Top Strategies For Permanent Weight Loss

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 2:58pm

By John Messmer, MD

Do you want to lose weight? Pick a diet, any diet. There are so many kinds of diets, how can anyone know which one is best? Many have gimmicks, such as drinking vinegar, or eating grapefruit, or eating only rice and fruit, or counting points, or picking cards. Some plans sell you food you should eat. Some let you pick and chose from certain lists. Proponents of diet plans show pictures and read testimonials of people who have lost 30, 50, 100 pounds on their diet and promise that you can achieve that success too.

Gimmicks don’t work for weight loss

The truth is that when a person follows a diet where they’re consistently consuming fewer calories than their body uses, they will lose weight. If weight loss is the only goal, pick any plan. The problem with regimens that have a gimmick is people can not or will not continue with the gimmick. In some cases, the diet is not healthy for long term use. Even commercial diet plans that provide good, balanced nutrition can be expensive to stay on for the long haul. The result is that about nine out of 10 people who lose weight gain it back.

A balanced diet gets results

The best way to approach dieting is to eat a balanced diet with vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, lean meat and fish and if tolerated, low fat dairy but only in the amount needed to maintain one’s normal weight. So, for a person who is 250 pounds but normally should be 150 pounds, the best approach is to eat a balanced diet for a 150-pound person. This could be as little as 1500 calories per day or 11 calories per pound of ideal body weight for someone with minimal exercise or as much as 2800 calories or 18 calories per pound for a person who is very athletic.

Focus on consistency in your diet

The trick is to be consistent. When we reduce our calorie intake, our bodies think we may be starving so we try to absorb and store any extra calories we consume. So if we reward ourselves for a good week of dieting with some high calorie snack, we store those calories and do not lose any weight. It makes us feel as though we are dieting all the time and not losing weight or that we simply can not lose it. Once we begin to eat properly, it is very important to continue to eat only the proper amount of food until our goal is achieved. Done consistently, there should be a 1-2 pound loss of weight each week.

Stay positive and realistic - diet attitude is everything

Attitude is important in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. If we think of it as a dreadful task, when the goal is reached it’s too easy to go back to the old habits and regain the lost weight. Rather, proper diet should be a lifestyle choice. Eating the right foods in the right amount is the best plan. Once a proper weight is reached, it is possible to indulge from time to time in small amounts, but frequent overindulgences will add weight back.

Anyone who has been very overweight is likely genetically predisposed and must be vigilant in eating properly. Too much dieting makes the body very efficient at maintaining weight, making it very difficult to keep it off. It’s best always to eat properly in order to stay a normal weight.