Believe it or not weight loss programs designed for individuals less than 30 may not be appropriate for those of us over 40. For the most part, our metabolism changes drastically around the age of 30 years. Hormone levels begin to change, which affects the amount of weight we gain as well as the ease by which we lose it. Unfortunately, the weight loss industry has many unscrupulous individuals who would like us to believe that we can lose up to 75 pounds in 12 weeks!
In the United States today approximately 2 out of every three adults is now overweight. It’s not surprising then that the weight loss industry is thriving and is currently a multibillion-dollar business. Instead, the real question is why do so many people keep returning to weight loss programs that don’t work instead of doing what it does take to maintain a healthy weight?
Realistically, the answer lies in the attraction to the novelty of the new weight loss program and the desire for a quick fix. Today everyone wants it fast. We want fast cars, fast food and fast weight loss, all without the need to do any work.
Research and physicians support the fact that there is a traditional way to successfully lose weight whether you are less than 30 or over 40. The difference lies in the amount of energy it takes in order to lose the weight over 40 or to maintain an appropriate weights. There just is no easy fix that works.
There are several facts that we do know about weight-loss strategies for individuals who are over 40. First dieting alone, without any exercise, is very likely to be ineffective in the long term. Individuals will probably be able to lose five or 6 pounds but any diet without exercise will likely have you re-gaining pounds within the first couple of years. Researchers have also found that there is a greater chance that non-exercising dieters will end up weighing even more than they did before they began dieting.
This yo-yo weight effect is actually more detrimental to the health of the individual than maintaining an unhealthy weights to begin with.
The second fact that is important to understand for everyone is that in order to lose weight you consume fewer calories than you burn. This means that the number of calories you eat each day in the foods you consume must be less than the number of calories you burn each day doing your daily activities, exercise or just breathing. That difference can be as few as 200 calories per day but there must be a negative difference.
The greater the negative difference, the faster the amount of weight that will be lost in a shorter amount of time. Weight that is lost at a modest pace has a much better chance of staying off for good. The aim is to lose not more than a pound, possibly two, per week but never more.
A third fact that is the crux of the many weight-loss programs is the addition of behavioral support with either counselors or other diet participants. Even support over the Internet appears to be promising for short-term weight loss. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association published in 2008 researchers compared the effects of Internet weight-loss program alone versus the addition of behavioral counseling using e-mail as a provider for one year. They found that adding e-mail counseling to a basic weight-loss intervention program significantly improved weight loss and adults who are at risk for diabetes. (1)
While it may be fun to try the newest diets used by celebrities in Hollywood or recommended by your closest friend the basic design of any weight loss program used to:
1. Change the way you think. You’re not dieting you are changing your eating habits for a lifetime.
2. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables as well is raw foods in your diet which will decrease the amount of calories you consume and increase your perception of being full.
3. Add exercise to your program, even if it’s walking for 30 minutes every day. This will help you to get into a negative calorie burn, even if it’s only 200 calories each day, and will help you to maintain your weight loss in the long term.
(1) The Journal of the American Medical Association: Comparison of Strategies for Sustaining Weight Loss
Baystate Health: Baystate Adult Weight Loss
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health: Successful Long-term Weight Management