More than 100 million Americans were on a diet in 2012, reports ABC News.ñ The weight-loss industry rakes in $20 billion annually — with diet plans and supplements that promise to help you lose weight and keep it off — and still nearly 70 percent of American adults remain overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While diets may help you lose some weight temporarily, lifestyle change is the key to long-term weight maintenance and health.
Knowing the Difference
A diet consists of temporarily changing your eating habits to promote a certain outcome — commonly weight loss — before returning to your previous eating habits. On the other hand, a lifestyle change consists of adopting healthy overall habits that promote long-term weight control and health. In addition, diets focus on food intake, while lifestyle changes incorporate what you eat along with other factors that affect weight and health, such as physical activity. Where weight loss is concerned, a diet provides a temporary solution and singular approach to a multifaceted, long-term health issue.
Dieting Fails for Long-Term Weight Management
Dieting does not work in the long run, reports a University of California, Los Angeles, research analysis published in the April 2007 edition of the journal “American Psychologist.” Researchers reviewed existing clinical data and concluded that diets can help you lose an average of 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight in the short term. But it’s unlikely that you’ll maintain the weight loss. Nearly 70 percent of dieters regain all the weight they lost while dieting, plus more, according to the report.
Lifestyle Changes Promote Weight Maintenance
About 20 percent of dieters successfully maintain their weight loss in the long term, according to a review published in the July 2005 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Researchers reviewed existing clinical data and found lifestyle changes contributed to the dieters’ ability to keep the weight off. These behavior patterns included eating breakfast regularly, exercising an average of one hour each day, maintaining consistent eating patters during the week and on weekends, keeping tabs on weight and eating a relatively low-fat, low-calorie diet.
Making the Changes Necessary
Making sustainable lifestyle changes is key to long-term weight maintenance, according to Dr. Ben Rambicure in an August 2013 Lexington Herald-Leader article. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day and adopt healthier eating habits such as cutting back or eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and snacking on nutritious foods instead of junk food. Set realistic goals and adopt patterns that you can sustain for a lifetime, instead of temporary quick fixes.
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