Trucker MD
But the commercial says…

By John McElligot, MD

It seems that since the DOT began to make guidelines for your body mass index, many weight loss products think they’ve found a big market with truck drivers. Listen to the radio and cruise the truck stops. Rub some cream on, take a pill or sprinkle some stuff on, and drop 30 pounds. One commercial says, “If you start losing too much weight, cut back to one pill every other day.”  

Understandably, these commercials have prompted a lot of questions from drivers.

How do you tell what is and what is not a legitimate weight loss treatment? What do you think is the best program for weight loss?

Any weight loss product that has not been time-tested is always questionable. I think that the best weight loss program is Weight Watchers. Other weight loss programs can be successful. However, an individual must be motivated and determined to make lifestyle changes and stick to them.

Programs like Jenny Craig, NutriSystem and South Beach are somewhat time-tested but in my opinion are not as successful as Weight Watchers. The low-carbohydrate Atkins Diet does provide rapid weight loss, but is very difficult to stick with long-term. As you know, certain carbohydrates taste really good and are hard to do without. There is a modified Atkins that is somewhat better, but it is still challenging to most dieters.

A lot of truckers – including me – spend a wad of cash on Sensa, acai berry stuff, colon cleanse and hormones for weight loss. Is it true those products are bogus? What do you think of diet pills?

The products that you have asked about are suspect in my opinion. Pills? I am going to be honest here. As a physician I do not recommend pills at all for weight loss. I’ve found over my 25 years of medical practice that none have worked other than for a very short period of time. The “post pills syndrome” as I call it, results in rapid weight gain that is extremely detrimental to the body and hard to lose.

My recommendation is that you work on portions and avoid diets that consist of saturated fats, simple sugars, fructose, corn syrup and processed foods. Also, try to exercise 30 minutes every day at a slow steady pace. I know that’s tough for a trucker but it can be done.

How much should I lose a week? I don’t want a crash diet, but I do want to keep it off.

Remember that staying healthy is a lifetime job. Losing weight and maintaining the weight loss is a tremendous undertaking that requires strong will and determination. When losing weight, do not be in a hurry. If you have a significant amount to lose, expect a three-year program in order to lose the weight and maintain the weight loss for a minimum of one year. Try to lose 1 pound per week and keep it off until you have reached your ideal weight and then maintain it for the extra year mentioned.LL

John McElligott is an MD, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and medical director of the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher.