Struggling to lose weight? You do the maths…

obesityAre you a serial dieter who is struggling to lose weight? Perhaps, like many of us, you are friends with somebody who seems to constantly indulge in high calorie ‘bad’ food like chocolate, crisps, biscuits etc. and never seems to even gain a single pound.

As a general rule of thumb, an average man requires to consume around 2,500 calories each day to maintain his weight and for a woman, that figure is around 2,000 calories a day. However, what people often do not consider is that these numbers can actually drastically vary depending on age and how much physical activity you engage in.

To maintain a healthy weight, it is not as complex as some people assume. Simply put, you need to balance your calorie intake from food and drink with calorie expenditure through physical activity. For a healthy weight loss, you need to burn more energy/calories than you are consuming by adhering to a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories and increasing exercise.

If you are somebody who is struggling to lose weight, have you considered some very important formulas that could give you more insight into whether you are overweight, how fast your body is burning up the food you eat, or how many calories your own particular body needs each day to stay at its current weight?

. Body Mass Index (BMI)

This has become a short-hand method for many doctors, personal trainers and nutritionists to determine if you are at a healthy weight for your height. A BMI calculator uses either metres or feet and inches for height and weight is measured in either kilograms or stones and pounds.

For those without access to a BMI calculator, there are formulas which can be used to find your BMI reading:

English BMI Formula: BMI = (Weight in Pounds / (Height in inches x Height in inches) ) x 703
Metric BMI Formula: BMI = (Weight in Kilograms / (Height in Meters x Height in Meters ) )

Various sources sometimes slightly differ in their interpretation of what is a healthy range to be in for a BMI reading; however this is a common guideline to work off:

Under 18.5: Underweight

18.5 – 25: Healthy Weight

25 – 30: Overweight

30 – 40: Obese

Over 40: Severely obese

There are still health risks from being ‘overweight’, however it is worth bearing in mind that if you have a BMI of 30 to 40 and medically classified as obese, you are at a huge risk of weight-related serious health problems such as: heart disease, cancer, arthritis, infertility, asthma and other non-life-threatening problems such as erectile dysfunction.

. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Many dieters are either unaware of what a BMR reading is or simply disregard the importance of it. We as nation that is heavily inundated with regular news stories about Britain’s obesity crisis and the accompanying major health risks of being overweight or obese. If such stories motivate you to shed excess pounds but you struggle to do so, a common blame for this is a ‘slow metabolism’.

Metabolism ­actually encompasses different processes that are important to keep us alive. The conversion of food and drink into energy is only one of these. Metabolism also involves absorption of nutrients into cells. Surprisingly, those overweight will have quite a fast metabolism because they weigh more, but if their weight is staying constant then their metabolism is not fast enough to offset their intake of calories.

An important term that should be taken into account when studying weight gain/weight loss is basal metabolic rate (BMR). This refers to how many calories you use up over the course of a day if you were to theoretically remain rested throughout the day. Basically it is the release and use of energy purely for the functioning of vital organs to keep you alive, including: heart, lungs, nervous system, kidneys, etc.

Any factors that cause an increase to your metabolic rate will also increase your BMR. These include: exercise, stress, fear and illness.

A BMR formula uses height, weight, age and gender to calculate the BMR reading. Ratio of muscle-to-fat is unfortunately not incorporated into such a formula which means the BMR reading may be inaccurate for people who either have very muscular build (underestimating calorie requirements) or are very overweight fat (over-estimating calorie requirements).

For those without access to a BMR calculator, there are formulas which can be used to find your BMR reading:

English BMR Formula for Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
English BMR Formula for Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

Metric BMR Formula for Women: BMR = 655 + ( 9.6 x weight in kilos ) + ( 1.8 x height in cm ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Metric BMR Formula for Men: BMR = 66 + ( 13.7 x weight in kilos ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )

After you have calculated your BMR, this is then put into the Harris Benedict Formula. This is very important as it calculates your total daily calorie intake required in order to remain at your current weight. This is as follows:

. Little/no exercise: BMR x 1.2 = Total Calorie Need

. Light exercise: BMR x 1.375 = Total Calorie Need

. Moderate exercise (3-5 days/wk): BMR x 1.55 = Total Calorie Need

. Very active (6-7 days/wk): BMR x 1.725 = Total Calorie Need

. Extra active (very active & physical job): BMR x 1.9 = Total Calorie Need

Therefore, a male aged 26-years-old who is 193cm in height and weighs 78kg, would have a BMR of 1922.8. If he exercised ‘moderately’ then the figure would be multiplied by 1.55, giving a total of 2980.34 calories he could consume each day and maintain the same weight.

Armed with all of the above knowledge, you can now calculate your own BMR and use this with the Harris Benedict Formula to help you adhere to a healthier diet and a better understanding of perhaps why you are struggling to lose weight.

Effective weight loss can also be achieved through weight loss aids in addition to adopting a healthy lifestyle. The prescription medication Xenical is suitable for those with a BMI over 27, whereas there are other medications that do not require a prescription such as Alli and XLS-Medical Fat Binder. To be suitable for Alli or XLS-Medical Fat Binder you must have a BMI of over 25. To find out more information on how to obtain them, visit the ‘Obesity’ area of the Medical Specialists Pharmacy website.

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