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Did y’all know that the average weight of a man in 1960 was only 166 pounds? I just recently learned that tidbit myself. And how about the fact that by 2010 it was nearly 200 pounds and continues to climb? The reason is multi-factorial, but definitely related to the Standard American Diet (lots of sugar and processed foods) aptly also called SAD, as well as sedentary lifestyle. With the rise in obesity we have seen commensurate rise in diseases that go along with obesity including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. But did you know low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, and sleeping problems such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are also associated with obesity? In fact, all of these health issues are intertwined. 

At THE MEN’S CENTER our goal is to help people live healthy, active, productive and long lives. So obviously we talk a lot about weight management. Nutritional science is not easy and definitely not one-size-fits-all. The truth is there is no one diet that works well for everybody but there are a few universal truths:

You cannot gain weight if you take in fewer calories than you burn and you will gain weight if you take in more calories than you burn. Irrefutable fact.
Most people could afford to gain weight in muscle mass and lose weight in fat. It is important not to lose weight in the form of muscle. Therefore, body composition is a more important metric than weight or the much-maligned BMI measurement.
Although the perfect diet varies from person to person, things that always contribute to weight gain and poor health are high fructose processed foods and alcohol. I also think it is safe to say that a Mediterranean diet, higher in proteins and good fats and lower in carbohydrates, is hard to beat.
All weight loss programs should include adequate protein and exercise in order to maintain muscle mass. Adequate muscle is associated with quality and quantity of life.

Again, the key to weight loss is taking in fewer calories than you burn. Along those lines very active people can take in more calories without gaining weight in fat. But generally speaking there are only three strategies to reduce caloric intake. 

The first is portion restriction (PR). That basically means not changing the components of your diet but just eating less at each sitting. A lot of people have difficulty with this. American-sized portions are huge. Most of us were taught to “clean your plate.” For people who have really had no success with PR, medical weight loss drugs like semaglutide have been relatively miraculous. They simply reduce your appetite and impulse to eat. 

Sometimes an easier way is an approach called a dietary restriction (DR). That means simply identifying a specific unhealthy component of your diet and eliminating it. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit here. For me, the month I decided not to drink any alcohol during the week I lost over 5 pounds without changing anything else. If you drink sodas, eliminating those can have great effects on weight as well as other health benefits including insulin resistance. In medical school I drank three 20-oz Mountain Dews a day until I realized I was getting 800 calories of sugar a day. Since that time I have learned more about just how harmful that sugar can be. If you have a bowl of ice cream or a bag of potato chips prior to going to bed every night, try eliminating those. If nothing else changes in your diet, you will ultimately lose weight with DR. 

Other than PR and DR, a popular weight loss trend is time restriction (TR). Another name for this is intermittent fasting. This essentially means just picking a window of time during the day– usually somewhere between six or eight hours–when you consume all of your calories. The remaining 16-18 hours of the day, water only. This has multiple effects including usually limiting your overall caloric intake. There’s also evidence that TR can have other metabolic benefits. 

I’m also going to throw in that good sleep habits have been shown to improve metabolism.

A lot of people approach weight loss because they want to look better. That is understandable of course. There is a lot of pressure out there to look better for sure. But weight loss by being properly nourished (rather than overly nourished) has huge health benefits. It just makes your body work better. Proper nourishment improves cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing risk of heart attack and stroke. It decreases risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It improves hormonal balance and sexual function. It improves sleep disorders. The list goes on. 

You can do it!