If you are one of the 45 million Americans who plans on losing weight this year – the rewards of a healthy weight are well worth it. Being overweight raises our risk for a number of chronic health issues including diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.
The facts are that healthy weight loss and management is a commitment to a healthy lifestyle —eating a balanced diet, remaining physically active, decreasing stress, getting our sleep and staying mindful. For successful, long-term weight loss, you must make permanent changes in your lifestyle and health habits.
How do you make these vital changes to live a healthier, longer life? Over the next few weeks, I am providing strategies for this chief health agent – weight-loss success.
Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Weight Loss Strategies Part 1:
Create realistic goals Patience is a virtue, and, too, a key component of any weight loss plan. Most experts recommend a gradual and steady weight loss of ½ to 2 pounds per week. But for those who are 30 pounds overweight, the idea of 30-60 week period before attaining that goal can be daunting, frustrating, and defeating.
However, there is good reason for this recommendation. To lose a pound of fat, it requires that we burn 3,500 calories. In a seven-day week, if we burn 500 more calories than we consume in food, that would equal a one pound weight loss. And if we burn 1000 more calories than we consume in food, that would equal a two pound weight loss. Generally speaking, losing weight faster than that can become dangerous, either from not eating enough, or exercising too much.
Exercise is not a get out of jail free card
Weight is ultimately a result of calories in, calories out—if there is a positive balance, there is weight gain and vice versa. Burning calories with exercise is imperative but cannot overcome bad eating habits.
The number of calories we burn depends on our weight and type of physical activity. On average, in one hour of physical activity, a 150 pound adult will burn: 200 calories when walking at a moderate pace; 600 calories running at a moderate pace; 220 calories ballroom dancing; 580 calories playing a game of basketball; 360 calories doing low impact aerobics; and 402 calories with water aerobics. The calories that are burnt in those sixty minutes of sweating can be wiped out in just minutes with the wrong food.
Steer clear from fad diets
Many of us have sincere hopes that we can lose weight, and as a result can be easily tempted by fad diets—weight loss plans that promise dramatic results. However, when it comes to losing pounds fast or other gimmicks, the saying “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Fad diets can range from only consuming cayenne pepper and water, grapefruit, or even the ever-popular Atkins eating plan. While these diets can help you drop several pounds quickly, for most humans, they are nearly impossible to maintain for long periods of time. As a result their effects are short-term and fleeting when we stop them. And, too, they can also be dangerous to our health as they oftentimes fail to provide our body with essential vitamins and nutrients (malnutrition), cause intestinal issues, and can even dehydrate us.
Muscle has a faster metabolism than fat and as a result, pound for pound, burns more calories (even while we are sleeping). Additionally, when weight is lost via calorie reduction and cardiovascular exercise only, this can lead to a break down of muscle tissue. As a result, there is less muscle mass, and our body’s metabolic rate decreases—we are burning fewer calories.
Additionally, building muscle mass helps make us look stealthy, protects joints and ligaments, makes our bones stronger, and improves balance and movement.
Eat breakfast every day
It may seem intuitive that eating less calories, for example, by skipping breakfast, can help us lose weight. However, when it comes to “the most important meal of the day,” the reality is counter-intuitive. Eating breakfast suppresses the release of hunger hormones that would stimulate our appetite and also provides a feeling of fullness or “satiety.” What this translates to is having more willpower when faced with high calorie, high fat, or sugary options that can wreak havoc to our waistlines.
In fact, research has shown that dieters who regularly eat breakfast, on average, lose 50 percent more weight than dieters who skip breakfast. And, they are more likely to keep it off for at least 2 years.
Eat more fruit and veggies
Along with being delicious and nutritious, the vast majority of fruit and veggies do not contain fat or cholesterol. As a result, they are a healthy alternative to salty, fatty, sugary, and processed foods and can help maintain or reach a healthy weight. Fruit and veggies are also chock-filled with fiber which makes our tummies feel full faster. This can help decrease the amount of food, and, hence, calories that we consume.
Dropping a few excess pounds can reduce the wear and tear on your body. One study (Arthritis and Rheumatism) found that every lost pound subtracts 4 pounds of pressure from the knees for each step taken. Which translates that losing just 10 pounds means that each knee is subjected to 48,000 fewer pounds of pressure for every mile walked. Beyond that, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower your odds of developing heart disease or having a stroke. And when combined with exercising at a moderate level of effort for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, it can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. You can do it – you can gain better health by losing unhealthy pounds.
Dr. Nina Radcliff is dedicated to her profession, her patients and her community, at large. She is passionate about sharing truths for healthy, balanced living as well as wise preventive health measures.
She completed medical school and residency training at UCLA and has served on the medical faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists where she serves on committees for Young Physicians and Communications. Author of more than 200 textbook chapters, research articles, medical opinions and reviews; she is often called upon by media to speak on medical, fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle topics impacting our lives, today.