Why You're Not Losing Weight

1. You're Following Bad Advice

Sometimes the government goofs. In late 1970s, the United States began advocating a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. In the early 1970s, the average daily energy intake was 2,450 calories. By the year 2000, that number had risen to 2,618. Almost all of those extra calories came from carbohydrates, according to the Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).

Do this: Eat fewer carbs. People are overeating carbohydrates, not protein and fat. So if you want to lose fat, start by cutting back on carbs. Ask nutritionists what the main purpose of carbohydrates is and they'll say, "Energy." Trouble is, most people are consuming more energy than they can burn.

2. You Eat Fat-Free Foods

Warning: Low-fat foods may make you fat. Cornell University researchers reported that when overweight men and women were told they were eating low-fat M&Ms, they consumed 47 percent more calories than those who were given regular M&Ms (the M&Ms were actually all the same). On average, low-fat foods contain 59 percent less fat, but only 15 percent fewer calories than full-fat products.

Do this: Go ahead and eat full-fat foods — for instance, cheese, sour cream, and a nice, marbled steak. They have slightly more calories than their lower-fat counterparts, but they'll help you feel full longer after you eat. And that'll reduce the number of calories you eat at your meal. In our lab at the University of Connecticut, we've found that people who eat 60 percent of their calories from fat lose weight faster than those who eat just 20 percent of their calories from fat.

Moreover, many of your concerns about saturated fat may be overstated.

3. You (Still) Don't Eat Breakfast

Sure, you've heard this one before. But it's important: Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that people who don't eat breakfast are nearly five times more likely to be obese than those who make it an everyday habit. That's because if you sleep for 6 to 8 hours, and then skip breakfast, your body is running on fumes by the time you get to work. And that sends you desperately seeking sugar, which happens to be easy to find.

Do this: Eat your first meal within 90 minutes of waking. The UMass scientists determined that people who waited longer increased the likelihood that they'd become heavyweights by 147 percent; those that didn't eat breakfast within 3 hours of waking elevated their risk by 173 percent.

4. You're Eating Too Much Sugar

You've stopped drinking regular soda? Great, but your diet is probably still filled with the sweet stuff. Check the label of your breakfast cereal. Some products marketed as healthy are packed with sugar. Case in point: Kellogg's Smart Start Health Heart cereal contains more sugar per serving — 17 grams — than a serving of Froot Loops. The problem: Sugar raises your blood levels of insulin, a hormone that signals your body to stop burning — and start storing fat.

Do this: Carefully read labels — especially when it comes to cereal. Or even better, trade your morning bowl for an omelet. Saint Louis University scientists found that people who have eggs as part of their breakfast eat fewer calories the rest of the day than those who ate bagels instead. Even though both breakfasts contained the same number of calories, the egg eaters consumed 264 fewer calories for the entire day.

5. You Don't Lift Weights

In a study at the University of Connecticut, we put overweight men on a 1,500-calorie-a-day diet, and divided them into three groups — one that didn't exercise, another that performed aerobic exercise 3 days a week, and a third that did both aerobic exercise and weight training. Each group lost almost the same amount of weight — about 21 pounds. But the lifters shed 5 more pounds of fat than those who didn't pump iron. Why? Their weight loss was almost pure fat, while the other two groups lost just 15 pounds of lard, along with several pounds of muscle.

Do this: Make three total-body weight training sessions a week a non-negotiable part of your weight loss plan. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that lost muscle is replaced by fat over time. This not only makes you look flabby, but it also increases your pants size — even if you somehow manage to keep your scale-weight the same. The reason: Each pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space on your body than each pound of muscle.

Source: MSN Health


gangeticus said...

Good stuff! However I think the role of fiber and exercise are the two main pillars of health in the modern world.

I prefer vegetarian based protein supplements and I am a fully frugivore on at least one day of the week.