Maintaining Normal Weight for Health Reasons

Obesity is a chronic condition defined by an excess amount body fat, beyond what is necessary for storing energy, heat insulation, shock absorption, and other functions. Being obese or overweight is a health risk. The balance between calorie intake and energy expenditure determines a person’s weight.

To maintain a normal weight, calorie intake must be fewer than what can be metabolized by the body.

These are to be avoided:

* Overeating leads to weight gain. Foods high in fat or sugar (fast food, fried food, and sweets) have high energy density (have a lot of calories in a small portion). This is proved by epidemiologic studies.

* A diet high in simple carbohydrates. Some scientists believe that simple carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, desserts, soft drinks, beer, wine, etc.) contribute to weight gain. They are more rapidly absorbed into the blood-stream than complex carbohydrates (pasta, brown rice, grains, vegetables, raw fruits, etc.) thus causing a marked insulin release than complex carbohydrates. This higher insulin release, contributes to weight gain.

* Eating less frequently (two or three large meals daily) causes large spikes of insulin, as well as leads to a higher cholesterol level

* Stay away from medications associated with weight gain, like certain antidepressants (used in treating depression), anti-convulsants (used in controlling seizures), medications for lowering blood sugar, certain hormones, most corticosteroids, some high blood pressure medications and antihistamines.

* Psychological factors like eating excessively due to boredom, sadness, stress or anger. Most overweight people who seek treatment have difficulties with binge eating.

Muscle burns (metabolizes) more calories than other tissue (which includes fat). Women have less muscle than men. Hence, women have a slower metabolism and tend to put on more weight. Further, weight loss is more difficult for women.

As age creeps in, muscle is lost and metabolism slows. Weight gain sets in when daily caloric intake is not reduced. However, physical activity or exercise can stimulate metabolism, hasten the burning of calories and increase muscle or slow down its loss.

PS Counselling specialises in working with adolescents and adults for weight management. Find out more about maintaining weight for health reasons by visiting

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