Secrets of Successful Weight Loss

The Lancet found that obesity (30 pounds or more overweight) causes enough damage to the body to make a person 9 years “older” than his or her chronological age, by speeding up the aging of the body’s cells.

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Secrets of Successful Weight Loss

No Special Diets, Programs Necessary

by Jennifer Warner, WebMD Medical News, Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

May 10, 2002 -- The secret of losing weight and keeping it off isn't really a secret at all -- no fad diet, no special fat-burning pill, no celebrity-endorsed weight-loss organization. The largest survey ever on long-term weight loss shows that most successful weight-loss veterans did it all on their own, without using expensive commercial diet programs, dietary supplements, special foods or meal substitutes, or drugs.

The survey, conducted and published by Consumer Reports, questioned more than 32,000 dieters and found 83% of those who had kept the extra pounds off from more than a year did it without any gimmicks. In fact, just 14% of those who kept the weight off for more than five years ever signed up with Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or other commercial diet programs, and even fewer used meal replacements such as Slim Fast.

Researchers say their findings debunk the conviction that you need help from a diet guru or special meal plan to lose weight. And the biggest contributor to dieting success may not be what you eat anyway, but burning those calories with a regular exercise routine.

Eight out of 10 of the successful dieters who tried exercising three or more times a week ranked it as their No. 1 dieting strategy. Although walking was the most popular form of exercise for long-term success, nearly 30% added weight lifting to their routine to increase calorie-burning muscle mass.

But not everyone who tries to lose weight is successful at it. Only about a quarter of the dieters shed at least 10% of their starting weight and kept it off for at least a year, a standard definition of weight-loss success.

Researchers say there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan for everyone, but the survey did reveal some general tips and strategies that served the weigh-loss achievers well.

  • Control your blood sugar. Refined carbohydrates create a surge in insulin that makes blood sugar levels plummet and leaves you feeling hungry. Substitute whole grains and high-fiber foods for white bread, potatoes, and pasta.
  • Pack on the protein. Eating enough lean protein can make you feel full and slows the absorption of food.
  • Fool yourself with volume. Adding water-filled vegetables and fruits can trick you into feeling full because you can eat more than with calorie-dense foods.
  • Don't deny fat. Eating fat-free cookies, pretzels, and other treats that contain refined carbohydrates can lead to bingeing. Instead, allow yourself up to 30% of your daily calories to come from fat, particularly mono- and poly-unsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, and fish oil.
  • Stay with it. More than half the dieting success stories in the survey said they applied these strategies to their diets every day.
© 2002 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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10 Proven and Easy Ways to Lose Weight

19 Jul 2003 - Losing weight is one of the hardest things to do, but making small, simple lifestyle changes in how and what we eat can result in big losses on the bathroom scale. Eating healthy is the issue. Willpower is NOT the issue. "Willpower is about depriving yourself, and nobody gets excited about that," According to Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist with the University of South Florida in Tampa and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, "Depriving yourself is depressing and leads to bingeing. Focus on the positives -- you feel better, have more energy when you eat healthy."

The following list of 10 proven and easy ways to lose weight, culled from WebMD, Reuters, HealthScoutNews, and iVillage, targets small easy-to-make changes in your diet. Do one at a time. Do each for three weeks and it will become a habit. Then move on to the next change. Small, simple steps. Big results?

10 proven ways to lose weight:

  1. Eat a balanced breakfast.
  2. Don't skip any meals.
  3. Be active or exercise for 30 minutes a day.
  4. Drink water instead of soda.
  5. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  6. Pack your own snacks.
  7. Eat dinner at home.
  8. Eat small amounts of different fruits and vegetables.
  9. Eat the "heavy" foods first.
  10. Five foods to eat: fiber, raw vegetables, berries, nuts, and protein. Five to avoid: Pasta, most bread, commercial cereals, sodas, and packaged cookies, cakes, pies, crackers, and desserts.

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Drink Milk. Lose Weight? Some Say Yes

by Cathryn Conroy,

19 Jul 2003 - Drink milk. Eat yogurt. Snack on cheese. Low-fat dairy products may help control body fat, according to the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

How? Lead researcher Michael Zemel (Zemel's latest study was published in the Journal of Nutrition) says that a diet rich in low-fat dairy foods will change the way the body's fat cells do their job. "A diet high in low-fat dairy causes fat cells to make less fat and turns on the machinery to break down fat, which translates into a significantly lower risk of obesity," he explained in a news release announcing the study results. In other words, dairy foods burn fat.

The researchers gave four groups of mice four different diets. The diet with the most low-fat dairy foods had the best results in controlling body fat. To apply these findings to the American human population, the researchers analyzed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) data set. After controlling for caloric intake, physical activity, and other factors, body fat was markedly lowered in people who consumed more dairy.

Who benefits the most from a diet rich in low-fat dairy products? Women. "What we found is that women who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy foods per day were at the lowest risk of becoming obese," said Zemel. "In fact, there was an 80 percent reduction in risk for any given level of calorie intake."

It's tempting to cut out the dairy foods when we want to lose weight, but when you do this, Zemel says it sends a signal to your body to conserve calcium, which in turn creates higher levels of the hormone calcitriol. It's calcitriol that triggers the production of fat cells. When the calcitriol levels are boosted, fat cells expand and store themselves in the body. Translation: You get fat. But when you eat dairy foods, you get more calcium. And calcium suppresses the calcitriol. That in turn breaks down more fat.

The best foods to eat are real dairy products -- milk, cheese, and yogurt -- rather than calcium-fortified foods because the real deal contains more vitamins and minerals. Previous research has shown that dairy products also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and possibly colon cancer. Now they'll help you lose weight. But do remember this: Drinking milk is not a magic diet. Calories DO count.

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Walk, Don't Run
It's simple, it's cheap, and studies show that walking may be the best exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
by Christine Gorman with reporting by Amanda Bower and Alice Park/New York and Stacie Stukin/Los Angeles

19 Jul 2003 - You want to get healthy. you know you need to exercise more. You may have even jump-started your New Year's resolutions by joining a gym. But if you're not ready to squeeze into shorts or a leotard and grunt through an hour of Spinning or Jazzercize or kickboxing, don't despair. There's growing agreement among exercise researchers that the intense physical activities offered by most health clubs is not the only -- or even necessarily the best -- path to better health. In fact, the best thing most of us can do, say the experts, may be to walk.

Yes, walk. Not run or jog or sprint. Just walk, at a reasonably vigorous clip (3 mph ­ 4 mph) for half an hour or so, maybe five or six times a week. You may not feel the benefits all at once, but the evidence suggests that over the long term, a regular walking routine can do a world of preventive good, from lowering your risk of stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis to treating arthritis, high blood pressure and even depression.

Walking, in fact, may be the perfect exercise. For starters, it's one of the safest things you can do with your body. It's much easier on the knees than running and, beyond an occasional stitch in the side, doesn't trigger untoward side effects. "Regular physical activity is probably as close to a magic bullet as we will come in modern medicine," says Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital. "If everyone in the U.S. were to walk briskly 30 minutes a day, we could cut the incidence of many chronic diseases 30% to 40%."

If Americans want to do that, they have a long way to go. Fewer than a third of adults in the U.S. get the recommended amount of exercise each day, and 40% are almost completely sedentary. The result, as reported by the Surgeon General last month: a nation in which obesity may soon overtake cigarette smoking as the leading cause of preventable death.

Part of the problem is that exercise always sounded so hard. Back in the 1970s and '80s, when scientists conducted a series of studies on the subject, it wasn't clear that exercise could prevent disease at all. In order to prove the point, researchers looked for the greatest effect -- and found it at the top levels of performance. While the benefits of vigorous exercise are still unassailable, the initial results did not address a more basic question: Is there a lower limit to the amount of physical activity necessary to produce significant health benefits?

The answer, as dozens of studies over the past five years have shown, turns out to be yes. Brisk walking provides many of the same benefits as more intense activities, like jogging or aerobics. The key seems to be in trading off intensity for duration. "If you're doing nothing and start doing a little, you will get a little benefit," says I-Min Lee, an exercise researcher at Harvard. "As you do more, you will see an additional benefit."

Because walking affects you in so many ways at once, it can be difficult to determine precisely why it's good for you. But much of the evidence gathered so far is quite compelling. Some of the areas in which scientists have already identified benefits:

  • Heart disease: Brisk walking is known to be good for the heart, which makes a lot of sense. The heart is a muscle, after all, and anything that makes the blood flow faster through a muscle helps keep it in shape. But regular walking benefits the heart in other ways as well. It lowers blood pressure, which helps decrease the stress on the arteries. It can boost the amount of HDL cholesterol (the good one) in the blood. It even seems to make the blood less "sticky" and therefore less likely to produce unwanted clots. It all adds up to as much as a 50% reduction in the risk of suffering a heart attack.
  • Stroke: Until recently, the effect of walking on the risk of stroke was unclear. Some studies showed that folks who are active are less likely to suffer strokes -- particularly those strokes that are caused when a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. Other studies showed no benefit at all. Then just over a year and a half ago, one of the largest studies to address the issue tipped the balance in walking's favor. In an analysis of the health habits of 70,000 nurses over the past 15 years, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who walked the most -- 20 or more hours per week -- decreased by 40% their risk of suffering strokes caused by a clot.
  • Weight Control: The older you get, the harder it is to maintain your weight simply by restricting what you eat. Walking briskly for at least half an hour not only consumes a couple of hundred calories, but it also boosts your metabolic rate for the rest of the day, giving you a better chance of winning the battle of the bulge.
  • Weight Loss: Walking is a great way to lose body fat, though most people find they have to do it for at least an hour a day in order to lose weight. The body doesn't really start burning its fat stores until after 30 minutes of activity. Exercising too intensely can actually work against you by interfering with the body's ability to pull energy from fat cells. You are more likely to maintain any weight loss you achieve if you incorporate walking into your daily routine.
  • Diabetes: Two studies last year provided strong evidence that brisk walking 30 minutes a day can postpone and possibly even prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes in people who are overweight and whose bodies have already started having trouble metabolizing glucose. Indeed, one of those studies, sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, had to be cut short because the exercise program was nearly twice as effective as the prescription drug metformin in the prevention of diabetes. In both studies, the best results were felt by subjects who lost 5% of their starting weight. But the second study, conducted in Finland, showed that walking had at least some positive effect even in those folks who did not lose weight.
  • Osteoporosis: Walking not only strengthens the muscles but builds up the bones to which they are attached. Studies show that women who exercised regularly in their 20s and had a healthy intake of calcium decreased their risk of developing osteoporosis in their 70s more than 30%.
  • Arthritis: More than 3 million Americans suffer osteoarthritis -- the wear-and-tear kind of arthritis -- of the knees. Walking reduces the pain by strengthening the muscles around the joint. Walking in a pool or gently lifting weights can also help. You may need to exercise every other day to give joints time to recover.
  • Depression: A quick walk around the block is one way to get a fresh attitude, but can a program of regular walking do anything for clinical depression? New evidence suggests that it can. Antidepressants work more quickly to dispel serious depression, but at least one study found that, after 10 months, depressed patients who were not medicated and started exercising were less likely to relapse than those who took antidepressant drugs alone.
  • Cancer: Tantalizing clues emerged last year that walking may help lower the risk of colorectal cancer, possibly because walking helps wastes move more quickly through the intestines. Further research is needed, however, to confirm the finding.

Walking won't cure everything that ails you, of course, and nothing happens overnight. "People who have never exercised regularly should not think that in a week they'll solve their problems by walking," says Dr. David Curb of the University of Hawaii. But they can expect a regular walking program to serve them well into old age.

When you are ready to begin, a few pointers can help you get the most out of your walking routine. First, pay attention to your shoes. If you were a runner, you may need a new pair; runners land on their heels, which is why running shoes have more cushioning at the back. Walkers spend more time with the entire foot on the ground, so shoes for walking need to have more room at the front for the feet to spread.

Second, keep a record of your efforts, including how long you walked and how far you went. There's nothing like toting up the improvements to keep you motivated and challenge you to do better.

Third, prepare yourself properly. The best way to avoid muscle aches is to start slowly and incorporate gentle stretches into your pre-exercise warm-up and post-exercise cool-down.

Finally, set realistic goals. Some people find that walking at a specific time each day works best for them. Others shoehorn walking into their day by making minor adjustments in their daily routines, such as parking the car a few blocks away from the grocery store, taking the stairs instead of the escalator or prodding officemates to break for a walk rather than for a cup of coffee.

Remember: you don't need to win any races to get healthy. The secret to success is to keep a steady course.

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6 Foolproof Ways to Lose Weight

Losing weight is easy. Keeping it off is hard. Fully 95 percent of people who lose weight gain it all back--and then some, says Gregg Gillies, author of "From Fat to Fit...Fast!" What's a motivated dieter supposed to do? Gillies offers six ways to lose weight--and keep it off:

  1. Don't drink water, drink ice cold water. Your body burns calories by warming ice cold water during digestion to the tune of up to 100 calories per day. By switching from water to ice cold water you can lose up to an extra 10 pounds of fat in a year's time. How cool is that?
  2. Eat more protein. Your body uses more calories to digest protein than it does for either carbohydrates or fat--up to 268 percent more calories during each meal.
  3. Eat more frequently. Digesting your food has a metabolic cost. By eating smaller, more frequent meals, your body burns more calories in a day than if you eat fewer, larger meals, even if the total calories consumed for the day is the same.
  4. Perform high intensity weight training. While aerobics may burn more calories during a workout session, high intensity weight training keeps your metabolism higher for up to 39 hours after your workout is over. Yes, you can burn more calories sitting around doing nothing by utilizing weight training instead of aerobics.
  5. Build muscle. Adding muscle is the only way to make sure you don't become one of the 95 percent of people who lose weight only to put it all back on and then some. Adding muscle permanently increases your metabolism. By adding 10 pounds of muscle you will not only completely reshape your body, but also boost your metabolism by burning more calories every day. A pound of muscle is smaller than a pound of fat. So if you replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of muscle, you'll weigh the same but you'll be smaller and look better. Women, pay attention. This is crucial for your weight loss success. Weight training, not hours of slow cardio, is the key to fat loss and creating a sexy body.
  6. Eat more good fats. Getting enough good fats in your diet will help you lose fat, build muscle and recover faster from your workouts. In addition, it has myriad health benefits, including being good for your heart. Good fats include: polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, as well as monosaturated fats found in peanut butter, olive oil, egg yolks and fish oil.

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