Lose Fat in a Flash: Heres How

By: Michael Lewis

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Title ----- Lose Fat in a Flash: Here's How

Weightloss ------------------------------------------ Severalyears ago, talk show star Oprah Winfrey walked onto her setpulling a wagon full of fat to demonstrate how much she had loston a highly touted liquid diet. Her dramatic weightloss resultsgave hope to dieters around the country that they, too, couldlose weight fast.

But Oprah's triumph didn't last. Within a year or so, thetelevision superstar had regained most of what she'd lost.

A quick and painless path to a size 6 is the dieter's ultimatedream. And at least one scientist has given hope to millions ofdieters looking for a quick fix. The plan doesn't have a catchyname -- yet. Originator James Anderson, MD, just calls it theVLCD, for very-low-calorie diet.

The formula? Consuming only 900 calories a day by drinking onlyfive weight-loss shakes. Or dieters also can choose to take intheir allowed calories by drinking three shakes and substitutingtwo low-calorie meals for the others. When 112 people tried thediet as part of Anderson's research, they lost an average of 65pounds over five months.

What's really impressive, however, is that most people kept off15 of those pounds -- 23% of the initial loss -- for more thanfive years, according to results published in the December 1999issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.That's significant because most people who lose weight can onlymaintain 5% to 15% of their losses, says George Blackburn, MD,PhD, associate director of the division of nutrition at HarvardMedical School.

"Our study shows that people do better if they bite the bulletand get down to a weight they desire and then try to maintainit," says Anderson, the study's lead author and a professor ofmedicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky inLexington. "It's a myth that if you lose weight slowly you dobetter in the long run."

Shaping a Skinny Lifestyle

Don't go running for the Slim Fast yet. On top of carefullycontrolling their calories, the researchers also coached thedieters on how to change their weight-gaining habits and ways.Physicians and dietitians in the study stressed the importanceof eating fruits and vegetables. Dieters learned how to countcalories, assess the nutritional value of various foods, andunderstand the importance of exercise. Those parts of theprogram are essential to any weight-loss regimen, not justAnderson's. "Weight loss isn't just about restricting calories,"Anderson says.

Other weight-loss experts agree. "The diet itself was animportant element of Anderson's study, but if the subjectshadn't also made substantial behavioral changes, the outcomewould [have been] very different," says psychologist Tom Wadden,PhD, director of the weight loss and eating disorders program atthe University of Pennsylvania. Research has shown that suchfast-track diets are only as good as long as they last, saysJohn Foreyt, PhD, director of the Behavioral Medicine ResearchCenter at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "Rapid weightloss typically leads to rapid weight gain," he says."Very-low-calorie diets are diets we can't live with and can'tlive on. The bulk of research shows that they're short-termfixes, and when you go off the diet, you return to old habits."

Battling the Bulge

Still interested in giving quick weight loss a try? Andersonoffers these tips, which he thinks made the big difference forhis dieters.

Exercise.

Try to burn at least 2,000 calories through exercise each week.Start with one 10-minute walk a day, every day, and work up toat least 20 10-minute exercise sessions a week.

Walking just one mile burns 150 calories. Eat at least fiveservings a day of fruits and vegetables. "You get a lot of foodfor the calories," says Anderson.

Three cups of broccoli, for instance, contains roughly 120calories -- about the same as a tablespoon of butter or oil.Incorporate meal replacement products into your daily or weeklymenu. Meal replacements -- whether they're packaged foods suchas Lean Cuisine, or shakes such as Slim Fast -- are very helpfulfor maintaining long-term weight loss. "Using just two mealreplacements a week would be enough to keep off 10 pounds in ayear," says Anderson. "That's a lot of weight for a minimalchange in eating patterns."

Source: WebM

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