The best Christmas present you could ever give yourself

I've never been shy about saying "Merry Christmas."

Not the sterile generic greetings that are all the rage these days like "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings," but "Merry Christmas" -- and no matter what religion you follow, I hope you find peace, joy, and a good meal with family on this special day.

Of course, next week is New Year's, a time when people of all faiths make promises to themselves that they almost never keep like starting a low-calorie diet or joining a gym. Let's change that this time -- if you're overweight or obese, promise yourself you'll lose the weight... and this time, keep that promise.

But don't try any old diet, because some of them can actually do way more harm than good. And for seniors, a bad low-calorie diet doesn't just mean regaining weight. It could mean losing weight, but losing muscle with it -- putting you at risk for sarcopenia.

That's a condition where muscle levels shrink so much that you become frail and weak, and face a higher risk of mobility problems, disability, and even death.

Now, it's normal to lose a little of that muscle as you age. And it's inevitable that you'll lose a little muscle when you diet. The trick is making sure you minimize that muscle loss and maximize the loss of fat.

And now, one new study shows that a low-calorie diet supplemented with whey proteins and essential amino acids can help make that happen.

Over 12 weeks, obese seniors given a low-calorie diet including those whey proteins and amino acids lost 7 percent of their body weight. Seniors given a diet with the same number of calories, but without the whey and amino acids, also lost 7 percent of their body weight.

The main difference? Dieters given whey proteins and amino acids lost more where it counts -- they lost more body fat.

I've used very low calorie diets with my own patients for short periods of time and seen remarkable results firsthand -- including loss of fat, preservation of muscle and, more importantly, a dramatic reduction in risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and more.

If you need help, don't wait for the New Year. Pick up the phone and call a holistic physician who can help you lose weight ASAP. And for a comprehensive personalized weight loss program, make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.