Archive for the 'Definitions' Category

What does it mean for my diet when they say calorie or kcal

Question: Okay, if 1 kCal equals 1000 calories, then my 20 oz cup of herbal tea is giving me 36000 calories?!? Heck, I might never eat or drink again if that’s the case! I think somebody entered something in wrong, either that or I’m missing something. Here I am thinking that I’m staying within my guidelines and I keep coming up with all these insane calorie counts! Help?

Answer: This is a fair question and it is easy to get confused on this since most diet websites do not stick to the scientific conventions and loosely talk about calories for convenience’s sake. Most often, whenever you see references to calories (or cal) in popular magazines or non-scientific websites, you can assume that they refer to kcal or kilogram calories. Some countries use food calories, where 1 food calorie is equal to 1kcal. 1 kcal (1000 calories) can also be indicated by using Cal, with a capital C, as opposed to cal. The average woman should consume approximately 2000 Cal (kcal) and the average man approximately 2500 Cal per day, so you are quite safe in having your herbal tea containing a mere 36 Cal.

Of course we all have different energy requirements. For more information on how this is calculated and how many calories you should consume to lose weight see this note on total energy requirements and our free weight loss tools

What is the deal with carbs and weight loss

Question: What is the big deal about carbs and weight loss? My friends keep on telling me I must lose the carbs to lose weight, but I don’t know which foods contain carbs.

Answer: In order to perform optimally your body needs a variety of nutrients provided by three main food groups, namely carbohydrates (carbs), fats and protein. Carbohydrates can be obtained from many food sources and can be further broken up into three main categories: sugar, starch, and dietary fiber. Many health experts identified over-consumption of carbohydrates, and more specifically sugar, as the main culprit in the current obesity epidemic facing the developed world. But just before you swear never to touch carbs again – know that your body, and more specifically your brain, really needs carbohydrates to function optimally. You will still lose weight if you indulge in carbohydrate-rich foods in moderation, stick to natural food sources, and learn how to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Newcomers to the low carb diet are often surprised to find out that sugar is also a form of carbohydrates, and even more surprised to find out how many food sources actually contain sugar. Sugar is found in a range of natural foods, including milk (lactose) as well as fruits and vegetables (sucrose and fructose). Sugar in its processed form is used in abundance to manufacture candy, sodas and cakes. It is even used in savory treats and to cure meats. Your body does need sugar, but in small quantities. Food and drinks sweetened by refined sugar should be avoided as far as possible.

Starch is the most important form of carbohydrates and is contained in many staple foods worldwide, such as rice, wheat, corn and potatoes. Many fruit and vegetables contain starch too; for example banana, sweet potato, and yams. Other good sources of starch include legumes such as lentils, peas and beans. Of course all grains and grain products also contain starch, for example flour, bread, pasta, noodles and cereals.

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods that can be soluble or insoluble. Foods rich in fiber assist you in losing weight because you feel fuller for longer, and end up eating less. Fiber-rich foods also help you manage your cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels more stable. Some of the many other benefits of fiber include improved regulation of your digestive system, reduced of cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, and even prevention of certain forms of cancer. Good sources for dietary fiber include fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes (lentils, beans and peas).

You will notice many low carb diet books or recipes refer to “net carbs” or “digestible carbs”. This simply refers to the carbohydrate content of the food that your body will actually digest. In other words, only the carbohydrates that will contribute to your daily calorie intake. The easiest way to calculate net carbs is to subtract the dietary fiber from the total carbohydrate content of the meal or snack.

Very low carb diets such as Atkins suggest you limit your carbs to 20g per day for the Induction Phase, gradually increasing your carb intake as you progress through the other three phases. Other low carb diets suggest up to 60g of carbs per day. Other more balanced diets suggest you get 40% of you daily calories from carbs, along with 30% from fat, and the last 30% from protein. Low fat diets, of course, will see you get at least 60% of your diet from carbs, with a much reduced fat and protein intake. The choice of diet is yours, and it really depends on your personal tastes and lifestyle.

To summarize. Carbs play a very important role in your diet to ensure sustained energy and health. While it is true that too much carbs can result in weight gain and inflammation, too little carbs will most certainly leave you tired, depressed and vulnerable to all sorts of diseases. Choose a healthy and nutritious weight loss plan that allows for sufficient intake of carbs from natural food sources. Avoid processed foods as far as possible since they most often contain too much sugar and too little nutrients, which is why many of these food items are often referred to as “dead carbs”.

For more information on the main nutrients read this article on the Perricone Weight loss Prescription. If you want to track your daily carb intake (in grams or ounces) along with your calorie intake, or you just want to keep an eye on the percentage of calories you get from carbs, use our free electronic food diary called myOBW. You can also use this food journal just as a data source to see how much carbs (and other nutrients) your food choices actually contain.

What is my Optimal Body Weight

Question: I am 5’6″ and weigh 186 lbs. How much should I weigh?

Answer: Your optimal body weight or ideal weight depends to a large extent on your height and gender, but also on other factors such as your age, your frame and your muscular development. You do not provide enough information for us to calculate your ideal weight, but you can get an accurate assessment by using our free online ideal weight calculator. It takes into account many variables including your bone structure, which is something very few ideal weight calculators consider.

Your optimal body weight is that weight where you are at your healthiest, not necessarily where you are at your thinnest. It is extremely important to take your build and body type into account when you calculate your goal weight. None of us want to be overweight, but too thin can be as unattractive and being underweight also poses health risks to your body and mind. The free weight loss tools available at myOBW offers you an ideal weight calculator as well as BMI (Body Mass Index) and Waist to Hip Ratio calculators. Keep in mind that while these tools can provide you with some idea of how you compare to others; your best indicator is how you feel in your own skin.

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 my BMI or Body Mass Index

Question: What does BMI mean and where can I get mine calculated?

Answer: Your Body Mass Index, or BMI, is an index used by medical professionals to determine whether you are in shape or not. It really is a ratio calculated using your height and weight. While your BMI offers a good starting point to assess how close you are to your healthy weight, it must used with care. The main disadvantage of using the BMI to assess body shape or obesity is that it is not that precise. It does not take into account bone structure or your lean muscle mass versus fat ratio. To compensate for these factors, BMI numbers should be interpreted in ranges. For example: if you are athletically built or have a heavy bone structure, your BMI is likely to be on the higher side of the normal range when you are at your ideal body weight; while your small-framed friend should ideally be on the lower side of the normal range. Remember that your goal should be to be healthy, not just skinny.

Categories for BMI are as follow:

  • Below 18.5 Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9 Healthy
  • 25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
  • 30.0 – 39.9 Obese
  • Over 40 Morbidly Obese

Find out how close you are to the normal range by using this free BMI calculator. The same weight loss support website also offers you a free ideal weight calculator that takes into account your bone structure.

BMI should not be used to assess weight problems in children, as it is only applicable to adult bodies.

What is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Question: What is your Basal Metabolic Rate?

Answer: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the daily total number of calories your body needs while you are in a resting state. In other words, it is your daily calorie requirement before exercise. It is really surprising how much energy your body really needs even when you rest. This energy is used to keep your heart beating, your brain functioning, temperature regulated and all other organs functioning. It is interesting to note that muscle requires far more energy to function than fat, even when you are sitting perfectly still. This also explains why it is so important to increase lean muscle mass if you want to lose weight or maintain your goal weight.

Your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, is specifically calculated for you; and takes into account your gender, age, weight and height. To get yours calculated try this free BMR calculator.