Are there magical scientific discoveries that will allow you to lose weight with little effort? Can you control your weight or experience significant weight loss by taking a few expensive diet pills each day? In the latter part of the 1800's in the United States, a common sight in small towns was the traveling medicine show. One of the products featured for sale in most of these shows was "Snake Oil." Touted as being good for many health problems, snake oil was probably somewhat useful in the treatment of sore muscles and maybe even arthritis. However, it's positive effect wasn't because of the promises of the salesmen touting its miraculous properties, but because the combination of soothing ingredients like camphor and menthol along with the physical benefit of gentle rubbing or massage, resulted in a few happy customers. Since most of the claims made to sell as much product as possible to the hopeful and gullible were entirely bogus, our common reference to liars and cheats is frequently "snake oil salesmen."
So, how is this related to losing weight and embracing the latest easy diet? If you have found this article, you have undoubtedly read many articles, claims and advertisements for diet pills or books and tapes about how to lose weight and succeed at dieting with minimal effort and commitment. You may have even had limited success in your weight loss efforts after purchasing this or that product, book or system. The fact is that many of these flashy and slick solutions to overweight and obesity have a small sliver of reality embedded in their excessive claims and promises, just like the camphor or menthol in the snake oil formulations of old. However, real success with dieting and losing weight requires discipline and a realistic approach to the fundamentals of why people gain too much weight in the first place. No magic diet pill, weight loss product or system can change this reality.
The reason people gain weight and find it hard to lose weight is because they take in more calories than they burn. It is simple math, although the metabolic rates of individual people vary greatly, and the ease with which they can balance caloric input and output also varies. Certainly good selection and balance of food composition plays a role in maintaining your ideal weight, but whether you focus on high protein, or high carbohydrate, or low fat, the two most important factors in successful weight loss are total calories and total exercise. By eating less and exercising more, you will modify and stabilize your weight, but not overnight. In addition to the discipline of managing calories and exercise, it is vital to cultivate the patience to allow time to pass so your weight loss program can work. The small daily increments of progress will add up to measurable and satisfying results.
Now back to snake oil. You know and I know that if something sounds too good to be true, it is probably not true. While there are some diet programs and weight loss products that can be helpful with your dieting objectives, there are many diet programs and claims out there that are not worth your time and investment. Your common sense, intelligence and knowledge can guide you toward beneficial methods for losing weight while maintaining good nutrition and away from modern day snake oil. There are good people out there selling good weight loss products, but there are also scoundrels selling nothing but snake oil. You can tell the difference. Don't be suckered by promises of "weight loss secrets," "diet miracles," or "fat burning breakthroughs." The keys to success in losing weight are calorie control, balanced nutrition, exercise and patience.