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Losing Weight – the Wrong Way VS the Right Way

I (along with thousands of scheming marketers), have realized two simple facts that are resulting in an ever growing demand in the weight loss market:

 

#1 Australians are getting fatter

#2 we are all time poor

 

Results from a survey conducted by National Health Survey (NHS) have revealed that adults classified as obese or overweight have increased from 56% in 1995 to a whopping 61% in 2007-08.

 

Due to weight loss shows popularizing, and a $30 million national measure up campaign launched by the government, awareness is increasing about the obesity epidemic, and people are deciding to try and lose weight in the hope of living a longer and healthier life.

 

Then comes my next point – we are all time poor. Not only do work commitments consume us – we have kids, partners, and dirty dishes at home that demand our attention.

 

So, it’s time to lose weight. Your GP points you in the direction of the nearest gym, and the Women’s Health magazine you’re now reading gives you a high calorie burning training schedule to start following! The thought alone is exhausting. Naturally, we would love a quick fix – Something that requires minimal effort, and will ultimately result in a sculpted figure … and a 6-pack as well.

 

“A protein shake to melt your fat away” … “A pre-workout supplement that will target and abolish all abdominal fat” … Something easy to prepare, that tastes great … that will make you lose “10kgs in 10 weeks!” Sound familiar? Oh, did I mention that they come in delicious flavours, and attractive packaging with half naked bodies splayed across them…?

 

SOLD!

 

But you’ve forgotten a crucial point – that nothing in life worth having comes easy. We’ve chosen the easy way out – but at what cost?

 

A study done in 2010 by consumer reports showed that a popular protein shake Cytosport Muscle Milk contained high levels of four heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. The consumer’s quest to lose weight by having meal replacement shakes in this case was impaired by heavy metal toxicity. Normal thyroid and kidney function can be seriously damaged by the excessive build-up of metals in the body, not to mention an inability to shift weight in many cases.

 

But, this tragic news aside, let’s look at some of the less-lethal bars, shakes and pre-workout drinks on the market claiming to target and abolish fat. Have a look at the ingredients. What are you putting into your body? Sugars, sweeteners, additives, and high doses of caffeine and guarana. CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), Ephedrine, carnitine, Chitosan, conjugated linoleic acid, forskolin, chromium, kelp, fucoxanthin to name a few… While some of these supplements look promising, the evidence for others is lacking.

 

There is also evidence that some of the thermogenics mentioned can cause insomnia, heart palpatations, anxiety, put strain on your endocrine system, and in very rare cases “stroke, heart attack, and death” (FDA, 2004). On a less dire, but just as relevant, note: If your issue with retaining weight is due to insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome – those sugars you are ingesting with every “weight loss” shake, may in fact be promoting fat storage around the abdomen area.

 

How about those meal replacements that encourage you to eat a radically low calorie diet such as 1000 calories in a day? Well, the problem here is that if you radically calorically restrict you can lower your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which in turn decreases fat oxidation at resting, and increases protein oxidation.

 

Hey, if eating such a low calorie diet is such a good idea, why not stop eating altogether? I hear that people with anorexia lose a lot of weight. Not eating at all is a very efficient way to lose weight fast. But we can all see the madness in that, right?

 

Excuse my bluntness on the subject – I just think it is crazy to pay money to these companies so that we can drink something instead of eating a balanced meal that will cause us to go from eating 2500 calories, to 1000 calories in a day. OF COURSE YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT … You are practically starving yourself!

 

People who restrict calories so significantly for a long period of time then tend to put the weight back on almost as quickly as they lost it, or they will find they put weight on very easily, and have a yo-yo dieting and weight loss cycle for years afterwards. This is no coincidence. When you mess around with your BMR and put your body under stress from crash dieting and ingesting numerous thermogenics at once – what goes up, must always come down.

 

Please don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that all pre-workouts, supplementation, and fad diets are false and a hoax… But lots of them are. Generally the rule of thumb is – If you are considering buying a product that promises you the world and more with minimal to no effort involved … you would probably be better off going and investing in a shoehorn.

 

The safest and most effective long-term weight loss is achieved through calorie deficit – no more then a 400-500 calorie deficit per day. Calorie deficit can be achieved through a restriction of the calories through diet, or increase in calorie expenditure through vigorous and incidental activity or – my favourite – a healthy balance of both.

 

Put simply: Eat less (or more of the RIGHT foods), and move more. Sounds easy in theory – but is damn hard when you put it in practice.

 

The take home message:

 

It is HARD to live a healthy life when more then half of the people around you are not.

 

It is HARD to eat the right foods when junk food is cheap and convenient.

 

It is HARD to move more, when we have an intern to get our coffees for us.

 

It is HARD to get our ass to the gym and push ourselves with a mixture of resistance and cardio training 4-6 times a week.

 

Yeah, it sure is.

 

I never said it was going to be easy.

 

-V xx

 

 

Reference:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/mr-yr08-nr-nr137.htm

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/july/food/protein-drinks/what-our-tests-found/index.htm

http://www.tonyboutagy.com/research-updates-for-personal-trainers.html

http://www.motleyhealth.com/lose-weight/are-fat-burning-pills-safe

 

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