Health – 5 reasons why you carry more weight
Overcome what’s stopping you from winning the battle of the bulge.
Looking at the myriads of celebrity images that flood our media channels, it’s evident that “thick” is in. Women with ample bosoms, plump buttocks and a little more “meat” on their bones are lauded for embracing their natural shape. Add to that, black communities have always revered fuller- figured women as more attractive. But the health side of this is concerning. According to a 2008 study by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, black women have 51% higher obesity rates than white women. And according to a 2017 study by Wake Forest Medical Center in the USA, black women carry more weight because of their genetics, unhealthy eating habits and insulin resistance. We asked Johannesburg-based registered dieticians Ashleigh Caradas and Lila Bruk to explore these factors and offer helpful tips on how to balance our health with our aesthetics.
1 EATING TOO MUCH
It’s a fact: eating too much leads to weight gain. This could be due to misconceptions about normal portion control or cravings and binge eating. A 2013 study in the International Journal of Obesity revealed black women burn fewer calories than white women.
Caradas advises: Educate yourself on what equals a reasonable serving from each food group. Control cravings by becoming more aware of them and dealing with the emotional and psychological aspects too.
Eat low-calorie but filling foods, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, to fill you up.
2 LACK OF SLEEP
Experts found that women who slept five hours were more likely to gain weight than those who slept longer. Having fewer hours of sleep may make you feel hungry, even when you’re not. When you’re tired, you may skip exercise or simply move around less, which means burning fewer calories.
Bruk advises: Lack of sleep leads to increased cortisol levels (a hormone that regulates appetite) in the body, which, in turn, leads to increased appetite and fat storage. Aim for seven hours of sleep per night.
Exercise helps you maintain a negative calorie balance. With weight loss we want to burn off more energy than we take in.
Exercising more, especially cardiovascular exercise (like walking, running or swimming) will help burn calories. Weight and resistance training build muscle mass, which increases your metabolism.
Caradas advises: Don’t make excuses, find time to exercise. One or two early morning sessions a week and some weekend exercise should suffice.
Aim for at least three hours per week. Try and move more during the day in general (e.g. take the stairs, park further from the office and go for walks on the weekend).
4 FALLING OFF THE WAGON
Many women who are trying to lose weight underestimate how many calories they’re taking in. A bite of chocolate or a handful of chips all add up and delay weight loss. A lot of people make changes to their diet but neglect to change what they drink. Colddrinks, for example, can throw a diet completely off course. A litre of any cold drink contains up to 22 teaspoons of sugar.
Fruit juices and cordials also contribute to your sugar intake and should be avoided or diluted for best results. Alcohol is also high in calories and excess consumption can hinder weight loss. A lot of people make some changes, and then cheat and chuck out the whole diet. Don’t give up.
Caradas advises: If you’ve gone overboard at a meal, learn to compensate at the next one, to off-set the bad results. For example, if you ended up eating a full plate of fried chicken and pap with gravy at the canteen, then have a light dinner of either a salad or soup.
Bruk advises: Keep a food diary, in which you write down everything you eat to track your food intake and to stay on top of your calorie intake.
5 YOU ARE CONSUMING TOO MANY CARBOHYDRATES
High amounts of carbohydrates can cause weight gain, especially around the waist. This is mostly due to the insulin response they cause. This is especially important for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes or those who carry a lot of belly fat. Carbs include starches like potato, rice, pap, bread, crackers and also vegetables such as butternut, peas, corn and beets. Carbs are also found in anything containing sugar, like sauces, condiments, and fruits.
Caradas advises: Identify the sources of carbs in your diet and cut down or substitute them. For example, have two instead of four slices of bread for breakfast. Snack on a yoghurt or some nuts in-between meals so you don’t get hungry.