The Need for Weight Loss
Researchers estimate about 32.2 percent of adult men and 35.5 percent of adult women in the U.S. are obese. Excess weight isn’t just bad for a person’s image, it takes a toll on the body as well. People who are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. These conditions also increase the risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. In addition, obese people are more likely to develop back pain, arthritis, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease and certain types of cancer.
Losing weight can decrease the risk for many chronic health problems. In one study, adults who lost weight had less pain and improved markers of health, social functioning, emotional health and mental health.
Many people recognize the need to maintain a healthy weight. The Calorie Control Council reports 29 percent of American adults were on a diet in 2007. Losing weight isn’t easy. Most people love to eat and many foods are high in fat and sugar. Weight gain occurs when a person takes in more calories than he/she burns. To lose weight, the energy balance must be reversed. In other words, a person must use more calories than he/she takes in.
A single pound of body weight equals 3,500 calories. To lose one pound a week, a person needs to cut back by 500 calories per day (i.e., 500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories/week). The best way to achieve the goal of one-pound-a-week weight loss is to combine a healthy, low fat, lower calorie diet with a regular exercise program.
100 Calorie Snacks
Many people like to snack between meals. However, those snack calories can pile up quickly. Melissa Love, M.D., family medicine physician with Ochsner Health Center in Baton Rouge, LA, says even when people are careful about what they eat, snack volume can be detrimental to the diet.
Over the past few years, some snack manufacturers have marketed “100 calorie” snack options. The packages are, in many cases, the same food portioned in sizes to provide just 100 calories. Some people find these controlled snack packs are a great way to fill the need for between-meal snacks without sabotaging the diet. However, a Consumer Reports taste test found some of these snacks taste different from their full-calorie versions and sometimes have different shapes and textures. In addition, the prepackaged snacks are more expensive than equivalent amounts taken from a regular size container.
Love says an alternative to the prepackaged “100 calorie” snacks is to make your own snack bags. Look for snack foods that you like to eat that are low-fat and contain little to no added sugar. High fiber is a plus since it tends to fill you up. Look at the nutrition label for guidance. Determine how many calories are in the box, then divide the snack food into 100-calorie portions. You can place the portions in a sealed food bag or container, having a ready supply of your own “grab and go” snacks. A medium apple or orange and raw vegetables also make good low-calorie snacks. These foods will keep you filled for a longer time than a 100-calorie portion of fruit or vegetable juice. She also recommends drinking a large glass of water before meals to fill the stomach and using smaller plates to give the visual impression of a larger meal.
Love warns there are no quick fixes for weight loss. She reminds her clients that weight gain usually creeps on slowly over the years. Weight loss can take just as long or even longer. An important part of controlling excess calorie intake is exercise. According to Love people who are trying to lose weight need to get about 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. The activity can be spread over the day, but should occur in intervals of at least 10 minutes.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
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