David Felix, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Scripps Clinic, discusses weight loss strategies that helped him lose 40 pounds and could help others get their weight under control. Dr. Felix says there are no shortcuts. It takes diet and exercise. Limiting salt is important for losing weight and preventing heart disease, he says.
The best way to lose weight, and this I'm speaking to you as a doctor and as a person who lost 40 pounds: Number one, there are no shortcuts. There are no shortcuts. It's diet and exercise.
Let's start with the diet. I went back to my basics, which is the Mediterranean diet. You have to pick a diet for the rest of your life. Why? Because all diets are good. All of them work. Well, some may work better than others, but in the final analysis, the problem is not the diet. It's when you get off the diet.
You reduce your calories by 100 calories a day, no more than 200. Why? Because if you're reducing more than 200, your thyroid kicks in. The body thinks it's starving. So what happens is your metabolism goes down to compensate, and you're in a situation, I'm sure you've heard it: “I'm starving myself, but I'm not losing any weight.”
So one, you reduce the diet to 100, no more than 200 calories a day. Second of all, exercise. You have to pick an exercise. You have to choose an exercise that you enjoy. And yes, walking is an exercise.
For people who are seriously overweight, be patient. You didn't gain all that weight overnight. You're not going to lose it overnight. So the goal is to lose a half a pound, a quarter of a pound a week, and that's outstanding.
It's better to do moderate and consistent exercise every day than do the weekend warrior. You kill yourself. You get injured, and you give up.
Ninety percent of people who start an exercise program quit before the first month. So you stick with it. Moderate exercise. On the sixth week is when you see noticeable gains, and that will increase your morale and push you forward.
Watch the salt. There's a direct relationship between salt intake and hypertension. The average American consumes five grams in salt. The maximum allowable is 2 1/2 grams a day. So again, preventive medicine. If you cut your salt intake by half to the maximum allowable, you can avoid hypertension and high blood pressure.
So what is high blood pressure in the final analysis? Heart disease, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes and chronic kidney disease. In other words, if the average American consumes 2 1/2 grams of salt a day, if they cut down to 2 1/2 grams salt a day, scores, I mean scores of thousands of patients will live. They can avoid all these diseases, and have quality of life.