Bodyweight problem has become a matter of global concern. I will be sharing some tips on healthy eating for weight loss in this article as people are particularly concerned about weight issues, being very keen about the looks. To be mindful about the looks is good, however, of greater concern are the implications of excess weight on health. Your body weight has a direct link with your health.
What Constitutes Excess Body Weight
The World Health Organization (WHO) made a classification of weight into underweight, overweight and obese based on body mass index (BMI). BMI is an indicator of a person’s weight relative to height. A BMI of 18.5 to 25 Kg/m2 indicates optimal weight, lower than 18.5 Kg/m2 suggests the person is underweight, a value above 25 Kg/m2 indicates the person is overweight and a value above 30 Kg/m2 suggests the person is obese. Health experts have established that overweight and obesity are linked with increased risk for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers. However, it should be noted that the BMI alone does not correctly give fatness in athletic or muscular people. The measurement of body composition gives more accurate information about fatness.
The waist circumference (WC) is another measurement used to assess fatness and an indicator of risk factors for health problems. A woman whose WC is above 89cm (35 inches) and a man whose waist circumference is above 102cm (40 inches) is considered to be at higher risk for health problems (earlier stated). The WC is often used to complement the BMI.
Allies to Effective Weight Loss
Ideally, an effective weight loss program requires other considerations beyond BMI. These include the resting metabolic rate (RMR), the body fat level and the proportion of body fat to muscle mass or lean mass percentage. The RMR differs from one person to the other depending on the body fat level. A person that has a high body fat level will likely have a lower RMR and less likely to burn fat at a fast rate.
Your weight loss expert can help you to determine your body fat percentage, interpret the values and advise on what you need to do to achieve a healthy weight loss. Ideally, the standard range of body fat for males is 10 – 20% and for females is 15 – 25%. Thus values exceeding these levels may indicate risk for associated health problems.
Bodyweight due to lean mass (muscles, bones, connective tissue and organs) contributes to a healthy weight, while weight due to fat contributes to unhealthy weight. The goal for healthy weight loss is the reduction in body fat to an acceptable level and increase in the lean mass. Therefore, the information on the proportion of lean mass to body fat provides direction for the effective weight loss program for an individual.
Benefits of Healthy Eating for Weight loss
There are many benefits to maintaining healthy body weight. The quality of life improves tremendously. Some of these are:
- Relief for aches and pains: Losing as little as 5% and up to10% of body weight can reduce various aches and pains associated with excess weight. Less weight on the joints, bones, and muscles will allow them to work more efficiently and reduce damage. The crippling disorder associated with obesity can be addressed or even prevented before it even starts.
- The heart is healthier: Weight loss can increase the amount of blood going to the heart and vital organs and enables the heart to work more efficiently. A strain on the heart is reduced and this minimizes the risk of heart attack and high blood pressure.
- Reduced risk of Diabetes: People who are living with type 2 diabetes can benefit from losing a few kilograms of body weight because losing weight allows for better control of the disease. Likewise, maintaining a healthy weight gives you a chance to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Reduced risks for some cancers: Weight reduction can reduce the possibility of developing certain forms of cancers such as breast cancer (after menopause), gallbladder cancer, colon and rectum cancer, and oesophagus cancer.
Haphazard Approaches to Weight Loss
Unfortunately, people often use different unhealthy dietary approaches to shed excess weight, some of these are:
- Low- or no-carbohydrate diet: This type of diet prescribes very little or no carbohydrate but a generous amount of proteins and fats. It results in rapid weight loss which may not be sustainable in the long run. These types of diets are used as therapeutic purposes in certain disease condition and may not replace a healthy eating recommendation for weight loss.
- High carbohydrate, high fibre diet: This prescribes low intake of proteins and little or no fat. This may lead to weight loss but as well can lead to lowered immunity and loss of vital nutrients necessary for normal functioning of the body.
- Liquid formula diets: This usually contains all nutrients in the proportion needed by the body but with restricted calories usually less than 400Kcal. It is not advisable for use in weight loss without the supervision of a medical doctor. It is also not sustainable for free-living individuals.
- Bulimia: This describes a situation where vomiting is induced after a binge or excessive eating.
- Anorexia nervosa: This is a situation where people engage in extreme food deprivation or starvation in order to achieve thinness.
Others consist of diet plans that encourage eating only one type of food. This can lead to various nutritional deficiencies and starvation.
In general, uninformed and improperly planned dietary weight loss procedures and self-imposed starvation do have definite health risks. The risks include deprivation of vital nutrient supplies, depletion of lean body tissues and body fluids. It may also produce side effects such as anaemia, kidney stones, and gout, weakness, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, and emotional disturbances.
Healthy Eating for Weight Loss Requires Commitment
Firstly, before embarking on a weight loss program it is advisable to visit your doctor. A general medical assessment of your situation will inform the proper and effective dietary weight loss plan. Your doctor will be able to furnish information about any health condition that requires special dietary plans. The Doctor can also ascertain how some medications or supplements may interact with weight loss or even encourage weight gain. Secondly, it is wise to consider your situation in the context of what is realistic for you. This includes your budget, your food cultural values, your preferred approach to weight loss and your last attempt at weight loss if any.
In essence weight loss and maintenance of ideal weight involves a long-term commitment to a lifestyle of healthy eating and physical activity. It is tempting to want to go for the quick-fix programs, many of which achieve weight loss that is only short-lived. The health hazards that the quick-fix approaches may cause far outweigh the weight loss success they give.
Practical and Simple Tips to Healthy Eating for Weight Loss
The ideal approach to lose excess weight should be realistic for you. As a matter of fact, it should be what you can live with and enjoy for the rest of your life. Practising these simple recommendations consistently will get you there.
- Make it flexible and full of variety. An effective weight loss diet plan should include a variety of foods from all the food groups. A healthy diet should comprise a variety of foods such as starchy foods – roots, tubers, and whole grains, vegetables and fruit, low-fat milk and milk products, lean meat, fish and eggs, legumes – beans and peas, and also fats and oils (the healthy types). Allowance should be made for an occasional sweet indulgence. A sensible diet plan should feature foods that are available in your locality and affordable for you.
- Make it balanced. The dietary weight loss plan should include proper amounts of nutrients and calories for your individual situation. Diets that specify large quantities of certain foods, that cut calories beyond safe limits, or that restrict entire food groups, such as carbohydrates or proteins, may result in nutritional problems as earlier stated.
- Make it enjoyable. Your dietary weight loss plan should include foods you like and that you would enjoy eating for the rest of your life; not just for some weeks, months or years. A dietary plan that is somehow restrictive often becomes boring. The chances of losing interest in the plan are high, as a result, you will not be able to achieve weight loss in the long run.
- Control your portion. Regular meals with moderate portions are consistent with weight loss and more likely to be sustainable. It is not advisable to skip meals as this often leads to too large portions at the next meal. Be conscious of the quantity you eat at every meal, and always create an opportunity to look forward to the next meal or snack. A dietary weight plan can feature 3 meals and 2 snacks all of which will supply just about the calories needed for your activity level or a little less (your Dietitian or Nutritionist will work this out for you).
Beyond the Diet
The effective weight loss program should feature physical activity. Engage a physical exercise that you enjoy, and can go on with as long as you live e.g. walking some distance on a regular basis (this is the least you can do). Aside from helping to utilize calories, physical activities also offer numerous health benefits, like strengthening the cardiovascular system and regulating the blood pressure. To be physically active is very important in maintaining weight loss.
In summary, the effective healthy eating for weight loss is to embrace a lifestyle of healthy eating and physical activity. Avoid the crash and fad diets, they don’t lead to sustainable weight loss but often undermine the body’s potential for health.