Low carb, high protein, South Beach, Atkins, the Zone, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, vegan, the grapefruit diet – if you’ve decided to lose weight, the options for doing so seem overwhelming. So what’s the right weight loss plan for you?
Losing weight is a very daunting task – which explains the appeal of hundreds of easy programs that promise to make weight loss easy. But fad diets result not only in disappointing long-term results, but often you regain the lost pounds and a little extra. There’s an easy explanation for this: effective, long-term weight loss requires two important things that these diets do not focus on.
And who can blame them? You can’t write a book with two sentences. You can’t charge hundreds of dollars and repeat two sentences over and over to your clients. And you can’t even create a food plan or program at the gym that only encompasses two things that really don’t have anything to do with what food you buy or what exercises you do.
All you have to do to achieve permanent weight loss is:
- make permanent changes in the way you eat
- make some form of regular exercise a permanent habit
Now wasn’t that easy? Yeh sure! Easier said than done.
But it’s probably easier to come to grips with when you consider the alternative. People over 55 have much higher chances of health problems associated with being overweight than the younger set. We also have much higher incidence of aches and pains due to carrying all that weight around for all those years. And finally, it is much more common for us to suffer from achy muscles and lack of flexibility (which translates into being unable to prevent serious injury during slips and falls – our balance is almost as good, but our old muscles are slow to react and save us from bumps and bruises.) So while getting healthier, you feel better, protect your health and well-being and look better as well.
Run, don’t walk – away from any program that promises any of the following:
- Unrealistic results. One pound per week is a great result – anything more requires a commitment to exercise and detailed diet planning. If a diet program requires you to purchase special products, supplements, or foods, the most significant thing you will lose is money.
- Weight loss by eliminating certain foods or even whole food groups entirely. These programs require you to strictly follow a set plan – usually one that bears no resemblance to the way people normally eat. The foods you need to lose weight sensibly – a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and lower-fat dairy products – are all available at the grocery store – and at a price that most popular diet plans cannot match.
- Weight loss through a diet plan that doesn’t take into account your own personal likes and dislikes and/or your lifestyle – the more changes you are asked to make, the less likely you are to stick to the program. Any diet plan you consider should be able to account for your individual nutritional requirements, which do vary depending on age, activity level and medical conditions. If you cut out certain foods, you risk being short on all the vitamins and nutrients you need. And who wants to eat nothing but organic Turkish rice patties for the rest of their lives!
Effective, permanent weight loss requires reliable diet plans. Embrace a plan that has the following characteristics:
- It incorporates exercise.
- It makes recommendations based on sound science.
- It meets USDA and Health Canada’s daily recommended intakes, and
- It includes plans for weight maintenance.
Your program should help you form lifelong habits that are needed to make your weight loss permanent. Remember, a healthy lifestyle is a way of life – not just a 2-week eating plan. It’s important to make sure you are getting all the protein, vitamins, and minerals you need. Don’t trust anyone but a doctor or professional dietitian when it comes to eating strategies to help you meet your targets while restricting calories. And, be sure to discuss any needs for nutritional supplements with them.
A safe weight-loss program makes its claims based on large-scale studies that have been reviewed by reputable health care professionals. Burning energy through exercise means you can achieve weight loss without having to cut the number of calories you consume as drastically. As well, studies have shown regular exercise is one of the biggest predictors of keeping the weight off. Safe, achievable weight loss means no more than two pounds or one kilogram per week. If you lose weight any faster than that, you body will compensate by slowing down the rate at which it burns calories, thereby slowing weight loss and even making it easier to gain weight after you return to your normal eating habits.
Now that wasn’t so difficult was it?