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managing weight loss

Diet and Exercise
When weight reduction or weight control is prescribed, the most sensible program is one that combines proper nutrition with exercise.

Dieting without exercise can result in weight loss consisting of approximately 50% fat tissue and 50% lean tissue. If weight is regained after dieting, it is primarily added as fat weight, and the result is a higher percent body fat than before dieting.

This is why exercise plays such an important role in weight management. By combining exercise with a sound nutritional program, weight is primarily reduced by fat loss while lean body weight is maintained. Though some lean weight loss may occur during a weight management program, maintaining or increasing lean weight remains the key to effective weight management.

Body Composition
The body is comprised of lean weight (muscle, bone, organs) and fat weight. Lean body weight is the energy consuming part of the body. Fat body weight is the energy storing part of the body.

The greater the body's lean weight, the faster it burns energy at rest and during exercise. This is because lean weight metabolizes, and fat weight does not.

Basal Metabolic Rate
The rate at which the body burns energy is called the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the number of calories consumed by the body while at rest during a 24 hour period. The BMR is proportional to the amount of lean body weight. In fact, each pound of lean weight burns approximately 14 calories per 24 hour period. Each pound of fat weight burns approximately 0 calories per 24 hour period! In other words, the greater the lean body weight, the greater the BMR, and the faster the body burns calories.

The BMR is very important because it accounts for approximately 90% of the body's daily caloric expenditure. Only 10% of the calories expended each day are through exercise and occupational activity.

However, exercise does play an important role in weight management. Through exercise, calories are burned and lean body weight is maintained to keep the BMR as high as possible.

Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is rhythmic activity that can be maintained continuously and employs the body’s largest muscle groups (i.e. the legs). Aerobic literally means “with oxygen”. The continuous rhythmic nature of aerobic activity drives the heart and lungs to bring fresh oxygen to the working muscles. Since fat only burns when oxygen is present, it is important that some form of aerobic exercise be included in a fat loss program. In addition, aerobic exercise at threshold levels encourages muscle growth as it builds cardiopulmonary endurance.

To be of maximum benefit, aerobic exercise should be performed 3 to 5 times a week for at least 20 minutes per session, at an intensity level high enough to make you perspire. Aerobic activities include running, walking, cycling, rowing, swimming, skating, aerobic dance, hiking and cross-country skiing.

Anaerobic Exercise
Anaerobic exercise is intense short term work. Anaerobic literally means “without oxygen”. During anaerobic exercise the active muscles are depleted of oxygen. Without the presence of oxygen, anaerobic exercise is unable to burn fat. However, anaerobic exercise does create the kind of stress necessary to build new muscle, and the muscle-building results complement aerobic exercise (bigger muscles burn more calories).

Anaerobic exercise should be performed 2 to 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days. Examples of high intensity anaerobic activity include weight lifting, sprinting, jumping, and sports activities such as basketball, soccer, racquet sports, and other short term interval work.

Dietary Considerations
The diet you choose should be well-balanced, including plenty of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. It should also be low in fat and protein. As a general guideline, you should eat approximately 60-70% complex carbohydrates, keeping simple carbohydrates (refined sugar) at 5% or less, protein at 15-20%, and fat at 15-20% of total calories consumed.

Consuming large amounts of protein does not mean that protein (muscle) weight of the body will be increased. Whatever food (protein, carbohydrates, or fat) is not burned will turn into fat. The typical "protein rich" American diet represents excessive caloric intake, and helps contribute to heart disease. Many foods believed to be high in protein (red meats, eggs, etc.) are actually more fat than protein. Approximately 75% of the calories from a sirloin steak are from fat with only 25% from protein.

A weight management program is most effective in achieving the correct type of weight loss when:

1. Exercise is undertaken on a regular basis.
2. Caloric intake is reduced to about 500 calories less than normal intake (or 500 calories below the BMR).
3. Dietary fat is reduced to less than 25% of the total calories consumed.
4.  A healthy ratio of lean-to-fat weight is maintained.

Successful weight management can be achieved through any number of dietary and exercise programs. These recommendations are intended as general guidelines for achieving weight loss objectives.

Remember, before engaging in any exercise and/or nutrition program that significantly changes your present lifestyle, seek the advice of your weight management professional.
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