Nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Millions of these people are on a “diet” at any given time. Shockingly, this “national pastime” of dieting costs us nearly $40 billion each year. Despite these staggering statistics, Americans are getting fatter and sicker. That’s because extra weight increases the risk of several chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. How is it that we’re spending so much time and money dieting, yet obesity rates continue to climb and our health continues to deteriorate? Could our dieting philosophy be inherently flawed? The answer is yes!

Many Americans are searching for a “quick fix;” and that’s especially true when it comes to dieting. They turn to the latest and greatest fad diet to help them shed pounds quickly. The diet may work initially due to serious calorie restriction, eliminating certain macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates), or other unhealthy tactics. But chances are the dieter will regain the weight they lost and more!

While rapid weight loss includes some fat, it also includes large amounts of fluid and some lean tissues. During longer term weight loss regimens the composition of weight lost is normally about 75 percent fat and 25 percent lean. But during a fast the losses of fat and lean are equal! Fasting causes dramatic weight loss, but unfortunately it also results in the loss of critical lean body mass. This loss of lean muscle drives down metabolic rate and slows fat burning.

A state of ketosis is typically induced by fasting or starvation. The body adapts to the lack of energy-yielding glucose from carbohydrates by producing an alternative energy source to fuel the brain and nervous system called ketone bodies. The effects of extended ketosis are quite dangerous. They include muscle breakdown, kidney problems, increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, gout, calcium deficiency, increased risk of death in diabetics, and fetal abnormality or death in pregnant women.

Healthy weight loss takes time – and plenty of patience. But there’s more to weight loss than cutting calories; focusing on whole foods, eliminating processed foods and incorporating exercise all help to shed pounds and to promote a lifetime of good health. And there’s a bonus – overweight people who lose weight in a slow and steady manner have a much greater chance of keeping the weight off for the long term!

Setting realistic goals makes it much easier to achieve permanent weight loss. But how much weight loss is reasonable? For overweight people, a reasonable rate of weight loss is about ½ to 2 pounds per week or 10 percent of body weight over six months. This type of weight loss is much more likely to be maintained than dramatic weight loss on a fad diet.

Permanent weight loss should happen slowly and is typically the result of healthy lifestyle changes that can be sustained for the long term. The best way to achieve or maintain a healthy weight is by sticking to a whole foods diet with lots of organic fresh vegetables. Avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates; trans fats and other unhealthy fats; fast food; junk food; and soda. Also, avoid overeating and exercise daily. Remember, the goal is not just to lose weight but to improve overall health!

For a personalized weight loss plan, contact me.

Until next time, make every bite count!