There are so many diets and weight loss plans out there. It seems we are often bombarded with new ones and they often seem to contradict each other. So, we wanted to take a look at what the research says, what are evidence-based- tried and true- weight loss strategies. We found that there are 3 key elements in the research: changing what you eat, exercise and behavior therapy.
The evidence shows that a goal of 10% of your baseline weight is attainable and most beneficial for your health. Losing the weight at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week for up to 6 months is also most likely to be maintained for a long time. Also low-calorie diets (500-100 kcal per day reduction) vs. very low-calorie diets (weight loss may be faster at first but not as sustainable).
Evidence also shows that reducing specifically unhealthy fat and carbohydrates is key to weight loss as well as increased water, veggies, fiber and whole foods.
Exercise is the second element of weight loss. It modestly increases weight loss, decreases abdominal fat, increases cardio-respiratory health and helps maintain weight loss. Research supports working up to 30-45 minutes 3-5 times weekly and eventually working to a maintenance exercise pan of 30 minutes most days.
The third element of weight loss is behavior therapy. This is working with dietitians and other health professionals to reinforce goals and decrease barriers to weight loss.
This month we are talking about exercise and movement. This week we are specifically focusing
on activity outside of your weekly exercise. An interesting fact to start with is that being
sedentary, as many Americans are, throughout the day is an independent risk factor for heart
disease equivalent to that of smoking. This is true even if you do exercise throughout the week.
This fact tends to grab our attention, if you are someone who is sedentary most of the day there
is a lot you can do to change that.
The goal is to incorporate some movement into your day every hour or so. One way to do this
is to get a fitbit, or another fitness tracking device, that tracks your steps. You can work towards
increasing your steps daily, and work up to a target goal. You can also get up and move in your
office while you are on conference calls. Another idea is to incorporate desk exercises into your
daily routine. Or grab a friend and walk during your lunch break! You can set a timer on your
watch hourly and make sure you get up and move even while you are working. A standing desk
can be helpful or using a exercise ball as a chair some or all of the day. Or try walking or biking
to and from work to add some extra fitness to your day!
Even small changes can make a big difference in taking you from sedentary to active. If you
have any other creative ideas of adding movement into your day please post a comment on this
blog post and share with us and others!