Basics of weight management

How to know if your weight is normal

  1. Waist/hip ratio
    Measure your waist circumference just above the navel. Divide this number by your hip measurement at the widest point. If the number is less than .8, you are in a "safe" range. If the number is .8 or more, you are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
  2. BMI
    Weight in pounds x 703/(height in inches) or metric: (kg/m) or use the BMI chart. Recommended is a BMI of 19-24. A BMI of 25-29 is considered overweight and 30 or more considered obese.
  3. Waist circumference
    For women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or more confers a high risk, for men a waist circumference of 40 inches or more is high risk. Asians may be high risk at a smaller circumference.

Weight loss

Calories burned are greater than calories consumed

  • 1,200-1,500 calories per day is often recommended for women to lose weight; for men 1,500-1,800 calories per day.
  • Consuming less than 1,200 calories per day for women (1,500 for men) is not recommended, and does not necessarily cause more rapid loss. Instead, too few calories slow the metabolic rate, making it more difficult to burn calories.
  • Increasing activity will burn more calories, help build muscle (which uses calories more efficiently than fat), and increase energy, making it easier to stay on track.
  • It takes 3,500 calories to make one pound. In other words, eating 3,500 calories more than you need per week will result in a one pound weight gain per week. Conversely, to lose one pound per week, you need to consume 3,500 calories less than what you need for normal metabolic needs. Or burn 3,500 calories more per week. Or a combination of both (recommended).
    • For example: If you eat 300 calories less per day and walk 2 miles (most people burn about 100 calories/mile) that is 500 calories less per day. Multiplied by 7 days is 3,500 calories less per week. This should result in a pound per week weight loss.

Slower weight loss is more permanent than rapid weight loss

  • Many people try to lose weight too fast, and end up on a weight loss/gain yoyo, often gaining back more than they lost. Human bodies ‘panic’, hormonally speaking, when it ‘thinks’ starvation is imminent. So, the metabolic rate slows down to conserve calories. This is not compatible with weight loss.
  • Patience and persistence will help one to lose more slowly. One half pound per week is more likely to be sustained because the body does not recognize this slow weight loss as a potential "starvation" situation. Think of it like "sneaking" the weight off. After all, it "snuck" on in the first place.
  • Losing pound/week is 26 pounds in a year. Would you rather lose 26 pounds in 3 months, only to end up gaining back 28 over the next 9 months? A year from now you would actually be heavier than you are now. Or accept that permanent weight loss occurs slowly, and be 26 pounds lighter a year from now?
  • Slow weight loss does not require deprivation like most popular diets do. To lose pound per week, you need to decrease your calories by 250/day. Or burn an extra 250 calories/day. Or some combination of the two to equal a 250 calorie deficit.
    • Give up one 12 oz can of Coke/day (140 calories) and walk 1.1 miles per day (110 calories), for a total of 250 calories.
    • If you eat a candy bar every day, eat only of it (230 calories 2 = 115) and bike 1.35 miles each day (135 calories burned). 115 less consumed and 135 more burned equals 250 calories.
    • A one and a half ounce, single serving bag of potato chips is 230 calories. Skip the chips to save most of the 250 calories per day.
    • 3 one cup servings of whole milk have 450 calories (150 calories per cup). 3 one cup servings of skim milk have 270 calories (90 calories per cup). Switching to skim milk saves 130 calories per day. Add a 1.2 mile walk to burn 120 calories, totaling 250 calories less per day.