New Year's Weight Goals

Many of us focus on losing weight as the New Year begins, but it can be hard to know the best way to reach our goals. Everywhere we turn there is a new, “guaranteed” weight loss program or exercise fad vying for our attention and our dollars. Although there is a lot of solid research available to assist us in identifying a good program, that information is often in the shadows of the highly marketed money-making programs. We typically focus on what looks to be a quick and easy fix.

67% of the US population is currently overweight or obese. This epidemic has increased the need for research into what works and what doesn’t work to guide people to safe weigh loss strategies. Recent findings support much of what we already know: There are still no quick fixes that are sustainable.

Lifestyle improvements, through cognitive and behavior change, increasing physical activity and improving dietary intake is fundamental to weight management. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight you must burn off more calories than you consume. That remains the underlying principle. How you do that most effectively is the dilemma.

Here are facts and tips from current research that you should consider year round when selecting your weight loss strategies2,3,4:

Fat: Energy balance is critical to maintaining healthy weight and ensuring optimal nutrient intake, regardless of whether it is a carbohydrate, fat or protein. Eat a balanced diet.

Protein: Protein contains calories, and consuming too much protein can actually make losing weight more difficult — especially if you drink protein shakes in addition to your usual diet. The average adult needs 46 to 56 grams of protein a day, depending on weight and overall health. If we eat a balanced diet, we don’t require additional protein and the calories it brings. We get more than enough from eating a regular balanced diet.

Glycemic index: Glycaemic index and/or glycaemic load are not associated with body weight. Modifying either of these does not lead to greater weight loss or better weight management. Follow physician’s advice related to medical conditions.

Vegetables and fruit: Eating vegetables and fruit is associated with a reduced risk of weight gain. Eating fruit is also associated with a reduced risk of obesity. Do not eliminate fruits and vegetables.

Grains: There is a probable association between eating three to five servings/day of grain (cereal) foods (mainly wholegrain) and a reduced risk of weight gain. Watch out for added sugar and salt in these products.

Nuts: Eating nuts does not cause undue weight gain. Nuts provide important protective effects on our hearts that you won’t get if you don’t eat them. 5Include nuts, as they are an important part of your balanced diet.

Physical activity (to maintain weight) 4:Updated international recommendations are for a minimum of 45–60 minutes of moderate intensity (usually a 5 or 6 of 0–10 on a scale relative to an individual’s personal capacity) daily physical activity versus the previous recommendation of 30 minutes. This increase is due to the fact that we now, as compared to when the previous guidelines were created, eat higher calorie foods more often and in greater quantities. Just get moving! Start with what you enjoy doing.

Apps: A recent study compared thirty popular mobile weight loss applications.6 Weight loss apps can be very helpful, but keep these findings in mind when you use them. On average, the apps included just three or four of the twenty strategies used in an evidence-based program—often missing are strategies that help patients with adherence and motivation.The researchers also concluded that "Free apps were just as likely as paid apps to include evidence-based strategies.” You do not necessarily get a better app by paying for it. The two top-rated apps, according to the study, are MyNetDiary PRO ($3.99,) and MyNetDiary (free.)

Summary of guidelines for weight management*2,3

Overall most effective
Dietary change plus improved physical activity; reducing total calorie intake (variety of means)

Somewhat effective
Increasing intake of low calorie foods (especially fruit/vegetables); Reducing intake of sweetened beverages; Limiting number of high calorie snacks; Reduced time spent in sedentary behavior; Mediterranean-style diet

Insufficient or inconsistent
Exercise in the absence of dietary change; Increased incidental or occupational physical activity

*non-surgical/pharmacological approaches

What to do to get started:

  • Identify which changes to work on first.
  • Start by making small changes and work up to your targets.
  • Involve family and friends if appropriate.
  • Identify activities and healthy foods that you enjoy.
  • Monitor your progress (e.g. keep a food and/or exercise diary).
  • Weigh yourself regularly (e.g. each week).
  • Reward yourself for meeting each goal (not with food).
  • Do not expect to meet all of your lifestyle change targets right away.

By resolving to follow sound dietary and fitness principles continuously, you can safely maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to consult your physician before undertaking and new or revised strategies. Here’s to your health in 2014!



1. World Health Organization. WHO global database on body mass index.
2. Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing . Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents and Children (2013).
3. CP Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity Systematic Review. Accessed on November 30, 2013 at
4. World Health Organization web site. Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Accessed on November 30, 2013 at
5. Ros E. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Nutrients. 2010 July; 2(7): 652–682. Published online 2010 June 24. doi: 10.3390/nu2070652
6. Pagoto et Al. Evidence-based strategies in weight-loss mobile apps. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 2013.
7. Villareal DT, et al. Weight loss, exercise, or both and physical function in obese older adults. N Engl J Med. 2011 Mar 31;364(13):1218-29. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1008234.
8. Rejeski WJ, et al. Translating weight loss and physical activity programs into the community to preserve mobility in older, obese adults in poor cardiovascular health. Arch Intern Med. 2011 May 23;171(10):880-6. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.522.
9. Pagoto S, Schneider K, Jojic M, DeBiasse M, Mann D. Evidence-Based Strategies in Weight-Loss Mobile Apps. Am J Prev Med 2013;45(5):576–582.
10. Federal Trade Commission web site. Consumer information. Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads. Accessed on November 30, 2013 at
11. The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) website. Accessed on November 30, 2013 at
12. Eat for health website. Accessed on November 30, 2013 at

By Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services