With the percentage of people in the United States increasing for overweight and obese individuals, there are a few that will try to lose weight. Hopefully these individuals will start a program to lose weight before the problems that seem to follow overweight and obese people set in. Once problems like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure occur, the weight loss program needs special care.
The three basic methods to lose weight involves exercise and diet. One method is diet alone, another is exercise alone, and the third is a combination of diet and exercise. Each has a benefit as well as a few problems trying to follow one or the other of the programs.
The most common is to try and diet to lose weight. Eating fewer calories means taking in less food, or limiting food choices. One problem with the diet alone program is that the weight loss is from both fat and muscle which can be misleading when you check the scale for weight loss. Not all the weight loss is from fat. The second problem with dieting alone is that when you take in less food, the basic metabolism slows down. The metabolism is how much energy is used to carry you through the 24-hour day. The only way to continue to lose weight is to eat less food. With less food, less muscle mass, slower metabolism, and some fat loss, the person’s energy becomes less and more problems arise. The fact that individuals that try the diet alone method to lose weight have an 85 percent failure rate.
One other point to mention with the diet alone method is the selection of food the person chooses. For instance, a gram of fat has 9 calories, a gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories, a gram of protein has 4 calories, and any alcohol has 7 calories per ounce. Labels can be misleading in terms of serving size and how it is listed on the container. You need to look at the total calories of fat and compare it with the total calories of a serving. A good example is looking at the 1 percent fat milk label. The 1 percent is for the volume of fat in the serving, not the percentage of fat in a serving.
With the exercise only program a person has a variety of choices. Should you do strength training such a lifting weights, or try aerobic programs such a walking, running, swimming, or bicycle riding. Then the choice of how intense should the program be needs to be selected. Run fast, run slow, walk, or ride a bike. Should I lift heavy weights or stick with lighter weights? An example of a program of strength training will show that a gain of one pound of muscle will increase your BMR (basic metabolic rate – or how fast you burn calories) by 10 – 15 percent. Comparing that with the diet alone program where your BMR slows down, and burns food more slowly, the difference in weight loss can be significant.
The end result of calories burned from running three miles is about the same whether you run fast or slow. If you run a 6 minute pace for 18 minutes, or a 10 minute pace for 30 minutes, the end result is very close to the same. Some physiologists recommend duration over speed. One point to counter that recommendation is that a faster pace increases the heart rate and muscle involvement and will take longer to slow down to a normal rate. Some physiologists state that a good strength workout can elevate the BMR for up to 24 hours after a workout. The one major point is that any movement program works to burn calories and the choice becomes which program the person will follow.
The third choice of combining diet and exercise programs seems to work best. While the diet may slow the BMR, the exercise program will increase the BMR, and make the result an equal benefit. The other benefit is that with diet alone both fat and muscle is lost. With the addition of an exercise program most of the weight loss is fat alone because of the gain in muscle. The choice between aerobics versus a strength program finds that they benefit each other. The increase in aerobic capacity helps the person work out longer, and the increase in strength helps the person run farther and faster. For the senior citizen, one of the major causes of injury is falling. The increase in strength goes a long way in preventing falls and the resistance also increases bone strength. As the saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” My favorite advice to people is, “just move” and things will take care of themselves.