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Key Insights on Lifelong Weight Control

By Rick Allen, DC and Chuck Goldberg, MD

Man and mirror weight control graphic

Lose Fat, Not Muscle

Successful weight loss is not just a matter of losing pounds. The emphasis needs to be on abandoning body fat and avoiding loss of lean body tissue, primarily muscle mass. Why is this the key to long-term success? Because muscle requires 15 times the energy compared to fat to survive (7.5 Calories per day for muscle versus 0.5 calories per day for fat). The more lean tissue, the more calories one can consume once desirable body weight is achieved. 

Overall, a moderate diet of at least 1000 calories of high quality food per day and exercise is clearly the best approach because 80% of the weight lost is fat. This plan protects lean body mass, which is critical to keep from gaining the weight back again.

Lean on Exercise

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.

Eat a Sensible Amount

Rapid weight loss can be encouraging at first, but long term results are disappointing. The lost weight (mostly water) 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 gain it back, creating a "yo-yo" dieting syndrome. 

More fat is lost when the rate of weight loss is about 2 pounds per week. The number of calories needed to achieve this varies for each person and should be determined on an individual basis.

There are immediate benefits to consuming the right number of calories:


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.

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.

To make better food habits permanent, weekly evaluation of food records is a powerful tool. The emphasis should be on showing people how to make better food selection and preparation decisions within the framework of their own lifestyle. Requiring people to eat special foods or supplements can be helpful to break an initial cycle, as is done in the Trim Body System (contact Dr. Allen for details). Nonetheless, for any plan to be successful, including this plans, one must establish realistic eating habits for a practical long-term solution.

A New Style For Life

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.

Recapping: Doing it right helps ensure that the weight loss is not just temporary, but lifelong.

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