Obesity is a medical condition where body fat has risen to an unhealthy level, and can begin to have a range of negative effects. While the traditional method of identifying obesity is through your body mass index (BMI), this can often be misleading for athletes due to muscle weighing more than fat.
That said, it’s a good indicator for the general population. A more precise measurement can be made using callipers to measure your body fat percentage.
Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about your weight. Obesity increases the likelihood of a vast range of health issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, certain types of cancer and even anxiety and depression.
Obesity is best dealt with through diet and exercise. While you can find countless programmes to fight obesity online, we will provide you with the fundamentals to prevent or proactively tackle obesity.
- Diet and exercise are the foundations to prevent or beat obesity.
- Support is vital, whether through your local health service or friends.
- Take things one step at a time, but keep moving.
Abs are made in the kitchen: Who deserves credit for this statement is contested, but its legitimacy is not. Fighting obesity starts with diet. The most popular stance against obesity is the calorie in calorie out method. This is the fact that you must burn more energy through exercise than you take in from food. You can’t argue with the science here. But, for people who are overweight, their high calorie intake is usually due to the types of foods they are eating.
A much more sustainable approach than calorie counting, involves changing to a whole food diet, reducing starchy, refined carbohydrates and increasing nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. For protein, make the switch to lean, unprocessed sources such as low-fat cuts of meat, beans and certain soy products (tofu or tempeh). Once the nutrient quality of food intake has increased, calories tend to drop as a result. You’ll also find it easier not to snack throughout the day if your meals provide what your body needs.
- Cut out processed food from your day-to-day diet, once you’ve switched to a healthier diet, then you can start thinking about measuring calories.
- Processed food includes anything with additives, especially sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, glucose or fructose syrup and E numbers.
- Fill up on fruits and vegetables but avoid juices, the removal of the fibre through juicing means you’re refining the sugars.
- Eat unprocessed, low-fat protein sources, like lean cuts of meat, beans, lentils and tempeh
- Black beans have a similar protein profile to beef, but must be combined with a grain for us to absorb the nutrient effectively.
- Eat potatoes and less processed starchy carbs such as white bread and pasta, choose whole grains with less or ideally no additives.
- Be realistic, allow yourself two or even three cheat meals a week, but this means cheat meals, not days.
- A meal is what you can consume in one sitting. If you buy a takeaway that provides that evening's dinner, another meal before bed and then the next morning’s breakfast, that’s three cheat meals.
While diet alone can help tackle obesity, exercise is going to fast track the process exponentially. But, slowly does it, particularly for overweight people. Being overweight creates more risk of injury. The extra weight means extra stress on your skeletal system, joints and muscles.
Lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, who recently lost 200lb to make his boxing comeback, admits he began with walks over runs, specifically to avoid injury. This means that in the beginning phases of tackling obesity, low impact exercises like walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates are going to have a more foundational and sustainable impact.
Starting off slowly certainly doesn’t mean you don’t need to pick it up a gear every couple of weeks, progress is key. By upping your exercise load every few weeks, you are going to keep decreasing your body fat percentage and increasing your muscle mass. Begin to build in more rigorous exercise such as calisthenics (body weight) training, or more high impact exercises such as running.
- Baby steps are important, but increasing exercise volume over time is key.
- Don’t focus on the day by day, but the week by week.
Sports can play an important role in the fight against obesity by adding motivation and team support to your weight loss routine. Particularly for kids, sports help by providing children supportive and competitive spaces in which they are motivated and encouraged to exercise.
- Join a local amateur sports team with a friend.
- If the environment isn’t ego-free and supportive, find another gym.
- Introducing your child to a sports team can be a great way to boost social skills, confidence and belonging, even if nerve racking at first.
Increasingly we are surrounded by technologies that can help us keep off the pounds. Calorie and heart rate monitors paired with smartphone applications allow real-time tracking of our exercise output and food intake. By integrating our workout and diet programs into gadgets and applications, we can put more fun into an often daunting and gruelling task. You can even team up with friends and add some fun and competition into your weight loss goals.
- Look into calorie trackers and heart monitors as ways to measure your progress and add volume to your workouts.
- Find friends or people in your situation who want to support or even compete with you each other to add another aspect to your motivations.
Weight loss isn’t going to be easy for everyone, in fact it can be really hard. Use this guide to start learning the dos and don’ts and try take small steps at a time, the rewards will be truly life changing.