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Weight Loss

Updated on December 26, 2007

Weight Loss

Basic Principles of Healthy Eating

Although there is no single blueprint for a healthy balanced diet, there are a few basic principles that are likely to be part of most healthy eating-plans. As follows:

1. Include Foods From All Food Groups

Unless you are a vegetarian or otherwise advised by your doctor, your daily diet should include a variety of foods, ideally from all the main groups of foods, such as: meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables and fats.

2. Carbohydrate Should be Slow-Release and Low in Glycemic Value

Carb-containing foods with a low value on the glycemic index keep you satisfied for longer, reduce cravings and help maintain stable blood glucose levels. It's not necessary to eat only low GI foods. Intermediate (moderate) GI foods are okay, too. But you should include at least one low GI food at every meal.

3. Fat-intake Should be Predominantly Non-Saturated

- Choose lower-fat meats and dairy foods.

- Trim all visible fat.

- Eat regular fish (any type).

- Eat butter/margarine sparingly.

4. Eat Enough Omega-3 Fats

- Choose unrefined cooking oils.

- Try oils containing omega-3 fatty acids: (eg.) canola, flax oil.

- Alternatively, include regular oily fish in your diet.

5. Eat More High-Fiber Foods

Unless otherwise advised by your doctor, make sure your daily diet includes sufficient dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble) for your needs. A ballpark figure is 25-30g per day. When increasing your fiber intake, do so gradually.

6. Beware Hidden Fats and Sugars (and Sodium)

Much of our intake of fat and sugar and sodium is typically from packaged or prepared foods, such as: sauces, packet foods, sodas, candy, soups and so on. You can't avoid these types of food, but you should check the label and choose brands that are lower in sugar, saturated fat ("hydrogenated" or "trans-fats") and sodium.

7. Choose Healthy Snacks

Snacking is a universal and very healthy eating habit. Eating regularly throughout the day maintains stable blood-glucose levels (thus reducing the build-up of hunger) and helps maintain optimum metabolic rate. For healthy snacks, choose chopped fruit, chopped vegetables, nuts and seeds, wholegrain sandwiches, fresh lean meats, and mineral water.

Okay, you may not be able to eat these healthy foods all the time, but include them in your diet as often as possible!

A Diet For Healthy Weight

If you want to create a diet-plan for optimum nutrition and weight control, pay attention to these four elements.

1. Calorie Control


Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight is largely (but not exclusively) a matter of controlling your calorie-intake. This doesn't mean carrying around a calorie-calculator everywhere you go. But you should be aware of the calorie content of your regular foods, as well as your calorie needs. One highly effective strategy for maintaining calorie-awareness is to keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat and drink, together with the relevant calories, then add up your score. Do this for 14 days, and I guarantee it'll improve your calorie control. For details of calorie content in foods

Eating Plans Must be Realistic

The most effective type of calorie-controlled diet is one you can live with: meaning, an eating plan that lets you live a relatively normal life and eat normal foods in a normal way. For example, a diet program containing family-friendly foods may be more convenient for you than one which insists on special "diet foods."

Eat "Calorie-Dense" Foods Sparingly

A sensible calorie-controlled diet-plan should permit all foods, as long as the overall calorie total is within desirable limits. That said, some foods are calorie-dense, meaning a lot of calories are condensed into a small volume. Calorie-dense foods are typically high in fat and/or sugar, like pastries, rich ice-cream or a candy bar. A few bites and you've eaten 50 or 100 calories but hardly any nutrition. By comparison, an apple is calorie-light and nutritious. And while it takes many bites to eat an apple, you take in only 80-90 calories. Calorie-dense food is useful as an energy boost to counteract low blood-sugar levels, and it's fine as an occasional treat, but it's not ideal when trying to lose weight.

Know Your Energy Needs

An adult person burns about 2500 kcal daily or just over 100 calories per hour on average. The rate may slow down to 60 during sleep and may increase to 150 during normal daytime activity.

To MAINTAIN your weight, calculate your calorie needs and use the resulting figure as a guide to how much you can eat. To LOSE weight, reduce your daily calorie needs by 500 calories per day. This should allow you to lose 1 pound per week. To do this, click Calorie Needs for Women or Calorie Needs for Men or see Quick Estimate

Alternatively you may choose to increase your calorie expenditure by taking more physical exercise. An hour of brisk walking burns about 400 calories. Assuming you eat no more calories than are needed to maintain your weight, this walking routine should help you to lose roughly one pound of body weight, every 9 days.

2. Nutrition

A healthy body works more efficiently (eg. loses weight more easily) than an unhealthy body. This is why nutrition is so important for weight management as well as general health.

Need for Healthy Foods to Lose Weight

It's worth remembering that 20 minerals, 13 vitamins and fiber (none of which contain any calories) are essential for health. Their presence or absence can also change the rate at which energy is produced or calories burned. When foods cannot be metabolised properly because they lack the necessary minerals and vitamins, their energy becomes unavailable to our body and is stored as fat until we get the necessary minerals and vitamins at some later time. In the meantime we feel hungry and eat more. This too turns into fat unless minerals and vitamins are also provided.

Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods

So make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet from nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, oily fish, oats, beans, nuts and seeds, and avoid wasting your daily calorie allowance on "empty-calorie-foods" (which contain calories but no nutrition), like regular sodas, alcohol, sweets and candy.

3. Exercise

Regular physical activity not only burns calories, it also helps to speed up metabolic rate, which means we burn calories faster even when we stop exercising. (An hour of exercise keeps our metabolic rate elevated for 12-16 hours. ) It also maintains strong bones, and protects us against a wide range of conditions, such as: cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, some cancers, insulin resistance and diabetes, to name but a few. It also triggers the release of the so-called "happiness chemicals", called endorphins, which improve our mood. Finally, regular workouts help to actually reduce our appetite. Bottom line: keeping fit is a very effective way to maintain a healthy weight.

4. Lifestyle and Eating

This is the difficult bit! After all, it's easy to start a weight loss diet, but persevering with it is what counts. For example, if you overeat because of boredom, simply reducing your calorie intake is not likely to work. The instant you feel bored, chances are you'll break your diet. Instead, you need to tackle the cause of your overeating (the boredom), not the symptom (the candy bar/ice-cream).

The best weight control strategy here means doing two things. (1) you need to change your daily routine. (2) you need to get support to help you follow your diet when problems occur. Calorie Needs Estimate

What Determines Energy Needs

Our calorie needs are typically determined by a number of factors, including:

- Our present weight

- Our height

- Our age

- Our gender

- Our exercise routine

- Our health

- Our body-fat-percentage

- Our environment

- How fast we want to lose weight

To obtain an accurate assessment of our calorie needs, all these factors need to be considered.

Rough Estimate of Calorie Needs to Lose Weight

Here is a very rough guide of how many calories you need per day, if you want to lose weight. It's a ballpark estimate only.


Teenagers need about 1500-1800 calories per day

Women (Non-Active)

Sedentary women typically need about 1100-1300 calories per day

Women (Active)

Active women typically need about 1400-1600 calories per day

Men (Non-Active)

Sedentary men typically need about 1600-1800 calories per day

Men (Active)

Active men typically need about 1800-2000 calories per day

Quick Estimate of Calorie Needs

Here is a very rough and ready guide to calculating your calorie needs. Just be careful to maintain your daily calorie intake above 1000 calories, minimum.


To Maintain Weight - Multiply your weight (in pounds) by 12

This is a rough estimate of daily calories needed to maintain weight.

To Lose Weight - Deduct 500 calories from this figure

This gives you a rough estimate of the daily calories needed for you to lose about 1 pound per week.


To Maintain Weight - Multiply your weight (in pounds) by 14

This is a rough estimate of daily calories needed to maintain weight.

To Lose Weight - Deduct 500 calories from this figure

This gives you a rough estimate of the daily calories you need to lose about 1 pound per week.

Calorie Needs for Women

How many calories you need depends on various factors, including height, total body weight, ratio of fat to muscle, age, gender, genes and physical exercise. (Plus illness, pregnancy etc.) But usually, a woman's calorie needs can be reasonably accurately assessed by focusing on two calorie components. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and physical exercise.

Calorie Needs for Women and Basal Metabolic Rate

Basal Metabolic Rate is a short way of saying: "the amount of energy (calories) you need to keep your body functioning while at rest." A body needs a minimum number of calories to maintain the millions of chemical reactions which keep eyes, lungs, heart, liver, kidneys etc. in healthy working order. This is your Basal Metabolic Rate. Over half the calories needed by most women fuel these basic bodily functions.

Calorie Needs for Women and Exercise

The second major calorie-needs component is physical activity. The more exercise you take, the more calories you need.

Calorie Needs for Women - Weight Maintenance and Weight Gain

When you have determined your total daily calorie needs, this will be the number of calories required to maintain your weight. If you want to lose weight, (e.g. one pound per week), you should consume 3,500 calories less, per week. (Or, consume 2,000 fewer calories and burn an extra 1,500 calories by taking extra exercise.) This is because one pound of weight is equal to 3,500 calories. To gain one pound of weight, increase your calorie intake by 3,500 calories.

Harris-Benedict Formula To Determine Calorie Needs for Women

The Harris Benedict equation determines calorie needs for women in two steps:

It calculates your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calorie requirements, based on your height, weight, age and gender.

It increases your BMR calorie needs by taking into account the number of calories you burn by taking exercise. This gives you your total calorie requirement.

To automatically calculate your calorie needs using the Harris-Benedict equation,

Calorie Needs for Men – Introduction

Your calorie requirements vary according to height, total body weight, ratio of fat to muscle, age, gender, genes, health and physical exercise. But in essence, a man's calorie needs can be reasonably accurately assessed by focusing on two calorie components. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and physical exercise.

Calorie Needs for Men and Basal Metabolic Rate

Your Basal Metabolic Rate is the minimum number of calories needed to power your body while resting. Put another way, your BMR is the energy expended by your body to maintain normal functions, like heart beat, respiration and normal body temperature. Your BMR usually accounts for about 60-70% of your calories requirements. Typically, your BMR will peak at the age of 20 and gradually decrease by approximately 2 percent per decade, due in part to inactivity and subsequent loss of muscle tissue.

Calorie Needs for Men and Exercise

The second major calorie component is physical exercise or activity. The more exercise you take, the more calories you burn.

Calorie Needs for Men - Weight Maintenance, Weight Loss, Weight Gain

Your total daily calorie needs are the calories required to MAINTAIN your weight. In order to LOSE weight, you need to reduce your calorie intake. In order to GAIN weight you need to increase your calorie intake. One pound of weight is equal to 3,500 calories.

Thus, in order to lose one pound of weight, per week, you should either consume 3,500 fewer calories, or consume 1,500 fewer calories while burning an extra 2,000 calories in extra exercise. To gain one pound of weight, increase your calorie intake by 3,500 calories etc.

Guide To Water Intake, Diet And Weight

About 50-70 percent of the human body is composed of water. The exact amount of bodily water varies according to age and the proportion of muscle-to-fat (muscle contains more water than fat.) Although water contains no calories and may have no nutrients, it is essential for life. We can survive for weeks without food, but only a matter of days without water. Because we do not store excess water, we must ensure that our daily diet contains a sufficient supply to maintain adequate health. It's extremely difficult to take in too much water. If we drink too much, our body simply adjusts by increasing the amount of liquid we urinate. However, if our water level inside our body falls too low, we experience several symptoms that warn us we may be dehydrating. The principal symptom is thirst, a reaction influenced by a group of nerve cells located in the hypothalamus, located at the base of the brain.

Effect Of Water On Weight Gain And Weight Loss

Because the human body contains so much water, rising or falling levels may cause an equal increase or decrease in our weight. For example, water retention (sometimes called edema or oedema) with accompanying weight gain, is a common symptom of PMS and Menopause. While a very low carbohydrate diet (eg. Atkins Diet) typically leads to a loss of water (because carbs bind with water) leading to a rapid initial loss of weight. Weight loss is also a common symptom of dehydration.

How Much Water Do You Really Need To Drink? Latest Official Guidelines on Water Intake

According to the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board in their recent sixth report (February 2004) concerning water intake and electrolyte nutrients:

1. The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration and fluid intake needs by letting thirst be their guide. As a general guide, the Food and Nutrition Board set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (about 8 glasses) of total water - from all beverages and foods - each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (about 12 glasses) of total water.

Note: American women already average 9 cups of water a day from all beverages combined, and American men, 13 cups.

2. About 80 percent of people's total water intake comes from drinking water and beverages - including caffeinated beverages - and the other 20 percent is derived from food.

3. Prolonged physical activity and/or heat exposure increases water loss and thus increases daily fluid needs.

4. The Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board also stated that it is a myth that coffee and (moderate consumption of) alcoholic beverages are dehydrating. Caffeinated beverages contribute to daily total water intake, in the same way as non-caffeinated beverages.

What These Water Intake Guidelines Mean

Firstly, fluid intake is very important, and extra fluids are necessary in hot sun or during and after prolonged exercise, to prevent dehydration.

Secondly, if you feel thirsty, chances are you need to drink something (err, not beer or a large Jack Daniels!). But if you don't feel thirsty, chances are you don't need to drink anything. On a daily basis people get sufficient water from normal drinking behavior, such as drinking beverages at meals and in other social situations, and by letting their thirst guide them.

Thirdly, water or other liquids, are not the only source of fluids. Foods, like fruits and vegetables, are also important sources. (See below for more details about water content of foods).

Health Benefits of Water

Although water contains no calories and may contain no micronutrients, it is an indispensable aid to digestion, nutrient absorption and waste-elimination. It also helps regulate circulation, body temperature and a host of other biochemical reactions. Water lubricates joints and maintains healthy skin. It's worth remembering that we can exist without food for months, but without water for only a few days.

Fluid Intake From Water And Food

We don't store water in the way we store energy in the form of body fat, so we need a new supply each day. Every day on average our body loses the equivalent of 6-12 cups of water, which must be replaced. The digestion and metabolism of food typically gives us about 15 percent of our water needs. Our body converts part of our food into hydrogen and combines this with oxygen in the air we breathe to form water. The remaining 85 percent comes from water in our diet. As a very rough guide, we need to eat/drink the equivalent of 8 x 10-ounce glasses of water. But we don't necessarily need to take in this fluid in the form of drinking water. Eating water-containing food is fine, too. Here are some common and not-so-common examples:

- Most fruits are largely composed of water.

- Liquids like milk and fruit juices contain plenty of water.

- Vegetables are rich in water.

- A hamburger is 50 percent water.

- Swiss cheese is 38 percent water.

- Regular hard bagels are almost 30 percent water.

Note: A turkey sandwich made with Swiss cheese, lettuce, and tomato on whole-wheat bread contains almost a half-cup of water, while a tossed salad with vinaigrette dressing contains about a full cup.

What Type Of Water is Best to Drink?

What type of water should we drink? For optimum health, experts recommend clean, spring water, or filtered water, and some experts advise against drinking tap water, fluoridated or distilled water. For health reasons, some experts advise us all to check the safety of our tap water supply, in order to ensure it is free from heavy metals, bacteria and other contaminants.


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    • Freegoddies profile image


      10 years ago

      very informative.Good pic of Priyank


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