Weight Loss Programs
We all know it, we've all tried it. But what is this "it" of which I speak? "It" is the fad diet. If you have ever dieted before, you know that a lot of acclaimed programs do not work. Usually these types of programs will make you lose weight initially, only to gain it back later on. A necessary characteristic of an effective plan is something that a person can stick to long term, and something that does not impose restrictions. Our bodies need a certain percentage of each nutrient and if we are deprived of those nutrients, things can get pretty messy in the pantry. We are people, we have needs and maybe some of those needs are butter-infused bakery goods. This is okay. In addition to vitamins and minerals, a body must have fats, carbs, and proteins to function properly. Whatever your vice, you will be able to eat it (in moderation) on a good diet--a diet that actually works. No, I do not mean the four chocolate bars a day diet; I mean a diet that keeps your body functioning as well as looking smoking hot--because come on, we all know this is not just about health.
Short Term Programs
If you need a program that is quick, then maybe you should consider a short term diet. These types of diets are good for slimming down temporarily--for a wedding, a holiday, or some other life-altering event--and then resuming your typical eating habits. Short term programmes often require special foods, supplements, or shakes to control weight, and do not lead you to a long term regime. When the diet ends, the weight will come back--this is because post dieting people tend to resume their old eating habits. After an experience with these diets many are left thinking "Now what?". They are really only good if you are looking to be a size six for one big event--this event is not the ever adventurous story of your life.
- Atkins diet : Atkins is based on a book program created by Dr. Robert Atkins. The good things about this diet is that it does help with weight loss, it is relatively easy to follow, and there is no hassle of group meetings--this diet can be followed according to personal schedules. If you are the type of person who needs a large support system, then a book based program such as Atkins is not for you. Atkins is based on a high protein (and often high fat) diet that cuts out carbohydrates and restricts foods such as breads, pastas, fruits, and vegetables. These types of restrictions often provide insufficient nutrition, but are a good solution for temporary weight loss. Sticking to a restrictive diet long term can have adverse effects on health.
- Slim Fast or Zone diets: These diets are based on the consumption of meal replacement slim fast shakes and pre-packaged zone meals . The good thing about diets that provide their own food, shakes, or meal replacement bars is that the dieter does not have to make any choices--this method is a no-brainier (really). But programs that require pre-packaged meals can become costly and they do little to teach someone about cooking the right foods and making nutritional choices. If you have little or no time to learn a program or method of eating, have little time to cook, or are always on the run, this diet may be a good solution.
Long Term Programs
These are lifestyle changing programs that teach a person how to change his or her habits permanently, rather than how to diet. If you know that your eating habits are really poor and you want to change, then this is the right diet for you. Teach yourself how to eat properly and you will be happier than a pig in...mud.
- Weight Watchers : Weight Watchers boasts that it is not a diet but rather a lifestyle. The benefits of this programme is that it teaches a person the basics of nutrition and portion control, without imposing severe food restrictions (not even with cake!). For a person that needs group support this type of diet--which provides meetings--would be a good choice. If meeting a group cannot fit into your schedule, you may benefit from the Internet version; this version incorporates group support with dieters' discussion forums. Both forms of the programme--traditional group and internet--have a plan for maintaining weight loss after you have reached your goal. The person who does not like to constantly tally their intake (with the Weight Watchers' points system or otherwise) will not like this diet since it requires a daily food log.
- Curves : Curves is based around a gym membership and exercise routine. This may not sound long term, but it does teach a person to incorporate exercise and fitness into their life. The types of techniques learned with this program can be taken outside the gym and applied to life after the Curves experience. The added bonus is being part of a large women's support system.
|Exercise is an important part of dieting, and an important part of life. The body needs to stay active to remain physically fit; this requires maintenance. You wouldn't let your car sit in the garage collecting cobwebs, so why let your body sit on the couch doing the same thing? When trying to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle consider things that you will not dread doing. You may want to check out our fitness guide to get you started. If you enjoy your exercise routine, it is more pleasurable and easier to keep up. Maybe you're not the type of person to go to the gym and sit on a stationary bike for half of an hour. So what? How about swimming or any other type of sport? Group classes are especially good because not only do you derive energy from yourself, but from the other people in the class or on the team. Plus by joining something like a class, you can make friends while staying active! Enjoy yourself, don't treat exercise as a chore, and remember little things like cleaning can be physically exhausting. Why? Because you are exercising without even knowing it!|| |
Here are some tips to incorporating exercise on a tight schedule:
- Take the stairs, not the elevator. Yes, it does add up and it does matter; stair masters exist for a reason. Why waste your limited time at the gym when you could be getting in your exercise every time you take a trip to the bathroom?
- Use a bike , not a car. If this is possible, it is highly recommended. Not only is it good for your body, but also for the environment! Maybe trading in the car for a ten speed isn't possible, but why not try and take the bike out a few times a week? Alternate between the two.
- Clean the house. Yes, this is exercise. Ever finish cleaning the bathroom and realize you are sweating under your rubber gloves? It is because of all of those kilo calories you're burning!
- Play with your children and/or pets. If you don't have either of these things, then maybe you would like to invest in one. A pet that is, not a child.
Don't just do it to lose weight, do it to get healthy! Most people do not eat the right types of foods in addition to eating too much. This is your chance to learn about nutrition and to really create a relationship with your body. Did I just say relationship? Yes, I did. The better you treat your body the better it will treat you.
| || Some Useful Things to Know:|
- Do not deprive your body: Cutting back too much on your body's resources will result in irritability, mood swings, depression, lack of energy and overall bad being.
- Exercise: it really does release endorphins into your system. Notice how you feel better about that break-up after a good workout? Take a good run and get out the aggravation.
- The amount of protein your body needs depends upon the healthy body mass for your height (not your actual weight, which is a misconception): A simple formula for calculating how much protein you need in a given day is average weight for your height (in kg.) x (0.8- 1.8 gm/kg) = protein gm per day. Active persons will need to increase this figure to weight in kg x (1.0 - 1.8 gm/kg) = protein gm per day.
- Example for a 70 kg person: 70 x 1.5 = 105 gm protein per day.
- Good carbohydrates, bad carbohydrates: If you are going for health steer clear of refined carbohydrates and sugary products. The best things to eat from this food group are whole grain products--non processed foods that will keep you satisfied longer and provide more nutritional value.
- Good fats, bad fats: Fats are essential to keep the body moving along, but there are ones that are better than others. Monounsaturated fats lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol and raise the good (HDL) cholesterol in our bodies. These fats can be found in nuts and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats also lower cholesterol. They can be found in fish, soy, and sunflower oils. Consume saturated fats such as meat, eggs, and dairy in controlled portions and eat trans fatty foods sparingly. Trans fats are the types that your teacher was always warning you about in health class; they can be found in packaged and fried foods such as those found in fast food restaurants.
Many times companies will try to sell weight loss products that do more harm than good. Before purchasing any of these things beware of their ingredients and their side effects.
- Diet pills: Not only are they ineffective (long term), but they can be addictive and bad for your health. Steer clear of products containing phentermine, ephedrine, or really anything with an "ine" at the end (do not be fooled by abbreviations such as "phen").
- Natural weight loss aids: Just because they claim to be "natural" does not mean that they're always good--even nature can be dangerous.
- Overdoing it: Excessive dieting and exercising can change their outcomes from beneficial to bad. Remember to provide your body with all the nutrients and energy it needs, and to give yourself an exercise break at least one day a week; listen to your body--when it demands rest, give it rest!. If you plan on exercising a lot, the guide to sports nutrition may provide useful.
- Overexerting muscles: When lifting weights try not to work out the same muscle groups every day. This can lead to muscle tears (inflammation) that need extra protein to repair themselves (increasing muscle size). If you are sore, wait until the soreness goes away before exercising the same muscles--too much exercise can slow down your metabolism.
Common Weight Loss Myths
- Avoid eating after a certain time or at any time during the night: This is an urban legend. It does not matter when you consume your food as long as you are consuming it the right way.
- Fad diets work for permanent weight loss: False. Fad diets may drop the pounds initially, but they are impossible to stick to, and upon stopping them, you will gain the weight back. After finishing a fad diet, you may even get heavier than your pre-diet weight--this is a result of deprivation.
- Cutting out a food group is a good idea: No, it is not. Each food group contains nutrients that your body needs.
- Carbohydrates and fats are evil: Cutting out carbohydrates or fats can deplete your energy storage and make you hungrier (yes, hungrier!). Fats and whole grains keep you full and satiated longer so you won't go back searching for goodies.
- "Diet foods" are the healthiest foods and will help you lose the most weight: Just because a food says diet on the label, it is not a magical food. If the label boasts low carb., it will be heavier in sugars (which, essentially, is a carb.),and the same goes for low fat, and sometimes low calorie. Be wary when buying diet products; many people are led to believe that low fat means a food is made of air; that, upon burping, its contents will magically float out of your body in little gaseous bursts. Right.
- Going vegetarian or vegan will make you lose weight: You can lose weight by going on a vegetarian diet, but you can also gain weight with bad food choices (such as excessive consumption of sweets and pasta). The key to losing weight is learning how to eat, which foods to eat, and how to control portions.
- Eating between meals makes you gain weight: Snacking does not make you gain weight. As a matter of fact, healthy snacking in between meals helps maintain your metabolism (along with your energy!), and will keep you from overeating. The key is to keep all your food within your daily consumption range (which varies from person to person).
- Lifting weights is bad for weight loss because it will make you "bulk up": Weight lifting can increase the appearance of muscles, but if this is not your aim, using a light to average weight will help tone up the body and boost your metabolism--just having muscle mass will burn calories in between workouts.
- There is a such thing as negative calories: Sorry dears, not true--a calorie is a calorie. Believers of the negative calorie claim that some foods burn more calories--through digestion--than they contain. Let's do an experiment: Eat 30 large apples every day for a month or two and let me know if you lost or gained weight. Although there may be some burning going on during digestion, it is insignificant for weight loss.
- Your body has a predetermined weight and you cannot do anything to change that: Some people believe in what is referred to as the "set point". The fact is, if you are overeating, nothing is going to keep you at that point. After you lose weight healthfully, your body and metabolism will adjust to the new you.
You've reached your goal! Now what?
Yay maintenance! Some programs have follow up plans for maintaining your weight, but if they do not, try to incorporate the program's healthy eating tactics into your lifestyle. A good programme will have taught you the fundamentals of healthy dieting, but you will need to eat a bit more food on a maintenance plan--this is because if you continue eating the same, your body will either A) keep shrinking, or B) slow your metabolism to adjust to the new intake. Increasing your intake by about five hundred calories should keep you at your post diet weight without making you gain. If you wish to calculate a more accurate figure, work out your BMR (basal metabolic rate) with an on-line calculator. Keep in mind that everyone's body is different and you may need to adjust this number up or down until you find a range that is suitable for your body (height, weight, and fitness level).