Weight Management

How many times have you felt demeaned by the over simplified weight management advice of, “just burn more than the calories than you eat”? It sounds so easy. Why is it we seem to know what to do, but just don’t do it? With the constantly changing health news, do we really know what to do? This section states the obvious for those that may need that, and it clarifies some nutrition that may seem a bit more mysterious.

Weight Management Quiz- Test your Nutrition I.Q.

1. Does how fast you lose weight matter?
Yes ; No

2. BMI is a measurement of what?
Body Fat ; Risk for obesity related disease ; Appropriateness of weight for height

3. Do carbohydrates make you fat?
Yes ; No

4. How many calories equals 1 pound of body fat?
1200 calories ; 3500 calories ; 10000 calories

5. Does 30 minutes of continuous exercise burn more calories than splitting up your exercise into three 10 minute segments?
Yes ; No

6. What is the recommended servings of fruits and veggies you should consume each day?
3-5/day ; 6-8/day ; 9-12/day

7. If you are thin you don’t need to exercise.
True ; False

8. You can turn fat into muscle.
True ; False

9. Sleeping can help you lose weight.
True ; False

10. Government exercise recommendations for weight loss are 60-90 minutes daily.
True ; False

11. How many calories does alcohol contain?
4 calories/gram ; 7 calories/gram ; 9 calories/gram

12. Eating after 8 pm will cause you to gain weight.
True ; False

13. If you burn 400 calories exercising, you can count that as a 400 calorie deficit for that day.
True ; False

14. Having obese friends increases your risk for obesity.
True ; False

15. The best way to get rid of belly fat is to do more abdominal work or crunches.
True ; False


1. Yes
2. Appropriateness of weight for height
3. No
4. 3500 calories
5. Yes

6. 9-12/day
7. False
8. Flase
9. True
10. True

11. 7 calories/gram
12. False
13. False
14. True
15. False

Losing Weight

• Determine a Realistic Weight Loss Goal
Before you decide how you plan to lose weight, set a goal for your weight loss. Determine how many pounds you would need to lose to have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI provides a weight range that is considered healthy for your height and age. This range accounts for all body frames and genetics. Next determine how much time it will take you to achieve that weight loss. Try to count a week for every 1-2 pounds you plan to lose. This will help you have realistic expectation for your weight loss attempt. That is not to say that if you follow this formula exactly you will lose weight exactly as scheduled. Because every one’s body is unique and their metabolisms are different because of genetics, training, or environment, there is no way to guarantee your results. Your body may lose eight faster, slower, or not at all while following your weight loss plan. Do not compare yourself to others. Your frame, weight goal, and body is different than anyone else and what is right for them may not be right for you. But attempting to lose weight slowly generally is the best method to ensure weight loss will occur and that the weight lost will stay off long term. It is much easier to put on weight than it is to take it off. So prepare adjust your expectations appropriately.

• Create a Calorie Deficit

Perhaps one of the most common weight loss mistakes that particularly females make is to restrict their dietary intake too severely. Unless advised by a physician, it is wise to not create more than a 500 calorie deficit per day in your diet. 3500 calories equals 1 pound. A 500 calorie deficit per day could lead to an average weight loss of 1 pound per week. You may create a larger deficit up to 1000 calories total (as long as this does not take you below 1200 calories/day) if you use exercise for the additional 500 calories loss. This would allow for a 2 pound per week weight loss. Research shows that the slower you lose weight, the more likely you are to keep it off. A slow weight loss rate will also help minimize loss of lean muscle, which is best achieved through a consistent combination of cardiovascular training, resistance training, and diet modification. Consuming far fewer calories than your body requires slows your metabolism which can make it all but impossible to lose weight. It makes you more likely to gain weight when you add back in calories. Severe calorie restriction teaches your body to horde fat and conserve energy. Restricted calorie diets also restrict amounts of necessary nutrients which can have detrimental effects to your health. The longer this behavior occurs, the longer it takes to correct.

• Avoid the Hungry Feeling

No one wants to feel hungry which usually leads to grumpiness. So when you are cutting calories, there are a few rules you may want to follow. All of us should eat like a diabetic; similar amounts of food, similar combination of nutrients, eaten at similar times each day. To specify what that looks like, consider your current schedule and routine eating habits. Likely your schedule is fairly routine already, but if not, attempt to determine meal times such as breakfast 1 hour after waking, morning snack 2 ½ hour past breakfast, lunch 2 ½ hours after morning snack, afternoon snack 3 hours after lunch, and dinner 3 hours after the afternoon snack. It is wise to not allow more than 3-4 hours to lapse between consuming something. T His prevents drops in blood sugar, which can lead to hunger, which can lead to poor choices. At each time you eat something be sure to have a protein and carbohydrate present. If your carb choice is a fruit or vegetable, that is even better as they are low in calories, high in nutrients, and high in fiber. And fiber is especially key in helping you feel sasiated longer. The combination of protein and carbohydrate also prevents blood glucose drops and increase satiation.
Another way to feel full, is to actually stop and listen to when your body tells you it is full. A majority of Americans have lost their sense to determine when they are full and when they are truly hungry. You can retrain your body to sense when you are full and hungry. Try slowing down when you eat. Perhaps try taking a sip of water after each bite. Or try chewing your food more thoroughly, which will also aid digestion. And the fluids also will help you feel full longer. That is why broth based soups are a great appetizer or drinking a bottle of water prior to a party is recommended. Just be sure your fluids are low or no calorie choices. The amount of time it takes you to eat is more habit than according to the amount of time you have to eat. The reason slowing down your meal is important is that it usually takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize your body is full.

• Create a Supportive Environment

To be successful in weight loss, it is important you are surrounded by a supportive environment. Your environment may include co-workers, the pantry, family, social events, available resources, or even the office drawers. A little cheerleading never hurts. Certainly you shouldn’t lose weight for anyone but yourself, but having the support of those you come in contact with on a regular basis really helps. For one, they provide accountability. Share your weight loss goals with others as once you have voiced it, people are aware of it and are likely to ask you about it. And when they do ask, take it as encouragement and not admonishment. When you tell others about your weight loss efforts, be sure to ask them to help you and be sensitive to your environment as well. In other words, don’t ask you to go out for ice cream, or “just splurge and share one donut,” or buy junk food and keep it in the house. Not having temptation present is important when trying to lose weight. Of course one must learn to overcome temptation to keep weight off, but it is wise just to remove temptation during the weight loss phase. This may mean that you need to be responsible for not purchasing items at the food that you know you are likely to over indulge in. There are no bad foods, except those that are old and moldy. You can eat whatever food you want and still lose weight. In fact, research shows that people attempting to lose weight are more successful in their efforts if they learn to include some “mental health” food in their diet. “Mental health” food might include peanut butter, a cup of frozen yogurt, chocolate pudding, or whatever is your delight. It is a better idea to make it where you have to go out of your way to get your treat rather than keeping it handy. As well, after your portion out dinner onto the plates, put the left-overs away in the refrigerator so that second helpings are less accessible. Do not feel you have to give up all the foods you love while trying to lose weight just make sure less nutrient foods are eating in moderation and fit within your calorie goals. Another helpful tool to make sure you are eating the proper amounts and keeping accountable with your weight loss plan is keep a food diary. The more people and tools you have pointing you in the right direction, the better your chances for success.

Keeping it Even

Maintenance equals success when it comes to a healthy body weight. Balancing life changes and challenges with your nutrition is no easy task. To be successful you have to be very aware of your exercise levels and food intake. Specifically you must be able to match your intake with your output on a daily basis. This is where weighting on a regular basis such as 1 time per week is helpful. I do not recommend weighing more frequently than this, but I do recommend weighing over examining clothes fit as an energy balance indicator. If you are able to keep your body weight within 3 pounds of either side of your goal weight, that is considered maintenance. If at weigh in your weight is outsides this acceptable range, you must take action to accordingly adjust your diet and physical activity. Remember that weight fluctuates daily by a vast margin per individual. Be sure that when you weight you use the same scale, wear the same things, and weight at a similar time of day. Also be aware that an increase in carbohydrate or sodium intake may cause excess fluid retention, which may affect your weigh in. If you feel this is the case, drink ample fluids, restrict sodium intake to less than 2000 mg. that day, and keep carbohydrate intake reasonable that day. Then reweight the following day for accuracy. Remember that it takes 3500 extra calories to equal 1 pound of weight gain. So if the scale reads you are 3 pounds heavier, consider if you realistically consumed 10,500 extra calories the past week.

General tips that will allow you to eat in balance, variety, and moderation while maintaining your weight include:

• Use smaller plates, bowls, cups or serving dishes. People tend to fill their plates and clear it. An oversized dish makes your portion look smaller, and therefore people subconsciously tend to serve larger portions on larger plates.
• Vary your physical activity every 6 weeks to keep your body responsive, but STAY ACTIVE!
• Be sure that half of every meal is fruit or vegetables.
• Eat less on less active days.

Gaining Weight

The most common weight gain misconception is that eating fatty foods, such as desserts or fast food, or more carbohydrates is the best way to gain weight. Eating that way is a great way to gain fat, but not lean muscle weight. As well, consuming large volumes of protein is not the best way to gain lean muscle weight. The best way to gain healthy weight is to consume larger quantities of a balanced diet while working out. In other words, still maintain an approximate diet average of 60% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 25% fat while adding more resistance training and limiting cardiovascular work outs. To do this successfully, you may need to break your meals and your work outs into several mini segments. You don’t want to eat to a point where you are uncomfortably full. Eating a small meal every 2 hours is a reasonable time frame to follow. It generally takes about 2 hours for food to pass through your digestive system, which should help prevent that overly full feeling. Splitting your resistance training into segments, such as an hour of back exercises before you go to work and 45 minutes of bicep exercise after you finish work, allows you to maximal work a muscle for strength instead of endurance. Be sure when you are increasing your calorie intake and resistance training that you ease up in reasonable increments. This should help prevent fat gain or injury. Calorie increases should match your exercise changes, not greatly exceed them. For instance, if you currently do an hour of cardio a day and 30 minutes of resistance training, a reasonable change your first week of weight gaining attempt would be to decrease cardio to 30 minutes and increase weight training to 1 hour. Continue to increase strength training time and cutting back on cardio time until you have reached a minimum of cardio 3x a week for 30 minutes. As you do this, give yourself an additional 400 calories, 1/3 of which are protein, for each hour of strength training added. Additional water is also critical to your success. Increase daily water intake by 16-32 oz.. Ideally this process should occur during the off season portion of sport training periodization if you are an athlete.

If you are not training for a sport or are in the middle of your competition phase as an athlete and need to gain weight, a slightly different approach is recommended. Typically females are not likely to desire weight gain of their own accord. Often amenorrhea (LINK http://sportsmedicine.about.com/b/2007/10/11/female-athlete-triad-acsm-position-stand-updated.htm) forces females to take a serious approach to increasing their weight. Whether amenorrhea is the catalyst or not, females and males desiring to gain weight especially while competing, should follow this protocol: Increase calories by 200/day and maintain that for 2 weeks. Continue the increase by 100 calories/day every 2 weeks for a total of 6 weeks (400 calories above previous typical daily consumption by end of 6 weeks). If slight weight gain or menstruation does not occur continue at increased calorie level you achieved at the end of the first 6 weeks, but also decrease cardiovascular exercise by 30 minutes each session for 4 weeks. If success is not attained by this time, seek professional assistance