Monthly Archive for September, 2009

What is my Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Question: What is my Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR) and what does it tell me about my body?

Answer: The latest research confirms that your Waist-to-Hip Ratio (also sometimes referred to as Hip-to-Waist Ratio or Hip-Waist-Ratio) provides a more accurate indication of obesity and the health risks associated with weight problems than your BMI (Body Mass Index), which has traditionally been used as the main indicator to tell you whether you need to lose weight or not. People are genetically programmed to store extra fat in different areas of the body. Some people carry more fat around the waist and upper body (apple body shape) while others tend to build up more fat around the hips (pear body shape). Apple shaped people are at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes than their pear shaped counterparts.

Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio is calculated by dividing the circumference of your waist by that of your hips. When you measure yourself, stand relaxed and do not suck in your stomach. Measure your waist around the narrowest part (normally just above the belly button) and your hips around the widest part. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement using a calculator. Use the Waist-to-Hip Ratio Chart provided below to see how close you are to the ideal and what your health risks are. You can also use the free online Waist-to-Hip Ratio calculator provided as part of the free weight loss tools offered at myOBW.

The Waist-to-Hip Ratio Chart is as follow:

Male Female Health Risk Based on WHR
Close to 0.9 Close to 0.7 Ideal – Very low Risk
0.95 or below 0.80 or below Low Risk
0.96 to 1.0 0.81 to 0.85 Moderate Risk
1.0+ 0.85+ High Risk

Scientific studies show that waist size alone can already be an indicator for increased risk of heart disease. A waist circumference measurement of over 35 inches (88.9 cm) for women or over 40 inches (101.6 cm) for men indicates increased health risks as result of body fat distribution.

What is starvation mode and how does it affect weight loss

Question: I have been told that when I eat too little, my body goes into starvation mode to protect itself, and that it will slow down my weight loss. Is this true and how can I avoid starvation mode?

Answer: Many weight loss coaches use the term “starvation mode” to describe your body’s natural response to protect itself when you don’t eat enough for extended periods. When you regularly eat too little food to provide your body with the necessary nutrients, it perceives itself to be in danger from starvation. Since your body is wonderfully designed to protect you, it will slow down your metabolism to conserve energy so it can keep vital organs such as the brain and the heart going for as long as possible in the face of the perceived threat. While it will burn fat for fuel, it will also start burning lean muscle mass for fuel, which will slow down your metabolism even further. People on starvation diets invariably find that they regain all the weight they’ve lost (and then some) very quickly as soon as they start eating again.

While a starvation diet may help you lose weight quite fast in the short term, you will pay a heavy price because you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of weight problems. Your metabolism gets progressively slower with each day you remain on a starvation diet. This resultant slower metabolism needs less fuel, so you consistently have to eat less and less to lose weight! As your metabolism slows down even further and your lean muscle mass dwindles you will also find that you become more and more tired. This in turn means you will get less exercise, which leaves you with less lean muscle, and an even slower metabolism. It really is a vicious cycle. The importance of protecting your lean muscle mass to boost your metabolism can not be stressed enough.

The question arises: when does your body go into starvation mode? As with anything that involves the human body, there is no one single answer that will be true for everyone. The levels at which starvation mode kicks in vary from person to person. What we can do though, is understand how it gets triggered so we can avoid getting our bodies in that state. Your decision of how much to eat should be based on your individual Total Daily Energy Requirements, which takes into account a variety of factors including height, weight, age, gender and activity levels. If you want to lose weight safely, without setting off the alarm bells in your body; aim to eat approximately 300 – 500 calories less than your total daily requirements. This will provide your body with enough fuel to keep it going comfortably, but will still create a sufficient caloric deficit to ensure that you lose weight. To protect your metabolism even further, make sure your diet contains enough protein and that you maintain / increase your activity levels.

Note. You will find that many experts advise you not to eat less than 1 200 calories per day to prevent starvation mode. This is just a general rule of thumb to provide advice in the absence of enough information. To be safe, get your individual Total Daily Energy Requirements calculated, and follow the advice above.

What is the recipe for the Lemon Detox Diet or Master Cleanse lemonade

Question: What is the recipe for the Lemon Detox Diet Drink or Master Cleanse Lemonade?

Answer: The Lemon Detox Diet is also called the Master Cleanse Diet or Neera Super Cleanse. While on this diet you are supposed to substitute all solid food with a special diet “lemonade” for a period of 5-15 days, and it is recommended that you take a herbal laxative such as Senna Herbal tea every night. You should try to drink at least 60 ounces (+- 1.8 litres) of the diet drink every day.

Recipe for the Master Cleanse lemonade:

  • Two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (approximately half a lemon)
  • Two tablespoons of maple syrup (not maple flavored sugar) or Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup (a mixture of palm and maple syrup)
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 8 ounces of water (+-250ml), at room temperature

Mix the ingredients listed above for one serving of the diet drink.

Please note that we have decided to provide the recipe for the Master Cleanse / Lemon Detox Diet lemonade simply because we are asked this question so often. At OptimalBodyWeight.com we do not believe that this popular detox diet is a healthy way to lose weight. For more information please read this review of the lemon detox diet. While you may lose weight fast on this weight loss plan; the weight loss will not be sustainable, and you will almost certainly slow down your metabolism. For healthier alternatives read here how you can boost your metabolism and lose that weight for good.

Is it true that smaller, more regular meals can help me lose weight

Question: My GP told me that if I want to lose weight I should have smaller meals more frequently. How can eating smaller meals more often help me lose weight?

Answer: Gaining control over what you eat, how much, and when, is the key to losing weight and maintaining your goal weight. If you battle to control your weight and your appetite; your biggest problem is most likely keeping your blood sugar levels stable. The level of sugar in your blood tells your body when it needs food and how urgently it needs it. You can never be in control of your appetite until you have your blood sugar levels in check. With blood sugar levels out of kilter you will simply be responding to distress signals sent out by your brain to your body all the time.

How does it work then? When you go without food for more than 4 hours at a time your blood sugar plummets, resulting in a raging appetite that can easily overpower your best intentions to stick your your weight loss plan. When you then eat a large meal (especially one high in refined carbohydrates), it causes a spike in your blood sugar immediately following the meal. You body will use what energy it can from this sugar rush, and store the rest as fat. An oversupply of insulin to cope with these unnaturally high blood sugar levels in turn result in very low blood sugar levels a couple of hours later. You will feel ravenous and tired, and so the vicious cycle continues.

Having smaller meals more regularly (at least every 4 hours) will result in smaller blood sugar spikes after the meals, followed by smaller blood sugar drops, i.e. more stable blood sugar levels. Your body does not need to send out any distress signals, because it has a consistent source of energy. This means that you will finally be in control what you eat, how much, and when. To keep your blood sugar levels even more stable, ensure that each meal contains some lean protein, fiber-rich fruit or vegetables and some “good fats” such as olive oil or avocado. Not only will this combination of macro-ingredients reduce the impact of the meal on your blood sugar levels, but it will also keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Use this free online food diary to capture what you eat and drink. It will also tell you the protein, carb and fat content of each meal.