“You tell me I need to lose weight. How do I do it, Doc?”
“My dear patient, it’s simple: treat your body like a bank account, but one that you should empty. Put less in and take more out.”
Obesity in America
You’ve heard the rumors; here are the facts: The United States is one of the most obese nations in the world, with 31% of Americans currently overweight. Not only that, obesity rates have tripled in the past 3 decades. The most disturbing statistic about all of this is that obese children are leading the way.
The Best Recipe for Weight Loss
Believe it or not, Americans are very motivated to lose weight. In fact, they spend $42 billion annually on weight loss foods, products, and services. Any Joe can name a half a dozen diet plans that populate the American psyche: Atkins, Pritiken, Ornish, Zone, South Beach, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers to name a few. But do they really work?
A great study was published recently in one of medicine’s most prestigious journals that showed that no particular diet plan works better than any other to help you lose weight. In a Harvard study, 811 overweight adults were assigned to one of four diet programs that each varied carbohydrate, fat and protein content. After two years, each group had lost — and regained — about the same amount of weight regardless of the diet. I say regained because a few months off of the diet, most returned to their usual eating habits. So, despite the different diets, the same results were achieved. Conclusion: popular diet plans are largely ineffective.
Calorie and food group restricted diets are complex, stressful and lead to disappointment when goals aren’t met. Not only that, the math gets too complicated and it makes meals stressful instead of enjoyable. There must be a better way.
Five Easy Ways to Empty Your Bank Account
Give this approach a try. Knowing that the cause of obesity is relatively simple in that weight gain occurs when caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure, try treating your body like a bank account that you want to empty and keep empty:
1. Eat less but keep it simple. Eat what you like, but first cut out snacks between meals. Then cut out dessert after dinner a couple of times a week. Then cut down on the size of one meal each day. A great way to put less into the bank account.
2. Eat food that requires work. It takes time to consume celery or an apple and requires chewing. The more you chew, the more you decrease hunger.
3. Replace energy drinks with water. Energy drinks have way too many unfilling calories.
4. Although you exercise for your heart, and you at to lose weight, exercise is a great way to help empty the bank account. Go for a 20-minute walk after lunch.
5. Get more sleep: Poor or too little sleep impairs hormones (ghrelin and leptin) that regulate hunger (gherlin) and satisfaction (leptin). Less sleep means less satisfaction with food and more uncontrolled hunger. Try to sleep 30 minutes more nightly than you do now.
I explained this recipe for weight control to a banker one day in the office and he listened intently. He then went home, made a series of small changes in his diet and lifestyle as suggested here. Being the typical number-oriented male that he is, he brought a plot of his weight over the next 4 months to show me. He had lost 30 pounds; about 1-2 pounds a week, and felt great. No fancy diet plan. Just plain ol’ economics: buy low and sell high.