This formula will never result in a best-selling diet book, but here is <drum roll, please> the Four Word Diet: Eat Less, Move More. Although some charlatans will always be peddling magic potions and so-called ‘super-scientific’ methods for shedding pounds, Caveat Emptor. There are three main ways to lose weight:
- You can eat less (e.g. reduce the input of calories).
- You can move more (e.g. increase the output of calories as energy so they are not stored as fat).
- You can do both! The best strategy is to eat less and move more as changing both variables is the most effective method.
The key to weight loss is simply to burn more calories than one has ingested on a daily basis and to do that consistently over a period of time until one achieves an ideal or target weight.
The Four Word Diet seems so simple: Eat Less, Move More. Yet, obesity is a real problem in America. Why? There are two major forces behind this:
- We eat too much. We have many opportunities to eat beyond what is truly necessary for growth or maintenance of our bodies. For most of human history, food was expensive and/or scarce. The main methods for acquiring food (hunting, gathering, and farming) were labor-intensive and did not always produce results. Also, cyclic events, such as drought, famine, and disease could greatly impact the available supply when local foodstuffs were really 99% of what was consumed by people. In 21st Century America, food is extremely cheap and abundant. It is easily procured without much effort from a fast food restaurant or a mega-sized grocery store.
- We move less than we should. Unlike most places in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, the design of cities and neighborhoods of the USA are centered on the automobile. The main assumption is that people will drive from location to location when they need to go somewhere. Although there are environmental reasons and community quality issues that should force one to question the wisdom of urban sprawl, from a wellness perspective, this has resulted in a population that is dependent on their cars. Although there are exceptions, few people can do all the following from their residence on a regular basis: walk to work, walk to the store, and walk to a nearby café or pub. There are many people who rarely have to walk more than several hundred steps each day. Of course, sedentary entertainment choices, including TV, Movies, and the Internet, contribute to this ‘moving less and less’ phenomena as well.
In our modern ecology, our health and wellness needs to be an active choice. Likewise, every single meal is choice…or should be seen as a series of choices (what kind of food to eat, how much to eat). The Four Word Diet then is based on deciding to follow those principles and make the correct choices, each day, at every meal, for a lifetime.