Obesity is harmful to health. Being overweight can make you uncomfortable in your skin. In addition, obesity increases the risk of serious conditions. Slimming down to a healthy weight is of course the solution. But losing weight is easier said than done. How do you lose weight in a healthy way, and when can weight loss medication help? You can read all about it on this page.
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What is obesity and why is weight loss important?
Chubby, fat, obese; they are all different terms that indicate overweight, or obesity. But when are you really too heavy? Doctors determine this mostly based on the BMI: the body mass index. The result of this calculation (weight in kg divided by the square of height in metres) determines whether your body weight is appropriate for your body height.
When are you too heavy?
A BMI between 18 and 25 indicates a healthy weight. A BMI of 26 or higher indicates that you are overweight. A BMI above 30 is obesity: severely overweight. A BMI of 35 or higher falls under the category of extreme (life-threatening) obesity.
Nowadays, the abdominal circumference is also taken into consideration. Fat storage in the abdominal area is more harmful to health than fat storage around the hips, buttocks and thighs. For women, a maximum abdominal circumference of 88 cm should be maintained. For men, this is 102 cm. If your abdominal circumference is larger, you have too much body fat and you are running health risks.
Causes of obesity
Obesity is very common. The main cause is known: eating too much and/or too unhealthily in combination with doing too little exercise. The risk of developing obesity is increased by:
- The use of certain medicines;
- Genetic predisposition;
- Quitting smoking (many people start eating snacks so they have something else to do with their hands);
- Certain diseases.
However, obesity is usually linked to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Symptoms and risks of being overweight
Obesity leads to many symptoms in everyday life. Many people who are too heavy find it harder to move around. Symptoms such as joint pain, poor condition and fatigue are also common. The body has to carry a lot of extra kilos, and that takes its toll.
But obesity has more consequences. It increases the risk of serious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. In addition, mental problems such as depression are associated with obesity.
Here's the good news: losing weight helps to reduce the symptoms and risks of obesity!
Weight loss tips
Lose a few kilos; it sounds so simple, but nothing could be further from the truth. Losing weight requires perseverance and patience - qualities that aren't handed to us on a silver platter. Many people therefore try to lose weight by going on a crash diet. Not a good idea, because it is bad for the body and has only a temporary effect.
Therefore, make sure to follow wise weight loss tips, such as:
- changing your eating habits;
- drinking more water;
- moving more.
In other words, losing weight in a responsible way. This is easier to maintain, and also gives longer-lasting results.
Healthy weight loss tips
Healthy weight loss starts with changing your eating habits. That means saying goodbye to sweets, snacks and ready-made meals. What your body is happiest with:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables. These are your best friends if you want to lose weight healthily. They provide few calories but plenty of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other healthy nutrients. Eat lots of vegetables in particular: at least 300 grams per day, but preferably 500 grams. Add 2 pieces of fruit every day and you'll be doing great.
- Proteins are also vital. These nutrients are important for building and maintaining your muscles. They also reduce hunger. Good sources of protein are lean meat (chicken, turkey), nuts, eggs and cottage cheese.
- Calcium. Foods with calcium keep your bones and teeth strong and sturdy. Milk products are therefore a perfect fit for your healthy eating plan. Go for the semi-skimmed or skimmed options, which save a lot of calories. You can also opt for plant-based dairy substitutes, which are usually supplemented with calcium.
- Healthy fats. Unsaturated fats contain vitamins A, D and E and unsaturated fatty acids: substances that keep your blood vessels supple and are good for your eyes, heart, skin and brain. You can find unsaturated fats in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), vegetable oils, margarine, avocado, nuts and seeds.
- Fibre. Your intestines need fibre. Fibre is found in vegetables, fruits and vegetables, as well as in wholegrain products. Fibre prevents constipation. It also makes your blood sugar rise more slowly. As a result, you won't suffer from fatigue and sugar cravings, which is the case with white grain products.
If you want to lose weight, keep your portions modest and don't have too many snacks. Eating healthy foods doesn't mean you can overload your plate!
Quick weight loss secret: eat less, drink more
Something that many people forget, but which is very important: drink more water. It ensures that your body sheds toxins more quickly. In addition, water also provides that satiated feeling. The advice is to drink at least 2 litres of water per day. If you aren't a big fan of water, tea without sugar and sugar-free soft drinks are also a good alternative. A few cups of coffee without sugar also count.
Especially avoid drinking alcohol and fruit juice; these are liquid calorie bombs that don't do your health any good.
Why exercise helps with healthy weight loss
Your body needs calories to work properly. Even while you are sitting still, your body is consuming fuel. People who move ‘normally’ (usual daily activities) need about 2000 (women) to 2500 (men) calories per day to maintain their current weight.
If you are going to exercise in addition to normal movement, your body needs even more fuel. If you aren't getting them via food, the body will draw on its fat reserves. And that's how you lose weight. Exercise is therefore a great way to lose weight healthily. Provided you combine it with your new eating habits, of course.
So get moving! That doesn't mean you have to be stuck on the treadmill every day, though. A long walk also burns extra calories. Or do some weeding, wash your car, or go for a bike ride, for example.
Have you adjusted your eating habits and started exercising more? After a while, you'll find yourself feeling fitter. You soon have more energy, feel less tired and experience fewer ailments. Your clothes are more comfortable and perhaps the scale is already indicating that you have lost weight.
Weight loss medication
Sometimes adjusting your lifestyle and eating habits just isn't enough. For example, if you suffer from a lot of hunger or if you have to lose a lot of kilos. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe a slimming medication (e.g. weight loss tablets).
Slimming medications are prescription medicines to treat excess weight and obesity. They are medicines that make you feel less hungry or make you feel full more quickly. Other medications ensure that a portion of the ingested fat is not absorbed by the body.
Weight loss pills
There are different types of weight loss products. Here are the best-known:
Regenon, also known as Tenuate. This medicine is an appetite suppressant. The active ingredient diethylpropion makes you feel less hungry. Regenon is usually prescribed as a course of treatment for a few weeks. This medicine is not suitable for long-term use.
Xenical. This drugensures that about a third of the fat from your diet is not absorbed by your body. In this way, you consume fewer calories.
Orlistat. This slimming aid also partially blocks the absorption of fat from your meal. The high-calorie fats are removed via the stool.
Mysimba. The active substances naltrexone hydrochloride and bupropion hydrochloride influence the regulation of food intake and energy consumption in the brain. The intention is to cause you to lose 5% of your body weight within 16 weeks. If this is not the case, a doctor will then work with you to see if Mysimba is the right solution for you.
Weight loss injections
Saxenda. This is not a weight loss pill, but an injectable medicine that helps you to lose weight. These weight loss injections regulate blood sugar levels so that your stomach is less quick to send hunger signals to the brain.
All the above slimming medications are only available on prescription. Not everyone is eligible for treatment with these medicines. Often you need to have a certain (high) BMI in order to use them.
Important information: weight loss medication only works if you combine it with an adapted diet and a healthy lifestyle. You don't lose weight just by taking weight loss pills.
Also keep in mind that slimming aids can cause side effects, such as bowel problems or low blood sugar. A doctor will therefore only prescribe these medicines after an (online) consultation.
Weight loss tablets without prescription
There are also weight loss products that are available without a prescription. A few examples are:
- Fat burners;
- Appetite suppressants;
- Fat blockers;
- Meal replacements.
These products can contribute to weight loss, provided that you combine them with a healthy lifestyle. Keep in mind that over-the-counter weight loss products can also cause side effects. Therefore, always read the instructions in the package leaflet carefully.
Weight loss medications should be used with care. If you have any questions about these medicines, please contact a doctor or pharmacist for more information.