A decade of size zero models has left an impression in our minds about the concept of beauty. The image of beauty and the general awareness about health has led to the mushrooming of health and fitness centres. In this fast paced life we look for instant solutions to all our problems including weight-related problems. This has resulted in quacks giving incorrect information and advice on how to lose weight. Several drug manufactures` advertisements have also led us to believe that instant weight reduction is achievable.
A combination of over eating and lack of exercise normally causes obesity. Obesity can have a devastating consequence on health and happiness and can lead to depression and a lack of self-esteem. If you eat more calories than you burn off during normal daily activity, the surplus calories are stored as fat. Apart from this, there are a few medical conditions, like hormonal problems, where weight gain is excessive.
Physical symptoms of obesity include shortness of breath, aching legs and swollen ankles. Overweight people have an above average chance of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, gall bladder problems and gout. They are likely to suffer more severe symptoms of disorders such as angina and arthritis, which will persist and worsen with age unless steps are taken to lose weight. Obesity has also been linked to arthrosclerosis, heart disorders and certain types of cancer. Excess weight may damage joints causing osteoarthritis particularly of the knees and hips.
There is no magic cure for obesity. You can achieve a lower healthier weight by increasing your level of physical activity and reducing your calorie intake. This can be achieved by combining a low fat diet with some form of regular physical activity. Energy is measured in kilocalories and the aim of a weight loss diet is to bring about weight loss by reducing your calorie intake from foods and drinks and increase your calorie output with exercise, so that the body uses up more energy than it receives. For example you have to burn 7000 kcal to lose 1 kg of weight.
The most important factor in any successful weight-reducing programme is the level of motivation. The successful slimmer loses weight slowly and surely and establishes a healthy eating and exercise pattern that will last a lifetime. In this way the body`s store of fat tissues are gradually reduced so that weight loss is permanent. Severely obese people however should always begin with a course of gentle exercises such as brisk walking or swimming.
An ideal weight loss diet must provide all of the nutrients that the body needs. As these nutrients have to come from a lower calorie intake, it is important to cut down on confectionery like cakes, biscuits, sweets and alcohol that are relatively high in calories, but low in nutrients. The healthy slimming diet should be based on low calorie nutritious food such as vegetables, fruits, lean meat, poultry, fish, low fat dairy products, cereals, salads and pulses. Fresh fruit makes a good choice for a low calorie dessert.
Fat is the most concentrated source of energy (9 calories/gm). Fat provides more than twice as many calories as protein and carbohydrate (CHO and protein 4 k calories/gm). Pure alcohol has 7 k calories per ml. There is a misconception that starchy staple foods such as bread and rice are fattening. Starchy foods help to satisfy the appetite because they are filling rather than fattening. Whole grain foods such as whole meal chappathi and brown rice are preferable to refined foods as they provide significantly more vitamins, minerals and fibre.
To reduce fat intake choose lean cuts of meat; trim all visible fat before cooking. Poultry should be eaten without the skin and fish should be steamed, grilled, baked or microwaved rather than fried. You will lose 1 kg or more during the first week, on any weight losing diet due to an initial loss of water from the body. Later you can aim for a steady weight loss of 450-900 gms a week, which will result in a reduction of body fat.
Crash diets which include low calorie meal replacements like drinks, soups and snacks cannot provide the same balance of nutrients as ordinary healthy
food. The success of any crash diet is short lived because water and protein
are lost from the body rather than excess body fat. Once normal eating is resumed
body fluids are quickly replaced and there is an immediate weight gain.
Tips on weight loss
Do not starve.
Chew your food properly.
Balance the food you eat with physical activity.
Replace whole milk with skimmed milk.
Enjoy poached egg instead of fried egg.
Use whole wheat bread instead of white.
In sandwiches, instead of mayonnaise use green coriander chutney.
Snack on watermelon or papaya instead of fries.
Have a single scoop of ice cream instead of double scoop.
Complex carbohydrate found in brown rice and whole wheat chappathi.
Fresh fruit, vegetables, salads and pulses.
Lean meat, poultry (without skin) and fish.
Enjoy fresh fruit juices.
Fats of all kinds
Full fat dairy products
Fatty and sugary snacks such as biscuits, cakes and nuts
High fat meats such as sausages, bacon and beef.
Excessive intake of tea and coffee.
Fried foods, refined products, dry fruits, chocolates, and organ meat.
Do not sleep for more than 6 - 7 hours.
Do not be in a hurry to loose weight. A maximum weekly loss of 1 kg is considered ideal. Maintain a food dairy and write down your intake of all that you eat or drink. It will help you get an idea of your dietary habits and help you make correct alterations to lose weight the healthy way.