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The Secret to Weight Loss

Written by Nancy Rahnama, MD, MS.

What is the easiest way to lose weight? Most magazines use a waifish celebrity as their example of weight loss success. But let's be honest. How reasonable is this image? Can people realistically make the appropriate changes in their lifestyles in order to see a change in their weight?

Do these individuals know that the recommendations may be customized to their lifestyles and body type?

The truth is, too many people use a vague approach for weight loss and only see short-term results, if any at all.

Most people are motivated to lose weight for aesthetic purposes; they want to look good in a bikini or tight pair of jeans. If you're one of these people, a better way to get motivated to be fit and healthy would be to educate yourself about the long-term consequences of excess weight.

Many medical problems are either the cause or the consequence of weight. Through proper education and motivation, people may be appropriately motivated to make the adjustments necessary for long-term weight loss and prevention of the problems that may be seen with long-term weight gain. 

Weight gain may result from a number of factors. This includes anything from immobility, high fat intake, succumbing to carbohydrate cravings, a recent pregnancy, an undetected medical condition, or even depression. The way to solve the problem is by identifying the source--by visiting a doctor  and making the appropriate dietary and fitness changes for each specific cause. 

Many people put unlimited amounts of time and money into weight management, yet don't see results. The answer to this puzzling issue may simply be that people are not addressing the problem correctly.

Some may have metabolic or vitamin deficiencies, which may simply be diagnosed and addressed with a general physician. Amongst these problems include thyroid abnormalities, vitamin D deficiencies, iron deficiencies and B12 deficiencies. With the help of a qualified medical professional, these problems may be easily diagnosed and treated to decrease cravings and behaviors that result in over eating.

Others may become frustrated because they feel that they're spending endless hours exercising, excessive amounts of money on trainers and gym memberships, yet still fail to see results in weight loss. This is often because people overestimate the amount of calories they burn through their workout.

Many people overestimate the amount of calories they burn through exercise and feel that they can eat whatever they want because they exercise.

For example, many people feel that since they “exercise,” they can eat whatever they want. The truth is, it would be better if they did not make the extra effort to exercise and watched their food intake instead. Although exercise has tremendous benefits in an individuals well being, by improving mental and cardiovascular health, the harm of eating a poor diet outweighs these benefits. For example, one person may spend an hour on the treadmill and then stop by at a café for a latte and muffin. The work-out burned no more than 500 calories, while the muffin alone is well over 500 calories, resulting in weight gain. The most effective approach would be to focus on restricting the caloric and fat intake and using exercise as a supplement.

Another source of frustration has to do with temporary weight loss followed by weight gain. The answer to this dilemma depends on muscle mass. Most people approach diets as a mode of weight loss through caloric restriction, but this may actually lead to weight gain in the long run.

In order to achieve successful, long-term weight loss, people need to focus on maintaining muscle mass while losing fat.

And while weight loss may be accomplished quickly through starvation, these results are only transient, as most of the weight that was lost was water weight and muscle mass. This unfortunately results in a drop in metabolism. When a person resumes a regular diet after this type of weight loss, he or she will then not only gain back the weight that they had originally lost, but may gain additional weight due to the drop in muscle mass and metabolism. Thus, the key to successful weight loss and maintenance is through caloric restriction which does not lead to loss of muscle mass. How do you do this? Simply consume a diet which is mostly comprised of protein and an exercise regimen that focuses on resistance training.

We'll discuss how to identify the cause of weight loss or gain in the articles to come.

Nancy Rahnama, MD, MS
Nancy Rahnama, MD, MS

Nancy Rahnama MD, MS is a practicing Internist and Bariatrician in Los Angeles, where she has completed all of her training. She received a Bachelors in Science and Masters in Science in Physiology at University of California, Los Angeles and then went on to complete Medical School at the Keck School of Medicine at the Univ.. Read more

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