Weight Loss

Who should consider weight loss?

Weight loss is recommended for individuals with a BMI greater than 25*, especially when accompanied by abdominal obesity.

To Calculate BMI: BMI = weight (kg ) / height (m)²

Abdominal Obesity: Men waist circumference > 40”
Women waist circumference > 35”

* BMI calculation is not as accurate to assess athletes, children, the elderly, and individuals who are naturally endomorphic or mesomorphic (larger bone structure)

How much weight loss will help?

Research shows that even moderate weight loss of 5 – 10% of current weight can significantly improve health:

  • Improved blood pressure
  • Improved blood lipids
  • Increased HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Improved insulin sensitivity, therefore decreasing risk of diabetes
  • Improved blood glucose levels

Individuals should strive for long-term weight maintenance, not just weight loss. Weight maintenance is defined as keeping within 2.3 kg (5 lbs) of your weight.

How can I successfully lose weight and maintain weight loss?

Focus on both eating and exercise habits:

Calories Out < Calories In = Weight Gain
Calories Out = Calories In = Weight Maintenance
Calories Out > Calories In = Weight Loss

Eating Habits

  • Reduce current energy intake by 500 kcal/day
  • Reduce dietary fat < 30%
  • Individuals are more successful with weight loss when they learn eating restraint, and reduce emotional eating (binging)

1 pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. To lose a pound a week, reduce calories by 500 calories a day and include daily exercise!
A weight loss of 1 – 1½ pounds per week is considered safe.

Exercise Habits

  • The level of your exercise participation may be one of the best predictors of long-term weight maintenance

When we say ‘Exercise’, we are talking about aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity. Aerobic exercise is defined as steady, continuous physical activity using your large muscle groups (legs!). What counts? Outdoor walking, treadmill walking, outdoor biking, stationary hiking, elliptical machine, swimming laps, water aerobics, tennis, etc.

Remember to ensure your intensity is moderate. Check in with the following:

  • Heart rate 55-80% of maximum heart rate (See your Training Heart Rate)
  • RPE – Rating of Perceived Exertion: 11 Fairly Light → 14 Somewhat Hard
  • Able to talk without becoming short of breath

How much exercise do I need to do to reach my weight loss goals?

  • Research demonstrates a dose response to fat loss – The amount of exercise seems to play a greater role than the intensity
  • Start working to achieve 150 minutes/week of moderate intensity physical activity
  • Gradual progression to 200 – 300 minutes/week of moderate intensity physical activity for greater chance at successful weight loss and maintenance

How do I get 200 minutes of exercise in my week?

If you exercise __ days/week Your exercise session should last __ minutes
7 28
6 33
5 40
4 50

How do I get 300 minutes of exercise in my week?

If you exercise __ days/week Your exercise session should last __ minutes
7 43
6 50
5 60

Accumulated Time
Please Note: This high volume of exercise may not be appropriate for all patients with coronary artery disease. Overweight patients with orthopedic limitations, those who are significantly de-conditioned, and elderly patients are unlikely to be able to perform this volume of exercise.

How can I track my weight/fat loss? 

There are some simple ways to check in with your weight/fat loss:

  • Measure your waist circumference
       -The extra fat mass around the middle is the most dangerous as this fat can be visceral (layer surrounding the vital organs) as well as subcutaneous (layer found just beneath the skin)
       - REMEMBER YOUR GOAL: Men < 40” (102cm) waist circumference, Women < 35” (88cm) waist circumference
    To measure your waist accurately: www.heartandstroke.com
  • Weigh yourself on a scale weekly
       - A great way to keep yourself on track and to provide immediate feedback
       - Don’t forget that weight is a measure of fat free mass (bones, muscle) and fat mass. It is normal for weight to fluctuate within the day, week, and month. Do not stress about a pound or two in either direction!

What does the research suggest? Research in weight loss suggests individuals need to commit to their weight loss plan by doing the following things:

  • Set short-term/long-term exercise goals
  • Record your exercise in a diary or on a calendar
  • Include resistance training exercise to improve muscular strength/endurance
  • Identify exercise barriers and develop strategies to overcome barriers
  • Focus on intrinsic motivation to exercise (e.g. choosing exercise you enjoy, making it fun) vs. external motivation to exercise (e.g. because your kinesiologist says so!)
  • Perform continuous exercise. Research shows that intermittent exercise is effective for cardiovascular training but not as effective for weight loss. Shorter bouts of exercise are recommended for individuals that cannot tolerate longer bouts, dislike exercise, or perceive time as a barrier for regular exercise.

There is some evidence to support that expending >2000 kcal /week with exercise may even help to regress plaque build up in the arteries!

Why are more than 50% of Canadians still overweight if we know what we need to do to lose weight?

Bottom-line: Individuals know, but are not actually doing, what they need to do to lose weight. The greatest tool for your success is to record your exercise and your food intake. Are you doing enough exercise? Are you eating a balanced diet with the appropriate food choices and caloric intake for your specific needs?

An interesting statistic: 29% of men and 44% of women are trying to lose weight. Of those individuals, only 22% of men and 19% of women are reducing energy intake and exercising >150 minutes/week! (JAMA 1999).

To Track Your Exercise and Eating Habits:
www.eatracker.ca Free to use! Set up a personal profile which tracks your daily food and exercise, calculates your caloric intake, % fat, protein, carbs, etc.

Some Common Weight loss and Exercise Myths:

Myth: Thin people have low % body fat and are therefore physically fit.
Thin does not mean ‘healthy’. There is a debate among health professionals as to whether ‘fitness’ or ‘amount of body fat’ has a greater affect on cardiovascular and overall health.

Good news: Fitness wins the debate! Many studies have shown that fitness seems to play a greater role in decreasing cardiovascular risk, even in overweight/obese individuals. In other words, being overweight and performing regular exercise still lowers your risk. Not exercising regularly can increase your risk.

Myth: I should use the ‘fat burn’ program on the treadmill to burn fat.
(Please note: Both the Fat Burn and the Cardio Program on the treadmill use an age related calculation to determine your training heart rate intensity. We do not recommend you to use these programs. This range is generally not an appropriate range for cardiac patients as most are on a beta-blocker which lowers heart rate. Please follow your heart rate guidelines (Training Heart Rate) prescribed for you by your kinesiologists as this is a more accurate range for you.)

You will not necessarily burn more fat using a ‘fat burn’ program on the treadmill which keeps you in an intensity of 50 – 60% of your max heart rate. There is evidence to show that exercising at a light to moderate range burns more fat than strenuous exercise as the body has greater access to use fat as a fuel during these lower intensities. As you can see in the table below, a percentage of fat is used during all intensities of exercise, but at different rates. Because the rate of fat use is slow during light to moderate exercise, it is important to increase the duration of your exercise session – minimum of 30 minutes progressing to 60 minutes.

Endurance exercise training (exercising longer instead of harder) over time increases your body’s ability to oxidize fat. This means that by becoming ‘fitter’ through regular aerobic exercise your body reconfigures into a better fat burning machine.

Activity Level Rate of Energy Expenditure Primary Fuel Use
Rest Very slow Carb use (40%) < Fat Use (60%)
Light – Moderate Intensity Slow (3-5 calories per minute) Carb use < Fat use
High intensity Fast (7-9 calories per minute) Carb use > Fat use

Myth: I can reduce my abdominal obesity by doing abdominal crunches.
You cannot spot reduce! Weight loss results from an energy deficit; burning more calories than you take in. Aerobic exercise will help create this energy deficit. Genetics and gender play a role in where we store excess fat and where it comes off first. Abdominal exercises will tighten and tone the abdominals but will not directly affect the layer of abdominal adipose.

Myth: You burn a large amount of calories each time you exercise.
Most people think they are burning more calories than they actually are during exercise. The calculation below can be used to estimate the amount of energy expended during exercise.

Find your activity of choice in the table below. Try the calculation:

Walking < 2mph = 3.0 MET
Walking 3 mph = 3.5 MET
Walking 3.5 – 4.0 mph = 4.0 MET
Walking 4.5 mph = 4.5 MET
Cycling < 10 mph = 4.6 MET
Cycling 10 – 11.9 mph = 6.0 MET
Cycling 12- 13.9 mph = 8.0 MET
Dancing = 4.5 MET
Mowing Lawn = 6.0 MET
Running 5mph = 8.0 MET
Golf – carrying bag = 5.0 MET
Swimming – leisurely = 6.0 MET
Swimming – laps = 8.0 MET
Skiing – cross country =   7.0 MET    

Exercise Energy Expenditure = 0.0175 x MET x body weight (kg) x minutes

Sample Calculation: 75 kg male, walking 3.5 mph for 40 minutes
Energy Expenditure = 0.0175 x 4.0 x 75 x 40 = 210 calories

Last updated: Wed, 2012-11-07 11:10