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How do I lose weight?
Category: Happy Eating

What would you tell someone who wants to lose weight? People keep asking me and then not liking my answer, which is "eat less." :-) 

That's not what they want. They want the rules, the ratios, the timing, the research, a calorie level, a rundown of good foods and bad foods. They want all the hows and whys and exceptions. I suppose I'm known for being into that. I'm the resident diet geek or whatever. I used to go on and on about those things. Eat every 2-3 hours, protein at every meal, starchy carbs post-workout, 40/40/20, 40/30/30, BMR, zig-zags, net carbs, insulin, blaaaaaaaa....

So, now when someone I know wants to lose weight, they remember all those droning sounds I used to make about carb cycling or fasted morning cardio or whatever, and they're like, no, tell me all the important details. You know what? Those details aren't important. 

Brad Pilon had a clever little post about Cocaine, Fasting and Weight Loss. He says:

We don't help cocaine addicts by teaching them about the metabolism of serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine re-uptake inhibitors or the hormonal implications of cocaine use, yet we try and help people lose weight by teaching them about hormones, metabolic pathways and glucose chemistry.

His point is that we should be paying attention to habits, lifestyle, emotional, and environmental factors, not pointy-headed broscience. I thought that was awesome!

I also loved this comment by Josh Hillis. He recently cut 10 pounds and someone asked him how he did it. He said:

The magic pill: *Less* total calories, *more* protein, *better* carbs (mostly fruit, vegetables, and brown rice)

That's pretty damn concise and effective! In fact, the next time someone asks me how to lose weight, that might be my canned "cocktail party" answer - fewer calories, more protein, better carbs.

Beyond that, I would tell someone to look at the big picture of weekly food intake. Where are you taking in calories that you could do without? You know, the eating that is pointless, excessive, or not that enjoyable. That's the first to go. Which eating opportunities do you LOVE and really look forward to? Pizza night? Sunday pancakes? Those have to stay. How could you modify them or compensate for the splurge? Once you find the "must haves" and "gotta goes" then you can work on the quality/quantity of your daily meals by maximizing the protein, plants, healthy fats, and whole foods, minimizing (but not eliminating) the goodies, and developing an awareness of portions. I'd explain about using results as a guide. If your results are good, you keep doing what you're doing. If there are no results, you make adjustments until you're seeing positive changes.

Then I'd talk about moving more with activities you enjoy. I actually really like Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint advice to: move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, sprint once in a while, play, and get enough sleep. It's not about sets, reps, and cardio minutes, or finding the perfect training split. It's about creating a generally active lifestyle and then keeping it.

So, that's some really different advice than I would have given 10 years ago! :-D

What about you? Someone walks up to you and says, how do I lose weight? Based on your experience, what would you tell them? What do you wish someone had told you?

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