If you are one of the millions who made the resolution to lose weight, get fit, or exercise more this year, you are not alone. Unfortunately, many will fall prey to fad diets and weight loss claims that are bogus and will spend way too much money to lose weight only to likely gain it back again.
All of the conflicting claims of immediate weight loss and hype by celebrities and so-called experts can confuse even the most informed consumer. What can you do to be better informed when it comes to successful weight loss?
Educate yourself. A fad diet, as defined by the American Dietetic Association, is "unreasonable or exaggerated beliefs that eating (or not eating) specific foods, nutrient supplements or combinations of certain foods may cure disease, convey special health benefits or offer quick weight loss."
There are no quick fixes, no foods, wraps, or pills to melt the pounds away. Chances are you didn't gain those pounds overnight and aren't going to lose them overnight either, not and do it safely.
The only true way to lose weight and keep it off is to balance the amount of calories consumed with the number of calories expended through physical activity. Most fad diets do not teach new eating habits; instead they rely upon you giving up whole food groups. When asked to give up favorite foods, it's not likely you will stick with the diet for long.
Stay away from diet plans, pills and products that make claims that are not healthy or good for you. Ask yourself some questions before embarking on your weight loss journey.
Does it sound too good to be true? Promises of "no need to exercise" should be a red flag immediately. We already know that regular physical activity is essential for good health and maintaining a healthy weight. Running when you hate it will not yield the lifestyle change you want. Find a physical activity that you enjoy doing and then aim for 30 to 50 minutes of activity on most days of the week.
Does the diet call for specific food combinations you must eat at specific times or in a specific order so that you lose weight? No evidence exists that by combining specific foods at specific times of the day will help with weight loss. No one food will melt the fat away, and there is no evidence as some claim that eating the wrong combination of foods will cause them to turn to fat immediately.
Does it promise rapid weight loss? Just like the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last over dramatic weight changes. Remember 1 to 2 pounds per week is the healthy plan for a slow weight loss. If you lose weight too quickly, you will lose muscle, bone and water, and are more likely to gain it back plus more.
Is the source of the information, such as a book author, trying to sell products like supplements, diet food, or the book itself?
Is the diet monotonous in its food cahoices? The cabbage diet and grapefruit diet might allow for unlimited bowls of cabbage soup or grapefruit, but can you really eat the same thing over and over without getting bored with it? Any diet that completely restricts certain food groups could cause you to miss out on critical nutrients, even if you take a multivitamin.
Successful weight loss, losing weight and keeping it off, is accomplished by making positive lifestyle changes. This involves making realistic and wise goals; achieving slow weight loss, no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week; eating a healthy well-balanced diet; and engaging in physical activity.
If you want to maintain a healthy weight, lose fat, or build muscle, make a positive lifestyle change by eating smarter and moving more. This combination will produce lifelong results without feeling like you are dieting all the time. You should be able to answer this question, "Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?" Hopefully the answer is yes. Remember, the only proven way to safely and effectively lose weight is to reduce caloric intake balanced with physical activity.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at email@example.com, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.
Carla Haley Hadley is a county extension agent, family and consumer sciences, with the Miller County Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.