Dieting to lose weight is difficult at best, and generally ends in frustration for the average person. The majority of people gain most of the weight back within the first year (1,2). However, there are three strategies that have consistently proven to be effective in losing weight and maintaining the loss. When combining all three, a person may have the greatest chance of succeeding in accomplishing their desired weight loss (when compared to all current conventional methods of weight loss). When incorporating the three simple methods shown below during caloric restriction, the dieter should significantly reduce the overall effort generally associated with dieting. This allows the participant to more comfortably achieve and maintain the desired outcome.
1. Self-weigh as often as possible and chart your progress
All studies investigating self-weighing as a weight control strategy have demonstrated that the more you weigh yourself the greater the weight loss , maintenance of the loss and prevention of weight gain (3,4,5,6). Research also validated the reverse: the less frequently subjects weighed in, the lower their chance of success, and those who checked their weight the least or never gained weight. Presumably by the time they would weigh themselves, if ever, it was too late to undo the damage without a significant lifestyle change, hence they continued to gain weight.
Figure 1 captures the significant results of regular weighing. More significant is the fact that as time went on the subjects who consistently weighed themselves continued to reduce their body mass index (BMI). This is completely opposite today’s norm.
Subjects weighing multiple times a week reported that any time weight was not trending in a desired direction they would make a simple adjustment. Sometimes eating slightly less (including skipping a meal) or an alteration in exercise would allow them to maintain an easy, steady course to the goal (7). Additionally, the fact that one has to weigh each day (or most days) influences people to “think twice” about consuming something that might give them an undesirable weigh in.
12 Month Weighing Frequency
24 Month Weighing Frequency
Figure 1 shows the results of weighing frequency: the red bars were subjects attempting weight loss. The black bars were subjects attempting to prevent weight gain. These amazing results clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of regular weighing.
2. Use of pharmacological agents (prescription drugs) to assist weight loss
The goal of incorporating a dietary supplement or drug into a weight loss program is to assist the participant in complying with the conditions necessary for weight reduction. In 19 studies, participants using weight loss drugs that prevent dietary fat/ calorie absorption and speed metabolism significantly increased total weight loss combined with a dietary/lifestyle regime than when compared to subjects using the dietary/lifestyle regime and placebo (8). The treatment groups were, on average, three times more likely to lose more than five percent of their total body weight and four times more likely to maintain the weight loss after two years.
The problem with drug therapy is that prescription weight loss drugs should not be used for extended periods of time because they bring along known side effects. Therefore, the goal would be to find safe, natural alternatives in dietary supplements that have the same basic actions (increase calorie burning and block unneeded calories), thus potential to assist in weight loss (9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22). The dieter would cease supplementation once the weight goal is reached or when they have their daily routines under control to continue making progress without the supplements.
3. Incorporating meal replacements into daily diet
In all studies, meal replacements (MR) have been shown to be an extremely effective aid to weight reduction (23) and in almost all cases more effective than conventional methods of dietary restrictions (24,25,26,27). Additionally, meal replacements have been shown to be just as effective as dietary restriction combined with pharmacological therapy. (8) And most importantly, continuous use of meal replacements may be the most effective means of all treatments when it comes to maintaining weight loss (1,28,29,30) (see figure 2).
Meal replacements are generally used to replace one or two meals a day and allow the individual complete freedom for their remaining daily calories.
Meal replacements allow
* Portion control: people generally attempt to consume meals to completion (31,32); therefore, meal portion size significantly impacts a person’s total calorie intake. (17,33) Overwhelming evidence validates that the smaller the portions, the fewer daily calories consumed33 and vice-versa – i.e. people tend to “eat with their eyes not their stomachs”. Use of portion controlled meals has proven to yield greater weight loss than conventional diet therapy alone. (34,35,36,37)
* Accurate calorie counts of total daily food intake when compared to having to estimate the calories of self-prepared or unmarked meals. (38)
Figure 2: In all six studies the groups using meal replacements (PMR) as part of their overall calorie intake lost significantly more weight than subjects using the reduced calorie diet (RCD) alone. Heymsfield SB (2003)
Figure 3: In a 1-year follow-up in the groups that were tracked, the subjects still using meal replacements maintained significantly more weight loss than the RCD group. Heymsfield SB (2003)