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Weight Off 2002

John Dillinger, photographed on January 15, 1934. gangster crime outlaw
AP Photo
A recent Harris Interactive poll cites the biggest obstacle Americans face managing their health is managing their weight. Today, some 80 percent of people, over the age of 25, are overweight - that's up from 71 percent in 1995.

What is most troubling about this rise is that far too many folks battling the bulge are victims of failed sustained weight loss, over and over and over again. Some even cite stress brought on by the events of 9/11, and changes in the economy, have contributed in some ways to certain types of health mismanagement.

To get folks in gear we've brought back our very popular Weight Off With The Early Show series. Weight Off is a weight loss and maintenance program designed around the concept of eating slow burning-carbohydrates. Slow burning carbs, which make up 45 percent of the plan's daily meals, curb hunger by reducing blood-insulin levels. Beginning March 18, and continuing for the next 10-weeks, we follow a second group of courageous people intent on making lifestyle changes designed to lead to long-term weight loss/maintenance.

Many weight loss experts say at the crux of America's weight loss dilemma is the issue of how to manage the intake of carbohydrates, especially those low in fiber and high in saturated fat and sugar. Couple poor eating habits with a sedentary lifestyle, large meal portions and late night eating, and its guaranteed that one has written themselves a recipe for excessive weight gain.

The Plan

Our Weight Off With The Early Show weight loss/maintenance program is designed specifically to help people make appropriate long-term lifestyle changes in their daily diet. By increasing fiber intake, switching to slow-burning carbohydrates and limiting proteins a person can improve their health and still get pleasure from the foods they eat. We saw this with our first group of seven participants last year. By the time we met for our finale show in June, the group had collectively lost 138 pounds. When we checked in last week, that number had gone up to 148 pounds. A modest increase in weight loss, but still encouraging for it suggests that the group is maintaining the pounds initially lost.

Why It Works

The plan is based around a slow-carb way of eating. Incorporating slow burning carbohydrates into the diet curbs hunger. Carbs like: whole wheat breads and grains, oats, pasta, berries, apples, grapefruit and pears are some examples of what the plan calls for.
The simple idea behind the weight off plan is a nutrient breakdown for daily meals designed to slow the body's rise in insulin levels and thereby lessen the craving for food. High insulin levels in the blood cause the body to crave food. The plan's daily menus are made up of 29 percent protein, 26 percent fat and 45 percent carbohydrates. By lowering insulin levels through the intake of fewer calories, and exercising, over time the brain learns to re-program itself to expend energy more efficiently by storing more unused calories as muscle, and fewer as fat.

Dr. Aronne says the process of this weight management plan is what makes it different from others. He is not asking people to go to the extreme and eat only protein or nix carbohydrates by going into a Zone. Aronne has had much success with his patients. He says to be successful, "stick to the diet plan as the goal, not to the desire to be a certain body weight," because few people really know how much weight they can really lose and keep off long term.

The Calorie Intake

As daily calorie intake goes, the plan offers two options: 1200 daily calories for women and 1800 for men

1200 Calorie example: Designed with women in mind
4 servings of bread/starch
8 servings of protein
2 servings of fruit
4 (or more) servings of vegetables
2 servings of milk
4 servings of fat
1800 Calorie example: Designed with men in mind
12 servings protein
6 servings of bread/starch
3 servings of fruit
6 (or more) servings of vegetables
3 servings of milk
5 servings of fat

The examples above are a good estimate of what will work for most people and allow for weight loss without severe hunger. However, very active men and women may need to take in more calories.
You will find daily menu ideas as primarily suggestions. However, participants have the freedom to make food exchanges as long as they meet the daily nutrient breakdown. A food exchange and shopping list is also provided.

Getting through the day on this plan calls for eating something healthy every 3 to 5 hours. Drinking lots of fluid, especially water, and exercising portion control. Yet, the plan doesn't haze. There is one weekly small "indulgence" built in to derail those feelings of deprivation. So don't throw out all the ice cream and cookies yet. With each week's menu there is also a new healthy menu to try.

What To Do

As goal setting goes, Dr. Aronne says: set a realistic weight loss goal.
According to Dr. Lou studies show most people want to drop 1/3 of their body weight. That's not realistic.

  • Look at what is manageable; losing the first 10 pounds is most important, not the last 10 pounds.
  • Real goal is to find a healthy way of eating that makes you feel full and satisfied.
  • Average weight loss of 1/2 pound to 2 pounds a week is standard.
  • In 8 weeks most people will lose between 5 to 7 pounds (others more) by following the weight plan and incorporating exercise.
  • Do what you can, no one is perfect.
  • Important to remember this is the beginning of a longer change in eating habits.