As we start 2010, and the battle for weight loss rages on, many will make the all too familiar New Year’s resolution to lose weight, exercise and get into better shape.  It is, after all, fairly common knowledge that obesity (particularly abdominal obesity), physical inactivity and smoking all increase the risks of developing chronic diseases and dying prematurely.  A recent study has even estimated the “combined health benefits” of eliminating those three risk factors; showing a 59% lower risk of cardiovascular event and a 77% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.[1] Unfortunately, most do not accomplish their goals.  This is, in part because their goals are not attainable (losing too much weight in too short a period of time, or only for a vacation or particular event) or they do not have an organized plan.  So, that frequently means crash dieting or seeking a magic pill that doesn’t exist.

Crash dieting may sound like a good idea to some.  Just cut down your calories to near starvation amounts and you’ll lose weight.  Although eating insufficient calories may prompt some short term weight loss, these types of diets can be harmful to your body and health.  Usually, reducing calories to very low levels causes your body to miss out on much needed vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, which can lead to low blood pressure, sodium depletion, impaired immunity and even heart attacks.  Any weight loss is typically short lived, as severe calorie restriction is not sustainable.  Rapid, unhealthy weight loss through severe calorie restriction slows your metabolism which leads to greater weight gain than that lost once normal eating is resumed, or other adverse health complications.

Turning to physicians does not always guarantee success.   Too many doctors merely prescribe a weight loss pill and advise their patients to eat better and exercise, but fail to provide the necessary guidance.  So what might be the key?  According to a recent studies, the answer could be as simple as providing lifestyle modification counseling.  In our December 2008 newsletter, I reported on the SYNERGIE[2] study that found greater success in reducing body fat and signs of metabolic syndrome in a lifestyle modification program that included supervised exercise and nutrition counseling.  Further supporting the benefits of individualized lifestyle modification counseling programs in achieving healthier body composition was a randomized study that showed high-frequency telephone contact with a dietitian led to the same weight loss as in-person contact and more weight loss than low-frequency contact, e-mail contact, or no contact.[3] There is no dispute that the key to successful weight loss is a lifestyle change.  Per this study, that success may begin with something as simple as regular phone consultations to provide ongoing support and encouragement.  It is crucial that individuals receive some form of lifestyle modification counseling to achieve success.  The lack of it may contribute to failure.

Nutrition is not about a single “perfect” diet.  These studies reflect the philosophy at Alternity Healthcare: providing superior patient care with ongoing support for success.  Under the supervision and guidance of Cassandra Forsythe, PhD, RD, we create customized nutrition programs that meet the individual needs of our patients, based upon the results of an extensive Comprehensive Health Assessment.  Proper nutrition can help stabilize insulin and blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, boost your immune system and prevent illness and chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes[4], cardiovascular disease[5] and certain cancers.[6]

Some safe tips to keep in mind when changing your eating habits:

Choose low-glycemic foods

  • Focus on nutrient-dense foods
  • Incorporate more colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Eat lean meats and fish
  • Include healthy essential fats
  • Choose whole grains
  • Avoid sugars, preservatives and chemical additives

Better yet, take the right step to optimize your health.  Call 860.561.2294 today to schedule your Comprehensive Health Assessment and see the NEW YOU in the New Year.

[1] Lee CD, Sui X, Blair SN. Combined effects of cardiorespiratory fitness, not smoking and normal waist girth on morbidity and mortality in men.  Arch Intern Med 2009; 169:2096-2101

[2] Després JP on behalf of the SYNERGIE investigators. Lifestyle management of abdominal obesity and related cardiometabolic risk: the SYNERGIE trial. 77th European Atherosclerosis Society Congress; April 27, 2008; Istanbul, Turkey

[3] Comparison of Methods for Delivering a Lifestyle Modification Program for Obese Patients: A Randomized Trial . Andres G. Digenio, James P. Mancuso, Robert A. Gerber, and Roman V. Dvorak Ann Intern Med February 17, 2009 150:255-262;

[4] Effects of a Mediterranean-Style Diet on the Need for Antihyperglycemic Drug Therapy in Patients With Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes. Ann Intern Med September 1, 2009 5:306-314

[5] Nutrition and cardiovascular disease.  Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2007 Dec;27(12):2499-506. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

[6] Reducing the Risk of Cancer With Healthy Food Choices and Physical Activity.  CA Cancer J Clin 2006; 56:254-281 doi: 10.3322/canjclin.56.5.254