Employee & Community Health

What's the best diet for long-time weight loss?

5/6/2019 by Dr. Ramona DeJesus

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It's a fact. Millions of Americans — adults and kids — are now overweight. The excess weight is also called "obesity" and results when there's an imbalance between the energy we take in (food) and the energy we spend (resting, digesting, physical activity — both exercise and non-exercise). Studies reveal that the surge we've seen in obesity is driven by our eating behaviors and food choices — not by decreased activity. 

You've seen the different weight-loss diets that focus on macronutrients like carbohydrates, fat and protein. They're all equally effective at helping you lose weight because they all have one thing in common: they restrict energy intake (fewer calories). Zeroing in on carbohydrates, fats or protein isn't necessary for weight loss, and it isn't usually sustainable because we get bored with all the restrictions. 

Which brings us to an old adage: the best diet is one we can live with or maintain for life. What does that diet look like? It's one that reduces the number of calories (energy) we take in and is built around: 

  • Fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in calories
  • Fiber, which helps make us feel full and satisfied
  • Water and other low-calorie beverages to satisfy thirst
  • Avoiding trans-fats and processed foods (anything in a box)
  • Controlling food portions

Also, make it a habit to eat breakfast every day. In a national weight-control registry, people who lost 30 pounds or more and managed to keep them off for at least a year, report eating breakfast every day as a weight-loss maintenance strategy. 

Diet is only one piece of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise does play a key role. Try to be physically active — aim for about two-and-a-half hours or 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week for both physical and mental health. Managing your stress also helps you cope with emotional issues that can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. 

Find an approach you can live with, and you'll have found the perfect weight-loss plan for you. 

Dr. Ramona DeJesus is a general internist in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Internal Medicine (CIM). she completed her MD at the University of Florida and residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She is board certified in both internal and obesity medicine. Her interests include chronic disease management in primary care and population health management of high-risk patients.