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Weight Loss Terms

By: Jon Pankhurst

The concept of weight loss has changed dramatically in both its scope and strategy over the last 20 years. In fact, weight loss has almost become a science in itself. Previous scientific terms such as calories, gylcemic index and Body mass index have entered the language of common people. This is partly due to the efforts made by governments and health organisations in trying to educate people about the science of healthy living, but it is also due to the media which as we all know is the main way we find out stuff about the outside world.
 

The problem with this is that we are effectively bombarded with information and terms on a day to day basis. Magazines , newspapers, TV shows and the Internet frequently make reference to these things often without explanation of what they are. That is where this article comes in- hopefully by the end of this article we will have cut through and explained some of the jargon in a way that anybody can understand. You can then use this as a resource when you come to doing your own research on losing weight.


Glycemic Index:
One term that we hear quite a lot from experts is the ‘Glycemic Index’ for carbohydrates. But what exactly do they mean by that? Although the maths involved in compiling the Glycemic index’ is complicated it is not difficult to understand what it tells us. Basically, not all carbohydrate foods such as pastas and potatoes are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs - the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels - is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.


So what is a high GI rating and what is a low one? A foods GI rating should be provided on the nutritional information at the back. A high GI rating is around 70 and over, a low GI rating is around 55 and under. Try to stick to foods with a low GI rating and you will reap benefits that go beyond simply losing weight.



Body Mass Index (BMI):

This index is a tool that can be used to tell how healthy a person's weight is. Basically, you can use the BMI to find out if you're a healthy weight for your height. Although it is advisable to see a doctor or nurse to get your BMI calculated you can work it out roughly by using a very simple formula.
 

To begin, write down your weight in Kilograms, then divide it by your height in meters. (Eg 65 divided by 1.8 ). Then divide this result by your height in meters again. You now have you BMI and should judge your findings based on the following:


If you have a BMI of over 25, you need to think about losing weight because you have an increased risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and several forms of cancer.
If your BMI is over 30, you need to make some immediate changes to your lifestyle in order to lose weight. Government websites can provide you with advice about how to lose weight
safely, but you should also make an appointment to see your GP who can advise you on the best course of action.


Basal Metabolic Rate: 

Finally another slightly less used but no less confusing term is what experts call the Basal Metabolic Rate. It may sound like a bit of a mouthful, but fortunately it is quite simple to understand. Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the minimum calorific requirement needed to sustain life in a resting individual. In other words your BMR is the rate at which you burn calories on average during your day to day life. Even sleeping burns calories! Some people - like American swimmer Michael Phelps- have extraordinary BMR’s whilst others burn up calories at a slower rate.
 

Your BMR is something that can be affected by various things. For example, as we grow older, our BMR will steadily decrease. In youth, BMR is higher, and as we age we have less lean body mass - slowing the BMR. Other things such as illness and diet also play a role in your BMR. Understanding your BMR rate can be quite useful and a visit to your doctor will help you to calculate it.

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