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The 6 Weight-loss Tips That Science Actually Knows Work

FOOD by Wolfgang Wildner

(Photo credit: Wolfgang Wildner)

Some of the weight loss articles out there these days are getting a little nutty. New scientific studies that shed light on how metabolism works are wonderful and valuable in their own right, but when findings get morphed into magical new tips for losing weight, somethings amiss. Some recent pieces in prestigious journals, which have sought to dispel the myths[1] of weight loss and of the individual diets[2] themselves, suggest that the medical community is also getting tired of the hype and the unfounded assumptions that permeate the public discussion.

When it comes down to it, the things we know to be true about weight loss are relatively simple, and certainly few. Theyre also extremely effective when actually carried out. So, from the researchers who have studied this stuff for decades, heres pretty much everything we know about weight loss today, whittled down to six points about how the body actually gains, loses, and maintains its weight.

 

1. Dieting trumps exercising

We hear a lot that a little exercise is the key to weight loss that taking the stairs instead of the elevator will make a difference, for instance. But in fact its much more efficient to cut calories, says Samuel Klein, MD at Washington Universitys School of Medicine. Decreasing food intake is much more effective than increasing physical activity to achieve weight loss. If you want to achieve a 300 kcal energy deficit you can run in the park for 3 miles or not eat 2 ounces of potato chips. Its as simple as that. Some studies[3] have borne out this dichotomy, pitting exercise against diet and finding that participants tend to lose more weight by dieting alone than by exercise alone. Of course, both together would be even better.

The problem is that when you rely on exercise alone, it often backfires, for a couple of reasons. This is partly because of exercises effects on the hunger and appetite hormones, which make you feel noticeably hungrier after exercise. If you walk briskly for an hour and burn 400 kcal, says Klein, and then have a beer and a slice of pizza afterwards because the exercise made you feel hungryyou will eat more calories than you have burned. It may not always be beer and pizza, but people do tend to naturally compensate for the calories they expend.

This is an adaptive system, adds David Allison, PhD. For every action theres a reaction; thats a law of physics, not of biology, but it seems that it also works in biological systems. This is why we often overestimate quite radically an effect of a particular treatment. He points out that public health campaigns that, for example, urge people to take the stairs instead of the elevator or go on a nightly stroll  or, for that matter, even eat fewer calories  are unlikely to work, since they may fail to take into account the bodys compensatory mechanisms that can totally counteract the effect.

The other problem with exercise-without-dieting is that its simply tiring, and again, the body will compensate. If the exercise made you tired so that you become more sedentary the rest of the day, you might not experience any net negative energy, says Klein. Some of the calories we burn come from our basic movements throughout the day so if youre wiped out after exercise, and more likely to sit on the couch afterwards, youve lost the energy deficit you gained from your jog.

 

2. Exercise can help fix a broken metabolism, especially during maintenance

People used to come into the doctors office and say, My metabolism is broken! says James Hill[4], PhD, at the University of Colorado. We never had any evidence that it actually was, until recently. We were wrong it was! While exercise may not be as important for weigh loss as calorie restriction, as Hill says, its important in another way: It begins to repair a broken metabolism.

A lot of what we know in this area comes from NASA, of the bed-rest studies[5], he says. Within a couple of days of non-activity, the metabolism becomes inflexible. You start moving again, and it does start to change. Your metabolism may not ever go back to normal (more on this below), but the evidence indicates[6] that it can indeed pick up again, in large part through moving your body every day.

This is a large part of why exercise is critical in the maintenance phase, which is well known to be more difficult than the weight loss phase. Essentially, it buys us some wiggle room, says Michael Jensen[7], MD at the Mayo Clinic. Exercise is very, very important for maintaining lost weight, and people who are not physically active are more likely to gain weight. We think its partly because in the extra calories burned from physical activity, you have a bit more flexibility in food intake, so youre not so much relying on ridged changes in eating habits; it makes it more tolerable.

 

3. Youre going to have to work harder than other people possibly forever

Though exercise can help correct a metabolism thats been out of whack for a long time, the grisly reality is that it may not ever go back to what it was before gained weight. So if youve been overweight or obese and you lose weight, maintaining that loss means youre probably going to have to work harder than other people, maybe for good[8]. The sad thing, says Hill, is that once youve been obese or not moving for some time, it takes a little more exercise to maintain. It doesnt come back to normal. Its not a pretty reality to face, but coming to grips with it is important, he says, so that you wont get frustrated when you discover that you have to do more work over the long term than your friend who was never overweight.

Building muscle can help your body burn a few more calories throughout the day, but its also likely that youll have to work harder aerobically in the long run. Its not fair, but thats the way it is, adds Hill. Once you understand it, though, you know it and its better. Because you can work with it.

References

  1. ^ dispel the myths (www.nejm.org)
  2. ^ individual diets (jama.jamanetwork.com)
  3. ^ studies (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. ^ James Hill (www.ucdenver.edu)
  5. ^ bed-rest studies (ntrs.nasa.gov)
  6. ^ evidence indicates (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. ^ Michael Jensen (www.mayoclinic.org)
  8. ^ maybe for good (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

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Fitness Tips – Best Fast Workout Tricks For Busy People – Refinery29

"If you're focusing on weight loss, you'll want to actually focus on shorter bouts of strength training, which will boost your metabolism better than hours on the elliptical," he says. 1600x1067_No2. Illustrated by Austin Watts … http://www.refinery29.com/50953

Easy Weight-Loss Tips From The Shift Author Tory Johnson: Vitamin …

After years of struggling with her weight, Good Morning America weekly contributor Tory Johnson decided to make a change in her lifeand lost 62 pounds in a year. She shares her successand tells others how they too … http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2013/09/the-shift-tory-johnson-book.html

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Comments

  1. Reply

    What Is Are Some Of Your Favorite Weight Loss Tips? What are some of your most succesfull weight loss tips?? I have my few that I live by, but I am looking for some tips on cutting down. Please only share different/ unique tips.
    I know about all the common ones…. lots of water lots of rest six small meals etc.

    thank you so much in advance!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      Hi CollegeGirl

      In my opinion, no weight loss tips are truly successful on their own. Lots of water is not necessarily a good way, because how much water a person needs depends on the BMI of the person. 6 small meals maybe hard at times, especially when you are stuck at school or office and have no chance to eat, and then you need to eat more when you have the chance. Well, dieting is a good way to lose weight, but then it is hard to stick to a diet. For example, something like this:

      Breakfast:
      2 egg, low fat Cheddar cheese omelette – 320 calories
      2 slices wholemeal toast with thin smear butter – 200 calories
      Large slice melon – 47 calories

      Lunch:
      Spicy Turkey Salad recipe – 304 calories

      Snack:
      Muesli or honey nut Health Bar “Sainsbury” – 180 calories

      Dinner:
      Baked potato with 100g “Heinz” baked beans &/or Cottage cheese if desired – 300 – 400 calories (350 average)
      Large helping salad fruits &/or vegetables – 100 calories

      Another weight loss tip is to do interval and turbulence exercise.

      Turbulence Training is a fresh plan that requires finishing three 45-minute exercise sessions each week with marginal equipment. It is an increasingly trend-setting fitness plan with the intention of helping you in the reduction of weight.

      Interval training is the fitness world’s equivalent of a visit to the in-laws. The shorter and more intense the visit, the better. An interval is a short period of exercise performed at a given intensity for a specific length of time. Each interval is separated from the next interval by a short rest or lighter activity. There are no strict rules on how long or how intense the interval must be, however, changing the interval length or intensity changes the way your body works and responds to exercise.

      But people have a short willpower. It may be strong at the beginning but will eventually fade as time goes on- as they realize that going on a diet is not actually as easy as they think it is. Of course, the strength of willpower differs from one person to another. This is the reason why there are people who can actually maintain a diet and exercise program for 1 year and there are people who can only maintain it for few months. Nonetheless, willpower is a big factor that dictates someone whether to continue losing weight or not.

      And in my opinion, besides sticking to a diet and exercise plan, it is the ultimate willpower to stop yourself from overeating that is the #1 tip to lose weight. But that is the hardest part if you are accustomed to eating lots of food even though your body does not need it. It is partly because of the delicious taste of the food causing a craving for more. There are certain ways to fight this craving ad I found one that maybe helpful. It is a type of chocolate that can actually suppress your appetite. It will can provide Good Energy that promotes a healthy weight by providing energy while burning fat. And it helps suppress cravings for sugary snacks.

      Good luck!

      PS: Information on the Special Chocolate that I mentioned can be found on the website in the source box. Recently, they are giving away a one month free trial.

      View Comment
    • Aimee
    • September 20, 2013
    Reply

    I Am A Teenager What Are Some Weight Loss Tips And Ways To Appear Thinner? I am a teenager and I need help so please help me… I’m desperate. I want a higher self esteem.
    Please, can someone give me some weight loss tips like high calorie burning excersices, health food, some sort of plan and also tips to appear thinner. Thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      Some easy weight loss tips :

      Eliminate Eating Junk Food.
      Drink a Lot of Water
      Reduce the Size of Your Portions
      Lower Your Calorie Consumption Without Deprivation
      You Want to Start Exercising Regularly
      Sleep Well- Practice a Good Night Sleep

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    Weight Loss Tips And Help On Loosing Weight Ready For Prom? Im 15 and hopefully going to prom in the first week of July, as im British we only get 1 prom so its really important to me that i look nice 🙂
    Im very overweight at the moment, last week i weighed 12stone 9lbs (177 pounds) and now i weigh 12 stone 5lbs (173 pounds) but i know it won’t be like this every week.
    Are there any weight loss tips that can help me? I currently only eat 3 meals a day and 1200 cals as recommened on my app.
    Also what weight roughly should i be in July by your weight loss ideas?
    BQ- Im tanned, fat (hopefully not soon) and has long brown hair any ideas on what the dress could be?

    Thank you so much!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      First off, have a great time at the prom! Secondly, you want to get to that lower weight doing it healthy. 1200 is a reasonable amount of calories, but I’m pretty sure those calories are not coming from all the nutrients your body needs. You don’t want your weight loss coming to a crashing halt! I know all about the crazy diets out there. You don’t have to spend ANY money on a quick fix or gimmick that may not work or work only for a few weeks. I have been on a natural eating plan and I lost 50 pounds in about 5 months. You’re younger, it may be faster. I also incorporated lots of exercise to burn more fat. This way of eating is called Paleo, or the Cave Diet. Eat everything your ancestors ate! If mother nature made it, eat it, if man made it, don’t touch it! It’s as simple as that. Go to the Cave Diet link below. You will lose weight, feel happier, glow from the inside out. Good luck!

      View Comment
  3. Reply

    Does Anyone Know Any Good Weight Loss Tips? I’ve been struggling for the past few months to drop the last few pounds I need to fit in my cheer uniform from last year. Does anybody know any good, fast, sufficient weight loss tips that can help me drop 10-15 pounds by at least January? Please help!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      The best advice I could ever give you is losing weight takes time. If you’ve tried and failed many times (which is what I am going through), you have to start slowly. Maybe start cutting out bad things in your diet little by little. You can’t expect to go from eating sugary processed foods and not exercising much to extreme healthy eating and exercising 7 days a week in one day, or even one week. You have to learn to control yourself and that means start small and keep everything under control. Another VERY important thing to remember is to NEVER EVER EVER give up! No matter if you go a whole week eating junk foods and not exercising, that does not mean you have to give up and never reach your goals. Just think, well, next week I’ll do better and get back on track. You have to believe you can do it. You have to want it for yourself and no one else.

      Exercise at least 5 times per week. I suggest strength training and cardio. Let’s say Monday you walk/run for 30 minutes, then Tuesday you would do push ups and sit ups and planks, and squats and then take a break Wednesday and start back up on Thursday.

      As far as your eating you really need to watch what you eat! That is the most important step. Portion control is important. If you normally get a big dinner, then cut the amount of food you get in half and that will help a lot. Another way is to get your plate and only eat 3/4 of the food you have on your plate.

      Eating healthy, lean meats, whole grain breads, and staying away from sugary things and high calorie foods. Always remember that cutting out something bad with something healthy really makes a difference. Drinking sodas and eating candy bars is empty calories. If you replace those things with a whole grain waffle or one small piece of dark chocolate it will really help.

      View Comment
  4. Reply

    Can Someone Give Me Some Weight Loss Tips? I do gymnastics and dance. I am a female, 13 yrs, 5’4 and about 130 lbs. I feel gross. I at least want to be 100. I am planning on running in the morning along with an excersize video, at school we run for 5 minutes every day, in the evenings I will take my dogs for a walk, and doing gymnastics/dance stuff downstairs. Can anybody give me any weight loss tips.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      Drink more and more water and don’t eat oily and junk food . Walking, gymnastic and dancing are good way to reduce weight. You will achieve your desired weight in some days.. Keep going..

      View Comment
  5. Reply

    What Are Some Good Work Out Routines And Weight Loss Tips For A 16 Year Old Male? I’m a 16 year old male and I am about 6foot 2 and weight around 185-190lbs. I was wondering what a good work out routine I can start and any good weight loss tips?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      Just get into the habit of swimming every day or two and stick to it.

      Also for a normal (non drastic) diet that works you might want to see:
      http://www.bestinternetfind.solutionsarticles.com/Lose-Weight?id=xh8q

      View Comment
  6. Reply

    What Are Your Best Weight-loss Tips And Motivations? How to get up each morning and go for a jog?
    How to avoid the cravings?

    Tell us your best weight-loss tips/motivators/play lists…anything!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      When it comes to losing weight, staying motivated is one of the hardest thing to do. You tend to want to give up after not seeing results early in your program. However, you should keep you eye on your goal. Whether it is to lose 10 pounds, 25 pounds or even 100 pounds. You see the only person that knows what you really want is you. Tell yourself you can do it and follow through with your program. Below are some tips to help you stay focus and lose weight.

      Tip #1- Avoid going on the scale on a regular basis. For most people the is a bad habit. You see the scale can be very discouraging. If you constantly go on the scale and do not see a decrease in your weight you will feel like giving up because you may think that your program is not working. But note that the scale can be misleading. You see while you are losing weight, you are also building muscles. Therefore it will not show on the scale since the mass of your muscles will replace the weight loss. So to avoid feeling discouraged, you should avoid the scale.

      Tip #2- Do not compare your body with others. Everyone has a different genetic make up. Some people can lose weight fast while some people will take months. Now if you are comparing yourself with others, you will only discourage yourself more and not focus on your real goal that you want to achieve.

      Tip #3- Treat yourself after you cross small milestones. This will motivate you to continue. So break down your long term goals into smaller goals and once you achieve one of your goals, treat yourself to something nice.

      View Comment

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