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A Wealth of Health | Safely managing weight loss and gain – The Breeze

Jan 28th, 2022

In 2021, 37.7% of people in the U.S. listed losing weight as their New Years resolution in a 1,000-person survey conducted by Saint Leo University. A 2019 YouGov America survey found just 7% of U.S. adults stuck to their resolutions.

Theres still 11 months left. Lets get back on track.

While everyones metabolism is different, meaning weight loss methods should be individualized, JMU dietetics professor Jeremy Akers said the most sustainable way to lose weight is to make subtle, gradual changes to your meal plan, like moderating your favorite foods or drinks. For example, if you drink more than 30 ounces of soda in a day, try decreasing intake to 12-16 ounces.

Akers, who teaches a graduate-level course called Theories and Practices of Weight Management, said these small changes support weight loss over the long haul instead of instantaneously, like some weight-loss supplements and products promise. Frequently coined buzz words can spread misinformation, Akers said if terms like metabolic fix, elimination, cleansing and spot reduction are spotlighted in weight-loss products, it should raise red flags among the consumer, he said.

Don't listen to all the hype, Akers said. There's not a magic pill; there's not a magic formula; there's not a magic diet. Nothing's magic about it. It's just being able to understand your body and have a little bit of balance and small changes.

JMU dietetics professor Danielle Torisky said healthy weight loss should happen in one- to two-pound increments per week. If a product makes a claim of promoting quick weight loss, she said to consult with a registered dietitian because those products could potentially cause malabsorption of nutrients or inhibit full digestion of food.

Weight loss plans, which exclude any one of the macronutrients carbohydrates, fats, or proteins arent likely to be sustainable, Torisky said. All three are needed, along with vitamins and minerals, for a healthy process of energy metabolism and nutrient absorption, she said. Additionally, Akers said healthy weight loss also shouldnt involve completely neglecting any specific food you love.

I would never tell anybody to cut anything out, Akers said. If you eliminate that, then they're going to crave it, they're going to want it, and when they get it, they're going to just consume so much more of it.

To supplement the nutrition side of healthy weight loss, you can take up weight training, specifically lifting weights at your highest possible volume, JMU exercise physiology professor Chris Womack said.

Volume is calculated by multiplying your repetitions, sets and amount of weight lifted. High-volume workouts, Womack said, stimulate your muscles the most and therefore give you the most hypertrophy, or an increase and growth in muscle cells.

More muscle appears to increase the number of calories we use at rest, and we also voluntarily burn more calories throughout the day with various activities, Womack said. This is because it takes more calories to maintain muscle than fat, in turn increasing our resting metabolism rate.

Combined with a caloric deficit, or burning more calories than you consume, losing weight in a healthy manner becomes doable.

As you're taking in low caloric intake, you could lose weight off of Cheetos, Womack said.

When taking in a caloric surplus consuming more calories than you burn off weight gain begins to happen. However, to prevent your weight from ballooning too quickly, you need to make incremental caloric increases, Womack said.

Aggressive weight gain, Womack said, is 500 more calories a day than you burn. This number can creep up quickly.

It's kinda like money, Womack said. Youd be surprised how quickly you can spend it.

Healthy weight gain mirrors weight loss its important to make subtle changes instead of overhauling your eating patterns. Torisky said substituting milk for water in oatmeal and dried fruit for fresh fruit can supplement consistent weight gain. Dried fruit is more concentrated in calories and nutrients than its fresh counterpart, she said. For example, there are roughly four times the calories in a half cup of raisins as in a half cup of fresh grapes.

Unintended weight gain can, ironically, result from diets intended for weight loss, Torisky said. One is called yo-yo dieting eating an extremely low-calorie or overly restrictive diet that is frequently not maintainable.

Metabolism tends to slow down in order to protect you from not being able to sustain your basic life functions, Torisky said. Then, as [you] resume eating normal calories, [you] often regain any temporary weight loss and it is increasingly difficult to start over again and achieve long-lasting results.

Other eating methods, like intuitive eating, have emerged as an anti-diet movement, Wall Street Journal health and science reporter Sarah Toy reported in a Jan. 8 article. It involves a more mindful approach to eating, PowerPoint slides provided by Akers said, that rejects a diet mentality, encourages food intake when hungry and advocates for acceptance of your bodys shape.

Akers said intuitive eating requires a heightened sense of understanding yourself, which can make the practice difficult for some, but he said the concept is mostly sound once the person takes the time to buy into it.

We do so much research on new cars and a new TV or a new phone and I think a lot of times with health, we don't do that, Akers said. We may take one nutrition or exercise science class in their life, but because it's the best seller, they know that it's the truth.

Whether its in the weight room or with your meal plan, weight management starts and ends with the individual flexibility to tune and fine tune meals, Womack said, and prioritizing your personal journey above all else.

Be a better physical version of yourself than you were yesterday, Womack said. Don't worry about what anybody in UREC looks like, and That guy's squatting more than me, and I'm only going to be successful at this when I look like that or when I achieve that that's bullcrap. If you just focus on where you're at right now and how much better you're getting from your baseline, you'd be amazed at where you'd be a year later.

Contact Grant Johnson at For more health & wellness content, stay tuned for the A Wealth of Health'' column every other Thursday, and follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.

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A Wealth of Health | Safely managing weight loss and gain - The Breeze

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