If you are in the over 2 out of 3 adults in the U.S. that the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010, reports to be overweight or obese then finding easy, natural weight loss solutions is something you’ll want to explore. That’s around 160 million people with more than 60% of women in the U.S. falling in the overweight range according to the National Center for Health Statistics of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and more than a third falling into the obese range. That same survey reports a third of children from 6 to 19 years of age also fall in the overweight and obese categories, so if you have children, finding ways to help them keep their weight down is also important. When we talk about overweight and obese and their ranges, you may wonder what that really means and how to know what category you fall into. These categories are based on your BMI or Body Mass Index.
How to Figure Out BMI
The BMI is a tool that is used to measure how much body fat you have according to your height and weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 puts you in the overweight category and anything over 30 is considered obese. You can calculate your own BMI by finding your height and your weight and going to this BMI calculator: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm. So why on earth would you want to do this and label yourself as overweight or obese? Because too much body fat means there is also fat around your organs putting stress on them and that can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer and more.
Healthy Weight Loss
Crash diets and losing lots of weight fast don’t usually work out in the long run and are not a healthy way to lose weight. The healthiest way to lose weight is to eat a healthy diet, get more physical exercise into your day and burn up more calories than you ingest. This may take more time than a crash diet, but the results will last longer and you’ll have made changes that will follow you and keep your weight steady over the rest of your life. Your goal should be to lose around one to two pounds a week. Katherine Tallmadge, RD, weight loss counselor, says eating a healthy diet and getting lots of exercise can help you lose at least three pounds a week safely. You can lose one to two pounds a week just by burning off 500 calories more than you ingest each day. According to the Dietary Guidelines for All Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture a healthy diet to strive for includes many different types of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, foods rich in calcium, and limiting salt and saturated fats. More specifically they recommend:
- Fruits: 2 cups daily for 2000 calorie diet which would be the amount equal to a small banana, large orange or 1/4 cup dried peaches.
- Vegetables: Include a variety of dark green and orange colored vegetables such as broccoli, kale, carrots and sweet potatoes as well as beans and peas like pinto, kidney, black, garbanzo, and lentils.
- Calcium: Add 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt or one and a half ounces of cheese daily to your diet.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains should be listed as “whole” on the food label. Include three ounces of whole grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta daily which would be equivalent to three slices of bread, 3 cups of cereal or half a cup of rice or pasta.
- Lean Protein: Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds. Stay away from frying meat and go with baking, broiling or grilling instead.
- Fats: It is recommended that no more than 10% of calories come from saturated fats. Instead go for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that would include fish, nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and avocados.
- Salt: Do not go over 2300 mg. of sodium daily which is about a teaspoon of salt. Michael Dansinger, MD from the NBC television show The Biggest Loser, adds to this that cutting down on sodium and starch can initially show as much as a weight loss of five pounds, but warns that this is fluid loss, not fat loss.
Weight Loss Food Tips
- Michael Dansinger, MD says to avoid foods with starch, added sugar, and animal fat in meat and dairy and include fruits, vegetables, egg whites, soy, skinless breasts of poultry, fish, shellfish, non-fat dairy and only meats that are 95% lean.
- Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, who wrote The Flexitarian Diet, advises that eating lots of vegetables will help you feel fuller, drink lots of water, don’t keep unhealthy foods around to tempt you, don’t miss meals and eat them from a plate only instead of being allowed to grab snacks.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs have been found to actually help in weight loss. Stay away from saturated and trans fats as they only increase your weight, but adding foods like avocados, nuts, olives and oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and canola oil in small amounts can help you melt off pounds. One study in 2001 found participants that added MUFAs to their meals lost around 9 pounds while those who didn’t gained around 6 pounds.
- Keeping track of what you eat with a food journal can help you stay focused on reducing calories by seeing in black and white how much you are really eating each day (and may not even be aware of) which gives you a sense of accountability according to Read It Before You Eat It author, Bonnie Taub Dix, MA, RD
- Fiber can help you fill fuller with eating less. You not only get lots of fiber with black beans, but also one cup gives you 15 grams of protein with no fat and a half cup of white beans gives you 4 grams of resistant starch that helps burn fat and boost metabolism. Oats are another good fiber filled food with resistant starch and eating a half cup will give you around 4 and a half grams of this good carb. Eating brown rice is another good way to fill up with low calories, get resistant starch working for you, and is a good part of a low-energy-density diet that research has shown can help keep weight gain down over the long haul.
- Don’t eat less than 1050 to 1200 calories a day according to Michael Dansinger, MD as this will cause you to lose muscle which causes your metabolism to work slower and doesn’t give you the energy to get enough exercise.
- Grapefruit is another great addition to a weight loss diet. By eating a half a grapefruit before mealtime, you can lose as much as a pound a week. This is because grapefruit has something in it that lowers insulin which is the hormone for fat storage. There are certain medications though that you can’t take with grapefruit so check with your healthcare provider to make sure you aren’t on one of those.
One of the dangers dieters face is not getting the right nutrition to feed the body in order for it to perform efficiently. Cutting calories shouldn’t mean cutting nutrition. Taking AFA bluegreen algae supplements can give the body the important vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients it needs while supporting a weight loss program. AFA has actually been found to support weight loss as a well-nourished body craves less unhealthy foods, has extra energy to get more activity, and has a positive mood to be more likely to stick with a healthy routine. Since AFA is high in chlorophyll, which works on the intestinal lining to enhance digesting and assimilating foods, it also helps provide nourishment on a cellular level. Add in high quality probiotic and enzyme supplements as with these AFA packets and you really get the most nourishment for your body from the foods you eat with a well-functioning digestive system.
Eating the right foods and supplements to support your body’s health and encourage weight loss are good, but you really can’t lose weight in a healthy way without exercise too. The key to weight loss is burning more calories than you eat and while you can boost your metabolism to burn off fat and calories, you really also have to be physically active. Experts recommend cardio and strength training exercises as the best and fastest way to burn up calories. Many experts advise exercising for an hour daily to really start losing some serious pounds. Another exercise weight loss tip many experts such as The American College of Sports Medicine recommend is to do your exercise in intervals. That means during your regular moderate exercise routine add periods of more intense exercise. For example, when going for a walk, add in some bursts of faster walking or even jogging. Adding these more intense intervals has been found to have a longer lasting effect as it can keep your metabolism increased and burning calories off for as much as 24 hours after you’ve exercised.
When you are ready to really get serious about losing weight, throw away the crash diets and fads and look at making long lasting diet and lifestyle changes. These tips give you safe, effective ways to stay healthy while losing that unhealthy weight.
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