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Successful Weight Management

Losing and managing a lower body weight would seem rather simplistic...you just cut-down of your calorie intake and increase your energy expenditure. However, it isn't so simple.

This approach assumes that overweight and obesity are volitional disorders...they are not. Nobody in a Western society chooses to be obese. Furthermore, once caloric intake is decreased, multiple compensatory mechanisms result in decreased caloric requirements.

To be successful in reducing and maintaining a lower body weight, certain interventions have been shown to be helpful:

Dietary Changes - Higher protein/low saturated fat diets: Many scientific studies suggest that eating a diet that is higher in protein is associated with better short-term and long-term weight loss.

All foods are composed of the following nutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Both protein and carbohydrate have about 4 calories per gram, while fat has more than twice the calories at 9 calories per gram. Most studies show protein leads to better satiety ("fullness") than carbohydrates, which is in turn, is better than fat. Incidentally, when I say "fat," I am referring to saturated fat and not the omega-3 fats, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), since when these are combined with high protein foods, they improve satiety. Additionally, EPA and DHA have additional benefits in that they improve most of the medical conditions associated with obesity.

Increase Physical Activity: It seems intuitive that increasing physical activity will lead to weight loss, but significant weight loss from physical activity is the exception. However, increased physical activity improves the fullness experienced after eating and does improve physical conditioning. Increased physical activity is critical for weight maintenance; studies show that it takes the equivalent of 60-90 minutes of brisk walking daily to maintain weight loss (please see the section above on exercise).

Behavioral Modification / Lifestyle changes: Every individual is unique in their personal lifestyle and habits. A behavioral modification / lifestyle intervention program will help you identify behaviors that are contributing to your weight. Such programs assist in recognizing situations/events that contribute to overeating, identify and modify food choices and portion sizes, help you increase your physical activity, and help you to develop healthier habits. These programs are available in books, through weight management programs, and through health professionals (incidentally, we provide one online for our customers). All weight management programs, be it self-directed or professionally directed, should supply such programs to facilitate improved results.

Working with your health professional: Asking your health professional for guidance and assistance is recommended. First, obese individuals are prone to many silent medical conditions and a thorough medical exam prior to starting on a dietary intervention with increased physical activity is only prudent. Additionally, your health professional can assist with treatment of any associated depression or eating disorder that is pervasive in the overweight and obese population. These conditions may require the use of medications, something only you and your health professional can ascertain. Without addressing such conditions, it becomes extremely difficult to effectively lose and maintain a lower body weight.

Please remember that treatment of overweight and obesity is a process, not an event. It will take time and there will always be ups and downs. Also remember that it isn't a matter of going on a diet, losing weight and then reverting to your prior diet and habits; if you do this, your weight will return with a vengence. You must be ready to make incremental, long-term changes to effecuate long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.

Updated: 27 December 2011

Copyright © 1996 -2011 Michael D. Myers, M.D., Inc.
All rights reserved.

Disclaimer Statement

The above information is for general purposes only and should not be construed as definitive or binding medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Because each person is medically different, individuals should consult their own personal physicians for specific information and/or treatment recommendations.