Diets Dont Work

Because I'm a dietitian, most of my clients assume that I will put them on a diet. I don't. I teach them how to eat healthfully and appropriately. Athletes—and all people, for that matter—who go on a diet simply go off a diet. They have a high chance of not only regaining all the lost weight but also regaining proportionately more fat than muscle. That represents a lot of wasted (or is that waisted?) effort.

Dieting conjures up visions of rice cakes, salad with fat-free dressing, and Shredded Wheat with skim milk. Diets can actually contribute to a person's weight problem because they are associated with extreme hunger. The body rebels against hunger and the state of starvation by triggering binge eating, more commonly known as blowing the diet, and the dieter gains weight despite extreme efforts to lose weight.

A study of 4,746 teens indicates that those who dieted in the fourth grade ended up heavier in high school. Dieting was associated with weight gain (to the classification of "overweight"), disordered eating, and eating disorders (Neumark-Sztainer et al. 2006). Another study of 370 male athletes (boxers, weightlifters, wrestlers) who had to make weight for their sports suggests they were at higher risk of becoming obese later in life, as compared with a control group of nonathletes (Saarni et al. 2006). Dieting is simply the wrong way to try to lose weight.

To lose weight healthfully and to successfully keep it off without dieting, you must pay attention to the following:

  • How much you eat. There is an appropriate portion of any food.
  • When you eat. Enjoy big breakfasts rather than big dinners.
  • Why you eat. Eat when your body needs fuel, not when you are simply bored, stressed, or lonely.

We can learn a lot about weight reduction from people who have lost weight and kept it off. According to the National Weight Control Registry (a sample of more than 5,000 people who have lost more than 30 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year), the tricks to losing weight and keeping it off include the following (Wing and Phelan 2005):

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Weigh yourself regularly (once a week).
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Choose a lower-fat (less than 25 percent fat) food plan.
  • Eat consistently, and maintain the same eating patterns on weekends as on weekdays.
  • Engage in regular (and often vigorous) exercise for about an hour a day.

Yet, there is not one weight-reduction food plan that fits everyone.

The upcoming section includes numerous food-management tips to help you achieve your weight-loss goals. But before attempting a weight-loss program, you might want to get your body fat measured (see chapter 13). By knowing what percentage of your weight is excess body fat, you'll have a valid perspective for setting an appropriate weight goal. All too often I counsel active people who weigh more than they desire, but their weight is primarily muscle with little excess fat. No wonder they struggle with trying to reduce.

Avoiding Weight Gain

The best way to deal with weight loss is to not gain the weight in the first place. That's where exercise helps. A seven-year survey of about 6,100 male and 2,200 female runners who participated in the National Runners' Health Study indicates those who ran more miles gained less weight (Williams 2007).

On average, the men and women who ran more than 30 miles (48 kilometers) per week gained half the weight of those who ran less than 15 miles (24 kilometers). And all the runners gained less weight than their sedentary peers. The 25- to 34-year-old men gained about

  • 1.4 pounds (0.6 kg) annually if they ran less than 15 miles per week,
  • 0.8 pound (0.4 kg) annually if they ran between 15 and 30 miles per week, and
  • 0.6 pound (0.3 kg) annually if they ran more than 30 miles per week.
  • This trend is mirrored in women. Women between the ages of 18 and 25 gained about
  • 2 pounds (0.9 kg) annually if they ran less than 15 miles per week,
  • 1.4 pounds (0.6 kg) annually if they ran 15 to 30 miles per week, and
  • 0.75 pound (0.4 kg) annually if they ran more than 30 miles per week.

Other benefits to running more miles each week included fewer inches gained around the waist in both men and women and fewer inches added to the hips in women.

Diet Tweak System

Diet Tweak System

Trying To Lose Weight Can Be Tough. But... Not Losing Weight and Gaining What You Lost Back, Sucks. If you've ever felt that no matter what you do to lose weight nothing seems to work. If you've ever felt that there has got to be some kind of a system or way to lose weight...but just have not found it yet.

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