Saturday, July 19, 2008

How to Lose Weight Without Dieting Or Doing More Exercise

The headline sounds like a pitch for some bullshit fad diet. But the truth is weight changes have more to do with simply the number of calories consumed compared with calories burned through exercise.

Most Americans gain some of their excess weight as the result of poorly functioning metabolism that results from factors other than calorie math.

Here's how to lose weight by giving your body what it needs for optimum health:

1. Get more sunshine

You eat when you're hungry and stop eating when you're full, right? Well that whole system -- where your brain talks to your stomach and visa versa -- needs the hormone vitamin D (it's called a vitamin, but it's a hormone), which your body makes when sunshine strikes your skin. People who don't get enough sun get the "stop eating!" message from the brain slower than people who do get plenty of sun exposure. Just catching some rays makes you lose weight.

2. Get more sleep

In addition to sunshine, your metabolism needs plenty of sleep -- eight hours for most people, more for children and athletes. Just add an hour per night to how much you sleep, and you'll lose weight.

3. Eat better food

Packaged foods, junk foods, fast foods, restaurant foods -- they all whack your metabolism and make you gain weight beyond what is natural. By simply replacing, say, 1,000 calories of white bread, mayonnaise and cold cuts with 1,000 calories of fresh, whole, raw, organic fruits, nuts, grains and other real foods, you'll lose weight. You'll get the same calories, but your body will function better with real food than it will with industrialized fake food.

4. Drink only water

Diet soda makes you gain weight, because the chemicals they add to fool your mouth into thinking it's drinking sugar messes up your metabolism. And regular soda is loaded with sugar, which causes other well-known problems. Alcohol gives you empty calories, which means you're displacing nutritional calories and messing up your body further. Even fresh fruit juice acts a bit like sugar on your system by giving you megadoses of juice beyond what nature intended (which is to eat the fruit, not just the juice). The best rule of thumb is to drink only water. And even if you replace the calories of what you might have drunk with food calories, you're still going to lose weight.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with reducing calories and getting plenty of exercise. But make sure you get what your body really needs: sun, sleep, and real food.

In ancient Sparta and the whole of the ancient world, all this came naturally. Spartans were in the sun every day, all day, often bare-ass naked. Without electricity to power lights, gadgets and alarm clocks, people slept until they got enough sleep. All the food was real. There was no junk food or convenience stores full of liquid candy (soda). And that's why obesity or even minor chubbiness was unheard of in Sparta.