Weight loss, in the context of medicine, health, or physical fitness, refers to a reduction of the total body mass, by a mean loss of fluid, body fat, or lean mass. Weight loss can either occur unintentionally because of malnourishment or an underlying disease, or from a conscious effort to improve an actual or perceived overweight or obesity. “Unexplained” weight loss that is not caused by a reduction in calorific intake or exercise is called cachexia and may be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Weight loss being a great challenge, Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System brings out easy and best methods for losing and maintaining the standard weight for well-being.
Intentional loss of weight achieved through dieting and/or exercise has significant health benefits for the overweight or obese. It reduces the risk of many common illnesses, including coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. Unintentional loss of weight, especially of more than 10% of BW may be a marker of serious diseases, such as AIDS, cancer, depression, hyperthyroidism, parasitosis, peptic ulceration, or food insecurity.
Intentional Weight loss
Intentional loss of weight is the loss of total body mass as a result of efforts to improve fitness and health, or to change appearance through slimming. It is the main treatment for obesity, and there is substantial evidence this can prevent progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes with a 7-10% loss of weight and manage cardiometabolic health for diabetic people with a 5-15%.
Overweight or Obesity
Individuals who are overweight or obese can reduce health risks, increase fitness, and may delay the onset of diabetes. It could reduce pain and increase movement in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Loss of weight can lead to a reduction in hypertension (high blood pressure), however, whether this reduces hypertension-related harm is unclear.
Though hypothesized that supplementation of vitamin D may help, studies do not support this. The majority of dieters regain weight over the long term. According to the UK National Health Service and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, those who achieve and manage a healthy weight do so most successfully by being careful to consume just enough calories to meet their needs and being physically active.
Combination of dieting and exercise for permanent Weight loss
Changes in diet and lifestyle must be permanent. There is evidence that counseling or exercise alone does not result in loss of weight, whereas dieting alone results in meaningful long-term weight loss, and a combination of dieting and exercise provides the best results. Meal replacements, orlistat, and very-low-calorie diet interventions also produce a meaningful loss of weight.
Weight loss Techniques
The least intrusive weight loss methods, and those most often recommended, are adjustments to eating patterns and increased physical activity, generally in the form of exercise. The World Health Organization recommends that people combine a reduction of processed foods high in saturated fats, sugar, and salt and caloric content of the diet with an increase in physical activity.
Self-monitoring of diet, exercise, and weight are beneficial strategies for weight loss. Research indicates that those who log their foods about three times per day and about 20 times per month are more likely to achieve clinically significant weight loss.
An increase in fiber intake is recommended for regulating bowel movements. Other methods of weight loss include the use of drugs and supplements that decrease appetite, block fat absorption, or reduce stomach volume. Bariatric surgery may be indicated in cases of severe obesity.
Two common bariatric surgical procedures are gastric bypass and gastric banding. Both can be effective at limiting the intake of food energy by reducing the size of the stomach, but as with any surgical procedure both come with their own risks that should be considered in consultation with a physician.
Dietary supplements, though widely used, are not considered a healthy option. Many are available, but very few are effective in the long term.
The virtual gastric band uses hypnosis to make the brain think the stomach is smaller than it really is and hence lowers the amount of food ingested. This brings as a consequence of weight reduction. This method is complemented with psychological treatment for anxiety management and with hypnopedia.
Research has been conducted into the use of hypnosis as a weight management alternative. In 1996, a study found that cognitive-behavioral therapy was more effective for weight reduction if reinforced with hypnosis. Acceptance and commitment therapy, a mindfulness approach to loss of weight, has been demonstrated as useful. Herbal medications have also been suggested.
The Yoga discipline has 5 basic principles:
Losing weight has two important aspects, healthy eating, and exercise. Yoga poses a demand for these aspects. Yoga is not just about a few poses that strengthen you. It has more benefits to offer such as:
- Increased flexibility
- Improved respiration
- Improved energy and vitality
- Balanced metabolism
- Improved athletic health
- Increased muscle tone
- Improved cardio health
- Weight reduction
- Stress management
Stress can reveal itself in the form of pain, anxiety, insomnia, and the inability to concentrate. Most times, stress is the main cause of weight gain. Yoga can help you cope with stress. Physical benefits of Yoga, combined with stress management, helps a person to lose weight and maintain good physical and mental health.
Some of the Yoga asanas and yoga tips for losing weight are as given below:
1. Chaturangadandasana – Plank pose
Chaturangadandasana is the best way to strengthen your core. As simple as it looks, its benefits are immense. It is only when you are in the pose that you start to feel its intensity on your abdominal muscles.
2. Virabhadrasana – Warrior pose
Toning thighs and shoulders, as well as improving concentration, has become more accessible and interesting with the Warrior II pose. The more you hold that pose, the better the results you gain. With just a few minutes of Virabhadrasana.
It helps to tone the tummy and give a flat belly if you contract abdominal muscles while you hold the position.
3. Trikonasana – Triangle pose
The trikonasana helps to improve digestion as well as reduce the fat deposited in the belly and waist. It stimulates and improves blood circulation in the entire body. The lateral motion of this asana helps you burn more fat from the waist and build more muscles in the thighs and hamstrings. Though this pose does not make your muscles shake as others do, it does give you the benefit that other asanas do. It also improves balance and concentration.
4. Surya Namaskara – Sun Salutation
The Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation does more than warm up the muscles and get the blood flowing. It stretches and tones most of the major muscles, trims the waist, tones the arms, stimulates the digestive system, and balances the metabolism. Surya Namaskar is a whole package of good health and the best way to lose weight.
- Drinking lemon water with honey
- Powder of fenugreek seeds, carom seeds, and black cumin seeds
- Cinnamon and honey-infused tea
- Chew raw garlic
- Stop consuming artificial sugars
- Staying hydrated
- Sleep for 8 hours
- Eat-in a small plate
Weight loss foods
- Lentils and rice. Lentils are high in fiber and protein, which helps in keeping the blood sugar levels in check
- Fruit and yoghurt
- Chicken and assorted vegetables or fruits
- Quinoa and vegetables
- Eggs and whole grain bread
Unintentional Weight loss
Weight loss Characteristics
Unintentional weight loss may result from loss of body fats, loss of body fluids, muscle atrophy, or a combination of these. It is generally regarded as a medical problem when at least 10% of a person’s body weight has been lost in six months or 5% in the last month. Another criterion used for assessing weight that is too low is the body mass index (BMI). However, even lesser amounts can be a cause for serious concern in a frail elderly person.
Inadequately nutritious diet
Unintentional loss of weight can occur because of an inadequately nutritious diet relative to a person’s energy needs (generally called malnutrition). Disease processes, changes in metabolism, hormonal changes, medications, or other treatments, disease, or treatment-related dietary changes, or reduced appetite associated with a disease or treatment can also cause unintentional weight loss. Poor nutrient utilization can lead to weight loss and can be caused by fistulae in the gastrointestinal tract, diarrhea, drug-nutrient interaction, enzyme depletion, and muscle atrophy.
Continuing weight loss may deteriorate into wasting, a vaguely defined condition called cachexia. Cachexia differs from starvation in part because it involves a systemic inflammatory response. It is associated with poorer outcomes.
In the advanced stages of progressive disease, metabolism can change so that they lose weight even when they are getting what is normally regarded as adequate nutrition and the body cannot compensate. This leads to a condition called anorexia cachexia syndrome (ACS) and additional nutrition or supplementation is unlikely to help. Symptoms from ACS include severe loss of weight from muscle rather than body fat, loss of appetite, and feeling full after eating small amounts, nausea, anemia, weakness, and fatigue.
Serious loss of weight may reduce the quality of life, impair treatment effectiveness or recovery, worsen disease processes, and be a risk factor for high mortality rates. Malnutrition can affect every function of the human body, from the cells to the most complex body functions, including:
- Immune response
- Wound healing
- Muscle strength (including respiratory muscles)
- Renal capacity and depletion leading to water and electrolyte disturbances
Malnutrition can lead to vitamin and other deficiencies and to inactivity, which in turn may pre-dispose to other problems, such as pressure sores. Unintentional weight loss can be the characteristic leading to the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer and type 1 diabetes.
In the UK, up to 5% of the general population is underweight, but more than 10% of those with lung or gastrointestinal diseases and who have recently had surgery. According to data in the UK using the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (‘MUST’), which incorporates unintentional loss of weight, more than 10% of the population over the age of 65 is at risk of malnutrition. A high proportion (10–60%) of hospital patients are also at risk, along with a similar proportion in care homes.
Weight loss Causes
Disease-related malnutrition can be considered in four categories:
|Impaired intake||Poor appetite can be a direct symptom of an illness or an illness that could make eating painful or induce nausea. Illness can also cause food aversion.
The inability to eat can result from diminished consciousness or confusion, or physical problems affecting the arm or hands, swallowing or chewing. Lack of food can result from poverty, difficulty in shopping or cooking, and poor quality meals.
|Impaired digestion &/or absorption||This can result from conditions that affect the digestive system.|
|Altered requirements||Changes to metabolic demands, which can be caused by illness, surgery, and organ dysfunction.|
|Excess nutrient losses||Losses from the gastrointestinal can occur because of symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, as well as fistulae and stomas. There can also be losses from drains, including nasogastric tubes.|
Weight loss issues related to specific diseases include:
- As chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) advances, about 35% of patients experience severe loss of weight called pulmonary cachexia, including diminished muscle mass. Around 25% experience moderate to severe weight loss, and most others have some. Greater weight loss is associated with poorer prognosis. Theories about contributing factors include appetite loss related to reduced activity, additional energy required for breathing, and the difficulty of eating with dyspnea (labored breathing).
- Cancer, a very common and sometimes fatal cause of unexplained weight loss. About one-third of unintentional cases are secondary to malignancy. Cancers to suspect in patients with unexplained loss of weight include gastrointestinal, prostate, hepatobiliary (hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatic cancer), ovarian, hematologic, or lung malignancies.
- People with HIV often experience weight loss, and it is associated with poorer outcomes. Wasting syndrome is an AIDS-defining condition.
- Gastrointestinal disorders are another common cause of unexplained loss of weight – in fact, they are the most common non-cancerous cause of idiopathic weight loss. Possible gastrointestinal etiologies of unexplained weight loss include celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), pancreatitis, gastritis, diarrhea, and many other GI conditions.
- Infection. Some infectious diseases can cause loss of weight. Fungal illnesses, endocarditis, many parasitic diseases, AIDS, and some other subacute or occult infections may cause loss of weight.
- Renal disease. Patients who have uremia often have poor or absent appetite, vomiting, and nausea.
- Cardiac disease. Cardiovascular disease, especially congestive heart failure, may cause unexplained loss of weight.
- Connective tissue disease
- Oral, taste, or dental problems (including infections) can reduce nutrient intake.
Medical treatment can directly or indirectly cause loss of weight, impairing treatment effectiveness, and recovery that can lead to further losing weight in a vicious cycle. Many patients will be in pain and have a loss of appetite after surgery. Part of the body’s response to surgery is to direct energy to wound healing, which increases the body’s overall energy requirements.
Surgery affects nutritional status indirectly, particularly during the recovery period, as it can interfere with wound healing and other aspects of recovery. Surgery directly affects nutritional status if a procedure permanently alters the digestive system. Enteral nutrition (tube feeding) is often needed. However, a policy of ‘nil by mouth’ for all gastrointestinal surgery has not been shown to benefit. Early post-operative nutrition is a part of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery protocols.
Nutrient intake can also be affected by culture, family, and belief systems. Ill-fitting dentures and other dental or oral problems can also affect the adequacy of nutrition.
Loss of hope, status, or social contact, and spiritual distress can cause DEPRESSION, which may be associated with reduced nutrition, as can fatigue.
Some popular beliefs have been shown to either have less effect than commonly believed or are actively unhealthy. According to Harvard Health, the idea of metabolism being the “key to weight” is “part truth and part myth” as while metabolism does affect loss of weight, external forces such as diet and exercise have an equal effect.
They also commented that the idea of changing one’s rate of metabolism is under debate. Diet plans in fitness magazines are also often believed to be effective but may actually be harmful by limiting the daily intake of important calories and nutrients which can be detrimental depending on the person and are even capable of driving individuals away from losing weight.
Obesity increases health risks, including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, to name a few. The reduction of obesity lowers those risks.