Chief Physician, Dr. Bo’s Diet
If you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, you may have noticed that there is an overabundance of accessible information at your fingertips. Entire magazines devoted to health and wellness line the shelves of your local pharmacy and new books are published every day about the latest trends and fad diets.
All one has to do is type “weight loss” into Google to be bombarded with a plethora of information. From Facebook to Pinterest and everything in between, the web is filled with everything from quick fixes to extreme diets to actual medical studies, so how do you know what’s true and what’s false? Which diets are healthy as opposed to those with negative health effects?
While there are many reputable and informative websites, there are also many bloggers and nonmedical professionals writing about topics that they are not specialists in. Sorting through the myths and finding what matters can be a daunting task. The following are my top weight-loss myths and how they are born of both fact and fiction:
Rapid Weight Loss. There has been much debate over whether losing a lot of weight quickly is better or worse than losing more modest amounts over the long term. The argument that rapid weight loss will just as soon result in rapid weight gain has been debunked, for the most part. While many dieters, both rapid and slow losers, will regain some or all of the weight loss, those who see larger initial losses often end up at a lower weight than people who drop smaller amounts. The reason is that a bigger change on the scale is more motivating than the slow-and-steady approach. People are more likely to stick with healthy habits when they are seeing big results.
The one caveat to this is rapid weight-loss achieved in an unhealthy manner. Dieters who choose radical methods–such as lengthy juice fasts, over-the-counter stimulants, or other types of unregulated vitamin-deficient crash diets–will generally regain all of their weight. Any program that cannot be transitioned into real life habits once the initial weight-loss has been achieved will likely result in long-term weight gain.
Weighing Every Day. Several years ago, the “How Do Your Clothes Fit?” Test became the popular method for keeping track of one’s weight. Stepping on the scale weekly, let alone daily, was frowned upon by popular culture as obsessive and unnecessary. While clothing and general appearance can sometimes be used as a barometer for weight gain/loss, more often than not people don’t notice changes in their clothing as soon as one might think; this can be emotionally detrimental, and result in the frustration that will ultimately cause one to give up.
Alternately, the “clothing test” can result in complacency in one’s habits, slowing or stunting weight loss. Studies have shown that individuals who weigh themselves at least weekly as a part of their regular routine will catch smaller, more manageable gains and will therefore be better able to keep themselves on track. The difference between pants sizes can be as much as 10 pounds, so if you wait for your weight to show up on your waist, you are usually waiting too long.
Don’t allow more than a seven-day period to pass without checking the scale; going longer can result in discouragingly high gains or low losses. That being said, weighing every day can also cause unwarranted stress. Certain gains–water weight, for example–will show up on the scale one day but resolve itself the next. Be careful not to put too much stock in a particular day’s weight. Look at your overall losses weekly to get a true representation of your progress.
Setting High Goals. Setting overly ambitious goals had previously been thought to lead to disappointment and ultimately less weight loss. The truth is, many studies find that setting high goals for oneself actually aids in losses. When you set your sights high, but also within reason, you are more likely to do well, even if you fall short of your initial goal. Smaller goals don’t pack as big a punch emotionally, so reaching them has less of an impact overall. When you set goals you know you can reach, achieving them doesn’t feel like an accomplishment; however, when you set goals that are loftier, even if you don’t reach them, you feel pride in working hard for them.
Setting goals that are reasonably high is the key. If you set a goal to lose 50 pounds, but only have 25 to lose, you are setting yourself up for failure. If, however, you set an ambitious timeframe to lose the 25 pounds in, you will likely be more motivated and have more success.
A Calorie Is a Calorie. It had long been thought that the source from which you obtained your calories had no bearing on weight loss. Essentially, the idea was that if you compared two dieters with similar profiles, both eating a 1,500-calorie diet, it would have no bearing on losses if one dieter consumed mostly lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables and the other ate primarily processed foods high in fat and sugar. Scientists are beginning to unearth the truth about the value of calories.
Each type of calorie consumed–carbohydrate, protein, and fat–performs and facilitates different bodily functions. A diet deficient in one or more of these types will result in one’s inability to appropriately regulate one’s weight and health. This can result in hair and skin problems, weight gain, low muscle tone, hormone imbalances, and even a weakened immune system. Focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole-grain carbohydrates to ensure that you make the most of your calories.
If you feel as though you are working hard to lose weight but can’t seem to get out of a rut, it may be time to reexamine your habits. Focus on the quality of your calories, begin weekly weigh-ins, and set reasonably high goals in order to kick-start your losses again. v
Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and chief physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s Diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit www.DrBosDiet.com.