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So What is the Correct Weight Loss Plan for Me?

August 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Happy New Year!  Traditionally with the beginning of a new year, one of the most popular resolutions that is made involves losing some weight and getting into shape.  Many of us have spent the last several weeks since Thanksgiving not following our normal eating patterns, and in many cases eating too much.  We have also been to holiday parties and family gatherings, where we have also overindulged in hors d’oeuvres, holiday sweets, and other less than healthy eating choices.  Add to that, many of us will also drink too much on these occasions.  All in all, it adds up to us waking up on January 1st, not feeling very well, and possibly not liking what we see in a mirror.

So when we determine that a change is needed, what do we do?  How do we know what kind of weight loss/weight management system we need?  What ones are good and what ones are not so good?  And is there anything else that we need to consider along with weight management in order to be successful?

Here are some things to consider before starting a weight loss plan, and what to look out for in evaluating which system to follow.

First of all, consider what your goals are and make realistic goals.  What are you trying to do, drop a little weight, learn to eat healthier, or are you looking for an overall lifestyle change?  Why are you making this change – what is your motivation for doing it?  And make realistic goals that you can achieve.  For example, you cannot drop 50 pounds in a month.

Second, talk this over with a medical professional before you begin any type of program.  You want to make sure that there are no medical issues that would prevent you from starting a weight management program, or being successful at a program.  In some cases, a person may have a medical condition, like a thyroid or hormonal imbalance that may prevent them from being successful at a program.

Third, consider starting an exercise program to go along with a weight management system.  Do you belong to a gym, or have you ever thought about joining one?  Are you possible interested in working with a personal trainer?  It never fails – I see a lot of new faces at the gym in January, only to be gone by Valentine’s Day.  Do some homework, and be sure you know what you are getting into before you start.  Exercise is essential to go along with a weight management system, as it will raise your Basal Metabolic Rate, allowing you to burn calories more efficiently.  You will be much more successful in a weight management program if you incorporate exercise as well.  Keep in mind as well that on average, we need 150-180 minutes of exercise a week, which translates into 30 minutes a day for 5 or 6 days.

Finally, evaluate all of this information and be sure that you are ready to go before you begin anything.  Change is difficult, and it is easy to get discouraged along the way.  With typical weight loss programs, 95% of people gain the weight they lost back in one year, and 97% gain it back within 2 years.  In many cases, someone might do well for a month, then go to a party and overeat, then give up in disgust.  If you are using a weight management system that provides you with the proper education as to how to eat right, and if you have the right mental attitude, you can overcome any setbacks you may encounter.

So what should you look for in a weight management system?

1.  Avoid any “magic pills” that promise you a great deal of weight loss with no effort or lifestyle changes on your behalf.  There is no magic pill when it comes to weight loss – watching what you eat and exercise are the only correct ways to lose weight.  Yet there are many “miracle” products out there that promise you the moon, yet tell you that you don’t have to do anything different.  Beware of these too good to be true sounding products – chances are they are not what they are advertised to be.

2.  Watch the celebrity endorsed meal replacement systems.  We have all seen the ads for the meal replacement systems that promise to send you all the meals you need and that you will lose the weight with no effort.  While there is evidence that they work, I am not a fan of these systems, mainly because they don’t give you the proper education on how to eat right.  What do you do when you are done with the one or two month set of meals?  What education do you have on how to cook for yourself so that you don’t gain the weight back, or do you have to be on these meals for the rest of your life?  In my opinion, they are gimmicks that provide a short term fix, without providing you the tools needed for long term success.

3.  Beware of fad diets that tell you that you can only eat certain foods, and where you have to cut out certain classes of foods.  A few years ago, there was certain low carbohydrate diet that wanted you to cut out all carbohydrates, but you could eat all the meat you wanted to.  This diet, in my opinion, is a complete and total load of garbage!  While you would lose weight, you could not maintain this diet as it put a lot of stress on your liver and kidneys, and could make your blood more acidic.  This diet could not be followed long term.  I have seen other types of weight management systems like this as well where you needed to eat a lot of this, and none of that.  Your body needs carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, in order to survive.  Therefore cutting out certain food groups is not an acceptable way to lose weight.

4.  Calorie restriction does not work!  A friend of mine recently had me review a diet that required you to eat only 500 calories a day every other day.  That was all I needed to see to tell him that this diet was a load of garbage.  Calorie restriction doesn’t work because it throws a metabolic switch in your brain that triggers the “feast or famine” response.  Our body will think it is starving and slow down its actual metabolism, making it harder to lose the weight.  Add to that the fact that our body stores fat preferentially.  This comes from our caveman genetics when it was common to have a feast or famine situation – they couldn’t go to the fast food restaurant on the corner when they were hungry, so they had to store fat.  And believe it or not, energetically fat is the most efficient form of energy storage in our bodies – i.e. we obtain more energy from fat burning that we do from carbohydrate burning.  Without getting to technical, if we stored energy in the form of glycogen over fat, we would all weight more than twice what we do now.

5.  Check the science behind the plan.  Any good weight management system will have good solid science to back up its claims.  If it doesn’t beware – this particular “diet” would be a fad.

So what types of weight management plans do I like?  I prefer the low/mixed Glycemic Index weight management system.  The Glycemic Index is a measurement of how much your blood sugar changes depending on the types of carbohydrates you eat.  There are several good educational resources where you can lean about low/mixed GI eating.  I would recommend South Beach, the Mediterranean Diet, or the Transitions Lifestyle Weight Management System, and there are many online resources that can help you research these programs.  Regardless of what you choose, make sure that you include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet, while cutting back on fatty foods and sweets.

If you have any questions about this information, or would like to learn more about nutrition, nutritional counseling, or nutritional supplementation, contact Dr. Harvey Kitzman at hkitzman@austin.rr.com or 512-657-3432.  If you have any suggestions for what types of topics you would like to learn about, please contact me as well.

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