Question from: 11/11/96

Answer: These are definitely very important steps in the right direction. Balanced nutrition and exercise are the foundation for any program of weight loss and maintenance of healthy body weight. Frequently overlooked however, is the benefit of adequate water intake. Water is essential for all the chemical reactions necessary to burn fat and process the nutrients we take in. As far as "speed" of weight loss is concerned, many authorities feel that a loss of 1-2 pounds a week is a safe, healthy and realistic goal to shoot for. I feel that the attitude should be focused on maintaining the healthy lifestyle changes and not overly focused on body weight alone. Be patient, losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight is a lifelong process.

It helps to exercise more if you're trying to lose weight, but most studies have shown that your diet is the more important variable. In order to lose a single pound, you need a deficit of 3,500 calories. So, to lose one pound in a week you must jog or fast walk about 4 miles a day or cut your intake by about 500 calories every single day. It's better, and easier, to combine the two: jog or walk 4 miles every other day and cut your calories by 250 each day and you'll lose that same pound! Adding exercise to a low-calorie diet not only burns more calories, but it also helps prevent the loss of muscle and drop in metabolic rate that usually occurs with dieting alone. Exercise provides other benefits such as; stronger bones, better control of blood sugar, higher HDL ("good") cholesterol, reduced blood pressure, more vigor, and a greater sense of well being. In my medical practice, I've seen very few people who maintain a healthy body weight long term without exercising regularly.

Charles H. Booras, MD

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