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Weight Management

When it comes to diets, we’ve seen it all: Celebrity diets, extreme starvation plans, weird ”eat-as-much-as-you-want-but-stay-skinny“ programmes, and more.

The ones that seem to be very popular nowadays are ”fad diets“; short-term quick fixes that lack variety, exclude certain foods and are nutritionally inadequate. In the end, they are about as effective as not dieting at all, and they may even harm you.

Look around. It is not difficult to find someone who has tried a strange fad diet only to find their bodies screaming out for proper nutrition.

So here’s something that just might work: Forget the fads and do what’s right for you.

Related: Weight Management

The Basic Equation

This is the only equation for diets that you need: Energy Balance. What is it? Simply put, it’s a balance between the energy (calories) you consume — Energy Intake — and the energy (calories) you burn — Energy Output — through any form of physical activity.

Here's a simple representation:

Energy Intake = Energy Output over time: Weight stays the same

Energy Intake > Energy Output over time: Weight gain

Energy Output > Energy Intake over time: Weight loss

Makes sense right? But then how do you know how much you should be eating and how much physical activities you should be getting?

While we all aspire to be as healthy as we can be to do the things we want, sometimes even the most active of us end up not having any exercise for days.

We may be caught up with school work, exam preparations, or even be down with the flu. In any case, you need to assess the types of activity level you usually maintain to get a sense of how to go about getting a caloric balance.

Here are a few pointers to help you with the assessment:

  • If you are aged between 13-18 years, you should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity* physical activity every day.

  • And if you are above 18, you are encouraged to engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity* aerobic activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity** aerobic exercise each week.

*Moderate intensity activities refer to those that cause a noticeable increase in breathing rate — one is able to carry on a conversation but does not have enough breath to sing.
**Vigorous intensity activities refer to those that cause large increases in breathing rate — one is not able to carry on a conversation but is not out of breath.

Here’s a quick example. A healthy 18-year old girl, weighing at 60kg, will have to balance her regular food intake with any of these daily activities: an hour of badminton or fast-paced modern dance; or simply an hour and a half of leisurely cycling.

When it comes to dieting and losing weight, it is really a simple game of balancing the food you eat and the amount of physical activities you engage in. Most importantly, it is the ideal and healthier way to do so as well!


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