With millions of articles available on weight loss and diets and a wide host of opinions on the quickest and fastest way to lose weight, something that is often forgotten is the difficulty that some people have in actually preventing their weight from falling too low.
Yup – we have the 2 extremes – fat-ism, with harsh comments and judgements being made when someone is overweight, as well as ‘thin-ism’ with equally rude and judgemental comments being spoken. Does he/she have an eating disorder? Are they ill? Why do they keep losing weight? What’s wrong with them?!
What is a healthy weight?
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For populations, the body mass index (BMI) is used to assess whether a weight is healthy and is calculated by dividing the weight in kg by the square of the height in metres. If this sounds too complicated, there are scales and online tools which calculate this for you! A healthy range tends to be between 18.5-25.
Below this is classified as being underweight and a BMI above this is classed as overweight. What the research indicates is that being underweight poses a greater health risk than actually being slightly overweight. Being underweight indicates that you may not be eating enough to keep you healthy and this puts you more at risk of being ill.
Be aware too that the BMI calculation does not take into account muscle mass, so while athletes/very active people might have a higher BMI because of greater amounts of muscle, this certainly does not mean they are overweight. For individuals who are concerned about unintentional weight loss, one of the first things I would suggest is popping along to your doctor’s to have a check up.
If your BMI remains within a healthy range and you are looking and feeling well, there is probably nothing to worry about. If your BMI however is dropping below 18.5, then this should be investigated. It certainly does not mean that you should panic or worry, it’s just important to have this checked.
Medically induced weight loss
Thyroid issues can be picked up by blood tests at your doctor’s. Be aware that while we hear a lot about low thyroid function and problems with weight loss, the reverse is also possible, though it is less common. Your thyroid controls amongst other things your metabolic rate, so if it goes into overdrive, you start to ‘burn’ your energy (calories) very quickly. Your doctor will be able to advise you on an appropriate treatment if this is the case.
While type 1 diabetes tends to be detected more often in children, it can occur at any stage in life. In the absence of sufficient insulin, glucose remains in the bloodstream and is not able to get to the cells which need it for energy. As a consequence, the body starts to break down fat stores in an attempt to provide the body with the energy it so desperately needs.
Non-medical weight loss
Top of the list is stress. While some people tend to eat more in periods of stress, others find that stress cuts their appetite completely. Remember our stress response!
The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline encourage the breakdown of stored glucose in the muscles to be released into the bloodstream, so that you can (in theory) run away from the nasty scary animal chasing you. Our bodies cannot distinguish between mental stress and physical stress.
The solution? Stress management techniques, time out, gentle exercise and balanced meals!
Another reason is skipping meals. Too busy? Too tired to eat? Well, if you are skipping meals and then not compensating later in the day by eating more, you just might lose weight! If you do skip meals, have some healthy snacks prepared such as nuts, dried fruit, cereal bars (ideally low in added sugar!), oatcakes and cheese to provide you with the energy and nutrients you need.
Trying to be too healthy!
This is an interesting one. In the age of no gluten, no dairy, no added sugar, low carb, paleo etc etc, it can be very difficult to work out exactly what a healthy diet should be. Going too extreme and cutting out too many types of foods starts to severely limit what you can eat, which can result in weight loss.
A gentle reminder is that it really is all about balance. You can’t go low carb and low fat, it’s also extremely difficult to follow a vegan paleo diet if you are allergic to tofu! Moderation is the key for most people, and remember food is there to nourish us, not to punish us…