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Nutrition Column

Optimal weight loss

In terms of weight loss, while it is possible to lose weight faster than the commonly recommend 1 to 2 pounds per week it isn't necessarily optimal.

The 1 to 2 pound recommendation of most medical and scientific groups comes from an average weight loss for most people. In reality - for long-term weight loss it is physiologically possible to burn body fat at a rate 1 percent of body weight (in pounds) per week.

Greater losses in weight result from lean tissue losses of water, glycogen (carbohydrate energy stores), and over a long period of time, muscle mass - not from body fat stores. With continued losses at a rate greater than 1 percent of BW often energy levels drop due to depleted energy stores and typically dieters go off their program, stop exercising (if they have been in the first place) and lose motivation - ultimately leading to weight gain.

With weight loss other than from fat stores there are losses in lean tissue. The lost lean tissue causes your metabolic rate to decrease and your food efficiency to increase - causing you to require fewer calories to maintain normal cellular function. People tend to stop losing weight and typically (> 95 percent of those on calorically restricted diets) regain the weight they lost within 2 to 5 years.

As for eating in the evening and weight loss I have noticed people typically lose some weight by cutting back on night time snacking. Not due to any miracle or biochemical phenomenon but rather due to cutting back on overall daily caloric consumption.

Most people snack more at night, burn less, and don't keep track of volume (and calories) as closely. There is more "mindless" eating in the evening. Sitting in front of the T.V. or computer munching on foods which are often calorically dense.

Whether you cut calories at night or during the day it is the caloric deficit you create which results in weight loss.

Besides the artificial sweeteners and sugar, I would highly recommend restricting the amount of saturated fat and hydrogenated oils (trans fats) in a  diet. Those two nutrients not only play the greatest role in the development of most degenerative diseases but also in fat storage.

Not only do saturated and trans fats stimulate fat storage they decrease triglyceride (fat) removal from fat cells. By cutting back on these fats and processed foods containing them and concentrated sugar you will eat more fiber - another highly beneficial nutrient for disease prevention, satiety, weight loss, and health.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 3.03.06