If you’re like almost three quarters of our adult population, you’ve struggled with being overweight or obese. Maybe you’ve tried to lose weight in the past, or you’re currently trying to lose 10 or 20 pounds to get down to your ideal weight.

There are a lot of fad diets and trends, and it can be hard to determine what weight loss methods are safe and effective. Here is what you should know:

Exercise:

A common question I get asked is “how much do I really need to exercise?”. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, in addition to muscle-strengthening exercise at least 2 days of the week. Don’t have that much time? Get the same results by doing fewer minutes of higher intensity exercise.

Diet:
Ketogenic diet: This diet has been trending over the last year or two. The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Anecdotally, you may have heard from friends and family about their successes with this diet. However, experts warn it’s high in saturated fats, which are linked to heart disease. Additional risks include nutrient deficiency and liver problems.

Intermittent fasting: This type of diet involves going long periods of time without eating. While this method certainly works for some people, experts say it is hard to stick to and is no more effective than a diet that restricts caloric intake.

Plant based diets: This is not necessarily synonymous with being vegetarian or vegan. It simply means that “you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources,” according to Harvard Health. As with the previous two, this method of weight loss can be effective for some; however, you may need to take supplements to ensure you are getting all vital nutrients.

The consensus is, while any of these diets may help you to lose weight, “the best diet is simply the one where you are healthy, hydrated and living your best life.” (New York Times, 2020). Weight loss strategies are not one size fits all.

Drugs/supplements:

Alli: this is the only FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss drug. In combination with a reduced-calorie and low-fat diet (and exercise), Alli can help you lose approximately 5% of your body weight. Alli helps you lose weight by decreasing the amount of fat that can be absorbed by your intestines. Other over the counter “weight loss” drugs and supplements you see in advertisements are not FDA approved, which means they have not been proven to be safe and/or effective. There are also several prescription weight loss medications; talk to your doctor for more information.

Measurement:

  • The most common metric used to judge your weight is Body Mass Index (BMI), which measures your weight in relation to your height. A BMI between 25.0 or 30 falls in the overweight range, and a BMI of greater than 30 indicates obesity. In general, while a higher BMI indicates a higher risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, it is not a perfect measurement tool and does not measure body fat. It is entirely possible to have a BMI of greater than 30 but still be perfectly healthy.

Interested in losing weight or maximizing your wellness? BHA can help by:

  • Providing more information about evidence-based strategies for weight loss
  • Recommending top nutritionists who can develop a diet tailored to your unique health needs
  • Incorporating your weight loss into your larger health and wellness plan