I am getting a lot of comments and questions about losing weight. This is a very complex topic which has many variables. Very well controlled metabolic studies have shown that people can lose weight but then a break comes on and no more weight loss is possible.
Several reasons for the weight loss stall have been postulated. Muscle is lost with fat so metabolism slows. Also, fat secretes a hormone called leptin. If let in levels drop your body thinks that you are in starvation and will increase hunger and possibly slow metabolism.
Most people lose weight, stall, then gain it back. Studies show that, while few people are successful at long term weight loss without surgery, it can actually be achieved. The National Weight Control Registry is a database looking at people who have lost weight without surgery. Looking at behaviors they have identified a few commonalities:
- Successful dieters are not on crash diets; they tend to follow a low fat diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- They make exercise a part of daily life.
- They do not skip breakfast.
There are eight main things your should keep in mind when trying to lose weight.
1) Genetics do play a large part.
Genetically people distribute fat in different areas and have different metabolism nd different hunger levels. You really should try not to compare to others.
2) Even a little weight loss makes a huge difference to health.
Studies show that losing just 10% of your weight can really help with reducing metabolic diseases.
3) You have to set goals.
People set very vague goals and most are only concerned with the scale. Many goals are not realistic. It is a fine line but you have to set goals that will push you past your current situation but that will not break you. People are always telling me that their goals are to have a 6 pack abs. That is not always realistic.
4) Plant based low fat diets.
You don’t have to be vegetarian, although studies do show that vegetarians and vegans tend to weigh less. High protein low carb diets achieve short term success but almost always fail long term. Diets rich in fruits vegetables, legumes, and grains, are satisfying due to their fiber content and yet provide few calories.
It is important to actually eat a lot when eating fruits and veggies. I see people that are so used to portion control that they eat tiny salads and wonder why they are hungry. Beauty of eating foods high in fiber and water is you can eat a lot. The science behind plant based diets for weight loss is VERY strong.
5) Watch out for oils.
Oils are very calorie dense. People spray their “Low Calorie” PAM cooking spray all over their pan not realizing the serving size for the PA spray is1/4 second spray. Oils are a killer when it comes to hidden calories.
6) Do not fear real food carbs.
Potatoes are the mainstay of many of the healthiest societies and in scientific studies are the most satiating food you can eat.
7) You HAVE to move.
Way too many people work out 3 days a week and do nothing the rest of the time. You need to keep your metabolism stoked. I love pedometers and have been very impressed with the success achieved when getting 10,000 steps a day. That would be enough to keep you healthy.
That would all probably be enough, but if you really want more…
8) You gotta exercise.
The goal should be to build muscle which increases your metabolism, and burn calories. Science suggests 150 minutes a week, although some think it should be more, depends on your goals.
I think 3 days a week of cardio activity keeping heart rate at 180-age for 30-45 minutes is good.
Then 1-2 days should be high intensity intervals. This involves an all out effort for a short period, 20-30 seconds. Rest and repeat.
Then 2 days a week actually lifting weights to strengthen bones and build muscle and strength.
My Weight Loss Journey
In my 40’s I was able to really transform myself. I did this using a vegan diet loaded with fruits, veggies, beans, grains, starches.
I set many goals and every time I reach a finish line I view it not as an end but as a beginning to my next challenge.
I walk as much as possible. Parking far away, always taking the stairs, taking dog for walk, etc.
I do crossfit 2x week, lift weights 1x/week, run sprints 2x/wk, and do a long slow run 1x/wk.
This has given me unbelievable success. DOesn’t mean that if you copy me you will get exact success but you will get healthy.