House Calls

House Calls Started This Year

House calls are meant for patients who are temporarily or permanently home bound, or for other good reasons can't make it into the office.

To schedule a house call: Tel (203) 853-1919; email

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weight loss 101 - a beginner's primer

Weight loss should be taken seriously. It's a contract between you and your body. Guidance can come from many sources: your nutritionist, your doctor, or a recognized weight loss organization; but if you don't work at it, you'll be disappointed with your results.

Generally, you'll be given a diet and/or sensible eating guidelines. Our many years of experience have demonstrated beyond any doubt that "sticking to it" pays off handsomely in the end.

Your daily caloric consumption (your metabolic rate) can be estimated by measuring your REE (Resting Metabolic Expenditure), and adjusting this measurement for daily activity. The test is available at our facility.

If you decrease your calorie intake by 500 calories a day, you should lose approximately one pound a week. You'll lose more in the first week because of excess water loss.

If you increase your physical activity you'll lose more, depending on your type of activity. Walking a mile on flat ground burns 100 calories on average. Doing intense activity on a regular basis will also increase your metabolic rate, and further enhance the rate of your weight loss. Do not take on intense physical activity without consulting your physician.

Stick to your assigned daily caloric intake.

Weigh yourself frequently (daily is OK) on a reliable scale, same scale each time, preferably when you first wake up in the morning, before breakfast and before getting dressed. Record your weight on a single sheet (preferably on your computer, use Excel or a similar program if you have it), and bring it with you at your next visit with your health care provider.

Food calories
Fat: 1 gram has 9 calories
Protein: 1 gram has 4 calories
Carbohydrates: 1 gram has 4 calories
Alcohol: 1 gram of alcohol has approximately 7 calories

Fat is "calorie dense," it's packed with calories. Some fat is essential, and it helps keep appetite in check.

Most vegetables are "volume foods" with few calories and a lot of nutritional value; and they help fill your stomach.

Sugars of any kind (watch out for high fructose corn syrup, cane powder, "organic brown sugar" and others) are unhealthy carbohydrates. The same is true for white flour products and starch. Whole wheat products are a much better choice.

Take a close look at food labels, and make sure you look at the line that tells you how much sugar is in each portion; the less the better. There are acceptable sugar substitutes such as blue agave nectar (a liquid) and erythritol (sugar-like crystals).

Organic foods. Organic food is great. It's grown without chemical pesticides, hormones or antibiotics. But organic food may still contain unacceptable amounts of fat and sugar. So, again, don't forget to look at the food labels.

Snacks. It's OK to have snacks, but don't forget to take them into account when you calculate your calorie intake for the day.

Eating out. Eating out is not a sin. It's sometimes hard to keep a calorie count when you eat out. If you feel you over-ate, cut down the next day. Better yet, "bank" your calories by cutting down a little a day earlier.

Don't be embarrassed to ask the waiter to make sure that sauces are not too heavy, or to express other weight concerns you have. Don't rely on "iffy" answers: it's OK to ask to talk to the chef.

Use of special medications. Occasionally, medication may be prescribed to help you lose weight. These are usually meant to decrease you're appetite or the desire for food. Many of our patients have benefitted from the temporary use of appetite suppressants. But these medications are not meant to be a substitute for portion control, and their use has to be prescribed by a physician and monitored periodically.

Good luck in pursuing your weight loss goals.

Twitter / Dr. Staw