Good nutritional habits aren’t just important for preventing disease, they can also help you watch your weight.
Rates of overweight and obesity are higher than ever in the United States, and around the world. With all that we know about the importance of diet for our health and weight, why would this be the case? And with so many diet plans being sold as a successful way to lose weight, how it is possible that over seventy percent of Americans need to lose weight?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than six in 10 American adults are overweight or obese—and most adults are about 25 pounds heavier than people were in the 1960s.
To make matters worse, more than half of all overweight people actually think they’re at a healthy weight and don't need to diet, according to a recent Associated Press poll.
In theory, a good diet to stay at a healthy weight is a simple matter of balancing your energy intake (the calories supplied by the food you eat) with your energy output (the calories you burn through physical activity, the digestion of food, and the daily functioning of all the systems of your body).
To lose weight on a diet, you need to burn more energy than you take in. But as anyone who has ever been on a diet can tell you, it's not so easy.
First of all, we need to do the math. Eating 2000 extra calories=1 pound gained. Burning 3500 calories=1 pound lost. It is easy to not just eat one cookie, but half the bag. It is tough, however, when it comes to trying to cut enough calories to take off the pounds you gained on your binge.
It should be pretty clear to most of us that no diet is going to be a "fast fix" but many people are convinced they can lose 20 pounds in a week. You certainly could never diet that way safely, and the rebound effect on your body would be harmful and cause you to ultimate gain all of it back, and possibly even a few more ponds besides.
That's because while the basic principle of energy balance and cutting calories on your diet remains true, several factors—genetics, metabolism, and environment—can affect how much you eat and how your body uses and stores energy.
Scientists have proven weight loss has a genetic component, with some of us carrying the fat gene that would have helped our ancestors survive during lean times. Many diet plans do not take this into account in their guidelines.
Every single one of us has a different metabolism, based on hormonal activity in our bodies. We burn the calories in our diet at a faster or slower rate than the ratio we mentioned above.
Then we have the environment we live in, a fast food nation that makes it hard to eat right. If we diet, we feel deprived. We also eat for emotional reasons, like upset or boredom.
However, while it is important to factor these three considerations in before we start any diet, there are things we can do to help ourselves counteract their effects.
For metabolism, for instance, we can improve it by developing lean muscle through yoga. Muscle will help us burn more calories on our diet. We can also control our environment, and not have high calorie items in the house when we are on a diet, which we might be tempted to devour the next time we have a bad day at work. Finally, genetics can be combated if everyone in the family all tries to watch their diet together. It's been noted that heavy parents tend to have heavy children, and childhood obesity is rising at an alarming rate.
While all these factors that contribute to your weight loss and gain, if your diet takes them into account, you can plan your best strategies to diet safely and successfully, with a sensible diet and exercise that's right for you.