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On Monday 14th January it is the start of National Obesity Awareness week, a week encouraging people to improve their health, and to keep up with their new year’s resolutions.

 

The statistics for the UK as a nation are alarming. These stats were taken from the NHS website from the reporting on ‘Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet.

We’ve looked before at Body Mass Index and the implications of an elevated BMI to our health. It is alarming that a quarter of the adult population are obese, and the impact that it can have: with 617,000 hospital admissions being a consequence of being obese.

 

Why is obesity on the rise?

In the simplest terms, our energy input is higher than our energy output, which is why the focus is generally on being more active and watching what we eat. For a woman, the recommended energy (calorie) intake is 2,000 calories a day and a man are 2,500 calories.

This example uses the recommendations for a female.

Think of it like a bank account. If we bring in more than we spend (2,000) our bank balance swells. If, on the other hand we spend more than comes in (2,000), our bank balance shrinks.  If I bring in 2,200 per day, I will have an additional 200 in my account. If I spend 2,500, I am 500 down

 

Weight Gain

Fats / Carbohydrates / Protein / Alcohol intake (calories) exceeds what we use

 

Weight maintenance

Fats / Carbohydrates / Protein / Alcohol intake (calories) is the same as what we use

 

Weight Loss

Fats / Carbohydrates / Protein / Alcohol intake (calories) is less than what we use

 

For this reason, weight gain does not happen overnight, it is due to days/weeks/months of over consumption that increases our weight.

 

Ways in which we take in calories Ways in which we burn calories
Protein (4 calories per g) Physical Activity –  when we carry out physical activity we burn calories, calories are energy the body uses to create movement
Fat (7 calories per g) Basal Metabolic Rate / Metabolism – we need a certain amount of energy to help us function, for our heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, muscles to function and our brain to work
Carbohydrates (4 calories per g) Thermal effect of food – have mentioned this, but it does not contribute hugely to our overall calorie expenditure. When we eat and digest food, we need energy (calories) to help the process
Alcohol (9 calories per g)  

 

To lose weight healthily we should aim to lose 1 to 2lbs a week, this is sustainable and better for us in the long term. Although we want to lose weight quickly and get to our desired goal, we should do it in a safe way and one that helps us keep the weight off long term, instead of a quick fix. We have previously talked about diets here.

 

Fat Cells

In our body we store fat in many different places are under various guises, subcutaneous fat is found under our skin and visceral fat is found around the organs. After puberty, the number of fat cells we have, for the most part, stays the same: the fat cells just get bigger as they absorb the excess calories we consume. The problem can occur if we are already too big, they can multiply, meaning we then have more fat cells that can store excess calories. The problem for the human body is where the fat is stored, this is down to our testosterone and oestrogen levels.

Men = abdomen, chest, bottom

Women = bottom, breasts, hips, waist

 

The problem?

Well… everything! The ease at which we can pick-up food, which can be highly calorific, not to mention the various drinks we consume which are laden with calories. The other is our physical activity levels have dropped due to more households having a second car, increased time watching TV, playing computer games, labour saving devices around the house (dish washers, remote controls) and fewer people employed in farming, manufacturing and other physical demanding jobs. Even though our behaviour has changed, the recommended guidelines have not with regards to the number of calories to consume daily.

Even though our behaviour has changed, the recommended guidelines have not with regards to the number of calories to consume daily.

Another link to a previous blog! To find out the recommended daily physical activity guidelines.

 

3,500 calories equal to 1lb

In order to achieve the goal of losing 1lb a week we have to look at ‘losing’ 3500 calories over a week. This can be in the form of exercise, diet or the combination of the two.  This is where we come back to our energy balance. To achieve this goal, we should be aiming to lose for 500 calories a day, this can be achieved through:

  • Healthy eating, swapping foods for less calorific options to reduce intake by 500
  • Burning 500 calories through physical activity
  • A combination of the two 250 through food choices and 250 through physical activity

 

How can we help ourselves?

Be more accountable. At the end of the day, we are in charge of what we eat and our daily physical activity. I am not saying you have to go run a marathon or anything like that, but make a few simple changes to your diet and move a bit more. Moving more keeps our basal metabolic rate switched on, plus physical activity could also help by increasing our basal metabolic rate when we are at rest. Take a look at the recipes below for some ideas of what you could eat and also look at the attached bodyweight workout you can do at home, to get you started.

 

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