9 Weight Loss Secrets the Diet Industry Doesn't Want You to Know
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Even if you're not trying to lose weight, chances are you've seen some ideas on how to do so:
"Eat what you want and lose weight!"
"Lose thirty pounds in thirty days!"
"Finally, a diet that really works!"
"Lose one jean size every seven days!"
"Top three fat burners revealed"
"Ten minutes to a tighter tummy!"
But these claims are readily rebuked by anyone who's tried to lose five, ten, or one hundred pounds. Losing weight ain't that easy. It's not in a pill, it doesn't (usually) happen in thirty days, and judging from the myriad plans out there, there is no one diet that works for everyone.
Looking past the outrageous claims, there are a few hard truths the diet/food industry isn't going to tell you, but might just help you take a more realistic approach to sustained weight loss.
1. You have to exercise more than you think.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting at least thirty minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week; this includes things like shoveling snow and gardening. And while this is great for improving heart health and staying active, research indicates that those looking to lose weight or maintain weight loss have to do more -- about twice as much.
For instance, members of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) -- a group of over 5,000 individuals who have lost an average of sixty-six pounds and kept it off for five and a half years -- exercise for about an hour, every day.
A study published in the July 28, 2008 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine supports this observational finding. The researchers enrolled 200 overweight and obese women on a diet and exercise regimen and followed them for two years. Compared with those that gained some of their weight back, the women who were able to sustain a weight loss of 10 percent of their initial weight for two years exercised consistently and regularly -- about 275 minutes a week, or fifty-five minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
In other words, things like taking the stairs, walking to the store, and gardening are great ways to boost activity level, but losing serious weight means exercising regularly for an hour or so. However, this doesn't mean you have to start running or kickboxing -- the most frequently reported form of activity in the NWCR group is walking.
2. A half-hour walk doesn't equal a brownie.
I remember going out to eat with some friends after a bike ride. Someone commented on how we deserved dessert because we had just spent the day exercising; in fact, we had taken a leisurely twenty-minute ride through the park. This probably burned the calories in a slice of our French bread, but definitely not those in the caramel fudge brownie dessert. Bummer.
And while it's easy to underestimate how many calories something has, it's also easy to overestimate how many calories we burn while exercising. Double bummer.
Even if you exercise a fair amount, it's not carte blanche to eat whatever you want. (Unless you exercise a ton, have the metabolism of a sixteen-year-old boy, and really can eat whatever you want). A report investigating the commonly-held beliefs about exercising, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, concludes that although exercise does burn calories during and after exercise, for overweight persons, "excessive caloric expenditure has limited implications for substantially reducing body weight independent of nutritional modifications." In other words, to lose weight, you have to cut calories and increase exercise.