Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising are vital to reaching a healthy weight.
Proper weight management can result in positive life changes, including:
- Lower risk of certain diseases
- Better mood
- Increased energy
- And more
Weight management online
Everyone's body is unique and different, including their weight. Weight management plans will vary depending on one's goals and lifestyle. You can see a nutritionist online to discuss all types of weight management including weight loss, weight gain, and managing your current weight.
So, how do you know if you need to lose weight, gain weight or maintain your weight? You will need to know your body mass index (BMI) to figure out the best weight management plan for you. You can calculate your BMI here.
What are the BMI categories?
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal weight = 18.5 – 24.9
- Overweight = 25 – 29.9
- Obesity = >30
There are a number of diet and exercise programs that can help you lose weight. Choosing the right program will depend on your food preferences or restrictions and lifestyle. Avoid extreme diet plans which can be difficult to maintain over the long term and potentially dangerous to your health. These types of diets can also cause significant weight regain after a period of time. Instead, aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week (which is considered a safe rate of weight loss) by eating a balanced diet, reducing portions and getting in more physical activity throughout the day.
Here are a few ways to lose weight in a healthy way:
- Track the foods you eat. You can use a food and fitness app (like Samsung Health and MyFitnessPal) to easily keep track of your food and beverage intake and stay within your daily calorie requirements for weight loss. Most weight loss plans limit the amount of carbohydrates or fat eaten in a day to create a calorie deficit.
- Don’t skip meals. Some people think skipping meals is a way to cut calories and lose weight, but this method can actually slow your metabolism down. Instead, eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day to keep up metabolism. Also, research shows that people who eat breakfast on a daily basis are more likely to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Reduce portion sizes. Most of us eat portions that are too large – especially certain foods like pasta, rice, potatoes, and meat. Refer to this chart for help determining the appropriate serving size for different food groups.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. Fruit and veggies are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins and minerals! Replace some of the not-so-healthy foods in your diet with a piece of fruit or a serving of cooked or raw veggies. At meals aim for ½ your plate veggies, ¼ protein, and ¼ starchy foods or grains.
- Power-up with protein. Include protein-rich foods with meals and snacks. Protein helps keep us feeling full longer. Good sources of protein include eggs, fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, lean beef, beans, and tofu.
- Avoid sugary beverages. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and avoid sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and sweetened coffee or tea.
Exercise also plays a part in weight loss strategy. The American Heart Association recommends 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity daily, such as brisk walking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. With all weight loss plans, it is recommended that you involve your doctor and/or nutritionist.
By involving a nutritionist, they can help develop a diet plan for you to achieve your weight management goals. They will create a customized plan, just for you and may recommend other options such as medication or weight loss surgey.
A majority of the US population is overweight or obese. However, being underweight can also cause health problems. In adults, underweight is defined as low weight for their height or a BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m2. There are many different contributors to being underweight. For some people, this is their usual weight status. For others, it’s due to a medical condition or mental illness.
Here are a few ways to gain weight in a healthy way:
- Eat smaller more frequent meals. It may not be feasible to eat three large meals so an alternative is to eat every couple of hours or 5 to 6 smaller meals instead.
- Focus on nutrient rich foods. Focus on quality of calories. Increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, nut butters, lean sources of protein (like chicken and turkey) and dairy products (choose dairy products with some fat to boost calories).
- Choose calorie-dense snacks. Choose snacks that are not only healthy but higher in calories like homemade guacamole and whole grain tortilla chips, nuts and/or homemade trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate), reduced-fat or full-fat yogurt, cheese and whole grain crackers, apple and nut butter, celery and cream cheese or nut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwich or turkey and cheese roll-ups. These are just a few examples.
- Add liquid supplements. If eating more proves challenging, consider incorporating a nutritional supplement into your diet 1 to 3 times/day such as Ensure or Boost or Orgain. Or, make homemade smoothies (whole milk + fruit + yogurt + pb (or other nut butter) + chia seeds or flax seed).
- Add high calorie condiments. To boost calories, add butter, sour cream, cream cheese, oil, and/or shredded cheese to vegetables, potatoes, rice, etc. Adding dry milk powder to potatoes or other creamy type dishes (like casseroles) can also boost calories.
- Incorporate physical activity. Try a strength training program to build muscle mass or regular aerobic exercise may increase appetite.
If you think you may have an eating disorder, speak to your physician who can refer you to a behavioral therapist or log in to Amwell and connect to one of our behavioral therapists.
Whether you worked hard to lose weight, gain weight or you’re just happy with your current weight – managing your weight can be the biggest hurdle. According to the National Weight Control Registry, individuals who have succeeded at losing weight and keeping it off long-term tend to do the following:
- Stay active
- Weigh themselves regularly
- Eat breakfast daily
- Watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
If you’re working to maintain your weight, try these additional strategies to help keep your weight where you want it:
- Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Include strength training as part of your exercise routine to build lean muscle mass.
- Start the day with a balanced breakfast that includes protein-rich foods.
- Fight off hunger with filling, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
- Meal prep – plan your meals for the week ahead so that you’re less likely to go out or order take-out.
- Avoid temptation by protecting the home environment. Keep your refrigerator/pantry stocked with mostly healthful foods and keep not-so-healthful snack foods and sweets out of the house.
- Measure your portions. Use measuring cups/spoons and a food scale to help stick to smaller portion sizes.
If you’re concerned about your weight, speak to a registered dietitian or physician on Amwell. During a video consult on Amwell, your provider will review your medical history and lifestyle to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination by a specialist if necessary.
Once a plan has been made, your registered dietitian (nutritionist) or physician will go over the risks and benefits of the various approaches.
There are certain medications that have been approved for weight loss in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise routine. Most weight loss supplements that you can buy over the counter have little evidence to support their weight loss claims.
The best meal plans and programs will vary based on lifestyle choices, existing health conditions, and dietary restrictions. Here are some questions to consider when choosing a weight loss plan:
Structured versus unstructured program? For example, are you signing up for a 12-week program that includes regular, mandatory visits with a nutritionist or doctor or is it a program that you can meet with the provider at your will? For some individuals, having regular check-ins with a provider is preferable to stay on track and for accountability.
Type of diet? Does the program endorse a certain type of diet like a low carb or low fat diet? Depending on your medical history and food preferences or intolerances one type of diet might be better for you than another.
Supplements included? Some diet plans include supplements. Be careful what you sign up for! As stated above, there is not a lot of strong scientific evidence to support supplement use for weight loss. You may be wasting your money.
Wearable tracking devices included? Some weight loss plans include wearable tracking devices like a fitbit. If you like to keep track of your food, physical activity and sleep habits this might be the plan for you.
Online versus in-person? Do you prefer attending meetings or visits in person or online? There are a number of self-directed online weight loss groups and programs.
To lose weight, base your diet on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and healthful fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and nut butters. Avoid or limit refined, processed foods like white bread, white rice, sugary snacks and breakfast cereals.
Research shows that losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can improve overall health and well-being and reduce risk for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.