How Weight Loss Works

Losing weight is the goal of many people, from all walks of life. No matter the age, gender or socio-economic category, the desire to lose weight is a common factor. We have all seen the fad diets, the magic pills, the crazy food trends and yet, many of us lack the basic knowledge of how weight loss works. We can turn to science for some help with some of the fundamental questions about weight loss.
Is there a scientific formula for weight loss?
There is a simple guide to losing weight. You must burn more calories than you take in. Everyone knows that, right? But did you know that scientists from Washington University found that it is better to cut calories than to just exercise? Researchers discovered that individuals who just increased their activity level without cutting calories did not lose as much weight as those counterparts who cut calories only. As an example, a person could run three miles to lose 300 calories (energy) they could cut 300 by not eating two ounces of potato chips. Doctors, however, do not want to minimize the importance of exercise; their conclusion that the best way to lose weight is to incorporate both diet and exercise in a daily routine.
Is metabolism essential to weight loss?
For many years, experts believed that metabolism was set due to genetics and other factors. However, in the past few years, research done at NASA shows that activity can affect metabolism. When a person is immobile for a period, their metabolism stalls, but if that same person begins to move again, their metabolism becomes active as well. So, exercise is still a critical part of weight loss.
Can I eat a special combination of food to help me lose weight?
There are a million diet combinations out there like low-carb, no-carb, low-fat, Paleo programs, and even vegetarian. The truth is that there is no magic food group that you can eat or eliminate that will guarantee weight loss. The good news is that most diets will work if you follow them. Any program that requires you to cut calories, make healthier choices and exercise will result in weight loss. It is not magic but again the science of fewer calories in than what you use daily.
Does mood or psychology have anything to do with losing weight?
Surprisingly, our brain and our attitudes have been shown to affect how much weight we lose and how fast. If you have spent years making poor choices about nutrition and what you eat- your brain has developed patterns for diet, just like any other habit. Your mind can affect when you “feel” full or what foods make you “happy.” Your brain can also send messages about cravings and comfort food.
The good news to this research is that just like you can program your brain to be in a negative diet pattern- you can make adjustments that will change those patterns. As you make healthy choices in food- more vegetables and fewer Twinkies- new paths in your brain are formed, and your body will respond accordingly. You will find it easier to form the new habit and make better choices.
Can stress affect weight loss?
Have you noticed that when you are stressed about something- bills, work, relationship problems, that you crave more junk food? This craving is not just in your mind stress hormones create the desire for carbohydrates and other comfort food. The stress reaction dates back from prehistoric history. In the times of dinosaurs and saber-tooth tigers, if a person became stressed their body would trigger a need for carbohydrates to “store up” and face the challenges. Unfortunately, our bodies react the same way to stress thus becoming a barrier to losing weight.
So, as you can see, weight loss is not a random process. There are scientific explanations and strategies for the science of losing weight. The key things to remember are to exercise consistently and to eat fewer calories. If you restrict how much you eat, along with what kind of food you eat, weight loss will follow. It is all about balance in life…whether it is losing weight or maintaining your goal size. Diets work if you follow them but it is all in your mind, so be positive and make good choices. You are sure to succeed in losing weight.

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