The Best (& Healthiest) Weight Loss Method
What is the best way to lose weight? Detox? Exercise? Diet? All of the above?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve tried to lose weight before, whether for health reasons, self-esteem, a competition or a special event. Chances are, the method you tried was successful for a period of time–but not anymore.
Why is that?
Weight loss is one of the most common feats for Americans across the nation. The offered methods for losing weight range from hundreds of structured diet plans (each claiming to be the best and quickest), diet pills, to surgeries, “detoxes”, and exercise programs alike.
The problem is most structured diet plans, diet pills, or exercise programs are “quick fixes.” After all, we all want to lose weight in a matter of weeks–but we fail to realize that it probably took much longer than 2 weeks to gain the weight to begin with. To top this, there may be other underlying issues going on, especially as we age. Hormones may be fluctuating, life may be more stressful–you may have some vitamin deficiency you didn’t even realize.
The reality is that food habits and preferences are learned from youth, and like any habit, they take time to form. This means they also take time to change. So while you might be exhilarated from successfully losing 20 lbs in a month from a 4-week diet program, once that program is over you will likely go back to old eating habits and regain the weight. Our old eating habits have been ingrained in our system way longer than a temporary diet, a cleanse, or exercise plan, so it’s no surprise we revert back to them. Short-term changes lead to short-term results.
In order for changes to last a lifetime, they should be slow and gradual, not extreme and quick. For many people (who don’t have an underlying condition) weight loss requires changes, be it from diet or physical activity, although research consistently shows that the best weight loss-prescription (for most people) involves a healthy diet along with regular exercise. Targeting both areas allows for some leniency with changes, so that they more enduring in the long-run. In other words, you can give up doughnuts MOST of the time, but allow yourself to enjoy one on occasion because you know you can make up for the calories through exercise.
Although it is possible to lose weight with changes in the food you eat alone, adding exercise can facilitate weight loss on top of improving your overall health. Exercise might help you overcome what’s known as a “weight loss plateau” which typically results from changes in the diet alone. That is, you start eating healthier, consistently lose 3lbs a week for a few months and then all of a sudden you’re stuck despite not changing your diet.
Strength or weight training in particular is beneficial since it helps to preserve or strengthen your muscle mass. By doing this, you ensure that your metabolism stays in gear. Sometimes people who start weight loss dieting (eating fewer calories) start to lose muscle mass (either because they’re not eating enough protein or not strength training) and this results in a slowed metabolism–hence the halt in weight loss.
Remember, long-term changes are more likely to last a lifetime. While seeing weight loss is a great motivator and self confidence booster, you should ultimately focus less on weight loss and more on making small changes toward a healthy lifestyle: things like eating more nutritious foods (and less empty calories) to support your health, engaging in regular physical activity and practicing stress management.
By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian