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Weight Loss Secrets from Around the World, Starting with the Japanese and Korean

Updated on February 6, 2014
anglnwu profile image

As a certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits, and how to keep weight in check.

Weight loss secrets to help you lose extra pounds.
Weight loss secrets to help you lose extra pounds.

After writing the hub “Chinese Girl Shares Chinese Weight Loss Secrets,” I’m keenly aware that other cultures have their own weight loss secrets as well. We’ve all heard of the French paradox, the Mediterranean diet and the Okinawan phenomena but there are more out there. So, being the self-appointed research sleuth that I’m, I set off on a global search to hunt down weight loss secrets. My fingers did a lot of walking across the keyboard, my eyes took in a whole lots of sights (words and statistics, books) and my brain did loads of sieving through the information to arrive at some solid secrets. These are presented to you in bite-size morsels of information, so you can easily incorporate them into your daily life and reap the benefits of informed eating to achieve a fitter, healthier you.

  • Time Out

        Okinawa, Japan

Okinawans live on a group of small islands 640 kilometers south of Japan and eat lots of fish and their average BMI is 21.5. Is that it? The fish diet? According to Bradley Willcox, M.D., co-author of The Okinawan Diet Plan, Okinawans know a thing or two about how the brain is wired—their traditional diet, they called it hara hachi bu—dictates that they stop eating when they are almost full, actually when they’re 80 percent full. How can you tell when you’re 80 percent full? Do you step on a scale or measure your food before eating? Dieting doesn’t have to be tedious—just listen to your body. Dr. Willcox suggests that you stop eating once “you feel the first twinge of fullness.” Why? It takes time for your brain to realize that you’re actually full—so give your brain a chance to tell you and your body will show the results of such restraints.

French Woman don't get fat??!!
French Woman don't get fat??!!
  • Don’t Skip Meals


Are you tired of hearing that--French woman don’t get fat? They eat three meals a day, for goodness’ sake! Precisely and it is this habit that lends them in good hands. If you skip meals, thinking you’re doing your body a service—starving it into shape—rethink that. According to Dr. David Katz, author of The Way to Eat, skipping meals cause your body to revert to its primal fear of starvation. Your body reacts by over-eating, thinking that it may go into starvation again. Eating regular meals keep your metabolism stable and your body will be so satisfied with the regular feeding that it finds no need to overeat to compensate. Why not jumpstart your day with a healthy hearty breakfast? Research shows that breakfast-eaters are slimmer and possibly happier (no growling stomach to contend with). Which takes us to the next point.

Eat a hearty breakfast and have a healthy start to your day.
Eat a hearty breakfast and have a healthy start to your day.
  • Eat Breakfast


Only 44 percent of Americans eat breakfast and most of the time, they’re grabbing something on the go –egg McMuffins, Starbucks coffee, doughnuts, bagels. If you think about it, they are mostly loaded with sugar and fats. However, 75 percent Germans enjoy a full breakfast complete with whole grain cereals and breads and fruits. We’ve been told that breakfast eaters are trimmer in the long run and now British researchers found a very pictorial way to dissuade you from skipping breakfast. They found that if you haven’t eaten breakfast, your brain’s reward center will light up more vividly when you see high-calorie food. Sad result?—you indulge and run the risk of padding your middle with unwanted calories. If you find an irresistible urge to collect that huge candy bar from the snack dispenser at mid-morning, you know why.

  • Spice It Up

Thailand, Korea, India, Indonesia and Malaysia

Hands down, Thai food is the spiciest in the world.  Korea uses chili peppers liberally on their kimchi and India has a vast array of exotic spices to season their meats and curries. Spice and all things nice—it will sculpture nice waistlines too, thanks to the fat-busting power of hot peppers. Now, that’s not just the chili lover in me speaking. Various researches have shown that the hit in hot spices can raise metabolic rate and help burn fats.  Love 2-in-1 offers? Hot spicy pepper does that, according to James Hill, ph.D, past president of the American Society for Nutrition—the little kick in hot peppers slows down your eating. OK, so what, right? Refer to point 1—eating slower gives your brain time to tell you you’re full-- an in-built weight loss strategy and you don’t even have to sweat it.

  • Size it Down

United Kingdom

You want to supersize that? No, you won’t be hearing that if you are making an order in McDonald’s in London. Brits prefer smaller portions, by virtue of their natural frugality, a trait mapped into their lifestyle when rationing was necessary during World War II.  In fact, when supersizing was introduced in United Kingdom, it was discontinued after it accounted for less than 0.1 percent of the sales. So, don’t ask for a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese—you’ll get a blank stare and “I beg your pardon?” (they can also be incredibly proper).

Come to think of it—who needs supersizing? Pare down your portions and a trimmer body will follow suit.

  • Eat at Home More Often


Does eating out make your waistline expand? Unfortunately yes--in fact, the declining practice of cooking in correlates closely to its obesity rise in society.  Foods from restaurants and fast-food joints are higher in saturated fats and calories and eating out often can pack those pounds in.  The average American family spends 37 percent of its food dollar on eating out, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.  The Poles, on the other hand, only spends five percent of their family budget on eating out.  Encourage weight loss by cooking in—you get to decide what goes into your meal and enjoy healthier foods as a result.

  • Exercise


For those of you who enjoy exercise, you’re already on the right track. If not, take a lesson from the Finns—their favorite outdoor activity is Nordic walking. It may sounds exciting but there’s nothing glamorous about this sport. All you need is a pair of inexpensive, lightweight walking poles. But don’t let that mislead you—Nordic walking works the muscles in your shoulders, arms and torso—which translates to a total body workout that actually burns 20 percent more calories, according to a study at the Cooper Institute in Dallas.

If Nordic walking is not your thing—it’s alright—exercise can take the form of many things—any form of activities that burn calories will do. Just remember, writing (I know, hubbers love this activity) is not one of them, even if you move your fingers a lot.

  • Sleep


A little nap a day keeps weight gain at bay. In Japan, it is a common practice to enjoy a daily 20- to 30 minute nap each day and they have one of the lowest obesity rates in the world. According to James Maas, PhD, a sleep researcher at the Cornell University and author of Power Sleep, depriving your body of sleep constantly can increase the risk of weight gain. Sleep deprivation signals your brain to release ghrelin, the feel “hungry” hormone. Now, that’s not a good thing—many people mistake their need to sleep as hunger and instead of getting some much needed shut-eye, they feed the hunger.

Enjoying nap time, even on board the train in Japan.
Enjoying nap time, even on board the train in Japan.
  • Eat More Pickles


There is growing evidence that acetic acid found in vinegar is an effective fat burner. Acetic acid also lowers blood sugar levels and reduces blood pressure. The Hungarians are famously known to enjoy pickled foods from pickled cucumber to bell peppers to tomatoes.  Enjoy tart treats made with vinegar and give your body the ammunition to fight fats. Don’t like pickles? How about using olive oil and vinegar on your salad instead of fat-based dressings like thousand islands or ranch? Healthy monounsaturated oils like olive oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil not only promote heart health, they are a class of fats that actually fight fats.

  • Tea Drinking

China, Japan, South Africa

Chinese people love a cup of hot tea (oolong, jasmine, chrysanthemums) with their meals. The Japanese prefer green tea and the South Africans are known for drinking rooibos tea. According to Fred Pescatore, M.D., president of the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists, “Tea drinking cultures generally have lower rates of obesity.” The tea’s polyphenols, catechins are endowed with fat-burning capabilities. Substitute soda, calorie-loaded coffee drinks, smoothies for zero fat calories fat-burning teas and save thousands of calories per month.

  • Sweat It Out

Singapore and countries near the equator

If you live near the equator, nature is definitely on your side in this weight battle. In Singapore, the humility and the heat come together to produce a natural sauna. Step outside the comforts of any air-conditioned building and the heat envelopes you in a sweat-inducing drench. Water lost through perspiration can reduce weight, even if it’s not a long-term fix. To take the sauna effect to the next level, Singaporeans are often found eating spicy food in the heat of the day, inducing even more perspiration. They walk a lot too—to the bus-stop, to the supermarket, to catch a ride on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and to their favorite food haunt to eat. I can go on and on about the many built-in weight controls that are inherently Singaporean, given the fact that I’m from Singapore, but I stop here before somebody tells me I’m biased. Well, I’m partial, how about that?

In Singapore, people hang their laundry on bamboo poles. Now, that takes some serious muscles to swing the poles full of clothes out the window--a workout on its own. And when it rains several times a day, your workout increases!
In Singapore, people hang their laundry on bamboo poles. Now, that takes some serious muscles to swing the poles full of clothes out the window--a workout on its own. And when it rains several times a day, your workout increases!

Of course, there are more weight loss secrets out there but who wants to read an article that goes on forever? Suffice to say, eating is a blessing (the Chinese are famous for saying that) and eating should be enjoyed…take a lesson from the French too—they excel at leisurely family meals and on average, 92 percent of French families dine together nightly. Take time to enjoy your food while you’re at that—according to Dr. Pescatore, “lengthy meals actually encourage less eating.”

Take these weight loss secrets and build them into your lifestyle and this weight battle may be less daunting than you think.


Submit a Comment
  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago

    Hi Claudia, so good to see you here. I believe vinegar and lemon juice (or anything sour and citrussy) help to burn fat. I love this dimension of taste. Thanks for dropping by to comment.

  • Claudia Tello profile image

    Claudia Tello 

    7 years ago from Mexico

    This is a fantastic hub, I loved how you developed the subject and I am pleased to know I actually do follow these weight loss secrets from around the world. I guess all of us food lovers are constantly reading about food and everything that has to do with it, which is bound to make one a bit wiser on that respect. However, I wasn´t aware of vinegar´s fat burning effect, even though I eat it literally every day in my salads. Every day we learn something new.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago

    Thanks, Anthony, check out your website. Looks cool.

  • profile image

    Anthony Cochran 

    9 years ago

    Regards for the excellent post. We look forward to analyzing a great deal more from one from now on.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago

    Jo Goldsmith, thanks for adding to this hub with your personal take. Glad you're making lifestyle changes that will help you stay healthy. I wish you the best of luck :)

  • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


    9 years ago

    right on! I have used green tea in place of soda. I have tried to get my 30 minute “cat nap” in at least twice a week. I try to push myself into making sure I keep up with my exercise routine. I am flirting with 40 and I have four children. I miss the days where I was able to see my abs! (Smile) I have also tried the fat burning pills, but I have stopped. I found out that they do more harm than good. An example is the Gillian Michael’s fat burning formula. I will get there eventually. I have about 15 pounds to lose yet. Ugh! Great hub!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Thanks, Ingenira, for your comments. I think most Singaporeans look included (??) Haha...

  • Ingenira profile image


    10 years ago

    another great hub! I have known many Singaporean to be very health and weight conscious, and they look good !!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Thanks, Jaymelee!

  • jaymelee23 profile image


    10 years ago from United States

    Very nice hub Anglnwu!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    fucsia, thanks!

  • fucsia profile image


    10 years ago

    very good hub!!!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Dude, it's so good to hear from u after you declared a hiatus on your hub writing. Thank you so much for your very kind comments and I appreciate every bit of it. I've followed your footsteps to Redgage but have yet to fully understand how the whole thing works. I just signed up today but definitely need to do a bit of homework to work this thing. Thanks again!

  • hypnodude profile image


    10 years ago from Italy

    Very good hub, really very good. the information are great, and true, and the pictures simply amazing. Rated, bookmarked and stumbled. And thanks.:)

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Thanks, AdamGee. I used to be a reluctant breakfast eater too--in part because I was always rushing and also, I find it hard to eat early in the morning. Now, I enjoy my breakfast before I start my day. Thanks for dropping by.

  • AdamGee profile image


    10 years ago

    I found this really helpful. It reinforced some things I already kind of figured, like the eating 80% thing. Also, I need to start eating breakfast! Thanks :)

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Trusted Marketing, thanks for your kind words and great observation. The health-food connection is closely linked and cannot be ignored in our quest for good health. Have a good day.

  • Trusted Marketing profile image

    Trusted Marketing 

    10 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    Good information.

    Seems the health - food connection just does not click for some folks. This reinforment will help. Thanks for taking the time to put it in an article, and for all the 'living it' you must have done. All with a worldcentric perspective. What a woman.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    online scam check, thanks for dropping by. Yes, there are lots of weight loss secrets out there.

  • online scam check profile image

    online scam check 

    10 years ago from United Kingdom

    Great Hub, wow! you have exposed us to the world of weight loss. Thanks

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Dohn, thanks for your vote of confidence:) Moms are so nutritionally wise--my mom too had a great figure, despite chowing down bowls of rice. There is a pet expression for us rice-eaters--"rice barrels"--do you have such an expression in your language?

    When I was writing this hub, I wonder if Americans have weight loss secret or secrets? It seems like we have diet plans and fast foods and we eat on the run--just look at the number of cup-holders in American cars. In France, you will be lucky to find a car equipped with car-holder.

    Once again, I greatly appreciate your support and love your prediction--let's hope it does.

  • dohn121 profile image


    10 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

    You did a fantastic job on this hub, anginwu. It really is incredibly how the rest of the world copes with maintaining their weight whereas the U.S. struggles with it. What is our obsession with food? I had to laugh when I read about not eating when your 80% full! My mom's been telling me and my brothers and sisters that since the cradle, lol (and we're not Japanese). She's maintained her figure forever.

    This hub is going to gain a 100 score and make it to perhaps the top of page one of HP's Hottest Hubs. I just know it!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Thanks for gracing my hub with your comments. Is that your new profile pictures? Never know with you--you're one sneaky fun girl.If it is, very cool!

    Right, workers should demand nap time, just like they have the stipulated nap time after lunch for pre-schoolers, so they don't get cranky. I know in certain cultures, workers go home for their "siesta." Spain and many Latin American cultures have this wonderful practice, why not in America? So, bring on nappypoo!

  • Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

    JG the IGNITER 

    10 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

    This was a great hub coppergurly. I do drink the green tea and yes important to have breakfast. I didn't know about napping during the day!! Very interesting! I wonder what they would think at my jobs if I just took a lil nappypoo and told them I was losing weight? The pictures were cool and I loved all the people napping on the train.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    einron, good to see u again. Love your description "spectacle of clothes." Quite a spectacle actually. Some think it looks unsightly but I think it's quite neat.

  • einron profile image


    10 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

    Very enjoyable tour of countries. Have never seen such a spectacle of clothes hanging on poles!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Thanks for dropping by, detoxguide. Actually, the bamboo poles of clothes is our way of drying clothes. Since it requires some efforts to put them out, is it quite a workout.

  • Detoxguide profile image


    10 years ago from Beverly Hills

    Very interesting article! In a weird way too. :)

    The bamboo poles clothes hanging exercise is especially interesting.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Good to see u again, BKCreative. Thanks for bookmarking it and I appreciate your comments. Yes, I love the poles of clothes too--on windy days, it's such a joy to see them flapping the wind and of course, you can pretty much gauge the fashion trend by looking at the motley ensemble.

    Thanks for visiting.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago

    Maita, you must in cloud 9 from the watching Super Bowl yesterday--enjoyed your poem. Agreed, brekie (as you called it) can make or break your day. Thanks for commenting and always a pleasure to see your lovely face.

  • BkCreative profile image


    10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    This is so great! Thanks for sharing so much of the world with us. Love those poles out the window in Singapore.

    I'll bookmark this so I can share this with friends. Thanks again. Great colorful hub - and so informative!

  • prettydarkhorse profile image


    10 years ago from US

    this is a very nice article anglnwu,

    This is almost complete tour of dieting around the world I like not skipping brekie, as it is the most important meal, if you skip it you tend to eat more the next meal, Thank you, Maita


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