Many people are forever in search of the magic pill to help them to lose weight. There are now even formulas that claim to reduce the amount of food you eat by simply sprinkling a substance on it. But if you were eating an unhealthy diet before trying something like this, you will still be eating unhealthy foods.
Losing weight is only one factor in the complex web that makes a body fit. In fact, losing the wrong type of weight can actually be harmful to your health. Quick weight loss diets often result in pounds shed but have more muscle lost than fat. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so when you lose muscle, you lower your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories), strength and stability. Extra body fat is linked to a lot of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis (poor bone health), diabetes, arthritis and some forms of cancer.
We know physical activity helps to build and maintain muscle while at the same time burns fat. However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American spends almost 900 percent more time watching television than engaging in any sports, exercise and physical activities. Therefore, using the excuse that you don’t have enough time in the day to exercise doesn’t hold much water.
This is not so say that changing habits will be easy. But to maximize the outcome of your efforts, try to divide and conquer your diet and physical activity routines. For example, if you eat 250 fewer calories each day, (small fries or 16 ounces of regular soda pop) and exercise off an extra 250 calories each day (take a 30-minute bike ride) this will result in 1 pound weight loss each week. Small changes can help to ease into a new lifestyle while building and preserving your precious muscle that will make your body work for you.
Kristin Gustashaw, MS, RD, CSG, LDN, is an outpatient and geriatric dietitian in the Nutrition and Wellness Center at Rush University Medical Center.