A lot of what we know about diets comes through word of mouth, advertising or magazine articles. Dieting is an industry that rakes in $33 billion a year in the United States alone.
There is a huge amount of misinformation and misdirection out there, promising quick fixes and painless results. There are just about as many theories on how best to lose weight as there are books on dieting. Starting a diet with the wrong information is about as rewarding as window-shopping.
To the medical profession, the formula for losing weight is very simple. To maintain your current weight, you need to balance the amount of calories you eat with the amount of calories being used by your body. To lose weight, you need either to decrease the number of calories you eat or increase the amount of calories you burn. To lose half a kilogram, you need to decrease your overall intake by 3 500 calories. This means that if you want to lose 450 grams a week, you must decrease what you consume by 500 calories – the equivalent of four apples – a day or increase the calories you use by 500 a day which, depending on your size, is around a ninety minute walk a day or a 45 minute jog.
For most people, combining both strategies is the easiest way to reach their goals. Slowly increasing the amount and intensity of physical activity while cutting back on the amount you eat will result in weight loss.
Simple? Well actually it is that simple. What is going to get in the way is a factor that is not accounted for on a spreadsheet. You.
Metabolic resistance to weight loss
There are a few medical conditions that inhibit weight loss. It’s best to rule these out for peace of mind. These are factors to consider when you have tried everything to lose the kilos and your weight just isn’t dropping.
The thyroid gland’s primary role is to regulate the speed of your metabolism. An irregular thyroid can flare up after childbirth, so don’t rule this out if you have never had it before. It can be either over or under active. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) include dramatic loss of weight, particularly while breastfeeding. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) will do the reverse. Symptoms will be an inability to lose weight, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, fatigue, depression, dry skin, constipation, breaking nails, bad skin and high cholesterol. Your doctor will give you a blood test to measure your body’s production of thyroid hormone and diagnose you accordingly. Underactive thyroid can be recti- fied by hormone supplements. Yoga is also extremely effective in regulating thyroid function.
Use of Prescription Drugs or Hormones
A number of prescription drugs, particularly those that act asantidepressants, can seriously stop dead your attempts to lose weight.
These include: oestrogen and birth control pills, diuretics, beta-blockers and antidepressant drugs, particularly the popular SSRIs (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac, Paxil (sold as Aropax in South Africa), Zoloft, Cipramil and Luvox. Generics include Lily Fluoxetine, Nuzac, Lorien and Prohexal.
At any given time there is around a teaspoon of sugar in your blood. This level is maintained by insulin. What is not needed is stored as fat. When you drink a Coke your body is suddenly flooded with sugar. Now it is up to your pancreas to produce insulin to quickly reduce the blood sugar to appropriate levels. This means you will have a lot of insulin running around trying to get rid of the sugar. It can happen that your body becomes desensitised to insulin and it can no longer efficiently move sugar into your cells. This is more common in people who are significantly overweight.
Candida albicans is the name of one of the hundreds of organisms that live in our digestive tracts. It is also very opportunistic and can grow out of control. Pregnant women are extremely susceptible to candida. Apart from displaying as a red and itchy vaginal rash, candida can be present in the blood and intestines, where it interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients and can hamper attempts at weight loss. There are allopathic drugs, topical creams or pessaries on the market that will relieve the itch and knock your yeast levels back into shape for a while. But longer term management is required to balance your body’s levels of yeast. A combination of probiotics (acidophilus) that will put back the good bacteria and a spartan, sugar-free, yeast free diet is the only real long term solution. There is little medical evidence to prove this, but most women, nutritionists and homeopaths will say this is the best way to keep candida under wraps. You can find a lot of information online about candida diets or consult a homeopath or doctor for holistic treatment.
Start the Meltdown
1. Rule out a medical condition that could be stopping weight loss.
2. Cut portion size.
3. Start exercising.
Nine things every girl should know to lose weight
1. Every diet works, for a while. A high protein diet works, a low fat diet works, a high fruit diet works. Any diet in which you reduce your calorie intake is effective. You will lose weight in the short term if you stick to ANYTHING. The question is not only what is right for you, but also what you can sustain with your lifestyle. Unfortunately few of these diets are sustainable over the long-term and, as older eating habits return, the weight will creep back on.
2. Eat less, weigh less. Now we can talk around this for hours, but unfortunately it really is true. As a rule, the law of physics does not lie. The vast majority of overweight people eat too much, but if you expend more energy than you consume, you will lose weight.
3. Drastic diets don’t work. Dieting slows down your metabolism. The less you eat the more effective your body will get at using less energy. It will store the little you do eat and hold on to it for dear life. This is not good. The primary sins are skipping meals, fasting and dramatic changes in diet. Don’t go on a diet; change your lifestyle.
4. Dieting is about being sensible. People think it cannot be that easy. There must be a trick to losing weight, a secret thin people know and we don’t. Wrong. Losing weight is innately sensible, we are just bombarded with so many theories to try and make it easier that we are confused. We all know we will lose weight if we eat less.
5. There is no such thing as a quick fix. They are no quick fixes in the long run. Dieting is ninety-five per cent unsuccessful within five years. As a rule of thumb, it’s reasonable to lose ten per cent of your body weight in a year. That means if you are tip- ping the scales at seventy kilograms, a good loss will be seven kilograms a year. That is just over half a kilo a month. Sound slow? Sounds good if it stays off.
6. Your genes rule. The strongest factor determining your body type will be your parents. Sorry.
7. It is very easy to be fat. Food is everywhere in this culture of instant gratification. We do not know what true hunger is. We don’t know what is in what we eat. There is little natural left in our world. The food we buy comes off supermarket shelves and has been mass produced, intensively farmed or manufactured on a production line with bottom lines and investors’ interests at heart, not our health. We are being plied with hidden fats, sugars and salt in every morsel we buy. There is so much added fat in the food we eat, it’s little wonder we have to fight to hold a healthy weight.
8. Carbs are not really the enemy. Sure most low-carb diets are effective for weight loss. If you cut out carbs you are cutting sugar, chocolates, biscuits, toasted sarmies, pizza, pastries, toast with butter. If you don’t lose weight, there is a problem.
9. Don’t get into the habit of thinking one food group is to blame for your weight. More often, overeating is the cause. But it sure sounds more hip to pass the pizza over saying: “I don’t eat wheat,” rather than: “I’m dieting.”
Get moving, Hilda Hips
If you want to lose weight, exercise is non-negotiable.
· Any type of exercise will speed things up. It can only be better than sitting on the couch or scoffing cake.
· Pace yourself. Start slowly and increase your intensity and duration over time. If you exercise too hard, too soon after delivery, your vaginal flow (lochia) may increase or turn red – a signal to slow down.
· Set an intention. For maximum results, work towards some- thing. It may be health, better quality of life, a half marathon or a spinnathon.
· Rope in your friends. Choose friends who will push you, not suggest you skip the session and have a skinny latte instead.
· Include weight-bearing exercises in your workout. Aim to boost your resting metabolic rate by increasing your lean body mass while burning calories. The ratio of muscle to body mass is what is going to make your metabolism rise.
TIP : If you're breastfeeding exercise when your breasts aren't full of milk. For comfort andn extra support, wear a sports bra over a nursing bra.
Diet Q & As
Can hot and spicy foods speed up my metabolism?
No. The thinking goes something along the lines of – chillies will kick-start your metabolism and fat burning. It may work if you eat a kilogram of bird’s-eye chilli seeds every day, which is impossible of course. Remember: what goes in, must come out! Just think logically for one second before you hit those green Thai curries.
Will eating grapefruit or vinigar burn calaories?
No food can burn up calories or melt away body fat. There is nothing magical about grapefruit or vinegar.
What about alcohol?
The jury is out on this. Our friend Atkins says that alcohol contains no impact carbs, while most so-called sensible diets will outlaw drinking. Diet expert Nicole Saks says that our bodies have no capacity to store alcohol. In fact, your body sees it as a poison and will try and get rid of it as soon as possible by flushing it out of the system, by using every scrap of water you are storing. Alcohol makes food fattening. It goes hand in hand with a rich meal, a fistful of chips, a bag of peanuts and a late night stop at McDonald’s. What’s worse is that it distracts your digestive system on a physiological level. While it is desperately trying to siphon the poison out of your system, it’s not paying much attention to digesting all the food and fatty snacks you have just packed in.
Wil fat burners or binders help?
It looks seductive: the ‘after’ shot of a still heavy lass holding up a supermarket bought outsize sundress who testifies to having lost sixty-eight kilograms in six months. “... And I didn’t change my diet one bit,” she says, snapping the now loose elastic waistband. The claim is they grab carbs or fat in the food you eat and bind the evil substances to their chemicals, allowing them to pass through your system undigested. Fat binders are made up of chitin, a polymer found in crustaceans, which is easily digested by the body. This may work in a test tube. It does not in a body.
Are appetite suppressants and metabolism boosters going to help?
Now these do work over a short-term. They work to suppress your appetite, which can be effective in shrinking your stomach and getting you down to a smaller portion size. But they are not sustainable and are actually dangerous for you, with high doses of caffeine and a cocktail of stimulants that may have you snapping everyone’s heads off. Stay clear of any with ephedrine (also known as ephedra and Ma Huang), as it’s a central nervous system stimulant with reportedly damaging side effects. Ephedrine is banned in South Africa; however, the ban has not been effectively enforced and products containing ephedrine are often still available on shelves.
My Story : Kim