The first step to fat loss is to understand what happens when we eat food. We often hear that if we just cut back on calories and exercise we can lose weight, but the truth is that this is a very simplistic view. In reality food is broken down in the body into various molecules called macronutrients. These are classified as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, which are called simple sugars. Fats are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol. While sugars are simple molecules, fats have two units of carbon and three units of hydrogen for a total of 14 units. Proteins have four units of carbon and nitrogen for a total of 20 units, and therefore are more complex.
One of the most common dieting myths is that fat loss can be achieved simply by eating six smaller meals a day, rather than three larger ones. This is often referred to as the “six small meals a day” or “six smaller meals a day” diet. Another common myth is that you can lose fat just by eating more protein, while others believe it’s all about the amount of calories you consume. However, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t believe these diet myths.
In the last decade, there has been a paradigm shift from a “caloric deficit” mentality (eat less, exercise more), to a “calorie surplus” (eat more, exercise less) one. The idea is that if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. But, what if you eat more calories than you burn, and lose weight? This chart illustrates this concept.
Google was a garage company little over 20 years ago, and no one had heard of “fat loss hacks.”
In two decades, though, a lot may happen. (We’ll refrain from showing you a snapshot of our search results.)
Obesity is continuing on the increase, which is something that hasn’t altered. 1
Obesity and severe obesity prevalence in the United States from 1999 to 2018.
To put it another way:
Despite server farms full with fat loss hacks, there are no genuine fat loss hacks.
That’s because obesity isn’t an issue that can be solved easily.
Physical, psychological, social, environmental, and emotional variables all play a role in our capacity to eat less and exercise more.
And the importance of each element varies from person to person. Check out the picture below for a visual representation.
Here’s where the irony comes in:
The majority of “diet hacks,” “quick cures,” and “simple solutions” make fat reduction more difficult than it has to be.
These methods often advocate for excessively stringent and needless regulations that:
- Sugar or carbohydrates should be avoided.
- vilify fat or meat (ethical reasons aside)
- moralize food choices (implying that there are “good” and “bad” ways to eat)
- Perfection in the kitchen is encouraged or required.
- stress theoretical optimality above practicality (and may recommend supplements or “superfoods” as essential components)
This isn’t to say that what you eat and how you exercise aren’t important. Rather, compared to most fat loss methods, you may be more flexible with what you eat and how you exercise while still getting the long-term outcomes you want.
What is the situation in our case? Exhibits A-J are the ten charts that follow. When it comes to fat reduction, they may be able to help you visualize a more successful and long-term solution—no “hacks” required.
The foods we consume the most are Exhibit A.
There’s no denying that many individuals who have trouble losing weight consume too many carbohydrates. (As well as a lot of fat.) Is this, however, an indictment of carbohydrates as a whole? Or the carbohydrate sources? Take a look at the results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). 2
According to this study, desserts, candies, snacks, and sugary beverages account for almost a quarter of the typical American’s calorie consumption. (Not all foods are represented in the graph.)
That’s a significant portion of your daily calorie intake.
These foods aren’t on anyone’s list of healthy eats. But, as you might probably guess, if you drastically reduce your carb intake—or even simply your sugar intake—you’ll immediately remove the majority of these “junk meals.” (Not to mention a lot of calories from carbohydrates and fat.)
This leads to a common claim: giving up carbohydrates makes it easier to lose weight since you don’t want junk food.
Which may indeed be true. But is this because you’ve eliminated the carbs, or because you’ve eliminated the junk food?
The following graph elucidates the situation.
Exhibit B: The delectable meals we can’t get enough of.
Researchers from the University of Michigan examined the “addictive” characteristics of popular meals in a new study. 3 Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, the chart below illustrates the top ten foods that individuals are most likely to label as “problematic.”
The glycemic load (GL) of a food is a measure of how much and what kind of carbohydrate it contains. A food with a GL of 20 or more is regarded to have a high glycemic load. A low-glycemic load meal has a GL of 10 or less.
Whether you limit carbohydrates or fats, nine out of ten of these items would be off-limits or drastically restricted.
All but one are ultra-processed foods, and the majority include sugar, fat, and salt in some form.
This combination of ingredients makes these meals “hyper-palatable,” or so tasty that they’re difficult to put down. Food producers design them to be this way. (For additional information, see Manufactured Deliciousness: Why You Can’t Stop Eating.)
What about meals that don’t include all three of those components, such as soda or chocolate? To increase their attractiveness, they often include “drug-like” chemicals like caffeine and/or theobromine.
With this in mind, it’s also worth revisiting the preceding graph. Exhibit B shows that eight of the ten most “addictive” foods are also five of the top six most eaten food groups in Exhibit A.
What is it that they all share in common? They’re typically highly processed and produced in order to be seductive.
Consider this: What meals are particularly troublesome for you? What do they have in common, exactly?
(Download our Yale Food Addiction Scale worksheet to try this on yourself or with a client.)
Most people’s “problem” lists don’t include minimally processed, whole foods like vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains. We just don’t overeat these meals on a regular basis.
However, there are fat reduction methods that include avoiding fruit, never eating a starchy vegetable, and avoiding all beans and grains.
Our issue is when did these foods start to be a problem?
That leads us to the following point.
Exhibits C-G: The nutrient-dense foods we’re skipping.
More vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains have long been recommended by public health authorities.
However, some suggestions have been criticized for not functioning. Because, despite them, we’ve all grown bigger. Certain groups argue that it is the problem of these “healthy” meals.
Is this, however, the case?
Is it because people are substituting other (highly processed, very appealing) foods?
Here’s why it seems like a loaded question:
According to NHANES statistics, ultra-processed foods account for 58.5 percent of total calories eaten in the United States. 4
And our consuming habits aren’t getting any better: Every year throughout the five-year survey period, that proportion rose by 1%.
But, because whole grains are often demonized, let’s take a closer look at the suggested “health” foods, beginning with whole grains.
You could definitely argue that individuals consume too much refined, ultra-processed grains based on the NHANES statistics. 5
But what about entire grains? People, on the other hand, are still not eating them.
The same may be said about fruit. 5
As well as vegetables.5
As well as legumes. 5
The truth is that most individuals concentrate on subtraction while trying to enhance their diet. They may say something like, “I’m giving up sugar” (see Exhibit A) or “I’m avoiding junk food” (see Exhibit B).
The problem is that they frequently don’t have a plan for what they’ll consume instead. This may cause emotions of deprivation and dissatisfaction with one’s diet.
As a result, starting with addition may be beneficial: Increase your veggie consumption. Increase your fruit consumption. Increase your intake of whole grains and legumes. Increase your intake of lean protein. (Men prefer to eat fattier protein sources, which offer more calories, while women often struggle to obtain enough protein overall.)
This “add first” approach, based on our experience working with over 100,000 customers, may be quite successful in “crowding out” ultra-processed, hyper-palatable meals. (No, this does not imply that you must live a life devoid of “junk food”: find out why.)
When you “add first,” you not only get more healthy items into your diet, but you also naturally eat less.
A recent research from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides an example (an institute of the NIH). 6
Twenty individuals were hospitalized to a metabolic ward and were randomly assigned to either an ultra-processed or minimally-processed diet. They were free to eat as much or as little as they wanted. They swapped after two weeks and went on the other diet for two weeks.
The result: On the ultra-processed diet, individuals consumed 508 more calories per day and gained weight, as seen in the graph below. They dropped weight by eating a diet that was minimally processed.
It’s a small but well-controlled research (previous studies have shown comparable results7,8) that mirrors what we observe with customers that utilize our “add first” strategy.
As people consume more minimally processed foods, their total calorie consumption decreases. They find eating to be more gratifying and rewarding.
If adding vs subtracting seems counterintuitive, consider this: What if common knowledge is incorrect?
You’ll quickly discover that adding first is much simpler than completely altering your diet. You can always subtract if it isn’t working for you.
But the greatest thing is that, as Exhibit H shows, you don’t need perfection to get significant outcomes.
Exhibit H: Perfection isn’t required for progress.
We don’t expect our customers to alter their habits or learn new abilities overnight when they work with us. We don’t want them to even attempt.
Instead, every two weeks for a year, we offer them one daily health habit to follow, such as eating five servings of fruits and vegetables or eating lean protein at each meal.
These habits build up, and by the end of the year, they’ve adopted a total of 25 behaviors.
This is how we assist people build healthy eating and lifestyle skills and behaviors that aren’t dependent on willpower or discipline.
None of these methods instruct customers to abstain from specific meals.
That is a natural occurrence.
However, since our customers are people, this does not always happen.
And that’s OK. In any case, it works.
The outcomes are typically spectacular when individuals are 90% consistent with their daily routines, according to our research.
However, even when people are just 50 to 80 percent consistent, they have significant consequences.
Furthermore, even customers who are just 10% to 49% consistent may make substantial and meaningful improvement.
The end outcome is as follows.
Over the course of our 12-month coaching program, we gathered data from 1,000 customers. Individual customers selecting our “men’s program” or “women’s program” during client intake determines the results for “women” and “men.” We understand that the words “men” and “women” do not adequately describe our clients’ varied identities, and we are striving to make our program intake process more inclusive.
This strategy is founded on the notion that development isn’t about perfection.
It all boils down to embracing the fact that better is better. And a continuous effort, no matter how modest, may result in significant fat reduction and health advantages.
This isn’t only true in terms of nutrition. It’s also true when it comes to fitness…
Exhibit I: You don’t have to program your movement.
Here’s a cool graph. It shows how daily energy expenditure changed from 1900 to the early 2000s. 9 The researchers also charted the growth of both time-saving and time-wasting technologies.
The result: a 60-70 percent decrease in energy use.
The same investigators found that actors portraying Australian pioneers 150 years ago were 1.6 to 2.3 times more active than sedentary contemporary office employees in a prior research. 10 That’s the equivalent of walking an additional 5 to 10 kilometers each day, or 10,000 to 20,000 steps.
This isn’t to say you should start walking 10 kilometers every day. It’s to highlight how little we move in the contemporary world in comparison to any previous period in human history. And that most of us, even if we work out frequently, would benefit from greater everyday activity of any sort.
In terms of practicality, this may simply require a mental change. Consider the following scenario:
- Cleaning the home using a vacuum
- The yard is being weeded.
- Taking a longer stroll with the dog
- In the driveway, shooting baskets
- Marco Polo and the children (instead of watching them play in the pool)
These aren’t annoyances or time sinks; they’re chances to get a bit more done while doing other things.
No, these activities won’t help you burn the most calories per hour. This small shift in perspective, on the other hand, may motivate you to get more done, have more fun, and substantially boost your daily energy expenditure—all without spending more time in the gym.
What should I do next?
Exhibit J is now available for viewing. If you’re a regular reader of PN, you’ve probably seen this Venn diagram before. (It’s one of our favorites.)
What’s the bottom line? In nearly any well-considered dietary pattern, the nutrition basics in the center of the picture are universal. You might call them the fundamentals.
That doesn’t make them simple. In fact, they may be very difficult.
After all, how many individuals do you know who adhere to these six dietary principles on a regular basis?
Or, to put it another way, how probable is it for the typical individual to effectively acquire these principles all at once… throughout time?
The chances aren’t in your favor. That is something you probably don’t need a chart to see.
Consider this: If the fundamentals are too difficult, what can you expect from a strategy that limits even more items or recommends drastic modifications to what they’re doing now?
Make no doubt about it: Keto, Paleo, a completely plant-based diet, or any other diet may be extremely successful. But what about overnight? That doesn’t happen very often, at least not in a long-term manner.
Instead, we propose a different approach—one that encourages long-term behavior change.
Here’s a quick rundown on how to get started:
Step 1: Concentrate on just one new daily habit at a time.
Do this for two or three weeks at a time. The goal is to choose a daily exercise that will help you achieve improvement, no matter how little it may be. You may begin with the basics by choosing one of the following options:
- Consume a sufficient amount of high-quality protein.
- Consume a lot of fruits and vegetables.
- Place a premium on minimally processed whole foods.
- Eat gently until you’re full.
(Try adding another after you’ve practiced one for a few weeks.)
Step 2: Make it seem as though the exercise is simple.
Getting five servings of fruits and veggies per day may be too difficult if you’re only eating one currently.
Could you, however, aim for three portions each day? Or three or four servings three or four times a week?
The concept: You want a practice that is likely to succeed. From there, you may expand.
Imagine this: If you pile easy on top of easy, one day you wake up and discover you’ve made significant progress, and it was… easier than you anticipated. (Because we’re not going to pretend that long-term change is ever “easy.”)
Step 3: Strive for consistency rather than perfection.
Your day will not always go as planned: a last-minute job deadline, a spat with your spouse, or an unexpected trip to the veterinarian.
However, as we’ve shown, even with less than 50% regularity, you may see significant results. One bad day does not invalidate all of your good work.
All of this may seem to be much too “simple” to be effective.
“It sounds far too slow!” you may think. I’m in desperate need of a quick fix!”
This is very understandable.
However, you may feel this way because:
- You’ve probably seen advertisements promising “six-pack abs in six weeks” or a “bikini body in 30 days.”
- You’ve been starved and unhappy in the past while trying to lose weight (and often like a failure).
In case you didn’t notice, these two variables are inextricably linked.
As a result, it’s understandable to be put off by the “extended duration” of behavior change, the absence of a “specific eating plan,” or the concept of “making one little adjustment at a time.”
If that’s the case, all we have to say is:
How has the alternative worked in the past for you?
Maybe you’ve discovered what works for you if you’re happy with the experience and the result—and where you are now.
If you don’t get the warm and fuzzy feelings, it’s time to try something new.
One that assists you in changing your eating and living habits in a manner that takes into consideration the whole complexity of fat loss (and your entire life).
So that you are not unhappy. You don’t feel deprived in any way. It’s also difficult to fail.
That seems a lot like a fat-loss scheme, doesn’t it? (However, this isn’t the case.)
To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.
1. C.M. Hales, M.D. Carroll, C.D. Fryar, and C.L. Ogden. Obesity and Severe Obesity among Adults in the United States, 2017-2018. NCHS Data Brief, vol. 360, no. 1, pp. 1–8. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db360-h.pdf
2. Adapted from the report of the Advisory Committee on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. The scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is available at https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf.
3. E.M. Schulte, N.M. Avena, and A.N. Gearhardt. Which foods have the potential to be addictive? Processing, fat content, and glycemic load all have a role. PLoS One, vol. 10, no. 2, e0117959, published online February 18, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117959
4. Baraldi LG, Martinez Steele E, Canella DS, Monteiro CA, Martinez Steele E, Martinez Steele E, Martinez Steele E, Martinez Steele E, Martinez Steele E, Martinez Steele Evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional research on ultra-processed food consumption and related sociodemographic variables in the United States between 2007 and 2012. 2018 Mar 9;8(3):e020574 in BMJ Open. 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020574 is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020574.
5. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines: A Closer Look at Current Intakes and Recommendations; health.gov. https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/dietary-guidelines/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/
6. KD Hall, Ayuketah A, R Brychta, H Cai, T Cassimatis, KY Chen, et al. An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake found that ultra-processed diets cause excessive calorie intake and weight gain. 30(1):67–77.e3 (Cell Metab., 2019 Jul 2);30(1):67–77.e3 (Cell Metab., 2019 Jul 2);30 For further information, go to http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008
7. Larson DE, Rising R, Ferraro RT, and Ravussin E. Effects of a “cafeteria diet” on 24-hour energy expenditure and substrate oxidation in males. 1995 May;19(5):331–7 in Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord [Internet].
Ad libitum food consumption on a “cafeteria diet” in Native American women: relationships with body composition and 24-hour energy expenditure. Larson DE, Tataranni PA, Ferraro RT, Ravussin E. 1995 Nov;62(5):911–7 in Am J Clin Nutr. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/62.5.911/
Estimating Changes in Daily Physical Activity Levels over Time: Implications for Health Interventions from a Novel Approach. 9. Vogels N, Egger G, Plasqui G, Westerterp KR. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2004 May 24;25(08):607–10.
Estimating historical changes in physical activity levels. Egger GJ, Vogels N, Westerterp KR. Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 175(11-12), pp. 635–636. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11837872
Do you want to be the healthiest, fittest, and strongest version of yourself?
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We all want to lose fat and become leaner. We have read articles about fat loss hacks, and have even tried some of them. The problem is that while they may work for you, they don’t work for everyone. In this article, we take a look at some of the most popular fat loss hacks. These will only add unnecessary stress to your diet and cause you to over-exercise.. Read more about precision nutrition weight loss reviews and let us know what you think.
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