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Exercise Necessary for Permanent Weight Loss

More than 50 percent of Americans are overweight and can expect a premature death because of it. One of the largest scientific studies on weight loss shows that calorie restriction (below 1700 calories per day) is the most important factor that helps people lose weight and that its effect is temporary and dependant on constant reenforcement (NEJM, February 26, 2009).

The ratios of carbohydrate, protein and fat are irrelevant. Furthermore, most dieters are incapable of following diets that restrict the proportion of carbohydrates, fats or proteins.

Although the dieters were placed on diets with different protein ratios, measuring their urinary nitrogen showed that they ended up with close to the same protein intakes. Carbohydrate restriction, measured by the drop in HDL cholesterol, showed little difference in carbohydrate intake.

People in this study lost about 13 pounds in six months regardless of the type of nutrient restriction. However, after 12 months they started to regain the weight that they lost, and after two years their average weight loss was down to six pounds. This suggests that many will eventually regain all the weight that they lost.

If you want to reduce your weight to normal permanently, you need an exercise program that involves other people so you will stick with it permanently. The more you exercise, the more weight you are likely to lose. You also need a social environment in which your companions eat the way you should eat, and a constant exposure to people who are trying to follow healthful eating and other lifestyle behaviors.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Does bicycling reduce bone density, increasing risk for fractures and osteoporisis?

This is a myth that is not supported by any good data. A study from Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK shows that sprint cyclists have denser bones than long distance cyclists who have denser bones than sedentary control subjects (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, March 2009). While cyclists have less dense bones than weight lifters and football players, they still have denser bones than people who do not exercise. The greater the force on bones during exercise, the denser the bone. So any type of exercise is good for your bones and a sedentary lifestyle is bad for bones.

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Dear Dr.. Mirkin: I’d like to improve my swimming. Should I try to swim as many laps as possible?

If you want to improve in any sport, it is far more important to train fast than to try to build up huge distances. A study from the University of Saarland in Germany shows that swimmers who concentrated on swimming very fast at the cost of swimming fewer miles, swam faster than those who kept up a huge volume of training that forced them to swim slower in practice (International Journal of Sports Medicine, November 2008).

This study does not tell you to just train as fast as you can. This would eventually cause a syndrome of chronic fatigue. The key to successful training is to take a very intense workout, feel sore on the next workout, and train less intensely with as much work as possible that allows you to recover without injuring yourself. When you feel fresh again, take your next intense workout.

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Recipe of the Week:

Sweet Potato Soup

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June 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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