The television is inundated with them —commercial after commercial about some new magic weight loss pill, dieting system, exercise machine or fitness regimen. It’s enough to make you go bonkers, sometimes. If losing weight is so easy, why does it take normal people like you and I so long to lose it and, better yet, keep it off?
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Dr. Thomas Marlowe, a Charlotte weight loss specialist, says what we all know deep down is true: Losing weight isn’t magic. It’s science. And, it takes work.
Luckily, that work is built atop simple tips that most people can begin to mix into their daily lives today.
First, we must understand basic facts about weight. What do you know about weight and its affect on your health?
Dr. Marlowe points to a recent study he says shows most people — upwards of 80-90 percent — know that weight gain can cause heart attacks or increased risks for diabetes.
“But only six percent know that extra weight can cause cancer,” he says. “Ninety-four percent did not know that having extra weight can cause colon cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancers.”
Dr. Marlowe adds, “A lot of the cancers are highly related to our weight. By losing as little as five percent of your weight you can reduce your risk of dying from cancer by 33 percent. This is something people can do right now today to prevent something in the future. It is very preventable.”
Loss v. maintenance
As the calendar turn to a new year each January, many people put fitness or weight loss at the top of their new year resolutions. Many, too, will fail to fulfill that resolution. The reason is all too common — people become discouraged.
Dr. Marlowe says that’s because people are doing the wrong thing. Folks think exercise alone will shed pounds, but Dr. Marlowe says most weight loss is dietary.
“Ninety percent of weight loss is dietary; 90 percent of weight maintenance is exercise,” he says.
People try dietary programs and end up losing weight, he says, only to become discouraged, yet again, some weeks or months later when they regain the weight. Similarly, those who are exercising look to others who seem to be able to eat whatever, whenever they want and never gain a pound. It’s true, Dr. Marlowe says, that some may never gain weight. They are exercising, but they aren’t necessarily losing weight either.
Calories in and out?
Some dietary programs, advice or, even, folklore suggest dieting is as easy as counting the calories you take in and those you burn. Dr. Marlowe says such “tried and true” rules of thumb ignore important physiological facts about how your body burns fuel.
“We had the model of calories in and calories out, but it’s just absolutely false,” Dr. Marlowe says. “It’s a lot like using flat maps to describe the earth. We know they are false, but we still use them because they have value, but we know they don’t represent what is actually happening. Calories-in-calories-out is highly false; it’s helpful to look at to review your amount of consumption, but it doesn’t actually describe what is happening in the human body.”
He adds, “We are very, very complex.”
Dr. Marlowe teaches his clients that some calories are different and says he suggests a combination of approaches — changing what you are eating and how much you are eating.
Proteins contain the essential building blocks for muscle. So, eating a protein-healthy meal, for example, will help to build muscle first, and if your body needs more energy, it will begin to burn the fat you already have. A grain- or starch-heavy meal is simply burned away, making you hungrier sooner.
“Having 20 grams of protein with each meal and having breakfast with protein, that can be a huge difference,” Dr. Marlowe says. “Choose foods that have proteins and healthy fats and fruits and vegetables.”
Consult expert advice
Back to those pesky weight-loss commercials.
“The problem out there is that the advice has been proven false,” Dr. Marlowe says. “People are following bad advice because an ‘expert’ said it or someone on TV said it. They are following bad advice because marketers have told them it’s good advice when it’s not.”
Dr. Marlowe says medically-trained professionals like himself take the whole person and whole health into view when determining how clients should best lose weight.
“It’s a multifaceted model,” he says. “We take care of every aspect. We tailor a diet based on blood work. We give medication and adjust them appropriately. We can change medications if medications people are already taking are causing weight gain. We can change their exercise regimen.”
These are approaches a simple commercialized weight loss program doesn’t take into account, he says.
“You get so much when you see a weight loss doctor, and I’m not unique in that sense,” he says. “You go to a good weight loss doctor anywhere in the nation … you’re going to get people who have the high 80-percent success rates, and that’s what you won’t get from some program that two-thirds of people fail at.” : :