Weight Loss: Just the Facts
As a registered dietitian, I see patients every day who have gotten weight-loss advice from friends and neighbors, doctors and nurses. Some have been told to avoid all white foods. Or that carbohydrates are off limits, but a high-protein, high-fat diet is OK. Maybe the advice is that low fat is the only way to go, or that a diet must suit your body type. And, of course, there is always the famous cabbage soup diet.
Information on dieting is everywhere. Just look at the magazines displayed at the supermarket, or scan the books touting this plan or that at your local chain store. It's no wonder people are confused.
So, what kind of weight-loss plan is best? When evaluating a plan, there are some key questions you should ask:
• Does it claim that you will lose weight quickly?
• Does it promise that you can lose weight and keep it off without giving up any of your favorite foods?
• Does it restrict a single nutrient?
• Does it claim to alter physiology?
• Does it promote miracle cures?
• Does it require specific food combinations?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, be highly skeptical. The chances are great that the diet won't work.
How, then, can you really achieve long-term weight loss? These tips are time-tested and work for most people:
• Plan meals and snacks. Haphazard eating often leads to the consumption of high-calorie foods.
• Eat breakfast every day.
• Pay attention to portion sizes. Get out the measuring cups, spoons, and kitchen scale to see just how much you are eating.
• Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates, like sweets, crackers, and chips.
• Eat whole-grain carbohydrates.
• Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Try to have five to eight servings per day.
• Choose moderate portions (3 to 4 ounces) of lean proteins, and try to eat some protein with each meal. You will feel satisfied longer.
• Keep a food diary.
• Set up your home and work environments for success. Don't bring in problem foods, and make sure healthful foods are available.
• Eat slowly and pay attention to the taste of food.
• Quit eating when you are full.
• Exercise at least 30 minutes five times per week.
Any plan that restricts calories will work in the short run, but if it does not result in a lifestyle change, the pounds lost will come back quickly.
Is it possible to lose weight and keep it off? Yes, it is. It won't be easy, but it can definitely be done.