Losing weight. Let us count the ways …
If you’re looking to lose weight, there’s no shortage of ‘experts’ around to help. But it’s usually only weight off the wallet they take. Not off the body. So how do you know who to believe? Well, a recent publication which backed up Government guidelines on this, have listed the ways – and how successful each is. Here’s a summary:
Herbal products: These are bought ‘over-the-counter’ and include a wide range of products ranging from seaweed to horseradish. There’s no evidence that any work without a diet and exercise program though. So save your money.
Alternative treatments: Weight loss claims are made for everything from acupuncture to hypnosis to body wrapping. But again, there’s no real proof that any of these work. Hypnosis may have some slight impact on changing food intake in someone who is able to be hypnotised, but the effect is hardly worth it.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) diets: It’s difficult to gauge this one because something obviously worked for many people (otherwise we would all be fat). However, while any diet will work over the short term (by decreasing food intake) very few can be sustained over the long term. It’s better to make a lifetime commitment to eating right than waste time and effort on special diets.
Commercial diet-based weight loss programs: There are two or three big ones of these depending on the country – Weight Watchers being the biggest. They work best as a support group (and hence usually better for women) – but be prepared to continue paying. The success rate is not clear because data are unpublished, but WW (one of the few that do publish results) claim a success rate of around 20% over 1 year. (Men seem to do much better according to published data on GutBusters – now Professor Trims)
Exercise-based programs: These include fitness centres and personal trainers as well as do it yourself ways of getting fit. The first thing to say about exercise is that it doesn’t strip the weight off as quickly as dieting. The second is that it does it better over the long term – so it should be a part of any program.
Counselling: You can get this from a good doctor, dietitian, psychologist or exercise physiologist (or now a combination of three through your GP). Look for the ones who specialise in weight control and see this person only as helping you – not doing it for you.
Pre-Packaged meals: These are whole meals packaged and frozen for re-heating. In general, they provide low calorie, healthy meals and (provided you don’t add a profiterole and ice-cream dessert) can help reduce food intake.
Meal Replacements: These can be used once or twice a day (rarely three times) instead of meals. Hence they only work if they delay hunger, and while there have been some dodgy versions around for years, there are now some very effective ones. They can be used for up to 3 meals a day. But experienced guidance is recommended. The recognition of the value of these by obesity groups has now also meant a proliferation of products on the market. Look for those with good professional support.
Medication: There are a couple of drugs available from the doctor that can help add to the benefits of a lifestyle program. You’ll need an experienced doctor to advise you on what is best. Also, don’t expect these to work without a change in lifestyle.
Surgery: It used to be the last resort, but modern surgical techniques (particularly laproscopic banding) have now made it one of the most effective weight loss techniques available – provided it is followed up, again with the proper lifestyle change and with a team of experts including a psychologist, dietitian and exercise specialist.
Lifestyle modification: No matter what you do it comes down to this. Nothing will work without some form of lifestyle change, so why not do it all in one go. Programs like Professor Trim’s for Men can help you do this.
Dr Garry Egger aka Prof Trim
For more information on weight loss for men, check out Professor Trim.