Overweight and obesity are a result of energy imbalance over a long period of time. Energy Balance is like a scale. When calories consumed are greater than calories used, weight gain results.
Energy IN = Energy OUT leads to weight maintenance
Energy IN < Energy OUT leads to Weight loss
Energy IN> Energy OUT leads to Weight gain
You need to watch your weight not just to feel lighter but also to feel confident and energetic so that you can perform at your best. Overweight people are more prone to diseases and it is not advisable to let the ageing bones take excess load.
The type of food you eat and the amount both go a long way in deciding what the weighing scale says to you. Exercise doesn’t just burn calories, it builds lean muscle mass that burns fat too.
Did you know that for every ten years beyond your twenties your BMR slows by about 10%? And if either of your parents is obese it is time for you to take care of yourself.
You can check whether you have a healthy weight for your height using a simple indicator called BMI.
BMI measures your body fat based on your weight and height and is a good indicator of your health.
BMI = weight in kg/(height in m)2
- underweight if your BMI is less than 18.5
- normal weight if your BMI is 18.5 – 24.9
- overweight if your BMI is 25.0 - 29.9
- obese if your BMI is above 30.0
Another good indicator is Waist-Hip ratio (WHR), which measures abdominal obesity.
WHR = waist circumference (cm)/ hip circumference (cm)
For men the waist circumference should be less than 90 cm (36 inches) and 80 cm (32 inches) for women. The recommended WHR for men is 0.95 while in women it is 0.80 or less.
To manage your weight effectively, you will have to change four aspects of your life:
- What you eat
- How you eat
- Your behavior
- Your activity level
Cutting calories doesn't mean you have to survive on apples and water. It's all about making smart choices, and you don’t need to give up all the foods you enjoy.
Tricks to control eating behavior:
- Start your meals with salads, veggies, and soups, and eat main course the last. By the time you get to them, you'll be full enough to be content with smaller portions of the high-calorie choices
- Eat and chew slowly. Learn to stop eating before you feel full. (It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is full!)
- Don’t super size your food portions--unless you want to super size your clothes. The best portion of high-calorie foods is the smallest one. The best portion of vegetables is the largest one
- Start eating a healthy breakfast. It helps you eat fewer total calories throughout the day
- See what you eat. Plate your food instead of eating out of the jar or bag
Physical activity plays a key role in energy balance because it uses up the calories consumed, helps to control weight, contributes to healthy bones, muscles and decreases the risk for various diseases. Exercises also improve sense of well-being, decreases stress and decreases appetite in some people.
Did you know that exercise not only increases your energy and fitness levels but also triggers endorphins (feel good hormones) in the brain and can lift your mood?
Tips to increase your physical activity:
- Determine the type of physical activity that suits your life style
- It does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial and even moderate physical activity, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking five or more times a week, has health benefits
- Regular aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jogging or swimming, are also good activities for weight loss and improving health
- The exercises should be moderately vigorous to be most effective but not exhausting
- Incorporate few simple measures to burn calories effectively. Like- taking an after dinner walk, using stairs instead of escalators or elevators, parking the car farther away to have a longer walk etc
Remember, it takes time to gain weight; so losing it will take time as well. Modest goals and a slow, steady course of weight loss will maximize the probability of both losing weight and keeping it off. View weight loss goals as part of an overall long-term strategy to achieve a healthier life.