Obesity is a huge problem (pun intended). Over half of Canadians are obese or overweight. Being overweight contributes to many (nearly all?) health problems – both physically and mentally! Obesity severely impacts a person’s quality of life.
There are thousands of different websites and resources on the internet with information on how to lose weight- some good, some misleading, and some with even terrible advice. The purpose of this webpage is to provide a simple, basic, approach to losing weight.
ARE YOU OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE? Find out HERE. Input your height and weight to find out your Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a standardized ratio of your weight to height. Generally, a BMI of over 25 is “overweight”, while over 30 is “obese”.
THE BASICS OF WEIGHT LOSS:
Weight loss (and weight gain) are the result of unequal balance of energy. “Energy” is measured as “calories”.
- To lose weight, you must burn more energy (calories) than you eat in a day.
- The opposite is also true. If you eat more calories than you burn in a day, then you will gain weight.
- You burn calories OUT by two ways:
- Just to live your body uses energy to breath, to make your heart beat, and to digest food. You are even burning small amounts of energy to do these things while you sleep. This is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (aka “BMR”).
- You burn additional calories through day by physical activity. This includes formal exercise, but it also includes basic activities like walking or bending over to pick something up.
- You take IN calories through food and drinks during the day.
BASAL METABOLIC RATE:
As above, everyone has a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the minimum amount of energy your body requires each day simply to live.
Your BMR depends on many factors, including your age and sex. As you get older, your metabolism slows down (your BMR goes down). Furthermore, men tend to have a higher metabolism (BMR) than women.
CLICK HERE for a calculator to get an idea about your own BMR.
ACTIVITY LEVEL & EXERCISE:
In addition to your Basal Metabolic Rate, you also burn calories from your daily physical activity.
This will largely depend on what type of job you have, how you spend your days, and how much exercise you get.
- If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk job or watching TV, you will not burn many calories.
- If you do a lot of manual labour or a lot of walking through your day, you will burn more calories.
- If you add formal exercise to your weekly routine, you will burn even more calories!
If you like technology and gadgets, many smartphones (like an iPhone) have apps built in to them will automatically track your steps and activity. Alternatively, you may also be interested gadgets like a FitBit or VivoFit to track your steps, activities, and calories burned.
As above, pretty much every single thing you eat and drink through your day counts as calories IN (except for things like water, black coffee, or zero-calorie drinks).
Today, most foods have labels on them that tell you how many calories are in them.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
You now know how to calculate how many calories you burn in a day and how many calories you eat. To lose weight, all you have to do is eat less than you burn!
Aim to eat 500-1000 calories LESS than you burn per day, and that should result in a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. For example, if you calculate that you burn 2000 calories in your average day, you need to eat no more than 1500 calories/day in order to lose 1 pound per week.
Keeping a detailed daily Food Log is ESSENTIAL! Do not try to just guess how many calories you eat each day. You need to track the specific amounts of foods and calories you eat – every little bite, every drink, even the condiments or dressings you add to your foods. You may be surprised just how quickly those calories add up in a day! Remember to be honest too. Otherwise, you are only cheating yourself …
To keep a food log, you can simply use the old “pen & paper” method, or you may want to try one of the many online trackers or smartphone apps that are available.
ONLINE TRACKERS & PHONE APPS: Often the websites include both online trackers and links to their smartphone apps. They have features to help you track your diet and activity levels. From there, they can help you calculate how much you should eat each day to meet your weight loss goals. Here are some examples of the many options available: MyNetDiary, My Fitness Pal, Lose It, or WeightWatchers Mobile.
AN EASY MEAL PLAN TEMPLATE: Click HERE for of an easy guide to plan your daily meals. This was prepared by Danielle Heidt, a Registered Dietitian at Central Hastings Family Health Team.
- There is no miracle cure or miracle diet for weight loss. Miracle pills or supplements do not exist. Fad diets and detoxes do not work.
- Healthy weight loss that you will keep off takes time. Think of your weight loss journey as a marathon rather than a sprint. You should expect to lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week.
- Weight Loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. You do not have to be an intense athlete to lose weight. Eating right is the main thing. As you can calculate above, to lose 150 calories it is much easier to simply not eat 2 cookies, rather than go jogging for 15 minutes.
- Healthy eating is more than just counting calories. For example, it is also important to have a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. However, that goes beyond the scope of this page.
- If you are truly following the above advice, but feel you are not losing as much weight as you should be, please do not get discouraged. Recent studies are showing that some people actually do not burn calories the same way as the basic math suggests. Stick with it and you will keep losing weight!
ANOTHER GREAT SITE: Here is another website about healthy eating and exercise that is definitely worth checking out: SparkPeople.com
WEIGHT-WATCHERS: It might not be perfect, but WeightWatchers.ca has been shown to help people lose weight and keep it off. Basically, they use a point system that simplifies counting calories for you.
HEALTHY EATING CLASSES: If you are a patient at Central Hastings Family Health Team, then you may wish to sign up for one of our Healthy Eating Group Classes. These classes have an emphasis on healthy eating for the purpose of weight loss. Contact us to sign up for the next class!
UNLOCKFOOD.CA or TELEHEALTH: UnlockFood.ca is a free website that helps you improve your health and quality of life through healthy eating. The website provides easy-to-use nutrition information to help you make healthier food choices.
Alternatively, you can receive dietitian advice over the phone by calling Telehealth.
Telehealth Phone #: 1-866-797-0000
DR. YONI FREEDHOFF’s BOOK: “THE DIET FIX”: Check out TheDietFix.com and read this book. It is an amazing resource that emphasizes that weight loss and healthy living should not involve the feeling of ‘suffering’; that you need not strive for perfection, but rather be your personal best; that solutions must be sustainable for your lifelong, not quick-fix fad diets. I highly recommend this book to everyone.