Weight Loss Dilemmas - What's Yours?

Why do I keep gaining weight despite my best attempts to lose it?

Weight loss is a challenge. We prepare ourselves for it with diet, exercise, and loads of self-motivation. We source healthy food and healthy recipes, plan out walks and gym routines. Then, we start losing weight. But then, just as we think we have surely defeated the bulge this time, our body plays a game with us.  We end up gaining the weight we lost!

Now before you berate yourself and think you weren’t disciplined enough, let us tell you something.  95% of the people who try to lose weight regain it in 2 to 5 years 1

Surprising right?

Scientists have this theory that  each individual’s body has specific set point of weight which it considers normal. 

Here’s how the set point theory works- Each organ of your body is a complex system regulated by a variety of chemical messengers called hormones. These messengers in turn are influenced by your genes and your surroundings.

As hormones travel through the blood, they affect parts of the brain. Depending on the different hormones it receives, the brain decides the set point of weight for the body and sends the message to the rest of the body to stick to it. The rest of the body does everything to reach the set point weight and works hard to stay there.

In some of us, these messages may get mixed up, making the set point higher and causing weight gain.1

So, when we diet, our body thinks it is starving and releases hormones. These hormones make us feel hungry and make our muscles burn less energy. The body gains the weight it lost to reach back to the set point!

Can set point weight be changed?

Changing set point is hard but not impossible. You need to keep persevering in your weight loss journey. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising consistently can help you keep your body in its natural weight range. However, in some cases of morbid obesity, weight loss may not be possible despite your best efforts. In these cases, bariatric surgery might be an option to lose weight and correct the set point to a healthier weight range.

If you suffer from morbid obesity and are unable to lose weight, consult a doctor to know if bariatric surgery might be an option for you.  Visit our personalised weight loss planner  section to see what  can be your options to lose weight.

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

Reference:
1.Kaplan LM, Seeley RJ, Harris JL. Weight can be reliably controlled by voluntarily adjusting energy balance through diet and exercise. The Metabolic Applied Research Strategy Initiative Series. Bariatric Times. 2012;Suppl C:C5-C7

The weight loss – diabetes connection

Battling weight gain can be difficult, and we build our own responses to deal with it.  We often worry about the aesthetic part of weight gain. But, many a times we ignore the various health problems associated with weight gain. Diabetes is one such problem that we can’t afford to ignore.

Did you know that more than 80% people with type 2 diabetes are overweight? 1

You may wonder what the connection between being overweight and suffering from diabetes is. Let’s have a look at what research has to say:

Our body produces a chemical called insulin that breaks down the sugar in our food. Sometimes the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. The body is less responsive to insulin and is unable to utilize the sugar in the blood. Unused sugar starts accumulating leading to high blood sugar levels. 2

Weight gain is one of the reasons why the body can become resistant to insulin.2 Excess fat increases the number of fat cells in the body. The cells release a chemical called cytokines that affect the breakdown of sugar in the body. 3

In such cases, the person is said to be suffering from type 2 diabetes.2

In the long run, diabetes can result in further complications. High blood glucose levels can damage your blood vessels, affecting blood flow. This affects organs like the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Type 2 diabetes may cause plaque to eventually build up in the large blood vessels. This can potentially lead to a heart attack, stroke or vessel blockage in the legs. 4

However, the good news is that even losing just 7% to 10% of your weight can cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half. 2

So if you are fighting to lose weight, we would encourage you to keep up the fight. Keeping your body healthy is definitely worth the effort!

In case your BMI is in the ‘obese’ category and you are unable to lose weight using traditional methods like diet and exercise, bariatric surgery might be an option for you. Bariatric surgery may help you lose weight and keep it off too. It has also been shown to help resolve type 2 diabetes in some cases.5 Visit our personalised weight loss planner section to see what can be your options to lose weight. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

References:
1.Mugharbel K., Al-Mansouri M. Prevalence Of Obesity Among Type 2 Diabetic Patients In Al-Khobar Primary Health Care Centers. J Family Community Med. 2003 May-Aug; 10(2): 49–53.
2.Type 2 Diabetes: The Basics. [internet]. WebMD.  [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from:  http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/type-2-diabetes
3.Brethauer S, Kashyap S, Schauer P. Obesity. [internet]. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Center for Continuing Education. 2013.[cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from:http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endocrinology/obesity
4.Type 2 Diabetes Complications. How to Prevent Short- and Long-term Complications. [internet]. EndocrineWeb. [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from: http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-2-diabetes/type-2-diabetes-complications
5.CRAS approved Bariatric Surgery in India Evidence Summary Tool. Ethicon

Is weight loss more challenging for women?

If you are a woman reading this, at some point of time in your life you may have tried to lose weight. When it comes to weight gain, women seem to have an upper hand most of the time! The main reason for this is hormonal imbalances. Hormones are the chemicals that control a lot of our body processes like how hungry we feel, how much weight we put on, or even how we respond to stress. 

One of the hormonal imbalance conditions that women can suffer from is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The symptoms include irregular periods, trouble getting pregnant, excess hair on the face, acne and anxiety. PCOS also leads to weight gain that can be difficult to shake off. 1

Another common reason for weight gain in women is hypothyroidism.  The thyroid gland produces a hormone called thyroxine which plays an important role in metabolism.  Hypothyroidism is the condition where the thyroid releases very low levels of thyroxine. One of the effects of hypothyroidism is weight gain. Although an underactive thyroid can occur at any age and in either sex, it is most common in older women.1

The one time most women don’t mind the weight gain is during pregnancy. Gaining some weight during pregnancy is normal and necessary.  However, many a times women tend to overeat, as they may be hungrier than usual.  This can lead to excessive weight gain which is unhealthy for both the mother and the child.2 After the pregnancy, breastfeeding can help in reducing some of the excess weight. Many women are successful in returning to their pre-pregnancy weight with diet and exercise too.  However, more than 1 in 10 (15%) women permanently gain at least 9 kgs or more weight after each pregnancy! 3

Another reason for weight gain is menopause. During menopause, the levels of the hormone estrogen drop.  This affects the body’s metabolic rate and leads to increased weight.

But did you know, the other common reason that women gain weight has got nothing to do with hormonal imbalance, it is just that as women age, they tend to be less active. This leads to loss of muscle which contributes to the weight gain.4

Whichever phase of life you are in right now; let not the difficulty of the task stop you from trying.

However, if you suffer from morbid obesity and are unable to lose weight despite your best efforts, consult a doctor to know if bariatric surgery might be an option for you.

Visit our personalised weight loss planner section to see what  can be your options to lose weight.

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

References:
1.Nine medical reasons for putting on weight. [internet]. NHS choices. [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from:  http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/medical-reasons-for-putting-on-weight.aspx
2.Pregnancy: weight control cuts complications. [internet]. NHS choices. [cited 2016 Aug 26]. Available from:  http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/05may/Pages/pregnancy-diet-weight-management.aspx
3.Youdim, A. Obesity. [internet] Merck Manuals. [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/disorders-of-nutrition/obesity-and-the-metabolic-syndrome/obesity
4.Menopause, weight gain and exercise tips. [internet]. WebMD. [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from:  http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-weight-gain-and-exercise-tips

The problem with fad diets

You are committed to lose weight. You may be following a strict regimen of diet and exercise. Suddenly, either in the websites you scan, or that Instagram account you follow, or in a conversation with a colleague, you come across this diet that promises to work wonders! You may be tempted to follow it. But hold your horses, beware,  this just might be a fad diet and it may not be a good idea.

Fad diet is any weight loss diet that either eliminates one or more of the essential food groups, or advises consuming just one type of food in excess at the expense of other foods. Fad diets rarely follow sound scientific principles for weight loss.1

There are several fad diets that people practise.2   For example, if you follow a ‘fluids only’ diet, you may lose weight, but it is an unhealthy way to do so as you miss out on important nutrients. While trying to lose weight, you cannot afford to ignore nutrition. Not having sufficient nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and even fats, can make you feel rundown and unwell. In the long run, you may suffer from diseases caused due to lack of nutrients in your diet. This can further damage your health. 3

In fad diets one consumes extremely low amount of calories.  This just makes you lose muscle mass and lowers your metabolism, making it harder to lose fat. 2 Many of the fad diets can’t be sustained for long. Also, they don't help you keep off the weight in the long run. 4

The best approach to lose weight is to eat a variety of healthy food, which includes carbohydrates, proteins, grains and good fats. Eat smaller portions throughout the day. You can have five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Avoid food and drinks with too much sugar in them. 4 Consult a qualified nutritionist/dietician for a personalised diet plan for you. The diet plan you follow must be accompanied by regular exercise. 4 This will prove to be beneficial in the long run.

Unfortunately, some people are unable to lose weight despite a balanced diet and exercise. Consult your doctor to know if bariatric surgery can be an option for you to lose weight.  Visit our personalised weight loss planner section to see what  can be your options to lose weight.

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

References:
1.Fad Diet. [internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from:  http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fad+diet
2.6 Fad Diets That Are Bogus. [internet]. Healthline [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from: http://www.healthline.com/health/diet-weight-loss/fad-diets-that-are-bogus#Overview1
3.Whats your diet deficit? [internet]. Web MD. [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from:  http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/your-diet-deficit#1
4.Losing Weight Without Fad Diets. [internet]. Web MD. [cited 2016 Aug 26] Available from:  http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/the-truth-about-fad-diets#1

Is your weight slowing you down?

If you have put on a lot of weight recently, you may realise that you are experiencing some strain in your knees while walking. The reason is that every extra 4.5 kgs that you gain puts an added pressure of 13-27 kgs on your knees.1

The increased weight puts you at risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA). The symptoms of OA include pain in the knees, swelling, joint stiffness, a decrease in mobility of the knee etc. In OA, the protective layer around your joints starts to disintegrate. This reduces lubrication between the bones of your joints and increases friction between them.2  

Being overweight increases the risk of developing OA by 4-5 times. 1 The excess weight increases the load placed on the joints and aggravates the stress on the knees. OA is a very painful condition and people with knee OA can have severe difficulty even while walking. In some cases, the patient becomes unable to move without a wheelchair.

OA can occur even among young people. Women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men. 1

However, even small amounts of weight loss reduce the risk of developing knee OA. Reducing your weight will reduce pressure on your knees and decrease pain.  You can do some light exercise such as swimming or walking on flat surfaces. It helps improve joint movement and strengthens the muscles that surround the joints.

Some people are unable to lose weight despite a balanced diet and exercise. If this is the case, check with your doctor if you are eligible for bariatric surgery.

Visit our personalised weight loss planner section to see what  can be your options to lose weight.

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

References:
1.Role of body weight in osteoarthritis. John Hopkins Arthritis Center. [internet] John Hopkins Medicine [cited 2016 October 3]. Available from: http://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/patient-corner/disease-management/role-of-body-weight-in-osteoarthritis/
2.Osteoarthritis guide. [internet].WebMD. [cited 2016 October 3].Available from: http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/default.htm

Diet and exercise for the busy office-goer

The biggest struggle for everyone these days is the lack of time. With our hectic work schedules and other responsibilities that take our time, we often overlook our health. Our food habits are irregular and exercise is often ignored.

It is important to understand that a balanced diet maintains a state of positive health. During meals, fill up your plate with food from the five food groups. They include grains, cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, protein such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products like milk etc.  Do not skip meals, have a heavy breakfast and drink about six to eight glasses of water per day.

Exercise, too, is inescapable if you want to maintain good health. If you are not able to start right away with a dedicated exercise regimen, there are a few simple activities that you can follow to begin with. Increase your daily physical activities. Perform household chores such as dusting, washing, cleaning, watering plants etc. Include walking in your travel routine. Take the stairs at your home and office, avoid the use of elevators. If you can, have a short walk post lunch. It will keep you energized in office.

Keep yourself motivated and move on to some regular exercises. Click here to know more about the exercises or seek advice from your doctor . Initially, do light exercises for a short time.  You can slowly increase the type and duration of exercises.

Some people are unable to lose weight despite the best efforts. You can check with your doctor if you are eligible for bariatric surgery to lose weight. For more information about bariatric surgery Click here.

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

References:
1.Dietary Guidelines for Indians. A manual. [internet] National Institute of Nutrition. 2nd Edition. 2010. [cited 2016 October 3] Available from: http://ninindia.org/DietaryguidelinesforIndians-Finaldraft.pdf
2.Sarnataro BR. Exercise to Lose Weight. [internet] WebMD. 2008 [cited 2016 October 3] Available from: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/exercise-lose-weight?page=1

Misleading claims of “health” foods: What’s right for you?

A visit to a supermarket will leave you surrounded with several health foods, claiming multiple health benefits. Look carefully, the so called healthy food may not be so healthy after all. The culprit often is the front-of-package label. These labels can often be confusing or even misleading.

For example, just because a food has a "no added sugar" label, does not necessarily mean it has low sugar content. The food may contain ingredients that have a naturally high sugar content (such as fruit), or have added milk, which contains lactose, a type of sugar. The “multi-grain” bread could simply be multiple refined grains, which are not any healthier for being mixed together.

Another concern area is labelling fat content. Many a times products will be labelled fat-free, but may be high in sugar and so contain nearly as much calories as the products containing fat. In some cases, the lower-fat version may still be high in fat. For example, a lower-fat mayonnaise is 30% lower in fat than the standard version, but is still high in fat. 

In such cases, what is it that you can do?

  • Ignore front-of-package labelling. Instead read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list at the back of the packs to guide your purchase decisions. The easiest way to compare products is to look at the information per 100g
  • When buying packaged items choose the ones whose ingredient list you can identify.
  • Consume fresh food as much as possible.

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

References:
1.Food labelling terms. (internet) NHS choices. (cited 2016 October 3).Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/food-labelling-terms.aspx
2.Zeratsky K. Front-of-package labels — Buyer beware. (internet) Mayo Clinic. (cited 2016 October 3). Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/front-of-package-labels/bgp-20248627
3.Kelly M. Which Food Labels are Misleading? (internet) WebMD. (cited 2016 October 3). Available from: http://blogs.webmd.com/health-ehome/2012/02/which-food-labels-are-misleading.html
4.Fat: the facts. (internet) NHS choices. (cited 2016 October 3). Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Fat.aspx

Winning the weight loss battle one step at a time

You may be feeling overwhelmed by the idea of losing weight. However, do not hesitate to start small. Your choices can make a difference.

One of things you need to take care is to control the calories you are consuming. Here are some tips that can help you control your diet:

  • Make a weekly plan of your meals.
  • Make a list of all the ingredients you need and shop as per your list. This way you will be less tempted to buy unhealthy snacks. 
  • Have a healthy, heavy breakfast.
  • Control your portion sizes.
  • Stock lots of fruits and salads so that you have sufficient snacking options.

Along with a healthy diet, it is important to engage in at least some form of exercise. With the super busy schedules, it is often difficult to take time out to exercise.  Choose something you enjoy. It can be a sport, a dance form or a walk. You can even engage is a fitness challenge with your friends.

It is often said that half the battle is won in the mind. You need a similar approach to fight the weight loss battle. Think positive thoughts. Keep yourself motivated.

You may not lose weight right away. However, you may you find that you now have better stamina, or you that you are now feeling fresher.  Be encouraging of these small changes that you sense in your body. And, keep pushing steadily towards your goals!

Disclaimer: Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

References:
1.Weight Loss & Obesity. [internet]. WebMD. [cited 2016 October 10] Available from: http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/ss/slideshow-obesity-weight-loss-tips

You may also want to read: