Like clockwork, the first few months in the new year and then the summer season simultaneously bring with them irritating commercials for countless weight loss programs against obesity .The profit driven diet programs aren’t dumb, they’re capitalizing on the surge of good intentions and newly sworn goals (not to mention the fear of swimsuits) that typically accompany this time of year .
Americans can’t seem to shake their attachment to two modern dieting criteria. We want whatever we do to be quick and painless. We know it and the weight loss programs know it. The difference is they stand to make a profit every year because of it. And all we get is more frustrated, sometimes a bit heavier than we were, and of course, we get a bill.
The bottom line is these low calorie diets just don’t take the fat off for good. Here’s why:
- These diets are designed for quick “weight” loss, while losing body fat, which is what we really want, has to happen SLOWLY. In other words, if you’re losing the pounds quickly, you can bet it isn’t FAT you’re losing. It could be body water, the breakdown of muscle tissue or essential carbohydrate stores. Keep in mind that in the best of circumstances you can only lose about two pounds of FAT a week; for some of us it might only be one pound a week.
- Many of these diet programs are too low in calories. Your brain alone requires 150 grams of glucose energy per day. Your body prefers to get its glucose energy from carbohydrates or, if it has to, from protein stores, also called lean body mass. So just to preserve our musculature and keep our brain happy and productive we need AT LEAST 600 calories in the form of mostly carbohydrates with about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight (about 275 calories from protein for someone who weighs 150 pounds). But don’t run off yet to check the calories on your diet shake. You also need some fat calories to balance your meals and contribute necessary fat soluble vitamins, etc.
- Which all means that most of us should never go on a diet that feeds us less than 1,000 calories a day. Not only is it counter productive to losing the excess body fat that we’re so anxious to lose (when we eat less than this our body starts conserving energy and actually burns and needs fewer calories than if we ate a little more), but we’re risking our medical and nutritional safety as well.
- The whole philosophy of “dieting” works against long term loss of body fat. These diets are programs that we learn to suffer through for a short period of time, when what obviously needs to happen is long-term life changes if we want the loss of body fat to also be for a lifetime. I know this isn’t going to be a popular statement but someone has to say it. It’s our lifestyle the way we usually eat and exercise that got us into this dieting dilemma. Eventually returning to the same high fat, high calorie, sedentary lifestyle isn’t going to break the cycle permanently.
- Our suspicions should be raised by the very fact that most of these diet programs encourage you to depend on their particular products. Some even package their own salad dressings and vitamin supplements.
So how DO we lose weight safely and surely? First of all, we need to shift our focus from “a loss of pounds” to “a loss of body FAT.” If scales were never invented, we would only have the way we feel and our appearance from which to judge, and isn’t this what we should really be concerned about?
And you can encourage your body to use its extra fat by doing two things:
But I must warn you neither of these is easy or quick. They both involve pretty major changes in the way you’ve been doing business. And these changes should be permanent in order to keep your fat loss off for good.
- Start eating a low fat diet.
- Make aerobic exercise a regular part of your life.