Weight loss

Specialty of Nutrition & dietetics

What is weight loss?

Weight loss is a decrease in body weight by either following a diet and exercise regime or because of involuntarily circumstances such as illness. Body weight is determined by the amount of energy that is consumed as food and the amount of energy expended during daily activities. If a person wants to intentionally lose weight, it is recommended that they eat a lower quantity of wholesome and filling foods to create a calorie deficit. This is in comparison to eating excessive volume of unhealthy food groups, which has caused the weight gain. The amount of calories a person consumes daily to maintain, lose or gain weight varies and depends on the individual’s metabolic rate, height, weight, age, gender and level of activity.

Why do some people need to lose weight?

When a person is overweight, they are more at risk of developing potentially life-threatening illnesses. Excess weight can potentially increase the risk of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes. There is also a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, infertility and gallstones. These conditions should be motivating enough for those who are overweight to change their habits and lifestyle. Some people may experience shame, low self-esteem and depression, meaning weight loss can help them to feel better both physically and mentally.

What causes weight gain and obesity?

In cases of obesity, genetics can play a role, especially if a child is born to obese parents. Of course, what is eaten has a huge effect on which genes are expressed and which ones are not. Processed foods contain refined ingredients, additives and can also be addictive. The manufacturers of these products heavily promote overeating due to marketing low prices and deals, carefully placing products in certain positions in supermarkets, to make unhealthy food seem irresistible. Some of their tactics are unethical, advertising unhealthy foods as healthy. Many sugary foods are often compared to having the same effects on the brain as drugs, alcohol and nicotine, which causes addiction, overeating and strong cravings for junk food. Foods that are high in sugar can change the hormones and biochemistry of the body when consumed in excess.

How can weight gain be prevented?

Weight gain can be prevented by choosing a healthy lifestyle, which includes improving eating habits and regular physical activity. The goal should be to choose foods that are nutritious and wholesome, such as fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of meat, fish and pulses. A positive method is to add these foods into the diet and ‘crowd out’ unhealthy processed foods such as refined carbohydrates and foods laden with sugar and to eat little and often throughout the day. Adding exercise to a daily routine means that calories will be burned and likely that weight will be lost. Consulting with a nutritionist, GP or personal trainer can provide guidance and support. Please consult a GP or physician for guidance if considering following a weight loss plan.

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