Women and Weight Loss:  Top Ten Things You Need to Know

This is mostly a 'myth-busting' piece, but it is a place to start:

1.  There is no such thing as “spot reduction”.  


All of these creams and lotions that are sold on-line and in stores don’t work.  So how can people market these and make these amazing claims?  Anyone who markets something as a “supplement” does not have to prove that they are effective, or even safe.  Because they are not governed by the FDA, and can claim pretty much anything they want.  However, if they are caught lying, the FTC can and will sue them (like versus Pure Green Coffee for making claims on the Dr. Oz show, 2014). 


2.  Supplements  promising that they are “fat burners” or can “increase you metabolism” are unproven at best, fraudulent at worst.  


Be skeptical if something seems to good to be true.  Be skeptical if it in any way bypasses any exercise and calorie reduction (this includes Vit B-12 shots, that do nothing for weight loss).   Be skeptical if it is being pushed by someone dresses as a physician but isn’t or by a celebrity.  This is a $30 BILLION dollar industry.  


3.  Does the weight loss medication Phentermine work?  Well…yes and no.   


It is a fabulous, safe appetite suppressant whose effects will eventually fade, but in helping women “get over the hump” to be able to function on a low calorie diet, it can work great.  It clearly works better for some than others.  And unless permanent lifestyle changes are made simultaneously, once the phentermine is stopped, the weight will return.  Phentermine, by the way, is available only by prescription, and is also a controlled substance.


4.  Do surgical body sculpting procedures that freeze or heat fat tissue work?  To a degree, yes.   


But let me qualify that by saying that the real answer is a bit more complicated.  I will go over that in another Top Ten list in the near future.  Stay tuned…


5.  Exercise alone for weight loss is actually very ineffective.   


There is a lot of data to back that myth-buster up.  Now it is very healthy for your cardiovascular system to exercise.  It is somewhat beneficial for long-term weight stabilization.   But for weight loss, not so good.  Why?  It’s hard to say, but most likely because increased exercise also increases your appetite and you end up eating back the calories you burned.   The key is calorie restriction.  Any weight loss program that promises you can lose weight without changing your diet is almost certainly not true.


6.  Crash dieting to lose large amounts of weight in a short period is a myth


…if you are talking about losing fat weight.  You can lose fluid, some muscle mass, and some fat with a crash short term diet.  Fasting can decompress the bowels making you feel like you suddenly fit in clothes you used to not fit in.  But it’s an illusion.  It goes away quickly  Sorry…  The fat stores that you would really want to go away are still there.  Cutting calories down to about 1200/day over a month will allow a 4-8 lb reduction of body fat.  No more than that, no quicker than that. 


7.  There is no consensus on what weight-loss diet is the best.   


Really, any diet that limits calories that you can live with for a long time (or permanently) is the key.  Don’t get hung up on whether diets high in fats or protein or whatever is the one for you.  If it has food you like, choose it.  Not every diet works for everyone.  Even if you do it just right.  The only diet proven to be of long-term benefit (sizable reduction in heart attack mortality) is the Mediterranean Diet.  FWIW.


8.  Programs like WeightWatchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem are legit


They all work by the same formula, just dealt to you in a different way.  They all decrease calories and pre-portion your meals for you to make it easier.  You can do the same on your own, but for busy women who don’t have time to fuss with the details, these and any program that prepares meals for you and focuses on decreasing calories is also likely legit. 


9.  Genetics play a huge roll in our body composition.  .


You could eat and exercise exactly as much as your lean friend does, but if she is genetically lean and you are not, she will be leaner than you.  Just be aware that there are limits that your will power can't get you past.


10.  Write down everything you eat—EVERYTHING (except water).  


You’ll be surprised how effective that is.  Virtually everyone underestimates their calorie intake.   There are lots of great apps for your smart phone on keeping track.  What you’ll find is that it will make you more aware, and discerning, of your food choices, and you’ll make better decisions.


I wish I had more solutions than myth-busters for you here.  But if I had an easy way to lose weight, I’d likely have my own daytime TV show.  And I don’t.   But what I’m telling you here is based on real science and recommendations made by such entities as the National Institute of Health and the FDA.  Good luck!