Diet – How to lose weight in a sustainable way
The incidence of overweight and obesity is becoming increasingly common worldwide. These conditions can entail certain health risks, including osteoarthritis, which a growing number of people are also becoming aware of. It also means that the number of people who want to lose weight is increasing. When it comes to losing weight, there is a great deal of information available – as well as a load of misleading information. So what does the science and the experts actually say about diet and fat loss?
Calculating your BMI – the first step to losing weight
BMI is short for Body Mass Index. This method for measuring body mass emerged in the 19th century, but it wasn’t until around 1970 that it started being used as an international standard. The BMI is calculated by dividing body weight by height (in meters). Therefore, someone weighing 75 kg and 1.80 m tall has a BMI of 23.
A BMI under 18.5 is considered to be underweight. 18.5 to 24.9 is a normal weight. Anyone with a BMI above 25.0 is classified as overweight. After this, an index above 30.0 is classified as obesity.
However, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt. This type of assessment can say a lot when a major group of people are involved, such as the population in a country or participants in a study. On the other hand, it is not the best way of measuring an individual’s health. The reason for this is that body weight is dependent on several factors, including muscles and fat. This means that someone who is very muscular, but has little body fat can have a BMI indicating that they are overweight, but they don’t need to lose weight. Therefore, a better way of gaining more of an insight into someone’s health may be to measure their waist as tummy fat involves higher risks than being overweight in general.
What should I eat to lose weight?
There are no magic foods available that make it easier to lose weight. On the other hand, there are various diets which are marketed as being effective in terms of losing weight. Few of them can be backed up by research, but it may also be due to the highly complex nature of conducting research into health and diet. This is because there is often a whole load of factors that come into play in terms of how we feel and look, and they don’t only involve diet.
General guidelines for a healthy diet, which apply not only to people who are overweight, but to anyone, recommend eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. The research also agrees that whole grain, beans, and lentils are generally good for our health. Similarly, sugar, alcohol, and semi-processed foods are less good for our health. Anyone wishing to lose weight can start following these general guidelines without going on a strict diet.
The important thing to remember for someone who wants to get thin is that it must be sustainable in the long run. What works long term is specific to the individual in many cases as we all have different foods that we like. This is why it is important for us to first identify factors in our diet that we want to change. Perhaps it’s about skipping the bun during the afternoon break. Perhaps it’s about eating more fruit and vegetables. Or perhaps it’s about not eating out so much and cooking your own food and making a lunchbox. Whatever the approach, it is a good idea to start with small steps and take one thing at a time.
Losing weight by counting calories – far from a cakewalk
The first thing that many people think of when they hear the expression “losing weight” is counting calories. It is certainly true that losing weight is based on energy consumption and intake, something which involves counting calories. Just like with BMI, it can give an indicator to roughly help you keep tabs on how many calories you consume or take in during a day. But, just like with BMI, there are certain important factors that are not included.
Calories are a measurement of energy. Therefore, the figure that appears on food packaging is a measurement of how much energy we can take in when we eat the particular item. We also get rid of calories or energy. The amount of energy we need every day is specific to each individual. It’s just that our internal system requires a certain amount of energy to function. The more active we are, the more calories we consume.
Since food comprises not just calories but also nutrients, it is not so easy just to think about this factor. This means that the same number of calories can include different amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. This is why, in many cases, it is healthier to focus on eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and less candy and soda. This is because vegetables have, for instance, a high nutritional value in relation to the number of calories. On the other hand, candy and soda have a high calorie value without containing that much in terms of nutrients. Therefore, the ideal may be to lose weight without necessarily thinking of calories.