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Which Weight-Loss Program Works?

By Sheryl Kraft

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There are Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach and Paleo. There's Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, the Grapefruit Diet, Skinny Bitch Diet and more.

Hundreds of thousands more.

In fact, there are so many that Americans spend an estimated $42 billion each year on weight-loss foods, products and services.

With so many diets out there, and so many people wanting to lose weight, how do you know which diet is right for you?

So many people are tempted to go on fad diets that promise quick weight loss—those 20 pounds you gained over a year, gone in just two weeks!—but there are some things that are important to know.

First things first. You need to slow down and realize that there are a few components to a healthy weight-loss program (note the word "healthy").

To succeed at losing weight, you need these four things:

  1. A reasonable and realistic weight loss goal. It's best to aim for losing one to two pounds a week, says the Mayo Clinic.
  2. A reduced-calorie, nutritionally balanced eating plan.
  3. Regular physical activity. Government recommendations for adults are two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking), plus two or more days of muscle-strengthening exercises.
  4. A behavior change plan so you can stay on track with your goals.

This is not breaking news, but many people ignore these facts:

  • Calories count; so do portions.
  • Nutrition counts, too.
  • Just a small amount of weight loss yields big health benefits, like lowering your risk of heart disease, for example.
  • Your goal should be to develop good habits that will carry you through your lifetime. A short-term "diet" means you're either "on" it or "off" it. Think instead of changing your way of life and becoming a "healthier" person.
  • Have a discussion with your health care professional before you begin.
  • Keep in mind that studies show it's easier to stick with a weight-loss plan when you have some form of social support, whether it is a diet/workout buddy or a structured group, like Weight Watchers.

Think about people you know who have managed to lose and keep (that's the harder part) the weight off. "Successful losers":

  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Reduce their calorie and fat intake.
  • Eat regular meals, including breakfast.
  • Don't let small slip-ups turn into giving up and a large weight gain.

In short, the reality of it is that virtually any healthy diet will work—if you stick to it. So, pick the one that will be easiest and least challenging to stick to, say researchers of a study that found just that. But it's important that the diet, whatever it is, meets all of your nutritional needs.

Trishna Joshi, lead nutritionist for The Fresh Diet (www.thefreshdiet.com), a hand-delivered meal delivery service whose meals are based on a ratio of 40 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat says, "Science has proven time and time again that portion control, calorie restriction and healthy ingredients offer the most success when it comes to weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle."

You might also want to read:
How Realistic Are Your Exercise and Weight-Loss Goals?
10 Sneaky Ways to Get More Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet 
How to Make the Healthiest Salad

Comments

According to the results which I have personally seen the only solution which works dramatically are-
1 Just control your calorie intake .
2 Use sugar free(artificial sweetener) in place of sugar
3 Avoid oily chips and other high calorie intake.
4 Eat cucumber when you get extra hunger.

I have been 'tweaking' my weight loss journey for 40 years. All good advice. It's just a committment and a way of life. I would add when you do all these things, and they are all good, don't be so hard on yourself all the time. If you've had success look at that and get back up on the horse! Thanks for a great article.

Great article. I have been on this journey for 40 years..have had success and have learned to be kind to myself when I'm not at my perfect weight. Thanks for great info!

I am a firm believer that any diet works, if I keep to it. "If I keep to it!"

So crazy that we all have to find what works for us and then, you nailed it, stick with it. I am an emotional eater and need to watch what I move toward when under stress. Great tips as always Sheryl!!

Great advice! From my decades of experience, the hardest part is making the permanent change. You are spot-on with the point that a diet is an off-and-on experience, but a lifestyle change is on-going.

I shifted to "clean eating" a few years ago, and feel better now at 51 than I did ten years ago.

Honestly, I think we all know that it basically comes down to less calories, more exercise! I'm doing Jenny Craig - again - now because I know it works for me and I'm apparently not disciplined enough to do it on my own!

For the first time in my life I am counting calories. I quit smoking five-years-ago and gained thirty-five pounds.
This year I am adding more exercise to my daily routine.
I suggest never consuming artificial sweeteners of any kind.

Great reminders, Sheryl. It is so important to find something that works for you! I don't do total deprivation very well, so it's important for me to focus on eating a balanced diet every day and allowing occasional splurges. Consistent exercise definitely makes a difference too. Right now, I'm using MyFitnessPal.com (free app on my phone) to help me track my food intake and exercise. Seems to be helping.

Cucumber? I eat organic carrots. I have also cut out sugar and discovered that makes a big difference.

I've never been big on counting calories, but even if you only do it for a while, you get a really good idea of just how much you're eating. As I joked with my doctor recently, paying attention to what you put in your Pie Hole does help.

There is so much confusion and mixed messaging around weight-loss programs - I hope your article helps people find a bit of clarity!

I was able to diet for the longest time without exercising, but somewhere in my early 40's that all changed and I have to figure out a way to work it in otherwise none of the things I do are going to get my weight off!

Finally some actual weight loss advice. I'm so tired of seeing all of these diets being promoted. You said it perfect, it boils down to those 4 things you mentioned.

I think goal setting is probably the most important step in weight loss. But you need to set attainable goals. Build some momentum by achieving smaller goals at first.

Once those pounds start coming off you need to be able to maintain that weight loss. I found this guide really helpful: http://upcominghealth.com/9-fantastic-foods-weight-loss/

Thanks for posting this, I'll be sharing this with family/friends :)

Thank you so much for this!

thank you for this smart, no-nonsense advice. New "miracle" diets always drive me nuts.

Great and practical advice. Most people are looking for a quick way to lose weight that doesn't involve any behavioral changes or physical activity.

So true - it really boils down to the basics you've outlined. And sticking with it!!!

The weight loss program that works is the one you can stick to. ;) Nearly every "weight loss program" out there WILL result in some weight loss...initially. However, the recidivism rate on *all* diets, combined, is huge. Find what you can *stick with permanently*.

Chris at fattyliverdietguide.org

Great post. It is really informative and helpful for my business. Thanks for sharing this useful content with us.

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