Healthy weight loss

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As the world fights an epidemic of obesity, many are searching online for ways to lose weight in a healthful way. Although most over-simlify this and say losing weight is as simple as eat less, exercise more, using what is called energy balance theory, if you ever tried losing weight, you would know that it is never that simple. Here are some useful tips on how to lose weight in a healthy way. Before attempting to lose weight, it is important to understand what might be causing your weight gain. Your weight gain may be due to an underlying health condition such as the following:

Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes

Insulin resistance and prediabetes occur when your body doesn’t use insulin well.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps glucose in your blood enter cells in your muscle, fat, and liver, where it’s used for energy. Glucose comes from the food you eat. The liver also makes glucose in times of need, such as when you’re fasting. When blood glucose, also called blood sugar, levels rise after you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin then lowers blood glucose to keep it in the normal range.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. As long as your pancreas can make enough insulin to overcome your cells’ weak response to insulin, your blood glucose levels will stay in the healthy range.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes means your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes usually occurs in people who already have some insulin resistance or whose beta cells in the pancreas aren’t making enough insulin to keep blood glucose in the normal range. Without enough insulin, extra glucose stays in your bloodstream rather than entering your cells. Over time, you could develop type 2 diabetes.

What causes insulin resistance and prediabetes?

Researchers don’t fully understand what causes insulin resistance and prediabetes, but they think excess weight and lack of physical activity are major factors.

Excess weight

Experts believe obesity, especially too much fat in the abdomen and around the organs, called visceral fat, is a main cause of insulin resistance. A waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women is linked to insulin resistance. This is true even if your body mass index (BMI) falls within the normal range. However, research has shown that Asian Americans may have an increased risk for insulin resistance even without a high BMI.

Diabetes treatment

Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin to manage their diabetes. Insulin helps to control your blood sugar level. Some people with longstanding diabetes tend to eat more than they need to prevent low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycaemia. Sometimes, excessive snacking to prevent a hypogycemia contributes to an excessive calorie intake and overall weight gain.

Underactive thyroid

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) means your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones, which play a central role in regulating your metabolism. Although an underactive thyroid can occur at any age and in either sex, it is most common in older women.

Without enough thyroid hormone, the body's metabolism slows down, which can lead to weight gain. The condition is usually treated with daily hormone-replacement tablets, called levothyroxine.

Ageing

People begin to lose modest amounts of muscle as they get older, largely because they become less active. Muscles are an efficient calorie burner, so a loss of muscle mass can mean you burn fewer calories. If you're eating and drinking the same amount as you always have and are less physically active, this can lead to weight gain.

Steroid treatment

Steroids, also known as corticosteroids cause weight gain

Cushing's syndrome

Cushing's syndrome is very rare, affecting around 1 in 50,000 people, and is caused by high levels of the hormone cortisol. It can develop as a side effect of long-term steroid treatment (iatogenic Cushing's syndrome) or as a result of a tumour (endogenous Cushing's syndrome).

Weight gain is a common symptom, particularly on the chest, face and stomach. It occurs because cortisol causes fat to be redistributed to these areas. Depending on the cause, treatment typically involves either reducing or withdrawing the use of steroids, or surgery to remove the tumour.

Stress and low mood

People respond differently to stress, anxiety and depressed mood. Some people may lose weight, while others may gain weight. "People can turn to food as a coping mechanism," says Collins. "It can lead to a vicious circle. Weight gain from depression can make you more depressed, which can lead to further weight gain. If you know you're an emotional eater, you need to find other forms of distraction, such as exercise or a hobby, calling a friend, going for a walk or having a soothing bath."

Tiredness

Some studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a day are more likely to be overweight than those who get nine hours of sleep or more. It's not clear why, but one theory is that sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel full, and higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone.

Fluid retention

Fluid retention or edema causes parts of the body to become swollen, which translates into weight gain. This gain is caused by fluid accumulating in the body. Some types of fluid retention are common – for example, pre-menstrual. The swelling can occur in one particular part of the body, such as the ankles, or it can be more general.

More severe fluid retention can also cause breathlessness. If you notice you have swollen ankles during the day, have to get up to pee overnight, and have to sleep on a few pillows to avoid breathlessness, you should see your GP, as these examples of fluid retention can indicate heart or kidney problems that need assessment.

What You Need to Know Before Getting Started

A healthy weight loss program consists of:

  • A reasonable, realistic weight loss goal
  • A reduced calorie, nutritionally-balanced eating plan
  • Regular physical activity
  • A behavior change plan to help you stay on track with your goals

We want to help you with each of these components.

Keep in Mind

  • Calories count
  • Portions count
  • Nutrition counts
  • Even a small amount of weight loss can lead to big health benefits
  • Strive to develop good habits to last a lifetime
  • Discuss weight loss with your doctor before getting started

Getting Started

  • Check your [[Body Mass Index[] (BMI) - an indicator of body fat - and see where it fits within the BMI categories.
  • Discuss weight loss with your doctor and decide on a goal. If you have a lot of weight to lose, set a realistic intermediate goal, maybe to lose 10 pounds. Remember that even a small amount of weight loss can lead to big health benefits.

How Do I Know Which Weight Loss Plan is Right For Me?

  • Keep in mind that you want to develop lifestyle habits that will help you maintain your weight in a healthy range.
  • In choosing how to go about losing weight, keep in mind key habits of people who have lost weight and kept in off.

Key Behaviors of Successful Losers*

  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Reducing calorie and fat intake
  • Eating regular meals, including breakfast
  • Weighing themselves regularly
  • Not letting small "slips" turn into large weight regain

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