An Overview of Obesity
Contrary to popular belief, an individual who appears fat may not be obese and the opposite is true for people who appear thin. According to an article published by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), fat mass (makes up large percentage of excess weight) can be broken down into gender-specific fat, storage fat, low-reference fat, and essential fat.
Essential fat accounts for only 3% of total body fat and is found in body parts such as the kidneys, tissues of the central nervous system, bone marrow, lungs, liver, heart, spleen, and intestines. Besides essential fat, women tend to have gender-specific fat as well that is usually located around the hips, pelvis, and breasts and averages 12% of total fat mass. On the other hand, storage fat accounts for 12% of total body fat in men and 12%-15% of the same mass in women. The body stores this type of fat in subcutaneous layers and its purpose is to act as a metabolism energy substrate.
The body requires low-reference fat in order to maintain normal/optimal reproductive health functions. Male bodies contain low-reference fat stores of about 5% while female bodies store about 12% of the same type of fat. Take note these figures tend to be higher in adolescents (7% for males and 14% for females). With this in mind, medical experts differ on the total amount of body fat one should maintain to avoid developing medical conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Nevertheless, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says adults should strive to maintain body fat within the 10%-32% range. This means that fat is not necessarily bad.
The Basics of Safe Weight Loss
The concept that anchors almost every imaginable weight loss or dieting program is very simple: burning more calories than you eat each day. In spite of such simplicity, many obese/overweight people struggle to shed excess weight and keep it off for extended periods. There are several reasons why people face difficulties losing weight. Firstly, some people attempt to lose as much weight as they can very fast. This approach rarely works as people who try to burn fat fast end up losing water weight instead of fat mass leading to hydration issues. In some cases, individuals lose lean tissue and muscle mass because the body cannot burn large amounts of calories in a short period. Nevertheless, it is possible to lose weight very quickly although it is not advisable to go ahead unless you consult and seek advice from a qualified dietitian or physician. A medical expert may prescribe a low-calorie diet if an obese/overweight individual develops life-threatening weight-related medical conditions. In such a case, one remains under strict medical supervision/observation.
Components of a Good Weight Loss Program
According to NATA, a long-term weight control program must be based on diet, exercise, and hydration. These components determine one’s likelihood/ability to add/lose weight.
The general rule of thumb for anyone interested in losing weight is to eat “good” foods and avoid “bad” ones. According to the Harvard Medical School, the Mediterranean diet fits the “good” foods description very well. Proponents of the Mediterranean diet advocate eating cereals and whole grain breads, relatively small amounts of red meat, fruit and vegetable servings several times per day, lean protein such as fish and poultry, consuming wine in moderation, and consuming fats made from seeds, olive oil, or nuts.
A low-glycemic-index diet can also help one reduce excess weight. Such a diet precludes all or most processed foods including white rice and white bread because they raise blood sugar levels. Instead of high-glycemic-foods, you should eat nuts, fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and dairy products. Another Harvard Medical School publication states that a low-glycemic-index diet reduces diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases risk.
Include honey in your diet because it boosts the immune system, relieves symptoms of diverse allergies, and has great anti-bacterial properties according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Avoid low-calorie diets because they can cause sudden death, dehydration, ketosis, low basal metabolic rate, irregularities in menstruation, loss of lean tissue, heartbeat irregularities, constipation, kidney infections, fatigue, and diarrhea. It is also worth avoiding detoxification diets because there is no scientific evidence that they work according to the Mayo Clinic.
The other component underpinning effective weight loss is exercise or physical activity of some sort. The ACSM recommends completing 30 minutes of exercise at least five days each week.
However, the ACSM’s guidelines are inadequate if you are obese. To shed weight, perform exercises or physical activities that ramp up your body’s metabolism rate. A good example would be aerobic exercises lasting 30-90 minutes per session. Interval exercises are also good although they do not raise the body’s fat metabolism rate to the same level as aerobics.
The goal of your workouts should be to lose about 1-2 pounds of bodyweight per week. Never exceed weight loss of more than 1.5% of total bodyweight in any given week. If you do so, you may be dehydrating your body or engaging in unhealthy activities. By exercising regularly, you will boost your body’s energy.
Water is a key ingredient without which human life would not exist. As such, you should stay well hydrated at all times. Remember liquids/beverages such as lemonade, soda, tea, coffee, and juice do not quench thirst as well as water.
Moreover, consuming sugar-rich beverages translates to adding excess calories to your diet. Benefits of drinking water include limiting excess calorie intake and making the stomach feel full faster during meals.