Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Economists' Diet: Advice From Two Formerly Fat Economists on How to Lose Wight

Rob Barnett, before and after
Economists Christopher Payne and Rob Barnett are out with a new book, The Economists' Diet: The Surprising Formula for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off.

From the blurb:
Combining the authors’ personal weight-loss stories with their passion for economics, this bold new behavioral approach to dieting recommends micro habits and meta-rules that will enable dieters to control their impulses to overeat, approach food in a healthier way, and lose weight once and for all.

Chris Payne and Rob Barnett are two formerly obese economists who met while working at Bloomberg. They faced the same obstacles to healthy living that so many others face today: long hours, endless stress, constant eating out, and snacking out of boredom. When they finally decided to do something about it, they lost weight by applying what they know best—economics—to their waistlines.

The Economists’ Diet outlines a straightforward, sustainable path for changing your eating habits. By combining economic principles, real-world data, and their own personal experiences, this guide teaches you how to control your impulses to overeat and learn how to approach food in a healthier way. Payne and Barnett provide simple solutions that you can use to achieve lasting results, without extreme dieting or giving up your favorite foods. By applying economic concepts, such as supply and demand, budgeting, and abundance, The Economists’ Diet is a unique and effective way to lose weight—and successfully keep it off.

Here are some tips in the book via Business Insider:
Use meta-rules to minimize the chance of making bad choices ...

A meta-rule is a
guideline you set in advance that covers all situations. The authors say they borrowed the term from Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University.

An example of a meta-rule is "Unless it's a special occasion, I never have seconds," or "During the week, I always have salad for lunch."

The idea behind meta-rules is that you're eliminating as much choice as possible.

"The more times you present yourself with a choice, the more possibility there is to do something that you're trying not to do," Payne said.

Using meta-rules is also less mentally exhausting. Payne says that if you're trying to lose weight, it's best to just not have whatever you're trying to avoid eating in your home. Otherwise, you'll have to make a decision every night about whether to indulge.

Barnett and Payne are hardly the only people to minimize decision-making to achieve a health goal.

Max Levchin, a PayPal founder who's now the CEO of the online lending service Affirm, previously told Business Insider's Alyson Shontell about the importance of consistency in his fitness regimen.

"So long as your daily default is 'Be on the bike,' some days you'll miss because you're traveling or you're sick," he said. "But most of the time, you'll just get up, and get on a bike first thing in the morning, which is what I do."

Stick with a boring diet

"A boring diet is a slimming diet," Barnett said.

It goes back to the concept of diminishing returns.

To use Barnett's example: If you eat a single Oreo, you're going to enjoy it — but "if you eat a full bag of Oreos, by the time you eat the last one, you're not going to get nearly as much happiness or utility out of it."

He added: "If you restrict your food choices day in and day out, no matter what kind of preferences you have for food, you're going to get bored with it."

Both Barnett and Payne said they eat a salad for lunch every weekday.

"I've gotten to like salads over the years, but I don't have the urge to overeat a salad," Payne said.

When Payne goes to Starbucks, he orders an Americano with a dash of nonfat milk.

What's more, when you do allow yourself to splurge, depending on your specific meta-rules, you'll enjoy it that much more.

Weigh yourself every day to keep the numerical goal in mind

This weight-loss strategy is more controversial than the others. But the authors say it has worked for them.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Obesity found that overweight men who weighed themselves every day and received visual feedback about their weight trajectories lost more weight than their counterparts who didn't weigh themselves as frequently, and that they were better able to maintain the weight loss.

And a study published in 2016 in the International Journal of Obesity yielded similar findings in women.

Other experts advise against weighing yourself every day. Moran Cerf, a professor of business and neuroscience at Northwestern University who has been studying decision-making for over a decade, told Business Insider's Chris Weller that people should weigh themselves just once a week.

One dietitian told USA Today she didn't recommend daily weigh-ins for most clients.

"You can get lost in those numbers and start to identify your self-worth with what's on the scale," she said.

Stop tracking everything else

Still, Barnett and Payne call weight loss an "empirical process."

"You're basically a scientist of your own body," Payne said. Weigh yourself in the morning, see whether the number has gone up or down, reflect on what you ate the day before, and tweak as necessary.

Interestingly, the authors don't recommend tracking anything but your weight. Barnett argued that if your weight is what you're trying to control, that's the only thing you should keep tabs on — not, for example, how many steps you take.

Barnett put it in very frank terms.

"Your obesity — or lack thereof — it's not a secret to anyone," he said. "You should get acquainted with that number."

He added: "It really is a life-changing thing to add this to your daily routine."


No comments:

Post a Comment