While many of us watch our weight for aesthetic reasons, how heavy you are is also an important health concern. Higher weights can lead to chronic conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. If you want to avoid these consequences, losing weight can pay off.
It’s critical that before you start any weight loss program or plan, you consult your doctor. There’s a lot of incorrect information out there, and only your doctor can help you understand what’s best for you and your unique lifestyle. Together, you can come up with ways to safely monitor your progress.
What’s Your Ideal Weight?
Calculating your Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a common and easy way to determine your ideal weight. This number estimates your body fat, based on the ratio between your height and weight. There are plenty of calculators out there on the internet, but if you want to do the math yourself, here’s the formula:
- Take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 703
- Divide that answer by your height in inches
- Divide your second answer by your height again
If you’ve done the math correctly, you should get a number between 10 and 40. A BMI of 19 or less indicates that you’re underweight for your height. 19-24 is a healthy ratio of body fat. 25-29 means that you’re probably overweight. 30 or higher indicates obesity.
However, a BMI score isn’t always completely accurate. Athletes, older adults, and children need to calculate their BMI differently.
Another method of body fat measurement is the circumference of your waist. Over 40 inches (for men) or 35 inches (for women) indicates a higher risk of developing weight-related conditions.
Unfortunately, your calculations can only be an estimate of your body fat percentage. You must see your doctor to find a truly accurate number.
Dietary changes are among the most effective ways to decrease your body fat if you decide to lose weight.
When you eat food, your body converts that food into energy (measured in calories). Calories that the body doesn’t use immediately are turned into body fat. It takes 3,500 calories to make one pound of body fat.
Therefore, the fewer calories you eat, the more weight you lose. However, losing weight faster isn’t always better. Nutritionists recommend reducing your daily caloric intake by about 250, leading to a half-pound loss per week. Losing more than two pounds per week is unsafe and unsustainable.
Don’t forget that you have to eat a variety of food groups if you’re going to get the nutrients to become your healthiest self!
Some actions you can take are:
- Eating at least five servings of fruit and/or vegetables per day
- Eating about three servings of low-fat dairy (like light yogurt or skim milk) per day
- Eating unsalted nuts for a snack instead of candy
- Eating fish two times a week so that you are eating less red meat
- Cutting back on your alcohol intake
- Getting whole grains instead of processed carbs
- Drinking water instead of juice or soda
- Eating only when you’re hungry
- Remembering not to skip meals
- Eating slowly and mindfully at mealtime so you don’t overeat
- Staying hydrated
- Avoiding fast food
- Using a food diary or an app for counting calories
- Eating plenty of protein
- Eliminating junk food, including anything fried
- Peeling the skin off turkey and chicken
- Reading nutrition labels while you’re shopping
While fixing your eating habits, remember there is no single correct way to eat. We all have different lifestyles, bodies, and needs. You can consult your doctor for more information on dietary changes to be your healthiest self.
Exercising for Weight Loss
Exercise is the other main component of weight loss. Physical activity increases your strength and endurance and helps you burn more calories, leading to less body fat. Experts recommend getting in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week to maintain your health, but you might have to do a more rigorous workout to lose weight.
Recommendations for activities to burn more calories include:
- Increasing your workout by 10 minutes
- Moving from moderately strenuous activities to intensely strenuous ones
- Taking the stairs rather than the elevator
- Parking in remote corners of parking lots
- Walking to nearby destinations rather than driving
- Taking time to do more active chores
- Going for walks with family, friends, or pets
- Exercising in place while you watch TV
- Making sure that you stay active on vacation
- Buying a pedometer to measure your steps
- Using an exercise app to track your workouts
- Limiting stationary screen time to less than two hours per day
- Medications Your Doctor Might Prescribe
If you weigh 20% more than your ideal weight, your doctor might prescribe you weight loss medications.
Medications used for this purpose include:
- Orlistat: works by reducing the amount of fat absorbed by your digestive system
- Belviq: works on the serotonin receptors in your brain, so you feel full faster
- Naltrexone-bupropion: works by making you feel full faster or suppressing your appetite
- Phentermine-topiramate: works by decreasing appetite and making you feel full faster
- Liraglutide: works by suppressing the desire for food and making you feel full from a smaller amount of food
Diet pills that you can buy over the counter are not recommended. They can have harmful side effects because they’re not required to be regulated by the FDA. They also don’t help you keep weight off once you lose it, meaning that all your hard work will be for nothing.
Weight loss surgery is usually a last resort option, but it can be very effective. These surgeries work by physically reducing the size of your stomach, so your body doesn’t absorb calories as effectively. There are several different kinds of weight loss surgeries, and your doctor can explain your options to you if you’re considering going this route.
One of the most common types, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, involves placing a belt-like band around your stomach. A doctor can adjust its tightness, so your calorie intake can be controlled.
Other Factors to Consider
Some other reasons you may be overweight include:
If you have a question about current health issues, come see us, we will help you make informed decisions about your health.
Please call us at 214-467-3832 or schedule your appointment using our online scheduler.