The Body Mass Index, better known by its abbreviation BMI, is a quantity that takes into account the weight and height of an individual in order to determine if the latter is well "proportioned". If you find that your BMI is above normal, or even that you are obese, there are tips that can help you lower your BMI. Also be aware that a high BMI compared to the average may indicate an increased risk for certain diseases such as diabetes for example.
Part 1 of 3: change your diet
Step 1. Eat a healthier, more balanced diet
What you eat directly affects your weight. Starting from this very simple principle, you must start by paying attention to what you put on your plate to lower your BMI. This is because bad eating habits, like consuming too much carbohydrate or too much fat, can quickly increase your BMI. Your first objective is therefore clear now: to eat in a healthier and more balanced way.
- To start, eat more fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that you eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to give your body everything it needs for good health. These portions can be divided for example: two portions of fruit and three portions of vegetables or one portion of fruit and four portions of vegetables. Also incorporate leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, kale…) in your diet.
- Don't forget about carbohydrates. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not to be banned when you want to lose weight. Be careful, however, consuming in excess will almost certainly make you gain weight. Also watch out for processed products from the food industry such as bread, cupcakes, etc., as they contain complex carbohydrates which are known to cause weight gain. Instead, focus on wholegrain bread, brown rice and other whole grain products to ensure your carbohydrate intake. Finally, go for sweet potatoes when you crave potatoes, as the latter are rich in nutrients. Do not hesitate to eat your potatoes with the skin on to fill up on fiber.
- Milk, low fat dairy products, meat and all other sources of protein should be consumed in moderation. Make sure that the majority of the calories in your diet come from “healthy” carbohydrates, as mentioned above. For meats, choose lean meats like fish or poultry instead of fatty meats like beef or pork.
Step 2. Take your foot off the sugar
Sugars as a whole are a major contributor to weight gain. But who says weight gain says increased BMI. For this reason, limit your sugar intake throughout the day. Did you know that a large majority of the population consumes too much sugar? Indeed, according to doctors, one should not consume more than 12 teaspoons of sugar per day, or about 60 grams.
- Take special care at breakfast time. Many commercial grains contain large amounts of added sugar. This doesn't mean you have to put a cross on your cereal bowl, but try, the next time you go shopping, to favor cereals with low amounts of sugar per serving. To do so, read the nutrition facts on the back of any packet of cereal. Another suggestion: why not simply replace your cereals with other healthier products such as oatmeal or even plain yogurt mixed with fruit?
- Beware of products containing added sugars. Did you know that many products, such as canned soups or pasta, contain high amounts of added sugars? The same advice as for cereals is valid in this case: take a look at the back of the packages of the products you want to buy and try to favor products low in sugar or even containing none at all.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Try replacing sugary drinks with their sugar-free alternatives. Also avoid adding sugar to your coffee. Finally, eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juices. Indeed, the latter contain a lot of sugar and do not provide the body with many nutrients compared to a whole fruit (which for example contains fiber).
Step 3. Watch out for empty calories
This type of calorie is said to be "empty" because it does not provide the body much from a nutritional point of view. In addition, this type of calorie does not give a feeling of lasting satiety which promotes snacking. Because of this, products with empty calories (for example all products made from white or refined flour) should be avoided when it comes to losing weight. Limit your intake of processed foods, as they often contain a large amount of empty calories as well as unhealthy amounts of sugar and salt. Instead, opt for products containing whole grains and seeds instead of their refined alternatives.
Step 4. Avoid fad and / or deprivation diets
These fad diets that deliver spectacular results in just a few weeks are unfortunately often window dressing. Indeed, although it is often possible to obtain results in the short term, these diets are often difficult to maintain in the long term (because too restrictive or complicated) and cause the famous yo-yo effect. For long-term results, opt for more traditional diets or small changes in your habits. Also remember that losing more than 1 kg per week is not good for your health, and any diet that promises you to lose weight faster than that is likely to put your health at risk.
Part 2 of 3: Have more regular physical activity
Step 1. Work out
To lower your BMI, it is important that you incorporate regular physical activity into your routine. Try to set up regular workouts throughout your week.
- If you are overweight or obese, we recommend that you exercise at a moderate intensity about 150 minutes per week (for example five thirty-minute sessions per week). This physical activity can come in different forms and you can of course add your own ideas to this list: walking, jogging at low speed or even "cardio" type exercises with moderate intensity. If you don't know where to start, why not take out a membership at a gym near you and familiarize yourself with the different machines available there?
- We realize that 150 minutes can seem a little overwhelming at first. In this case, why not start with small sessions of 10 to 15 minutes to get you in the bath? Just remember that any physical activity is good to take, it is better to do only a little sport in your week than not to do it at all. In addition, if the idea of going to a gym scares you, know that there are many training videos on the Internet that will allow you to exercise directly from home.
- If you want to get results faster, opt for a total of 300 minutes of physical activity per week instead. Keep in mind that as you train, your body will get used to the efforts required and you will have to gradually increase the duration or intensity of your training.
Step 2. Get moving throughout your day
Make no mistake, your workout at the gym every two or three days does not allow you to relax your efforts in your daily life. Just moving around throughout the day will help you burn extra calories and lower your BMI further. Here are some ideas to help you move more during your day: park far from the entrance of the supermarket or your favorite store, walk or bike to work, go get your bread on foot, dance while you do the housework, start gardening or even take advantage of the cycle paths that are near you… In short, do not remain static and move as much as you can.
Step 3. Call in a professional
Changing your habits and becoming active too quickly can cause minor complications such as joint pain or muscle stiffness that can put you down. We therefore recommend that you speak with a sports coach or doctor before starting your training program. For example, a professional can assess your current level of fitness and advise you on suitable training to facilitate your transition to a more active lifestyle.
Part 3 of 3: Finding Support Outside
Step 1. Talk to your doctor about weight loss medications
If your BMI is over 30 or you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medication for weight loss. This type of medication, along with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, can help boost your weight loss.
- Your doctor will first review your current condition and medical history before prescribing this type of treatment. During your interview, do not hesitate to ask him any questions that come to your mind about taking this type of medication. Among other things, learn about the possible side effects associated with this type of treatment.
- You will be closely monitored by healthcare professionals while you are taking your treatment. Among other things, you will need to take blood tests and be in contact with your doctor on a regular basis. Be aware that weight loss medications do not work for everyone and that one side effect of taking these medications may be weight gain after stopping treatment.
- In extreme cases, surgery is possible. This type of surgery reduces the amount of food you can eat before you feel full (for example, by reducing the size of your stomach). There are several types of surgeries that can help you lose weight. But be aware that these operations are often reserved for people with health problems related to their overweight and having a BMI over 35. Consult your doctor to find out if this type of operation is right for you.
Step 2. Get advice from a specialist
Indeed, the (very) bad eating habits of some (almost permanent snacking, etc.) can be linked to emotional or behavioral disorders. Specially trained healthcare professionals can help you take control of your diet and help you manage your cravings.
- In general, 12 to 24 intensive sessions with a specialist are necessary to resolve these kinds of food-related problems. Seek advice from your doctor to refer you to a behavior specialist with experience in weight loss and compulsive snacking.
- If the thought of going to intensive sessions makes you uncomfortable, know that milder therapies are also available to tackle these kinds of problems.
Step 3. Find a support group near you
Support groups will allow you to connect with other people suffering from the same problems related to weight loss. For example, check with hospitals and gyms near you to see if such groups exist in your area. If no group exists in your area, also know that the Internet is a very convenient way to get in touch with people in the same situation as you.