What is the best way for me to lose weight? Find out!

Obese woman

What causes someone to become overweight or obese? 

You can become overweight or obese when you eat more calories than you use. A calorie is a unit of energy in the food you eat. Your body needs this energy to function and to be active. But if you take in more energy than your body uses, you will gain weight.

Many factors can play a role in becoming overweight or obese.

These factors include:
⊙ Behaviors, such as eating too many calories or not getting enough physical activity
⊙ Environment and culture
⊙ Genes
Overweight and obesity problems keep getting worse in the United States. Some cultural reasons for this include:
Bigger portion sizes.
Little time to exercise or cook healthy meals.
Using cars to get places instead of walking.

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of:

⊙ Heart disease
⊙ Stroke
⊙ Type 2 diabetes
⊙ High blood pressure
⊙ Breathing problems
⊙ Arthritis
⊙ Gallbladder disease
⊙ Some kinds of cancer
But excess body weight isn't the only health risk. The places where you store your body fat also affect your health. Women with a "pear" shape tend to store fat in their hips and buttocks. Women with an "apple" shape store fat around their waists. If your waist is more than 35 inches, you may have a higher risk of weight-related health problems.
The best way to lose weight is to use more calories than you take in. You can do this by following a healthy eating plan and being more active. Before you start a weight-loss program, talk to your doctor.

Safe weight-loss programs that work well:

⊙ Set a goal of slow and steady weight loss — 1 to 2 pounds per week
⊙ Offer low-calorie eating plans with a wide range of healthy foods
⊙ Encourage you to be more physically active
⊙ Teach you about healthy eating and physical activity
⊙ Adapt to your likes and dislikes and cultural background
⊙ Help you keep weight off after you lose it

How can I make healthier food choices?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) offer tips for healthy eating in the Dietary Guidelines for All Americans.
  • Focus on fruits. Eat a variety of fruits — fresh, frozen, canned, or dried — rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day. An example of 2 cups is 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and 1/4 cup of dried apricots or peaches.
  • Vary your veggies. Eat more:
  • dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens
  • orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash
  • beans and peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils
  • Get your calcium-rich foods. Each day, drink 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk. Or, you can get an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese each day. 1.5 ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk. If you don't or can't consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and drinks.
  • Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, pieces of bread, crackers, rice, or pasta each day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as "whole" in the list of ingredients.
  • Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
  • Limit saturated fats. Get less than 10 percent of your calories from saturated fatty acids. Most fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. When choosing and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit salt. Get less than 2,300 mg of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of salt) each day.

Dietary Therapy:

1) Caloric intake should be reduced by 500 to 1,000 calories per day (kcal/day) from the current level this will produce the recommended weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.
2) The diet should be low in calories, but it should not be too low (less than 800 kcal/day). Diets lower than 800 kcal/day have been found to be no more effective than low-calorie diets in producing weight loss. They should not be used routinely, especially not by providers untrained in their use.
3) In general, diets containing 1,000 to 1,200 kcal/day should be selected for most women;
4) A diet between 1,200 kcal/day and 1,600 kcal/day should be chosen for men and may be appropriate for women who weigh 165 pounds or more, or who exercise regularly.
5) If the patient can stick with the 1,600 kcal/day diet but does not lose weight you may want to try the 1,200 kcal/day diet.
6) If a patient on either diet is hungry, you may want to increase the calories by 100 to 200 per day.
7) Long-term changes in food choices are more likely to be successful when the patient’s preferences are taken into account and when the patient is educated about food composition, labeling, preparation, and portion size.
8) Although dietary fat is a rich source of calories, reducing dietary fat without reducing calories will not produce weight loss.
9) Frequent contact with practitioners during the period of diet adjustment is likely to improve compliance.

How can physical activity help?

The new 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that an active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death from a variety of causes. There is strong evidence that regular physical activity can also lower your risk of:
  • »»Heart disease
  • »»Stroke
  • »»High blood pressure
  • »»Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • »»Type 2 diabetes
  • »»Metabolic syndrome
  • »»Colon cancer
  • »»Breast cancer
  • »»Falls
  • »»Depression

Regular activity can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and also help with weight loss when combined with lower calorie intake. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can lower your risk for many diseases. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), and some cancers.
Regular physical activity can also improve your cardiorespiratory (heart, lungs, and blood vessels) and muscular fitness. For older adults, the activity can improve mental function.

Physical activity may also help:

» Improve functional health for older adults
» Reduce waistline size
» Lower risk of hip fracture
» Lower risk of lung cancer
» Lower risk of endometrial cancer
» Maintain weight after weight loss
» Increase bone density
» Improve sleep quality

Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:

2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
A combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days

This physical activity should be in addition to your routine activities of daily living, such as cleaning or spending a few minutes walking from the parking lot to your office.
If you want to lose a substantial (more than 5 percent of body weight) amount of weight, you need a high amount of physical activity unless you also lower calorie intake. This is also the case if you are trying to keep the weight off. Many people need to do more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to meet weight-control goals.

Physical Therapy increasing physical activity has direct and indirect effects:
1) Increases the energy expenditure and helps in weight loss.
2) Reduces the risk of heart disease more than that achieved by weight loss.
3) Physical activity should be increased gradually in an obese individual to avoid any injury.
4) All adults should set a long-term goal to accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most and preferably all, days of the week.

Behavior Therapy Strategies, based on learning principles such as reinforcement that provide tools for overcoming barriers to compliance with dietary therapy and/or increased physical activity are helpful in achieving weight loss and weight maintenance.  Specific strategies include
1) Self-monitoring of both eating habits and physical activity,
2) Stress management,
3) Stimulus control,
4) Problem-solving,
5) Contingency management,
6) Cognitive restructuring, and
7) Social support.
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