In addition to improving your health, maintaining a weight loss is likely to improve your life in other ways. For example, a study of participants in the National Weight Control RegistryExternal* found that those who had maintained a significant weight loss reported improvements in not only their physical health, but also their energy levels, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence.
The following review examines the advantages and disadvantages of several popular diet plans. Many of the diets emphasize the restriction of one nutrient as the basis for their plan. The other food groups and nutrients are allowed in limited or unlimited quantities, depending on the plan. Weight loss is impossible without a calorie restriction, so each diet has to provide fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your weight. Any diet that claims otherwise can end up causing weight gain. Various diet plans are summarized below to help you learn to review them for safety and effectiveness.
A good diet contributes to optimal health, but not everyone has a positive relationship with food. Some people battle with their plate, wit body image issues and obsessions joining the fight. The act of eating if often rife with strong emotions like boredom, stress, and guilt. Looking for relief, people reach for a slice of cake, setting them down a path of unhealthy behaviors. Next, it’s snacking in the middle of the night, foregoing proper portion sizes, skipping meals, and other untoward habits. Then comes a cycle of on-and-off, short-term dieting that rarely, if ever, leads to permanent weight loss.
“Starting slow and working your way up is better than overdoing it and giving up,” says Gagliardi. “I like the idea of attaching the new behavior of taking a walk to an existing behavior.” An easy way to approach it: Commit to going for a quick 10-minute walk after dinner, and slowly increase the time as you become more comfortable with daily movement.
People talk about “weight” loss because scale weight is a proxy measure for fat loss. Fat is the major source of excess body mass for most people who want to “lose weight.” Measuring fat (by DEXA scans or other body composition tools) is expensive and difficult; measuring weight is cheap and easy. So people just measure weight and assume that if they lose weight, it’s because they’re losing fat.
If you don’t have an established exercise routine, simply walking is the best first step toward weight loss. “Walking is a pretty good entry point for people,” says Gagliardi. This is particularly true if you have been out of the gym for a while and want to ease back into a workout routine. One small study published in The Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry found that obese women who did a walking program for 50 to 70 minutes three days per week for 12 weeks significantly slashed their visceral fat compared to a sedentary control group.