Ditch the Diet, Lose the Weight

Massive Hamburger, isolated on white - cheese, tomato, lettuce, 3 burgers, loads of bread.
Massive Hamburger, isolated on white – cheese, tomato, lettuce, 3 burgers, loads of bread.

RISE BEFORE THE SUN, jog before breakfast, and eat three home-cooked meals interspersed with protein-and fiber-rich snacks. Hit the gym every day and renounce beer, Chinese takeout, and any food that’s breaded, battered, fried, or sweetened.

That’s it: Your blueprint for superlative health. If that sounds doable, you can stop reading now.

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Still with us? Good. You’re human. And you’re busy. Chances are you’ve occasionally ordered greasy takeout while crunching a deadline, or scarfed down a candy bar as you rushed to a meeting. Real life interferes with diets—and maybe that’s why a UCLA analysis of eight studies found that about 40 percent of dieters regain lost weight or even exceed their prediet weight after 4 or more years. It’s tough to stick to a diet that doesn’t adapt to your life.

Another problem with diets: They’re usually built on self-denial, and people (most people, at least) aren’t masochists. “Anytime you withhold something enjoyable from somebody, whether it’s television or affection or pizza, they’ll resist it for only so long,” says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., the author of Mindless Eating. “Those are deprivation diets. Effective in the short run, but not sustainable.”

So we came up with an antidiet. Our plan is flexible enough to fit your schedule and realistic enough to keep you from feeling deprived. We’ve started you off with a day of nutrient-dense eating. From there, use the checklists to guide your choices. Turns out you don’t have to be superhuman to shrink your belly.


The Checklist

  • Can at least half the foods in this meal be described as protein sources?
  • Does this meal make up about a quarter of my day’s calories? That’s 550 for a 2,200-calorie diet, a reasonable goal for an average-height, 30-year-old man who’s moderately active and looking to lose weight.
  • If there’s bread, a muffin, or cereal, is it made from whole grains?


Too busy for breakfast? That’s dangerous thinking. A University of Massachusetts medical school study found that people who regularly skipped breakfast had a risk of obesity that was 4 1/2 times greater than those who routinely ate a morning meal. And when University of Minnesota researchers followed a group of high school students for 5 years, they found that the body mass indexes (BMIs) of students who always skipped breakfast were about 30 percent higher than those of students who ate every morning.

But don’t eat just anything. In a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who ate egg-based breakfasts consumed about 20 percent fewer calories during the day than those whose breakfasts were based on bread alone. The protein in those eggs may increase satiety and delay hunger pangs.

So how in the name of Jimmy Dean should you eat those eggs? Pair them with whole-grain bread and a lean protein like ham for a smart sandwich that will fuel your race to the office.

At Home
Thomas’ Light Multi-Grain English Muffin
Protein is crucial for satiety—but so is fiber. This Thomas’ English muffin contains more fiber than a half cup of garbanzo beans.

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