Many of my clients initially say that they want to lose weight to look good for that cruise, the big wedding, or the family reunion. They start with great gusto and often times meet their weight loss goal. But once the event is over the weight comes back on. The extreme change in lifestyle worked for a defined time but was not sustainable once the goal was met. I encourage my clients to look beyond the short term goal and to make lifestyle changes for their health as well as their appearance. I stress the importance of losing as little as 7% of their weight and how that can dramatically improve energy level, health numbers and appearance.
A Little Goes A Long Way – Lose 7%
When it comes to losing weight we know that losing as little as 7% can dramatically decrease the likelihood of diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program looked at participants from over 27 clinical centers who already had pre-diabetes, a metabolic impairment in insulin sensitivity. The study revealed that the most effective way of keeping this population from developing diabetes was to lose 7% of their weight. This was found to be more effective than prescribing the most popular medication used for diabetes, Metformin.
David Katz, MD, MPH, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center says that ”lifestyle changes that include healthier diets, regular physical activity, and weight loss of 7%-10% have shown phenomenal health benefits that can be more effective than medications”. Lowering body weight can reverse or prevent diabetes; lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels; and improve sleep apnea and other sleep problems — along with helping you feel better about yourself. Blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications can be reduced or stopped with a 5-10% weight loss.
Are you an apple or a pear? We know that the fat stored around the middle, or visceral fat, is more metabolically active and is cancer promoting, insulin desensitizing and artery clogging. If your waist circumference is greater than 35″ for a woman or 40″ for a man, then you are at high risk for heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Losing as little of 2% of your weight can greatly reduce these risks.
So what does 7-10% weight loss look like? If someone weighed 200 pounds that means losing 14-20 pounds. This is not an earth shattering amount! A natural way to lose weight is to lose about 1/2-2 pounds a week in order to achieve a 7% weight loss in about 3 months. With about 3500 calories in a pound that would mean reducing daily caloric intake by 250-1000 calories. By making small diet changes and walking one mile at a moderate pace, losing a pound or two weekly is possible. Some small changes include:
- Switching from 1 oz. half and half to 1 oz. whole milk will save you 20 calories per cup.
- Measuring and reducing the oil you cook with can add up quickly with each tablespoon being 120 calories.
- Keeping a portion of potato chips to the 1 oz. serving size can add up quickly at 150 calories a serving. Don’t be in the “eat out of the bag, I’ll just eat a few” club; those small handfuls can add up quickly, and the bag is tempting.
- Switching from the salad dressing bottle to the spritzers can save you over 200 calories, especially if you use a lot of dressing.
- Switching all dairy – spreads, milk, cheese, and yogurt – to low fat can also save you hundreds of calories a day, depending on your portions.
- Reducing desserts to no more than one serving a day can also save you over 200 calories for each additional serving.
You can see how all these small steps can add up to a measurable weight loss within a few months.
It’s ok to lose weight for that big event in your near future, but make sure the real motivation is for your health. It will be the best investment you have ever made.