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Keeping the weight off

There's no easy way to lose weight. Whether you decide on a high-protein diet, a low-fat diet, or some other approach, experts agree that the only way to shed excess weight is to cut the total numbers of calories you consume and/or burn more calories through exercise. Simple enough to understand but often much more difficult to do.

Even as we've become more and more obsessed with diets and dieting, we've become fatter and fatter. In fact, obesity in the industrialized world is reaching epidemic proportions. Sixty-four percent of American adults are overweight, including 23 percent who are obese (defined as having a Body Mass Index [BMI] of 30 or more). In Canada, close to half the population is overweight and one in six people is obese. It seems that even as diet books and low-fat cookies fly off the shelf, the essential messages about how to lose weight safely and permanently aren't sinking in.

Real weight loss

The secret to losing weight is this: Burn more calories than you eat. When the body uses more energy than it takes in (remember, food equals energy), it depletes its fat sores. In other words, eat less and your body will burn fat for energy. Of course, what you eat is important, too. A diet based solely on cabbage soup won't provide the nutrition your body needs and you'll get tired of it soon enough and return to your old eating habits with a vengeance.

Any weight-loss plan needs to center on foods you can keep eating for a lifetime and of course it helps if those foods will also help protect you from cancer and other diseases. After all, it's not all about losing weight. A diet that is high in meat and low in fruits (Atkins for example) may lead to short-term weight loss, but is not in keeping with current nutritional knowledge. Excessive meat consumption has been linked with a variety of diseases and a high-fruit diet protects against cancer.  Fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein are the cornerstone of healthy eating, whether or not you're trying to trim your waistline. the foods that your body can easily do without which happen to be the ones packed with calories are the ones to cut back on. That means cakes, cookies, fatty meats, whole milk, cream sauces, and the like.

When people want to lose weight, they usually want instant results. Most people who go on crash diets to shed heft fast usually end up putting it back on just as quickly and often put back more than they lost. Experts suggest a goal of losing about 1 lb (0.45 kg) a week. There are 3,500 calories in 1 lb (0.45 kg) of stored fat, so you'll have to reduce your food intake by 500 calories a day to get there. Or you can eat 250 fewer calories and burn 250 more through exercise.

Research shows that people who exercise in addition to eating less keep off the most weight for the longest time. Work up to getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (such as fast-paced walking) a day. By exercising you'll raise your metabolism so that you burn more calories, even as you sleep. Exercise also helps you feel better mentally and physically, and may help you stick to your weight-loss plans.

CAUTION

North Americans spend more than $25 billion each year on commercial weight-loss programs. Beware of any diet regime driven by an obvious profit motive. Fad diets don't work in the long term. Be wary of so-called "fat blockers" and "starch blockers" that claim to absorb fat and block starch digestion. these claims have no been proven. Also be wary of herbal weight-loss products -- many of these are loaded with stimulants such as ephedrine that can provoke cardiac arrhythmias and other serious side effects.

 
 

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The skinny on weight loss

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Keeping the weight off

Burn fat for healthy weight loss

 

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