Choosing a Weight Loss Approach

There are numerous slimming programs, pills and potions. Women’s magazines are full of diet-related advertisements, and weight loss solutions are forever being promoted on TV and the internet. A few of these weight loss approaches are based on good nutrition, whereas others are nutritionally inadequate and could be dangerous to your health. In this section we take a look at the things you should consider when choosing a weight loss approach.

Gimmicks, gadgets and fad diets

Diet gimmicks, gadgets and fads come and go like dress fashions. They all claim to be very effective because otherwise they would fail to attract those who want to lose weight. Unfortunately, many weight loss approaches are not nutritionally balanced and dangerous to the health and wellbeing of those who follow them for long periods of time.

You may have seen or heard about supplements that blast fat away, exercise devices that give you an instant ‘six pack’, or diets that guarantee a drop in two dress sizes in two weeks. There is no "miracle" pill, potion, gadget or diet that successfully helps you lose lots of weight in a short amount of time and keep it off. The only safe and certain way to lose excess body fat and maintain a healthy weight is to consume less energy (kilojoules) than your body needs and increase your level of physical activity.

Sounds too good to be true?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! There is no ´magic´ diet that will achieve miraculous weight loss with very little effort and there is no ´magic´ pill or potion that will melt fat away. When considering a weight loss program use your common sense and judgment and investigate the weight loss program or approach by asking lots of questions, like those listed below.

Ten questions to ask about weight loss programs

You should thoroughly investigate any weight loss program before joining up. The following questions will help you.

  • Is the person, or are the staff, qualified professionals? Do they have qualifications in nutrition, health sciences or nursing?
  • Is the program endorsed or approved by a credible, authoritative organisation? Endorsement by a famous celebrity is not enough
  • Are there any hidden costs?
  • Does the program take a holistic approach to weight loss, that is, does it address eating habits as well as levels of physical activity?
  • Does the program teach you how to make permanent changes to your eating habits and levels of physical activity? And will you be able to maintain and enjoy the eating plan and physical activity recommended as part of a long-term and enjoyable lifestyle?
  • Does the program emphasise that weight loss should be slow and gradual (i.e. no more than half to one kilogram per week)?
  • Does the food plan include choices that are varied, readily available and affordable?
  • Does the food plan provide flexibility in the amount and types of food you can eat? Rigid food plans can lead to boredom and binge eating
  • Is there a maintenance plan and does it include strategies or tips to help you get through the tough times?
  • What is the program’s long term success rate (i.e. after 12 months or more)? Ask to see written evidence for this

Taking the ‘lifestyle’ approach

If you want to successfully lose that excess body fat and keep it off, then a lifestyle change is probably in order. As a starting point, write down all your lifestyle habits that fall into the ‘not-so-good’ basket, (e.g. ‘I eat takeaway food more than three times a week’, or ‘I do not do any regular physical activity’). Next, set yourself a goal to make one change each week (e.g. limit takeaway foods to once a week). Once you have mastered this goal, set yourself a new weekly goal and continue until all of your undesirable lifestyle habits have been improved.

Making small, gradual lifestyle changes is an easier and more sustainable approach to weight loss. In fact, the best feature of the ‘lifestyle’ approach to weight control is that any weight you lose is likely to stay off once you have achieved your goal. You may lose weight on a quick fix or fad diet, but chances are you will put it back on (plus possibly a bit more) as soon as you stop.

Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD)

A very low calorie diet (VLCD) or a very low energy diet (VLED) is a total food replacement for the dietary management of obesity and may be appropriate for individuals with a BMI > 30, or a BMI > 27 + risk factors. Optifast® VLCD™ is a nutritionally complete program incorporating Optifast products and online support. Speak to a medical professional before commencing the program to ensure it is suitable for you.

For more information on The Optifast® VLCD™ Program please go to www.optifast.com.au