1. How do I know if I’m overweight and really need to lose weight?
People used to believe there was an “ideal” weight for every height. If you were 5’4″, you were supposed to weigh X. If you were 5’0″, you were supposed to weigh Y. Now we know better. The numbers on the bathroom scale don’t tell you whether you are overweight. And there is no set number that says you are too thin, too heavy, or just right. Scales may be handy, but a better way to tell if your weight is healthy is to measure the proportion of fat in your body to lean body mass. Health professionals look at your body composition-including your muscles, bone, and body fat-for someone your age, sex, and height. Some people use a tool called the body mass index, or BMI, to help decide whether they are overweight. For example, if you are a woman and your BMI is 27 to 28 or higher, you are considered overweight.
Body mass index is a key index for relating a person’s body weight to their height. The body mass index is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared.
Overweight is defined as a BMI of 27.3 % or more for women and 27.8 % or more for men. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 and above. (A BMI of 30 is about 30 pounds overweight.) Note, however, that some very muscular people may have a high BMI without undue health risks.
Another way to determine your fat-to-lean muscle mass ratio is through the use of a caliper. A caliper is an instrument consisting essentially of two curved hinged legs, used to measure thickness and distances. It is used to pinch a part of your arm to see how much fat and lean muscle you have.
2. What steps should I take to lose weight?
Aside from regimented diet and exercise, a few adjustments in how you live your life can create a great impact on your weight loss efforts. Try the following:
Walk to work.
Use fat free milk over whole milk.
Drink water before a meal.
Eat leaner red meat & poultry.
Eat half your dessert.
Avoid food portions larger than your fist.
Mow lawn with push mower.
Increase the fiber in your diet.
Do yard work.
Eat off smaller plates.
Don’t eat late at night.
Work around the house.
Grill, steam or bake instead of frying.
Go for a half-hour walk instead of watching TV.
Use vegetable oils over solid fats.
Sit up straight at work.
Wash the car by hand.
Don’t skip meals.
Pace the sidelines at kids’ athletic games.
Take wheels off luggage.
Choose an activity that fits into your daily life.
Make time in your day for physical activity.
Exercise with a video if the weather is bad.
Keep to a regular eating schedule.
Take a walk or do desk exercises instead of a cigarette or coffee break.
Perform gardening or home repair activities.
Avoid laborsaving devices.
Take small trips on foot to get your body moving.
Play with your kids 30 minutes a day.
Dance to music.
Keep a pair of comfortable walking or running shoes in your car and office.
Walk briskly in the mall.
Choose activities you enjoy & you’ll be more likely to stick with them.
Take the long way to the water cooler.
Vary your activities, for interest and to broaden the range of benefits.
Choose fruit for dessert.
Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
Take stairs instead of the escalator.
Conduct an inventory of your meal/snack and physical activity patterns.
Share an entree with a friend.
Grill fruits or vegetables.
Eat before grocery shopping.
Buy 100% fruit juices over soda and sugary drinks.
Stay active in winter.
Flavor foods with herbs, spices, and other low fat seasonings.
Remove skin from poultry before cooking to lower fat content.
Eat before you get too hungry.
Stop eating when you are full.
Snack on fruits and vegetables.
Top your favorite cereal with apples or bananas.
Try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
Include several servings of whole grain food daily.
If main dishes are too big, choose an appetizer or a side dish instead.
Park farther from destination and walk.
3. How much exercise should I do?
Provided you’re not consuming too many calories, any amount of exercise may help. About five hours of weekly exercise may bring the biggest weight loss for obese adults who are also watching their intake of fat and calories.
To maximize weight loss and minimize weight regain, it appears that overweight individuals should supplement dietary changes with approximately 300 minutes of exercise each week, which is twice the amount recommended for health for the general public.
Remember that we lose weight if we burn more calories than we take in. Normal maintenance activities like muscle repair and regular physiology and simple walking uses about 15 calories per pound. Someone who does not move around much all day might only needs about 13 calories per pound and someone who moves all day might use 17 or more calories per pound.
Every mile walked or run burns 100 calories more or less. Another way to look at it is every half hour of brisk activity burns about 300 or so calories, depending on how much you weigh now and how vigorous the activity is.
If you increase your activity by 500 calories a day and do not increase your eating, you will lose 3500 calories a week, the equivalent of 1 pound. Alternatively, if you reduce your eating by 250 calories per day and increase your activity by 250 calories, it’s still a net loss of 500 calories per day or 1 pound per week.
The gym is not always the answer to exercise. You can do a lot of calorie-burning activities inside your house, like dancing, cleaning, or even gardening. But if you want to make sure that you burn this amount of energy in a specific amount of time, a gym membership would definitely help. You may also check out calorie counter sites to know how much energy a particular activity spends.
4. How do I spot a fad diet?
Fad such as grapefruit. These diets lack major nutrients such as dietary fiber and carbohydrates, as well as selected vitamins, minerals, and protective phytochemicals, such as antioxidants (substances found in vegetables, which are protective against disease). Over the long term, by not receiving the proper amounts of these nutrients, you may develop serious health problems later in life.
Also, by not being allowed to eat foods from food groups that are “banned,” your body will tend to crave for them and cause you to lose control and start an overeating frenzy, which is worse than the diets take form in many ways: low-fat, low-carb, high-protein, or focusing on one food item case that you have begun with. Remember that a balanced diet is still key to full nourishment whether you need to lose weight or not.
Other tell-tale signs include:
Recommendations that promise a quick fix. Beware of advertisements that say “eat all you want and still lose weight!”
Dire warnings of dangers from a single product or regimen. Yu have to read the fine print on labels and booklets.
Claims that sound too good to be true. Like “lose 25 pounds in two weeks.”
Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study.
Recommendations based on a single study or testimonials. Home TV shopping networks are full of these. Remember that these people are paid to appear in these infomercials.
Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations.
Lists of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods.
Recommendations made to help sell a product. If the study is made by the weight loss program creator or product manufacturer, take it with a grain of salt.
Recommendations based on studies published without review by other researchers.
Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups.
Eliminating one or more of the basic food groups.
5. How can I prevent regaining lost weight?
For most dieters, a regaining of lost weight is an all too common experience. Indeed, virtually all interventions for weight loss show limited or even poor long-term effectiveness. Some lose as much as 10 percent of their weight only to gain back 15 percent by the time they’ve given up on dieting.
If you’ve just lost weight and are trying to keep it off, don’t rely on diet alone to keep those unwanted pounds at bay. It may not be enough, no matter what kind of “maintenance” diet you follow.
To avoid regaining weight, the best plan is to stick to a diet that works for you — in combination with exercise.
Do not underestimate the power of eating breakfast as well. Researchers from Queens College of the City University of New York and other facilities collected data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, including more than 12,000 men and women. Their study was partially supported by the Breakfast Research Institute, sponsored by Quaker and Tropicana, which make breakfast foods. Those who ate breakfast tended to eat healthier foods during the rest of the day. Women-but not men-who ate breakfast had a lower body mass index than women who skipped breakfast.
Those findings may be especially good news for women. “Simply eating breakfast may help them control body weight and appetite throughout the day,” the research concludes.
You can lose weight and keep it off long term, but to achieve that you must persistently have a low-fat, high-fiber diet, exercise a lot, eat breakfast, and monitor progress regularly and be prepared to tighten the reins if straying off the rails. Success is achievable without having an overly restrained lifestyle and improved quality of life is guaranteed. People who succeed will tell you how a great deal of effort is required but that at the end of the day it is all worth it.
6. Are over-the-counter weight loss supplements helpful?
Weight loss supplements can be prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter in many stores. Prescription weight loss drugs are used to treat obesity, while over-the-counter supplements are generally used for cosmetic weight loss. Non-prescription weight loss supplements include herbal weight loss pills, fat-burning pills, and many other diet and sports supplements.
Most clinical tests for weight loss supplements only last for a few weeks. For this reason, long-term benefits and side effects are often unknown until consumers get hold of a product and begin to use it for months at a time. The human body adjusts quickly to the effects of many weight loss pills, which is why many consumers may notice that a weight loss supplement may only work well for them for a few weeks.
Because weight loss supplements are often used to reap benefits quickly and with little effort, many consumers do little to change their lifestyle while using weight loss supplements. For this reason, even those who see somewhat dramatic weight loss results might find that they gain the weight back over time. This is because achieving long-lasting weight loss requires that a person change their entire lifestyle. Crash-dieting for a few weeks may help you achieve your goal weight at first, but clinical tests show that in the long run the only way to maintain a healthy weight is to have a healthy lifestyle. This means eating properly and exercising regularly. Walking, hiking, dancing, and swimming are just a few of the activities that can help you lose weight and maintain weight loss.
A genuine candidate for weight loss supplements is a person who is seriously obese to the extent that it affects their health and their daily life. In these situations, the risks of obesity often outweigh the risks of using a weight loss supplement. This should be a person who is ready to commit to a lifestyle of healthy eating habits and regular exercise.
It is important to always talk to your doctor before using a weight loss supplement. Your doctor should know your medical history and perform a medical exam to determine your current health needs.
7. Does quitting smoking lead to weight gain?
Yes and no. Not everyone gains weight when they stop smoking. Among people who do, the average weight gain is between 6 and 8 pounds. Roughly 10 percent of people who stop smoking gain a large amount of weight-30 pounds or more.
When smokers quit, they may gain weight for a number of reasons. These include:
Feeling hungry. Quitting smoking may make a person feel hungrier and eat more than usual, but this feeling usually goes away after several weeks.
Having more snacks and alcoholic drinks. Some people eat more high-fat, high-sugar snacks and drink more alcoholic beverages after they quit smoking. Some feel the need to snack absent-mindedly to keep their mouths busy on times that it is supposed to be pursed over a cigarette stick.
Burning calories at a normal rate again. Every cigarette you smoke makes your body burn calories faster, but is also harmful to your heart. Once you quit, you are no longer getting this temporary effect. Instead, you are burning slightly fewer calories on a daily basis.
Physical activity and a healthy eating plan may help you control your weight. In addition, being physically active may ease withdrawal symptoms during smoking cessation and help reduce the chances of relapsing after quitting.
While it is a good idea to be physically active and eat healthy foods as you quit smoking, try not to worry about your weight. It may be easier to quit first and focus on controlling your weight when you are smoke-free.
To lower your chances of gaining weight when you stop smoking:
Get regular, moderate-intensity physical activity.
Limit snacking and alcohol.
Consider using medication to help you quit if you feel you are about to get derailed from your plan.
Consider getting professional advice about weight control if the weight gain caused by quitting smoking will send you over the overweight standards.
8. How many pounds overweight should I be to be considered for a surgical weight loss program?
Weight loss surgeries-also called bariatric surgeries-can help treat obesity. You should only consider surgical treatment for weight loss if you: have a BMI of 40 or higher, have a BMI of 35 or higher and weight-related health problems, or you have not had success with other weight-loss methods.
Body mass index is a key index for relating a person’s body weight to their height. The body mass index is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared.
Common types of weight loss surgeries are:
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. The surgeon uses surgical staples to create a small stomach pouch. This limits the amount of food you can eat. The pouch is attached to the middle part of the small intestine. Food bypasses the upper part of the small intestine and stomach, reducing the amount of calories and nutrients your body absorbs.
Laparoscopic gastric banding. A band is placed around the upper stomach to create a small pouch and narrow passage into the rest of the stomach. This limits the amount of food you can eat. The size of the band can be adjusted. A surgeon can remove the band if needed.
Biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) or BPD with duodenal switch (BPD/DS). In BPD, a large part of the stomach is removed, leaving a small pouch. The pouch is connected to the last part of the small intestine, bypassing other parts of the small intestine. In BPD/DS, less of the stomach and small intestine are removed. This surgery reduces the amount of food you can eat and the amount of calories and nutrients your body absorbs from food. This surgery is used less often than other types of surgery because of the high risk of malnutrition.
If you are thinking about weight-loss surgery, talk with your doctor about changes you will need to make after the surgery. You will need to: follow your doctor’s directions as you heal, make lasting changes in the way you eat, follow a healthy eating plan and be physically active, and take vitamins and minerals if needed.
You should also talk to your doctor about risks and side effects of weight loss surgery. Side effects may include: infection, leaking from staples, hernia, blood clots in the leg veins that travel to your lungs (pulmonary embolism), dumping syndrome, in which food moves from your stomach to your intestines too quickly, and not getting enough vitamins and minerals from food.
9. Is it harder to lose weight as I get older?
Most people round out a little as they get older, as a result of a decreased metabolism and less movement. Menopause can cause women to suddenly gain weight, and both men and women find that they can’t eat as much as they did a few years back without gaining a few pounds! This makes it hard to lose weight.
Another reason for difficulty in losing weight as you age is your set point and metabolism. The set point of your weight is predetermined, which means that your body stubbornly clings to a certain amount of weight. For instance, some people’s set point dictates that they won’t gain an ounce no matter what or how much they eat. Other’s set points, on the other hand, is set a little higher, causing them to gain pounds when they catch a whiff of French fries and bacon cheeseburgers.
Physiological forces can prevent weight loss. It’s possible to be thinner than when you were in your 20s now because once upon a time you weighed less – but it can be a real struggle staying at that lowest weight. Perhaps that’s the secret behind set points: it’s still possible to lose weight, but just a little more difficult.
Genetics also have a lot to do with stubborn pounds. Your body shape, weight, and size is affected by your genes, making it hard to lose weight. You see examples all around you, every day, of people looking exactly like their parents or grandparents – for better or for worse. You may have your mom’s curves and tendency towards the bulge; your half-sisters have their mother’s lean silhouette and long, slim limbs.
Watching what you eat, exercising, and keeping informed of health tips and low-fat recipes are still extremely important in losing weight and keeping it off. Remember to strike a balance between accepting and loving your body the way it is, and striving for health and wellness.
10. How do I lose my post-baby weight faster?
Lots of new moms regain their pre-pregnancy figure within 8 to 12 months. True, it takes time for your body to get back to normal, but don’t despair. Eat properly, get active and let nature do the rest.
If you are not breast-feeding, then don’t rush out and start dieting. Instead, for the first three months or so after the birth, concentrate on healthy eating, and develop your own exercise plan. Then, when your body has begun to recover and when your period has returned to normal, start following a healthy, low fat weight-loss plan and you will lose weight just as easily as the next person.
If your weight gain during pregnancy was no more than the recommended 22 to 30 pounds, you should be able to return to your pre-pregnancy weight within about 8 months. This may sound slow, but you really can’t lose weight much faster and stay healthy at the same time.
Breastfeeding may assist you to lose weight, at least during the 12 months after giving birth. The process of breastfeeding releases a number of hormones into your body which helps your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size and shape. However, don’t count on breast-feeding to improve your weight loss during the immediate postpartum period. Very often, it is only when the breast-feeding stops that the weight starts to come off.
In addition, don’t depend on breast-feeding for your weight loss. Otherwise you may get careless about your diet and instead of losing weight, you may actually gain weight. So be sure to eat sensibly, take exercise and allow nature to do the rest.
If you are breast-feeding there is no reason why you should not go on a healthy, low-fat weight loss diet, but you should not drop below about 1800 calories per day, while feeding.
The fastest, most effective way to lose weight and regain your figure is to make it part of an overall program, involving diet, exercise and general lifestyle changes.