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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Losing those pounds

Why is it that people face such problems with weight loss diets? While the motivation to lose the extra weight is often there for these weight loss dieters, correct strategies and goals are often not.

Whether the goal is to be healthier or to have more self-esteem, these diets often end up failing as a result of incorrect approaches. So, if you have attempted a weight loss diet such as the South Beach diet or the Atkins diet – or just a diet of your own – and have failed, you are not alone. As much as 90 percent of weight loss diets fail in the long term in the U.S. Elizabeth Applegate, a senior nutrition lecturer at U.C. Davis, believes people often fail in their attempts because of unrealistic expectations.

“People do too much at once – it makes them miserable,” Applegate said.

She first addressed steps people can take to alter their eating habits.

“It is helpful to have a couple of cups of water before a meal, and to ensure that two-thirds of what is eaten are vegetables,” Applegate said.

She pointed to the fact that by having these cups of water before a meal, a person can feel fuller faster. According to Applegate, ensuring that fiber intake is high during a meal is also helpful, as fiber really helps a person feel full quicker.

“People should set small goals and stick with them,” she said.

“Quick-fix” diets – meant to help people drop a few pounds quickly – are elusive. Applegate referred to “no-carb” diets, like Atkins, as a type of diet that make it look like a person has lost several pounds; while in reality what the person perceives as body fat loss is mainly water-weight loss.

Applegate said these diets can leave a person in ketosis – a weakened metabolic state. She said people need to have carbohydrates in their weight loss diets, and that they should increase their protein intake.

A good weight-loss plan is one where the person loses half of a pound to maybe a pound per week. She said that taking a normal eating regiment and reducing it drastically can lead a person to feel constipated and even have bad breath.

Studies conducted by The National Weight Control Registry have found that most people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off, eat breakfast, exercise about 60 to 90 minutes per day and read the labels on their foods.

The National Weight Control Registry said that 98 percent of the Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose the weight as well as reporting that 94 percent increased their physical activity, with the most frequent form of activity being walking.

Marilyn Townsend, a nutritionist at UC Davis, also stated that a slow weight-loss approach is the way to go.

“People can’t just go into a dieting process with a short-term horizon and expect permanent weight loss. There must be lifestyle changes, not just in food lifestyle, but in physical activity,” Townsend said.

Townsend said that there has been a drastic increase in discretionary screen time – sitting in front of something with a screen, such as a monitor or television – in the last 10 years. She believes that this increase has contributed to the U.S.’s increasing obesity rate, as it leads people to have a more sedentary lifestyle. She believes there are several things people can do to countermand growing waistlines.

“People need to reduce screen time. It helps to walk, ride a bike or just make a concerted effort to some type of aerobic activity,” Townsend said.

According to Townsend, people need to understand that they can accomplish their goal of weight loss, but that they need to pace themselves.

“A slow loss is good,” Townsend said. “You can train yourself to be satisfied with eating just a little bit of something. It takes practice and diligence.”

To learn about the types of foods you should be eating, visit mypyramid.gov. Hint: vary your vegetables, at least three ounces of grains per day, consume calcium-rich foods and eat meats and beans for lean protein.

ERIC C. LIPSKY can be reached at science@theaggie.org.


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