If you are trying to lose weight by eating healthy fitness-friendly food, you are probably doomed. Healthy fitness-friendly foods won’t help you lose weight. In fact, they will do the opposite – at least according to a recent study that was reported in the Journal of Marketing Research.
The main problem with the eat-healthy-to-lose-weight approach to fat loss is that gaining or losing weight has nothing to do the amount of nutrients you consume. It also has nothing to do with the type of food that you eat.
It is a calories game. And if you believe that a for-fitness meal will do any special favors for your waistline, you’ve got the basics of the game wrong. Totally wrong.
Hans Baumgartner of Pennsylvania State University and Joerg Koenigstorfer of Technische Universität München are always curious about branding. This time round, they were curious about the effect that the use of the words “Fitness” on foods had on the behavior of calorie watchers.
For their study, they decided to use a couple of snacks. They slapped the words “fitness” on some of the snacks. The rest, they just gave them their basic name. ( To make sure that the message was loud n clear, they even added a picture of running shoes on the “fitness” branded snacks). And then they started running their experiment.
What they found out
People who watched their weight tended to consume more of the “fitness” branded snacks – volume wise. Consuming the snacks also made them to exercise less.
Essentially, the branding made the weight-conscious group think that since they were eating “healthy”, they had the right not only to eat more but also to not exercise as much. They assumed that consuming something that was supposedly healthy gave them a free pass. This is of course not true.
The problem with eat healthy to lose weight approach to fat loss
More calories in
Calories are calories. Your body doesn’t care about the packaging that comes with the food. Or the food itself.
Food, no matter how healthy or fitness-friendly, has calories. It is true that most of the for-fitness foods have relatively lower calories per volume/weight. But they still have calories.
Therefore, if the effect of knowing that you are eating healthy and fitness friendly food leads you to eat more of the food, you are basically doing more harm than good – at least as far as your weight is concerned.
The point is that the small calories eventually stack up because of the amount that you end up consuming.
Less calories out
The other effect that the researchers noted was that the branding made people exercise less. It didn’t matter whether they had taken a lot of the so-called healthy snacks. The thought that they had eaten something that was good for their bodies made them assume that they didn’t need as much exercise as before.
The Resultant Effect Is Massive Weight Gain
With more calories in and less calories out, it is no surprise that the faithful food-watching efforts, of most people, never pay off. They usually lose the weight loss war simply because the knowledge that they are eating healthy usually cheats them into adopting bad weight loss habits.
The Take: Never take your eyes off what matters
The key is focusing on the simple weight loss equation.
What you eat doesn’t really matter. How much you eat doesn’t really matter. How much you exercise doesn’t really matter.
What really matters is how many calories go into your body and how many calories you lose. If more go in and less come out, you will gain weight. And if what comes out is more than what goes into your body, you will lose weight. It’s a simple calories game with simple basic rules. You want to win? Respect the rules.