Obesity is a growing global epidemic, representing a serious public health problem.
In the United States, over one third of people are obese and therefore at an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, just to name a few. But obesity doesn't only negatively impact one's personal health, it represents a major economic burden, with estimates of obesity related costs exceeding $110 billion annually.
With the New Year around the corner, it's the perfect time to start making your resolutions.
In the U.S., the majority of resolutions every year revolve around health improvement – be it exercising more, eating less or finally smoking that last cigarette. Unfortunately, these are also the most often broken resolutions.
To increase your odds this year we looked at the medical literature for proven ways to boost your metabolism.
First, studies show it is best to avoid diets. Fad diets which require dramatic changes in behavior often fail to provide long-term solutions. Experts suggest, instead of eating less, eat more nutritionally dense food to keep you full longer.
Restricting food will actually make you feel hungrier thereby causing your metabolic rate to decrease. Additionally, avoid processed refined carbohydrates and increase your fiber intake; this will allow you to feel fuller longer, while providing valuable health benefits. Fiber can also increase your ability to burn fat by as much as 30 percent.
Studies show that those who eat the most fiber gain the least weight over time. Ideally, you should aim for about 25 grams per day, which is about three servings of both fruits and vegetables.
Exchanging carbohydrates for protein is another key to weight loss. Protein is needed to maintain lean muscle, which in turn increases your metabolic rate. It is recommended that you eat approximately one gram of protein per pound of your body weight.
Make sure to choose healthy lean proteins like fish, chicken, or turkey. Also avoid adding extra fat when you cook. For example, frying a 3.5-ounce portion of chicken verses grilling it adds an extra 120 calories to the meal. Over the course of a year, making this change with dinner every night could result in over 12 pounds of weight loss.
Countless studies have also touted the importance of eating breakfast, advertising the meal's ability to jump start your metabolism and increase your energy levels all day.
One study found that those who skipped breakfast are more than four times as likely to be obese. Another study found that people who consume hearty breakfasts (22-55 percent of total daily calories) only gained 1.7 pounds over four years versus those who consumed only 0-11 percent of total daily calories who gained three pounds.
What you drink is also important in determining your metabolic rate. Increasing your water consumption to six cups a day can raise your resting metabolism by approximately 50 calories a day. Also drinking two caffeinated beverages a day can raise your metabolism 5-8 percent a day. Choose low calorie beverages such as coffee or tea and avoid sodas, which are high in sugar and calories.
Overall, it is important to not go it alone. A study, recently published in New England Journal of Medicine, found that people who were held accountable to a weight loss plan, either by coaches or web-based support, did better than those who tried to lose weight alone.
As a physician, I often see patients struggle with weight loss. I always recommend that they find someone to partner with, because with the support of a family member or friend, patients tend to be more successful at achieving their weight loss goals.
Dr. David B. Samadi is the Vice Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. To learn more please visit his websites RoboticOncology.com and SMART-surgery.com. Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.