Kathleen D. Vohs, PhD, the study’s lead author and a member of the University of Minnesota’s marketing department, concluded that making choices apparently depletes a precious resource within the human mind. “Maintaining one’s focus while trying to solve problems or completing an unpleasant task was much harder for those who had made choices compared to those who had not,” says Vohs. “This pattern was found in the laboratory, classroom and shopping mall. Having to make the choice was the key. It did not matter if the researchers told them to make choices, or if it was a spontaneously made choice, or if making the choice had consequences or not.” (Source "Newswise Social and Behavioral Sciences")
How Does This Affect My Ability to Loose My Muffin Top
Dan John once said that your ability to make decisions is limited (1), just like the amount of shaving cream in a can. How does this affect your body composition? According to Dan John, you need to prepare for the week by having all your food and supplements ready to go and when it is time to eat, you just take out a container, open it up or heat it in the microwave--boom, you are done! This skips the whole decision process and thus saves "mental energy" and still allows you to make a good food selection.
Does It Work in Real Life?
YES. In chemistry (hold on, step away from the mouse and wait out that urge to clicking away from this site and I promise this will be brief) there is something known as "the rate limiting step" in a series of reactions. The reactions can't proceed any faster than this step. If you can speed up this step, you can speed up a whole series of reactions. You have probably heard "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link"--similar idea. Or the idea of a "king pin" defined as "one innermost or central pin in an arrangement of bowling pins" or "the most important person or element in an enterprise or system" (source Webster's dictionary).
The whole point is to target the rate limiting step, and your results go up exponentially with less work on your part (better leverage).
For most this comes down to simple stuff like grocery shopping and food prep. Get athletes to have all their food ready to go, and BINGO much better nutrition!
So the point is that despite what you think, there is mounting evidence that your ability to make lots and lots of decisions for free is not possible. In fact, your ability to make decision is limited, so you need to plan ahead for success!
1) John, Dan "Iron John: Free Will & Free Weights" online at T-Nation