Friday, 23 March 2012

Why Losing Weight is Hard to Do

Losing weight is twice as hard as thought’, announced scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference.

You don't say! As anyone who’s ever dieted and failed will know, losing weight ain’t easy. Apparently one reason is because we set our sights too high. We expect to lose too much weight too quickly, while eating too much

According to obesity expert, Boyd Swinburn from the Deakin University in Melbourne, slimmers should aim for no more than half a pound weight loss each week and they should be patient. ‘… This is a marathon, not a sprint’, he said. 

Official guidelines in the US and UK advise us to cut 500 calories a day for a steady one pound per week weight loss. However, scientists say this calculation doesn’t take into account the fact that our metabolism slows down as our weight decreases (unless exercise is increased). This means we need to reduce our calories further, so losing weight is twice as hard.

If you’ve ever dieted and reached the dreaded ‘weight loss plateau’ (where your weight remains the same despite your calorie deficit), it could be time to readjust your calorie intake – downwards. Recalculating your calorie needs should always be done periodically, especially when you’re on a diet.

Once you’ve weighed yourself and figured out how many calories you need to eat to maintain your new weight, you can reduce your calorie intake again. This should help you get your weight loss back on track.

To save you doing all those calculations yourself, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) have created an online calculator which will work out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight and how many you need to lose weight.

All you have to do is enter your height, weight, age, gender and an estimation of your activity levels. Then you enter the weight you're aiming for and when you want to reach your goal. The calculator works outs how many calories you need to eat each day to lose (x) amount of pounds over your time scale. It also displays a graph showing the downward trend of weight loss.

You can adjust the graph as you like by increasing the time scale or shortening it. And if your weight targets are unhealthy, it lets you know with a friendly warning. This is also a useful tool for anyone who is interested in how many calories they need just to maintain their weight.

The NIDDK Body Weight Simulator calculator can be found here: NIDDK. You may need to install Java to run it, but the link to the free installer is provided.

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