Carrying around extra weight can be a real downer for most of us. But to equate weight loss to simply cutting “calories in’” and boosting “calories out” is far too simplistic. There’s more to the weight equation than that!
Weight can depend on your genes, family history, age, gender, ethnicity/race, family habits, culture, where you live, stress levels, medications you take, health problems, and, of course, your diet and activity levels. So what is it you can do to knock off weight?
Standard BMI Numbers May Not Tell The Whole Story
India has an estimated 135 million obese individuals. The simplest way to determine if you are overweight is to check your body mass index (BMI)* – an indicator that calculates your total body fat.
- Globally, a BMI of 25 or over is classified as overweight.
- Anything over 30 puts you in the obese category.
But there’s more to this:
- For some ethnic populations, the risk of problems like cardiovascular disease or diabetes starts at a lower BMI. Based on risk factors for Asians, Indians should consider BMIs of 25+ as being obese and 23–24.9 as overweight.
- It is also important to monitor your body fat percentage – sometimes, your muscular build might put you in the overweight zone even though you are fit. So, go beyond the weighing scale and check this too.
- Remember, you may also quickly progress from being overweight to obese or gain a few kilos that tip you over unnoticed.
*BMI = Weight in kilograms (kg)/ Height in meters (m) squared
Why Being Overweight Could Wreck Your Health!
In India, abdominal obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. Overall, it increases the risk of stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain cancers (breast, ovarian, liver, prostate, kidney, colon, gallbladder), hypertension, and premature death. Find out more here.
Your Weight Is Over: 7 Tips To Cut The Extra Kilos
Here are some must-do items for your weight-loss checklist. These tackle not just the calories in and out, but also factors like family habits and culture, stress and other triggers.
1. Eat right. There’s no getting around this one! Here’s what you need to get started:
- Aim for variety in your plate. Consume plant-based foods like fresh fruit and veggies; carbs from whole grain sources; lean meat, fish, and beans/legumes for protein; healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish.
- Eat low-energy-dense foods. These can make you feel fuller because they have more volume but contain fewer calories. Think leafy vegetables with larger portion sizes but fewer calories than, say, a piece of candy which is very energy-dense.
- Cut calories consumed and exercise portion control. While this isn’t all there is to weight loss, it does matter. Work with a nutritionist to work out a calorie intake that allows for healthy weight loss.
2. Amp up exercise. It isn’t enough to do sporadic bursts of exercise now and then. You’ll need to be consistent and get in a regular hour or so of workout every day to make a dent. Gun for 300 minutes or more a week.
3. Focus on “NEAT”. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is making waves and with good reason. Exercise alone accounts for a fraction of your time and calorie burn for the week. But you have several other activities where you could ramp up the calorie burn with small changes
- Aim at a more active lifestyle in general and move about every half hour or so if you have a sedentary job or lifestyle.
- Consider switching to a standing desk – it burns 72 calories more per hour for a 66 kg person.
- Walk about while taking phone calls or attending meetings instead of sitting.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift/escalator.
4. Aim at losing 0.5 to 1 kg a week, not more. This is a healthy and achievable goal.
5. Get counseling. We don’t associate being overweight with needing emotional or mental counseling, but many of our triggers and causes for being overweight can be dealt with during therapy.
- You can learn coping skills that might help manage stress.
- You could bring behavioral changes – instance poor family habits could be to blame – that help you tackle weight loss better.
- If there are cultural issues resulting in the weight gain, you might be able to address that.
6. Find out why you’re overweight. If there’s a medical condition that’s causing the weight gain – like a sluggish thyroid or poor metabolism – you may need to fix that alongside.
7. Discuss prescription medication or weight loss surgery only if obesity is life-threatening or extreme. Speak to your doctor about your options. They might suggest counseling to be sure this is the right choice for you.