Diets don't tend to work, but healthy eating and exercise is the best way to lose weight.
Food for thought: why dieters don't lose weight
It seems counterintuitive that with so many of us on diets, we have ever-increasing rates of the population being overweight or obese. But according to Jessica Bartfield, a physician from the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care, there are four main reasons why dieters don’t lose weight.
• We underestimate our calories. Now I am not a fan of counting calories, but many of us do tend to forget the snack we had with coffee or that little bite of the kids’ food, or that sample of your friend’s cookie attempt and so we actually eat more than what we think we are eating and this can certainly harm even the best weight-loss attempts. Food that sneaks in is often more of the indulgent kind – not carrot sticks or apple slices.
• We overestimate activity and calories burnt. Dr Bartfield suggests we need to cut 500 calories per day to lose one pound, or 0.45 kilogram, per week and through exercise alone this would require 60 minutes of vigorous activity each day. Even for the most committed gym-goer this is a challenge, but aiming to be more active throughout the day is a better way to go about increasing your exercise. A pedometer is a great way to keep track of your progress. Aim for 10,000 steps per day.
• Poor meal timings. Too often, work and family take over and before we know it we are starving and reaching for the closest – often not healthy – food in sight. This sabotages weight-loss efforts when what we really need is regular, routine eating that keeps your digestion happy and blood sugar levels stable – two key elements for successful weight loss. Do not go longer than four to five hours between meals. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner according to your appetite and snack if you need to.
• Not enough sleep. Dr Bartfield suggests that people who get less than six hours of sleep have higher levels of appetite-stimulating hormones, particularly for high-carbohydrate and high-calorie foods. Less sleep also raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol has also been linked to weight gain.
Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.BeUtifulYou.co.uk