Summer is around the corner and there is no better time to start getting in shape. This post is a little outside of our regular skin-care posts, but this is a common topic that comes up with my patients.

In short, cardio exercise is great for exercising the heart. It does burn calories, but weight loss should NOT be centered around exercise, but around diet. Now, no one likes to hear that, but it’s true. Losing weight is a dietary issue, not an exercise issue, unless you are a competitive bodybuilder and need to get below 7% body fat. Weightlifting is great for building muscle mass and to strengthen the bones, especially in early adulthood. More so, muscle burns fat! That is right. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn.

Losing weight is a simple formula: Calories consumed minus calories burned = net calories.  If one burns more calories than they consume, they WILL lose weight. Period. There are many free calorie counters that are really easy to use for iphone/ipad and android devices. If anything, it is a great way to see how many calories are in what you eat.

What’s good to eat:

  • baked or broiled white fish and salmon
  • baked or broiled white-meat chicken
  • Turkey Breast
  • Raw, Steamed or broiled green veggies
  • Salads (watch the dressing!!!)

What to avoid:

  • Fatty meats.
  • Fried foods
  • Juices and juice drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Salt

The following have a very high glycemic index and elevate blood sugars quickly resulting in the release of insulin, that puts one into a fat storage mode. I call them the “bad whites”.

  • White rice
  • White Potatoes
  • Sugar
  • White flour

Great substitutions for these bad whites would be brown rice and sweet potatoes, which have a lower glycemic index. No one likes artificial sweeteners and there is a body of evidence now showing how it may actually cause weight gain by changing the gut flora. Of the artificial sweeteners, Truvia may be one of the better ones.

Another BIG problem that I find is eating out. It is too easy to get the broccoli with butter. Or, just dive into the bread that is served when you sit down. Or enjoy those mashed potatoes made with white potatoes and cream. The answer is you can eat out, you just have to eat YOUR way. Say no to the bread–have them take it away. Get your veggies steamed. Get fish or chicken grilled, broiled or baked without butter or oil. Say no to desserts. Order things YOUR way and not necessarily how it is on the menu.

The fad years ago was for fat-free products. While this was believed to be better, often the total calorie count IS HIGHER. That’s not good. Why? They add more sugar or high fructose corn syrup to make it taste better.

One should avoid eating carbs at night and even early in the morning, unless one is going to lift weights in the morning. Most starchy carbs (complex carbohydrates) should be eaten in the middle part of the day when one is most active.

In short, dieting usually results in a yo yo up and down with weight, one must change their lifestyle to lose and maintain weight loss. Anyone who starts a new diet and exercise routine should get the OK from their doctor. So get started and eat healthy. Start with some cardio first thing in the morning 3 days per week. Get to the gym and do some resistance training. There is no better time to get started than right now!

Robert S. Bader, M.D., Dermatologist

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