Quick and Safe Weight-Loss
Alexa Montecillo (The Freeman) - January 28, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The common challenge after the long holidays is getting back in shape. Among the young especially, the approaching Valentine’s Day or the Juniors-Seniors Prom, among students, can be a cause for panic. Slimming down at this time is harder, what with the good appetite that lingers from the food binging during the past weeks.

And yet it’s not only shedding off the extra weight that matters.  It has to be accomplished safely. And everyone wants to see the effect quickly!

Health and fitness experts say that the best way to lose weight is to do it gradually. That way, the weight loss is more likely to hold. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, shedding weight quickly may only result in loss of muscle, bone, and water – not the unwanted fat.

The ideal way is to aim to lose half to one kilogram per week. Fad diets or products that make promises that sound “too good to be true” must be avoided. Weight loss that is based on changes one can stick with over time is most likely to stay.

For faster results, you’ll need to work with a doctor, according to the website www.webmd.com, in order to make sure that the body stays healthy and gets the nutrients it needs. The website suggests steps to take:

Plan it well.  You need to burn more calories than you eat and drink. Your metabolism – how well your body turns calories into fuel – is also a factor. And if you cut too many calories, it’s bad for you. You slow down your metabolism, and that can make you fall short on some nutrients.

Be careful not to cut calories too much. You may just have to cut back on portions, know how many calories are in each serving by reading food labels, and drink more water so you don’t feel so hungry.

The nutritional value of the foods you take is also key. Prefer vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein so you keep up good nutrition. Working with a dietitian is a good idea, so you make a plan that covers those needs.

Solicit support. You’ll also want to ask your family and friends to support your efforts to lose weight by providing encouragement. Joining a weight- loss group will help too. Or talking with someone who’s lost weight in a healthy way.

Find out what drives you to eat. You’ll need to know what makes you want to eat when you’re not hungry, and have a plan for those moments. Very few people eat because they’re truly hungry. Check out what your triggers are – whether stress, anger, anxiety, or depression in a certain part of your life. Or is food your main reward when something good happens? When those feelings come up, do something else instead of eat. Take a walk or text a friend, instead of making food as an escape.

Reset what and when you eat. There’s no need to go vegan, gluten-free, or quit any particular food group to lose weight. In fact, you’re more likely to keep the pounds off for good if your diet is something you can live with for the long term. But you have to cut way down on, or totally cut out, empty calories.

• Limit added sugars. These are the sugars in cookies, cakes, sugar-sweetened drinks, and other items – not the sugars that are naturally in fruits, for instance. Sugary foods often have a lot of calories but few nutrients. Aim to spend less than 10 percent of your daily calories on added sugars.

• Be choosy about carbs. Decide which ones you eat, and how much. Look for those that are low on the glycemic index (for instance, asparagus is lower on the glycemic index than a potato) or lower in carbs per serving than others. Whole grains are better choices than processed items, because processing removes key nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B vitamins. These may be added back, such as in “enriched” bread.

• Include protein. It’s satisfying and will help keep up your muscles. There are vegetarian and vegan sources (like nuts, beans, soy etc.), as well as lean meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Your exact protein needs depend on your age, gender, and how active you are.

• Go for good fats. Small amounts of fat can help you feel full and less like you’re on a diet. The better choices are those in fish, nuts, and seeds, and olive oil or coconut oils. Those have unsaturated fats – polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, specifically.

• Fill up on fiber. You can get fiber from vegetables, whole grains, fruits – any plant food has fiber. Some have more than others. Top sources include artichokes, green peas, broccoli, lentils, and lima beans. Among fruits, raspberries lead the list.

• Eat more often. Eating five to six times a day could keep hunger at bay. You could split your calories equally across all of those mini-meals, or make some bigger than others. Plan portions so that you don’t end up eating more than you bargained for.

• Watch your drinks. One easy way to lose weight quickly is to cut out liquid calories, such as soda, juice, and alcohol. Replace them with zero-calorie drinks like lemon water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. Diet drinks will save you calories, compared with sugary beverages.

Track your progress. With the aid of your smartphone, you can track your eating (many apps can help you). Or you can use good old pen-and-paper food journal of what you ate and when.

In the end, the best way to keep it off the excess weight for good is with long-lasting lifestyle changes, particularly a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity. To be sure that one’s approach to weight loss is safe, a doctor or a registered dietitian shall be sought. This is especially important where quick results are aspired for.

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