Weight management is important to maintain good health. Proper weight management and good healthy eating habits can help lower the risk for strokes, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. They can also help in lowering the risk for many types of cancer. Poor weight management can lead to sleep apnea, snoring, asthma, and even infertility.
As we age, maintaining a healthy weight becomes increasingly important to our health. As we get older, our bodies will not respond in the same way it used to when we were younger. Hence it is important to know what works for our bodies at different ages.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, it is natural to gain 1 to 2 pounds every year. Overtime, this can lead to significant weight gain, and in some people obesity, which is measured by a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
Causes of Weight Gain
There are several factors that lead to weight gain.
Some of us are genetically predisposed to weight gain. Harvard Medical School reported that more than 400 different genes have been implicated in the causes of obesity. They reported that “genes contribute to the causes of obesity in many ways, by affecting appetite, satiety (the sense of fullness), metabolism, food cravings, body-fat distribution, and the tendency to use eating as a way to cope with stress”.
While genetic predisposition is a big factor, research has shown that a healthy diet and regular exercise can help to prevent weight gain even in those who are genetically predisposed to it.
Without doubt, the quantity and quality of the food that we ingest have a direct impact on our weight. The most optimal diet is one that nourishes your body, without adding excess weight.
The best diet for losing weight, is a little more complex. It is the perfect combination of healthy but flavourful food choices, and it doesn’t ban you from any foods.
Additionally, a good diet should not require too much effort or money for hard-to-get or expensive ingredients.
Generally speaking, a good diet includes:
- several servings of fruit and vegetables a day
- little to no red meat
- a diet consisting of lean protein such as poultry, fish and beans
- whole foods and whole grains
- healthy fats from sources like olive oil, nuts and seeds
- choosing healthy snack options like nuts, seeds, fruit, yoghurt
For some of us, a trained and licensed professional such as a Registered Dietitian can make a world of difference to our diet, our health, and consequently, the quality of our lives.
Individuals who are physically inactive are more prone to developing chronic diseases, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Inactivity leads to weight gain, which makes it harder to improve activity levels.
As a result, physical activity is a key element of weight management and good health. While a key factor, physical exercise alone will not lead to weight loss.
Exercise would help you achieve your ideal weight when combined with a healthy diet.
Research has shown that sleep has a direct relationship to weight. Individuals who sleep less tend to weigh more than those who get enough sleep. Leptin is the hormone that tells us to stop eating. Lack of sleep causes a decrease in the production of leptin. In other words, people who are not sleeping enough tend to eat bigger portions of food.
A lack of sleep also leads to a lower metabolic rate. When combined, the result is undesired weight gain.
When we are stressed, this causes an increase in the production of the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn leads to the release of insulin into our bloodstream. This then leads to a drop in blood sugar levels, which then increases the desire for sugary or fatty foods.
Unmonitored and regular stress eating could lead to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Abdominal fat is especially hard to shed. Constant stress in life leads to a cycle of weight gain, sugar cravings, consuming excess calories, and more weight gain.
Cortisol also slows down our metabolic rate, which in turn makes it harder for us to lose weight.
There are lots of diet plans available, including low carb diets, keto diets, paleo diets, etc. There are many different trends being popularized such as the use of nutritional yeasts, tofu, protein shakes, plant-based diets, and programs such as Weight Watchers and Noom, to name a couple. However, we are all created and wired differently, hence we need a customized nutrition plan that is designed just for our body and lifestyle needs.
Call us at 604-484-2737 to book an Initial Assessment with our Registered Dietitians today.
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