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How to lose, maintain healthy weight

By Chukwuma Muanya and Stanley Akpunonu
04 April 2019   |   3:26 am
Obesity and overweight are associated with higher risk of developing cancer and other degenerative diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney problems, stroke, erectile dysfunction, infertility, and osteoarthritis among others.

PHOTO: Blog Flicker

*CWP advocates shedding kilos to prevent cancers, other chronic diseases
Obesity and overweight are associated with higher risk of developing cancer and other degenerative diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney problems, stroke, erectile dysfunction, infertility, and osteoarthritis among others.The World Health Organisation (WHO) uses body mass index (BMI) to define being overweight and having obesity in adults. BMI is a calculation that involves dividing the body mass (weight) of an individual by the square of their body height (weight in kilogramme/height in metres square).

Overweight is a BMI higher than or equal to 25. Obesity is a BMI higher than or equal to 30. Healthy weight is BMI between 20 and 25.
However, several studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight of BMI between 20 and 25 does not just help to prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases but improves life expectancy (the number of years lived in good heath).

Consequently, there is a craze in town about weight loss therapies. There are claims and counter claims. So-called experts are using the opportunity to rob some ignorant Nigerians of their hard-earned monies by promising ‘miracle’ weigh loss therapies.

But there are no quick fixes.Weight loss expert and Managing Director, Cambridge Weight Plan (CWP) West Africa, Mrs. Eniola Karunwi, told journalists that better weight management can improve the overall health status of an individual.According to Karunwi, studies has shown that being overweight leads to imbalances in hormones, which can affect overall health ranging from issues like infertility, to improper insulin levels, low metabolism, reduced sexual drive, irregular body temperature, abnormal sleep cycles, reduced appetites, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health related issues.

The exert said that without good health it is difficult to function in almost every area of life stressing that It is important that we pursue activities that will enhance good health.“Sadly, many people do not recognize that excess weight affects the way body organs function and instead blame it on stress and other factors.

“Without good health, an individual will be unhappy, spend huge amounts on treatments, and can even become depressed. An effective weight loss and management plan is needed to achieve balanced hormones and consequently, overall good health,” she added. Karunmi urged the populace, who suffer from certain health conditions to consider weight loss and better weight management, follow a healthy diet, exercise on a regular basis and engage in other healthy activities because they can go a long way towards improving an individual’s health.

She continued: “CWP is a lifestyle company that assists men and women with weight management and maintenance. CWP is committed to helping clients achieve their weight loss and weight maintenance goals through bespoke programs, tailored to suit every individual need.”

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) noted that Cambridge weight plan is an effective solution to losing weight and maintaining it. Not only would it improve hormonal balance, it also aids the proper functioning of other vital organs in the body.She continued: “The Cambridge Weight Plan is a safe, low calorie diet plan, and an effective weight management and lifestyle plan that foster a healthy living. The plan consists of meal replacement shakes, soups, porridges and snack bars, which contain the daily nutritional requirement, whilst rapidly helping you burn fat.”

Karunwi said the CWP was designed to have excellent weight loss properties, but no undesirable side effects, right level of protein to protect lean tissue, right level of carbohydrate to promote a mild ketosis and eliminate a sense of hunger and the right levels of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and essential fatty acids to maintain good health.According to Medical News Today, methods of weight loss that scientific research supports include the following:

1. Trying intermittent fasting
Several research-backed strategies can aid weight loss, one of which is intermittent fasting (IF), which is a pattern of eating that involves regular short-term fasts and consuming meals within a shorter time period during the day.Several studies have indicated that short-term intermittent fasting, which is up to 24 weeks in duration, leads to weight loss in overweight individuals.

The most common intermittent fasting methods include the following:
*Alternate day fasting (ADF): Fast every other day and eat normally on non-fasting days. The modified version involves eating just 25–30 percent of the body’s energy needs on fasting days.
*The 5:2 Diet: Fast on 2 out of every 7 days. On fasting days eat 500–600 calories.
*The 16/8 method: Fast for 16 hours and eat only during an 8-hour window. For most people, the 8-hour window would be around noon to 8 p.m. A study on this method found that eating during a restricted period resulted in the participants consuming fewer calories and losing weight.It is best to adopt a healthy eating pattern on non-fasting days and to avoid over-eating.

2. Tracking your diet and exercise
If someone wants to lose weight, they should be aware of everything that they eat and drink each day. The most effective way to do this is to log every item that they consume, in either a journal or an online food tracker.Researchers estimated in 2017 that there would be 3.7 billion health app downloads by the end of the year. Of these, apps for diet, physical activity, and weight loss were among the most popular. This is not without reason, as tracking physical activity and weight loss progress on-the-go can be an effective way of managing weight.

One study found that consistent tracking of physical activity helped with weight loss. Meanwhile, a review study found a positive correlation between weight loss and the frequency of monitoring food intake and exercise. Even a device as simple as a pedometer can be a useful weight-loss tool.

3. Eating mindfully
Mindful eating is a practice where people pay attention to how and where they eat food. This practice can enable people to enjoy the food they eat and maintain a healthy weight.As most people lead busy lives, they often tend to eat quickly on the run, in the car, working at their desks, and watching TV. As a result, many people are barely aware of the food they are eating.

Techniques for mindful eating include:
*Sitting down to eat, preferably at a table: Pay attention to the food and enjoy the experience.

*Avoiding distractions while eating: Do not turn on the TV, or a laptop or phone.
*Eating slowly: Take time to chew and savor the food. This technique helps with weight loss, as it gives a person’s brain enough time to recognize the signals that they are full, which can help to prevent over-eating.
*Making considered food choices: Choose foods that are full of nourishing nutrients and those that will satisfy for hours rather than minutes.

4. Eating protein for breakfast
Protein can regulate appetite hormones to help people feel full. This is mostly due to a decrease in the hunger hormone ghrelin and a rise in the satiety hormones peptide YY, GLP-1, and cholecystokinin.Research on young adults has also demonstrated that the hormonal effects of eating a high-protein breakfast can last for several hours.Good choices for a high-protein breakfast include eggs, oats, nut and seed butters, quinoa porridge, sardines, and chia seed pudding.

5. Cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates
The Western diet is increasingly high in added sugars, and this has definite links to obesity, even when the sugar occurs in beverages rather than food.Refined carbohydrates are heavily processed foods that no longer contain fiber and other nutrients. These include white rice, bread, and pasta. These foods are quick to digest, and they convert to glucose rapidly.Excess glucose enters the blood and provokes the hormone insulin, which promotes fat storage in the adipose tissue. This contributes to weight gain.

Where possible, people should swap processed and sugary foods for more healthful options. Good food swaps include: whole-grain rice, bread, and pasta instead of the white versions; fruit, nuts, and seeds instead of high-sugar snacks; herb teas and fruit-infused water instead of high-sugar sodas; and smoothies with water or milk instead of fruit juice.

6. Eating plenty of fibre
Dietary fibre describes plant-based carbohydrates that it is not possible to digest in the small intestine, unlike sugar and starch. Including plenty of fiber in the diet can increase the feeling of fullness, potentially leading to weight loss.Fibre-rich foods include: whole-grain breakfast cereals, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread, oats, barley, and rye; fruit and vegetables; peas, beans, and pulses; and nuts and seeds.

7. Balancing gut bacteria
One emerging area of research is focusing on the role of bacteria in the gut on weight management. The human gut hosts a vast number and variety of microorganisms, including around 37 trillion bacteria.Every individual has different varieties and amounts of bacteria in their gut. Some types can increase the amount of energy that the person harvests from food, leading to fat deposition and weight gain.

Some foods can increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, including:
*A wide variety of plants: Increasing the number of fruits, vegetables, and grains in the diet will result in an increased fiber uptake and a more diverse set of gut bacteria. People should try to ensure that vegetables and other plant-based foods comprise 75 percent of their meal.

*Fermented foods: These enhance the function of good bacteria while inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, tempeh, and miso all contain good amounts of probiotics, which help to increase good bacteria. Researchers have studied kimchi widely, and study results suggest that it has anti-obesity effects. Similarly, studies have shown that kefir may help to promote weight loss in overweight women.

*Prebiotic foods: These stimulate the growth and activity of some of the good bacteria that aid weight control. Prebiotic fiber occurs in many fruits and vegetables, especially chicory root, artichoke, onion, garlic, asparagus, leeks, banana, and avocado. It is also in grains, such as oats and barley.

8. Getting a good night’s sleep
Numerous studies have shown that getting less than five to six hours of sleep per night is associated with increased incidence of obesity. There are several reasons behind this.Research suggests that insufficient or poor-quality sleep slows down the process in which the body converts calories to energy, called metabolism. When metabolism is less effective, the body may store unused energy as fat. In addition, poor sleep can increase the production of insulin and cortisol, which also prompt fat storage.How long someone sleeps also affects the regulation of the appetite-controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin sends signals of fullness to the brain.

9. Managing your stress levels
Stress triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which initially decrease the appetite as part of the body’s fight or flight response. However, when people are under constant stress, cortisol can remain in the bloodstream for longer, which will increase their appetite and potentially lead to them eating more.Cortisol signals the need to replenish the body’s nutritional stores from the preferred source of fuel, which is carbohydrate.Insulin then transports the sugar from carbohydrates from the blood to the muscles and brain. If the individual does not use this sugar in fight or flight, the body will store it as fat.

Researchers found that implementing an eight-week stress-management intervention program resulted in significant reduction in the BMI of overweight and obese children and adolescents.Some methods of managing stress include: yoga, meditation, or tai chi; breathing and relaxation techniques; and spending some time outdoors, for example walking or gardening.

Experts are unanimous that that there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss. The best way to reach and maintain a healthy weight is to eat a nutritious, balanced diet. This should include 10 portions of fruit and vegetables, good-quality protein, and whole-grains. It is also beneficial to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.

Meanwhile, a new study from the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, United States, revealed physical activity does more to maintain substantial weight loss than diet.The study, published in the March issue of Obesity, was selected as the Editor’s Choice article.

“This study addresses the difficult question of why so many people struggle to keep weight off over a long period. By providing evidence that a group of successful weight-loss maintainers engages in high levels of physical activity to prevent weight regain — rather than chronically restricting their energy intake — is a step forward to clarifying the relationship between exercise and weight-loss maintenance,” said Danielle Ostendorf, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.

The findings reveal that successful weight-loss maintainers rely on physical activity to remain in energy balance (rather than chronic restriction of dietary intake) to avoid weight regain. In the study, successful weight-loss maintainers are individuals who maintain a reduced body weight of 30 pounds or more for over a year.

Key findings include:
*The total calories burned (and consumed) each day by weight-loss maintainers was significantly higher (300 kcal/day) compared with that in individuals with normal body weight controls but was not significantly different from that in the individuals with overweight/obesity.

*Notably, of the total calories burned, the amount burned in physical activity by weight-loss maintainers was significantly higher (180 kcal/day) compared with that in both individuals of normal body weight and individuals with overweight/obesity. Despite the higher energy cost of moving a larger body mass incurred by individuals with overweight/obesity, weight-loss maintainers were burning more energy in physical activity, suggesting they were moving more.

*This is supported by the fact that the weight-loss maintainer group also demonstrated significantly higher levels of steps per day (12,000 steps per day) compared to participants at a normal body weight (9,000 steps per day) and participants with overweight/obesity (6,500 steps per day).

A recent small-scale study adds to the growing evidence of an association between eating later in the day and weight gain. Using unique tracking methods, the researchers add more detail to the theory.

Some earlier work has identified a pattern between eating later and increased weight gain. For instance, the authors of a 2011 study concluded: “Caloric intake after 8:00 p.m. may increase the risk of obesity.”However, it is not clear whether individuals who eat later in the day might, consequently, have less sleep overall. This factor is important because experts also believe that sleeping less may play a part in obesity.

The lead author of the latest investigation, Dr. Adnin Zaman, explained: “Few studies have assessed both meal and sleep timing in adults with obesity, and it is not clear whether eating later in the day is associated with shorter sleep duration or higher body fat.”