SAN DIEGO -- With the commandant of the Marine Corps cracking down on overweight Marines, some struggle to shed a few pounds before regular weigh-ins.
Many Marines looking to drop weight fast turn to fad diets and diet supplements, which can be harmful and usually result in gaining weight back and possibly adding a few extra pounds.
Jessica Quinn, athletic trainer, Branch Medical Clinic, said she sees a lot of young Marines taking supplements like diet pills. Most supplements are not FDA-approved, meaning they aren’t tested to ensure they don’t pose health risks.
“A lot of supplements have herbal stimulants causing rapid heart rate, which yes, make your metabolism speed up and you lose weight, but can cause heart problems,” said Quinn.
While taking a pill or only drinking juice for a period of time may help people lose weight, they are likely to gain weight again since fad diets don’t provide the proper nutrition the human body needs.
“The quick fixes are only effective while you’re on them-- they’re not long-term,” said Quinn. “They can make you more resistant to losing weight the next time you try.”
Many fad diets deprive people of whole food groups, keeping important nutrition out of the body. Diets that don’t allow carbohydrates can cause the body to go into ketosis. This is caused by a lack of glucose, which is the brain’s preferred energy source. People can get headaches if they go an extended amount of time without complex carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, said Quinn.
“Diets that deprive your body of carbohydrates make you lose lean body mass and gain back fat when you start eating carbohydrates again,” said Joan Fitzgibbon, Naval Medical Center San Diego dietician.
Cleansing diets are also bad for your digestive system said Quinn. These diets disrupt stomach bacteria and enzymes, making it difficult for people to digest certain foods, such as red meats, once they complete the cleansing diet.
Fitzgibbon suggests instead of risking health issues and gaining more weight that will lowering their self-esteem people should choose a more successful alternative and change their lifestyle.
“They make their weight then put it back on which lowers their self-esteem,” said Fitzgibbon. “These fad diets don’t change habits, so the weight doesn’t stay off.”
Addressing challenges before trying to lose weight is a must, explained Andrea Callahan, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, health promotions coordinator. It’s just like trying to quit tobacco. Like any bad habit, having a support system is always helpful. When faced with decisions on eating healthy and staying active, people are more likely to stick to healthy choices if they have partner encouraging them.
“A lot of people that come to me about losing weight find it easier to stick to a plan if someone else is doing it with them,” said Callahan, who offers diet assistance at health promotions.
“If you maintain working out three times a week your metabolism will speed up,” said Gene Calantoc, Semper Fit personal trainer. “But you have to change up your workout each week otherwise your body gets use to it.”
Calantoc recommends people should do cardiovascular exercise three times a week, and lift weights to lose weight.
“Increase your time or speed to change up your cardio,” said Calantoc. “Using the elliptical or treadmills are better for you because they put less impact on your joints.”
Working out not only helps lose weight, but also makes people feel better. While it’s necessary to work out, it’s even more important to eat a well-balanced diet. People won’t lose weight just by physical training, said Callahan.
“You can’t just run a lot and eat poorly,” said Callahan.
The best thing for anyone looking to lose weight is to plan out weekly meals.
“If you don’t make a plan, you’ll eat whatever sounds good at the time,” said Callahan. “And if you don’t have something planned out for your meals there are ways to make healthy options, you just have to look for them.”
Reading labels can help identify if something is unhealthy. Foods with fructose, high sodium and processed items are some options to stay away from or minimize.
“Avoid heavily-processed foods that include lots of added sugars and anything that’s not natural,” said Callahan. “Cut out fast food and instead, if you’re hungry, eat colorful vegetables.”
Fruits are also a good option, but only a handful at a time due to the amount of sugar they contain. A balanced diet consists of eating protein, complex carbohydrates and a small amount of fat five to six times a day, said Callahan. Overloading on any one of the food groups isn’t a good habit. The body digests food every two to three hours. Since only 30 to 40 grams of protein can be digested at a time, extra protein is wasted, said Callahan.
“Eating small portions constantly throughout the day makes you feel better and perform better,” said Callahan.
Anyone on the depot looking to change their lifestyle can visit Callahan in building five west and use the health promotions library in her office which features cook books and nutrition guides. Semper fit also offers personal trainers and group classes to help people get on the right track.
“A common problem is waiting last minute. You have to plan ahead, get the information and over time you can drop weight to maintain your standards,” said Callahan.