So true and So simple!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I had to copy this here so I could read it again and again and again! It explains it all so simply...................onya Rosemary! (from:

Problems with weight loss by Dr Rosemary Stanton, nutritionist

It's not hard to see that Australians are getting fatter and official surveys confirm what our eyes tell us – more than 60% of the adult population is overweight or obese. The problem is greater for men (67%) than women (52%), but unfortunately, many men do not realise that what they call their 'beer' gut is actually a 'fat' gut and a major problem. Fat around the waist and on the upper body is the dangerous stuff whereas fat on the bottom and thighs is quite safe – it goes there and stays put. New research suggests that lower body fat may actually be protective by diverting fat away from the dangerous abdominal level.

Excess fat doesn't arrive overnight. It takes months – usually years – to accumulate. But once most people realise their excess weight is a health hazard and they want it off, they mistakenly think it should happen as quickly as possible.

The race to shed kilos leads many people to follow the latest diet. You can lose weight with almost any diet simply because the total number of kilojoules from the foods they permit is less than what you would usually consume. But that's not all there is to it.

Losing weight is not the problem – losing excess fat and maintaining the loss is the real challenge. Maintenance means making permanent changes in eating and exercise habits and almost no one can follow any set slimming diet for ever. They get boring.

In my experience, every time you embark on another diet (in the hope it will work more magic than the past one), you are delaying the inevitable need to make permanent changes in what you eat and drink and how much physical activity you do.

If you check the numbers, it's easy to see why fat loss cannot be fast. Each kilogram of fat represents over 32,000 kJ of energy. To lose a kilogram, you need to create a deficit of more than 32,000 kJ. Now if you normally consume 10,000 kJ a day and you eat absolutely nothing for 3 days, you might think you could create a deficit of 30,000 kJ. But you can't eat nothing or your health will suffer and if you cut back too far, not only will you be hungry, but your body also makes adjustments so that it cuts back on the number of kilojoules it expends.

The idea that starting off with a really strict will mean you lose enough weight to motivate you to continue with a better balanced diet doesn't work. Weight lost fast almost always returns – usually with a bonus. And that's demoralising and leads most people to give up and go back to their old eating habits. The really strict dieting period may also have resulted in a loss of lean muscle tissue, so after you go off the punishing diet, your body needs fewer kilojoules than it did before you started.

Most diets tell you to cut carbohydrates. There's a simple reason for this. The body stores some carbohydrate (usually about 600g) in muscles, ready for physical activity. And every gram of carbohydrate is stored with three grams of water. When you cut carbs, the body uses up its stored carbohydrate and you also lose the associated water. Any low carbohydrate diet will usually induce a rapid loss of about 2 kilograms in the first few days.

The body uses carbohydrates to produce glucose, which is the main fuel for the brain and also contributes about half the fuel for metabolism (fats contribute the remainder). We must have glucose, and because the human body is unable to convert fat into glucose, it has another source. That source is protein.

In the absence of sufficient carbohydrate, the body converts protein from either food or lean muscle tissue, or both, into glucose. However, there's a catch. When protein is converted to glucose, the leftover nitrogenous portion of the protein molecule becomes quite toxic and is excreted through the kidneys. The process takes plenty of water to wash the toxic portion through to avoid it damaging the kidneys.

Most high protein diets tell you to drink a lot of water to avoid stressing and damaging the kidneys. But these diets result in a lot of water loss from the body. Water is heavy, so losing water shows up on the scales as a loss of weight.

You also lose some fat on these diets, but the rate of fat loss is rarely more than 1kg/month. Indeed this is the average amount lost during the first six months in studies of a low carbohydrate/high protein diet. A new study released this week found that followers of the Atkins Diet lost an average of 4.7 kg in 12 months (they lost more but regained some). Other studies of the same diet found 92% of those following the diet for 12 months had side effects – some quite serious.

So when you read that a diet will cause a loss of 1 kg a week, unless you are really big to start with, much of what you lose will be water. The faster the loss, the greater the loss of lean body tissue. Lean tissue burns lots of kilojoules, so its loss means you need less food after the diet than you did before.

The body also responds to a decrease in food intake by reducing its physical activity. That's not good for health or weight maintenance.

The bottom line is that weight is gained slowly, and that's the best (and usually the only) way to lose it permanently.

To return to the fact that a loss of 1kg of fat requires a deficit of over 32,000 kJ, it is feasible to make changes you can live with by adjusting what you eat a little, and how much you move, to create a deficit of about 2,000 kJ/day. In many years, I have not found many people who are able to track those kind of changes by counting their kilojoule intake.

A better approach
Studies show that taking an attitude of 'health at any size' rather than worrying constantly about your weight produces a healthier diet, and, incidentally, better weight loss after 12 months than almost any exact diet.

The most important consideration is to eat healthy foods and keep the junk foods to an absolute minimum. Diets that advise you to avoid healthy products like fruits, potatoes and grain-based foods do not fit the dietary guidelines for healthy eating.

Diets that promote very large servings of meat also don't fit the healthy eating guidelines. Quality studies continue to show that large servings of red meat can increase the risk of colorectal cancer and a new large study found that high quantities of meat also increased the risk of oestrogen-dependent breast cancers in women (which represent about half of all breast cancers).

The ideal healthy way of eating includes the five following daily components:
• plenty of vegetables (try to have 5 different vegetables each day)
• 2 pieces of fruit
• 2 servings of low fat dairy products or other good source of calcium (such as low fat soy substitutes)
• at least 4 servings of quality grain foods (wholegrain breakfast cereal such as rolled oats, natural muesli or wheat biscuits or wholegrain bread)
• a good source of protein such as fish (twice a week), poultry or red meat (65-100g of red meat is fine three to four times a week), legumes, eggs or nuts.
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.