By Dr Nik Mazlan
MANY people despair when they see the needle on the bathroom scales going up. They hit the panic button and go to all lengths to lose weight. But it has never really dawned on them that the best way to lose weight is the healthy way.
How can you tell if you are overweight? The proper way is to measure your Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI shows you whether your body weight is in proportion with your body height. You can count it by using this simple formula:
BMI = Weight (kg) /[Height (m) x Height (m)]
When you have counted your BMI, compare it with the figures below to see if you are within the desirable weight range.
If Your BMI is less than 18.5, you are underweight
If Your BMI is 18.5 to less than 25, your weight is desirable
If Your BMI is 25 to less than 30, you are overweight
If Your BMI is 30 or more, you are obese
Your body weight is related to how much energy you consume and expend.
Every day, you need energy to function properly. Even while sleeping or resting, your body continues carrying out activities outside of your control. These activities use at least two-thirds of your energy needs.
The rest of the energy is used to move your muscles, such as shifting in your chair, walking around the house or exercising.
You get all this energy from the food you eat. If you eat more energy than your body needs, the excess energy will be stored as body fat. Therefore, unhealthy eating habits can lead you to gain unhealthy body weight.
Weight gain is usually slow and gradual, which is why you may not realise you're becoming overweight. You may even have been gaining unnecessary weight since childhood, due to unhealthy eating habits that were cultivated at a young age.
Being overweight can lead to higher risk of certain diseases. Overweight people usually complain of high blood pressure, swollen blood vessels in the legs, hernia or difficulty in breathing.
You may also be at higher risk of fatal diseases like cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes. You may also become more accident-prone. Breaking your bones may occur more easily and become more dangerous if you are overweight.
So take charge of your life and start losing weight healthily. For the best results, use the dual approach of eating healthy and exercising more.
Losing weight healthily means that you have to adopt healthier eating habits. You will have to take less of certain foods, more of others, and control your overall food intake. However, there is absolutely no starving necessary!
Choose low-energy foods over high-energy foods. High-energy foods are usually high in fat and sugar, but contain little fibre and water.
Take less fat and sugar in your diet by modifying your cooking and preparation methods.
Eat four or five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, as part of a well-balanced diet.
Make gradual changes to your daily diet. Don't turn into a health food fanatic. You don't have to spend all your time or money on special foods that will help you lose weight. Neither should you live on vegetables or salads alone.
Aim to lose about 1kg or 2kg in the first two or three weeks. After that, you can lose about 0.5kg a week.
You can achieve this weight loss by cutting down on 500Kcal of energy a day, through a combination of a healthy diet and physical activity.
Try not to be lured by sudden crash diets. Cutting down on what you eat drastically within one or two weeks may help you lose weight. But it will not solve your weight problems in the long run. Your body weight will increase again as soon as you go back to your old eating habits. This means that your body weight will be going up and down like a yo-yo, which is very dangerous.
Take time to exercise daily. Jogging, swimming and cycling and indulging in other sports are great exercises that can help you lose weight healthily while releasing stress. In everyday life, little things can help you use up more energy. In the workplace, use the staircase instead of the lift.
If you're going somewhere within walking distance, don't use the car. Instead, walk or cycle.
Play sports or games during the weekends with your family. Exercising with the family makes it more fun and meaningful.
As you can see, the recommendations for losing weight healthily did not involve bouts of starvation, spending exorbitant sums of money or going through arduous workouts.
Just eat healthy and make it a point to exercise regularly ... you'll soon be shedding those pounds.
Dr Nik Mazlan, dietitian, is the Honorary Secretary of the Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity. He also lectures at a university hospital in Kuala Lumpur.