How to Lose Weight: Eat Less and Exercise? Wrong.

(From Jack at This is an article about eating, so hang in there. It is also my take on this whole subject. My opinion on this subject is in constant revision, so please feel free to share yours!)

We’ve all heard the line that in order to lose weight you have to eat less and exercise more. Sounds so darn simple. It’s been drummed into our heads, relentlessly. If this is a fact, then how come so few have succeeded?

Perhaps because it’s a lie. A big, humongous lie. Just like the hundreds of diet plans you’ve been told about over the last twenty years that guarantee rapid weight loss. If eating less and exercising more was the answer, we wouldn’t have the huge and rapidly growing obesity rates in adults and kids that we do. (The latest rate is one in three of us will have diabetes!)

Let’s break it down into three parts:

1) Not Gaining Weight
This requires you to learn how to Eat Smart. You need to learn what foods are real foods and eat those ones, and to cease eating the stupid foods. Nothing with HFCS or PHO (partially hydrogenated oils) are real foods. Highly processed foods are not real foods. You need to eat more slowly, not on the run, so that your food is digested and sends the signal to your brain that You’ve Had Enough to Eat. You also need to prepare meals, not microwave meals. (More on this below.)

2) Losing Weight
This, unlike almost every health and fitness plan will tell you, requires a LOT of exercise. 20 minutes a day? Does nothing. One hour a day of serious exercise? You’ve improved your cardio. Two hours a day, every day? Ah, now weight loss can occur, providing you’re diet isn’t stupid foods and that you’re not following the latest idiotic diet-craze. Of course, who has two hours a day to seriously exercise?

3) Not Regaining Lost Weight
Notice how this is next to impossible? Almost everyone regains the weight. Two reasons: 1) Everyone’s body wants to regain that weight, and 2) Very few change their diet, so they’re still eating the foods that cause weight gain. If you buy most of your food at a Big Chain supermarket (other than Whole Foods), I personally think it’s extremely difficult to not regain the weight. So, all of that time, money and effort (and conversation!)  is wasted.

I read recently that the #1 cause of obesity in America is now beverages with HFCS. Falling to #2 is hydrogenated oils (transfat). Why not just eliminate those two from you diet, permanently? Your favorite foods have these? Find ones that don’t have them; believe it or not, they’re out there, they taste as good or better – you just have to find them.

And please, stop fearing fat and bread. Fear bad fat and bad sweeteners and the latest diet crazes, if you must have something to fear.

Keys to Not Gaining Weight

1. Stop eating food with HFCS and/or PHOs (transfats). This is really hard to do as these two obesity-causing ingredients are in most processed foods. In essence, live without most processed foods.
2. Stop eating fake food;  most everything labeled as diet food or diet beverage. They do not satisfy hunger and serve no purpose other than to make the companies that make them wealthy. Find a flavored water rather than drink a Diet Sprite or Coke.
3. Eat your meals more slowly. Yes, this takes practice. Try serving a meal in small courses instead. You’ll find you won’t need the last course. Dessert should be eaten after a rest period to see if you’re really still hungry, and should be a ripe piece of local fruit or artisan cheese.
4. Cook when possible. You may have to change your lifestyle so that you have the time to cook. Cooking is not heating pre-cooked, pre-packed foods. Cooking is taking raw ingredients and making a meal. Even a very simple meal, or a salad, is great. The smell of food cooking or being prepared in a house is, well, everything.
5. Use some common sense when it comes to food. Eating more vegetables and more types of vegetables. Have a slow, lengthy meal with family and friends once a week. Eating food is supposed to be pleasurable and a luxury for the senses;  too many have forgotten that.
6. Avoid all diet plans, TV talk-show advice, magazine health articles, etc. No diet foods like Snackwells, Weight Watchers, or Lean Cuisine. Sherlock Holmes classifies these as red herrings. (I’m not as kind.)
7. No eating at fast food restaurants or big chain restaurants. Even when traveling. Find a deli and get a sandwich (without mayo or other bad ingredients) or a rotisserie chicken (preferably organic). With luck you can find a great cheese and nice loaf of bread.
8. Eat organic foods. Eat whole grains. Eat foods without hormones. Eat natural foods (e.g., butter, not margarine). Your body processes these best.
9. This goes for you kids as well! (Deep down you know that the food that comes with a toy isn’t healthy for your kids!)
10. Be happy with your current weight rather than obsessing miserably about it. (Yes, that’s easy to say, but nevertheless, it’s excellent advice.)

You already know that partially hydrogenated oils are so bad that even our pathetic USDA has forced food manufacturers to label the amount of transfat in their food. But you haven’t read a lot (well, except on this site) about High Fructose Corn Syrup. (HFCS). Here’s a link for you at


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