Cypress Heart & Vascular Center

You do not need to exercise in order to lose weight. The average sedentary American adult will passively burn approximately 2,000-2,500 calories every day. Consider this an enormous gift! Our bodies are highly sophisticated and require enormous amount of energy for routine function. For comparison, running an entire mile will only burn approximately 100 calories—that’s less than 5% of your passive daily calorie burn!

The single most important thing you can do to lose weight is reading nutrition labels on everything you buy at the grocery store. It will add just a few minutes to your trip but end up saving you thousands of unnecessary calories in the long. Unless otherwise discussed with your healthcare team, you should be looking for low-calorie, high-protein foods. This will cause you to feel full, but not leave you with a sugar crash and hunger pains.

I recommend keeping it simple by looking at just two different numbers on the nutritional label—the total calories per serving and the total grams of protein per serving. In general, it is okay to eat any food where there is at least 1g of protein per 10 calories. For example, look at one of my very favorite super foods: Greek Yogurt.

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This yogurt has 110 calories and 17g of protein per serving! Instead of grabbing a bowl of ice cream to satisfy a post-dinner sweet tooth, I will have a few scoops of this delicious vanilla yogurt. Once you wean your body off excessively sweet artificial sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, you will more readily be able to appreciate its intrinsic sweetness.

But buyer beware! Not all Greek yogurt is created equal. For example, a brand like “The Greek Gods” has a whopping 210 calories per serving and only 7g of protein per serving. This brand has lots of added fat and sugar in order to artificially sweeten the yogurt, make you feel happy (temporarily), and subconsciously drive you to buy it again.

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Compare these two Greek yogurts side-by-side. One is low-calorie, high-protein, and one has 15 grams of added (i.e., unnecessary) sugar.

The more you start looking at nutrition labels on every single food you buy, the more you will find outrageous amounts of added sugar and calories. It become a sort of sport. With a little bit of upfront effort, you can easily substitute more protein-dense options into your diet and watch the pounds melt away.

Michael J. Hermelin, MD