Monday, February 21, 2011

The "Laws" of Weight Loss

No matter what diet book, fancy training scheme or Saturday morning exercise gadget info commercial you've tried or heard about there are only a few reasons that the "program" gets any results. You can call them "laws" or proven facts. They are common in just about every diet and exercise program. Many times they are hard to distinguish because the author or creator has added a twist or coined a special name to dress up these common truths. Think about it, why would anyone keep buying the same ideas or things you already know?

A "Cheesy" Example of the "Laws of Weight Loss" in Affect.

Have you every heard of the grilled cheese diet? This must be a real diet because I overheard gentleman describing the diet to his wife several years ago. For real. This guy was convinced to try the diet because his friend had lost weight on it. I mean this guy was excited! And I can't blame him, everybody loves a grilled cheese. Right? Now, his wife wasn't buying the story and was skeptical about this novel approach for weight loss. But this guy was sold on the idea and was willing to give it a try.

From what I could gather, here's how the "Grilled Cheese Diet" works.

Breakfast: Eat something sensible.

Lunch: Grilled Cheese

Dinner: Grilled Cheese

That's it. BAM! Obesity epidemic solved. In a few short weeks your pants will be looser and your weight will be down. Every greasy spoon diner in America will be now considered weight loss centers. Move over Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Mel's Diner is the future weight loss leader!

OK. Let's analyze this diet. As absurd as it sounds there's a hundred "single food" diets out there that are waiting for you. And guess what? They all REALLY work. They all produce weight loss. Because there are several underlying laws of weight loss hiding in plain sight. For a diet to work it first must convince the dieter it is going to work. The dieter is now motivated and a whole host of positive behaviors start in motion. The individual stops snacking between meals. Little things like a cracker here, a few pieces of candy there all make a caloric difference. A typical dieter will start to exercise more. They may take up a walking in the evening with their spouse or start going to the gym again. Either way this means more calories that are gone. And the number one reason the single food diet works is that it cuts all the other calories from favorite foods that the individual may have been typically eating in his/her diet. They may stop eating a huge meal for dinner or a late night cereal binge may be avoided. Granted, they are eating a grilled cheese, not the healthiest thing, but two pieces of bread and a couple of slices of cheese may still be a significant reduction in calories for them.

You see, the #1 Law of Weight Loss is calorie reduction. It wouldn't matter if it was called the chocolate cake diet. As long as it causes a caloric reduction in the diet it will cause weight loss. Add some motivation and a little increase in physical activity levels and you have a formula for success.

In conclusion, there are some very basic "laws" to losing weight. Caloric reduction is one of the very basic. Unfortunately for many weight loss is only temporary. Single food diets get boring, adherence starts to slack and the metabolism slows. The truth of the matter is that it does take a lifestyle change, a paradigm shift in thinking. Permanent weight management and a healthy body encompasses a variety of behavior changes for many. Change starts within and there's no magic bullets. Incorporating more whole fruits and vegetables into your diet and increasing your daily activity level is a start. Eating at home more, planning your meals and researching some healthy recipes.

So, what would be some other laws of weight loss? Many diets sneak these common healthy habits into your nutritional lifestyle:

  • More fiber from fruits and vegetables.
  • More nutrients (vitamins & minerals) from whole foods.
  • Less processed carbohydrates, typically breads and pasta.
  • Less sodium and saturated fat.
  • More protein.
  • More exercise.
  • Structured and consistent eating.

There they are. This is the "Secret" list for losing weight. For now I won't break down the reasons why each is important and works. It's actually very basic human physiology taught in any health related field in college or personal training certification. Many weight loss gurus and info commercial programs call them scientific breakthroughs. And they were. In the 1960's!

Unfortunately, implementing these habits into our daily life can be quite difficult. Cooking, planning and shopping are all big time constraints in a busy lifestyle. And one missed meal could lead you to the fast food window and tear down all your hard work by putting you back on the junk food roller coaster.

The good thing is that we all make mistakes and there's always... "the next meal and the treadmill"!

In good health,