It sure sounds as if you are on the right track and determined to get
the extra weight off! I imagine that if you are truly cutting calories
and working out at the gym as extensively as you have reported, that
you should begin to see the pounds roll off. The trick is to be sure
that you are truly maintaining a caloric deficit in relation to the
daily needs of your body. Often, if individuals don't actually count
the calories consumed, they can trick themselves into believing that
they are restricting themselves more than they are. Protein bars are
excellent for giving your body a boost in between meals, but make sure
you are counting the calories in each bar and balancing them against
your daily caloric requirements.
The weight loss industry thrives on the hope that there is some other
way to thwart or bypass the gold standard of weight loss, which is, in
a nutshell, to "take in fewer calories than your body expends." I have
spent 15 years in the fitness industry, both as an instructor and as a
personal trainer, and I have yet to see the workings of a miracle
There are certainly plenty of diets that can help you to lose
unwanted weight. Diet plans and exercise programs are available online
and can be tailored to your individual needs. There are also some
short-term strategies that can help you lose a few pounds quickly, but
they are not recommended long-term. Short-term juice or cleansing
fasts can be used to give yourself a boost, but you will have a hard
time continuing your daily regimen on such a program for any length of
time since you will be ingesting very few calories. Few people can
stick to such a fast for even a few days since they become weak and
unable to function adequately, and the primary weight loss involves
water rather than fat.
When researching weight loss strategies, you really need to start
with the mindset that you will be bombarded with advertisements for
diet plans and false claims for miracle pills. Do a simple search for
"weight loss" and look at the results. Every plan has a different
strategy - good carbs, high protein, no fat, melons and fruit, lots of
water, the addition of herbs, etc, but in the end, the principle is
the same - you must eat less than your body requires on a daily basis.
In other words, you must create a calorie deficit that you can
function under without jeopardizing your ability to perform your daily
In reality, from a "shear weight loss" standpoint, it really doesn't
matter what food group you choose. As long as you consume fewer
calories than your body needs on a sustained basis, you will lose
weight. From a health standpoint, however, you obviously want to
indulge in healthy foods in balanced proportions. A combination of
carbohydrates, proteins and fats is essential to maintain health and
adequate nutrient intake. But, realistically, you could eat all your
daily calories in chocolate chip cookies and as long as you consumed
less than what your body required, the weight loss would occur!
Think of all the populations throughout history that have had to
exist on whatever foods were available, whether it be predominantly
fat, protein or carbohydrate-based. Nutritional health aside, they are
either fortunate enough to maintain their body weight or risk losing
too much weight, whatever the food source or type of calories.
You mentioned trying to cut out most of the carbohydrate in your diet
by focusing on protein bars and Atkins-style eating habits. I think it
is fair to say that carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap of late. Many
ethnic groups focus on rice, beans or corn as their primary food
source, supplementing with small bits of protein, fruits and
vegetables when available. Carbohydrates are not inherently bad and
the less-processed carbs are a very valuable source of dietary fiber.
Yet, many in the modern diet industry would encourage you to stay away
from carbs. Truth be told, you could eat all your daily calories in a
carbohydrate like rice and you would not gain weight if you only ate
enough to maintain your body weight. And, if you ate less rice
calories than your body required, you would lose weight. No - you
would not be very healthy, as rice cannot provide all the nutrients
your body requires - but you could lose weight. Do you get my point?
There are no inherently bad, naturally-occuring foods. It is how much
you consume, and in what proportion, that is the key to weight loss.
Therefore, I think it is important that you focus on an eating plan
that includes appropriate amounts of protein, fats and carbohydrates.
This will allow you to lose weight in a natural way and determine a
healthy eating style that you can stick with for the rest of your
life. If you start of on the wrong foot, by cutting out food groups or
taking pills, you are going to create havoc!
HOW MANY CALORIES DO YOU NEED?
I prefer to go with the simple explanation outlined below. If this is
too basic and you want to calculate your needs in more depth, please
refer to the extra links.
The Easy Way
"You can roughly estimate your daily calorie requirements using this
* For sedentary people: Weight x 14 = estimated cal/day
* For moderately active people: Weight x 17 = estimated cal/day
* For active people: Weight x 20 = estimated cal/day
Note: Moderately Active is defined as 3-4 aerobic sessions per week.
Active is defined as 5-7 aerobic sessions per week.
If you would like to go into more depth:
The Accurate Way:
"There are three primary components that make up your body's energy
expenditure. Adding these three components together, basal metabolic
rate, energy expended during physical activity, and the thermic effect
of food is the most accurate way of determining how many calories your
body requires each day."
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): "Most of the body's energy, about 60-70%,
goes to supporting the ongoing metabolic work of the body's cells.
This includes such activities as heart beat, respiration and
maintaining body temperature. To determine your BMR:
* For adult males - Multiply the body weight by 10; add double the
body weight to this value. [i.e., for a 150 lb male, 1,500 + (2 x
150)=1,800 cal/day BMR]
* For adult females - Multiply body weight by 10; add the body weight
to this value. [i.e., for a 120 lb female, 1,200 + 120=1,320 cal/day
Another reference can be found below:
"How to Determine Your Body's Daily Calorie Needs."
CALCULATING BODY MASS
To get an idea of where your body currently stands on a body mass
index scale and to help determine how much weight you need to lose,
refer to the following calculator:
RECOMMENDED FOOD RATIOS
For a comparison of the different recommended food pyramids, see the
Nutrition Data website:
ND's Caloric Ratio Pyramid
Create your own personalized diet pyramid:
WHAT REALLY WORKS IN TERMS OF WEIGHT LOSS?
There are so many weight-loss plans out there. Is there really
something better than the old standard of "eat fewer calories than
your body needs?" Is there some "other" magic program that might work?
According to recent research - no!
"..a new study, published today, finds little evidence that commercial
weight-loss programs are effective in helping people drop excess
pounds. Almost no rigorous studies of the programs have been carried
out, the researchers report. And federal officials say that companies
are often unwilling to conduct such studies, arguing that they are in
the business of treatment, not research."
The study, published in today's issue of Annals of Internal Medicine,
found that with the exception of Weight Watchers, no commercial
program had published reliable data from randomized trials showing
that people who participated weighed less a few months later than
people who did not participate. And even in the Weight Watchers study,
the researchers said, the results were modest, with a 5 percent weight
loss after three to six months of dieting, much of it regained."
Read "Diet and Lose Weight? Scientists Say 'Prove It!'By GINA KOLATA.
New York Times. January 4, 2005
THE IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE IN WEIGHT LOSS
Exercise burns calories - therefore, it can provide an important
boost to weight loss. However, it is important to realize that caloric
intake is the primary factor, since it really does take a lot of
exercise to burn off a significant amount of calories. Remember that
one pound equals 3,500 calories. Any exercise you do during the day
will help, but it is a fascilitator and not a huge contributor to
The following abstract points out that exercise, by itself, is not as
big a contributor to weight loss as one might think:
"Exercise generally results in less weight loss than expected and it
is frequently observed that men and women do not respond equally to
exercise for weight loss. This may be caused by differences in
compensation by other components of energy balance or to differences
in the energy expenditure of exercise observed between genders."
See "Is Exercise Effective for Weight Loss With Ad Libitum Diet?
Energy Balance, Compensation, and Gender Differences." Donnelly,
Joseph E.; Smith, Bryan K. Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews.
33(4):169-174, October 2005.
However, don't discount the importance of exercise in helping you to lose weight!
For some help on combining diet, aerobic exercise and
strength-training into an effective plan, read the following articles:
"Muscle Your Way To Weight Control," by Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE
It is important that you combine both strength training and
cardiovascular exercise in your gym sessions. The amount of lean
muscle your body contains is related to daily caloric need. This
concept is important as you become older, since many adults tend to
gain weight with the years as their bodies lose muscle mass.
Therefore, strength training is important not only in the younger
years, but as we age, also.
"While the focus is typically on fat loss (one out of two American
adults is presently on a weight reduction diet plan), more emphasis
should be placed on muscle gain. This is due to the fact that the
5-pound per decade loss of muscle is largely responsible for up to a 5
percent per decade reduction in resting metabolic rate (5, 12). A
slower resting metabolism means that some calories previously used by
high-energy muscle tissue are no longer needed, and are therefore
stored as fat. Because a pound of muscle requires between 35 to 50
calories a day for tissue maintenance, a 10-pound muscle loss may
reduce resting metabolism by 350 to 500 calories daily (4, 14). Think
of cutting your daily food intake by 20 to 25 percent, and you will
better appreciate the importance of muscle and metabolism."
Read "Strength Training for Seniors," by Wayne L. Westcott Ph.D.
Another study shows the correlation between fat loss and strength
training and the difference it can make when added to a diet regimen.
"Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. conducted a study in which 72 over weight
individuals participated in an eight week exercise program. The
participants were placed in two groups. The first group performed 30
minutes of endurance exercise on a stationary cycle. The second group
performed only 15 minutes of exercise on the stationary cycle plus an
additional 15 minutes on weight resistant exercises. At the conclusion
of the study, the "endurance only" group lost a total of 3.5 lbs.; 3
lbs. of which was fat and a half pound was muscle loss. On the other
hand, the "endurance and weight resistive" group lost 8 lbs. with an
actual fat loss of 10 lbs. and an increase of 2 lbs. of lean body
Read "Resistance Weight Training With Endurance Training Improves Fat Loss."
WHAT ACTIVITIES BURN THE MOST CALORIES?
The following article will give you some ideas on the types of
exercise you might want to incorporate into your weight-loss routine.
"Energy Expenditure by Type of Exercise," From Elizabeth Quinn
The following exercise calculators are somewhat fun to use:
"Calorie expenditure through exercise and other activities."
WHAT KIND OF DIET IS BEST?
You have asked about quick weight loss over the short term. The best
recommendation I can provide you, given all the evidence, is to
continue exercising while reducing your calories to a tolerable level
for you. Remember, a pound is equal to 3500 calories. A good weight
loss program usually allows for an approximate 2-lb loss per week,
which would mean a 7,000 calorie deficit over seven days. That is a
big accomplishment! You will need to sit down with and old-fashioned
calorie counter, pick out the types of foods you like to eat, and
determine how to put together a sample eating plan for yourself that
works with your lifestyle. Or - you can follow one of the online diet
An online calorie counter
An overview of the most popular diet plans:
See "Healthy Weight Loss: Guide to the Popular Plans and Tips for
Managing Your Weight."
Here is a very basic, sample menu for a 1,600 calorie-a-day diet:
Here are some more alternatives for 1,600 and 1,200 calorie-a-day programs:
Common diets described
Some online subscription plans
DO DIET PILLS WORK?
There is little evidence that diet pills do any good at all. It is
far better to start off on the right track - learning how to eat
correctly and not indulging in more calories than your body truly
needs. Eating is a way of life....dieting should not be.
"The Australian Consumer Association's Choice Online tested the top 10
ingredients in 18 different herbal weight-loss products, with
suprising results. Ingredients included products such as extract of
capsicum, chilli, the fruit of tropical plants, orange, green tea and
white kidney beans.
Did any of herbal weight loss products tested work? - "Overall,
Choice found the evidence was pretty sketchy. The products do not
provide much benefit above what diet and exercise would. The evidence
shows some products may help you lose a bit of weight - only an extra
100 grams a day. Some of the ingredients warrant further
What can people do to lose weight? - "The bottom line is that you can
not buy a magic pill for weight loss. Regular exercise and a healthy
diet are what is needed. No amount of dramatic "before and after"
photos will change the fact that the evidence behind these pills is
Read "Weight loss pills. Interview: Claire Hughes, Choice Broadcast
Date: January 4, 2006
Also read "Can popping pills really help you lose weight?" By WLR
Dietitian Juliette Kellow BSc RD.
For an objective overview of weight loss products and programs, see
Can a juice or cleansing fast help to accelerate weight loss? Is it
worth it? This is up to you, but if you choose to go this route, make
sure it is only for a few days at most.
"Fasting to cleanse the body and jumpstart a weight loss diet has been
recommended for years. But the reality is that fasting deprives the
body of nutrients. The result is low energy, weakness, and
lightheadedness, not real weight loss. Any loss is water and muscle,
not fat, and you regain the weight when you start eating again.
Fasting does not clear toxins from the body, either - just the
opposite: Ketones can build up when carbohydrates are not available
for energy, and that massing of ketones stresses the kidneys and can
ultimately be harmful to your health. "If you fast, you may drop
pounds, but some of that weight will be muscle, and most of it will be
water. You need to eat protein foods such as lean meat, eggs, low-fat
or fat-free milk, or legumes (beans and peas), or you'll be thin and
flabby, not thin and shapely."
TIPS AND STRATEGIES
Some of the most effective strategies to help with weight loss, after
you have determined the calorie range that is comfortable for you, are
off the top of my head, yet they have been effective for many of the
clients I have trained.
* Keep your diet simple. If need be, eat the same basic meal plans for
breakfast, lunch and dinner, without bothering with extreme variation.
That way, you don't need to think too much, and you can easily stock
your refrigerator and take your meals with you. Sometimes boring is
* Eat several small meals throughout the day rather than three large
meals. If this seems comfortable to you, it will allow you to maintain
a sustained energy flow and you will feel satisfied throughout the
day, as opposed to getting tremendously hungry while waiting to eat
and then overly bloated after a big meal.
* Try to combine protein, fat and carbs at each meal (this is quite
similar to the Zone diet concept)
* Don't avoid favorite foods, such as desert. Simply allot the
calories for that favorite. If you want a slice of cake after dinner,
you will need to plan for that in your daily calories.
* Drink water throughout the day.
* Limit most of your beverages to water. Remember that juices and
alcohol are high in calories. If you must have your morning juice, or
desire beer or wine at night, remember to make room for that
indulgence in your calorie allotment.
* Expend energy whenever you can. If there are stairs at work, use
them. Walk across the parking lot. Walk or ride your bike to work. Do
jumping jacks in front of the television.
* Invest in an inexpensive pedometer and see how many steps you can
take during the day!
DRESSING TECHNIQUES TO APPEAR SLIMMER
You are correct that darker clothing can help to creater a slimmer
illusion. So can vertical stripes and v-necks. Avoid large prints if
you want to look slimmer. Avoid overly baggy clothing.
I am not sure if you are male or female (even though I have looked for
clues in your previous questions :) so I have selected some articles
that apply to both men and women!
The following tips work well with illusions of height and slimness for
both men and women:
Q: How should a shorter man dress to look taller?
A: "A single-breasted suit two-button suit will elongate your torso
because the tie stacks up on the buttons thus creating a vertical
line. Vertical patterns such as subtle stripes create length as well.
Avoid cuffs and wide leg trousers because it will make your leg look
shorter. Wear a bright tie, which forces the viewer to look up, giving
the illusion of length. Put this all together and optical grow an inch
Colors to make you look slimmer:
"Generally the darker the color the slimmer you will appear, no wonder
black is so popular. The other trick of using color to look slimmer is
to make sure that you dress in one color only. Why? Because you are
not bisecting your figure and you are not drawing attention to any of
the problem areas of your body."
"Bigger Fashion: Plus-Size Men's Clothing," By Chris Rovny
"Slim pickings: these clothes won't help you drop those unwanted
pounds, but they will help you look like you have," by Kimberly Keily.
Men's Fitness, Oct, 2005
"Bright, bold designs draw attention, and are versatile when worn as
low-cut slip dresses, sexy wraps or halters. She advises that larger
women appear slimmer wearing smaller prints."
For women -
"Dress to Look Thin." April 26, 2005
Well, I hope this is a good overview for you! If I can clarify
anything further, please don't hesitate to ask. Otherwise, good luck
and keep on going!
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