Losing weight, a goal that is held by a staggering number in society. A common goal; although for many, one of the most difficult. In light of this, a specific market has risen to help, and of course profit from the overweight epidemic - weight loss clinics.
These clinics are geared toward aiding customers lose, and hopefully keep off excess body fat; however, there are many factors to be discussed regarding this industry, and not all them are positive. Here will be an unbiased view into the world of weight loss clinics, exploring the pros, cons, and truths of what really goes into these exchanges.
What exactly goes on when one schedules an appointment by their local weight loss clinic? Now, this is not an exhaustive review of all known clinics practicing weight reduction; however, information here is the result of multiple sources describing their experiences behind the doors of various such clinics.
A recent weight loss clinic customer, Hallie Levine Sklar (a writer for Allure) retold her experience of the going-ons at her local clinic. “After a quick physical, she [nurse practitioner] recommended a 500 to 700 calorie-per-day diet of primarily protein...she explained that I wouldn’t feel hungry, because the plan would put me into the metabolic state known as ketosis, which suppresses the appetite. ‘We don’t recommend exercise the first few weeks,’ said Jill. ‘let your body get used to the program.’”
First things first, the endeavor to lose weight is undoubtedly a great one, and those dedicated to help are worthy of thanks; but only if this advice is sound, and based in sustainable nutrition - sadly, the above advice is not. Next, the plot thickens.
Hallie continued to explain, “During phase one, patients eat mostly protein. After the first week, they add a few servings of vegetables and fruit...If a patient’s altered metabolism alone doesn’t reduce her cravings, she can also take a prescription diet pill, such as phentermine or Qsymia, says Zbella [the clinic’s chief medical officer]; about two thirds of the dieters do.”
Now, armed with context, one can begin to realize the holes in this logic. 500 to 700 calories per day is not suitable for anyone outside the walls of a concentration camp, let alone modern society where one has access to sound medical advice, and aisles of fresh produce.
From experience with health and fitness, one will know that sustainability is the most important factor to long lasting health; in other words, losing the weight and keeping it off. Crash diets laced with pharmaceuticals are certainly not the answer, and further, no friend of one’s liver. It happens in the health industry, it happens in the psychological field, and also the clinical medical arena - the rampant distribution of prescription medication. This chemical renaissance has been pushed for one reason, and it has nothing to do with well-being: money.
Without delving too deep into age old problems with the pharmaceutical industry, one should simply realize that replacing sound nutrition with pills will not get you any closer to good health. These magic capsules can be addictive, toxic, and not least of all, expensive. If an individual is considering stepping into a weight loss clinic, or visiting a doctor for weight loss support, skip the pills. Unless these pills are essential to keeping one alive, they have no place in achieving a proper body weight; however, if one is so inclined, a considerable amount of independent research on the substance is recommended.
The old saying, “Let food be thy medicine” holds far more weight than modern science gives it credit. Western doctors are very knowledgeable, with viruses, disease, surgeries, etc… however, most have not received proper training in nutrition, which is troubling. An understanding of nutrition is one of the most important things an individual can ever know, and considering this, let us look at a few specific shortcomings of many weight loss clinic plans.
Starting with the most glaringly obvious, the calorie restriction. Being in a caloric deficit is of course pivotal to losing weight; although, this number cannot be as drastically low as was recommended by the clinic mentioned above. The problem with these “crash diets” is that they are by no means sustainable, and equally unhealthy. 500-700 calories per day will cause one’s body to revert to a survival state, drastically lowering the metabolism to save any energy that it can, believing it’s in danger of dying. Now, as many know, a high metabolism is the best scenario for healthy weight loss, promoting a higher BMR, and elevated energy.
In light of this, prospective dieters should educate themselves on the less drastic, healthier approaches, used by countless individuals that maintain good health year round. Being in a caloric deficit doesn’t require one to cut out 1,000 calories per day from their diet.
Simply find the BMR (basal metabolic rate), the amount of calories one’s body burns at rest throughout the day, and subtract a few hundred. This small margin will keep the metabolism running efficiently; therefore, burning fat and providing energy, granted that the factor of nutrition is being taken care of.
Naturally, nutrition is the next piece of the puzzle. Making sure the calories are not sinking too low, the specific foods one eats are equally important as the quantity. In the past, fat was the enemy, now it’s shifting more towards carbohydrates as the nutritional pariah; however, the wisest thing one can hear in regards to health is: everything in moderation.
Many forms of dietary fat are very good for the body, and aid in the process of fat oxidation (burning fat). Also, carbohydrates are not as essential to the body as fats or proteins, but one should not cut them out entirely. When fat loss is the goal, a tried and true approach is a high protein, high fat, and low carbohydrate diet. Granted, everyone is different, and a fair amount of experimentation is recommended; however, if one is in a caloric deficit, and the protein requirements are met, this approach should work wonders for body recomposition.
Now, when one says “healthy” fat, this by no means represents all fat. The fat found in pizza, processed meats, and many cheeses is not the proper kind. The fats that aid in good health and body fat loss are found in avocados, nuts, egg yolks, coconut oil...just to name a few. Monounsaturated fats, and medium chain triglycerides are the best options.
An interesting facet of the health and fitness world is that recommendations are always changing. This is exactly the reason to stick to the basics, age old methods and foods that don’t adhere to currents fads or trends. Falling in this category are eggs. Once thought to promote levels of “bad” cholesterol, eggs are actually nothing but helpful. Each one contains five grams of healthy fat, and roughly six grams of protein.
The fats and nutrients contained in the yolk have now been proven to not adversely affect cholesterol, and eggs possess the most complete amino acid profile one can find in available foods. Eggs are simply one example, because in reality, people don’t need pills to lose weight; rather, they must simply put in the work required, educate themselves on sound nutrition, and they can achieve any fitness goal.
Another troubling factor from the weight loss clinic interview was the recommendation of no exercise for a few weeks. Firstly, no exercise should never be a suggestion, from a doctor or anyone for that matter. Exercise is one of the most important things an individual can participate in for a better quality of life, and improved health - not to mention, weight loss.
However, this ties into the extremely low calorie recommendation. Of course, with only 500 calories in one’s body, exercise would be a tall order, another reason why starving oneself is never the answer. Training with cardiovascular modalities along with resistance training will deliver the most tangible results, as long as the trainee keeps up the intensity and frequency.
Nothing good ever came without work, and a healthy body is no exception. Resistance training is especially important, due to its profound effect on the metabolism. The more skeletal muscle one possesses, the faster their metabolism will be; subsequently burning more calories simply by maintaining homeostasis everyday. Also, the added benefit of increased strength and vitality couldn’t hurt either.
The final facet of the clinic’s weight loss plan that needs to be remedied is the amount of pills. Rampant pill prescription is not only limited to the health field, its scope extends to almost every part of modern medicine, and in 90% of the cases, it is not the healthiest option. The pharmaceutical industries make ungodly amounts of money on prescription drugs, and in a society where most desire a quick fix with little work, pills are flying off the shelves.
For example, in the field of clinical psychology, anti-depressants are given to patients in far too many cases, and most perpetrators of school shootings have been linked to various forms of prescription medications. These substances have many effects on the body aside from the ones they’re designed for, and in most cases, are unintentionally mixed with other, incompatible drugs.
So, regarding weight loss, these “diet pills” can have taxing effects on the liver and contain dangerous levels of stimulants, not to mention form addictive patterns; therefore, making the patient believe they cannot achieve weight loss without them. When true health is the goal, natural foods, and rigorous exercise will always lend to quality results. When searching for a weight loss clinic, check their practices, and find out if they follow sound nutrition, or are simply a Pill Mill.
This has certainly contained many downsides concerning weight loss clinics and their practices; however, this is not to say they are all corrupt. As was stated earlier, self conducted research is always a good idea, discovering who is simply in it for the money, and who actually desires to help solve a growing problem. Unfortunately, many doctors do not spend time digging into the world of sports nutrition; therefore, finding and consulting experts in this field would be wise as well.
Many doctors will simply say: stop exercising, or don’t eat that anymore if it makes you feel poorly”; but these are not answers. Thanks to technology, the world is more connected than it has ever been, giving everyone access to more information than they could ever use. Peer reviewed articles about nutrition, and interviews with diet specialists are all available, making getting in shape much easier than it was before.
In review, an inside look on a weight loss clinic was discussed. Questionable practices were evaluated, and healthier options proposed. Not all such clinics cut corners, and push pills; however it is a growing trend. Whenever there is a substantial amount of money involved, things like this will occur. When seeking to achieve a healthier lifestyle, one should be careful of not cutting the calories too drastically, and making sure to always include a large amount of vegetables, and natural proteins. Again, everything in moderation.
Next, regular exercise in combination with a structured diet is important. At least three times per week, of cardiovascular and resistance training; subsequently building muscle, and raising the metabolism. Lifting weights isn’t just for gym rats and 20 year olds, building and maintaining muscle becomes even more important with age, ensuring longevity and a better quality of life.
Finally, avoid any unnecessary pill consumption. Prescription medications are one of the most unnatural things one can put in their body, and if the pills are not essential to currently keeping one alive, it would be wise to at least attempt weight loss without them before going down that road. They are in fact drugs, and can have addictive properties, as well as varying levels of toxicity. Many of these strange substances can lead to forms of cancer, or other complications.
In the end, one should think of their nutrition and exercise plan as something that can be sustained for decades. Health and wellness first and foremost, then the aesthetics will come. Do the research, put in the work, and enjoy life.