The US weight loss industry is estimated to be a $66 billion dollar industry. There is a hundred different types of diets to try and even more new exercise trends that claim to shed the pounds off. We now even have apps that can track every step we take and calorie taken in. Weight loss should be simple: take in less calories, burn more calories and the weight should fly off and stay off. However, this is not the case. 70% of Americans still remain overweight or obese. A UCLA study has shown that slightly more than 80% of successful dieters end up gaining all their weight back in two years!
Scientists are studying weight loss and trying to find out what is the best way to lose weight and how to keep it off.
Exercise and Weight Loss
Exercise is essential for weight loss but also for a healthy body and mind. Many studies show that it has multiple benefits including: better mental health, better brain health, better muscle and bone health, and helps to prevent aging. Muscles need energy, through calories, to function. They are essentially calorie furnaces for the body. There is no one ideal exercise that works for everyone. Research is now showing any kind of exercise is beneficial for weight loss, with walking being the most successful among people who are able to keep the weight off. Michele Olson, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama says "Data shows that to lose weight with exercise and keep it off, you don’t need to run marathons. You just need to build up to five to seven workouts a week, 50 minutes each, at a moderate intensity, like brisk walking or Zumba." This is proven through many studies with the point being that you need to make being active on a regular basis, an essential part of your weight loss plan.
Strength training with high intensity interval training is very time effective and helps to build muscle mass and therefore add more tissue to burn calories. It also causes hormones and enzymes to be produced by the body that positively affects your metabolism causing the body to function more efficiently. It also eventually effects various hormones in your body that also are connected to losing weight.
Diet and Weight Loss
Weight loss and the commercialization of dieting started to take off in the 1960's. Since that time we have seen many different diets and debates come and go. From the Grapefruit diet, Atkins diet, low-carb, low-fat, keto, and calorie counting, we have been told what the magic fix is to shed those pounds.
Understanding what it is about a given diet that works for a given person is the unsolved mystery of weigh-loss science. Hall, a researcher from the National Institutes of Health, has been studying weight loss for many years and has found that when you take a group of people and randomly assign them to a follow a low-carb diet or a low- fat diet and follow them for a few years, what you tend to see is that average weight loss is almost no different between the two groups as a whole. But within each group , there are people who are very successful, people who don't lose any weight and people who gain weight.
People lose weight, but often gain it back. However, there are those that keep it off. What is it that helps keep weight off? The common factors of over 10,000 people researched that have kept over 30 pounds, or more, off for over a year or longer are:
1. They eat breakfast every morning and it helps to control insulin and jump start metabolism
2. They exercise every day for a total of 60 minutes, sometimes all at once or in intervals
3. They watch less than 10 hours of TV a week
4. They check their weight on a scale at least once a week to help monitor their gains
5. They have a meaningful goal behind them. Such as avoiding disease or want to live longer to spend time with their family.
Research is showing that there is not a specific diet or eating style that is perfect for everyone. A balanced diet with lower carbohydrate levels, 30% protein intake, and lots of fruits and vegetables is very appropriate. Staying away from trans fats and sugary foods helps to keep your insulin sensitivity functioning properly, therefore avoiding weight gain and cravings.
The Answers to Weight Loss
1. Weight loss is about changing bad habits into good habits- We eat something sweet after supper every night, we order gravy with our fries, we order a sugary drink when eating out. These are all examples of habits that we don't even realize we do. You must take time to recognize your bad habits and replace them with good habits. This also is appropriate for exercising. The book "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg is a great read for discovering what habits are and how to change them.
2. Have a higher purpose for losing weight- Find a reason why you want to lose weight beyond wanting to look like a super model. Be healthy for your family, be healthy to slow aging and you will have more time with your children, be healthy to fight cancer or cardiovascular disease.
3. It takes several tries- like quitting smoking, it takes many tries to change habits! Don't give up if you aren't losing weight or if you gain it back.
4. Not one method works for everyone- as mentioned before, there is no magic exercise or diet to losing weight. Different methods work better for different people. You must try different methods to see what works and this will involve gains and losses.
5. There are multiple reasons for not being able to lose weight- losing weight isn't from one simple reason. Psychological reasons, example stress eating, is a major cause of weight gain, hormonal imbalances, medications, the wrong diet, sitting too much, and many other factors can all contribute to weight gain. Evaluate and make changes to help these factors.
6. Like What you Do- It is obvious we don't want to do things that we don't like and it is the same with diet and exercise. Find healthy foods you enjoy and find exercises that you look forward to doing.
Weight loss is not as simple as eat less and burn more. So what is better to concentrate on, Diet or Exercise? The answer is both are important. However, you can never out exercise a poor diet. Start by evaluating your habits and slowly make changes. It takes time. Avoid fads and stick to your plan.
Activity fact- On average there is 16 calories in a spoonful of sugar. If you put a teaspoon in your coffee everyday, and drink two cups a day, you are consuming 11,680 calories a year!