Being the right weight for your body frame is an important part of creating health. Excess weight is associated with an increased risk of disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes. It can also contribute to or worsen back and knee conditions. Healthy weight loss is an important part of taking responsibility for your health.
How do you know if you are overweight? Calculate your body mass index (BMI). Take your weight in kilograms and divide it by your height in meters, then divide it by your height in meters again. Or use this healthy weight calculator. If your BMI is 18,5 to 24.9 you are a healthy weight for your frame. A BMI of 25 – 29.9 is overweight, 30-38.9 is obese and 40 and over is very obese. Even in the healthy weight designation, one study showed that those at the lower end of the scale had fewer diseases than those at the upper end, so aim for a low–normal BMI.
Healthy weight loss means losing weight while maintaining or creating greater health. Diets that severely restrict one or more of the main food groups (carbohydrates, proteins or fats) or that promote fast weight loss are not healthy because they eliminate essential nutrients from the diet, can lead to muscle loss and disrupt the normal fat to muscle ratio in the body. Muscle loss decreases the metabolic rate, and so reduces your ability to burn calories. The result is that weight gain occurs once the diet is stopped.
Weight loss happens when the number of calories expended exceeds the number of calories consumed in a day. The only healthy way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your lifestyle by changing the foods you eat and the way you eat them, and by increasing your exercise.
Aim to lose half a pound to one pound a week in order to conserve muscle. To lose one pound a week you must burn 3,500 more calories than you eat. If you reduce your caloric intake by 200 calories a day and increase your exercise to burn another 200 calories, you will lose a pound a week.
Determining what to eat is often a problem when losing weight. Aim to eat whole foods – that is foods that are not man-made or are only minimally processed. Whole natural foods provide optimum nutrition, while most processed foods are of little nutritional value, may contain excess sugar and salt, and also contain chemicals to prolong shelf life. Learn more about whole vs processed foods.
Eating more frequently promotes healthy weight loss in several ways. It helps keep the metabolic rate high and so more calories are burned. It also lowers feelings of hunger and keeps the blood sugar stable. When the blood sugar rises, insulin is released and causes calories in the blood to be stored in the tissues as fat. So aim for three small meals and two to three healthy snacks a day. Eat a small amount of lean or vegetable protein each time as protein is also essential in maintaining a steady blood sugar.
It is important not to miss breakfast as this kick-starts your metabolism at the beginning of the day. Of course, the breakfast you eat should be minimally processed and high in nutrients. For example, half a cup of cooked oatmeal (not quick oats) with milk or yogurt, topped with fresh fruit, a few nuts and freshly ground flax seeds (for healthy fats) would contain all the food groups and promote healthy weight loss.
Finally, increase the amount you exercise. Exercise is essential in healthy weight loss because it burns calories and builds muscle, thus preventing muscle loss. Aerobic exercise is important, but also supplement it with some weight training. Plan to eat shortly afterwards, because the thermic effect of food (the number of calories your body uses to digest the food) is 50 to 75 percent higher after weight training.
Follow this healthy weight loss method and you will reap many other health benefits besides losing weight.
picture by slushpup