Losing the Football Gut

Updated on February 9, 2018
Carolyn M Fields profile image

Lifelong learner, musician, author, world traveler, truth enthusiast, and all around bon vivant.

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How to Lose the Football 15

You’ve heard of the freshman 15? It refers to the 10 – 15 pounds that college freshmen typically gain during their first year away at school. There is a similar phenomenon during football season. Many football fans tend to pack on the pounds during the season. It’s due in part to the hours sitting in front of the TV snacking and drinking adult beverages. It’s also due to a general decline in activity during the winter months.

Whatever the cause, the result is tight fitting pants, less energy, and possibly other health problems. The day after the Super Bowl is typically a turning point, when men set aside their beer and chips, and get out the running shoes and dumbbells. But is that all there is to it? What about a plan to increase your odds of success? I’ve analyzed four popular approaches to weight loss to help you decide.

Nutrisystem for Men

It’s no mistake that you see more Nutrisystem ads targeted at men during February. Sales of Nutrisystem for Men spike right after Super Bowl. Here’s an idea of what to expect if you pick this plan:

  • Food is delivered right to your door (except fresh fruits and vegetables, which you’ll need to buy separately).
  • You’ll eat six smaller meals a day, so you’re never more than a couple hours away from eating again. This, by the way, is a theme of many diet programs out there, so take note.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to dine out or cook for yourself four times a week. This is designed to help you learn the skills to eat healthy on your own, after the program is over.
  • There is free weight loss counseling and multiple online resources.
  • Expect an average weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, but as much as 18 pounds in the first month for some individuals.

What’s the catch, you ask? As far as I can see, it’s mainly the price. The least expensive program is $320 for the first month, but only if you select auto-delivery. And don’t forget, that’s only for program foods. You still need to buy fresh produce, and four flex meals per week. If money isn’t an issue, then this simple and straight-forward program may be the one for you.

The other “hidden” catch is that many men use Nutrisystem to take off 10 or 15 pounds, and then go right back to their old eating habits. You won’t find that in the program literature.

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The Paleo Diet

That’s right, Paleolithic, as in the Stone Age. In other words, you eat like a caveman. What sounds like a joke, is actually a real program based on the premise that our bodies will thrive if we limit ourselves to foods available in Paleolithic times. That would include veggies, fruits, meats, fish, certain fats, nuts, and seeds. It cuts out grains, soy, refined sugars, processed foods, alcohol, dairy, and just about anything that was not available before the development of agriculture.

The kicker is that you won’t necessarily lose weight on this diet plan. It’s intended mainly as a way to improve your eating habits, and you could even gain weight if you eat too much animal fat. Personally, I think it’s pseudo-science at best. The restrictions are difficult to follow, and the plan is also lacking in certain vitamins and minerals (e.g., B vitamins, calcium, etc.). Unless you have a burning desire to connect with your ancient ancestors, I’d steer clear.

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet is another variation on the high protein, low carb diet that was introduced as far back as the Stillman diet (which was created in 1967). Stillman’s original high protein diet includes lean beef, veal, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and non-fat cottage cheese. Tea, coffee, and non-caloric soft drinks, as well as fat-free condiments (e.g., herbs, tabasco sauce) are also permitted. Also, dieters eat six small meals, rather than three large ones, and drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

Atkins introduced his version of the high protein, low-carb diet in 1972. For whatever reason, his version is the one that caught on, introducing a low-carb revolution. The main feature of either the Stillman or Atkins diet is restricting carbs in favor of high protein meals. This also means that you don’t have to count calories, which seems to be a deal breaker for many men. When you reduce your carbohydrate intake and eat more protein, you tend to eat fewer calories automatically because your appetite seems to go down.

Atkins updated the program in 2015. The Atkins 40 version of the program allows up to 40 net grams of carbohydrates per day. Limiting carbs this way helps you rev up your fat-burning metabolism, where the body uses stored fat for fuel instead of sugars. This version of the program is easier to stick to than the original, but still cuts out a lot of favorite foods.

Weight Watchers Freestyle

Hang on; Weight Watchers isn’t just for women. Despite the fact that you’ll see Oprah in many of the TV commercials, the plan has a version for both sexes (men get to eat more on the program – yeah!). Also, the recently introduced Freestyle plan has the least “tracking” of any program to date.

If you don’t like going to meetings and “sharing,” you don’t have to. You can do the program totally online these days. However, I wouldn’t write off the meetings entirely until you’ve at least tried them a few times. You’ll find “real life” ideas and tips from fellow members that you won’t find in the program instructions.

Here’s the deal with Weight Watchers that makes it different than all the others: you can eat any food you like, bar none. You just can’t eat them all in one sitting. It’s all about portion control. Also, with the new “rollover” feature, you can save up for a splurge day, and still be on program. Add some activity, and you can “earn” even more points to enjoy the foods you love.

Which Diet is Best?

Actually, there is no single “best” diet for men (or women). The best diet is the one you will stick with, week after week, until you reach your goal. To answer that question, you’re going to need to jump in and try one (or more) out. The only diet that absolutely will not work is the one you don’t start. So, get out there and get going. And good luck with whatever you choose.

Have you ever tried a commercial diet before?

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© 2018 Carolyn Fields

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  • Carolyn M Fields profile image
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    Carolyn Fields 2 months ago from South Dakota, USA

    Vladimir and Jerry, true, no "diet" works in the long run. That's why I prefer Weight Watchers . . . because it's truly a lifestyle program that you use the rest of your life. Caitlin - have you tried the new Freestyle on WW? Lots of "zero" point protein. Kinda reminds me of Atkins in a way . . . Thanks for reading!

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    Caitlin Goodwin 2 months ago from Walt Disney World, FL

    I struggle to lose weight on WW, but always take it off on Atkins. I find that a long term solution is the thing that’s hardest for me!!

    Also, I actually like the paleo diet as described in this blog: http://www.christopherjamesclark.com/blog/the-pale...

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    jerrymintz 2 months ago

    Diet, of course, but one that works for you, trial and error. All diets work, and they all eventually fail

  • ValKaras profile image

    Vladimir Karas 2 months ago from Canada

    Carolyn---Just adding a little to your very informative and well written article: since stress hormone cortisol tends to make us fat, and fridge has become a "therapist" where we find fixes for our depression, anger, anxieties, frustrations, etc...we might as well first take care of our stress management, and then decide what diet best appeals to us, respecting our biological individuality.

    In all likelihood, it should be an easy decision. I mean, people usually see solutions for their weight in their life-style, instead of in their mind-style. This is basically why NO diet works, as people slip back to their comfort zone of resorting to the goodies of the good, old "doctor Fridge". I hope you may agree.

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