Diets, weight loss products and challenges may seem attractive, since they make us lose weight quickly at the beginning. However, they only offer temporary solutions. They don’t encourage us to modify our lifestyle habits and may affect our long-term well-being.
If you want to receive advice on safe ways to lose and maintain weight, ask your local healthcare provider.
When we talk about our health, we often focus too much on weight and not enough on lifestyle and well‐being. We can also easily be discouraged by setting unrealistic weight loss goals. Here are answers to common questions about weight and health.
Can going on a diet be a solution to lose weight?
Low energy diets make us lose weight rapidly; unfortunately we lose mostly muscle and water. Since dieting is like putting our body in a state of starvation, it burns very little fat. Lack of variety of diets doesn’t allow us to get the nutrients we need and can be very dull. When we stop the diet and return to our old eating habits we put the weight back on, or gain even more.
What about weight loss products (such as pills, shakes)?
There is no such thing as a magic pill or shake that will make us lose weight without effort, even though ads of these products often promise otherwise. Never assume that a weight loss product is safe because it is natural. Certain weight loss products may cause side effects that can affect our well-being.These products can be very expensive. Unfortunately, people still buy them even though they are not effective in the long-term. Just as people on a diet, users of weight loss products put the weight back on or gain even more when they stop taking them.
What about weight loss challenges?
Weight loss challenges are based on short-term changes through intensive exercise and dieting. They only focus on weight loss, not on long-term changes. People entering weight loss challenges risk gaining their weight back when they return to their old habits.
How easy is it to lose weight?
In theory, losing extra pounds should be as easy as burning more energy from our daily activities than what we consume through eating and drinking. In practice, weight loss takes time. We should aim for 1 to 2 pounds per week, to avoid the risk and frustration of gaining it back.
What can I do to lose weight?
The good news is that engaging in a healthy lifestyle by being physically active and eating nutritious food can improve our health and well-being, whether or not we lose weight. But losing as little as 5 to 10% of our initial weight can bring great benefits! For example, this would be 15 to 30 pounds if you weigh 300 pounds.
FOR SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS:
- Aim for a gradual weight loss (1 to 2 pounds per week).
- Focus on small changes that can be maintained in the long term (such as eating a green salad instead of fries with your burger).
- Get active each day for at least 30 minutes. Split the minutes through the day. For example, walk to work and bike with a friend in the evening.
- Eat nutritious foods from the 4 food groups daily. At each meal eat protein, whole grain products and good amounts of veggies and fruits.
- Only eat fast food and sweet drink/food once in a while.
- Drink water and eat fruits, rather than sweet drinks (such as juice, pop, punch and sports drinks).
- Listen to your hunger and eat smaller portions.
- Encourage your family and friends to engage in a healthy lifestyle with you! It is easier to exercise and eat well when others are doing it too!
For more information:
The Safe Use of Health Products for Weight Loss, Health Canada
Guidelines for Choosing a Weight Loss Program, Dieticians of Canada
Losing Weight Without Going on a Diet, Dieticians of Canada
Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
The Plate Method placemat, Cree Health Board