Healthy Byte: Weight Loss vs Weight Maintenance

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The Best Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Long Term, According to Experts

Jessica BallOctober 28, 2021·7 min read

There are many indicators of health, and weight is just one of them. That said, weight loss is a popular goal for many people trying to improve their health. There are several benefits associated with losing a few pounds through healthy methods, like better blood sugar control, healthier blood pressure and lower chronic disease risk. And even though you’ve probably heard that good nutrition and physical activity can lead to weight loss, it’s easier said than done. 

Your whole lifestyle plays a part in getting to and maintaining a healthy weight. When it comes to diet and exercise, you can’t really have one without the other. But they might be more valuable at different times in your weight loss journey. So what’s the best formula to lose weight and keep it off? We took a look at the research and spoke with weight loss dietitian, Lainey Younkin, M.S., RD, LDN (follow her at Lainey Younkin Nutrition) to find out.

How Is Weight Loss Different Than Weight Maintenance?

Weight loss is often thought of as “calories in, calories out”, but it’s not quite that simple. How many calories you need in a day is influenced by many factors, including age, activity level, body composition, illness, injury and more. The amount of energy (aka calories) our body uses each day is also known as our metabolism. Aside from calories we burn during exercise, there are three ways our body burns calories: basal metabolic rate (how much energy is needed to keep your heart pumping and lungs breathing), thermic effect of food (the energy it takes to digest what we eat) and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (think of walking to work or going up stairs). The vast majority of our body’s energy is spent on our basal metabolic rate. 

Losing weight can actually slow down our metabolism a bit (think: a smaller body requires less energy to heat than a larger one). That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you might need to be a little more strategic when trying to lose weight. Let’s break down what your primary focus should be for weight loss and weight maintenance, and how they differ.  

The Most Important Thing for Weight Loss

There are many ways to lose weight, but one of the most common ways is by establishing a calorie deficit. This means consuming fewer calories than your body burns per day. “Research shows that exercise is not the way to lose weight. A calorie deficit is required for weight loss, but studies show it is easier to create and maintain a calorie deficit through changing your diet rather than exercising,” advises Younkin. So, when you’re first starting out, try to focus on what’s on your plate rather than constantly hitting the gym. Lucky for you, we have a variety of weight-loss meal plans that please any palate.

However, going on a restrictive diet is not a way to lose weight for good. “Going on a diet is not the way to sustainably lose weight. Instead of drastically cutting calories and dropping a bunch of weight quickly, you want to create a small calorie deficit that you can keep up with over time,” shares Younkin. “This can be done by eating smaller portions, increasing vegetable and protein intake and reducing intake of simple carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol.”

The Most Important Thing for Weight Maintenance

“After you’ve lost five to 10 percent of your body weight, research suggests maintaining that weight for six months before trying to lose again (that is, if you still have weight to lose). This is how you can permanently move your set point—the weight range your body likes to stay in—down over time,” says Younkin. But maintaining weight loss is notoriously challenging. In fact, a study in BioPsychoSocial Medicinefound that nearly 70 percent of people were unsuccessful in maintaining a 10 percent weight loss for two years. This might make it seem like the odds are stacked against you, but actually weight maintenance can be successful with a change in focus from weight loss habits. 

Research has found that exercise might be more important than diet when trying to maintain weight loss. The number one thing that people have in common who have lost weight and kept it off is daily moderate to vigorous exercise. In fact, a study in the journal Obesityfound that people who lost an average of 58 pounds and kept it off, exercised for around 40 minutes per day. This exercise didn’t have to be consecutive, and could include 10-minute bouts throughout the day, too. 

But why is exercise more important than diet if diet helped you lose weight in the first place? It all comes down to a balance of calories. While weight loss requires a calorie deficit, weight maintenance requires a calories balance—no deficit but also no excess. Daily exercise allowed people to burn more calories throughout the day and, in turn, eat more without having an excess of calories.

“If you can’t keep eating a certain way forever, then you won’t see the results forever. So you will have to keep up whatever changes you made to your diet in order to maintain weight loss,” suggests Younkin. This explains why restrictive dieters tend to gain the weight they lost back (and then some). It’s just too hard to maintain those restrictive eating habits. On the other hand, healthy habits like the ones Younkin outlined above—eating smaller portions, increasing vegetable and protein intake and reducing intake of simple carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol—are much more realistic to maintain. “Once those changes are habitual, focusing on exercise can help you continue to get results.” 

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Weight 

“Often, people have unrealistic weight loss goals. If you are restricting food intake, over-exercising or thinking about food and your body all the time in order to maintain a certain number on the scale, then that is not the healthiest weight for you,” says Younkin. Any changes you make in an effort to lose weight should be habits you can keep up for the long haul. Luckily for us, little changes that you enjoy can add up to big accomplishments over time. 

Younkin has specific tips for those trying to eat in a way that aligns with their weight loss goals: “Aim to eat every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar balanced, plan healthy snacks and don’t feel guilty when you eat something you feel like you shouldn’t. Aim to follow the healthy plate method about 80% of the time throughout the week and don’t worry about the rest.” The healthy plate method refers to filling half your plate veggies, a quarter with whole grains and the last quarter with lean protein. This strategy makes portion control easy, without the need to tediously measure everything. And, adds Younkin, “Be conscious of sugar and alcohol intake can help too, as those ’empty’ calories can add up over time”. 

When it comes to exercising, find something you actually enjoy. It will make it easier to be consistent. “Start small though and don’t be all or nothing with exercise. Something is better than nothing,” encourages Younkin. If you don’t have 45 minutes for a long workout, do 20 minutes or even a 10 minute walk and try to build in more active time later. If you feel stuck or at a plateau, try mixing up what you’re doing or try something new. 

Lastly, accountability can be a big help when sticking to your healthy lifestyle changes. Younkin suggests including a friend, hiring a dietitian or working with a personal trainer, so you don’t have to do it all on your own. 

Bottom Line

Weight loss can be hard, but small lifestyle changes that you can keep up with will help you find success. “Dieting is not only unsustainable because it’s too hard to keep up with restrictions over time, but also it wreaks havoc on your metabolism and your mental health,” says Younkin. “Don’t get caught up in daily and weekly fluctuations on the scale. Even if you only lose one pound per month, that’s 12 pounds down at the end of the year!” Losing weight and keeping it off is a long term journey, but a little know-how and support can help set you up for success.

Healthy Byte: Anti-Aging Workout – Backed by Science

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The most effective anti-aging workout, backed by science

Connie Capone|August 19, 2020

Exercise is hard work, but it pays. Adding to the many reasons to get moving is compelling new research that has found that two exercise methods can slow the aging process by preventing cellular aging: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and endurance training.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and endurance training are among the best exercise methods to prevent cellular aging, according to research.

What are these exercise methods, and why do they work?

The anti-aging response

In a study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers examined the cellular effects of different exercise interventions. Over 6 months, 124 participants were instructed to perform one of three modalities: endurance training, HIIT, or resistance training (using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises to increase muscular strength). Some participants were assigned to a control group and instructed to make no change to their exercise regimen.

After 6 months, researchers found that HIIT and endurance training, but not resistance training, increased telomerase activity, which is beneficial for cell growth and replication. Telomeres are nucleotide sequences found at the end of chromosomes that protect our genetic information. When they shorten, cellular aging occurs. HIIT and endurance training were found to increase telomere length, inhibiting cell death, and ultimately producing an anti-aging effect.

Similar results were reported in Cell Metabolism, in a study that compared the metabolic responses from HIIT and resistance training. Participants were placed in cohorts by age (<30 and >65), and randomized to one of three exercise routines: HIIT, resistance training, or a combination of both. After 12 weeks, all exercise routines resulted in improved fitness, boosted insulin sensitivity, and increased lean mass, but HIIT training increased aerobic capacity and mitochondrial function, leading to a reduction in mitochondrial decay, which contributes to aging.

For older adults, HIIT training yielded the most significant reversal in cellular aging. Participants over 65 saw a 69% increase in mitochondrial respiration—the metabolic process within mitochondria that converts energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal energy donor in our cells. Additionally, adults under 30 saw a 49% increase. Resistance training did not provide this effect in either age group.

According to senior author Sreekumaran Nair, MD, PhD, “Any exercise is better than being sedentary.” Still, he noted that for older adults, HIIT is a highly efficient way to counteract many age-related changes.

Best part? HIIT training has also been proven to be the best exercise method to reduce body fat

Huge benefits, little time commitment

HIIT has gained popularity because it brings powerful benefits without a large time commitment, especially compared with endurance training, which requires long stretches of time. This was demonstrated in a research trial following two groups of sedentary men: one group performing a 10-minute workout with sprint intervals, and another performing 50 minutes of continuous exercise. After 12 weeks, researchers found that both groups saw equal improvements in cardiometabolic health, despite the 40-minute difference in time commitment. In summary, research shows us that HIIT is more efficient than endurance training.

Effectiveness is a different question. Fortunately, it can be answered simply. Which of these routines are you most likely to stick to? That’s the most effective anti-aging workout for you.

“Not everyone reacts to exercise in the same way,” said Daniel Green, PhD, a professor of exercise science at the University of Western Australia, in an interview with The New York Times. “But there is something out there that will benefit almost everyone.”

HIIT and endurance training

HIIT combines short bursts of all-out exercise followed by short periods of rest. Intense work intervals generally last from 15 seconds to 4 minutes, and are performed to achieve 80% to 95% of a person’s maximum heart rate. Recovery intervals last about the same time and are performed at a much lower intensity: 40% to 50% of maximum heart rate. The work/recovery interval is repeated several times, comprising a quick workout between 10 to 40 minutes total. A HIIT regimen can involve treadmills or rowing machines, bodyweight exercises, free weights, or no equipment at all.

Here’s an example of a 10-minute beginner HIIT workout, completed in three rounds with no equipment. For each step, use maximum effort for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • High kicks
  • Jumping jacks

Keep in mind that this is just a single example. The exercises can vary, so swap in your favorite moves. The key is to dig deep and use maximum effort, regardless of exercise type.

Endurance training is a continuous form of exercise, typically performed at sub-maximal intensity for sessions that range from 30 minutes to several hours. This type of training aims to build endurance, which allows a person to exert long bouts of effort without becoming fatigued. Popular endurance sports such as running, swimming, and cycling are good examples of endurance training, characterized by repeated isotonic contractions of large muscle groups. You can also practice endurance training by performing just about any aerobic exercise (jump rope, lunges, dancing, kickboxing, and more) at a low level of resistance over relatively long periods of time without rests, or with minimal rests in between.

Healthy Byte: OTF Insider – Embrace YOUR Best

ORIGINAL POST:

OTF is a little like 80s sitcom, Cheers … where everyone knows your name and celebrate your wins.

I completely understand more than anyone that being the last on the rower to move to the floor maybe intimidating or embarrassing but honestly,

  • Fact #1: Everyone else is huffing & puffing for dear life so more than likely, no one even notices.
  • Fact #2: Not everyone is physically capable of rowing 200m in 30 seconds and that is A-OK.

I’m built like a Weiner dog and have embraced the fact that I am almost always last to finish on the rower. I can only do my best and my best is exactly that – my personal best. I can’t compete with someone who is 6’2″ who was on the college rowing team.

So the moral of OTF is this, don’t be so caught up in the thrill of competing against your neighbor that you quit rowing at 185ish m instead of rowing to the full 200m just to beat them to the floor. OR cut the number of reps on the floor because you feel like you should beat the old lady next to you … she may be the Queen of core exercises.

Instead, be happy with your personal best and keep striving forward towards new goals.