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Weight Problems

  • How important is exercise in weight reduction?

Exercise will help you to lose weight because it burns calories. In addition to burning calories, exercise builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat and requires more calories to maintain.

Exercise has many benefits, including building and toning muscle, strengthening the cardiovascular system, and helping with relaxation (alleviates stress and promotes sleep). Aerobic exercise (jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, aerobics) increases your heart rate and helps burn calories. When losing weight, exercise will help you lose more body fat than muscle mass. Calorie reduction alone, without exercise, will result in both muscle and fat loss.

  • How do I cut back on my calories to lose weight?

General guidelines suggest that to lose weight safely, lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week. One pound of fat has 3,500 calories. If you cut back by 500 calories per day, you can lose one pound of fat in one week. In addition to cutting calories, burn more calories each day with exercise. For example, by cutting back on 300 calories of food each day, and burning an extra 200 calories with aerobic exercise, you could expect to lose about a pound a week.

What is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit used to express the heat or energy value of food. Calorie needs vary from person to person. Factors influencing your particular needs include: activity level, gender, body composition, health status, and metabolic rate.

Calories are obtained from three nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates (four calories per gram). A few sources include breads, cereals, pasta, corn, potatoes, and fruits.
  • Proteins (four calories per gram). Some sources include meat, nuts, and cheese.
  • Fats (nine calories per gram). Sources include butter, salad dressing and bacon

When you consume more calories than your body needs, then you will gain weight. If calorie intake equals calories used, you will maintain your weight. If calorie intake is less than calories used, weight loss will occur. Eat the right amount of food to be a healthy weight!

Food provides the energy (calories) used to keep the body active and functioning properly. Each person needs a different amount of energy and therefore each individual differs in the amount of food they should eat. Energy needs depend on gender, age, body size, activity level etc. Daily Calorie Intake

Women tend to need less energy than men. Older adults tend to need less energy than adolescents and young adults. The more active a person, the bigger their energy needs. A healthy weight is best achieved and maintained by both being physically active and by not eating more calories than are used up. Not eating enough for the body's needs could lead to underweight and ill health. Overeating can cause overweight, which can lead to ill health including heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.

  • Why do some people regain more weight after a diet than others?

Often, diets are focused on quick weight loss rather than a gradual weight loss. A drastic reduction in calories to a low calorie diet (i.e. from 2,500 to 1,200 calories) without exercise, will contribute to a loss of a lot of muscle mass and some fat. Don't subtract more than a third of your calories to lose weight (this will result in loss of muscle). Losing weight, whether it is fat or muscle, will show a weight loss on the weighing-scale.

weight gain can lead to obesity which is a serious health concern that severely decreases the quality of life for many people. Moderate weight loss (10-15% of body weight) decreases health risks and medical problems in 90% of obese patients. Obesity is associated with an increased risk for cancer, high cholesterol levels, coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes.

  • Why don't I lose weight when I reduce calories without exercise?

When you reduce calories without exercising, the body will lose fat as well as muscle. While restricting calories, you will lose weight. However, once you go back to a normal pattern of eating, the weight will often come back on with perhaps some additional weight. The reason the weight comes back on is because you may have lost muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat; therefore, when you go back to an increased level of calories, your body does not require them for energy - excess calories are converted to fat.

  • Will I eat more if I exercise?

Researchers have found that immediately following exercise, appetite actually decreases. Including exercise in your daily routine, may increase your food intake to some degree. However, the calories that you burn while exercising can compensate for the increased food intake. Making healthy food choices is one way to counter-balance this.

  • Why do diets fail?

Often, one-third to two-thirds of weight lost, is gained back within one year, and almost all is regained within five years. Only five percent of people who go on a "diet" actually lose weight and keep the weight off. The best advice is to never go on a "diet," which implies that it is something you start and stop, or go on and go off. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to slowly change your eating and exercise habits. Also, most diets do not work because they are not incorporated into a person's lifestyle. Often people lose weight on a fad diet. Once the weight is lost they usually return to their previous lifestyle and regain the weight.

12 Ways to Manage Your Weight

Weight Watchers have been helping people in the UK lose weight and keep it off for over 30 years and, in the 6,000 meetings that take place every week, Members find the support, motivation and information they need to achieve their Goal weight.
National Slimming Centres - a large UK private, medical, obesity and weight control group.
Eating4health - run by a state registered dietician, this site has a series of guides on food and nutrition, also offers dietary change programmes over the internet.
Healthy Lifestyle Guide: Fitness Planners & Training Guides.

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