Sacrifices Make For Lasting Weight Loss
people gain only about one to three pounds during
the holidays, but they don't lose the pounds they
gain. And though a few pounds might not seem like
much, over the years they add up.
To shed the pounds and stick to a diet, be reasonable
about how much weight will be lost, says Althea
Zanecosky, who is an associate professor of sports
nutrition at Drexel University as well as a
spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
"Most of the weight-loss programs say you will lose
one to two pounds a week," she said. "That is healthy
and won't have extreme side-effects."
The body has difficulty getting all the nutrition it
needs if weight drops more than two pounds in a week,
To lose one to two pounds a week, the dieter should
cut out 500 to a 1,000 calories a day, said Thomas
Wadden, director of the Weight and Eating Disorders
Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine. He said that women who are of a healthy
weight need, on average, about 1,700 calories a day,
while men need about 2,500. But most people consume
far more than that.
"The most useful approach is to consume a diet of
foods that you like, but to reduce the portion sizes,"
In addition, cut down on foods high in fat or
carbohydrates, he advises. For example, have a
hamburger and glass of water instead of a cheeseburger
and a milkshake for lunch. The difference between the
two is 500 calories.
To stay full but not take in too many calories, eat at
least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day,
"Instead of taking food away from you, eat more fruits
and vegetables," Wadden said.
Also, develop a structured meal plan and know what to
eat at every meal. A fixed meal plan reduces the need
to rummage for food, he said.
"Ultimately, people should eat a diet they like," he
said. "You don't want to create a diet you don't want
to go on. You won't last long."
Many people have gone on the Atkins Diet, a
high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Part of the
Atkins appeal is that consuming protein products such
as meat, eggs and cheese leaves a person feeling full,
while still allowing for weight loss.
Eating foods rich in protein causes the body to
excrete large amounts of water, so some of the weight
loss is actually a water loss, Zanecosky said.
A high-protein diet also mostly excludes
carbohydrates, which are needed for a balanced diet,
said the experts.
"Metabolically speaking, you need about 400 calories a
day of carbohydrates to convert into glucose to keep
the brain functioning," Zanecosky said.
The Atkins Diet tells the dieter not to consume more
than 20 grams of carbohydrates, or about 80 calories,
a day, said Wadden. That's one apple.
High-protein diets such as the Atkins Diet, the Zone,
and Sugar Busters may also increase the level of LDL,
or "bad" cholesterol, in the blood, said Wadden.
High-protein animal foods are often high in saturated
fat, which can raise blood cholesterol.
There is much debate in the weight-loss field over the
merits of a high-protein diet versus a diet that
focuses on cutting out fats. In one small study
published in November, Duke University researchers
looked at 120 overweight people on two types of diets:
the high-protein Atkins diet and an American Heart
Association low-fat diet. The study found that people
on the Atkins diet lost on average 31 pounds over six
months, compared with a 20-pound loss by those on the
low-fat diet. There was an 11 percent increase in HDL,
or "good" cholesterol, in the Atkins group, while HDL
levels in the low-fat group were unchanged. LDL levels
did not change much in either diet.
Though a high-protein diet may cause quick weight
loss, as with any other diet, people are apt to regain
the weight later, Wadden said.
That is where exercise comes in. Weight comes off
quickest by dieting, but exercise will keep it off, he