Dieting & Weight Loss

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What is Obesity?

Ever felt annoyed by unwarranted remarks from relatives or friends who say, “Wow, you’ve been eating a lot lately, right?” or “Waaah, you’re fat already, huh?” Whether your reply is affirmative or in denial, we do understand that you are mainly concerned about being overweight or obese.

Disregarding the beauty standards imposed upon us, everyone knows that obesity is a pressing issue as it presents risks to our health. Obese people are prone to more health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The prevalence of these problems is due to the excess weight that puts a strain on the body.

Obesity Causes and Why is it so Hard to Lose Weight

An article published by WHO in March 2022 states that there are more than 1 billion people worldwide who are obese – 650 million adults, 340 million adolescents, and 39 million children. Obesity is a multifaceted issue that affects everyone differently and requires complex solutions to combat it.

It is so difficult to lose weight because there are many different factors that contribute to someone's weight. Genetics and socioeconomic status can play a big role in how quickly someone gains or loses weight. Time constraints are also a factor because people have less time to cook healthy meals and they often don't have time to work out after work or on weekends.

Some widely effective ways to lose weight are through dieting, exercising, and being more conscious of what you eat. For example, there is a study that suggests that drinking a large glass of water before every meal helps with weight loss.

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The 4 Stages of Weight Loss

Losing weight is a long process. For most people, it usually takes months to lose weight and keep the weight off. It's important to understand the different stages of weight loss while you're trying to achieve your desired goal, in order to avoid any frustration and unrealistic expectations.

i) Glycogen Depletion Phase

Glycogen is reserved sugar stored in the body. The liver and muscles store glycogen in accordance with how active you are and the type of foods you consume. Glycogen stored in the muscles is primarily used by the muscles, while the Glycogen in the Liver meets the needs of the rest of the body, like the brain and spinal cord. Every gram of glycogen carries three times that in water, so hopping on the scale and seeing the number drop in the first week of your weight-loss journey is probably just water weight.

ii) Slower Weight Loss Phase

The desired fat loss starts after a few weeks into your weight loss program. If you have managed to make it through the toughest part of your fasting, feelings like cravings for unhealthy food, irritability and headaches should start to taper off. You should also notice consistent weight loss. During this phase, you may also feel lucid, energized and able to sleep well at night.

iii) Weight-loss Plateau Phase

Have you reached a point where your weight loss has become stagnant, despite following your current diet and exercise plan? It's possible you may have lost all the weight you will lose on your diet and exercise routine. So, ask yourself if you are satisfied with your current weight, if not, adjustments to your weight-loss program may be required.

iv) Maintenance Phase

If you are still following a healthy diet and taking part in regular workouts, your weight loss program is now a part of your lifestyle. Try to maintain it, but don't be discouraged if you briefly slip back into old habits. It doesn't mean that your entire weight loss program is derailed.

Types of Diets

Low Carb Diet

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You may have heard about the low-carb diet for weight loss before, but what's it all about? What are its benefits? Here, we'll answer these questions and more.

The low-carb diet is a popular diet that can help you lose weight. The main idea behind this type of diet is to reduce carbohydrate intake, which may lead to reduced blood sugar levels and appetite. This way the body will use stored fat for energy and thus lose weight.

Use your creativity to substitute the carb-heavy foods in your life such as:

  • Rice → cauliflower rice
  • French fries → carrots or sweet potatoes
  • Pancakes → oatmeal pancakes
  • Hamburger buns → portobello mushrooms

Even with hectic work schedules and childcare demands, there are many quick and easy meal prep solutions available online. Brit+ Co provides various recipes that you can make under an hour.

Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Personally, this method is easier for me as I can still consume calories, just within a specific window of the day. When we fast, our body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is a natural process that can help us lose weight.

The benefits of IF are well-documented and include:

  • reduce inflammation
  • improved mental clarity.
  • weight loss
  • improved insulin sensitivity
  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • improved cognitive function
  • longevity
  • better sleep

Common IF methods involve a daily 16/8 plan or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week or the 5:2 diet. The 16/8 method involves restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours and fasting for the other 16 hours. This flexible method means that the plan can be adjusted to make it work for your life. With the 24 hours plan, you eat your normal 3 meals per day, and then occasionally pick a day to fast from dinner to dinner the next day. For the 5:2 diet, you would consume only 500–600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week but eat normally the other 5 days.

When you fast, human growth hormone (HGH) levels increase which lowers insulin levels. Consequently, the cells change the expressions of genes and initiate important cellular repair processes. IF also removes the main obstacle to dieting: all the work required to plan for and cook healthy meals. There are fewer meals you need to prepare, cook and clean up after.

However, IF may not be for everyone. If you are underweight or have a history of eating disorders, it is not advisable to fast without consulting with a professional first. Women should also ease into this eating pattern as it may worsen blood sugar control and stop menstruation. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding IF is probably not the weight loss program for you.

There are many diets that can help you to lose weight and offer unique health benefits. However, your diet plan should depend on your lifestyle and food preferences to ensure you adhere to it long-term. If possible, you should talk to your doctor about your personal health history as they can help you decide which plan would work best for you.

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