We Americans could sure stand to lose some weight. An alarming number of Americans are overweight or obese: over 70% of adults are one of those two things. That’s terrible news, because being overweight is unhealthy: it taxes everything from your heart to your bones while making you more susceptible to illness and other health problems. It would a whole lot better if those of us who are carrying a few extra pounds around were to shed them for good.
And we seem to know this, too: Americans love to diet, and the weight-loss industry makes huge amounts of money (over $60 billion a year, believe it or not). Yet the problem isn’t going away. Why?
The problem, experts say, is pretty simple: being hungry all the time is no way to diet.
Why Diets Fail
There are countless diets out there. They range from the sensible to the silly, and some have gimmicks: eat less of this or eat only that. Blend the things you eat, cut out carbohydrates, cut out gluten, cut out meat, etc., etc., etc.
But for all of this bizarre diversity in diets, they almost all have one thing in common: they require us to control our hunger.
That’s because, underneath it all, many of these diets are just calorie-deprivation diets. More goes into making us fat than calories, but “calories in, calories out” remains at least an approximation of how it all works. When we consume more fuel than we use, we gain weight–so these diets cut our fuel. Sure, it might be healthier to eat more grains or less meat or fewer carbohydrates (we’ll explain why in a bit), but many of these diets actually work by just finding reasons to ban the calorie-dense stuff that’s making us fat.
Or, at least, that’s how they would work if calorie-deprivation diets worked at all. Experts say they don’t, because that kind of deprivation can make us hungry, and big shifts in diet are hard to stick to. Even if we succeed at dropping our weight through such diets, we backslide after the diet: since such diets are temporary, we go right back to our old bad habits when the diet is over, and we gain the weight back fast.
The Right Way to Diet: Don’t Be Hungry All the Time!
The right way to diet is to make changes that are more sustainable–lifestyle changes. A truly effective “diet” isn’t a diet at all–instead, it comprises eating habits that we’ll stick to for the rest of our lives. That’s the way to avoid backsliding into bad habits. And if you’re going to stick to a diet for the rest of your life, guess what: it shouldn’t require you to feel hungry all the time. A simple change such as switching from being a regular at a fast food restaurant, to frequenting a healthy seafood restaurant instead can help you make consistently healthier choices.
But how can you eat “less” without getting hungry? Actually, there are some key strategies that make it easy.
The most obvious and important thing to consider here is what you eat. Eating foods that are less calorie-dense makes it easier to feel full without overindulging in calories, fats, and other stuff that you only want in moderation. Vegetables are key here: most of us don’t eat nearly enough of them, and that’s a big part of why we’re consuming too much energy in the process of filling our bellies.
How you eat matters, too. Eating more slowly gives the body a chance to tell you when you’re full. It takes longer than you might think for your stomach to let your brain know that it’s time to stop chowing down: about 20 minutes in all. If you eat too fast, you could end up eating more than you actually want to eat (or should want to eat) without knowing it.
Losing weight at a reasonable speed might mean combining healthy long-term eating habits with increased moderation, and that’s okay–though it will require a bit more willpower on your part. To feel less hungry, consider getting a bit more protein, which is very filling. You can also use safe supplements to suppress appetite, like Lipodrene.
As you near your goals, you should begin to fall into a healthy eating rhythm that allows you to eat normal portions and feel full. With proper use of the strategies above, you should feel happy and full–and ready to maintain these habits for a long, healthy lifetime!