing your diet. I am being LITERAL. Change HOW you eat. Here is an example: Instead of using your dominant hand to handle your spoon or fork, use your non-dominant hand. I know it sounds silly but it actually works and studies prove it https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167211419863.
Eating with your non-dominant hand requires you to think consciously a bit more. This increased awareness reduces “mindless” impulsive eating and results in less calories being consumed.
Another thing you can change is the dinnerware you eat your food on. Some studies show that putting your food on smaller plates will result in less food consumption https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4579823/. This effect is best when you are not super hungry. When people are really hungry this doesn’t work as well. That being said, in my experience people don’t necessarily overeat because they are really hungry all the time but rather because they eat impulsively.
2. Drink ½ to a full gallon of water every day
The average American gets up to 8-10% of their calories from drinks every single day in the form of juices, sodas or other drinks that contain calories. That equates to a decent number of calories every week. I am not telling you to necessarily eliminate these drinks. Instead, I am telling you to aim for ½ to a full gallon of water every day. The side effect of drinking that much water usually is a drastic reduction in calorie containing drinks, thus leading to less calories consumed daily. I’ve had clients lose as much as 15lbs from this tip alone.
3. Reduce or eliminate heavily processed foods
Heavily processed foods consist of foods that are found in wrappers, boxes, other packages and can sometimes be frozen. They are foods with long ingredient lists and they have long shelf lives. These foods aren’t inherently “fattening” (although they are often unhealthy) but they do possess a special quality. They make us eat a LOT more. Studies show that when people consume diets that are high in heavily processed foods they eat, on average, over 500 MORE calories per day. That is a LOT of extra calories. Why does this happen?
It’s because these foods are literally engineered and designed to make you eat more. They are HYPER palatable. Everything from the color, the smell, the taste, the crunch, and even the feel of the food in your mouth or hands (and more) is carefully tested and designed.
Here is an example of what I mean: Do you think you could eat a large bag of potato chips in one sitting? If you answered yes, thank you for being honest (the rest of you are liars lol). I know I definitely could. Do you think you could eat 4-5 plain white boiled potatoes without any salt or butter in one sitting? You probably answered “no” and some of you might have even gagged. Here is the kicker, the bag of chips contains roughly 4-5 potatoes. It’s also HIGHER in calories from the oil content used to fry the chips. See how crazy it is? You can easily eat a whole bag of chips but would likely fail at 2 plain potatoes.
Eating heavily processed foods almost guarantees that you will eat more, or at the very least, will strongly WANT to eat more. Reducing or eliminating these foods is a super easy way to cut your calories.
There you have it. Three simple black and white tips that should help most of you lose weight without having to count calories, track macros or do much else. Apply all three of them for best success.