The fastest weight loss plans are a combination of diet modifications and exercise. For a weight loss plan to be effective, consistency must be maintained. Set a goal, stick with it and be accountable for portion control and how much time is invested in exercise. Diets extremely low in calories can cause muscle loss, lowering of the metabolism and fatigue. Successful weight loss plans include lifestyle changes for long-term maintenance to keep the weight off and improve overall health.
Prepackaged Meal Plans
Programs that design meal plans and provide the foods for dieting are popular and take away some of the confusion about how to eat to lose. These diet plans offer meal choices from a variety of menus and foods for a meal plan that fits individual tastes and needs. Programs like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers and the South Beach Diet help many people lose weight fast because they are easy to follow and all the meal planning is part of the package.
The BBC and several UK universities conducted a controlled study of commercial weight loss programs like Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast Plan and others that provide prepackaged meal plan programs. They concluded “clinically useful weight loss and fat loss can be achieved in adults who are motivated to follow commercial diets for a substantial period.” It was noted that people who used support programs (Weight Watchers) tended to keep the weight off longer than people who used unsupported methods (Atkins Diet) It is recommended that healthcare providers make their patients aware that these programs are effective in weight loss.
In order to lose weight more calories have to be burned than consumed. Physical activity burns calories and boosts the metabolism. Aerobic activity is not only a good way to burn calories, but also is important for cardiovascular health, according to the American Heart Association. Thirty minutes a day of aerobic exercise is recommended for heart health. One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. It takes an average sized adult walking more than 30 miles to burn up that amount of calories.
Aerobic activity can be done in short intervals during the day. Three 10-minute workouts that get the heart rate up is another way to get the 30 minutes. Walking up stairs, walking at a fast pace, jumping rope and running is all great calorie burning activities. Add 20 minutes of weight training with the aerobics for an extra calorie burn, Building muscle increases the metabolism and will more burn calories even at a resting state.
Slow food is fresh whole vegetables, grains and other basics for preparing meals. By using fresh ingredients, calories are burned even in meal preparation. Whole vegetables and other grains are good for the body and take more calories to digest than processed foods. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains is better for overall health and an important part of a long-term weight loss plan.
Some slow food plans use the same concepts as the South Beach Diet and the diabetic diet. The slow food plan starts with cleansing the body for a short period in the beginning. Fresh vegetables and lean proteins are the basis of the first section of the diet. After the initial adjustment period, other foods are added (depending on the plan). These diet plans are based around taking time to prepare meals with fresh ingredients.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” (accessed April 28, 2010).
U.S. National Institutes of Health, British Medical Journal, The BBC Diet Trials, Arterburn, David, Volume 332:7553, 2006 (accessed April 28, 2010).
U.S. National Institutes of Health, “Exercise and Weight Loss” (accessed April 28, 2010)
American Heart Association, “Exercise and Fitness” (accessed April 28, 2010)