There are several key elements involved in natural approaches to weight loss. If you want to lose a few pounds, just make a decision to begin, put one foot in front of the other and you will see results over time. A four-pound weight loss in a month may seem to take forever, but the benefits are for life! Only weigh yourself every 2 weeks and recognize that it can take 2-4 weeks for the first weight loss to be apparent as your body adapts. Be patient with the process but be persistent.
Exercise: Research shows that, for a healthy person, weight loss requires more than just reducing caloric intake. 50 minutes of active cardiovascular workout is required at least 5 days per week; for the average person this means walking at 3-4 miles per hour for 50-60 minutes most days of the week.
Calories: As a general rule of thumb – the RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) of calories: 10x your weight in calories is needed to maintain your current body weight. This means if you weigh 150 pounds, you need 1500 calories per day to maintain that weight. If you weigh 300 pounds you need 3000 calories per day to maintain weight. Reducing calories by 15-20% of the RDA, and increasing exercise to 50 minutes 5 times a week will allow most people to lose about one pound per week, which is considered safe, sustainable rate of weight loss. Be sure to get enough calories to sustain your basic metabolism, i.e. no less than 80-85% of RDA for your weight. If you don’t take in enough calories weight loss will be difficult, because of the normal effects that occur when basic metabolic needs are not being met. In short, your body will hold on to all the calories you take in and store them in fat cells.
Eat early in the day. A few times per week, try not to eat after 6 p.m. until breakfast the next morning. By doing this, you can improve your ability to metabolize foods and to burn body fat. (Note: This may not be appropriate for diabetic patients who are trying to achieve weight loss.)
Medically supervised weight loss protocol: Given the proper nutrients, a low calorie diet can be maintained without hunger or muscle wasting. Ask a doctor about the details if you want to achieve a quicker weight loss without health risks.
Dr. Ellen Sauter is a naturopath practicing general family medicine at The Benchmark Clinic of Integrative Medicine in NW Portland. She treats patients on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and can be reached at 503-223-7067.