Weight management means keeping your body weight at a healthy level. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are crucial when it comes to controlling your weight. A weight management plan depends on whether you are overweight or underweight.

Body fat and body mass measurements are used to determine whether a person is under or overweight. A dietitian can help you calculate your body fat. The recommended amount of body fat differs for men and women.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

It is a simple and widely used indirect method for estimating body fat composition. It is calculated by dividing the subject's weight by the square of the height, expressed in kg / m2 .

It is important to note that the term "overweight" and "obesity" does not mean the same thing. The most commonly used definitions, established by the WHO in 1997 and published in 2000, provide the following values:

  • A BMI less than 18.5 is underweight
  • A BMI of 18.5 - 24.9 is normal weight
  • A BMI of 25.0 - 29.9 is overweight
  • A BMI of 30.0 - 39.9 is obese
  • A BMI of 35.0 or higher with at least one other significant comorbidity ; or a BMI of 40.0 or higher is severely (or morbidly) obese

In a clinical setting, physicians take into account race, ethnicity, lean mass (muscularity), age, sex, and other factors which can affect the interpretation of BMI. BMI overestimates body fat in persons who are very muscular, and it can underestimate body fat in persons who have lost body mass (e.g. many elderly). Mild obesity as defined by BMI alone is not a cardiac risk factor, and hence BMI cannot be used as a sole clinical and epidemiological predictor of cardiovascular health.

Waist Circumference

BMI does not take into account differing ratios of adipose to lean tissue; nor does it distinguish between differing forms of adiposity, some of which may correlate more closely with cardiovascular risk. Increasing understanding of the biology of different forms of adipose tissue has shown that visceral fat or central obesity (male-type or apple-type obesity, also known as "belly fat") has a much stronger correlation, particularly with cardiovascular disease, than the BMI alone.

The absolute waist circumference (>102 cm in men and >88 cm in women) or waist-hip ratio (>0.9 for men and >0.85 for women) are both used as measures of central obesity.

Body Fat Level

For women, the recommended amount of body fat is 20 - 21%. A woman with more than 30% body fat is considered obese.

For men, the recommended amount of body fat is 13 - 17%. A man with 25% body fat or higher is considered obese.

Two simple methods for measuring body fat are the skinfold test, in which a pinch of skin is precisely measured to determine the thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer; or bioelectrical impedance analysis. Other measurements of body fat include computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.

Calories Intake For Weight Maintenance

To maintain your weight, you can use the following formula:

  • 10 calories per pound of desirable body weight if you are sedentary or very obese
  • 13 calories per pound of desirable body weight if your activity level is low, or if you are over age 55
  • 15 calories per pound of desirable body weight if you regularly do moderate activity
  • 18 calories per pound of desirable body weight if you regularly do strenuous activity

Activity Levels

  • Low activity: No planned, regular physical activity; occasional weekend or weekly activity (such as golf or recreational tennis) is the only type of physical activity.
  • Moderate activity: Participating in physical activities such as swimming, jogging, or fast walking for 30 - 60 minutes at a time.
  • Strenuous activity: Participating in vigorous physical activity for 60 minutes or more at least 4 - 5 days per week.

Diet Considerations

  • Do not eat meat more than once a day. Eat fish and poultry more often than red or processed meats because they are less fattening.
  • Avoid frying food. Fried food absorbs the fats from the cooking oils, increasing your dietary fat intake. Instead, bake or broil food. If you do fry, use polyunsaturated oils, such as corn oil.
  • Cut down on your salt intake. Limit table salt, or flavour intensifiers that contain salt, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Include adequate fibre in your diet. Fibre is found in green leafy vegetables, fruit, beans, bran flakes, nuts, root vegetables, and whole-grain foods.
  • Do not eat more than 4 eggs per week. Although they are a good source of protein, and low in saturated fat, but they are very high in cholesterol.
  • Choose fresh fruit for dessert, rather than cookies, cake, or pudding.

To successfully manage your weight, follow these basic guidelines:

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Balance physical activity with diet to maintain your desired weight. Aerobic exercise will help increase muscle tissue and burn calories.
  • Gradually adjust your eating habits to encourage a permanent lifestyle change. You may need counselling and behaviour modification to change your diet.
  • Avoid alcohol, or drink in moderation.
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