For many of us dieting means finding a quick fix solution to a problem that took years (or decades) to develop. Whether that solution includes diet pills, fat burners, gastric bypass surgery, lap bands or fad diets, the lure lies in their promise of quick and easy weight loss. Unfortunately if your weight loss goal is to lose more than 10 pounds, there will be nothing easy about it.
Healthy and long-lasting weight loss has often been described as a delicate high wire act that requires all elements to be in order for success to occur. You need a well balanced, calorie controlled diet and regular physical activity, which requires a laser focus and the determination of an Olympic athlete.
For some of us this high wire act requires several attempts before we savor the sweet taste of success, but many of us will find success according to a new study.
Bye Bye Stereotypes
Whether you are the one who is overweight or you have the negative opinion of those who are, common wisdom seems to be that overweight & obese individuals brought it on themselves and will never know the feeling of being thin. But a new study conducted by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reveals that a large portion of obese Americans actually do experience weight loss success.
Forget what you think is true of weight loss and what everyone has probably told you about your ability to lose weight, because it just isn’t true. In fact, your friend who worked hard for 2 years to get rid of excess weight is probably a greater source of wisdom than your thin friend who lost 10 pounds in a week.
The study, published in the April 10th issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, observed the data from 4,000 obese people. The data spanned 5 years, 2001-2006 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The goal of the overall study was to analyze the nutrition and health habits of adults throughout the United States.
The participants in this particular study were more than 20 years old and had a body mass index of 30 or higher for at least the preceding 12 months. A BMI of 30 or more puts the participants in the obese range, which means they are at a higher risk of respiratory problems, sleep apnea, hypertension as well as many other weight related illnesses.
More than half of the study’s participants (2,523) reported as attempting to lower their body weight.
The surveys collected by the researchers found that what we all think is true about weight loss, isn’t. About 40% of the participants who reported trying to lose weight indicated that they has lost 5% or more of their body fat, while an additional 20% reported losing 10% or more of their body weight.
This should be encouraging news for more than one-third of Americans who are obese, because these results indicate that around sixty percent of them will lose weight successfully. Not only that, but losing even 5% of your body weight can improve your health and reduce your risk for weight related health problems.
Here’s a fun video to give you a little workout inspiration. You may not be able to do it today, but you won’t be able to resist trying whenever you pass a set of monkey bars!
How They Did It
As you can probably imagine some of the participants relied on weight loss pills, diet foods or fad diets while others decided to use diet and exercise. What isn’t so surprising is which group experienced more impressive weight loss results.
The study found that those who exercised more and ate less fat (read: Calorie Deficit) were more likely to lose weight than those who used prescription weight loss drugs. Although those who used prescription drugs for weight loss did experience weight loss, they did not make up the majority of the participants.
The participants who indicated that they used well known diets, fad diets, liquid diets or nonprescription weight loss pills to lose weight, did not experience any weight loss. But the research did indicate that there was a direct correlation between higher reported weight loss and joining weight loss programs. Unlike fad or popular diets, a structured weight loss program did help guide participants to make healthier diet and exercise decisions.
Good News For Dieters
This research is good news for dieters, but not so much for diet pill manufacturers. The fact that many nonprescription weight loss drugs require a balanced diet and regular exercise for “maximum effect” means that the diet & exercise are doing most of the fat burning work.
What’s more important about the findings of this research is that successful weight loss success is well within the reach of all overweight and obese people, regardless of disposable income. Instead of spending a lot of your hard-earned money on expensive diet books, exercise videos and other weight loss “extras” you can spend your money on a healthier diet and some comfortable workout clothes.
While this study did not test the ability of the participants to keep the weight off in the long run, a 2009 study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that weight loss programs that combine diet and exercise have greater long term success than a diet only plan. Since adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise teaches you what you need to do to lose weight, unlike fad diets, you already know what is necessary to keep the weight off.
What the participants in this research understood better than most of us, is that there is no shortcut to weight loss. You need to live a more physically active lifestyle that includes cardio and strength training exercises, but also more walking and overall movement in your life. This makes it easier for you to create the required calorie deficit for weight loss.
Additionally learning more about what is healthy food, such as how many calories are in foods, healthy recipes and making healthy alternatives to not-so-healthy foods. Taking a pill will not teach you these lessons, and that in itself is a lesson most of us learn after a few weight loss failures and hundreds of dollars wasted.
Next time someone tells you about a fad diet that’s “guaranteed” to help you lose weight, school them on what you now know about weight loss!