Why lose weight and how to do it correctly?

Friday, April 22, 2011 12:11
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The article has been written with consultation of Dr A. Slee who is a senior lecturer of Human Nutrition and Biochemistry.

Why lose weight; the case of fat

Some people may have their individual and personal reasons for why they want to lose weight. Others may think “what is all the fuss about” and “why does it seem that being slim is so important”. To this point we can say, being slim is not important, but being healthy may be. To weigh within an optimum range and follow a ‘healthy balanced diet’ can be argued that it is a good way forward.

One could argue that by understanding how foods and/or how the body works, can help us to make sense of these confusing ideas about diet and weight loss. This article will look at the basic principles in relation to fat and dietary modifications which can optimise health.

What is fat?

In very simple terms food gets processed by the body and is broken down in order to be used as energy, and as building blocks for important molecules. These building blocks can be used for producing hormones, for the nervous system, in making blood cells, new muscle, skin, bone and so on. Foods we consume, contain fat (also called lipids), carbohydrates and protein, amongst others. Apart from consuming fat from our diet, when we consume more calories than the ones we use, part of it is stored as fat in the adipose tissue, in the muscles and the organs.

Fat is vital for the body. It is needed for things like building the membranes of cells, to aid in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, and producing hormones. Adipose tissue in itself is considered to be a gland which produces some important regulatory hormones such as ‘leptin’.

Why worry about it?

Fat belongs in the category of high energy density foods (in simple terms high calories), and overconsumption of it in our diet can contribute in overconsumption of excess calories. As a result, the presence/accumulation of excess fat in the body and weight gain can lead to overweight and obesity. The effects of obesity on health and general wellbeing have been well documented and it has been related to causing or exacerbating a number of health problems. Obesity which is classified as a chronic disease is influenced by a number of factors; these can be seen in the figure below.

factors influencing obesity

Figure1. Factors influencing weight gain and obesity and conditions which are associated with the presence of obesity. These elements can be interrelated and influence each other, creating vicious circles.

Overconsumption of some fats, with or without the presence of overweight and/or obesity, has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, asthma and inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and eczema.

A point to raise once again is that being slim does not necessarily guarantee a free pass to risk free health. The diet and lifestyle one follows can influence things such as levels of blood cholesterol, blood lipid content, or body fat percentage (in relation to free-fat mass), which are all factors which increase risks for different conditions and diseases.

Distribution of fat in the body (which part of the body is stored) can be an indicator of cardiovascular and metabolic changes. Studies have looked at the abdominal fat and suggest that the increased presence of abdominal fat may be linked with detrimental cardiovascular changes, and increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

How to lose weight correctly?

Although fat has been demonised from time to time for its bad effects to health, it is a necessity for our body. Some weight loss tips to follow:

1. Do not aim to achieve 0 body fat percentage.

In reality that would be impossible, unless in extreme cases of malnutrition and/or anorexia. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has made recommendations on the total body fat percentage and these range from 21% – 36% for women and 8% – 25% for men. These values are age adjustable and are only guidelines. Being ‘under-fat’, depending of the severity, can have detrimental effects to general health and biological processes.

2. Avoid aiming to achieve 0% fat intake in a diet.

It is a common belief that if we do not consume any fat in our diet it will be healthier and most of all will lose weight faster. Some studies indicate that diets which are very low in fat (< 15% fat) and high in carbohydrate, can lead to increased blood lipid content (hypertriglyceridemia) and increased cholesterol. As mentioned above, these are factors which are related with high risk of disease. In addition, some studies suggest that in some ways the body ‘copes’ better with processing fat rather than carbohydrates.

3. Concentrate on quality.

Fats are categorised according to their chemical structure. The most common forms of fats in our diets and seen on food labels are: saturated, unsaturated and in the recent years trans fats.

Saturated fats are found in animal and dairy products e.g. beef, cheese, cream, and have been associated with increasing the risk of development of cardiovascular disease and other conditions. However, saturated fats are believed to be more natural compared to trans fats. When saturated fats are consumed in moderate quantities as part of a healthy balanced diet, they do not pose a risk to health in most people. In addition, in some occasions (e.g. France in the 1970’s) although there was a high consumption of saturated fats in the diet there was a low risk of cardiovascular disease.

Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated i.e. olive oils; polyunsaturated such as omega-6 (i.e. vegetable oils) and omega-3(fish oils). High levels of omega – 6 in our diet have been linked with inflammatory states whereas omega-3 fats are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Trans fats are mainly found in margarines, hydrogenated vegetable oils (also when heating oil in high temperatures e.g. frying), and processed foods such as crisps. The body finds it hard to process trans fats, and can have toxic properties. Trans fatty acids in the diet do not have a beneficial effect on health.

4. Make the changes in your diet which optimise your health.

For example replace vegetable oils and margarine with olive oils, and crisps with a healthier snack. Opt for a mixed diet which has moderate amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Replacing fats with large amounts of carbohydrates is not recommended as a healthy option.

5. Calories do count.

Calories are not the end to all means, but they do play their role in weight gain when they are over consumed chronically. As mentioned earlier fats are high calorie density foods. Even if there are fats which provide healthier options be aware that they do contain a high amount of calories. I am not a believer of religious calorie count but be aware of what or how much food is consumed for a diet plan to stand a chance. In moderation is the answer.

7 Fast Foods to Swap In, Not Out

Friday, April 22, 2011 10:48
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Okay, if you’re trying to lose weight and you’re walking into a McDonald’s, you’re probably not too serious about your diet. But if you’re jonesing for grease, what better way than a fast food!

Let’s call it your “cheat day.” So, and without getting too nit-picky, here are seven fast food guilty pleasures you should eat and seven you should pretend aren’t even on the menu.

Its McDonald’s versus McDonald’s, Taco Bell verses Taco Bell, Arby’s versus Arby’s, etc, etc.

8 Comments | Continue reading…


Wendy’s Natural Fries Aren’t So Natural

Thursday, April 21, 2011 10:00
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Late last year, Wendy’s introduced its new “natural-cut” French fries seasoned with sea salt. “Real fries don’t fall far from the potato,” says all the advertising.

And apparently all the hype worked, because a recent taste test showed that 56% of Americans preferred Wendy’s new fries against 39% who preferred McDonald’s. The remaining 5% said, “Duh. My brain hurts.”

But Wendy’s shouldn’t wave the grease-stained victory flag just yet. It turns out Wendy’s “natural” fries contain a lot of ingredients that are anything but natural.

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Diet to get rid of love handles

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 21:34
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Question: I am 18 years old and i weigh 116 pounds but i have love handles that i would really like to get rid of! for the life of me I just cant get rid of them! can you help me with what I should eat. I usually don’t eat breakfast and sometimes I don’t eat lunch can you give me a plan for what I should eat for breakfast lunch and dinner and dessert?

Answer: (Answer provided by our weight loss expert, Hara Hagikalfa – View Author Bio)

Thank you for your question. To begin, you mention that you are 116 pounds. Depending on your height I wonder if you are actually slightly underweight. A simple way to find your ideal weight range is with BMI (Body Mass Index). BMI is calculated as:

BMI = weight (kg) / height 2(m2).

This would be your weight divided by your height squared. I have included a table with BMI classifications according to the World Health Organisation.

Table: BMI classification ranges.

Classification BMI (Kg/m2) Ranges
Underweight < 18.50
Severe Thinness < 16.00
Moderate Thinness 16.00 – 16.99
Mild Thinness 17.00 – 18.49
Normal range 18.50 – 24.99

BMI classification ranges. Information used from WHO global database on body mass index.

You also mentioned that you do not eat breakfast and sometimes you skip lunch. That is quite an extended time without any food. 2 things to look at:

1. You eat a lot of snacks? These could be crisps, sugary coffees and sugary drinks etc. In this case you may not have a proper meal to define it as lunch but through the day you are constantly throwing sugar into your body. First, is not good for your sugar levels and health. Second, you are just burning the sugar you throw in and not fat. Sugar is the easiest thing for the body to burn and will go for it 1st.

2. You actually do not eat anything all day until dinner. Well, if you go for more than 10-12 hr without food your body enters the first stages of starvation. Your body will slow down (adapt) to reserve energy, and its fuel reserves. Especially if you are not getting enough energy (calories) overall through the day, your metabolism could have slowed down in order to use less energy.

Neither of the above is good with or without love handles.  I would suggest that you introduce more and quality food. Have a protein based breakfast and not a carbohydrate one. This could be eggs, cheese, ham, bacon. If you can have a late breakfast, or have it as a snack, or early lunch it may be better. The basic principle is that your body burns most fat after overnight fasting when sugars are at a lower level. However, at the same time you do want to keep your metabolism going so introduce food in the middle such as late breakfast, etc. Protein will make you feel fuller for longer and in time your body should be adapted to burn fat more efficiently. Avoid sugary drinks and too many carbs as they can make you feel irritable. In general for your main meal just concentrate in having a mixed balance diet. You do need some carbohydrates, proteins and fat, like the diet I suggested in my article.

Final point: Is very common for women to store fat around the abdomen and it can be hard to lose just with diet. I would suggest for best results to follow some exercise. Exercise such as pilates aim to condition deep and superficial abdominal muscles, muscles of the back and gluts. They will not guarantee a six pack or burn massive amount of calories, however, they tend to give the flat tummy effect, and they are love handle region specific, and are quite easy to follow. This is just an example, some gyms tend to offer exercise classes which concentrate on abs, tummy etc.

If you have any health conditions always consult a doctor before altering your diet or taking on exercise.


7 Dinner Foods to Swap In, Not Out

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 10:29
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Be it on-the-go or at the table with the family, dinner is an easy time to pig out. After all, all those bowls and casserole dishes aren’t going to empty themselves!

But as you’re lamenting about a hard days work, be careful you don’t keep reaching for second, or thirds, or even fourths!

Now, whether you eat a little or a lot, we’ve compiled seven foods you should run to and seven foods you should run away from if you’re looking to lose some weight.

12 Comments | Continue reading…


Poll: Are You Struggling to Pay For Food?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 0:37
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Good news! This month global food prices fell for the first time after an 8 month increase.

Don’t celebrate just yet because food still costs 37% more than it did a year ago. If you’re like me, even a small trip to the supermarket comes with a 100 dollar price tag and that’s just for the basics.

9 Comments | Continue reading…


What’s Lurking on Supermarket Meat?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 10:00
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Meats sold in grocery stores in the United States have been found to contain high levels of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, says a new study released last week.

Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples collected were contaminated with S. aureus (Staphylococcus aureus); the bacteria that causes staph infections.

The scientists say their findings stress the importance of safe food-handling and thorough cooking.

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Applebee’s Gets Toddler Drunk!

Monday, April 18, 2011 10:15
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Hey, I say get them started early! But this is probably a little too early..

Last week, at an Applebee’s in Detroit, Michigan, a toddler was accidentally served tequila, instead of apple juice. But nobody noticed the mix-up – most toddlers look like they’re drunk anyway – until 15 month year-old Dominic started behaving, well, like a happy drunk.

His mother said Dominic was saying “hi” to strangers and using cheap pick-up lines on hot 2 year-olds. That part was a joke. He was actually talking to walls.

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Link Time! Anti-Sugar Websites

Sunday, April 17, 2011 23:26
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Having given up sugar myself except for special occasions, I certainly can attest to the benefits. It seems a growing number of people and health professionals are heading down the no sugar route. Here are just a few new anti-sugar links to check out.

Tiffany Wright, Ph.D. has started “The SugarFree Initiative” where she challenges people to give up sugar and white flour. She believes the following;

Eating sugar and refined foods makes losing weight nearly impossible and causes many of the diseases American are afflicted with, including diabetes, fatty liver, heart disease and a host of other health related issues.

10 Comments | Continue reading…


300 Weight loss Tips

Sunday, April 17, 2011 14:25
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Over the years our experts created more than 300 weight loss tips that helped a lot of people lose weight and understand what it takes to get slimmer in a healthy manner. The list is still growing and more and more weight loss tips are added almost daily. The list people shows the most important tips you can find on our site. There range from tips targeted for men, women, kids and teenagers to tips for rapid weight loss and motivation. All the advice is based on healthy principles and none of our articles suggests resorting to weight loss pills or other non-natural means of losing weight.

Browse our articles and if you still have concerns our weight loss experts are ready to help you. You can post your comments or contact us through our on-line contact form and ask your questions.