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The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Weight Loss

Wouldn’t it be nice if losing weight was as easy as gaining it? All that time spent in the gym and counting calories can quickly get tiresome. However, new research continues to affirm that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to dropping pounds. But choosing how to lose weight can sometimes be just as difficult—should you try a new diet, take supplements, or hit the gym more often?

In this blog, we'll break down everything you need to know about weight loss and provide you with the best weight loss plan to follow (hint: it's a personalized weight loss plan from the Johnson Center).

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

A study published in the journal Obesity suggests that losing weight slowly and steadily is the most effective way to achieve long-term success. The study followed 183 people participating in a year-long weight loss program and found that those whose weight fluctuated more during the first six months lost less weight after one and two years. Participants who consistently lost weight, even if it was just one pound per week, were more successful in the long run compared to those who experienced weight fluctuations.

Although losing ten pounds in the first month can be a big boost of motivation, it may not be more beneficial in the long run, especially if your weight yo-yos afterward. This is further supported by research on participants from the "Biggest Loser" show, where most contestants regained the weight they lost after six years. Slow and steady weight loss not only helps maintain your progress but also promotes healthier habits and sustainable results.

Different Stages of Weight Loss

Stage 1 → Rapid Weight Loss

The initial stage of weight loss usually occurs within the first 4-6 weeks. During this time, you might lose the most weight, noticing changes in how your clothes fit and in your appearance. However, much of this weight loss comes from water, carb stores, and protein, not the fat loss you desire. This rapid weight loss is more pronounced in those following low-carb or keto diets, as they quickly deplete the body's carb stores and water reserves. However, there is little evidence that these diets offer long-term advantages over low-fat diets.

Factors like age, sex, starting weight, and physical activity level also influence how quickly you lose weight during this stage. For example, men tend to lose weight faster than women and older adults often lose weight more quickly than younger individuals. Additionally, those who exercise more and start with higher body weight may see faster results.

Stage 2 → Slow Weight Loss

After the initial rapid weight loss phase, your progress will slow down, typically after six weeks. This stage can be discouraging, but it is essential to stay motivated because you are now losing body fat. During this phase, it is common to experience a weight loss plateau due to metabolic adaptations that decrease your metabolism and the number of calories you burn during workouts. However, following a dietary plan that isn't too restrictive or difficult to follow can help you bypass these plateaus.

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

While the terms "weight loss" and "fat loss" are often used interchangeably, they mean different things:

  • Weight loss refers to a decrease in overall body weight, including protein, water, stored carbs, and fat.

  • Fat loss specifically refers to losing body fat, which is the more desirable and healthier form of weight loss.

Maintaining muscle mass is crucial for mobility, controlling inflammation, and supporting healthy blood sugar levels. You can increase the likelihood of losing fat by eating a protein-rich diet and creating a calorie deficit through reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity. While standard scales can't differentiate between fat and muscle loss, tools like an InBody Analysis can provide detailed insights into your skeletal muscle mass and body fat.

The Role of Weight Loss Medications

Recently, medications like Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonists have gained attention for their effectiveness in weight loss. Originally developed to manage type 2 diabetes, these medications help regulate blood sugar levels and have been found to promote weight loss by reducing appetite and slowing gastric emptying. However, it's essential to compare these medications to traditional weight loss methods to understand their benefits and limitations.

Pros of Weight Loss Medications:

  1. Appetite Suppression: Medications like Ozempic help reduce appetite, making it easier to adhere to a calorie deficit.

  2. Improved Blood Sugar Control: These medications can improve insulin sensitivity and help manage blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

  3. Significant Weight Loss: Studies have shown that participants using semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic) lost significantly more weight compared to those on a placebo.

Cons of Weight Loss Medications:

  1. Side Effects: Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Some individuals may also experience more severe side effects.

  2. Cost: Weight loss medications can be expensive, and not all insurance plans cover them.

  3. Dependency: Relying on medication for weight loss may prevent individuals from developing healthy, sustainable lifestyle habits.

  4. Regain of Weight: There is a risk of regaining weight once the medication is discontinued, especially if lifestyle changes are not maintained.

Comparison to Regular Weight Loss:

Traditional weight loss methods, such as a balanced diet and regular physical activity, focus on sustainable lifestyle changes that promote overall health. These methods help build habits that can be maintained long-term and offer benefits beyond weight loss, including improved cardiovascular health, better mood, and increased energy levels. 

While weight loss medications can be a helpful tool for those struggling to lose weight through traditional methods alone, they should be used under medical supervision and only when medically necessary.

Creating Your Weight Loss Plan

It can be challenging to decide how to structure your weight loss plan. Instead, why not trust the experts and let the Johnson Center do it for you? Our team is committed to creating individualized weight loss plans for patients who need them. Using a detailed personal history, bloodwork and microbiome analysis, and genetic testing, Dr. Johnson will create a personalized plan just for you.

This plan will include a nutrigenomic diet, which has proven long-lasting benefits and superiority over other types of diets. Nutrigenomics can precisely identify the patterns and imbalances of your unique metabolism and use nutrients to suppress the expression of disease, illness, and other unhealthy patterns. For example, knowing your DNA blueprint allows us to target specific inflammatory pathways with foods that reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of chronic disease.

Weight Loss Maintenance Strategies

Weight loss is often a time-consuming endeavor, but it is well worth it in the end. The best way to ensure your weight loss will last is through the development of sustainable healthy behaviors. Here are some tips to prevent weight gain and keep you on the weight loss path:

  • Find an activity you enjoy: Whether it's walking, biking, swimming, dancing, or playing outside, having fun while staying physically active is crucial for weight maintenance.

  • Prioritize sleep: Sleep is essential for optimal health, and it’s nearly impossible to lose weight if you're sleep-deprived.

  • Keep healthy snacks at home: Stocking your fridge with fruits and veggies instead of sodas and chips helps you stay on track with your dietary plan.

  • Eat whole foods: Sticking to whole foods like vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats keeps you full while providing essential nutrients.

  • Keep stress levels low: High stress and cortisol levels can sabotage your weight loss efforts, so find ways to manage stress effectively.

By integrating these findings and strategies into your daily routine, you can create a sustainable and effective approach to weight loss that promotes overall health and well-being.

Trust us, we know that weight loss is a difficult and often emotional process. Stop the endless searching for new diets or workout fads to try, and instead trust a weight loss plan made just for you by the experts at the Johnson Center.

If you're interested in weight loss or genomic testing at the Johnson Center, click here to learn more! Or contact us or email our office at

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!


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