Is it possible to lose 49 pounds in 9 weeks as a direct result of taking a college course?
Yes it is, and I was as amazed as anyone the first time this type of result happened in my classroom.
Back in 2009, I began teaching a college course on the science of nutrition. I wanted to share with students what went into living a healthy lifestyle and provide an outlet where strategies as well as struggles could be discussed.
Weight Loss Was A Natural Side-Effect
Now it is important to note that this course was not about how to diet to lose weight. The goal was to teach students how to get rid of the junky processed and refined foods and replace them with nutrient-rich foods.
The results startled me. Even though the goal was not weight loss, weight loss was what the students were achieving. It was not unusual for students in their final week to report a weight loss of 18, 24 or even 49 pounds!
I started to analyze why this was happening and realized a few things.
1. Consuming more super foods reduces overall daily calorie intake. Students who traded in junk foods and fast foods for super foods, which I classify as food that are naturally high in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables and beans, effortlessly ate fewer calories throughout the day.
This may be due to a couple of facts. First, super foods are generally high in fiber, which expands in the digestive track and slows down the process leaving a person less likely to feel hungry. Second, super foods are packed with nutrients, but not calories.
2. Increased awareness of the effects different foods have on the body naturally leads to better food choices.
This increased awareness is not the same as dieters who get fixated on counting every calorie or gram of carbohydrate they eat. That type of obsessive focus is unhealthy and leads to overwhelm and diet failure.
3. The increased energy that comes from eating better translated into more physical activity. This increased desire to exercise may also be attributed to an overall sense that life is improving for the better (i.e. good choices tend to lead to more good choices).
Challenges with Starting a Weight Loss Plan
I also started to realize that there were some common challenges that the students were facing.
1. Money. My classes tend to be made up of older students who are returning to school in their 30’s and beyond. They came back to school to better their chances for a higher-paying and more satisfying job. They are by no means the wealthy elite.
Therefore, we had to find ways to eat healthy on a budget. While there are some super foods that are low cost, such as beans and oats, the real ‘ah-ha’ moment that meant the most to students was learning how much farther good quality foods go when feeding a family.
Yes, you could go to the drive-thru and get 10 items from the dollar menu for 10 bucks to feed your family for one night. But the volume of food will be small, lasting only that meal, and the calorie and saturated fat content will be big.
The alternative? Making a large pot of chili costs the same, 10 bucks, yet will feed the family dinner that night and lunch the next day, maybe more!
2. Time. Students are busy people. Many of my students were juggling college classes, full-time work and family. Eating healthy needed to be convenient or it was not going to work. Fruit is a convenient snack to grab-and-go, but meal planning became the key to this challenge.
When the goal is to cut down on pre-packaged, processed foods and fast foods, there is no getting around the fact that there will be some cooking that needs to be done. Laying out a meal plan for the week was important.
The other half of this equation was finding recipes that tasted good and were easy to prepare. Fortunately there are many of these; they just needed to be discovered (Download The Free 7-Day Plan Below). Also, many healthy soups and stews can be prepared in the crock-pot so they are ready to eat when the family gets home at night.
Creating A Healthy Strategy For Weight Loss
I think one of the most interesting discoveries that I have made from leading students through the process of developing a healthy eating plan that helps them lose weight is that the modern-day diet strategies (low-carb, low-fat) did not hold up to testing.
Nutritional science, especially dealing with weight loss, is a fairly young science. This may be due to the fact that the obesity epidemic did not fully blossom until the early 1980’s which by the way is the same time that highly-processed foods became common.
Could it be that all of these diet manipulations that have been emerging over the past few decades are totally unnecessary? At best, they do not work, as evidence by the obesity rate that grows every year. At worst, they are causing health problems.
The take-away from these ongoing classroom case studies is that eating more super foods and fewer junk foods limits calories allowing for a natural weight loss.
If you would like to test this weight loss plan on yourself, I have done the hard work of planning for you. I provide the full 7 Day Junk Foods to Super Foods Challenge on this website, but if you would like the complete plan in an easy to read format, you can download it below this post.