WEIGHT LOSS DEMYSTIFIED… By Zikhona Spelman
(BSc Diet), Published Author, Founder of “The Wellbeing Academy” and Certified Lifestyle Coach.
The first thing I would like to highlight from the word go with regards to weight management is that, it is not an easy journey! It requires dedication and patience. Also, it is a complex issue that needs to be dealt with at both psychological and social levels, therefore a thorough understanding of each individual`s circumstances needs to be the basis of weight management advice.
We live in a modern society where instant results are expected for everything, and that goes the same way with our approach to weight management, especially weight loss. Unfortunately, when it comes to weight management we need to make a decision on whether we want “instant results” or “sustainable results”. I know most of us want both instant and sustainable results, but in reality it is very difficult and almost impossible for most of us. So, what is the solution?
Research has shown time and time again that “rapid weight loss” compared to “gradual weight loss” may have negative health implications and is less sustainable in nature. The truth is no-one but yourself can make a decision with regards to your weight management solution that is ideal for you, what all others can do is to guide and advise you, myself included.
My advice to you when it comes to finding a weight management solution that would be ideal for you is as follows:
1. First, ask yourself why you want to lose or gain weight? (Is it an “aesthetic-driven motive” or a “health-driven motive”?).
2. Once you have decided why you want to lose/gain weight, ask yourself how much you are willing to invest in your weight management goals in terms of time and lifestyle changes? Are you willing to change your lifestyle choices? If so, are you willing to change them on a short term or long term basis? Long term lifestyle change is needed for sustainable weight loss/gain
3. Once you have answered the above questions, then do your own research on a different option of weight management solutions available to you (e.g. diet, pharmaceutical products, surgery etc.), and then explore the option that will suit you best. The issues you will need to consider when researching the right option for yourself are:
• The long-term health effects of each option. (You do not want to choose a weight management option that will compromise your health in the long run.)
• Most probably all weight management options will have an effect of some sort, but the question is how sustainable will the effects be? (You do not want to choose a weight management program option that does not take into account your own personal lifestyle and health history because you will not be able to sustain your results.)
4. Then decide whether you are going to manage your weight on your own (e.g. use weight loss products/programs), or you are going to find a healthcare professional to help you manage it? The option that I always recommend is finding a healthcare professional to help you manage your weight, as they can tailor-make your weight management to your personal needs. The focus needs to be finding a healthcare professional that can help you in achieving sustainable weight goals without compromising your health in the long run. Here are some good tips to guide you in choosing the right healthcare professional for yourself:
• Ascertain and verify the credentials and experience of the healthcare professionals in the weight management field.
• They need to consider your medical history for at least the past six months.
• They need to consider your weight history and your family weight history.
• They need to consider your lifestyle habits (e.g. smoking, drinking, physical activity, stress levels etc.)
• They need to consider your dietary history as well.
Your healthcare professional would then need to do body composition measurements as follows:
• Your WEIGHT using BMI (Body Mass Index): To determine whether you are underweight, normal, overweight or obese.
• Your Overall WATER%: To determine how much body water in relation to muscle and fat mass is your weight composed of.
• Your Overall FAT %: To determine how much body fat in relation to your muscle mass is your weight composed of. (Fat % differ for men vs women)
• Your Hip-to- Waist Ratio and Waist Circumference: To determine whether your weight is centered around the abdomen, and whether abdomen size is within normal parameters for your gender or not.
• Your Visceral Adipose Tissue (Fat location): To determine if your fat is accumulated on your abdomen or not. If is accumulated on the abdomen (apple shape), this has negative implications for your health. If it is situated on your thighs and buttocks (pear shape), this has no negative im
plications for your health, but will have implication for those whose want to lose weight for aesthetic rea
5. Once all body composition measurements have been done, your healthcare professional will analyze all of the above data, and determine weight management goals ideal for you.
6. In determining your weight management goals your healthcare professional will need to:
• Calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) i.e. how much energy you need per day when you are not physically active e.g. energy you use for breathing, when you are sleeping etc.
• Once BMR has been established, the amount of energy you require for physical activity would need to be established.
• Both of the above calculations would help in determining your individual average daily Total Energy Requirements, which will guide the healthcare professional in compiling your individualized dietary plan to manage your weight.
A combination of a dietary plan and an exercise plan will be then formulated for you. Your short term goals, long term weight goals, and follow-up periods will need to be discussed.
Please Note: A more stringent dietary plan is ideal and more geared towards helping those who have “health-driven motive” for weight management e.g. those at high risk for metabolic diseases/conditions. A more stringent exercise plan is ideal and more geared towards helping those who have an “aesthetic-driven motive” for weight management. E.g. shedding weight off / toning specific areas of your body (thighs/tummy/buttocks/arms etc.)
7. With regards to the use of weight loss products to manage weight, each product needs to be evaluated on its own merits, and cannot brush them all with the same paint. Most often the clinical research around the efficacy and safety of ingredients used in some of the weight loss product is limited and sometimes the evidence contradicts each other, hence most of the time these products are advertised using “personal testimonials”. It is therefore very important to find out as much as you can and do your own research before using the product. However, my advice on things you need to look out for when choosing a weight loss product are:
• How much clinical evidence is available on the ingredient/s used in the product you are considering using?
• Who and where is the manufacturer of the product? (Local or imported product.)
• Is it registered or listed with the Medicines Control Council (MCC) in South Africa or FDA if it imported?
• Can you contact the manufacturer should you experience an adverse reaction to the product? • Is the manufacturer a reputable company that follows the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) guidelines to ensure its safety?
• Does the product packaging have clear Nutritional Information Table with the ingredients list and amounts the product contains?
• Does the product come with a Patient Information Leaflet that gives guidance on its safe usage? I.e. who can use it, who cannot use it, how exactly does it help in weight loss, how to use it, how long can it be safely used for before results can be seen, what undesirable reactions can happen with its use and how to manage them?
8. Regarding advise on dietary plans for weight management I always recommend the following principles :
• All diets whether designed for weight loss or not should follow a “balanced approach”, that is enough to provide sufficient energy and nutrients for day to day body needs.
• Each individual has unique energy and nutrient requirements and therefore have different dietary needs, and the dietary plan must reflect that uniqueness.
• Not to cut out any food groups in a dietary plan. Carbohydrates, protein or fats are all needed by the body for its proper functioning. The focus is on choosing the right types and portion sizes.
• The focus is on portion control and timing of meals.
• A dietary plan should be designed in such a way that it becomes a way of life rather than a short term solution.
• The basic key for me for weight management is still about balancing your food intake with your physical activity. If you are less active, eat less food. Weight gain that is not of genetic or of medical origin can be managed successfully by manipulating food intake and physical activity.
Get more information on this topic from my book titled “Nutrition Demystified”, this can be purchased at Skoobs Theatre of Books (Montecasino, Fourways), Exclusive Books (countrywide by order), Online via www.porcupinepress.co.za
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