According to WHO statistics, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2014 and of these, more than 600 million were categorized as obese. The number of children, in 2013, under the age of 5 that were overweight or obese was 42 million. The good news, however, is obesity is preventable. In terms of a percentage, 38 percent were men and 40 percent were women. The worldwide prevalence of obesity has more than doubled over the past 34 years. But again, the good news is that obesity is preventable.
The goal for many is weight loss or changing their body composition, which means building more lean muscle tissue and reducing body fat. A long-term goal for men might be 80 percent lean muscle and 20 percent body fat, this would eventually shift towards 85 percent lean muscle and 15 percent body fat. For women, a long-term goal, with exercise and nutritional modification of course, might be 70 percent lean and 30 percent body fat. Eventually those numbers would shift towards 77 percent lean muscle and 23 percent body fat.
To reach your goals, you must regulate your exercise and diet. Here are a few steps to follow to help you reach your goals.
1. Remove the “empty” calories from you diet. This means do not drink your calories. The average American consumes between 400-550 calories a day from soda, sports drinks etc. You could lose a pound a week just by cutting back on this and yes, it means alcohol too. A study in the journal Obesity found that people who drink diet soda were more likely to have a higher percentage of body fat around their mid-section. Subjects who reported not drinking diet soda gained an average of 0.8 inches in their waist circumference over the 9-year period compared to 1.83 inches for occasional diet soda drinkers and more than 3 inches for people who drank diet soda every day, according to a new study recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. An easy way to decrease your calories and break your diet soda routine is to simply drink more water. Your goal is to drink water first thing in the morning to help speed up your metabolism and then again with your meals. Try a glass of water with lemon in the evening after dinner.
2. Add strength training to your exercise routine. This is critical for both lean muscle development and maintenance. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat (it takes 3x more calories per pound to maintain) and requires a third less space on your body. Strength train 2-3x a week.
3. Decrease your added sugar. Are you aware of how much added sugar you’re eating on a daily basis? If you’re drinking 1-2 medium size Cokes or other soft drinks – you’re probably already over your limit….and we have not even looked at your meals/snacks yet. If you cut your added-sugar to less than 150 calories a day (38 grams) for men and 100 calories a day (25 grams) for women, you will experience weight loss.
4. Increase your NEAT, EPOC and TEF. Let’s first define these terms and keep in mind they are important. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT according to researcher James Levine, MD, PhD, is “the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting.”
Excess post oxygen consumption or EPOC (some call it “after-burn”) is defined by Len Kravitz, PhD, as the period of time when the “body is restoring itself to its pre-exercise state, and thus is consuming oxygen at an elevated rate. This means that energy is also being expended at an elevated rate.” This occurs at a higher rate as the intensity of exercise increases and is seen following both a cardio and strength session. A very challenging strength session or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is ideal for elevated EPOC which means your body continues to burn calories long after the bout of exercise is completed.
The thermic effect of food or TEF is defined by Reed and Hill as an “increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal.” One of the many benefits of eating more good sources of lean protein as part of your diet is because protein has a higher thermic effect compared to carbohydrate and fat. Eating smaller meals more often – compared to a few big meals throughout the day – may also make better sense to you now. Your body utilizes 10 percent of its daily energy, in the form of calories, towards TEF. For example, if you consume 2,500 calories over the course of the day, about 10 percent, or about 250 calories, will be expended on digesting, absorbing, metabolizing and eliminating that food.
Hopefully these tips will help you reach your goals and if not you can always remember that individuals who let “creeping obesity” set in, eventually, have other issues to worry about such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Heart Disease
- Various forms of Cancer
- Skin Infections
- Back Pain
- Increased Stress levels
- Poor Quality of Life