If you are like most Americans, you’ve probably struggled with weight loss at some point in your life. About 40 percent of Americans classify as being obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, lifelong health impacts from obesity are far more serious than many people realize.
Obesity is a problem associated with many chronic, life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The good news is that you can eliminate the risks that come from obesity by taking steps now to manage your weight. Consider the following six guidelines if you are looking to set weight loss goals for yourself this year. Having an evidence-based plan in place will promote success when it comes to weight maintenance and good health. This type of plan consists of both sound nutritional strategies in addition to regular exercise.
1. The type of food you consume matters greatly. Choosing a whole foods diet with high amounts of fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices will allow for calorie control and disease prevention. The Mediterranean diet is a whole foods diet which emphasizes fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean animal foods in moderation. The Mediterranean diet contributes to prevention of the chronic diseases tied to obesity and also helps to reduce inflammation, which can contribute to poor weight management.
2. Watching the quantity of food consumed is also important. The calories taken in must match the calories expended in order for body weight to be stable. There are a number of online calorie calculators that can help estimate a person’s calorie needs. Stick to calculators that use the Harris-Benedict or Mifflin St. Jeor equations for more reliable results. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines also provide estimates for calorie intake at
https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-2/. Keep in mind that many things can impact calorie needs such as quality of diet consumed, activity, medications, environmental chemicals, and disease states.
3. Choosing fermented foods, fruits, and vegetables allows for our microbiome (microorganisms in our body) population to shift to organisms which help achieve better weight control. They may be found in foods like yogurt and third-party tested supplements (USP, NSF, or Informed Choice symbols on the bottle). These supplements have been tested to verify product safety.
4. Be very careful of weight loss supplements. Numerous supplements are not third-party tested and several have been shown to be unsafe. Always check with your healthcare professional before choosing any of these supplements.
5. Meaningful lifestyle changes are the best choice for successful weight loss. The use of fad diets usually undermines good nutritional practices and weight loss success.
6. Research has found that group accountability is very helpful compared to working on weight loss alone. Social and behavioral positive reinforcement makes a significant impact on weight loss success. Going to the gym with a friend would be a good example of this type of positive reinforcement.
Kim is a certified athletic trainer with Replay Physical Therapy and a licensed dietitian. If you have a fitness or nutrition question that you would like to see answered in an upcoming article, email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.