People often ask dietitians ‘what is the best diet for losing weight?’, and we end up disappointing them by explaining that there is no perfect diet. What really works for long-term weight loss are the lifestyle changes a person makes. It is also essential to understand the importance of a balanced diet. Following an overly restrictive diet can lead to disordered eating patterns and nutritional deficiencies.
Medical management of obesity
There are accepted weight loss drugs and surgery methods to manage obesity. However, these are usually only used as a last resort if lifestyle management has not been successful and if weight is affecting the person’s daily activities like breathing and walking, or is putting them at risk of other immediate life threatening health issues.
Can medicines or surgery be a quick fix for weight loss?
The simple answer is no. These methods still need to be used in conjunction with lifestyle management strategies in order for the weight loss to be maintained. It is also important to be aware of the side effects weight loss drugs can have, especially if there is a non-compliance to the required dietary changes while on the medication. For example, the orlistat drug promotes weight loss by reducing absorption of fat by 30%, however, if excessive fat is consumed while on orlistat, there are side effects such as oily stools, faecal urgency and spotting. There can also be side effects with weight loss surgery, including leakage occurring at the suture line or a reduced absorption of calcium, iron and vitamin B12.
Although weight loss drugs or surgery can be a requirement for some, patients will not see the benefits unless lifestyle changes are also made. Furthermore, making lifestyle changes sooner rather than later can eliminate the need for weight loss medicines or surgery altogether.
How to maintain weight loss
Surveys conducted with people who managed to lose weight and keep it off have indicated certain characteristics and strategies that lead to their successful long-term maintenance of weight loss. The first characteristic was a healthy relationship with food. This occurred when one was able to enjoy a variety of foods in moderation, and did not eat to satisfy external factors like boredom or emotional eating. Other successful strategies included eating breakfast regularly and maintaining a fairly consistent eating pattern throughout the week. This prevents overeating and unnecessary snacking throughout the day.
What should be the weight loss goal?
It is important to understand that trying to lose enormous amounts of weight is not always a realistic goal. In some circumstances, even 5-10% of weight loss can make a huge difference in reducing the incidence or progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. A pre-diabetic person, for example, may be able to avoid getting diabetes by achieving 5-10% weight loss. This is because the loss of abdominal fat reduces insulin resistance which is the underlying cause of diabetes. Insulin is the hormone released by the pancreas, and is responsible for allowing glucose from carbohydrate-containing foods to be used as energy. When one has excess abdominal fat, the insulin hormone cannot work as efficiently which leads to high blood sugar levels. Loss of abdominal fat increases the efficiency of the insulin.
The bottom line is regardless of which route you take to achieve weight loss, one cannot avoid the need to make consistent lifestyle changes in order to keep the weight off.
Contact us for results focused on nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian and nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney. If you have any questions regarding health and nutrition, make an appointment with one of our dietitians. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.