Ask anyone about their top personal goals and it is almost guaranteed that losing weight will be one of the most common answers.
It’s not difficult to see how true that can be — there is always that one person you know who can neatly put away as many pizza slices, sandwiches, cakes and candies as they can, and yet retain their slim or svelte figure. Every time.
And so you look at yourself in the mirror, frown at the piece of pie on your plate (that’s sure to settle in your hips and cause tighter jeans by the next morning), and you decide that yes, you could use to lose a pound or two (or more) yourself.
Why people become overweight
Aside from the food factor, there are a number of other reasons why people tend to gain more weight than is ideal for their specific situation.
- You consume more calories than you can burn
- You succumb to stress and other related issues
- Your genetic makeup predisposes you to be overweight or obese
- Your environment affects the way you eat (e.g. your parent’s health influences, your childhood eating habits
- You fail to get enough physical activity
Upon realizing that you are overweight, you can begin to see how losing the excess pounds can significantly affect your life in more ways than one. It doesn’t end at looking good and fitting into a smaller dress size; there’s also improving your overall health, experiencing better moods, and having more energy for all the activities you want to pursue.
Where can you turn to for weight loss guidance?
When you google “the secret to weight loss,” you will get almost 26 million hits in less than a second. There is so much information out there and everyone claims to know “the secret” to weight loss.
Unfortunately, a lot of this information — along with the products being sold to facilitate weight loss — is often not safe and is not based on evidence. Most people can get trapped in a cycle of dieting and rapidly fluctuating weights (losing and gaining), and this negatively effects their overall health and well-being, be it mentally or physically.
So is there a true secret?
There are many ways to lose weight, but there is no single way that will work for everyone. It will ultimately depend on the following factors:
What your specific goals are
- Your age
- Your gender
- Your physical activity level
- Your lifestyle
For example, a person who wants to lose weight for health reasons (i.e. preventing or managing a health problem such as diabetes) will need to follow a different strategy from the one used by an athlete who is aiming to build lean muscle mass and enhance his or her sports performance. Most diets focused on fat loss are based on creating a caloric deficit in one way or the other, whereas the opposite is true for accruing lean muscle mass in combination with resistance training.
A wide range of dietary approaches can be equally effective in improving body composition and optimizing health benefits. The secret is to find the method you can stick to in order to keep the weight off and sustain a healthy lifestyle, be it low fat, low carbohydrate, ketogenic, vegetarian, vegan or all those dietary approaches in between.
You do not have to starve yourself to be healthy or lose weight; you just need to take control of your eating behaviors and learn how to nourish your body the right way.
A registered dietitian can help you properly plan a healthy eating strategy that is nutritionally adequate, suitable for your individual needs and more importantly, sustainable.