Separating myth from fact when it comes to weight loss | LMH Health

Many people don't know how or where to start their weight loss or fitness journey. Pamela J. Huerter, MD, a physician with LMH Health Free State Family Medicine and board-certified in culinary medicine, offers insight into common weight loss concerns.

Dr. Pam Huerter with patients

Pamela J. Huerter, MD

Being certified in culinary medicine enables Dr. Huerter to help patients better understand the impact of their diet on their health. It reinforces the concept of food as medicine to manage and prevent disease.

“Currently, nutritional services are not well covered by insurance, so resources that can provide guidance as a physician may be better covered than other traditional dietary services,” Dr. Huerter said.

Can exercise alone lose weight?

Too much energy (calorie) dense food can lead to weight gain. If you eat food that can be broken down quickly into energy, your body has to use it right away. If you can't use energy right away, your body stores it in fat cells. If this happens repeatedly, weight gain occurs.

Weight loss is the result of a calorie deficit, which occurs when your body burns more calories than it consumes. So, while exercise is an essential tool for weight management, it won't lose weight on its own.

“If you start exercising without exercising at all, you may notice weight loss due to a calorie deficit,” says Dr. Huerter.

Whether you're trying to lose weight or keep it off, exercising is a great way to get in touch with your body. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults exercise 150 minutes a week. You don't have to do all of these at once. Break it however it suits you best. If you're having trouble seeing weight changes, you can increase the amount of time you exercise, such as 60 minutes a day.

“For someone who just wants to maintain or lose a few pounds, 150 minutes per week is a good rule of thumb,” says Dr. Huerter.

Should you be eating salad if you're trying to lose weight?

Salads are a great way to increase your vegetable intake, but not all salads lead to weight loss. It's important to look at the various ingredients in your salad, such as toppings and dressings. If you're looking for low-calorie and nutritious foods, vegetables are a great place to start.

“What helps us control how much we eat is how our stomach feels when it's full,” says Dr. Huerter. “Fiber in food helps your stomach realize it's full. Water also helps tell your body it's full, so filling your stomach with fluids helps too.”

When evaluating how much food and what type of food you should eat, it is important to consider the energy density of the food and the amount you need. Not all foods have the same amount of calories per cup or tablespoon.

“When you think about food giving you energy, it's really easy to expend more energy than you expend,” Dr. Huerter said.

Knowing the difference between serving size and portion size can also help you understand what an appropriate serving size is. Get familiar with portion sizes to help you gauge how much food your body needs. Eating slowly also helps your body recognize that it is full.

Is cutting carbs a good way to lose weight?

Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy. You should be eating carbs, but be careful about the types of carbs. When choosing carbohydrates, it's wise to choose carbohydrates that contain fiber, such as whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

“Our bodies love whole foods. They go through the process slowly, giving your body more time to use energy,” says Dr. Huerter.

For weight loss or weight management, reducing your intake of processed foods can help. Processed foods often have fiber removed, making them more accessible for energy, which is part of the reason why eating a lot of processed foods can lead to weight gain.

Does Eating Dinner Cause Weight Gain?

Our bodies use and store calories based on movement and activity. Eating late at night can affect how your body digests food. When you sleep, your body slows down, which causes your energy expenditure to drop. Dr. Huerter notes that if you eat late at night, the drop in energy expenditure will require your body to store excess calories.

In addition to weight gain, eating late can also affect sleep quality. As digestion slows, late-night snacking or meals can lead to symptoms of acid reflux. As your body tries to slow down and digest food, it can counteract your body's natural circadian rhythm.

“Our food tends to be better digested during the day when we're upright,” Dr. Huerter said.

If you do choose to eat late at night, a good rule of thumb is to eat something small with fiber and protein. It is important to avoid spikes in blood sugar. Eating complex carbohydrates, such as fiber-rich fruits or vegetables, allows your body to digest snacks slowly.

“If your blood sugar is high overnight when you're inactive, you have less opportunity to use that extra energy, meaning it's inadvertently converted to stored energy, such as fat,” Dr. Huerter said.

in the end

Weight loss stems from changes in eating habits and energy deficits. Try to choose foods with high nutritional value and low calories. Processed foods tend to be low in nutrients but high in energy fuels.

“At its baseline, weight loss is due to a lack of energy where you can use your fat stores,” Dr. Huerter said.

As you start setting weight loss goals and diets, it's important to remember that not doing certain things doesn't equate to losing weight. Moderate amounts of simple carbohydrates and sugars are fine. Be aware of what your body needs to fuel itself and what you are consuming.

Always consult your PCP if you have any questions or concerns about making changes to your diet or exercise routine. They will be able to help you set health goals that are in your body's best interest.

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