I train clients in basic barbell movement as a side hustle and while I’ve tried some unusual approaches to dieting that make sense to/for me, they are far from the mainstream of dietary practice or science. In other words, they’re not what I would recommend to the general population. That being said, I do think that for individuals trying to lose weight there are some pieces of the puzzle that could get you 50-80% of the way toward your goals without creating a major hassle in your life. These are the low-hanging fruit of weight loss:
- Stop drinking calories. No cream or sugar in coffee or tea. No milk, no fraps, no soda, no juice. Don’t do it. When I was a barista, we served a blended coffee beverage that had nearly 1,100 calories in it. People would drink it with a 700 calorie piece of cheese cake. Don’t do this. If you had three of these in a week with normal meals, you could feasibly have gained a pound of extra fat if the frap takes you above maintenance calories.
- Pick a number of meals to eat during the day and stick with it. Whether three or two, eat those meals and no more and no less. When you’re losing weight, outside of certain methods, you’re just going to feel hungry, accept that now to make serious progress.
- Make your first meal, whether breakfast or lunch, high protein. I recommend eggs, chicken, cottage cheese, red meat, or pork. Protein is satiating. Protein plus fat or protein plus a carb will be even more filling. But if you can eat more protein for your first meal, there is some evidence that this helps your body burn more fat for energy through the day.
- Track your meals and snacks (though quitting snacking is wise). Peter Drucker was fond of saying, if it isn’t measured, it isn’t managed. If you want to manage whether you’re following these rules, then you need to measure what you’re doing by writing it down. I recommend getting a moleskine notebook, though you can just use your phone. If you plan, for instance, to only eat dessert on Sundays, you’ll want to know if you screwed up.
- Only buy food for your planned meals. No eating out, no snacks at work, not junk food at home (throw it away). If the garbage isn’t there it won’t be eaten. Will you have to cook and store food? Yes. Will it be worth it? Only if you want to lose weight.
There are more things to do. You’ll notice I left of counting calories. Why? It’s not low-hanging fruit because few adhere to it. There’s a progression here. Get discipline in recording meals, cutting desserts, and planning to eat, and counting calories for 2-3 meals a day will be a breeze.
If you decide to pick these fruit, you’ll find that about two days in something will try to interrupt you. You’ll say, “well, I can start tomorrow.” No. Don’t do it, don’t give in. The fact is that every time you start something new, an event that wouldn’t register in your mind as significant will suddenly be used by your brain as an excuse to revert to old habits. Everytime my evenings get too busy to lift weights and I set my alarm for 4:30 or 5am, my daughter has a bad sleep night on the first or second attempt. My thoughts: “I guess this is a bad day to train.” This is false, I wouldn’t have even changed a thing about my day if I was training in the evening. Don’t treat normal events as portents of bad timing on your part.