When it comes down to it, the things we know to be true about weight loss are relatively simple, and certainly few. They’re also extremely effective when actually carried out. So, from the researchers who have studied this stuff for decades, here’s pretty much everything we know about weight loss today, whittled down to six points about how the body actually gains, loses, and maintains its weight.
It’s certainly true – at least in theory and sometimes in practice – that all calories are created equal. “From the standpoint of body weight,” adds Marion Nestle, PhD, of NYU, “a calorie is a calorie no matter what it comes from. You can gain weight eating too much healthy food as well as unhealthy. From the standpoint of health, it’s better to eat your veggies…. It’s just a lot easier to overeat calories from junk food than healthy food. But it can be done.”
My 4 Favorite Types of Bent-Over Row (and How to Do Them) The Complete Guide to the Best Home Gym Equipment in 2018 Should You Try the Carnivore Diet? What 74 Studies Say This Is the Definitive Guide on How to Deadlift (Safely and with Proper Form) The Best Chest Workouts for Building Awesome Pecs (According to Science) The Definitive Guide on How to Bench Press (and the 8 Best Variations!) View more guides
Break out the lemon wedges: Regular fish eaters tend to have lower levels of the hormone leptin — good because high levels of leptin have been linked to low metabolism and obesity, says Louis Aronne, M.D., an obesity specialist at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. Try to consume three to four servings of a fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, each week.
Many theories of weight loss are based on the notion of creating calorie deficit into your diet and exercise routine. If you burn the same number of calories as you consume, you can assume your weight will remain relatively constant. In order to lose weight, you should attempt to consume less calories than you burn. It is widely believed that consuming 3500 Calories less than you burn over a period of time will result in approximately 1lb of fat loss.
Cancer Risk – General good health helps the body beat back harmful influences, including cancer. Studies show that obesity enhances cancer risk, especially among women. Hormones produced by fat may be responsible for increased breast cancer risk, as well as other forms of cancer impacting women. Estrogen responds to lost weight, reducing the amount produced. There is also reason to believe women suffering from cancer recover faster at optimal weights, than women carrying extra pounds. The two-fold benefit provides powerful incentives for losing excess fat.
But the source of calories obviously matters for other reasons. One, says Katz, is that "the quality of calories is a major determinant of the quantity we ingest under real world conditions." First of all, no one overeats veggies, so on a practical level, that’s a non-issue. “But where the calories come from does matter in that they influence satiety,” he adds, and this is partly psychology and partly biology. In fact, the food industry has carved out a whole new area of food science to study the “bliss point,” in which foods are created to increase the amount it takes to feel satiated and full. On one hand, says Katz, “we have the 'bliss point' science to tell us that the food industry can process foods to increase the calories it takes to reach satisfaction. We have the reciprocal body of work, including the Harvard study of the ONQI, showing that 'more nutritious' means, among other things, the opportunity to fill up on fewer calories.”
Talking with a health care professional about your weight is an important first step. Sometimes, health care professionals may not address issues such as healthy eating, physical activity, and weight during general office visits. You may need to raise these issues yourself. If you feel uneasy talking about your weight, bring your questions with you and practice talking about your concerns before your office visit. Aim to work with your health care professional to improve your health.
Simply putting your focus on eating fewer calories than you burn is a losing strategy, because this oversimplified numerical approach treats all calories as equal — which they are not, says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, a Harvard Medical School professor and internationally respected obesity researcher. It’s not so much the quantity of calories we eat that drives weight gain and loss, he asserts, but rather the nature and quality of those calories.
Rounding out the top three for best weight loss programs on the U.S. News and World Report 2016 rankings, the Biggest Loser meal plan uses a pyramid system with fruits and veggies setting the foundation. Simple tenets back the plan: for example, being mindful of portion control, keeping a food diary, and exercising regularly. So, yes, work will be involved, but the plan is sustainable in the long-term and a likely way to shed pounds.
“When clients come to me, many of them have been through the diet wringer. They’ve tried every fad and gimmick and, of course, they’ve failed to maintain long-term success. The key to weight loss is to never feel like you’re on a diet, because diets don’t work. If you feel deprived, you will never make it past a few weeks. The only way to achieve long-term weight loss is to learn to appreciate food as fuel and slowly replaced processed food that cannot properly energize the body with real food that can. After a while this will become second nature and won’t feel like a daily struggle.” — Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN
The OPTIFAST® program, which usually lasts 26 weeks, is a medically-supervised weight-management program that closely monitors and assesses progress towards better health and emotional well-being. The program utilizes a meal replacement plan that transitions to self-prepared ‘everyday’ meals, in conjunction with comprehensive patient education and support.
One easy trick if you're a pasta fan is to swap out white pasta for the wonderfully named courgetti (spaghetti made from spiralizing courgette). You’ll hardly notice the difference when you’re eating it, but you’ll be fuller for longer despite consuming fewer calories. When you consume fewer calories, your body can go to your fat reserves for energy, rather than just burning off the food you’ve eaten.
Don't get me wrong — exercising at any time is good for you. But evening activity may be particularly beneficial because many people's metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity before dinner increases your metabolic rate and may keep it elevated for another two or three hours, even after you've stopped moving. What that means for you: You're less likely to go back for seconds or thirds. Plus, it'll help you relax post meal so you won't be tempted by stress-induced grazing that can rack up calories, quickly.
“I always start [my day] with ginger tea, which is black tea with milk, honey, ginger, and cardamom. Then I’ll have a green juice with kale, beets, mint, apple, carrots, and ginger or a three-egg-white, one-yolk scramble. If I’m hungry, I’ll add half a cup of 1 percent cottage cheese to the eggs.” — Padma Lakshmi, who drops 10 to 15 pounds after every season of Top Chef
“Eating directly out of a box or bag (almost always leads to overeating. Serve your food on a plate or in a bowl to keep portion sizes in check and to get used to what one serving looks like. Also, when we take the time to sit down during meals versus standing or driving, we tend to feel more satisfied with our meal. In fact, research shows that you will eat up to 30% more food at the next meal if you ate standing up! Serve yourself, sit down, and enjoy!” — Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, food and nutrition expert
Many patients will be in pain and have a loss of appetite after surgery. Part of the body's response to surgery is to direct energy to wound healing, which increases the body's overall energy requirements. Surgery affects nutritional status indirectly, particularly during the recovery period, as it can interfere with wound healing and other aspects of recovery. Surgery directly affects nutritional status if a procedure permanently alters the digestive system. Enteral nutrition (tube feeding) is often needed. However a policy of 'nil by mouth' for all gastrointestinal surgery has not been shown to benefit, with some suggestion it might hinder recovery.
Avoiding salt doesn’t mean your food has to be bland. Experiment with using different herbs and spices. Try adding fresh cilantro and cumin to grilled fish, lemon and rosemary to chicken, or ginger and Chinese five spice to tempeh or beef. Pick up some spice blends from your local market to help add more spice to your life… just read the ingredients and make sure there’s no salt added.
Think of finding the right diet as akin to going on a long road trip. The more tools and guidance you have on your journey, the smoother your trip will be. Losing weight is a journey, not a destination, and along the way you'll learn a lot about yourself. Everyone wants to get there now, but what you'll discover along the way can ultimately be more fulfilling, rewarding, and even enjoyable. Finding the right weight-loss plan takes work and investment, and I hope I've helped simplify the process somewhat.
It can be difficult to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle if you don't have adequate social support. Some weight loss programs offer in-person support group meetings, others offer one-on-one counseling via telephone or text messaging and still others use online message boards or forums to connect you with others using the plan. Corresponding with like-minded people can make your fat-loss journey easier and more productive, but what level of accountability and interaction do you want or need?
Other diabetes medications. Insulin-releasing tablets (e.g. sulphonylureas) often lead to weight gain. These include: Minodiab, Euglucon, Daonil, and Glibenclamide. Tablets like Avandia, Actos, Starlix and NovoNorm also encourage weight gain. But not Metformin. The newer drugs Victoza and Byetta (injectable) often lead to weight loss, but possible long-term side effects are still unknown. More on diabetes
Virtual gastric band uses hypnosis to make the brain think the stomach is smaller than it really is and hence lower the amount of food ingested. This brings as a consequence weight reduction. This method is complemented with psychological treatment for anxiety management and with hypnopedia. Research has been conducted into the use of hypnosis as a weight management alternative. In 1996 a study found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was more effective for weight reduction if reinforced with hypnosis. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT, a mindfulness approach to weight loss, has also in the last few years been demonstrating its usefulness.