Successful body weight reduction is not just a matter of losing pounds. The emphasis needs to be on abandoning body fat and avoiding reduction of lean body mass, primarily muscle mass. What is this the key to long-term success? Because muscle requires 15 times the energy compared to fat to survive which is 7.5 Calories per day for muscle versus 0.5 calories per day for fat. The more lean tissue, the more calories one can eat once desirable body weight is achieved. Overall, a moderate nutritional diet of at least 1000 calories of high quality food per day and physical exercise is clearly the best approach because 80% of the body weight lost is fat. This plan protects lean body mass, which is critical to keep from gaining the body weight back again.
Exercise in moderation is essential. It burns calories, which promotes weight loss. And it makes a body look good, inside and out: the payoff is a leaner, more attractive body, with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. However, physical activity by itself may not be enough to lose weight. For best results, it should be combined with a reduced caloric plan, calculated to match an individual’s new physical activity level.
Rapid weight loss can be very encouraging at first, but long term results are quite disappointing for many. The lost weight is mostly water at first. However, it rapidly returns, besides diets too low in calories quickly lower the body’s metabolic rule. This makes it even harder to lose weight and much easier to get it back. This creates a “yo-yo” diet syndrome. More fat is lost when the rate of weight loss is about two pounds per week. The number of calories needed to achieve this varies for each person and should be determined on an individual and unique basis.
There are immediate benefits to consuming the right number of calories. First of all, it helps to avoid the hunger, fatigue and grouchiness that so often accompany deprivation of food. It supplies the energy needed to exercise. Trying to exercise on a very low caloric diet is like starving yourself twice – it leads to further loss of lean body tissue. It helps ensure that nutritional needs are met. This is especially important over an extended period of time.
A healthy mix of foods, high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat, sugar and alcohol gives the individual the most for their calories plus a higher energy level and better nutrition. That’s why it is so important thing to consider is to choose the right foods. Many weight loss diets encourage avoiding carbohydrates (starchy foods), the body’s primary source of fuel. Such diets promote rapid loss of body water for a few weeks. But this can lead to a discouraging weight plateau, followed by weight gain from water and sodium retention once carbohydrates are eaten again.
Lifelong weight control requires more than a simple diet. A plan is needed that focuses on making changes in behaviors that have contributed to the weight problem, changes that are realistic and fit each person’s unique lifestyle. The best program for most people includes: a personal plan of action with specific solutions for permanent change, a program with the right balance of calories and physical activity to lose weight at an optimal rate, and the personal support they need to succeed. Doing it right helps ensure that the weight loss is not just temporary, but lifelong.