What Is The Best Way To Lose Weight?

“The Best Diet Is The One You Don’t Know You’re On ” – Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating

Did you ever try to lose weight? The most common practice to shed a few (or more) pounds is to go on a diet.  How successful is this strategy?  Some studies suggest that as many as 95% of people who lose weight by dieting gain it back in 5 years.   Other studies put this number at around 65%. But no one debates that a majority of people do gain back their weight after dieting.

Why Don’t Diets Have Long Lasting Impact?

In his book Mindless Eating – which  is my favorite book on understanding how we consume food – Brian Wansink says that most dieters are trying to lose weight as fast as possible and therefore use food deprivation as a technique for weight loss. When you suddenly deprive your body of say 500 – 1,000 fewer calories per day , your body is continually looking for those lost calories. And  slowly but surely it finds a way to get those calories back.

What Is The Best Way To Lose Weight?

Again, in Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink shares a story about his colleague:
One collegue of mine, Cindy, had lost around 20 pounds during her first 2 years at a new job. When I asked how she lost the weight, she couldn’t really answer.  Afte some persistent questioning, it seemed that the only deliberate change she’d made two years earlier was to give up caffeine.  She switched from coffee to herbal tea. That didn’t seem to explain anything.
“Oh yeah,” she said, “and because I gave up caffeine, I also stopped drinking Coke.”  She had been drinking about six cans a week – far from a serious habit – but the 139 calories in each Coke translated into 12 pounds a year. She wasn’t even aware of why she’d lost weight.  In her mind all she’d done was cut out caffeine.
In a classic article in Science, Drs. James O. Hill and John C. Peters suggested that cutting only 100 calories a day from our diets would prevent weight gain in most of the U.S. population.

How Much Weight Will You Lose?

When you cut around 100 calories per day, your body barely notices the difference, and you end up losing weight over a period of time.  Brian Wansink calls this slight drop in daily calories the Mindless Margin. He suggests that a simple way to estimate how much weight you would lose is to divide the calories of the things you give up by 10.  So for example giving up one 140 calorie soft drink each day equates losing 14pounds per year.

How Do You Cut Calories?

You are not looking to do anything drastic to your eating habits. Just keep an eye on what your daily habits are and try to trim a little here and there.  One way to do this is (like Cindy above) give up say that cup of orange juice in the morning.  However, a better way to practice is to cut out 10-20% of the portion size that you generally eat.  For example pour only 80 – 90% of that orange juice that you usually pour in the cup.  If you generally eat two slices of pizza, eat slightly less than 2 slices.


Leave a Comment

  • Ree March 6, 2013, 3:20 pm

    After 45 years of dieting, I believe this 100%. Now to put it into patient practice.

  • Hannah February 21, 2016, 5:59 am

    Try to incorporate seeds and nuts. High in careoils but also HIGH in nutrients like fiber, iron, vitamins a,e etc . Try to eat a small handfull a day and before you know it your taking in more careoils without gaining weight.