By Julie Harrington, RDN
After enjoying the New Year’s festivities and watching the ball drop at midnight, the first commercial of 2017 was a weight loss program promising quick results. It is clever marketing since many vow to make new year’s resolutions to lose weight this time of year.
Don’t get sucked into another fad.  Weight loss experts know that losing weight and keeping it off requires a long-term commitment, yet even savvy dieters can occasionally be tempted by the quick weight loss promised by fad diets, only to be disappointed when the weight returns. As each new “lose weight fast” gimmick comes along, some people forget about the negatives associated with most fad diets — from a lack of nutritional value to food restrictions that are hard to live with. Look out for these common red flags:
  • Promises quick weight loss– Steer clear if a diet or product promises that the pounds will melt off fast. Weight that comes off too quickly often results in lost water, muscle and bone mass rather than fat. Although it requires a little patience, slow and steady weight loss of ½ – 1 pound per week is the best way to go and most likely to result in long-term success.
  • Information from a credible source – Make sure to check the source of your information. Many individuals without any formal education in nutrition will be offering advice on weight loss.  Remember to check the background and credentials of anyone you consult with to ensure they are nutrition experts.
  • Extremely restrictive or excludes entire food groups- Before starting a diet, ask yourself, “Can I see myself eating this way, a year from now… 5 years from now… 10 years from now”? If the answer is no, then find a new plan. Diets that are too restrictive may result in quick weight loss but can put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies and are difficult to maintain for the long-term. For a dietary pattern that promotes long-term weight loss and better health, find one that allows you to eat your favorite foods in moderation and includes all food groups.

Yo-yo dieting can lower your metabolism.  After weight loss of 10 percent or more, our bodies change in important ways to “defend” the higher weight. These biological adaptations serve to promote weight regain and seem to persist for at least a year post-weight loss, even after weight regain begins. Some of the most significant biological changes include:

  • Hormones help regulate our experience of hunger and fullness. After significant weight-loss, hormones associated with the sensation of hunger (e.g., ghrelin) increase, and those associated with the sensation of satiety, or fullness (e.g., leptin), decrease.
  • Metabolism becomes more “efficient”; people burn fewer calories, both at rest, and during exercise, than they did before the weight loss. Importantly, the decrease in body mass alone cannot fully explain the magnitude of this change. (source).  As you begin to eat a healthy diet that offers adequate nutrition and builds and maintains muscle mass your metabolism can increase.

If you are looking to slim down, ask yourself an important question:  How long do you want to keep the weight off?  If the answer is forever, then start taking steps now that will allow you to achieve and maintain your goal.  Find a credentialed healthcare provider who can help you create a plan that’s right for you – one that considers your lifestyle, preferences, and resources –  and get started on your path to life-long health.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2017!

Reviewed and edited by Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN