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‘Tis the Season for Weight Gain and Resolutions

by Stephen Petteruti

The average American will gain approximately five pounds over the holiday season, then start the New Year with a resolution to get in better shape and lose weight. Why is it that almost everybody fails to achieve one’s goal? Here are some of the most common hidden reasons for weight gain and the failure to lose it.

Zero-calorie foods and beverages

Most of these items are chock-full of artificial sweetener. Sucralose, Stevia and others may not add calories to one’s daily intake, but the intense neurochemical effect of their hyper-sweetening stimulates the brain to generate intense hunger. Thus, shortly after drinking the zero-calorie beverage, individuals crave food.

Diet/low-fat foods

Frequently, low-fat foods have simply taken out the fat and replaced it with a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are now known to be a primary driver of obesity, much more so than fats. A good example is low-fat yogurt. While lower in calories than the full-fat version, eating full-fat yogurt will leave individuals feeling satisfied for a longer period of time, making it a smarter choice.

Too much exercise

It turns out that there is a “sweet spot” regarding exercise. Interval training for approximately 30 minutes can be a minor benefit to weight loss, however, if exercise is extended, the body generates hormones that amplifies hunger, slows down metabolism, and ultimately causes weight gain. If prepping for a 10K road race, then continue to train at longer intervals, but, if exercising to lose weight, then limit cardiovascular activity to no greater than 30 minutes.

Denying hunger

Any attempt to lose weight by ignoring hunger will always fail. Whenever the brain senses deprivation it will generate hormones that slow down metabolism and preserve fat. For better health and to shrink fat, frequent but smaller meals are far superior to long episodes of abstinence.

Failure to use proper medication

Individuals with a long-term tendency toward excess weight and who need to lose 10 percent or more of their current bodyweight, may have more than a mere nutritional challenge. They may have a hormonal/metabolic condition that will require medical treatment in most cases. Will power and exercise will usually fail to permanently remove the excess weight. Look for a nurse practitioner or doctor with expertise in supplements and pharmacology to complement the nutritional efforts.

Diets

A “diet” is nothing more than a temporary interruption intended to address a chronic problem. As such, they are all destined to fail. Remember, excess obesity is a persistent, chronic neurochemical and hormonal condition. As such it requires open-ended treatment, not a moment of altered eating behavior. Whatever is done to lose weight will need to be done for the rest of one’s life.

Finally, be patient. Behavioral change is an incremental process. It requires consistent effort, episodes of failure and slow forward progress. Ultimately, the changes made toward a more healthy diet will be its own success, regardless of the amount of weight lost.

Dr. Stephen Petteruti’s concierge medical practice, The Petteruti Center, is located at 250 Centerville Rd., Bldg. E, Warwick. For more information, or to discuss weight loss options, call 401-921-5934 or visit ThePetterutiCenter.com. See ad, page ??.