The safest and the most effective way to lose weight is to follow a calorie-restricted diet along with some exercise

by Dr Namita Jain

Obesity is associated with several health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, hypertension, gallbladder problems, certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

Take charge, now!
The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to have health problems. Studies show if you are overweight or obese, even losing 5-10 percent of your body weight can improve your health. The safest and most effective way to lose weight is to follow a calorie restricted diet and exercise.

How many calories to consume?
Calorie needs are very individual – they depend on your weight, age, activity level, metabolic rate and lifestyle habits. On an average, women require around 2,000 calories a day and men 2,500 a day.

A rough calorie chart
1 chapati – 140 calories
1 katori dal (toovar dal) – 100 calories
1 plate jam on bread (2 slices)
– 240 calories
1 banana – 100 calories
1 apple – 56 calories
1 mango – 78 calories
1 cold drink (300 ml) – 126 calories
1 gulab jamun ( 2 pieces) – 385 calories
1 plate samosa (2 pieces)
– 300 calories
2 slices pizza with cheese – 500 calories
1 plate papri chaat (6 to 8 pieces)
– 240 calories
1 plate golgapas/ pani puri (4 to 6 pieces) – 100 calories
1 plate aloo tikki (2 pieces) – 300 calories
1 plate assorted veggie pakodas – (8 pieces) 340 calories
1 plate chicken tikka (8 pieces) – 500 calories
1 plate instant noodles or pasta – (100 grams) – 30 calories
1 plate paneer tikka (8 pieces) – 350 calories
1 plate masala dosa – 440 calories
1 plate idli-sambhar – 290 calories
1 plate pau-bhaji – 420 calories

What do you do if you need to lose weight?
To lose weight you need to create a calorie deficit. Weight loss of one to two pounds per week is safe. To lose one pound a week you need to cut back on 500 calories a day. That is a total of 3,500 calories a week. The best way to achieve this is by reducing your calorie intake and increasing calorie expenditure through exercise.
If you do without your 250-calorie chocolate bar and burn 250-calories by running 3 miles, you will create a calorie deficit of 500 calories. Do this everyday and you will have a deficit of 3,500 calories in one week.

How many calories should you consume to lose weight?
To lose weight, a minimum consumption of 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women and 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day for men.
Caution: If your calorie consumption is less than 1,000 a day, your body enters a state of semi starvation, lowering the metabolic rate and depleting the body of its energy stores.

Can you skip meals and consume most of the calories during dinner time?
That’s not a wise decision. You are physically active during the day, so the body requires more calories during the day than at night. Redistribute your calorie intake throughout the day so that your body is constantly fuelled.

When counting calories, is it necessary to consider the nutritional value of foods?
When you plan your meals, look at the caloric content and body’s nutritional requirement simultaneously. You can’t base a diet or food plan solely on calorie counting. The danger in this is that you might not end up following a “well-balanced” eating plan. The body needs nutrients from various food groups. The food you consume should include calories from proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.

Why is exercise important?
Exercise helps reduce body fat and burn calories. Also, metabolic rates can increase up to 25 percent for six to eight hours after a workout. A duration of 30 to 60 minutes of low-impact exercise is recommended to lose weight. Recommended exercises are walking, swimming or cycling.

Diet plus exercise
Diet plus exercise is the ideal way to lose weight. A sound weight-loss programme should include:–
Decreased fat consumption
Portion control
High fibre
Adequate nutrition
Regular exercise

Apple versus pear-shaped bodies
Body fat is stored in different regions of the body and the pattern of its distribution can alter the health risks of obesity.
For example, excess abdominal fat or apple-shaped (android) obesity is associated with increased risk of heart disease, whereas weight gain in the hips and thighs or pear-shaped (gynoid) obesity does not have the same magnitude of risk.

Assessing your body fat
Body fat or risk of obesity can be assessed through several procedures. From simple techniques like girth measurements to more sophisticated procedures in the laboratory or using special equipment. Height-weight charts and the body mass index, give an indication of ideal body weight based on individual height.

Dr Namita Jain, PhD Doctorate, KIESIE international university, Korea (Doctor of excellence in the field of  healthcare), is an author of 12 books and a wellness specialist at Bombay Hospital. Namita, a consultant to the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) and a leading columnist, is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American council of Exercise, the Aerobic and fitness association of America, and the Pilates UK institute, Reebok and Yoga institute.

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