Weight Loss


Weight loss is a self-explanatory term. It means applying different techniques which help in reducing weight. Obesity or overweight is a condition which occurs when the body is unable to absorb extra fats from foods. Obesity affects a lot of people in the United States. It leads to various health disorders like heart disease and diabetes. Weight loss also known as slimming helps people in fighting these diseases leading to a healthy lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are the main causes of overweight. The process of weight loss may be unintentional or intentional.

  • Unintentional Weight Loss

  • Intentional Weight loss

  • Myths and Facts Related to Weight Loss

  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • Unintentional weight loss is mainly the consequence of muscle or fat atrophy. Weight loss becomes a medical issue when a person losses more than 10% of his/her body in a time frame of six months without any cause. One of the simplest ways to measure the body weight is through Body Mass Index (BMI). This lets you know in what category of the table you fit. Generally if the BMI is lower than 18 it is regarded as underweight.
  • Malnutrition is also a cause of unintentional weight loss. It is a condition in which a person does not receive the required nutrition as per the energy needs of the body. Weight can also be lost due to hormonal and metabolism changes which is caused due to certain diseases or ongoing treatment for some health conditions.
  • In cases of progressive diseases the body continues to lose weight even when they are receiving the proper nutrition. An example of a progressive disease is Anorexia Cachexia Syndrome which is characterized by loss of muscle, weakness, fatigue and satiation even after consuming small amounts of food.
  • Excess weight loss is bad for the body as it hampers the recovery process of the body because it is void of essential nutrients. It also leads to poor quality of life and can lead to an early death if proper steps are not taken to address it.
  • Some of the functions that get affected because of excess weight loss are immunity; menstruation; muscle strength; renal capacity; wound healing; thermoregulation and vitamin deficiencies.

Causes of Unintentional Weight Loss

Related to disease

  • Malnutrition that occurs due to certain diseases; this is further divided into: Impaired Intake which normally occurs due to poor appetite which can be linked to symptoms of many diseases. Impaired Absorption which occurs due to diseases of the digestive system. Change in Nutritional Needs which mostly happens when a person undergoes a surgery or is suffering from any ailment and Loss of Excess Nutrients which is the result of stomach issues that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Diseases that can cause malnutrition are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, HIV, cardiac issues, neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, renal disease or connective tissue disease.

Related to Treatment

  • There are many ill effects of medications that may cause an individual to lose weight. The most common cause for loss of appetite in people is post-surgical management. This usually happens due to the response of the body to surgery. In most cases, the body’s nutritional requirements change after a surgery especially when they are recovering. There are certain medications that could cause loss of weight.

Social Implications

  • There are many social conditions that could lead to loss of weight in people. However, these causes are not as severe as the above ones. Some social causes are lack of money to feed oneself or the inability of many people to prepare foods. This cause is more common in older individuals. Lack of social cultures can lead a person to feel low in life that could cause him/her to eat less. But as stated these cause are not serious in nature and can be dealt with easily.

Intentional weight loss is done by many individuals who want to lose their weight to stay fit and healthy. Loss weight on purpose may also be due to obesity which as expressed above is the cause of many health issues like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. People who have osteoarthritis have to lose weight; otherwise it causes them a lot pain in the knee. Cardiovascular condition like hypertension is a disease which occurs majorly in overweight people and to keep the heart healthy they have to do weight loss programs.

Basically weight loss programs are a way to healthy living and lower mortality from excess weight. These programs in majority of cases are used as treatments for helping obese patients lose their weight. They are further segregated into three categories.

  • Diet plans

Dieting essentially means to eat in a modulated way that will help a person to lose weight. Changing the diet is the first step your nutritionist will ask you to take if you want to combat excess weight. Mostly diet plans consist of reducing the calories and consuming foods that are low in carbohydrates and fats. The diet plans are also divided in groups, they are as follows

Vegetarian – A vegetarian diet is one where people do not eat meat or animal products like rennet and gelatin. This can again be divided into:
Vegan Diet: Vegans are people who avoid all foods that are procured by animals like dairy or eggs.
Lacto-ovo Vegetarianism: It is a diet in which people include eggs and dairy products in their lives.
Lacto Vegetarianism: It is a type of vegetarian diet where people consume dairy products but animal rennet and eggs are excluded from the foods.

Semi-vegetarian diets
Pescetarian Diet: People following this type of diet do not eat meat and only consume fish.
Kangatarian: This type of diet is mostly followed in Australia in which people do not eat any kind of meat except kangaroo meat.
Plant-based Diet: Most of the foods that are eaten in this diet are plant-based but occasionally individuals can eat meat.
Flexitarian Diet: Same as a vegetarian diet with consumption of meat at times.

Weight control diets As the name suggests, these diet plans are followed by people who want to shed some extra pounds or want to sustain their current weight. These diets can be further segregated into following:

  • Low-Calorie Diet

Body for Life: It is a 12-week diet in which meals are eaten with an aim to control the calorie. As the name states, this diet is promoted by the Body for Life program.
Cookie diet: People following this diet make low-fat cookies their staple food instead of having a meal.
Hacker’s diet: This diet was mentioned by John Walker in his book The Hacker’s Diet in which he advises that people should monitor the number of calories they are taking, only then they will be able to attain the weight they desire.
Nutrisystems Diet: Nutrisystem, Inc. is a company that provides meals with low calories. These meals contain all the nutrients that are needed for the body but a less in calories. This diet is developed by them.
Weight Watchers Diet: A form of diet wherein foods are given points and the people following this diet should not consume more than the points that are allotted to them.

  • Very-Low Calorie Diet

It is a diet in which people consume very less food. Those who follow this diet have less than 800 kilocalories intake a day. Usually this type diet is followed under the supervision of the health expert.

  • Low-Carbohydrate Diet

Some forms of this diet are Atkins diet; Dukan Diet; South Beach Diet and Stillman diet. These diets limit the amount of carbohydrates that are taken. Higher amount of carbohydrates in foods can cause a lot of weight gain

  • Low-Fat Diet

A low-fat diet is a most commonly used type of diet that involves cutting down the intake of cholesterol and saturated fats in foods. This diet ensures that obesity does not happen and excess weight can be lost.

  • Crash Diet

Crash diet is a type of weight loss technique in which people change their eating habits in quick succession. Although experts say that this type of diet is not good for the body can present health risks. Types of crash diet are:
Cabbage soup diet: It is a type of low-calorie diet in which people consume excess quantities of cabbage soup.
Subway diet: People who do this diet only eat Subway sandwiches as a measure to reduce calorie intake.
Grapefruit diet: A form of crash wherein people eat grapefruit along with their meal in huge quantities which will help them in losing weight.
Beverly Hills Diet: In this diet people start with eating fruits for a couple of days and gradually start increasing their choice of foods. This diet is usually followed for about six weeks.

  • Detox Diet

In this type of diet people do not consume foods that contain additives such as preservatives or coloring agents. They usually stick to homemade foods and outside food is mostly avoided. It also consists of drinking a lot of liquids mostly water or juice from fruits and vegetables.

  • Alternative Foods

There are many foods that help in reducing fats and calories from the body and still be pleasing to your taste buds. If anyone is looking to lose some extra pounds, they can eat these substitutes that will keep the extra calories and fat at bay. Some of these substitutes are:

  • Certain dairy products like whole milk and cheddar cheese are high in fat content; their low fat alternative is skimmed milk and fat-free cheese like feta and mozzarella.
  • Instead of granola you can opt for oatmeal or bran flakes.
  • Sausage and ground beef are also very high in fats. You can have lean ham and lean beef as a substitute.
  • Instead of having cakes and other baked goods, one can low fat varieties of those foods.
  • The best way to lose weight is to switch from packaged or canned goods to homemade food. One can use low fat ingredients and make the meal more delightful.

Physical activities

Along with dieting, nutritionists also suggest exercises because they not only help keep the weight in check but also help with keeping the overall body health sound. Exercises can be classed accordingly based on their intensity like a person wanting to lose weight may be asked to do a different form and a person who wants to build muscles may have a different technique of exercise. Whatever might be the way a person is exercising keep in mind that it will help in reduction of weight. The types of exercise are as follows:

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises are ones which concentrate on the large muscles. These exercises are not intense exercises and more focus is given on activities which help you stay fit for longer, thus increasing your overall cardiovascular endurance. Activities like swimming, cycling, rope skipping, brisk walking, hiking, rowing, playing football or tennis, long slow distance training etc. come under this category of exercise. Experts say that aerobic exercise done on a low intensity every day for about 45 minutes is ideal if you are looking to lose weight.

Anaerobic Exercises

Anaerobic exercises are a more intense form of aerobic exercises as these are mainly done to give strength to the muscles and help in toning the body. Usually this form of exercise is preferred by people who intend to bring their body in shape. Weight training, sprinting, pushes and bicep curls using dumbbells are some examples of anaerobic exercises.

Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises are done to enhance range of motion so that you become less prone to injuries from sudden jerks to your muscles and joints. Stretching exercises are usually done after anaerobic exercises because they help the muscles gain the nutrients that are lost doing intense exercises. You can do these exercises for about a minute after doing intense training.


Yoga is a form of exercise that is beneficial for the whole body. It is said that yoga balances the mind and body so that it can be healthier. Yoga consists of various poses or asanas that can be helpful for weight loss. Some of these asanas are:

  • Surya Namaskar: Many yoga experts believe this to the best pose for losing excess weight because this asana consists of a number of backward and forward bending exercises that stretch the whole body.
  • Utkatasana: This asana is also called as the chair pose. This pose is useful for the muscles and helps tone the thighs and buttocks.
  • Uttanasana: This pose in helpful both your abdomen and hamstrings. It is asana in which the person bends forward and tries to touch the floor.
  • Kapal Bhati Pranayam: This is a pose that is best done sitting crossed legs. It is a breathing exercise which helps in providing the blood oxygen that will strengthen the abdominal muscles helping you in attaining the toned and flat stomach.
  • Veerbhadrasana: It is also known as the ‘warrior pose’ which strengthens stomach and thighs and helps in reducing the fat from the abdomen.
  • Anti-Obesity Medications
    • Anti-obesity medicines are drugs which help people in losing weight. These medicines in some cases alter the appetite, absorb calories or regulate weight depending on the mechanism of its active ingredient. However, people who suffer from overweight issues are not only prescribed drugs but are also asked to indulge in other weight loss programs such as diet, exercise or both.
    • There are many drugs that are available for reduction of weight but the most widely used drug for weight loss is Generic Xenical which contains the active ingredient Orlistat. This drug works by absorbing the fat from the intestines. Another such approved ingredient is Rimonabant which decreases the appetite of the person which leads to less intake of food.
    • Some other ingredients which are used in anti-obesity medicines are Lorcaserin, Sibutramine, Metformin, Exenatide and Pramlintide. However, some of these drugs are withdrawn from many markets around the world because they some very serious side effects.
    • Some alternative medications like ECA Stack (ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin combined) and conjugated linoleic acid have been tested by have been ineffective in reducing the weight. Although further studies are required to properly gauge the effectiveness of these alternative medicines.
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • This form of intentional weight loss method is performed by many people who want to lose weight. Generally people who find difficulty to lose weight through methods such as dieting or exercise go for surgeries. People who are severely obese may also need surgery. Surgery is also further divided into subdivisions which are as follows:

    • Restrictive Surgery

      Normally the stomach can hold up to three pints of food. People who opt for restrictive surgery, reduce the size of their stomach, so that they can restrict the amount of food that they intake before feeling full. After the surgery, the stomach can no longer hold more than three ounces of food.

    • Malabsorptive Surgery

      This type of surgery is a more advanced form of restrictive surgery. Not only the size of the stomach is shrunken but some parts of the digestive tract are also removed so that absorption of calories becomes difficult for the body. This type of surgery is very rarely done because it can cause many serious side effects.

    • Adjustable Gastric Band

      This is a type of which requires least amount of surgery. In this type a small band is used to make two stomach pouches by squeezing the stomach. Although the two pouches remain connected with each other, the gap between them becomes less which slows the process of emptying the upper end of the pouch. This leads to the feeling of satiety even after consuming small amounts of food.

    • Liposuction

      This technique is also known as liposculpture suction lipectomy or lipoplasty. It is a form surgery wherein excess fat is removed from certain parts of the body like neck, arm, thighs, abdomen and buttocks. There are a lot of restrictions in performing this surgery, as to the amount of fat that can be removed safely that does not cause any harm to the patient. The procedure involves removal of body fat using suction. In the procedure small cuts are done on the skin and thin tubes known as cannulas are inserted through which fat is sucked out. Some of the techniques that are employed to remove fats are

    • Tumescent Liposuction is a technique which is done by numbing the area of the body where the tube is to be inserted. Then a solution containing epinephrine and Lidocaine is inserted into the tissue before liposuction. Ultrasound Liposuction is a procedure in which the fat is liquefied by ultrasound which provides easy removal of fat. Laser Liposuction is the same as Ultrasound only low-energy waves are used to liquefy the fat.

    When it comes to losing weight, people have their own presumptions on what will help them is losing or gaining weight. Here are some of the myths related to weight loss.

    • Myth: Late night snacking before bed will lead to faster weight gain.

    Fact: This myth is one of the oldest ones concerning weight loss. Many people are of the perception that if they will consume more food before sleeping, their body weight will increase and they won’t be able to lose weight because the calories will not burn when they are sleeping. This is a wrong perception because calories do not carry a watch to tell the time. The body will burn fats in the same manner at night as it does all day. What causes weight to increase is the number of calories that are being taken by the person. If a person has eaten a heavy fat-laden meal weight is bound to gain irrespective of whether the meal is taken in the morning, evening or before bed.

    • Myth: Food items like cereal bars keep you healthy and help in losing weight as they are less in sugar.

    Fact: While it is true that cereal bars are a very good alternative to sweets and biscuits because they are packed with dried fruits; nuts and oats, thinking that they are low in sugar content is a false perception because many cereal bars may have the equal amount of sugar as any confectionery. If your cereal bar contains ingredients like honey, fructose, raw cane sugar, rice syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, or maltodextrin it means that it is high in sugar.

    • Myth: A vegetarian diet is very effective for people who want to shed extra pounds.

    Fact: Again this is not a completely correct statement. It is true, that a vegetable diet restricts the intake of meat products which will help in losing calories but thinking of vegetarian diets as being low in calories is again a wrong perception by people. There are many foods which if eaten can end up adding more calories to the body than meat diets. As an example if a person has a regular intake of fries, chips, cakes, cheese etc it can lead to gaining of weight even though the person is eating non-meat products. A diet should be properly planned and the person should make sure that fatty foods are not eaten at regular intervals.

    • Myth: You will have to completely stop your favorite foods if any diet plan is followed by you.

    Fact: Dieting is eating foods in a controlled manner which allows the body to burn calories and does not let fat get accumulated in your body. Dieticians, along with a diet plan, usually provide people with charts that give information on foods and their calorie content. You may have your favorite foods while keeping in mind that your calorie count does not increase above your daily needs.

    • Myth: One can lose weight by cigarette smoking.

    Fact: This is one of the most incorrect and absurd view of many people. Smoking a cigarette does not have the same effect on every individual, some may gain weight and some may lose. Cigarette smoke consists of about 2000 chemicals that will make you very ill. It is better to an obese person than a smoker.

    • Myth: The calorie content of honey is less than that of sugar.

    Fact: Many people are of the view that honey is helpful for losing weight because it contains fewer calories that sugar. This is not true; in fact sugar consists less calories that honey. A teaspoon of honey has 25 calories as compared to sugar which has 16 calories.

    • Myth: Drink Coffee in order to lose weight.

    Fact: Again not a completely true view of people. Yes, coffee helps in satiating your appetite but it will come at a cost. Drinking too much coffee is very bad for your health because it can cause problems such as increased blood pressure, insomnia and anxiety. In addition to that, it is also not sure whether you will able to lose weight or not.

    • Myth: Salad as an alternative food can help losing a lot of calories thereby contributing to weight loss.

    Fact: There is no denying of the fact that salads can be an excellent alternative food if you are looking to lose weight. But one has to be very much careful because it may end up adding a lot of calories to your body, even more than that of fries and meat. The thing that you have to keep in mind is the side dressings that come with salads. You should avoid dressing which contain croutons and cheese because they end up adding a lot of calories.

    • Do genes have an effect on weight?

    Yes, obesity can run through the family because of genetic influence.

    • Can I lose a good amount of weight in a month or two?

    Unless you are having surgery, liposuction or going on a strict no-food diet, you are not going to lose weight within a month or two months time frame. Losing weight requires a lot of patience by a person. It is a combination of diet control and exercise which needs to be followed every day. If you really want to have a good body shape and weight it would take about four to six months of weight control measures before you experience a good level of weight loss.

    • Do diet pills help in losing weight?

    Diet pills are somewhat helpful for losing weight. Usually diet pills are to be taken for a certain time frame and other weight loss methods are also asked to be done by the patient. The only downside that comes from diet pill is the side effects, but if the instructions of the physician are followed carefully one can avoid side effects to a great extent.

    • Will my friend’s diet plan be effective for me?

    No. One should remember that every person has a different calorie requirement and this is how the diet plans are being given by the expert to a person. There may be some plans that could affect a lot of people but they usually do not work for a long time. If you need to properly lose weight, you should visit the nutritionist who will look at you and give a proper diet plan suiting your needs. One thing you should remember is that if any diet pills are prescribed to you, do not pass them on to your family or friends, this could cause serious side effects in them.

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