Let’s talk weight loss…
Disclaimer: Everyone has a different body, a different lifestyle, and different risk factors. There is no one fix for everyone. See your Dietitian or Physician for more information about your specific case.
Body weight is a very personal subject to discuss as it can feel targeting or rude to speak about. I am here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be that way. I’m going to talk a lot about weight in this article so if it makes you feel a certain way then don’t read it. But, we need to normalize these conversation for the purpose of public health, so if you want to learn about why your weight matters, then keep reading.
What is obesity?
Obesity is classified as excess body weight due to excess fat. According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity was 42.4% in 2017-2018 and has been steadily rising over the past 20 years. This is a situation that needs to be dealt with.
Why does it matter?
This is important as obesity had an estimated annual medical cost in United States of nearly $150 billion dollars! The medical cost for those who suffer from obesity was estimated to be $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. Obesity can increase risk for chronic disease and other health complications and may even be a risk factor for COVID-19.
How do you become obese?
No, you do not just become obese by sitting on the couch eating chips, or not working out. Obesity has become a chronic disease of its own due to the combination of lifestyle risk factors and uncontrollable risk factors.
Lifestyle risk factors would include smoking, being sedentary, poor nutrition etc. – Things that can be changed.
This category is what public health professionals want to help people with as they can make a difference.
Uncontrollable risk factors would include age, gender, race/ ethnicity, heredity, etc. – Things that cannot be changed.
This category is much more difficult to help but is constantly being studied to figure out why certain people are at higher risk.
How do I know if I am obese?
If you are curious about whether you would be considered overweight or obese (and you are not a weightlifter/ body builder or pregnant) then use this my article here to calculate your BMI which will tell you what category you fall into.
What to do if you are overweight or obese?
Please do not get sucked into diet culture and follow a 30-day weight loss plan or some other crazy restrictive short-term plan. You want long term results for long term health, right? So, you need to make the lifestyle changes that will help you get there.
Remember, weight loss takes time, it should not be rapid as that may stress your body.
What are my recommendations?
Don’t count your calories but learn about them. If you are trying to lose weight you want to get a higher volume of food for less calories. This way you will feel fuller for less of an intake. You need to be consuming less calories than you are burning in order to lose weight so understanding the density of your foods is important. For example, for someone losing weight I would recommend lightening up on nuts, nut butters, avocado, and coconut. Due to their high fat content they are higher in calories for a smaller volume. I would recommend these to someone trying to gain weight! Most vegetables are very low calorie and should be eaten in abundance. This is not to say go buy a bunch of fake low-calorie weight loss snacks, but to still eat a whole food diet but instead of half an avocado on your toast, mix a quarter with some white beans. If you want to learn more about calories click here or more ways to manage your caloric intake then click here.
Do not cut out a nutrient group. Each macronutrient is necessary for the body to function in different amounts. I commonly hear a fear of carbohydrates when people are trying to lose weight. That is crazy because that is your body's main energy source and should not be avoided. Yes you should be consuming protein to help build and maintain muscle, fat to keep you satiated, and carbohydrates for energy. It's that simple. You need them all! The amounts are what you should look into.
Adjust your lifestyle habits. If you are a culprit of late-night trips to McDonalds, then no fad diet will help you lose weight as that is your lifestyle. If it simply because you are hungry at night, then you most likely aren’t eating enough food throughout the day. If you are eating enough during the day and just go for fun, then maybe try making yourself some healthier snacks at home! If your lifestyle includes drinking 3 nights a week with minimal sleep and lots of sugary beverages, no diet will fix that either- your lifestyle needs to change. Click here for some healthy snack ideas. Don't be afraid of the kitchen, get cooking instead of buying so you know exactly what you are eating!
Do not drink your calories. Drinking a beverage is much different than eating a food. You can easily drink a full glass of orange juice in a few minutes. But eating 5 oranges? That may take a while, if you can do it at all. When drinking foods (smoothies, juices, etc.), you lose the fiber which keeps you full! That is one of the most important things that you want to be consuming when trying to lose weight as that will provide you with the volume you need. This also, goes for soda which should generally stay as a very minimal part of anyone’s diet to begin with.
Don’t skip meals. Eating regular amounts of food throughout the day is so important to avoid binges or crazy eating patterns. Getting your body used to when it is going to eat is so important. If you go all morning without food, come lunch you may just eat whatever is in sight! If you eat a balanced breakfast, you will be less ravenous come lunch and eat a modest amount!
Stay physically active. There can be no optimum health with only fitness or nutrition, both are equally important. Staying active in some way that you can maintain; running, walking, seeing a trainer, going to classes, doing YouTube workouts etc. is vital. If you are doing a workout that you dread just because you know you should then there is no way you will sustain that.
Overall, if you want to maintain a healthy weight then you need to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.
Make the changes today and start building healthier habits for better long-term health.
Try to discover your own risk factors for obesity, both controllable and uncontrollable to best see what changes will benefit you the most.