The key to losing weight and keeping it off is your body's chemistry, not willpower, according to Dr. Louis Aronne in his new book, "THE SKINNY: On Losing Weight Without Being Hungry". Dr. Aronne's solution: teaching your body to stop craving food and feel full sooner.
"Weight loss isn't about priorities, willpower or wanting it badly enough. Rather, it's about your body, your brain and your hormones," says Dr. Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "And if you don't first re-sensitize your weight-regulation mechanisms, typical approaches to weight loss, such as portion control and calorie counting, just won't work."
According to Dr. Aronne, our bodies are programmed to resist weight loss that goes beyond roughly 7 percent of total body weight. That means that if you weigh 200 pounds, you may be able to lose fewer than 14 pounds before the going gets tough. The reason, he explains, is that the body's metabolism and weight-regulating hormones -- like insulin and leptin -- drop faster than your body loses fat, making your brain think your weight is near normal even though you're still overweight. This leaves dieters hungry, even after they've eaten all the calories they need.
Among Aronne's specific tips to teach the body to feel full:
- Eat a Protein Breakfast. People who eat breakfast are more successful at losing weight because it helps control appetite and cravings throughout the day. High-protein, low-starch foods like a vegetable frittata are best. Avoid juices that pass through the body too quickly. Eat grapefruit or melon instead.
- Exercise in the morning. Putting off your gym visit until later in the day increases the chances that something will come up to derail your plans. And don't think of making up for it with a longer weekend session. How often you exercise is more important than the length of each exercise session.
- Eat your salad and vegetables first. Dig into the leafy greens before you start the main course. This will curb your appetite by making you feel full. Other foods to keep you feeling sated include soups and spicy foods.
- Look for hidden causes of weight gain. Sleep disorders and medications can cause weight gain. Appropriate management can help with weight loss.
- Watch less television. By turning off the boob tube you will automatically be more active.
Dr. Aronne says his plan is easy to follow, and can help many people to lose between 10 percent and 20 percent of their weight, and most can lose 7 percent or more. However, Aronne cautions that the weight loss won't be immediate, and may take several months. The payoff, he writes: "You will know what it feels like to fill up on a normal amount of food. You will eventually be able to stop obsessing about food. You'll be able to stop forcing yourself to eat less because you'll eat less automatically."