It’s no surprise that dieting is such a popular topic, with obesity rates tripling in England in the last 25 years and one third of all children and one half of all adults now classed as overweight or obese. The consequences to your health are very serious, with around 1000 people a week dying from obesity related diseases, including:
- Type II diabetes
- Stroke and heart disease (the leading cause of death in the UK)
- Some cancers
However it’s not just overall weight that matters, but also where you carry it on your body, with a concentration of fat around the abdomen increasing the risk further of stroke and heart disease.
So should you diet to try and get rid of excess weight? The term ‘diet’ implies that you will change the way you eat for a certain amount of time and then go back to what you were eating before. However these are the foods and lifestyle that put you in this position in the first place. Additionally, if you go on a strict diet the body reacts to the shortage of food and goes into survival mode. It will slow down your metabolic rate and hold onto the fat stores you already have. Therefore you will have to continually reduce the amount you eat to lose weight. When you return to your previous diet, the low metabolic rate will cause you to pile the pounds back on faster than before. Herein begins the yo-yo affect of dieting; disheartening for the individual but very lucrative for the diet industry.
Also, if you lose weight quickly it’s likely that you will be losing muscle and fluids, not just fat. This is very detrimental to your body and the weight loss process. Muscle is metabolically active and burns more calories than fat, therefore a reduction in muscle will affect your metabolism and ability to sustain weight loss.
The best way to lose weight is to embark on a healthier way of life. Making sensible changes to your diet and lifestyle can reduce your weight in a slow and sustainable manner. On average we are consuming 10% more calories than we need and over time this results in a substantial weight increase; the average man needs around 2,500 calories a day and the average woman 2,000 calories. We therefore need to eat slightly less calories on a daily basis to reverse the trend and gradually lose weight. Here are some simple tips to get you started:
- Introduce more vegetables, whole fruits, low glycaemic and high fibre foods.
- Eliminate fast foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates (i.e. white bread).
- Don’t skip breakfast; it will prevent you eating more calories throughout the day.
- Eat little and often – every three hours with a healthy snack between meals.
- Add protein to each meal, including your snacks. It will keep you fuller for longer.
- Do not cut out good fats e.g. oily fish, flax seeds, nuts and seeds. These are important to your diet and nuts are great for a snack.
- Incorporate exercise into your lifestyle and this includes some weight training to increase muscle mass.
- Reduce stress as much as possible, trying techniques like mediation and yoga.
There are many more steps you can take in building a healthy lifestyle, these are just a few. At Nutrition Mission we can analyse your diet and provide you with a full programme, including supplements to support you in a healthy lifestyle which promotes gradual weight loss. Please contact one of our fully qualified nutritional therapists who will be happy to help.
Department Of Health (2012) Facts and Figures on Obesity [online]. Available from: http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/04/obesityfacts/. [Accessed 16 May 2012].
Hainer, V., Toplak, H. and Mitrakou, A. (2008) Treatment Modalities of Obesity. Diabetes Care, 31 (2).
Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S., Lejeune, M.P., Nijs, I., van Ooijen, M. and Kovacs, E.M. (2004) High protein intake sustains weight maintenance after body weight loss in humans. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 28 (1).