I know I write a lot about weight loss. That is because it is something I am passionate about, something that is on the minds of Americans, and something that I have a lot of experience in both personally, from my 115lb weight loss in my early twenties, and professionally, from my own healthcare practice on land, working aboard cruise ships and being invloved in healthy food companies. But this may be the most important article you ever read about the topic.
To be honest, I hate to even hear the term "weight-loss". It sets you up from the beginning to be focused on the wrong thing. The weight that is presented when you step on the scale is a reflection of a lot of different things that are present in your body. Your weight comes from your body water, your bones, your brain, your organs, blood, your muscles and your fat. The focus of any good traditional "weight loss" program should acutally be on fat loss.
Look at it this way. If you want to lose 30 lbs quickly, you chould cut off your arm. It would be an instantaneous difference on the scale but probably not the body image that you were going for, right? Exactly. The same goes with any other tissue in your body. The scale alone isn't going to tell you if the weight you are losing is due to water loss, muscle loss or any other loss by itself. What good is that? At best it is a secondary tool.
Any good "weight loss" program will measure your body fat as well as your weight in order to make sure that you are not doing more damage than good. if they aren't, you should consider a different program. What do I mean more damage than good you ask? Let me answer that with another question. Have you ever heard the term "skinny fat"? Skinny fat is what happens to you if you have very little muscle mass and a decent amount of body fat. You basically fit into normal clothes but lack the atractive shape of someone that actually has some muscle mass. Most people become skinny fat from trying to keep their weight down by eating very few calories, and the wrong kind at that, over a period of years. your muscles slowly waste away from malnourishment while the fat remains to fill up your frame.
Not only is skinny fat not attractive, but it is also as bad for you as being traditionally fat. A high body fat percentage is a high body fat percentage, regardless of your weight. So skinny fat is definitely something to avoid. Your body needs a certain amount of calories to maintain all of the healthy tissues and proccesses that are constantly taking place. A traditional HCG diet where patients only eat 500 calories per day is a perfect example of the type of program that will make you skinny fat. Go ahead and measure your lean muscle mass during one of those diets and see what you find. When that muscle goes away and your metabolism plunges into the abyss, you have essentially sabotaged yourself in the long-run.
That's why only 5% of people who try traditional dieting are successful in the long-run at keeping the weight off. Not eating is not going to work. Eating the right things and maintaining a healthy muscle mass is.
So the key thing to keep in mind when you are embarking on your fat loss journey is that the more muscle mass you maintain, the higher your metabolism will be. That means it is important to keep your protein intake up, especially if you are exercising. Your muscles are the main calories burners in your body because they require so much fuel to function. And if you manage to even put on some muscle that's even better. You can turn yourself into a calorie burning machine!
If you were to focus only on weight loss and not fat loss, you might be discouraged when you jumped on the scale and the needle hadn't moved. This has happened a lot with my patients in clinical practice. But when I am able to sit them down and show them that their body fat percentage had dropped, and their muscle mass had increased, meaning that they are going to be burning more calories this week than last week and have the sexy shape they are were looking far, it was like watching someone see the sunrise for the first time. They were seeing the world in a whole new way!
So to sum up, drop the term weight loss and adopt the term fat loss. Don't focus on losing weight but rather, losing fat. Eat plenty of whole nutritious foods and don't starve yourself. Trust me you would be full up to your eyeballs in spinach or broccoli trying to eat the amount of calories in one 10" tortilla.