We’re seeing a bunch of messages online about using this time at home to focus on recommitting to your health. There is also an alarming number of advertisements and online messaging about fad diets that highlight dramatic weight loss programs. While they may yield quick results, fad diets often promote unhealthy and sometimes downright dangerous methods for weight loss.
Before we start talking about weight management, we want you to know that only your doctor or registered dietitian can tell you what your ideal weight is. There are a bunch of factors that play into that number, including body shape, body composition, physical activity levels, and more. Here’s the science behind your weight and how you can make changes for the better.
Debunking Body Shape, Composition, and BMI
Bodies can be a variety of shapes, and it’s determined by your genetics. The most common shapes are “apple” and “pear.” Each type plays a role in certain risk factors for chronic disease. “Apple” body shapes tend to hold more fat in the abdominal or upper body region. Storing fat in those areas is linked to higher instances of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other similar diseases. That’s why men with a waist size of 40 inches or above and women with a waist size of 35 inches or above are at higher risk for chronic disease. “Pear” body shapes have increased risk for orthopedic problems, such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, and varicose veins. Body composition how much muscle, fat and bone your body has, which impacts your weight. Body Mass Index, or BMI, is calculated based on your weight and height. It’s important to note that BMI does not take into consideration whether that weight comes from fat or muscle, so it’s not a perfect indicator of health.
Calories Aren’t the Enemy
Daily calorie needs will differ from person to person because all of our bodies have different energy needs. Your body’s metabolism is the system that turns calories into energy. It uses that energy to make sure your basic bodily functions, like beating your heart or digesting food, work properly. That energy need can differ from day-to-day and is determined by so many factors: your age, gender, genetics, body composition, physical activity level, and even the weather. What doesn’t change often is your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. That rate is the number of calories your body needs on a daily basis to keep you alive. If you were only laying in bed and doing absolutely nothing, your body will still need a certain amount of calories to do so.
What you should care about is the quality of the calories you consume. You shouldn’t assume that because something is high in calories that it is bad for you. Nuts are high in calories, but they’re full of healthy fats and protein and should be a part of a balanced diet. Carbohydrates are also essential to your body’s main functions, and should never be completely eliminated. It’s a myth that calories from carbohydrates alone will cause weight gain. Any kind of calorie surplus will cause weight gain.
Stick to Healthy Lifestyle Changes for Success
The absolute best way to maintain your weight is making sure you’re eating a variety of foods from all of the food groups and rarely eating more than the amount of calories your body needs. Follow the MyPlate guidelines to find your recommended daily values of basic nutrients. Find a physical activity that brings you joy, not dread. Physical activity isn’t a punishment; it’s discovering what your body is capable of doing for you. Don’t focus on losing weight or the number on the scale. Focus on balance, health, positive energy, and confidence.
Last, always talk to your doctor first before you start any kind of weight loss plan to ensure your long-term safety and wellbeing. Oh, and kick those fad diets to the curb.