by Starla Asher, RN, MSN
People are always asking for the best way to lose weight. New research tells us more each day about our ability to lose weight and the best ways to lose weight…
Speed of Weight Loss Does NOT Affect Long-Term Weight Management
How many times have you heard it? “If you lose weight too fast, you’ll just gain it all back in a year!” Our standard guidelines have been pretty clear. For some time, the recommendation has been for adults to have gradual weight loss for the treatment of obesity.
However, a newly released study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, conducted by a Melbourne Metropolitan Hospital, finds the speed of weight loss does not matter! In this study, researchers did not look at the best way to lose weight. Instead, participants had a goal to either have a 12-week rapid weight loss or a 36-week gradual weight loss, both aimed at 15% weight loss. By the end of the second phase of this study, the rate of weight loss did not affect the proportion of weight regained within 144 weeks. BOTH groups regained a vast majority of the weight lost!
What Does this Show Us?
This study indicates that present dietary guidelines which recommend gradual over rapid weight loss, based on the belief that rapid weight loss is more quickly regained, is incorrect. It doesn’t really matter what the best way to lose weight might be. Why? Because it shows us that there is so much more to keeping weight off! If we lose it, but can’t keep it off, then it’s all for nothing.
Why do the majority of us regain the weight in a year or less? According to a recent Penn State University study, it’s primarily because the strategies we use to lose weight won’t necessarily keep weight off. So the best way to lose weight is to change our entire strategy!
Weight Management Vs. Weight Loss
In our attempts to finding the best way to lose weight, we take drastically different measures to lose it than we did to gain it. Our crazy, human expectation thinks we should lose the weight in ¼ of the time it took us to gain it! What we know for sure is that excess calories leads to excess weight. When we take in more than we can use and/or burn off, it accumulates in our fat cells. When we take in just what we need to complete all the activities of our day, we break even…nothing gained, nothing lost. When we take in less than we need to function, with our metabolism engaged at an appropriate level, then we will lose excess stores of saved energy.
Dr. Jeffrey Lodge of Cool Springs MD believes, “Assisting people in losing weight just isn’t enough. The true secret to weight loss is lifestyle change and management. We practice life management medicine.”
People Often Ask for the Best Way to Lose Weight…However, Mindset is Key
When we change our mindset from “dieting” to “managing,” psychologically, we can make an easier and stronger adjustment. The average woman has tried 61 diets by the age of 45 and she’s STILL not happy with her weight!! Once we reach our goal, we celebrate AND go back to exactly how we were living when we had the excess weight. This falls under the definition of insanity: Repeatedly doing the exact same thing while expecting different results. What does this tell you besides something is not working well here?
Weight Management You Can Live With!
- Portion Control & Plate Appearance: Whether or not you agree, your brain wants to see an attractive-looking meal set before you (so as not to feel “cheated.”) Eating portion-appropriate, lean proteins and beautifully-colored, in-season vegetables will tell your brain that your mouth & body is about to be pampered!
- Water: The 1950’s guideline of 8 glasses of water per day is simply too low for optimal health. Most Americans don’t even follow this guideline. It should be closer to 12 glasses of water per day. This one tip has proved to be key in weight management. Be sure to drink a full glass of water prior to your meals. Most of the time, you are actually thirsty and NOT hungry, but your brain misleads you.
- Don’t Skip Meals: Your furnace needs fuel. The body’s metabolism needs energy. (We KNOW you believe you’re really doing a great thing when you skip, but it only backfires on you, ESPECIALLY if you’re female!) Three meals daily plus snacks ensures the furnace can burn efficiently. This begins with breakfast, often the most skipped meal by women.
- Front-Load Your Calories: Turn what you were taught upside down. Dinner should NOT be the biggest meal of the day. Eat the majority of your calories near the first half of your day when you are most active and burning more calories. Then, be sure to eat healthy snacks (protein to satisfy hunger cravings work best). The lightest meal of the day should be dinner because the fewest calories will be burned over night. Filling up on water between these meals, remember, will prevent mixed messages of “hunger-thirst” to your brain.
- Make Your Wisest Choices in the Bread Department: Most women find that eating delicious breads are the easiest way to pack on calories. Despite eating lots of these temptations, most women don’t get enough fiber in their diets! Be sure to make wise choices and exhibit self-control in this danger zone. Think FIBER. Choose whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals; choose whole-wheat pasta and rice instead of white; and include more dried beans in your meals. Fiber helps fill you up faster, which can cause you to eat less and curb hunger. Most importantly, soluble fiber can help lower your cholesterol.
- Daily Activity and Exercise: Oh no! There’s that dirty word! Exercise! Remember mindset, folks. It doesn’t have to be movement you don’t enjoy. Make it fun. Make it something you enjoy or involve someone you enjoy being with. This is NOT a diet but a lifestyle. You might as well investigate, and try something new if what you’ve been doing isn’t working for you. Ever dream of ballroom dancing? Rollerblading? Jumping on a trampoline with your kids or grand kids? If you hate it, move on to something else. Hot tip: Schedule the activity…put it in your phone at a set time or write it on your calendar. This one change is a proven habit-maker.
- Include 5 servings of low-calorie fruits & veggies each day: Eat at least 2-3 servings of fruit daily. Avoid juice and canned fruit. Eat fruits with the skin for added fiber and nutrients. Have plenty of vegetables with lunch and dinner daily. They are also great as a snack.
Everyone’s body and metabolism is different. With aging, it all changes! It’s critical to learn your body’s own recipe for better weight management. Instead of asking for the best way to lose weight, you’ll know how to manage your weight. Dr. Lodge says, “We’ve found that people are quite successful and healthier overall with this approach and less likely to rapidly regain the lost weight.”
Understanding your body’s calorie needs, your personal habits that upset the weight balance, and committing to healthy, daily habits is the recipe that offsets the yo-yo fluctuations and weight gain. Put these 7 habits in place today and NEVER give up! If we change our lifestyle habits, then we can manage weight AND life.