Over weight and obesity are two of the major health issues that are on the rise in alarming proportions among the public. Even children are not free from this. A lifestyle that encourages sedentary activities is mostly to be blamed, but genetics and side effects of medications also may lead to a disproportionate gain of weight. Besides the associated health risks, an increase in weight is also responsible for low self esteem due to the heightened awareness of changed appearance.
Usually people become aware of their increased weight when they are not comfortable wearing a favorite dress that shows off the curves. Some get downhearted, while others panic and try to find quick fix solutions. The internet abounds in countless solutions to entice such people who naively believe the testimonials from seemingly trustworthy sources. There are crash diets, fad diets, pills, and belts that promise to melt away the fat, all in a matter of a few days. Some even have a money-back guarantee, which adds weight to their credibility.
Sadly, the truth is that for every single success story seen in print, there are hundreds of failed examples out there which rarely get published. All these super fast methods and yo-yo diets seem to work in the beginning, but soon the lost pounds are regained. This results in a loss of self respect, and the resolve to lose weight.
Everyone who is serious about losing weight should know this – if there is one thing that has not kept pace with the tempo of technology, then that is weight loss. There is absolutely no easy, instant way to do this. Only a suitable balanced diet combined with a regular exercise regimen can bring down the weight without affecting the health, and this takes time. Let us take a look at how to plan a balanced diet tailored to meet individual requirements:
• The first step is to calculate your required calorie intake. This varies according to a person’s age, gender, size and level of physical activity. An adult woman 18 to 30 years of age, of average size, and going about the usual day-to-day activities would need 2000 calories per day. An adult male satisfying the same conditions would need around 2500 calories.
People who are older than this can cut 200 calories from the daily intake. Your requirements would vary slightly if you are taller or smaller. A person who wants to reduce weight should consume less than the recommended amount, and a person who wants to maintain the weight should take in the right amount of calories.
• Next step would be to find out how many calories you consume every day. This is done by keeping a food journal at hand always. Whenever something passes down your throat, make a note of it. It could be a gulp of water, a bite of an apple, two or three chips, or a piece of candy. Write down the time of eating it and also why you ate it – whether you were hungry, or stressed, or did not want to throw away a last piece.
• Calculate the total calories you consumed a day. The food guides and charts available on the net, like calorieking.com and thefoodchart.com, help you to find out how many calories there are in even a single potato chip.
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• This sum would be definitely more than your daily recommended intake. Add up separately the calories of the avoidable snacks you had eaten when you were not feeling particularly hungry. By the simple step of cutting these items off, you achieve the first milestone of losing weight.
• Next step is to prepare the proper diet. Your aim is to consume fewer calories than your recommended allowance, without going hungry. It is also important that you include foods that you like; otherwise you will not be able to continue this diet after a while.
50 to 60% of the calories consumed per day should come from carbohydrates, 20 to 30% from proteins and 10 to 20% from fats. 1 gram of carbohydrate gives 4 calories, and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories in it. This amounts to consuming 270 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of fat if your plan is to consume 1800 calories a day. The rest would be brought up by proteins.
Include the healthier versions of the foods you like to eat. Skinless grilled chicken has fewer calories than fried chicken with skin on. If you like boiled eggs, avoid eating the yolk. Instead of munching on a pretzel, eat a stick of celery or carrot which will give the same crunchy feeling, but in a healthier way.
Include lots of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fish, but go easy on starchy ones like potato, yam, ripe mango, papaya, avocado, and bananas. Remember, there is no need to avoid them totally if you like these. Instead, you can include one or two small slices as a treat, or as a cheat meal!
But there are certain foods that have to be off limits, and these include all fried items, processed food, pork and carbonated drinks. Cut down alcohol too as all alcoholic beverages are rich in calories. Even one glass of beer, whose alcohol content is just 3%, contains 44 calories.
An effective way to lose weight would be to properly manage your total intake of food in a day. Instead of having three regular meals, divide the total quantity of food to be consumed per day into five or six smaller meals. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner could be split into two sittings each, with an interval of two to three hours in between. This way your stomach will not be empty for a long stretch of time, and you will not feel like stuffing yourself when you eat again.
If you adopt this healthier habit of eating divided meals, you would start seeing the results within two to three weeks. The heavier you are, the more weight you lose initially. Combine this diet with a good exercise routine, and before long prepare to meet the new, improved you!
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