So, as an over 40 female, I understand the issues of keep off extra pounds and trying to lose that ‘last 10”. But really the key to managing weight is very, very simple. More calories going out than coming in. There is NO magic cure, NO magic diet. Diet’s help manage the calories that’s it. You need to exercise and watch what you eat in combination to lose weight or keep it off. I am completely mystified that we still spend hundreds of dollars on magazines, books, clubs, trinkets, programs, and supplements. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve used some of these same things myself. In fact currently the Fitbit is a great tool in my life to help keep me on track. You have to find what WORKS for you, it’s that simple, but what will work doesn’t change, burn more than you eat.
The reality is you can just "eat" lots of whole grains, organic fruits, and green leafy veggies and hope you won't gain weight on a vegan diet. If you are eating more calories than you are using the body has to put those calories somewhere and it does, it stores them as fat. You don't have to eat fat to be fat. Many people find they lose weight changing to a vegan diet because they give up so many empty calories - pop/soda, sugar, candy, meat, fried foods, etc. That is wonderful, but there are others who find they have plateaued and can't get the last 10 or 20 pounds off. OR if you have been vegan/vegetarian for years you can't just 'eat healthy' to lose weight.
A good guide for weight loss that you will maintain is 1 or 2 pounds per month for those trying to lose 20pounds or less. Yes, I know that means a year to get them off, but they will stay off and you won’t be starving yourself or causing nutritional problems. For those who need to lose more please consult a professional, it is possible you can safely lose 2, 4, or even 10 pounds per month depending on your current weight and health.
The safe rule of thumb (as long as you are otherwise healthy) is to times your current weight by 10 then eat that many calories until you lose about 20% of your weight then recalculate. Once you are at the weight you feel is healthiest for you maintain that weight with your weight times 12. This is a rough guide. Your activity level will need to be moderately active – at least3- 5 miles per day (use a step monitor like Fitbit). If you are more active you can eat more calories. You’d be surprise where you can rack up steps. Example: You are 5’ 2 and weigh 160 pounds but you want to weigh closer to your optimal BMI (Body Mass Index) which would be around 105-115 depending on your body frame. Eat 160lbs x 10 = 1600 calories until you get to 135 pounds. Then 1350 calories until you get to 115. If you are happy there continue to each 1350 calories. 115lbs x 12 – 1380 that is your maintenance caloric intake provided you stay active.
A BIG caution to watch for when losing weight: do NOT eat less than 1200 calories per day (men need even more) or you will be in danger of malnutrition AND make sure those calories are full of nutrients. NO crash diets, they are called crash for a reason. More info on the dangers of crash diets here.
Malnutrition can affect every function of the human body, from the cells to the most complex functions, including:
• immune system response
• wound healing
• muscle strength (including respiratory muscles)
• renal system (urinary tract) issues
• electrolyte disturbances
• thermo-regulation (body temperature)
• menstruation disturbances
In addition, malnutrition can lead to vitamin and other deficiencies which in turn may cause to other problems such as depression with low omega 3, folate, and tryptophan consumption and MANY other diseases and disorders.
So what is a healthy weight for you? Start with your BMI. Here is a calculator from Mayo Clinic for adults over 20 years old. This link also have information on BMI and what it all means. Here is a calculator for children from the Centre of Disease Control.
Being overweight is not just about looks and glamor. Obesity is a medical condition where excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems. It increases the likelihood of various diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food energy intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, although a few cases are caused primarily by endocrine disorders, medications, or mental illness. Evidence to support the view that some obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is limited.
Sadly, obesity is a leading preventable cause of death with increasing rates in both adults and children. Authorities view it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. We are worried about chemicals, cancer, and all the while our own choices are killing us.
So make choices to exercise and eat right TODAY!
1 National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care (UK) (February 2006). "Nutrition Support for Adults: Oral Nutrition Support, Enteral Tube Feeding and Parenteral Nutrition". NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 32. National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care (UK).
2. WHO 2000 p.9
3. Haslam DW, James WP (2005). "Obesity". Lancet 366 (9492): 1197–209.
4. Barness LA, Opitz JM, Gilbert-Barness E (December 2007). "Obesity: genetic, molecular, and environmental aspects". American Journal of Medical Genetics 143A (24): 3016–34. doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.32035. PMID 18000969.