92% of restaurant meals exceed the average person’s recommended calories for a single meal. January is Healthy Weight Awareness Month, and we talked to SIMEDHealth’s new Primary Care and Family Medicine Physician Antje Floegel, MD, about healthily losing weight.
What are some tips for preventing weight gain?
Dr. Floegel says, "To achieve a substantial weight loss, one must work on changing the balance of the calories consumed through food and drinks, and the calories the body spends. It is important to remember that everyone is different, and there is not a "one size fits all strategy" for weight loss or weight maintenance."
- Cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates is a step in the right direction. Be sure to read food labels for added sugars. Even in foods, you would consider "healthy," there can be sugar added.
- A food diary, photo diary, or calorie counter can help keep track and visualize how much you consume every day.
- Eating from smaller plates may help for portion control — dinner plates in the US are about 30 % larger than in Europe. The average American dinner plate is 12 inches across, which is up from the standard 9-inch plates used in the 1950s.
- Have healthy snacks (fruit, nuts, carrots, yogurt, boiled eggs) readily available in case you get hungry.
- Choose non-starchy, colorful vegetables and fruits that contain water and fiber to fill and provide essential vitamins and minerals.
- Replace processed carbs by healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, fatty fish.
- Maintain a consistent eating pattern across the weekdays and weekends.
- Eat breakfast every day. Research suggests this is a healthy strategy for controlling insulin levels and jump-starting the metabolism.
- Be mindful of your chewing. Sit down and slow down while eating to take the time, so you can recognize when you're full and stop before all your food is gone. If you are still a quick eater, try eating with your non-dominant hand. It is helpful as well to ask yourself why you are eating before you start. Are you actually hungry, or are you craving?
- Change up your aerobic exercise in various intensities. One day go for a bike ride but try swimming or walking the next day. It will keep the excitement in your workouts, build and tone different muscle groups, plus burn calories. Finding an exercise buddy can help you stick to your plan.
- Get adequate sleep. Poor sleep habits can interfere with hormones regulating fat metabolism and increase the risk of being overweight.
- Stress hormone levels are linked to increased amounts of abdominal fat. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can help reduce these hormone levels.
What are the long term health effects of being overweight?
- Increases in all causes of death
- High cholesterol - dyslipidemia
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary artery disease
- Sleep problems like obstructive sleep apnea
- Respiratory issues like obesity hypoventilation
- Fertility issues
- Osteoarthritis from early cartilage degeneration
- Gallbladder disease
- Some cancers (breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, liver, endometrial cancer)
- Mental health problems
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
Why is it easier to gain weight as you age?
Dr. Floegel explains, "We believe that the metabolism slows down by an estimated 5% per decade past 40. Now new research at Karolinska Institute in Sweden has uncovered why that is. Lipid turnover in the fat tissue decreases during aging. It makes it easier to gain weight, even if we don't eat more or exercise less than before."
Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Floegel or one of our other SIMEDHealth Primary Care providers today!