Obesity is one of America’s greatest health problems. It lays the foundation for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes as well as numerous other problems like osteoarthritis, back pain, fatigue and low self esteem.
Every extra pound takes about one month from your life span. Sixty extra pounds can cost you five years. Excess fat has such a direct correlation to health that every pound lost or gained makes a difference.
Losing weight has become a nation obsession. We spend billions of dollars each year on quick-fix fads, diets, and weight loss pills. The sad fact is that most are useless and some are actually quite dangerous. Programs that include a diuretic are essentially forcing the body to shed some of its much needed water.
A protein overdose will do practically the same thing. The body uses a lot of water to wash the waste products from excess protein out of the system. These diets can cause impressive weight loss in a short time. However losing weight by forcing water from the system is dangerous and ineffective, since the body replaces the water as fast as it can.
“Starvation” diets that provide less than 500 calories per day become counterproductive if kept up for more than two or three days. They body then figures out the food has stopped and conserves energy by lowering the metabolism – the rate at which you burn calories. It then begins to consume the parts of the body that use the most energy – the muscles. When you come off the diet with less muscle and a much lowered metabolism you will gain weight more readily than before. Remaining overweight would be more healthful than the repeated weight-loss/weight-gain cycles that gradually deplete muscle and replace it with fat tissue, making further weight loss nearly impossible.
The only weight loss program that will have a permanent effect is one that involves permanent lifestyle changes.
The basic problem in obesity is too many calories. Whenever more calories are consumed than the body can use, it stores them as fat. Every 3,500 extra calories equals another pound of stored fat. There are two strategies to combat the problem; reduce the number of calories coming in and increase the number of calories you burn.
A successful and healthy weight loss program will provide adequate energy and nutrition, and also be something you can make a permanent part of your life.
* Build menus around fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and other plant foods. These foods provide variety, energy, and all the nutrients necessary. They are colorful, tasty, and low calories as well.
* Eliminate or greatly reduce refined sugar and fats in the diet. Thanks to modern food processing it is now possible to eat an entire day’s worth of calories at one sitting. Since meat and dairy products are especially high in fat and calories, limiting their use can make weight loss easier; meats and cheeses are 60-80 percent fat. Learn to read food labels; look for hidden fat and sugar calories. Butter, sauces, dressings, and gravy are all condiments that can double or triple the calories in an otherwise healthy meal.
* Eat a generous breakfast, a moderate lunch, and skip supper completely. If you must eat in the evening choose whole fruit. Calories eaten in the morning are burned as you go through the day. Calories eaten at night are stored as fat. Timing plays a tremendous part in weight loss. This could be they key to your success.
* Avoid snacks and beverages other than water between meals. It is easy to get your entire allotment of calories for the day just from snacks. Try recording your snack calories for a day or two and see.
To successfully lose weight more calories must be burned than are consumed, and that means increased exercise and activity. Exercise burns calories in several ways.
* The exercise itself burns calories.
* Exercise increases the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) for several hours afterwards, which means calories burn at a faster rate even when you are inactive.
* Exercise builds muscle. It takes roughly 50 calories per day to just maintain one pound of muscle. This increases your metabolism long term.
Those who choose to build muscle as a means of getting rid of fat may not see much weight change initially, since muscle tissue weights three times more than fat tissue. Yet they will find their body composition changing – fat will be lost and inches will gradually disappear. It is not uncommon for men to report going down a pants sze and women going down two dress sizes while their total weight actually increases as they build muscle.
* Focus on the hundreds of delicious fruits and vegetables you have never tasted, not on the foods you shouldn’t eat. Food preferences are not inborn; they are learned and cultivated. Like any other habit they can be changed.
* Conquer those food cravings. When hunger strikes, drink a large glass of water. That will help you feel full. Take an exercise break. Exercise raises the blood sugar.
* Everything, including weight loss, is more fun with a friend. Find a “buddy” you can encourage; be accountable to each other as you lose weight together.
* Don’t strive for perfection and then give up when you don’t achieve it. Persistence is far more valuable in weight loss.
* While all weight loss is difficult thousands of people have been successful in achieving and maintaining normal weight while using these simple but effective methods.