Predicting Weight Loss

On August 25, 2011, posted an article announcing a significant change coming to the way weight loss is predicted.  Fad diets aside, most people know that healthy weight loss is a slow process.  It has been recommended that losing 1 – 2 pounds per week is very good.  But now experts are questioning even that rate of weight loss.  Reports WebMD:

“If you’ve ever been on a diet, chances are you know the 3,500-calorie rule: Since there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, you have to eat 500 fewer calories a day to lose a pound a week.

But researchers now say the formula is wrong because it fails to account for a slowing metabolism, the fact that dieters lose muscle as well as fat, and other factors that influence weight loss.

Researcher Kevin Hall, PhD, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says the 3,500-calorie rule leads to unrealistic expectations and may undermine people’s efforts to lose extra pounds.”

So the NIDDK came up with this nifty little tool, called a Body Weight Simulator.  It’s an interactive program that lets you input your body’s details (current weight, height, gender, age etc.) and activity level.  From those parameters the program creates a weight loss model for you, for the next 180 days.  Click on the picture to see what the HWS did with my info.

“Hall tells WebMD that weight loss actually occurs more gradually than is thought. He says a better guide for the typical overweight adult is that cutting 10 calories a day from their diet will lead to the loss of a pound over three years.

So reducing calorie intake by 250 calories a day will eventually lead to a 25-pound weight loss, but it will take three years for most overweight or obese adults to get 95% of the way there, Hall says.

He adds that about half the weight will be lost in the first year of dieting, with weight loss slowing after this.”

The good news, they said, is that though the weight loss is slow and gradual, you do continue to lose weight over the long haul.

In a linked related article, WebMD reviewed the new Weight Watchers Plus program.  I was eager to read this article, to see if the experts agree with what my experience tells me:  Weight Watchers works!

“Keri Gans, MS, RD, author of The Small Change Diet and a New York weight loss consultant, gives the program a thumbs up.

“I always loved the peer support aspect of the Weight Watchers program but it concerned me that the old points could be used for anything,” Gans says. “The new Points Plus program addressing where calories come from is a huge improvement.”

Gans says she loves the flexibility of the plan, which makes it easier to sustain long term, and the encouragement to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.”

This is so true, and a real key element to the new points system, which allots points to foods based on their protein, fiber, carb and fat levels.  The new Points Plus program allows you to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you want, with zero points allotted to those foods (with a few exceptions, namely starchy veggies like potatoes or fatty ones like avocados).

I use the Weight Watchers Online program to help me count my points.  It is so easy that anyone can use it and it takes no time at all.  I just keep it open on my desktop, so that when I grab something to eat or drink, I can quickly add it to my food diary with a few clicks of a button.  There’s four excellent interactive tools to help you keep track of where you are, where you’re going, and where you want to be with your weight loss.

There are thousands of recipes, foods you’d buy at the grocery store, and even restaurant menu items listed in their PointsPlus Tracker.  The point values are already calculated for you – no time spent figuring out how many points are in each ingredient.  Just type the food or restaurant menu item in the search bar and click “GO”.  It brings up a list of possibilities, you check the one you want, it asks you how many servings you had (including partial servings) and automatically adds it to your food diary.  Here’s a snapshot of my food diary today – including Milano cookies!

If you’ve read my “App Lust” blog post, from March, you know there’s also a smartphone app that does the same thing the Weight Watchers Online does.  And it’s free.  You would need a membership, of course, which is $17.95 per month.  Very good price for what you get, especially the recipes with all the points already calculated for you.  There are also cookbooks you can buy that have the point values calculated.  The other day, a young friend made Chocolate Chip Scones, which were the best scones I’ve ever tasted – and only had 3 points each.  Go, Weight Watchers, Go.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lostalykat
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 16:53:41

    What an interesting study, I would have such a hard time losing weight that slowly and still being motivated.


  2. Charlene
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 10:09:46

    Hi, Aly – thanks for leaving a comment!

    I would agree with you, if I had 100 pounds or more to loose; it might be really discouraging. But since I have about 20, I don’t mind it taking 3 years – as long as the weight comes off and stays off. The staying off is the critical thing, really. Because consistent progress, no matter how small, is always better than doing the yo-yo thing.


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