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.

How do I lose the weight I gained during my pregnancy

Question: I delivered a wonderful baby boy almost 6 months ago. At the time I fell pregnant I weighed in at about 155 lbs and went up to 186 at time of delivery. I am now back down to 170 lbs, but really battle to lose the weight, especially around my belly. Wat diet can you recommend for me? I don’t have too much time to exercise, but maybe you can suggest something for once a week?

Answer: At least you know you are not alone. Losing that extra weight around the abdomen is the biggest problem for most women after they’ve delivered. One thing to keep in mind though, is that it took your body nine months to gain the extra weight – don’t expect it to drop off overnight. Also, the changes to your lifestyle and sleep deprivation that accompanied your baby into your life do not make it any easier for you to lose weight. For that reason you must choose a simple and healthy diet, easy to follow, but still one that is nutritious enough so you can cope with the demands on your life.

While it is generally accepted that targeted weight loss is unlikely on most healthy diets, the results from a number of clinical trials appear to support the fact that a diet sufficiently relatively high in monounsaturated fats or “good fats” not only contributes to weight loss, but also seems to be especially good in helping to reduce external and internal fat around the torso. Monounsaturated fat also plays an important part in regulating and re-balancing your hormones. The Mediterranean Diet is the way of eating that was identified for inclusion in the trials precisely because of its high “good fats” content, largely because of the liberal use of olive oil. The Mediterranean diet should be considered as a way of eating rather than a diet, but still compares well with even Atkins as far as weight loss go. More info to be found in this Mediterranean Diet Review. The Flat Belly Diet Review contains more discussions on the benefits of monounsaturated fats for weight loss.

For exercise: Put on those walking shoes and go for long leisurely strolls with your baby. Once a week, go for a yoga lesson to get your energy and life-balance restored.

I need a diet pill that can help me stop overeating

Question: I am really tired of spending my money on weight loss pills and supplements that don’t work, but I need help. I am hungry all the time and just can not stop eating. I can’t control myself, but I simply have to lose weight. I need something that works! All help will be appreciated.

Answer: The best diet pill for you depends on your dietary preferences. I will suggest some weight loss pills you may want to consider, but it is important to realize that while these pills may help you lose weight a bit faster; any sustainable weight loss can only be brought about by a permanent change in eating habits for the better. You don’t mention your main “poison”; but if junk food or store-bought snacks are what you keep on craving, I’d suggest you read this review of David Kessler’s the End of Overeating first. Most of these processed food products have been specifically manufactured with just the right mix of fat, salt and sugar to lead to food addiction. The only way to overcome addiction to junk food is to switch to a healthy, balanced diet based on natural foods.

If you still want to proceed in trying out a weight loss pill, you may want to consider Alli. Alli is a FDA approved diet pill that works by blocking fat absorption, but it should only be used if you are seriously sticking to a very low fat diet otherwise the side effects can be embarrassing. You can find more information on this fat blocker in the following review of Alli. Another product that prevents fat absorption is Proactol.

If you are not planning to go on a low fat diet, you may want to try NuPhedrine. NuPhedrine contains bitter orange for its fat burning or thermogenic qualities, along with Hoodia Gordonii as appetite suppressant. As you may know, ephedra has been banned for use in weight loss pills. Many of the popular weight loss products were subsequently reformulated with bitter orange as replacement for ephedra. Although bitter orange is not as strong a stimulant as ephedra is, it is still a stimulant so do not take it unless you are healthy. Pay special attention to any predispositions for heart problems. NuPhedrine can be used with any diet. More information van be found in this review of NuPhedrine.

Does Alli work and what are the side effects?


Question: I find it really hard to lose weight, and think that I may lose weight faster with Alli? Does this diet pill actually work and what are the side effects?

Answer: Alli is one of very few weight loss pills that are actually FDA approved, so it can be argued that it is safer for you than the majority of untested diet pills available on the market. Alli works by preventing your body from absorbing about 25% of your total fat intake; thereby reducing your daily calorie intake. Alli is in essence then a fat blocker. Clinical trials have shown that Alli can help you lose 50% more weight than you would have if you only followed a healthy low fat diet.

Because Alli works only on the digestive tract, its side effects are limited. If you do not stick to a low fat diet, the use of Alli it can have some very embarrassing side effects that may require you to start carrying around an extra pair of undies. If you stick to a low fat calorie controlled diet though, the only “side effect” should be that you may soon need to invest in new outfits!

Just remember – while Alli can only help you lose weight a bit faster, the real work is in making sure that you follow a healthy low fat diet. While Alli can provide that extra boost; it will not help you lose weight in any sustainable way unless you change your eating habits permanently.

More information on how this diet pill works can be found in this review of Alli. You may also find it helpful to track you calorie & fat intake using this free online food diary.

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.

Is the new reformulated Hydroxycut Advanced safe

Question: I’ve noticed that Hydroxycut is back on the market reformulated as Hydroxycut Advanced. Is it now safe to use?

Answer: Hydroxycut products were voluntarily recalled by Iovate Health Sciences (the manufacturers) from the market in the beginning of May 2009, following a damning FDA report advising customers to immediately stop using the majority of Hydroxycut products. This warning was issued by the FDA following 23 reports of serious health problems directly related to the use of Hydroxycut. Reported incidents include cases where the use of this popular weight loss supplement resulted in the death of one man and necessitated a liver transplant on a woman. Several lawsuits have already been filed. For more background on the original FDA report see this article on the recall of Hydroxycut.

Barely two months after the Hydroxycut products were recalled, a reformulated version of the popular “fat burner” Hydroxycut weight loss pill is back on the market as Hydroxycut Advanced. Interestingly, it is packaged to look similar to the widely popular original Hydroxycut product. Iovate Health Sciences indicated that, after further analysis of the incidents and the ingredients in the original products, they were unable to isolate the ingredient that may have caused these serious side effects. In an attempt to make the product safer, it was reformulated and many of the ingredients changed. That Hydroxycut Advanced was put back on the market so soon after the recall (2 months) suggests that it may not be properly tested. It is therefor still unclear how safe this weight loss product is. With so many ingredient changes, it can also be argued that Hydroxycut Advanced is a totally different product with an unproven track record as far as effectiveness go. Our recommendation at this stage remains to steer clear of Hydroxycut products until more tests are done.

What is a good diet for me

Question: I have to lose a lot of weight (about 50 pounds) fast. What would the best diet or weight loss plan be for me?

Answer: The right diet for you really depends on your personal tastes and lifestyle. If you chose a diet that is well-suited to your taste in food and your lifestyle; it will be so much easier to stick to it and it will really enhance your chances of success. A healthy diet is one that becomes a new way of eating, so the weight you do lose can stay off permanently. A recent scientific study on choosing a diet suggested that; as long as you choose a healthy and well balanced diet, the actual mix of protein, carbs, and fats is not that important. It is far more important that you are able to stick to the plan and make a permanent lifestyle change.

For example; if you love red meat the Atkins Diet may be the best weight loss plan for you, while the Mediterranean Diet may be just the one if you love fish. Of course, if cooking is your pet hate, something like NutriSystem may offer a better fit to your lifestyle. If you are the type of person that needs more structure and support, Weight Watchers offers a proven approach and support network.

So take your time and choose your diet carefully considering everything you’ve learned from your past weight loss experiences. Whichever one you choose, break that 60 lbs down into mini-goals and celebrate the achievement of each; then the whole weight loss journey will not seem quite so daunting. There is nothing that motivates like success.

And if your first diet choice turned out to be the wrong choice, try something else until you find a weight loss plan that works for you.