By Brandon Pollock PhD, ACSM-EP-C
Obesity is associated with a variety of chronic diseases; such as hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and heart failure. Currently, over 66 percent of the adult population is affected by either overweight or obesity. Studies have shown that weight loss as small as 2 – 3 percent can reduce an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease by improving glucose tolerance, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
What’s holding people back?
“The first three letters of diet are D-I-E. Dieting conjures up feelings of deprivation and denial. Dieting is unsustainable, no fun. Few dieters win the war against hunger. Even 50 percent of people who had gastric bypass surgery regained weight within two years.” ACSM, 2010
Dieting is not easy. When it comes to losing weight, it should never be rushed. It is hard enough to lose weight and even more so in a short period of time. But if high school reunion is two weeks away, then here are some recommendations on how to lose weight efficiently and safely.
A Safe Evidence-based Approach
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that a healthy weight loss goal is losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. Many scientists support this rate of weight loss as it decreases the likeliness of relapse and weight gain. Daily caloric requirements fluctuate from individual to individual and are determined by factors such as metabolic rate and body composition.
According to ACSM, adults should carefully monitor energy intake and participate in at least 150 – 250 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. This will prevent weight gain and reduce chronic disease risk factors. Depending on the fitness level of the individual, slightly more or slightly less exercise may be required in order to promote weight loss.
A combination of both energy restriction and physical activity will result in greater weight loss than just energy restriction or physical activity alone. There are approximately 3,500 calories in a pound. So if you have a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, you will theoretically lose 1 pound in a week.
Establish Healthy Habits
Another important part of weight loss is establishing healthy habits. This includes exercise habits, eating habits, and sleeping habits. As far as exercise goes, try to get approximately 150 – 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, as suggested by ACSM. If you don’t have that sort of time, you can play around with increasing the intensity and decreasing the duration.
Just don’t do too much, too soon. Try to break up your workouts and get 3 – 4 with per week. In addition to cardiovascular exercise, it is always good practice to include some resistance training, as it has been shown with evidence-based research to prevent your metabolism from slowing down, a common side effect of weight loss.
A good starting spot for your diet is the DASH diet (http://dashdiet.org), which focuses on healthy eating patterns and avoidance of excess calories. Try to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, protein, and healthy unsaturated fats. Protein should come from lean meats, legumes, nuts, poultry, and fish. Some good choices for low- carbohydrate vegetables to eat for a healthy snack can be spinach, kale, lettuce, and broccoli. Sources of healthy fat that won’t make you tip the scale are safflower oil, olive oil, and canola oil.
Managing the quality and quantity of foods and staying active are essential for healthy weight maintenance and weight loss. Break up your meals throughout the day as best you can, try to get at least 2 – 3 meals per day. Avoid binge eating at all costs. Along with regular exercise and a proper diet, get plenty of sleep, and make sure you don’t overdo it. Remember before starting any exercise/diet regimen consult with your physician and registered dietitian.
*Before starting an exercise or nutrition regimen, consult with your physician and/or healthcare provider and registered dietitian.
**For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
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