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Weight loss can’t be hastened

July 2006
Weight loss can’t be hastened

Skipping meals and going hungry is not the right way to shed pounds���

When it comes to successfully losing weight and keeping it off, there is no magic pill or potion that does the trick. Millions of dollars are spent each year by consumers buying some form or the other of a pill that will once and for all get rid of that fat, promising a leaner, toned body. Hundreds of nutritionally inadequate fad diets are out there luring consumers with a quick weight-loss fix. The reality is that once excess weight has been gained, it takes time, patience, and commitment, a lot of exercise, a lot of healthy eating and, above all, a lot of sweat to lose it.

Putting on weight is a slow process, which doesn't happen overnight. Therefore, losing weight is also a slow process, which can take months. When it comes to successful weight loss, there are no quick fixes. The only way to lose it and keep it off is by making lifestyle changes and adapting healthy eating habits. Good nutrition and lots of exercise are essential along with being consistent and patient.

In order to lose weight, calories must be burned. Diets that require fasting and claim that "cleansing" the system will lead to weight loss are false and misleading. Advertisements of weight-loss products that claim up to a 10 lb weight loss in one or two weeks are not true. In reality, what is lost is lean muscle mass (which needs to be retained) and fluid weight which returns as quickly as it is lost. Fasting as a means of losing weight is not recommended as it lowers the body's metabolic rate, thereby causing the body to burn calories inefficiently. In order to lose weight successfully, one must be active.

There are approximately 3,500 kilocalories (kcal) in 1 lb of fat. To lose 1 lb of fat, 3,500 more kilocalories must be burned than are consumed. It is not possible to lose several pounds of fat per week. Fat loss must be accomplished over a period of time by increasing the number of calories that are expended (through exercise and being active) and modestly reducing caloric intake. In addition to following an exercise program, overall activity can be increased by climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator, parking the car further away from the grocery store and walking the extra distance and simply moving around more instead of sitting. Calorie intake can be reduced by making healthy choices such as substituting water for a can of soda or juice, replacing full fat cheese with fat-free cheese, and eliminating deep fried snacks, sweets and eating more fruits and vegetables instead.

The maximum effective rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds a week, provided one is active and follows a healthy diet. A structured weight-loss program which incorporates strength training, flexibility, cardiovascular exercise and good nutrition is the only effective way to lose weight and keep it off. Concentrating on only one technique is not as effective as focusing on all four. When someone goes on a rigid diet and fails to exercise, he/she will eventually get hungry, frustrated and will give up when weight loss is not achieved. Or, when someone just does cardiovascular exercises such as walking or jogging and doesn't incorporate strength training or good nutrition into their lifestyle, results are not achieved and disappointment sets in.���

In order to lose weight and maintain it, a well-rounded exercise program with good nutrition is a must. And of course, perseverance and a positive attitude always help!

-- Aarti Patel

Aarti is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer, Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant and Group Fitness Instructor. www.aartifitness.com.

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