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Numerous tips are generally given for weight loss. Some of them are extremely effective, but others are mere nonsense or extremely dangerous to health. The latter applies in particular to radical diets and diet tablets, because on the one hand they usually only achieve short-term success and on the other hand they represent an enormous burden on the organism. In this article we would therefore like to concentrate on those means and measures for losing weight that are morally justifiable and also represent long-term solutions for reducing body weight.
When is it important to lose weight?
In the chaotic jungle of unhealthy beauty ideals and opaque diet trends, it is not always easy to objectively assess your own body weight. The female gender in particular tends to feel too fat, although there is actually no medical need to worry. But when does it actually make sense to think about losing weight?
The so-called body mass index (short: BMI) offers help here. Behind this is a mathematical concept for assessing your own body weight in relation to your individual body size. The index was developed in 1832 by the Belgian statistician and astronomer Adolphe Quetelet and later optimized by the Austrian social hygienist and constitutional researcher Ignaz Kaup. The formula for calculating the BMI is:
BMI = m / l²
Here m stands for body mass in kg and l for body height in meters. The classification of the norm values determined in this way is based on the obesity classification of the World Health Organization (WHO) as follows:
|category||BMI (kg / m²)||body weight|
|Strong underweight||< 16||Underweight|
|Moderate underweight||16 – < 17||Normal weight|
|Light underweight||17 – < 18,5|
|Normal weight||18,5 – < 25|
|Pre-obesity||25 – < 30||Overweight|
|Grade I obesity||30 – < 35||Obesity|
|Obesity grade II||35 – < 40|
|Obesity grade III||from 40|
As long as a person's BMI is in the normal range, everything is fine, regardless of the local dress sizes. They often speak a different language and quickly turn normal-weight people into overweight people, which is due in no small part to the different average measurements for dress sizes in different countries. For example, a dress size M in Great Britain or Germany in France or Italy is sometimes a dress size L, which is why clothing imported from there does not always fit the way it should fit according to dress size standards. In addition, Italian items of clothing in particular often come from well-known fashion labels for designer fashion, which generally align their average sizes with their catwalk models. According to the BMI, these often suffer from underweight and thus convey a distorted picture of the average dress size.
When evaluating your own weight, it is therefore not important to pay attention to fashion trends and supposed beauty ideals, but rather to the medical guidelines of official health organizations. However, should an unhealthily increased weight value actually exist according to their standards, the BMI should be taken seriously. Because overweight and obesity go hand in hand not only with a fuller stature, from a certain value there are also massive health problems, because the excess pounds mean an enormous additional burden on metabolic and organ functions. This can lead to the following complaints, for example:
- Joint and bone diseases e.g. Arthritis, arthrosis or osteoporosis,
- Heart and vascular diseases e.g. Hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), coronary artery disease or arrhythmia,
- Digestive tract diseases e.g. Fatty liver, indigestion or stomach inflammation,
- Metabolic diseases e.g. Cholesterol, diabetes mellitus or thyroid dysfunction,
- other complaints e.g. Difficulty breathing, high blood pressure or loss of performance.
Losing weight in this case is not just for aesthetic reasons, it is also a necessary measure to maintain your own health. If you do not intervene in time, you risk even life-threatening health complications in the long term, such as a heart attack or serious functional disorders of your organs, which can lead to organ failure. When losing weight, measures should then be taken that bring long-term success and do not have a yo-yo effect. So there is a need for sustainable changes in behavior that lead the weight to a healthy area in the long term.
Healthy diets for overweight
One of the most important measures to reduce obesity is of course changing your own diet. Too greasy or high-sugar food that previously caused the weight problems should increasingly give way to healthy foods that have real added value for the body without causing it to store additional fat tissue. The strategy for this is actually pretty simple.
Fruit and vegetables
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables covers the body's vitamin and mineral requirements and also provides important fiber that stimulates digestion. In the case of water-rich fruits and vegetables, there is even a certain detox effect. Berry fruits and bitter vegetables such as endive salad or Brussels sprouts even have special antioxidants for this purpose, which reliably detoxify the metabolism and protect you from free radicals.
Whole grain products
They also contain important nutrients, especially minerals and trace elements. They are also a healthy alternative to white flour products, which are generally rich in unhealthy carbohydrates. Grains such as linseed also have a positive effect on digestion.
Fish and lean meat
These foods are an alternative to fatty meats and sausages and are therefore a healthy source of protein. Lean meats usually consist of poultry, turkey, veal and lean ham. Fish such as salmon, mackerel or cod also provide important unsaturated omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that, unlike saturated fatty acids, even help the body lose weight by supporting important metabolic functions.
Low fat dairy products
They also form an important source of protein and are definitely preferred in the form of milk products such as low-fat curd cheese or natural yogurt to fatty milk products like most hard cheeses. In addition, lactic acid bacteria strengthen the intestinal flora and improve the digestive function. These bacteria can be found particularly in probiotic yoghurts.
A good supply of fluids helps the body to detoxify and also stimulates healthy digestion. Furthermore, a certain feeling of satiety can occur after sufficient hydration, which prevents food cravings. In the case of some herbal teas, there is also a detoxifying and metabolism-stimulating effect. You can find out more in the section on the drainage cure.
In addition to these basic nutritional guidelines, dozens of diet plans are in circulation that promise that you can lose weight particularly quickly. However, not all diet models are equally suitable. Some are even more than unhealthy because they do not provide the body with the nutrients it needs every day. The so-called yo-yo effect also occurs after many diets have ended. This means a rapid weight gain after a diet, which sometimes provokes a higher excess weight than was present at the beginning of the diet. The reason for this is that our body remembers times of hunger and then purposefully builds up fat reserves so that we can have reserves on the next “dry spell” from which we can feed. So it is not particularly advisable to lose weight through hunger diets. To give you an idea of the sense and nonsense of some diet models, here is a brief overview:
Unhealthy diets and radical diets
Some diet methods have proven to be particularly harmful in practice. Here is a selection of the demonstrably not recommended diets.
Although the diet on the renowned doctor Dr. Robert Atkins goes back, the magazine Öko Test only awards it with a “poor”. The poor grading is due to the high health risks, because a one-sided diet high in protein and fat makes the Atkins diet a real danger to cholesterol levels, brain performance, the nutrient balance and the digestive system of the user.
Max Planck diet
Even if it may seem different at first glance, the name does not deliver what it promises. The famous namesake would probably turn around in the grave if he knew what ideas his stamp is being stamped on these days. The main focus of the Max Planck Diet is almost exclusively on protein-containing foods. Thus, like the Atkins diet, this diet carries a high risk for overweight people who already have high cholesterol.
While this diet model may be the best known, it is also one of the most unhealthy. As the name suggests, several or all meals are suspended here, which can lead to considerable damage to health. If you deny the body basic nutrients such as vitamins or proteins, the deficiency will soon become noticeable in your heart functions, your circulation and your muscles. In addition, biliary colic, concentration disorders and similar deficiency symptoms are not uncommon with this diet. Since the weight loss success is usually short-lived, it is definitely not advisable to have a zero diet.
Diets with moderate or temporary success
With the diet methods presented below, limited success can be expected, at least temporarily.
A few years ago everyone was talking about Slimfast drinks. With strawberry, chocolate or vanilla flavor, the powder shakes replace entire meals and contain all the important nutrients. The monotonous range of flavors and products has meanwhile been expanded to soups and bars, but the less varied diet can quickly hang out. Also, food replacement is not a permanent solution, which is why the success in losing weight is limited.
Cabbage Soup Diet
Soups are generally an ideal way to lose weight. On the one hand they are low in calories and fat, on the other hand cabbage soups and broths can be combined with various types of vegetables as well as a side dish of meat. However, it should be quite problematic for most people to switch their diet permanently to cabbage soups. Not only that you get enough of the one-sided liquid food very quickly, but also the loss of important nutrients that are not or only insufficiently contained in the cabbage can be difficult for the body. If you finally stop taking the cabbage soup diet for the reasons mentioned, old eating habits creep in again and the weight loss effect is zero.
Raw food diet
Fresh fruit, vegetables and ... well, that's about it. Although the narrow spectrum of raw food can be supplemented with nuts, the raw food does not offer much more options. For this reason, it is extremely healthy, but requires iron asceticism in many ways. Furthermore, many types of vegetables develop their nutrient effect only through cooking or cooking or are inedible in their raw state. Long-term perseverance is therefore unlikely.
Leap day diet
A day of drainage, which is inserted spontaneously between holidays or culinary excess, compensates for unique sins with this diet. Detoxification is a tried and tested remedy for short-term success without health concerns, but is not suitable for permanent weight loss, since no fat is broken down.
Healthy diets with lasting success
Proven healthy diets include methods with long-term diet and lifestyle changes.
According to the basic principles of losing weight, this slimming diet follows the motto: reduce harmful factors in the diet and exercise. Foods that contain unhealthy fats or artificial additives are considered to be harmful here. In order to better classify the critical values, there is also a food traffic light for the ideal diet. Here, red points are assigned to artificial foods such as ketchup, chocolate, finished products and ready-made sauces, yellow points to meat and dairy products, and green points to fruits and vegetables.
According to the principles of her forefather Dr. Hay is not a diet in the strict sense, but a health food with a special nutritional philosophy. The advantage of this "diet" is a wholesome and healthy diet, in which the body does not have to do without important nutrients. Particular emphasis is placed here on not combining carbohydrate-rich and protein-containing foods with one another. In this way it is possible to differentiate between alkaline and acid-forming foods and thus prevent the body from becoming too acidic. In order to simplify the separation of foodstuffs, the Hay food division distinguishes between three categories - the protein group, the carbohydrate group and the neutral group.
Based on the 3500 year old Indian health theory, the unity of body, mind, behavior and environment is in the foreground. The Ayurvedic nutritional philosophy concentrates above all on the flow of the three life energies, which are also called doshas. If people suffer from obesity, Ayurveda experts usually attribute this to an imbalance in the flow of Kapha energy, which generally also symbolizes sluggishness. To restore balance, the Ayurveda diet works with a particularly fruit and vegetable-rich food palette.
The Mediterranean diet, also known as the Crete diet, puts recipes and ingredients from Mediterranean cuisine at the center of its weight loss philosophy. Accordingly, the diet only uses foods that naturally occur in the Mediterranean or Crete. These include Mediterranean fruits and vegetables, rustic breads, garlic, fish, olive oil and pasta. The obligatory glass of red wine should not be missing from the Mediterranean diet. Because like many other Mediterranean foods, red wine protects the heart and vessels from arteriosclerosis. Therefore, traditional red wine consumption in southern Europe is often listed as one of the reasons for the high life expectancy in Crete and the Mediterranean. In fact, studies have shown that people in Crete, thanks to their diet, live healthier and therefore longer. This concept is always an interesting approach for a weight loss diet.
Due to a consequent change in diet, this diet variant is by far the most sensible option. It depends on an efficient composition of the individual food components and a gradual change and adjustment of the previous eating habits.
Drainage cure helps you lose weight
Before starting a diet, many people go through a drainage cure. In this way, slags and metabolic breakdown products that have been stored in the body and in particular in the fatty tissue are literally flushed out of the body. Water-rich or draining foods and some herbs with a similar effect are particularly suitable for this cure. This includes:
You can use the dehydrating foods, for example, to make smoothies or, in the case of dehydrating herbs, to prepare teas. In addition, unhulled brown rice has a digestive and detoxifying effect due to its numerous mucilages. It therefore forms an ideal basis for draining risotto and fruit rice recipes.
Recipe 1: zucchini rice with carrots and celery
- 150 g whole grain rice
- 300 ml vegetable broth
- 2 medium-sized zucchini
- 2 medium sized carrots
- 1 stick of celery
- some sea salt
Step 1: Heat the vegetable broth and cook the whole grain rice in it. The rice should then have a slightly slimy consistency so that the draining mucilages of the rice grains can support the drainage in the best possible way.
Step 2: Peel the carrots and wash the zucchini and celery thoroughly under running water. Then cut the vegetables into slices.
Step 3: Mix rice and vegetables together. Finally, the vegetable rice is seasoned with sea salt, pepper and paprika.
Preparation tip: If the water-binding effect of the salt is a thorn in the eye, you are welcome to leave it out. Allergy sufferers can switch to radish or fennel for celery.
Recipe 2: sweet apple rice with cinnamon
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 2 cups of water
- 2 sweet apples
- Lemon balm
Step 1: Put the brown rice in a saucepan and pour 2 cups of water over it. The rice should cook for about 30 minutes with the lid closed and moderate heat input until it has a slightly slimy consistency.
Step 2: While the rice is simmering, peel the apples and cut them into small pieces. Place a second saucepan with a little water and let the apple pieces boil in it for about 10 minutes. Finally, the boiled apples can be seasoned with honey, cinnamon and sliced lemon balm.
Step 3: Puree the apples and lift them under the rice. If you like, you can garnish the apple rice with cinnamon and a few apple slices after serving. You can enjoy the dessert both warm and cold.
Lose weight through exercise
In addition to proper nutrition, people who are trying to lose weight should exercise enough. This boosts the metabolism, builds muscle mass and fat mass. However, it is also important to find the right measure for weight loss measures. You should start here moderately with smaller workouts of two to three 20 minutes a week. It only makes sense in the following weeks to gradually increase the training units by 10 to 15 minutes each. The reason for this is that a body that has hitherto hardly been exercised can get into overtraining, which leads to an increased risk of injury. This results in increased training failures and thus reduced training efficiency.
In this context, extreme sports and also intensive jogging or shocking team sports are not recommended. If you are overweight, you could strain the already stressed bone, joint and ligament structures and thus increase the risk of sports injuries. Instead, light sports are recommended that pose a relatively low risk of vibration for bones and joints, such as:
- Nordic walking,
In addition, light weight training and targeted stretching exercises, as are common in yoga, can strengthen the body and make it more flexible.
Important: In the course of the first few weeks of sporting activities, training setbacks and motivational lows can occur. This is completely natural and should not be overestimated by the sportsperson. It is important to stay on the ball and to continue despite delays in success! (ma)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Miriam Adam, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Howard Hay, "Food combining", Eurobooks, 1999
- Öko-test, "Guide: What Diets Bring", Issue 02/2016, pp. 34-41
- German Obesity Society (DAG) e.V., "Definition of obesity", DAG
- Dr. Maximilian Bircher Benner, "A New Nutrition: Introduction to Basic Principles of Raw Food Diet and Nutrition by Dr. Bircher Benner", ISBN Agentur, 2019