How to lose weight Many of us worry about our weight at some time in our lives and more specifically how to lose weight. Throughout most of human history food has been in short supply. So evolution has favoured us eating as much food as possible when it is around and storing it efficiently in fat tissue and only breaking down these fat stores slowly when food supplies are low. This mechanism served our ancestors very well and allowed them to survive through hard times when food was scarce. In the western world, for the last few decades, food for most of us has been readily available and the temptation to overeat ever present. This has led to a worrying increase in the number of adults and children now overweight or obese. Put simply we become overweight when we take in more calories than we use up. So to lose weight we need to eat less and move more. However, that is sometimes easier said than done! We live in what is known as an 'obesogenic' environment. That is high calorie food is readily available all around us and at the same time we expend less energy in day to day activities than ever. Motorised transport has reduced the amount of walking we do, labour saving devices in the home have reduced the amount of energy we expend doing housework and centrally heated houses mean our bodies have to burn off less fat to keep warm. All of these changes have contributed to the epidemic of obesity we see in the developed world today. Fat reserves build up slowly, usually over many months and years so weight loss should be planned slowly also, over a long period of time. Crash diets and rapid weight loss regimes are not helpful. Even if they lead to some initial weight loss they do not change eating behaviour long term and can cause rebound weight gain when stopped. To lose weight requires a total change in eating and exercise habits for ever. High calorie junk foods such as sweets, chocolate, crisps, cakes and takeaway food should only be eaten occasionally as treats. As well as being high in sugar and fat, they are low in nutrients. Theses foods are said to have a high glycaemic index, that is they release their glucose rapidly. They need to be replaced by foods with slow release calories. As a general rule the less a food has been processed and the less added sugar and fat it has, the better it will be for you. These foods are said to have a low glycaemic index. That is they release their glucose slowly. This avoids large fluctuations in blood glucose level which trigger the glucose to be stored as fat. Porridge would be a good example of a low glycaemic index breakfast food. Brown bread, pasta and rice also release their energy slowly. These foods lead you feeling satisfied longer and hence reduce the likelihood of snacking on quick release energy foods like biscuits and chocolate. Fish and white meat are healthier sources of protein then red meat. It is better to eat red meat only occasionally and cut off any visible fat. Processed meat such as sausage, pies and salami are very high in fat and best only eaten occasionally. For vegetarians lentils and chick peas are good sources of protein and are low in fat. As well as changing the types of food eaten, it is also important to change the way food is eaten. It is better to have 3 fixed meals a day, ideally sitting at a table. Grazing continually throughout the day means you will be less aware of how much you eat and hence more likely to overeat. It is better to eat with no distractions such as television as this can lead to overeating. Eating slowly and drinking lots of water throughout a meal which will lead to you feeling fuller earlier. Portion size is also very important. Even if nothing else is changed, eating smaller portions, made easier by eating off a smaller plate, will over time lead to weight loss. Eating less must be coupled with doing more. This does not have to mean expensive gyms. Walking or cycling to work or even just getting off the bus a few stops earlier will increase energy expenditure. Household chores such as vacuuming and cleaning and even washing the car by hand all burn calories. In short the message is eat less and move more.

©Stadn Ltd

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