How Can We Control Weight?

One of the fundamental principles of weight control is that any increase in weight, no matter how insignificant it may seem, should be reversed immediately.

Do diets work for weight loss?

Unless a person truly wants to lose weight and is properly motivated to do so, failure is almost certain. Reducing diets need not be nutritionally imbalanced in any nutrient, except for a decrease in calories.

Make whatever adjustments are required in food choices to assure that the basic diet is a good one. Now, adjust the amount of each food item without eliminating any one food from the diet. Enjoy a little bit of all foods, but not an inordinate quantity of anyone.

Reducing diets also should be based on foods normally consumed if they are to lead to a lifetime of successful weight maintenance. If good eating habits are not instituted during the period of weight reduction, continuing maintenance of “ideal” weight will be difficult, if not impossible.

The inability of bizarre reduction diets to provide adequate weight control is because of their radical departure from the normal daily diet. A successful weight-reduction diet is one which, with minor caloric adjustments, becomes an enjoyable way of life and provides desirable weight maintenance.

Is counting calories a good way to lose weight?

Foods should never be evaluated strictly based on their caloric value. The result is frequently a “low-calorie diet” which is limited in important nutrients.

Overweight people seem to continue to gain weight on very low caloric intake. Why?

The excessive caloric intake which led to obesity might be replaced by an actual decrease in caloric intake, but not enough of a decrease to cause weight loss – thus, the obesity level is maintained.

The obese person is generally very inactive, and this greatly reduces his caloric requirement so that the obese state can be maintained on fewer calories per day than were required to perpetuate the initial weight gain.

Second, a person’s true dietary habits are usually closely guarded secrets or unrealistically appraised so that caloric intake is frequently underestimated.

Six obese patients in a recent survey claimed their caloric intakes were under 2000 calories per day, even though some of the subjects were gaining weight.

Dietitians, however, recorded a dietary intake of 3000 to 5000 calories per day for some of the subjects. Some patients actually consumed 3000 to 4000 calories in a single evening.

Formula diets

Formula diets provide an easy routine for the dieter, which helps to avoid decisions of “what and how much” to eat at mealtime, but the personal selection of a variety of foods and control of caloric intake to maintain the most desirable weight are the only long-term techniques that have sound medical judgment behind them.

The short-term use of the formulas will not harm the individual who is just a teeny bit overweight. However, such persons will achieve more satisfactory long-term results if they develop and maintain good eating habits instead of relying on a liquid diet – then weight maintenance will no longer be as great a problem.


Is fasting a good way to lose weight?

There is probably no harm for the normal individual in abstaining from food for a day or two. However, the desire to effect a drastic weight loss quickly may induce the dieter to extend the period of starvation unwisely.

A form of gouty arthritis, low blood pressure, and anemia have been reported in some patients after relatively short periods of food privation.

There also are individuals with certain diseases who should never attempt starvation. Starvation, even for short periods, should not be attempted without medical supervision.

How can children control their weight?

Most children form their eating habits and develop food attitudes by imitating other members of the family. Parental habits often are a major contributing cause of overweight.

Does the family enjoy nutritious meals that include milk and other dairy products, vegetables and fruits, meats, and bread and cereals?

If these foods are carefully chosen and attractively presented to children who are normally active and healthy, they rarely lead to excessive weight gain.

Rapid weight gain more often results from a poor choice of foods – too little milk, meat, vegetables, fruits, etc., compared to an oversupply of sweets, soft drinks, and fatty foods, and high-calorie snacks between meals.

Can grapefruit help you lose weight?

This is reminiscent of other claims for so-called catabolic foods that can mobilize stored fat. Even if there were ways to preferentially mobilize and oxidize fat, they would be of limited benefit since the energy released would have to be accounted for.

There are only two ways the body can deal with fat: it can store it or it can oxidize it as demanded by metabolic needs. Fat cannot be eliminated from the body except after oxidation to carbon dioxide and water.

Fattening foods

Fattening foods

Some low-calorie diets include fattening foods such as potatoes, bread, and other starches. Shouldn’t such foods be eliminated completely?

It is very unfair to label any food as “fattening.” The total calories in a day make the difference, not the presence of any particular food. If an individual ate 3 cups of mashed potatoes (about 735 calories) every day and excluded all other foods, he would lose weight.

Why? The total number of calories consumed would be less than the calories expended. Rather than fearing starchy or “fattening” foods, concentrate on using the proper amounts of all foods that are important to the diet.

Types of bread

Is the bread made from whole-wheat flour more suitable for use by a person desiring to lose weight than bread made from other types of flour?

Other ingredients, such as shortening and milk solids, being equal, the type of flour with which bread is made will not affect its caloric content. One average slice of bread provides about 55 to 60 calories. For all practical purposes, the nutritive values of bread made from various flours are the same, provided white flour is enriched.

Catabolic foods

The rapidity with which food is digested (burned up) or absorbed does not affect the caloric value of the diet. Regardless of the time required for digestion and absorption, calories will be converted to fatty tissue if their total intake exceeds energy expenditure.

There are no foods designated as catabolic. “Catabolic” refers to the process by which proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are broken down to provide the body with usable energy and, ultimately, excretable end products.

In a sense, the body goes through a catabolic process when caloric restriction (through weight reduction or appetite loss) is imposed, as the body is forced to use energy stored in the form of fat. Any diet which provides insufficient calories will cause such a catabolic shift toward the utilization of stored fat.

Knowledge of the satiety value (feeling of satisfaction or fullness) of certain foods may be helpful when trying to achieve weight reduction. When food intake is limited, the low-calorie diet must be as satisfying as possible; therefore, foods containing protein and moderate amounts of fats should be included.

Both protein and fat have a “staying power” in the stomach, whereas foods predominantly high in carbohydrates leave the stomach rather quickly. As fat is the most concentrated source of calories, fat-containing foods should be used in moderation.

Does intermittent fasting work to lose weight?

The temptation is to suggest that one simply eat less than in years past or exercise more during the holidays. Understandably, when the Christmas dinner is on the table, it seems impossible to eat less than usual.

If a person is serious about not wanting to gain weight, however, he can take certain measures. Taste the holiday fare, but don’t eat very much of any one item. Deliberately eat less during the few days before the holiday feast.

A great many calories can be avoided by special efforts to prepare low-calorie goodies. Most modern cookbooks include sections devoted to low-calorie cooking. There is probably no harm in brief periods of dietary indiscretion.

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