Obesity increases your risk of many diseases including hypertension, heart disease and even cancer. Obesity can increase your risk of Type II diabetes by as much as an amazing 5000%. Cancer of the colon, rectum and prostate are prevalent among overweight men with cancer of the breast, uterus, ovaries, gall bladder and bile duct found more commonly in overweight women.
Approximately 300,000 Americans die each year from obesity. In the United States we are spending an excess of $33 billion every year on weight loss programs and yet we are still gaining more weight.
So, with statistics like these, it’s time to learn the keys of living healthy and start using them to get healthy. Follow these keys to long-term success and you will see what it means to live a healthy life at a healthy weight:
Key #1: It Is All In Your Head
One of the most important aspects of weight reduction is the expectation of what you hope to achieve or motivation. This encompasses the development of an ideal body image - how you visualize yourself to be - as well as setting realistic weight reduction goals. This is necessary to keep the process moving and avoid discouragement. For example, set a goal of drinking 64 ounces of water or more each day and watch the pounds melt away.
Key #2: Calories
Calorie counting is a tedious process that many endure in their pursuit of weight reduction. It may not be necessary if you make wise choices about the foods you eat. For example, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein have fewer calories per portion size. So you can eat a little more, and still not be over the top in your calorie count. You do not need to count calories, just use good judgment in your food choices.
Snacks - Friend or Foe? The fact that you are managing your weight does not mean you can not snack. In Fact, when the right snack is chosen, it can be very good for you. A recent study has shown that eating a portion of peanuts satisfied hunger for two and a half hours while a high carbohydrate snack such as rice cakes only satisfied hunger for 30 minutes. It also concluded that the people who ate the peanuts as a snack lost more weight than the rice cake snackers. So once again, making wise choices about the foods you eat will help you reach your ideal weight.
Carbohydrates - Good and Bad: Americans eat an abundance of carbohydrates - especially the wrong kind. Foods with a high glycemic value raise the blood glucose in our bodies, which increases insulin levels, and are high in calories.
Insulin is absolutely necessary to maintain proper blood sugar balance, but excess levels of insulin may be a large contributing factor to heart disease, hypertension, increased lipids and other chronic illnesses. And, because it impairs the body’s ability to use its own stored fat, it inhibits weight reduction.
Foods to Choose:
Low Glycemic Carbohydrates
- 100% Whole Grain Bread
- 100% Whole Grain Pasta
- Sweet Potatoes
- Most Vegetables
Low Glycemic Fruits
Foods to Avoid:
High Glycemic Carbohydrates
- White Bread
- White Pasta
High Glycemic Fruits
Key #3: The “E” Word
The “E” word most of us try to avoid is exercise! But, in addition to a healthy diet with good food choices, an increase in the daily caloric expenditure is necessary - exercise is a must. Exercise will help you burn those extra calories and boost your metabolism.
The best way to achieve your healthy, ideal weight is to do a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training. The aerobic exercise, 20 to 30 minutes daily (4x/week) will have many health benefits, and help you burn calories. The resistance training will help you tone your body and add muscle. The benefit to adding muscle is that for every pound of muscle you add to your body you will burn and extra 50 calories per day. This is because muscle is metabolically active and uses energy at a much higher level than fat. Resistance training also helps to strengthen bones, increasing bone density and cutting your risk of osteoporosis.
Key #4: Good Nutrition
A lifetime nutritional philosophy, focusing on the consumption of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods and vita-nutrient supplementation is the cornerstone of the treatment protocols for a lo-carb diet.
High carbohydrate meals tend to leave you less satisfied than those that contain adequate fat levels; so you eat more and get hungrier sooner. So what should you do? Get off the insulin generating roller coaster of the low-fat diet and start cutting down on your carbohydrate consumption, especially the worst offenders: sugar, white flour and other simple carbohydrate-based products. For more information see our Lo-Carb Diet health concern section.
There are also certain minerals, vitamins and herbs that can actually cause the body to burn excess fat. Other nutrients can control sugar cravings and generally curb your appetite.
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD