Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance
As a plastic surgeon, I have many opportunities to discuss weight loss with patients. Some patients come in for procedures, but need to lose weight to make the surgery and anesthesia safer. Some come in for “Liposuction” thinking that you can whittle away the pounds that way. Some come in for procedures thinking that the surgery will give them the psychological boost they need to get serious about losing the weight they need to lose. If they are considering a tummy tuck or breast lift and are planning on losing a significant amount of weight, it is better to lose the weight first. If they do a tummy tuck and then lose 40 pounds, they can have excess skin in their abdomen after the weight loss that could have been removed with the tummy tuck if they had waited. So, most days in the office, I talk to at least a couple of patients about weight loss.
Here are my thoughts.
1. Gimmicky fad diets are never good for you. Even though you can lose weight, a lot of the weight loss will be muscle. Your muscle helps you function in day to day activities and is very metabolically active (burns calories). When people gain weight after coming off of fad diets, they are usually gaining fat. Fat is not very metabolically active (burns fewer calories than muscle). So someone who is 150 lbs that loses 30 lbs down to 120 lbs on a fad (low calorie) diet and then gains back to 150 is even worse off than they were before. Their daily calorie need has dropped and they will gain weight easier.
2. One of the absolute worst gimmicky diets is the HCG diet. People do lose weight (like anyone would on a 500 calorie diet). It is a very low calorie diet. The studies done on the HCG diet have shown that the weight loss is due to the calories being so low, not because of the HCG. It does not help you keep your muscle. It chews up muscle like any very low calorie diet. Any decease in hunger is due to the extreme slowing of your metabolism that goes along with very low calorie diets. You body thinks it is starving, and will do what it can to preserve itself. Lowering your metabolism is a survival mechanism. There is nothing magic about HCG. A lot of what you lose is muscle!! You want to keep as much of your muscle as you can. I don’t see how any medical professional can recommend this method of weight loss. Anyone who does is not looking out for you; they are looking out for their pocketbook.
3. You should figure out your basal metabolic rate. This is the amount of calories you need to keep your body going if you just sat around all day. There are a lot of online calculators that will calculate this for you. All you need to do is enter your height, weight and age and sex. You shouldn’t go below your BMR calories for more than a day or two, or your body does the “I am starving and must lower my metabolic rate to survive” trick.
4. If you want to get to a healthy weight, maintain it, and improve your health, stay FAR AWAY from processed food. What you eat should not come out of a box or package (even a 100 calorie package). Stick with meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts and healthy oils (nut oils, olive oil avocado oil, coconut oil). During weight loss, you will need to limit the fruits and nuts to a serving or so a day. If you give up sugar, wheat, etc, you may feel flu like symptoms for a few days, but once you get through the sugar withdrawals, you will feel great and will not even crave the processed stuff anymore. You will not believe how sweet fruit, or even a carrot tastes when you haven’t overloaded your taste buds with sugar. This way of eating cuts down on inflammation in the body and is good for your health. A good website with a lot of information about this is http://www.marksdailyapple.com
5. Weight loss is 80% what you eat. But don’t ignore your activity level. That is the other 20%. Find an activity that you like and do it most days of the week. Walk, run, bike, lift weights…….. just do it. You will feel better and live longer!
So, there is nothing magic about weight loss and there aren’t any healthy shortcuts. Eat less, eat real food, and move!