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Losing weight by dieting alone

“What is the difference between losing weight by dieting alone and losing weight by exercising?” — Janet, Philadelphia

Dieting alone to lose weight will lead to a muscle mass loss of around 50 percent and a fat and water loss of around 50 percent. Weight lost through proper diet and exercise will result in a fat loss of around 98 percent and lean muscle mass may increase. The loss of lean muscle will weaken the muscles and organs.

When you lose weight by dieting alone your metabolism decreases and your body will burn calories at a slower rate. When you quit dieting your body continues to burn calories slowly. When you start eating you eventually gain back the weight you lost and sometimes more because your metabolism is burning food calories so slowly. The bottom line is exercise tones muscle, burns fat and increases your metabolism while dieting doesn’t.

Eating also stimulates your body to burn calories because the digestive process uses a lot of energy. Eating small low-fat meals three to six times a day will keep your energy level constant. You should include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads, cereals and foods like pasta and brown rice in your diet. Make sure you consume between 12 to 15 calories per pound of body weight daily.

Instead of starving your body to lose weight work out for 30-60 minutes three to five times a week. Walking is great for the beginner and jogging can become addictive. You’ll also want to do toning exercises for each part of the body such as weight training or calisthenics.

Depending on your interest you may also want to join a karate class, a dance class, take aerobic dance, swim or skate two to three times a week. Experiment with different workouts and find something you enjoy.

So, which do you want muscle or fat? Work that body and tighten up that diet while you tighten up your body.

Diet and water

”I’m using one of those low-calorie diets you see on TV. This diet has me drinking about 10 glasses of water a day. Why do I have to drink so much water?” — Reggie, Atlanta

The reason most of your low-calorie diet programs have you drinking a lot of water is to prevent damage to your kidneys. Low-calorie diets cause the body to break down the muscle for protein, resulting in excess uric acid in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones. Drinking large quantities of water will dilute your urine and lessen the likelihood of developing kidney stones. To avoid putting your body in danger, you should eat no less than 1,200 calories daily and do some toning and aerobic exercises. A program of exercise and good food will keep you healthy and reduce your body fat percentage safely.

Diet change

”I want to change my diet to lose weight. I don’t want to use any of those crazy fad diets. Can you give me some guide lines to lose weight?”

— Laura, Jacksonville

If you’re ready to change your way of eating instead of starving yourself on those crazy fad diets, you should start by changing one meal at a time. Use this sample menu as a guideline for a quick weight loss. For breakfast have a bowl of fruit salad containing sliced apples, bananas and grapes. For a late morning snack have another piece of fruit. At lunch, have baked chicken or fish seasoned with herbs. For a side dish have broccoli and spinach. Skip the butter and salt. You can also have a vegetable salad without heavy dressing. For a late afternoon snack have popcorn or a bran muffin. For dinner have ground turkey meatloaf with string beans and a large salad. For a late-night snack have a cup of herbal tea. Throughout the day you should also drink six to eight glasses of water.

This is just a sample menu; you don’t have to live with it for life. You can substitute foods in the sample menu. The key to successfully changing your eating habits is to take it one step at a time. Start with breakfast. Once you’ve mastered that meal move onto lunch. Then change dinner. This is a lifestyle change that may take some time. The change will be lasting if you do it gradually.

Muscle and weight loss

”I’m lifting weights with my boyfriend. But, I got on the scale and I’ve gained 3 pounds. Should I stop lifting weight?” — Sarah, Chicago

Gaining muscle weight will help you in your effort to lose body fat. Muscle tissue burns calories at a faster rate than fat. Therefore, the more lean muscle your body contains the less fat your body will store. Most people are surprised when they gain weight after they start a weight-lifting program. You have to remember a lean body may weigh more but it will appear smaller. Two people may weigh the same but the one with the higher percentage of body fat will appear larger. Fat takes up more space. So don’t worry about the scale and take a look in the mirror. Use a combination of weight training, aerobics and a sensible diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain breads and pastas. This will ensure a safe and permanent weight loss. So which do you want fat or muscle?

Six meals

”My nutritionist recommended that my weight loss program should contain at least 1,200 calories a day. She also said I should eat six small meals. Can I get in 1,200 calories in six meals?” — Joan, Long Island, N.Y.

Are you still trying to figure out how to get in six small meals day without overeating? Try this sample menu. At 7 a.m. you can have some grapes, an apple and a banana. At 9 a.m. you can make a cup of herbal tea. At 10 a.m. have a bran muffin. At noon, grilled haddock fillet with string beans almondine and a salad will help to satisfy your taste buds. Around 2 p.m. have a slice of corn bread or two slices of rye bread and a salad with a light dressing like dill seed or creamy Italian used sparingly. For a snack before dinner make yourself some air-popped popcorn. For dinner at 6 p.m. your menu can include three ounces of chicken with kale and around 7:30 p.m. have a cup of rice pilaf. Depending on your serving size you can take in as few as 1,200 per day on this menu and stay comfortably full throughout your day.

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