According to a study released in 2012, nearly 70% of Americans are overweight, with an alarming 35% coming in as obese. The bane of expanding waistlines is nothing new, but these recent figures are truly staggering.
Considering all the serious health conditions that have now come to be associated with being overweight, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, asthma, osteoporosis and diabetes, it’s more important than ever that we get a handle on this growing epidemic.
Obviously, effective weight loss is a struggle for a lot of people. The reasons for why this is are varied and complicated.
For some people, it really may just be a matter of overindulgence. For others, their problems may be deeply rooted in emotional or medical issues. In any case, weight loss is difficult, but it’s not impossible.
There are many tools available for those who are looking to lose weight, including supplements, weight loss programs and exercise routines.
Reasons for Weight Gain
Overeating: One of the most common reasons for weight gain is overeating. But what exactly constitutes overeating? Some people find themselves confused because they honestly don’t feel like they eat too much.
In their minds, overeating is what a person who is constantly with food in hand does. It can’t possibly apply to someone who skips breakfast, enjoys a candy bar for lunch, snacks occasionally and only pigs out at dinner – can it?
In truth, overeating is about more than just volume.
It also has to do with a person’s makeup, including…
3..their current weight
4..their activity level.
For example, while training for the Olympics, swimmer Michael Phelps routinely ate 12,000 calories a day. That number may seem massive, and that’s because it is. According to doctors, the average male should be taking in about 2,700 calories per day, while the average woman should be consuming about 2,200.
When you compare the Olympic swimmer to the average person, you see that he eats in one day what most people would eat in four to five days.
That being said, it becomes easier to see how a sedentary woman who skips breakfast, consumes a 300-calorie candy bar at lunch, munches on 500 calories of snacks and digs into a 2,500-calorie, pasta-breadsticks-and-wine dinner may be seeing weight gain rather than weight loss.
Poor Food Choices: As illustrated above, it doesn’t always take a lot of food to equal lots of calories. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of foods that may seem small but actually pack quite the calorie punch.
Cheese, granola, nuts, candies and soft drinks are examples of high-calorie foods or drinks that may not seem all that hefty in looks.
Looking at the previous list of foods, half of them don’t seem like obvious candidates for the “unhealthy” list. After all, cheese is a dairy product, which means it’s loaded with lots of calcium; granola is a complex carb that offers tons of energy; and nuts are high in protein, which help build and repair muscle.
Are these foods bad despite their benefits? The simple answer is no. As a matter of fact, even traditionally “bad” foods, such as cakes, chocolate and soft drinks, aren’t all that awful so long as you practice moderation, which is the act of knowing when enough is enough.
For many people, weight issues begin when moderation and healthy food choices are ignored. For most, a candy bar once or even twice a week isn’t going to cause much harm. However, there are very few people who can consume one or two candy bars every day without seeing negative effects on the scale.
Some might argue that snacks like candy are a necessary evil, because they provide the extra fuel needed to get through a day. This kind of thinking is fundamentally wrong.
Candy and other unhealthy foods don’t have to be necessary evils, especially when there are plenty of better food choices that can provide the same benefits.
A handful of nuts, a piece of fruit or a salad are all examples of nutritionally superior foods that can stave off hunger. When eaten in moderation, these choices can sometimes even be considered weight loss foods.
Health Issues: Despite proper diet and good food choices, some people may find that they will continue to struggle with their weight.
For these people, weight loss may evade them due to medical conditions like hypothyroidism, depression and diabetes or due to side effects from medications that they are taking.
Birth control pills, beta blockers, high blood pressure medicine and analgesics are all examples of medications that can cause weight gain.
For these people, it may seem like weight loss is an impossibility, but that isn’t always the case.
Those who are extremely overweight but relatively healthy may qualify for bariatric surgery, which is an operation on the stomach or intestines that can lead to drastic weight loss.
For others, a simple change in medication may be all that is necessary to help with unwanted pounds.
Options for Those Who Need Weight Loss Help
America’s growing weight problem isn’t a new phenomenon, and as such, dozens of weight loss fixes have made their way to the market over the years.
Some, such as weight loss pills and exercise equipment, are readily available over the counter. Others, such as weight loss surgery and prescription medications, will require the assistance and guidance of a doctor.
Diets: Changing one’s diet is the most drastic and effective method one can take to help with weight loss. Adjusting a diet, however, doesn’t just mean counting and cutting calories. It also means taking in account what kinds of foods are being eaten and what kinds of foods should be eaten.
Those who are overweight should start their new diets by staying away from nutritionally empty foods like candy and soda and moving towards so-called weight loss foods like vegetables, fruit and lean meat.
Proper diet also means sticking to a good eating routine. Many overweight individuals skip breakfast or lunch in an effort to reduce their daily caloric intake. While this method might seem to work for the first few days, it won’t be long until the extreme deficit and lack of energy will push one to start overeating at other times of the day.
What good does it do to skip a breakfast of 300 calories if you are just going to reach for a calorie-laden snack of 500, 600 or 700 calories later in the day?
Supplements: Do a quick internet search, and you’ll see that there is no shortage of weight loss pills on the market. These supplements are often touted as the answer to fast weight loss, but it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a miracle in a bottle.
While many dietary supplements are healthy and effective, most don’t work on their own. Instead, you must also put in your own effort, either through exercise, diet or both if you want to see results.
When it comes to weight loss pills, there are a variety of different formulas that are available. Some work by suppressing your appetite, which means that you will be less likely to overeat.
When you take these kinds of supplements, you’ll find that your appetite greatly diminishes. Whereas you might have eaten a foot-long sub for lunch before the pills, you might be satisfied with half a sub or less once you start taking the supplements.
Fat Burner: Another kind of weight loss pill is the fat burner. These kinds of supplements rev up your metabolism and give you extra energy so that you can exercise and burn off calories. When you take these kinds of pills, you’ll notice a significant increase in the “pep in your step”.
This extra stamina will help you work out harder and longer so you can blast away calories and lose weight.
The last kind of popular weight loss supplement is the blocker. Of this type, over-the-counter Alli is probably the most recognized. Alli, or orlistat, works by blocking some of the fat you eat from being absorbed in the intestines. This translates to fewer calories absorbed, which in turns leads to weight loss.
Exercise: Whether you decide to take weight loss pills or go the old-fashioned way of strict dieting, exercise is something that you must incorporate into your daily routine if you hope to see good results on the scale.
While pills or dieting alone may result in weight loss, they won’t help you with toning or muscle building.
When you combine exercise with dieting or supplements, you can expect to see better results in a shorter period of time. Depending on how well you adjust your diet and how much you exercise, you could put yourself right on track to fast weight loss.
Seeing as you must burn 3,500 more calories than you take in to lose a single pound, it’s clear to see that incorporating exercise – which can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour depending on your intensity – can really make a serious difference.
Weight Loss Surgery: When dieting, exercise and supplements don’t work or won’t work fast enough, it’s sometimes necessary to turn to a medical professional. Bariatric surgery, better known as simply weight loss surgery, isn’t the scary, dangerous procedure that it once was.
While it is still one that presents several risks and should be carefully considered, this surgery is more widely available today than it has ever been.
The two most common forms of weight loss surgery are gastric bypass and gastric banding.
In a typical bypass surgery, the size of the stomach is reduced so that less food can be consumed. In a banding surgery, a device is implanted that divides the stomach into two pouches. This device can be later adjusted or removed.
Prior to scheduling an operation, most doctors will require you to prove that you can practice moderation and other good eating habits. They will ask that you follow a weight loss diet and regular exercise schedule.
The reason they do is because weight loss surgery is not an end-all to obesity. Should you decide to undergo an operation and then go right back to your bad eating habits, you will either regain any weight you’ve lost and more or not lose any at all.
For many people, losing weight is neither a quick nor easy endeavor. However, it’s also not an impossible one, either.
In order to succeed, you must understand how both food and your body works. Once you can see food as energy and stop treating it as something you consume when you want to reward yourself or pass time, the easier it will be for you to break bad eating habits.
Exercise is also something that many people struggle with. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, meaning that you don’t move around very much, exercise will seem especially difficult for you. You may find that you can’t go more than a few minutes without losing your breath or that your muscles may ache for days after a run or stint in the gym.
Unfortunately, the only way to get past these discomforts is to keep going. The more you exercise, the more stamina you’ll build. You’ll also stretch and train your muscles, which will help cut down on the pain you currently feel after exerting yourself.
Weight loss pills and other supplements are not designed to be an answer to all of your troubles. However, they are developed to help you see better, faster results.
So long as you understand that you must do your part to lose weight, you can safely use supplements (and even surgery) to enhance your weight loss efforts and meet your health goals.