Scientific studies clearly indicate that obesity is linked to increased sickness and death rates. Hypertension, elevated levels of cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, gall bladder disease, back pain, arthritis, abnormal pulmonary function, and sleep apnea are physical problems intensified by obesity. In the United Sates alone obesity is implicated in 300,000 deaths annually, representing the second leading cause of premature death behind smoking. Obesity is a global epidemic effecting about 20 to 25% of American adults and 15 to 20% of Europeans. The health risks of being overweight may be prevented by achieving and maintaining proper body weight.
What is ideal body weight?
The most common measurement of obesity is based on the use of the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale. The BMI is the ratio of weight over height squared. The American Institute for Cancer Research's guidelines require a person to maintain a BMI of between 18.5 and 25. This is considered to be within ideal body weight range. A BMI between 25 to 27 presents a potential health risk and a BMI above 30 is considered to be a significant health risk.
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How many calories you need depends on your age, sex, weight, and activity level. To maintain your weight, you have to take in the same number of calories you burn. It takes about 3,000 calories a day for the average 165 pound man who is 19 to 24 years old to maintain his weight. From ages 25 through 49, the daily calorie requirement for maintenance drops to 2,700. An average 127 pound woman, 19 through 24 years old, will have to consume 2,100 calories daily for weight maintenance. From ages 25 through 49, it takes 1,900 calories per day. Your body weight will change when there is a difference between calories in and calories out.
How can I lose weight?
To lose weight you must eat properly, exercise more, or both. Combining diet with exercise is a healthier, more balanced, and more successful way of losing weight than by dieting alone.
One pound of body weight is equal to 3,500 calories. Eating 500 fewer calories per day will result in a weight loss of 1 pound per week. Eating 250 fewer calories per day combined with a 250 calorie deficit from exercise will also result in a weight loss of 1 pound per week.
Selecting foods to lose weight
Keeping a food diary is an ideal way to track calories. As soon as you eat or drink, write it down. It may be helpful to use a small pocket diary. Seeing what you eat and drink will help you examine your eating patterns and food habits.
To lose weight in a healthy manner, follow these guidelines:
Drink at least six to ten 8 ounce glasses of water each day. Water contains no calories, it can serve as an appetite suppressant, and helps the body metabolize stored fat. It may very well be one of the most significant factors in losing weight.
Choose the following foods for losing weight and maintaining healthy eating habits for life.
Unlimited amounts of vegetables and salads.
Lean meats, poultry, fish and salad dressing containing little or no oil.
Limited amounts of low fat or skim milk, cheeses, and yogurts.
Legumes (lentils, peas, and beans).
Unrefined carbohydrates (whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals without sugar) .
Limit how much you eat of the following:
Refined carbohydrates (sugar) and foods containing sugar.
Refined grain products such as white rice and white flour.
Saturated fats such as butter, margarine, and fat on meats, and other foods that contain fats, such as pastries, cakes, and cheese.
Excessive amount of alcoholic beverages.
To have a balanced diet, be sure to choose a variety of foods from the basic food groups:
Meat and other protein
Bread and cereal
If you want to reduce your body fat, focus on increasing the amount of exercise you get rather than just decreasing your food intake. Leading experts now recommend that people who want to lose weight start by increasing their physical activity. Recommendations for exercise emphasize engaging in activities that you enjoy and incorporating them for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, as many days per week as possible. The 30 minutes can be split into 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Many health problems such as high blood pressure, strokes, obesity, injuries and stress can be avoided by leading a more active lifestyle. Regular exercise will help you look and feel better. To get the most out of exercise, wear proper clothing, use safe equipment, drink plenty of water before, during, and after you exercise, and eat well-balanced meals. It is never too late to begin an exercise program. If you are over 35 or have medical problems, check with your doctor first. Together you can plan a program suited to your needs.