Monday, February 2, 2009

The Weight Debate

Research now supports a theory long debunked by doctors and dietitians. What we eat versus what we expend does not result in the same weight loss for every person. The idea that burning 3,500 calories equals one pound lost no longer rings true. Jeffrey Friedman, an obesity expert at Rockefeller University believes that balancing our weight is more difficult that we think.

Mathematically, shouldn't it work out that if I walk 20 minutes a day and burn 100 calories, I will lose a pound in 35 days? Science says no. It is very hard to calculate calorie input and output every day since most calorie guides and portion control techniques are estimates. But as we learn about the brain we see how much control it exerts over appetite and intake as well. There are also hormonal and other physiological mechanisms that keep us from losing weight. When we force out bodies to lose weight nature reacts in an attempt to protect us from it. This desire for stability enables us to skip a meal or fast for a while without losing weight. If we burn an extra 100 calories a day we end up making up for it by eating a little more the next day without even knowing it. We resist weight loss as a protective mechanism and Dr. Friedman believes this system, “operates with 99.6 percent precision.”

What do we do? Well, the first step is to understand that willpower alone can not help you lose weight and keep it off. Secondly since we commonly underestimate what we eat keeping a food journal keeps you honest. Finally, find support. You are not alone in this. The rise in overweight and obese adults in the United States rose to 66%. There is good news, however. Once you lose weight and if you continue to monitor it, your body will relax and stay there for a while.

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