Today’s Post is #4 of my 6 Nutritional Tenets

Appetite suppressants, diet products, supplements, and cleanses are touted as the answer to weight loss struggles. Yet, each New Year comes and goes and Americans aren’t getting any thinner.

Currently, around 35% of American adults are considered obese¹, and over half considered overweight. These numbers are at an all-time high and have been climbing unchecked for years.  Considering this, it’s no surprise that one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. While losing weight is a commendable resolution, the approaches to weight loss are often not so praiseworthy. Ironically, this aspiration to lose weight, which is supposed to make us more healthy, can actually have quite the opposite effect, if done haphazardly.

The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar big-business, and smart too – diet companies know that eating healthier and exercising requires time and commitment; something that many Americans are unwilling to put forth if easier options exist.  Thus, every January we see a flux of advertisements from these companies for products that promise to help you shed pounds with little to no effort. Appetite suppressants, diet products, supplements, and cleanses are touted as the answer to weight loss struggles. Yet, each New Year comes and goes and Americans aren’t getting any thinner. This is telling—an industry upwards of $50 billion a year and we’re not all at an ideal weight? Hmmm.

Unfortunately, for long-term, sustained weight loss, a magical diet does not exist. Adding raspberry ketones, for instance, to one’s diet will not counteract eating portions that are too big. This brings us to my nutrition tenet #4: There’s no hidden secret to weight loss.

the goal is not just about losing weight, but it’s about keeping the weight off for good

Some of these popular diet products or strategies may actually result in moderate weight loss short-term. But if eating and exercise habits are not changed for the long-term, the weight inevitably returns and usually with it, a few additional pounds. So, the goal is not just about losing weight, but it’s about keeping the weight off for good. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a database founded in 1994 that keeps track of over 10,000 people who have lost more than 30 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year. The NWCR studies the registry participants, looking for commonalities in how participants originally lost weight and how they’ve kept the weight off in hopes of providing answers to what it takes for successful weight loss.

The vast majority of NWCR participants lost weight through changing their diet and exercising more (most said walking was their primary mode of exercise). No big surprises there. What is more interesting is that of people in the database who successfully maintain their weight loss, most display the following behaviors:

  1. Maintain a lower calorie, lower fat diet than they were eating prior to weight loss.
  2. Exercise, on average, about 60 minutes per day.
  3. Eat breakfast every day.
  4. Weigh themselves once a week.
  5. Watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.

The NWCR also reports that consistency is key. Giving yourself cheat days or cheat weekends to eat whatever kind of junk food you want has been shown to increase chances of weight regain even if you adhere to a strict diet the rest of the days.  For a healthier option, refer back to my #1 Tenet, the 80/20 Rule of Moderation.

Finally, when setting a weight loss goal for yourself, it’s important to keep in mind that a healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. That means, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, say 50 lbs, it could (and should) take several months to reach your goal. Weight loss takes persistence, vigilance, and patience. But the good news is that losing as little as 5-7% of your body weight (10-14 lbs for a 200 lb person) has been shown to confer big health benefits including significant reductions in risk of diabetes and heart disease.  Hopefully by losing some initial weight, even just a few pounds, you’ll feel better, have more energy, and will thus be motivated to keep going!

Later this week, I’ll post some additional healthy weight loss strategies to help you get started or continue down the path to your ideal weight.

CS

¹Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalenceof Obesity in the United States, 2009-2010. NCHS data brief, no 82. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2012.

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