Weight Loss and Maintenance 

When it comes to weight management, we often go to food and exercise as the widest avenues of change. Although they are a great start, there are several other factors that can affect our weight and overall well-being. 

Here are just a few

1. Food 

The relationship between food and weight loss is much more complicated than just calories in and calories out. If a pizza contains the same number of calories as a salad with chicken, nuts, fruits, and veggies on top, it is still unlikely that you will receive the same amount of nutritional value, no matter how much we like pizza. 

Factors other than caloric intake to consider are:

  • Fiber: Foods high in fiber help to keep the "natural flow" of the digestive system. Fiber keeps us from becoming constipated, which is often uncomfortable and results in weight stalls. Fiber, paired with lower consumption of saturated fats, can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. 
  • Total Fat: Don't be confused. Fat is an ESSENTIAL dietary need. However, having too much fat, particularly saturated and trans fat, can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Animal products and processed foods often contain saturated and trans fats. On the other hand, eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually help to lower cholesterol. Nuts, avocados, and fish are just a few foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Sugar: Just like fat, our body needs sugar. In fact, glucose, a simple sugar, is a vital source of energy for all living organisms, including humans. The types of sugar we should be avoiding, though, are additives. Pay attention to ingredients such as sucrose, maltose, and dextrose.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are called macronutrient, and they nourish our body. Vitamins and minerals make up the micronutrients. They help our bodies utilize the macronutrients and support many processes, from blood pressure regulation to muscle contraction.

When looking for the best foods, it's important to pay attention to all of these factors, which will overall aid in weight management. 

2. Exercise 

Combined with a healthy diet, a regular exercise routine is great for overall health. Doing a combination of cardio, strength, and stretching helps to strengthen muscles, control weight, and even improve sleep and energy. When we exercise, endorphins are released to the brain, which helps to improve mood and stress. The key to losing weight while you work out is to simply develop specific workouts that are tailored to burning calories as well as work with your meal plan to get the maximum amount of energy out of your meals to convert into workout energy.

3. Stress 

In a study from 2007, 71 healthy women with normal BMI levels enrolled in a nursing practitioner program. At the end of the semester, 40 of them had gained weight, 19 had lost weight, and 12 had stayed the same. Regardless of the activity, stress can impact weight and affect our health if it is not kept in check. Not only can stress create common symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, and digestive upset, it can also lead us to develop unhealthy "coping" habits like binge eating, smoking, and social withdraw. 

We will never be able to absolve the stresses of everyday life. However, if we want to stay ahead of our weight fluctuations, a great place to start is stress control. Instead of developing unhealthy habits, we need to instill beneficial activities, including exercise, regular sleep, socialization, and meditation.

4. Sleep 

If you don't snooze, you don't lose. The University of Chicago conducted a study about the relationship between sleep and weight loss. In the end, those who got 8 hours of sleep each night lost almost twice the amount of weight from fat than those who were sleep-deprived. Considering that more than 35 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, is it just a coincidence that these numbers are almost identical with the percentage of obese Americans? When the body doesn’t get adequate sleep, it starts producing a hormone called Ghrelin, which triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure. Being tired and hungry is a dangerous combination, often resulting in cravings for carbohydrates. Adequate amounts of sleep allow our bodies to de-stress from the day's events, promoting healthy brain function, emotional wellness, and hormone regulation. 

5. Water 

Water is one of the most essential elements of human life. In fact, our body composition is up to 60 percent water, and many of our vital organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys, are made of over 70 percent water. 

Water performs many functions within the body, including: 

  • Regulation of our internal body temperature through perspiration and respiration
  • Metabolization and transportation of carbohydrates and proteins throughout the bloodstream
  • Excretion of waste through urination and bowel movement
  • Protection of the brain, spinal cord, and fetus
  • Lubrication of joints

Drinking the right amount of water each day not only supplies the body for the functions above but also promotes weight loss, decreases cravings, and saves money!  

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