The Only Effective Way to Lose Weight

Photo by Torbak Hopper via flickr

The U.S. weight-loss industry earned $20 billion in 2012, which included diet books, diet drugs and weight-loss surgeries. And yet, the number of obese Americans officially outnumbers the number of overweight Americans. We are at epidemic levels of obesity: 68 percent of all Americans are obese or overweight. What is causing this disconnect? It could be that Americans are looking for weight loss answers in all of the wrong places. As a college nutritional science student, I talk about weight-loss strategies and treatments nearly everyday, and I know that there are several indisputable factors that contribute to obesity. Let’s ignore all of the trendy fad diets and weight loss products dominating the weight loss conversation today and talk about weight loss strategies that actually work.

Weight loss is a subject that we at Ladies Again are interested in because health status greatly impacts an individual’s value in the dating and marriage market. It is simple: Healthy, successful men want to date, marry and reproduce with healthy women who can produce and raise healthy offspring. In general, people are looking for partners who will live long and healthy lives, not shortened lives muddled by the consequences of obesity, such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and liver and kidney diseases (obesity may shorten life expectancy up to 14 years). Not to mention that obesity adds up to expensive medical bills (someone has to pay for the doctor’s appointments and medications for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol). In sum, losing weight is very challenging, but doing so significantly boosts your overall health and value in the dating market. Weight loss is hard, but always worth the effort.

So what causes obesity? Obesity is caused when the amount of energy inputted into the body exceeds the energy released by the body. It is that simple. When excess fat is consumed and not used, the body stores the fat in fat cells of the adipose tissues. As the fat cells accumulate they expand in size. When the excess fat exceeds the fat cells, it is distributed and deposited in vital organs, such as the heart and the liver, which leads to heart failure and fatty liver. The wonderful thing about the body is that is highly adaptable, so when excess fat is consumed, the fat cells increase in number and expand to accommodate. Unfortunately, this also means that when we lose weight, the fat cells only shrink in size, but never in number. This is why people with excess fat tend to regain lost weight rapidly because their fat cells readily fill. This means that we must work very hard to make sure that excess fat cells do not develop.

Aside from genetic variants, there are two major factors for obesity: high overall caloric intake (high proportion sizes) and physical inactivity. Humans have developed to hunt for our meat or walk long distances for fruits and vegetables. Now, it takes no effort to order a Big Mac or a pizza―you don’t even have to leave your house anymore to order food (we really should say “food” in quotation marks since we’re talking about foods filled with trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and white flours). Unfortunately, high-caloric food is always within close range, and Americans eat this food in abundance. Second, Americans rarely exercise―we drive to our homes, where we eat pizza on the couch while watching television. There is a misconception that humans need to only exercise 30 minutes per day to stay healthy. “People must be physically active if they are to eat enough food to deliver all the nutrients they need without unhealthy weight gain,” wrote Whitney and Rolfers in Understanding Nutrition. To prevent weight gain, the Dietary Reference Intakes recommends 60 minutes of moderately intense (get that heart rate beating) exercise each day. Per day. More exercise is recommended if losing weight is the goal.

There’s a lot of incorrect weight loss advice floating around. The problem with fad diets is that they are difficult to sustain long-term and often promote inadequate diets (our bodies need a certain amount of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats per day to function). Lose weight too quickly, and you risk losing muscle tissue instead of fat, which is dangerous and defeats the point of dieting to maintain optimal health.

So how do you lose weight the safe way? Try these effective nutritional and physical activity strategies:

Nutrition

Set Reasonable Goals
Understand and accept that losing weight is a challenge, and it is dangerous to lose weight too quickly. The safe rate for weight loss is 0.5 to 2 lbs (or 0.2 or 0.9 kg) per week; or 10 percent of body weight every six months.

Reduce Energy Intake
Obesity is caused by an energy imbalance, where more energy is being consumed than expended. So to lose weight safely, a person must increase activity and reduce food intake by creating a deficit of 300 to 500 calories per day (for people with a BMI of 27 to 35). This will produce a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week, which will make sure that you lose fat but also retain your lean muscle tissue.

Retail Shelf Photo
Shop on the outskirts of the grocery store to avoid junk food.

Emphasize Nutritional Adequacy
Each day, healthy humans need to eat a certain amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to maintain bodily functioning. Out of all of the calories we consume, 45-65 percent should be carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), 20-35 percent should be fats and 10-35 should be protein. You need a balance of all three nutrients.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABCDEFGH[/youtube]Fad diets that tell dieters to reduce carbohydrates never work because we need good carbs to function properly. Too little carbohydrates isn’t good because the body takes proteins and turns them into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. Your brain and muscles need glucose from carbs to function! Also, the body cannot process too much protein, so our bodies excrete the amino acids through our urea (this puts stress on our kidneys).

Try to eat a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean protein, such as turkey or seafood. So to lose weight, simply consume less of all of the food you eat, but continue to eat a balanced diet. Do not reduce your proportion of carbohydrates, proteins or fat―only reduce your total caloric intake.

Shop Differently
Bigbox grocery stores tend to put packaged foods in the center of the store. Excluding whole grain pastas and jarred vegetables, most of the valuable nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, lean meats and dairy products are located on the outskirts of the grocery store aisles; the junk foods are all in the center. Try shopping by avoiding the center aisles of your grocery stores. Or simply try shopping at farmer’s markets. Finally, get in the habit of reading nutritional labels. Check for processed sugars, “natural flavors” (which are actually just fragrances) and artery-clogging trans fats.

Minor Tips

A few other nutritional changes you can make:

  • Eat slower: Allow your body to tell your brain that you have reached satiety and are full. Fast eating correlates with higher weights.
  • Drink water: Try to go one week by just drinking water to quench your thirst and nothing else. Why? Because sugar-sweetened beverages have been closely linked to obesity. Also, water, increases fullness and reduces hunger, and consequently reduces energy intake.
  • Don’t eat 3 hours before bed: Your body needs time to process your meal, so don’t eat too late at night.

Finally, think of your body as a temple. Dismiss and ignore empty caloric drinks and snacks. You have too many life goals and things to offer than to put a 700-calorie burger in your body. Your body is too precious to treat it like a garbage can. Remember that the next time you pass by a cupcake shop.

Read Next: Why You Are Failing At Work-Life Balance

Author: Lilac Blue

Lilac Blue is writes about femininity, love and family in a world that has been drastically altered by industrialization, secularism, misandry and misogyny.

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