Losing weight - do we expect too much?

We all hear talk of Body Mass Index (BMI ) and healthy weights, but what actually counts when losing weight? Do we have unrealistic expectations of how much weight we can and should lose?

A healthy rate of weight loss is 0.25-1kg per week. In addition, did you know that 10 per cent weight loss is the optimum weight loss in 3-6 months? Not only is this achievable, but it is associated with clinical health benefits such as:

50 per cent reduction in risk of developing diabetes;

10 per cent reduction in total cholesterol;

30 per cent reduction in triglycerides;

Reduction in blood pressure;

20 per cent reduction in total mortality.

But most importantly this weight loss can be maintained. So try to forget your ‘ideal weight’ and work on 10 per cent weight loss instead. For example, a 20 stone or 127kg man would need to lose two stone or 13kg to see the above health benefits.

The key is to start slowly and make changes which can be maintained such as cutting down on mealtime portions, choosing lower fat foods, increasing fruit, vegetable and wholegrain intake, exercising for 30-60 minutes a day, and drinking eight glasses of water a day

These will all reduce your energy intake and help your body to burn more energy. Here are some diet tips to help you on your way!

Step 1

Clean your food cupboard and revamp your shopping list.

Get rid of: large amounts of biscuits, cakes or pastries; multi-packs of crisps, sweets or chocolate; high sugar soft drinks; and high sugar breakfast cereals.

Add in more: occasional treats and healthy snacks such as popcorn, fruit, raw vegetables, and yoghurts; refreshing water or sugar-free squashes; high fibre breakfast cereals.

Step 2

Get active!

Plan to watch less TV every day. Use the evenings to take up a new activity, eg walking, cycling, or swimming; walk to work, the shops, or town where possible; or get active in the garden.

By Niamh O’Keeffe, Senior Community Dietitian, HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster based in Portlaoise.

For more information on losing weight contact Community Nutrition & Dietetic Department at (044 ) 9353220 or email [email protected].

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