News | Published December 29, 2020 | Written by Paul L. Klink, MD, Mount Nittany Physician Group, Weight Management

Healthy Holiday Tip: Kicking off your weight loss journey

Paul L. Klink, MD, Mount Nittany Physician Group, Weight Management

Last week I wrote about what diet plan is best, and since then, US News and World Report published the 2021 “Best Diets” list. The top programs have a lot in common: More fruits, more vegetables, more whole grain, and less fat, sugar, salt, and meat. The ratings are based on health outcomes, do-ability, cost, and short- and long-term weight loss.

Half of the people in the United States will try to lose weight this year. Losing weight is worth it. It can improve blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve sleep, improve energy, prolong life, and improve arthritis. Just a one-pound loss of weight reduces the stress on knees by four pounds and on the feet by eight pounds. A body mass index reduction of one point reduces health costs by $202 per year, and each five-point reduction lowers death by 31%.

The quality of our diet has a lot to do with improving our health. But weight loss is caused by having your calories in the right place. Here is how to estimate the average calories you should aim to consume in a day.

Your goal is mostly based on your height. You get 1000 calories for being 5 feet tall, and for every inch taller than that, you get another 100 calories. So, if you are 5 feet tall, your goal is 1000 calories. If you are 5’5”, your goal is 1000 plus 500 or 1500 calories per day. If you are 5’8”, your goal is 1800, and someone 5’10” has a 2000 calorie goal.

You can start with a higher calorie goal than your target, and you will likely lose weight, but to sustain a healthy weight, you will need to reach your target calorie goal. Your calorie goal is not affected by your activity level unless you are extremely active such as more than one hour a day of vigorous activity.

You now have several healthy eating styles to try, such as Mediterranean, DASH, Flexitarian, and Volumetrics as listed in the US News and World Report ratings. Plus you now know your calorie consumption target.

The final step for weight loss is tracking your calories. There are many free apps for that. These include MyFitnessPal, Fooducate, Lose It, Spark People, and the MyPlate App, to name a few.

Log in for a free account and start recording all that you eat and drink. You will lose weight if you can average the goal of calories that is right for you.

Don’t worry about being perfect. You can get great results by just putting in a moderate effort. People who track their calories lose twice the weight of dieters who do not track their calories. If you can’t use an app, no problem — keep a written account of your intake. It works just as well. You will learn a lot by tracking, such as what foods work for you. Knowledge is power!

For more tips to help you through the holiday season and all year long, and to learn more about our program or schedule an appointment, please visit mountnittany.org/weightmanagement.