FEATURE — Whether you’re just starting to think about losing weight for health reasons or have been trying unsuccessfully for several months leading up to swimsuit season, the following nine tips will help you on your way to a new you.
1. There is no such thing as “spot reduction.”
All of these creams and lotions that are sold online and in stores don’t work. So how can people market these and make these amazing claims?
Anyone who markets something as a “supplement” does not have to prove that they are effective, or even safe, because they are not governed by the Food and Drug Administration and can claim pretty much anything they want. However, if they are caught lying, the Federal Trade Commission can and will sue them, such as the action against Pure Green Coffee for making claims on the Dr. Oz show in 2014.
2. Supplements promising that they are “fat burners” or can “increase your metabolism” are unproven at best, fraudulent at worst.
Be skeptical if something seems to good to be true. Be skeptical if it in any way bypasses exercise and calorie reduction. Be skeptical if it is being pushed by someone who dresses as a physician but isn’t or by a celebrity. This is a $30 billion industry.
I should probably also add here that vitamin B12 is an important vitamin but it is being peddled as a valid weight loss supplement and energy booster. Unless you have something called megaloblastic anemia, it will do nothing of the sort. Nevertheless, they are a mainstay of treatment at weight loss clinics at around $20 a pop.
3. Does the weight loss medication phentermine work? Well, yes and no.
It is a fabulous, safe appetite suppressant whose effects will eventually fade, but in helping women “get over the hump” to be able to function on a low-calorie diet, it usually works great. But unless lifestyle changes are made simultaneously, once the phentermine is stopped, the weight will return unless those changes are made permanently. Phentermine, by the way, is available only by prescription and is also a controlled substance.
4. Do surgical body sculpting procedures that freeze or heat fat tissue work? Yes.
But let me qualify that by saying that the real answer is a bit more complicated. I will go over that in another list in the near future. Stay tuned.
5. Exercise alone for weight loss is actually very ineffective.
There is a lot of data to back up that myth-buster. It is very healthy to exercise. It is beneficial for long-term weight stabilization. But for weight loss, it’s not so good. Why? It’s hard to say, but most likely because increased exercise also increases your appetite and you end up eating back the calories you burned. The key is calorie restriction. Any weight loss program that promises you can lose weight without changing your diet is almost certainly not true.
6. Crash dieting to lose large amounts of weight in a short period is a myth
If you are talking about losing fat weight. You can lose fluid, some muscle mass and some fat mass with a crash, short-term diet. Fasting can decompress the bowels, making you feel like you suddenly fit in clothes you used to not fit in. But it’s an illusion. Sorry, but the fat stores that you would really want to go away are still there. Cutting calories down to 1,200 per day over a month will allow 4-8 pounds’ reduction of body fat. No more than that, no quicker than that.
However, f you are limiting yourself to 1,200 kilocalories/day and not losing weight, it is likely that you are taking in more than 1,200 calories/day. There are exceptions to this, but very few. In human beings that have a body fat percentage over 25 percent, you will lose body fat at 1,200 calories per day. But if you feel like you are eating next to nothing and not losing, see below.
7. Write down everything you eat – everything (except water).
You’ll be surprised how effective that is. I can swear I haven’t eaten all day, then I start adding things up and yikes, it adds up really fast. There are lots of great apps for your smart phone for keeping track. What you’ll find is that it will make you more aware and discerning about your food choices, and you’ll just say that that snack is not worth the 300 calories it would cost you. And you’ll make better decisions.
8. There is no consensus on what weight-loss diet is the best.
Really, any diet that limits calories that you can live with for a long time (or permanently) is the key. Don’t get hung up on whether diets high in fats or protein or whatever is the one for you. If it has food you like, choose it. Notice that there is not a diet option that is high in carbs, though, because that’s the one I’d pick.
9. Programs like WeightWatchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem are legit.
They all work by the same formula, just dealt to you in a different way. They all decrease calories and preportion your meals for you to make it easier. You can do the same on your own, but for busy women who don’t have time to futz with the details, these and any program that prepares meals for you and focuses on decreasing calories is also likely legit.
I wish I had more solutions than myth-busters for you here. But if I had an easy way to lose weight, I’d likely have my own daytime TV show. And I don’t. But what I’m telling you here is based on real science and recommendations made by such entities as the National Institute of Health and the FDA. Good luck!
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