Garden City Telegram

Q: My pandemic weight gain - 14 pounds - is driving me nuts. Any suggestions on how to launch a weight loss effort that will work? - Sonia W., Sacramento, California

A: As we reported earlier, weight gain is a widespread problem - 42% of adults have gained an average of 29 pounds this past year, and 10% percent have added 50 pounds. 

To lose weight, get healthier and maintain your improved health, you want to reduce chronic inflammation and insulin resistance and stabilize your blood sugar. Your first line of defense is to ditch inflammatory foods like red and processed meats, added sugars in foods and beverages, and ultra-processed foods. As you do that, step up your intake of fruits and veggies. 

You also want to respect your body's internal rhythms that control metabolism and digestion. That's why fasting can be an effective way to start a weight-loss regimen, and intermittent fasting (done with only healthful foods) is a life-improving dietary pattern for the long haul. 

-  A short stint of fasting may help launch your weight-loss routine. German researchers had study participants stick with a liquid diet for five days before eating solid foods associated with the DASH diet for three months. Their study, published in Nature Communications, found that the five-day fast drastically changed the composition of participants' gut microbiome (that's fast!), reduced OTT inflammatory immune responses, promoted weight loss, normalized blood lipids, improved carbohydrate metabolism (stabilizing blood sugar and insulin resistance) and reduced blood pressure. That's how to power start a healthy weight loss plan! 

-  Dr. Mike's book "What to Eat When" clearly explains the benefits of intermittent fasting - fasting from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. and eating 80% of your calories before 3 p.m. - when combined with a diet that is nutritious. You become well-nourished, control your weight and live younger, longer. His "What to Eat When Cookbook" delivers recipes that make your new eating routine flavorful and easy to follow. So don't feel defeated - you can see fast results from fasting and feasting on the recipes in Dr. Mike's cookbook.

Q: My husband (72) and I (74) walk together every day - it gets us out the door and keeps us motivated, but the truth is, I want to walk faster than he does. Any tips for speeding him up, or is it OK if I slow down? - Jessica F., Boise, Idaho

A: The couple that walks together talks together and maybe even holds hands together. And that, say researchers, can slow down the faster walker - to his or her health disadvantage. In contrast, multiple studies show that having a walking buddy is a great idea - it keeps you motivated on days when you might slack off, and it makes exercise fun. So how do you keep the pluses and reduce the potential minuses?

That's what researchers from Purdue University wondered. Their study, published in Gait & Posture, looked at walking times and speeds of each person in 72 couples, ranging in ages from 25 to 79. The participants walked in clear or obstacle-filled pathways, side by side, holding hands and individually. The researchers found that the slowest common denominator prevailed - the faster person slowed down, not vice versa. 

Since gait speed is a measure of overall fitness and when it declines it's a sign of premature aging, the healthier option is to have the slower person speed up. The researchers advise that slow walkers can become faster by taking 20 minutes twice a week to do strength-building exercises, working on increasing balance with yoga or physical therapy and mixing in some aerobics, such as swimming or step classes. 

In the meantime, a couple can go out together, then set meeting points along the route. The faster person may have to circle back to make the rendezvous - increasing distance along with speed. But whatever creative solutions you come up with, Jessica, don't give up your being-active-together time. That builds relationship muscles as well as skeletal ones!    

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily(at sign)

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.