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Weight worries

August 7th, 2013


Weight worries

Talking about weight put weight to a lot of people’s shoulders, and most people avoid revealing their numbers out of embarrassment.

I’d like to point out that the “ideal” weight has changed tremendously over the decades. In the past, curvy women were considered beautiful, as seen in ancient paintings. Bigger men were also considered more desirable, as it means they were well off enough.

Having more meat on the bones, in the part, also meant good health and better productivity. Nobody would want a skinny wife. This is because people in the past had shorter life expectancy due to poor medical technology and the prevalence of wars. Nowadays, people live longer, and long enough to see that obesity can really take its toll on the health, which usually becomes more apparent later in life.

But there really is no balance about this. With the stick-thin models getting praised as being “beautiful”, more and more girls are pressured to achieve that kind of body. Some overdose on weight loss pills and lose their life. Some spend a fortune on dieting herbal teas which are heavily advertised everywhere.

To be fair, these teas and coffees do help with weight loss, as with any caffeinated drinks, as caffeine increases metabolism. However, this kind of weight loss is not healthy at all.

The weight of our body comprises of four elements: bones, fluids, muscles and fat. A healthy weight loss should mean less fat. If you are a kilo lighter because you’ve lost nothing but fluids, that is not healthy.

I am going to repeat the obvious here because I cannot emphasize it enough – if you eat more than you burn, you will have fat deposits. If you want to lose weight, eat less than you burn. There is no other way.

A study revealed that drinking 5 cups of green tea a day will result in 400 – 600 extra calories being burned off during the day. Green tea might have other substances other than caffeine that helps increase metabolism, and a lot of business owners use this claim to advertise their caffeinated drinks as weight loss products.

To lose a pound or half a kilo, you need to burn off 3,500 calories. This means you have to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in, and of course it cannot happen overnight. Ideally, aim for a pound per week. This means burning off 500 extra calories each day, which is more sensible. There are three ways to achieve this.

The first method is to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories each day (just stop that extra yummy drink with creamed and sugar tea or coffee) while remaining all the usual activities. This could mean skipping the usual soft drinks, or replacing fatty food with a healthy dish. However, this method doesn’t really last long.

The second method is to eat less and exercise more. The number of calories reduced doesn’t have to be as much as the first method, but you need to exercise to burn more, making the total difference between intake and usage around 500 calories per day.

 The final method is the most popular of all – eat what you normally eat, but burn more calories from exercise, 500 calories a day. This means light jogging for an hour. It sounds easy, but it’s not, because usually people would want to eat more when they exercise.

Going back to the green tea claim, if you want to lose a pound in a week, you will need to drink 7-8 cups a day (This means green tea without cream and sugar). Now that would be problematic, as excessive green tea would bring about undesirable effects such as constipation, insomnia, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

So, my final verdict is if you want to lose weight, change your lifestyle. Watch what you eat and exercise regularly. If you want to buy those weight loss drinks, feel free to do so, but do not overuse it. Also keep in mind that these drinks contain sugar, which could be fattening. Two tablespoons of sugar gives as much energy as half a cup of rice.

Good health and good shape cannot be bought. These products might sound like they can help, but at the end of the day, you have to do it yourself. It might not be easy but it is extremely rewarding.

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.


Exercise has three components
A matter of cause and effect
No need to chicken out
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