The world of fat loss can be such a confusing place. One day you’re being told that you need to cut carbs, then you’re being told you need to cut fats.
One diet tells you to eat more protein. One diet tells you to eat no protein
One person says that shakes are the way to go. The next person says that you should stick with whole foods.
This constant back and forth can be enough to drive someone crazy. As a matter of fact, I imagine it’s driven you crazy once or twice in your life.
Well, I want to help you think outside of nutrition for just a second. We’re going to take some time to look at what we might be able to do INSTEAD of change our nutrition to help with fat loss. But, before we get into that, let’s look at a couple of reasons why we’ve gotten into this obesity mess anyway.
From Standing to Sitting
Over the past 100 years or so, we have slowly gone from a blue collar labor workforce to a white collar knowledge workforce. And, because of this, we have become more sedentary over that same amount of time.
At the turn of the 20thcentury, factories were booming and the American workforce was up on its feet, pulling, digging, pushing, carrying its way to prosperity.
Somewhere in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a shift started to happen. With the advent of the computer and increased potential of technological innovations, the American workforce started to become more and more knowledge-based. We needed more people sitting at desks, processing papers, plugging in codes, and developing software, and less people running the lines.
Why this history lesson? Because this change in work environment over the years has decreased the amount of physical activity that the average American gets to a significant degree.
To go along with this decrease in activity, we’ve started to develop chronic diseases like they’re going out of style. The rates of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers have drastically increased over this period of time.
This is one often overlooked transition that played a part in so many Americans are overweight today.
From Small Plates to Big Plates
Another transition that happened during this time was much more subtle.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the average dinner plate size was between 7 and 9 inches. If you got a tape-measurer out and pulled it to 8 inches (the average of these 2), you would see that this is almost the size of our current “side dish” plates.
Today, our dinner plates are typically in the range of 11 to 12 inches. 11 to 12 inches! That’s at least a 25% increase in plate size over the past 50 years.
Again, plates are typically not something we think about contributing to our weight…but maybe it does?
From Clear Drinks to Sugary Drinks
In 1886, a man named Dr. John Smith Pemberton derived a concoction to help his patients with headaches. The formula was not very successful in helping his patients, but it was a tasty drink none-the-less.
So, instead, Pemberton decided to sell the drink as a fountain drink, starting its slow, yet inevitable, climb as an American icon.
The drink the Pemberton sold was Coca-Cola, and, today, there are about 800,000,000 Cokes sold a day. As a matter of fact, about 50% of Americans drink soda on a daily basis. And those 50% drink on average 3 sodas a day.
Now, this is not accounting for any other sugar-based drink such as Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Teas, Lattes and so on. This is soda only.
Needless to say, drinking things with added sugar in them can add up quick. And, since the advent of Coca-Cola in the 1890s, we’ve become sugar consuming machines.
What Does This Have to do With Fat Loss?
That’s a great question. Obviously the 3 stories from above are generally unrelated. One of them talks about working, another about plates and the last about sugary drinks.
But, although we talk so much about nutrition and the changes we need to make to what we eat, it is easy to overlook some simple changes we can start to make that can have an impact on our fat loss and total health.
3 Non-Nutrition Tips for Fat Loss
Which brings me to the 3 Non-nutrition tips for fat loss. If you implement these tips alone, you will likely start to make progress toward your fat loss goals. And likely what will happen is, you will build off of these habits, breeding greater and greater success over time. Because success leads to success.
#1) GET MORE NEAT IN YOUR LIFE
Exercise is another area that’s talked about a lot. And it can also be confusing to know which type of exercise is best to help burn the most calories and get us healthier. While, of course, I’m biased in many ways to that question, I’d like to offer a different type of solution that can help you today.
Activity makes up 30% of our daily energy expenditure. When I say energy, what I mean is calories. Calories are simply little packets of energy either burned or stored for later use.
Within activity you have 2 categories: exercise and NEAT. For the average person, an exercise session burns about 300-500 calories. In activity category of burning energy, we can have 2,000 calorie. That means the other 1700-1500 calories can be attributed to NEAT.
So, what is NEAT? NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the amount of energy (calories) you burn doing everything else in your life that is not exercise. Remember when I talked about the change in workforce from standing to sitting? This is where that calorie deficit starts to fit in.
Something you might want to do, then, is start to move more while you’re at work. You can do this by doing something I call Intermittent Stretching. Set a timer to go off every 60 minutes. When the timer goes off, get up and walk around for 3-5 minutes. Not only will this allow you to increase the amount of NEAT in your life, you will also increase your productivity (trust me, try it).
#2) GET SMALLER PLATES
Research shows that the amount of food that we eat is related to the size of our plates, not necessarily to the amount of food available.
For instance, if you’re at Thanksgiving dinner, you will likely go back for seconds (and possibly thirds depending on if there’s any of grandma’s sweet potato casserole left). Research shows that, no matter how big your plate is, you’re going to go back the same amount of times.
We’re taught as youngsters to eat everything on our plates. I’m sure you’ve heard more than once “there’s starving children in Africa”. While I would agree there are starving children in Africa, I would disagree that growing away a few bites of food has any impact on whether or not they’re actually going to get food today.
So, sense we eat everything on our plates, next time you’re at the Thanksgiving buffet line, grab a smaller plate to help your figure.
#3) ONLY DRINK WATER
Okay, this one is kind of nutrition based, but it is GROSSLY overlooked. Above I talked about soda consumption. To review, the average soda drinker drank 3 sodas a day. That’s 450 calories a day…in soda.
For sugary drinks all together, they account for 39% of the sugar in the average Americans diet…39%! This includes soda, fruit drinks, fruit juices, Gatorade, powerade, teas, lattes, flavored waters…the list goes on.
So, needless to say, we are bombarded with sugary drinks. Many of them claiming to be healthy for you (this is another talk for another day). Understandably, it can be easy to get caught in the trap of consuming too many of these drinks while increasing the calories you’re taking in.
Do yourself a favor and stick to water. If you’re really disciplined, you can also go with black coffee or tea that you dip yourself. Otherwise, water it is.
Actually, I challenge you to try this for 2 weeks and see how you feel. Once you get past the headaches and migraines (yes, this will happen), you’ll see weight drop off and energy come back. Just try it. What do you have to lose? (the answer is weight)