April 17


Weight Loss: 10 important things you need to realise

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There's a lot of confusion out there. Fads come and go. Ask 100 people on the street what method works for weight loss and I'd be surprised if you got the same answer more than a handful of times. Are you ready to face the facts?


There are no easy fixes when it comes to weight loss

A gullible public continues to cling to the hope that it may not be true. It may take 20 years to pile on the kilos. Not to worry, these can be shed overnight by taking a magic pill. Or a shake or detox product.

By following a fantastic 'new diet' or buying an effort-free fat shredding machine. Starvation is the best quick loss method. Trouble is, it's also the quickest way to regain weight after it ends.

Ditch the gimmicks and the too good to be true adverts and sales pitches.

The fattening effects of modern life

Humans have existed for more than half a million years. For 499,970 of those, the vast majority have been lean. It's only in the last 50 to 60 years this has changed.

Now almost 1/3 of the world's population, over 50% of those in industrialised countries, are overweight. 

What does this tell us? Probably that we don't need scientists to tell us what is making us fat.

The importance of 'volume' when we aim for weight loss

With all the discussion on 'fattening' and 'non-fattening' nutrients, someone has forgotten the basics.

Obesity results when food volume (energy density x portion size) exceeds energy expenditure (metabolic rate; thermogenesis and exercise).

Exercise for weight loss is also defined in terms of volume - frequency x intensity x duration. This determines the total amount of energy (calories/kilojoules) expended.

The resurrection of weight lifting

Resistance training (specifically weight lifting) has always been regarded as a healthy activity.

For a time, the bodybuilding fraternity monopolised it. This may have masked the greater all-around benefits it can bring. In the modern technological world, there's been a decline in resistance-type actions needed for day to day living.

Planned weight lifting maintains muscle mass while decreasing fat. It's also effective as part of a graduated exercise program to reduce diabetes and high blood sugar.

The value of protein in your weight loss journey

With arguments going on about low carbohydrate or low-fat diets, we overlook protein.

Protein increases satiety and therefore you reduce food intake. It will also help sustain muscle mass after exercise. The energy required to convert protein to fat also makes it technically a less fattening nutrient.

Additionally, increased protein intake after weight loss leads to less weight gain.

Weight loss drugs might not cut it

Drug therapy for weight loss has been quite disappointing.

Early promises, such as stimulants with appetite suppressants have proven premature. Many have been withdrawn over health risks. 

Over-the-counter concoctions have a very poor track record.

The rise of surgery as a tool for weight loss

As with medications, early promise in the field of bariatric surgery was premature. The advent of keyhole adjustable surgery has made these approaches more appealing.

Average recorded weight losses in very large people are up to 35%. This far exceeds most other approaches.

However, the procedure is expensive and requires ongoing supervision for best success. New surgical techniques are likely to add to the scope in the future.

The predictive value of the triglyceride waist

Health risk screening reached a new level with the development of portable measuring devices for blood lipids. However, with increasing research and technology, a wider range of measurement variables are now available.

2 key factors - triglycerides and waist size effectively cover risk otherwise determined after a barrage of tests. Risk increases dramatically where waist size is greater than 102cm for white males and 88cm for white females.

Different ethnic groups have other specific risk determinations. Triglycerides over 2mm/L also show increased risk.

The value of seafood to your weight loss results

Seafood is a well-known source of omega 3 fatty acids. This form of fat burns up early in the energy cycle.

Furthermore, the low energy density of most seafood gives it value for weight loss. It's a good source of protein, therefore, it's useful in other ways as discussed earlier. However, the fish that are highest in 'good fats' are often those that travel long distances. Think salmon, tuna, etc.

With the ocean running out of supplies, aquaculture in confined spaces now makes up around 20% of all fish marketed. How this will affect oil content and nutritional value of fish is yet to be established.

The break up of fats

Fat is still the most energy dense and therefore fattening nutrient in food. Not all fats are equal.

Monounsaturated fats, in particular, seem to be less fattening than saturated fats, even when overall calories are equal.

Other foods high in these oils (almonds and other nuts) also have a beneficial effect on blood lipids. Their high protein content may also contribute to their place in a balanced weight loss diet.

About the author

Paul Stokes

Paul Stokes BSc (Hons) is a Certified Personal Trainer, Accredited Sports Nutritionist, qualified Exercise to Music Instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, Massage Therapist and teaches 8 of the Les Mills Group Exercise programs.

He currently works in the Oil & Gas industry as a Wellness Coach, imparting his vast knowledge and experience to improve the quality of life of several hundred offshore workers.

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