Weight control

Weight control is a popular topic. Millions of dollars are spent each year by people trying to control their weight. Nearly 15% of teenagers and young adults (and up to 30% of adults) are considered to be obese.

There are several definitions of “fatness.” Generally they are divided as follows:

There is one major principle behind weight control, and it deals with caloric balance. Caloric balance means that the number of calories consumed must be balanced with the number of calories expended. This principle affects weight in three ways:

In terms of food, weight control depends on the number of calories in the food you eat.

1 lb. of body fat = 3,500 calories

This means that eating an additional 500 calories every day for one week (7 days) will add one pound of body weight. The reverse is true as well: to lose one pound of body weight, you need to eat 3,500 calories less than you use. A weight loss of one or two pounds per week is the recommended amount to lose.

Knowing the principle of caloric balance is the first step in weight control. A daily diet and exercise program must be planned for as well. There is no easy and painless way of weight control. Fad diets, water pills, hormone shots, or even surgery may seem more desirable than cutting down on calories or increasing exercise. But, those methods are not long lasting.

A Sensible Plan
Always check with a physician before starting any weight-control diet plan. Generally, a sensible weight-control diet includes:

The basic rule of weight control - to balance the calories coming in with the calories going out - should be the primary emphasis of any weight-control diet. If a gimmick or aid is used to “sell” the diet, ask about its safety before using it.

Weight control and fad diets can be classified into six general categories. These six categories may be helpful in evaluating other diets as they appear on newsstands.

High Protein/High Fat/Low Carbohydrate Diets
These diets promote high-protein foods nad restrict sources of carbohydrates including fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals, and sometimes milk and milk products. Examples include: Dr. Atkins's Diet Revolution, Dr. Stillman's Diet, the Drinking Man's Diet, the Air Force Diet, and the Scarsdale Diet (similar to the others except that it is low in fat).

These diets are nutritionally unbalanced because they eliminate foods from three to four of the food groups in the Food Guide Pyramid. These diets tend to be low in Vitamin A, the B vitamins, Vitamin C, iron, and calcium.

One-Food Diets
These diets encourage “all you can eat” of one or several foods while restricting many others. Examples include: the Rice Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the Banana Diet, and the Yogurt Diet.

These diets are nutritionally unbalanced because they emphasize one food or food group and ignore the others. Usually weight loss occurs because of low calorie intake, but the diets are hard to adhere to because they are monotonous.

Bizarre Diets
Any odd or unusual diet belongs to this group. The proponents of these diets make unsupported claims concerning the rationale behind the weight loss which might occur. Examples include: the HCG Diet (hormone), the Anti-Cellulite Diet, the Fructose Diet, and the Last Chance Diet.

These diets may be relatively nutritious, but they may also use devices or techniques (such as drugs or formulas) that may be dangerous. Some of the diets may be low in one or more nutrients. The Fructose Diet, for example, limits sources of carbohydrates.

Diet Pills, Diuretics, and Laxatives
These drugs are purported to stimulate weight loss, with or without dieting. Diet pills generally contain mild stimulants to suppress the appetite. Diuretics cause water loss which reduces body weight but not body fat. These methods are generally unsafe in the short run and unsuccessful in the long run.

Gimmick Diets
For the most part, these diets are nutritionally sound, but they incorporate gimmicks or invalid claims regarding weight loss. Examples include: the Bread and Butter Diet, the Lazy Woman’s Diet, the Easy No-Flab Diet, and the Beautiful Skin Diet.

Balanced, Nutritious Diets/Behavior Modification
These diets encourage the use of a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid. An attempt is made to limit calories and increase activity. Examples include: the Weight Watcher’s Diet and the Prudent Man’s Diet. They incorporate eating patterns that can be used for a lifetime, and not just for several weeks while dieting.

Behavior modification techniques fall under this category. Generally, these plans encourage nutritious weight-control diets in addition to increasing exercise. The key to behavior modification is the observance of one’s own personal habits and the step-by-step change of undesirable eating and exercise patterns.

For a printer friendly version of the above Fad Diets and Weight Control Programs, click on the icon to download.
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What About Snacks?
One of the hardest things to do is to overcome the urge to snack, but choosing a variety of low fat snack foods doesn’t have to be limiting, boring, or tasteless. Here are five tactics to help combat cravings:

For snacks under 100 calories, choose from the list below. One hundred calories does not seem like many calories, but if you eat just 100 calories a day over an entire year, you will put on more than 10 pounds!

Snacks under 100 calories
Food Calories
1 cup blueberries 80
50 small unsalted pretzels 50
1 rice cake 35
3 graham crackers (2 1/2-inch squares) 90
10 mini marshmallows 25
2 cups cauliflower flowerets drizzled with 1 Tb. buttermilk reduced-calorie salad dressing 27
1 frozen fruit bar 70
1 nonfat blueberry yogurt (4.4 oz. container) 50
1 cup minestrone soup 85
2 Hersey's TM kisses 49
1 box minipack raisins (1/2 ounce) 40
1 slice raisin bread, spread with 2 teaspoons light cream cheese 85
2 Kavli TM thick-style crispbreads 70
1 Fudgsicle TM fudge pop 70
1 medium orange 60
1 small banana, wrapped in foil and frozen 99
1 fresh pear 98
10 cucumber slices topped with triangles of mozzarella cheese (1/2 ounce) 48

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Did You Know This About Calories?
The correct scientific term for what most of us think of as a calorie, the unit of energy we use when we talk about the energy value of food, is kilocalorie. One calorie is such a tiny amount that scientists use the measure of 1000 calories or a kilocalorie. Common use has shortened the term to calorie, but it still refers to 1000 of the tiny units. For example, a glass of whole milk contains 165,000 calories. We omit the zeros and use the term kilocalories, with the understanding that “kilo” stands for those zeroes. Another way to indicate kilocalorie is to use Calories spelled with a capital C. Thus, one glass of whole milk contains 165 kilocalories or 165 Calories.

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