Calories In; Calories Out –
Habits and Lifestyle Choices Lead to Maintaining Healthy Weight
Calories in; Calories out.
“This simple formula holds the key maintaining a healthy weight and enjoying life to its fullest,” explains Brendon Curtis, MD, a surgeon at General Surgery at Great Plains. The formula means that if you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning off, you’re likely going to gain weight.
Dr. Curtis’s strategy is for patients to monitor the types and amounts of calories they eat and get regular exercise to burn off calories. In this way, he says, good habits and good choices lead to success in weight loss and maintenance.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 35 percent of American adults are considered obese, which lead to several dangerous health conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, which are some of the leading causes of death. The CDC also reports that 38 percent of Nebraskans are overweight and another 27 percent are classified as obese.
Dr. Curtis outlines several tips to help patients trim pounds and sustain a desired level of fitness. On the “calories in” side of the ledger, he suggests the following:
• Food diary. Patients should keep a written record of everything they eat, including portion size and number of calories, if available. “Patients tend to grossly underestimate the amount of calories they take in. Adding it up at the end of the day is a real eye-opener,” he explains.
• Check the label. Even if patients don’t keep a food diary, they should check labels to see how many calories certain foods have. “Often things seem healthy, but can be loaded with calories,” says Barb Petersen, nurse practitioner of nursing programs and coordinator of the GPRMC bariatric program.
• Three squares. Patients should strive to eat three well-balanced meals a day and avoid snacking. “Skipping breakfast or lunch leads to excessive snacking or over-eating at dinner, which will cause more of the food being converted to fat,” says Dr. Curtis.
• Don’t eat – instead have a meal. Petersen says many patients rush through eating and don’t take the time to adequately chew and enjoy their food. “We should chew each bite 20-30 times,” she says. “Eat with a friend and the conversation will slow you down.” This, she says, gives the stomach a chance to register the food and report it to the brain, which will invoke a feeling of being full – when we eat fast, we miss this sensation until it’s too late.
• Time of day. “Calories are best consumed earlier in the day when we are more active,” explains Dr. Curtis. “When we gorge at night, the energy isn’t needed and is gets stored as fat.”
Dr. Curtis and Petersen also have suggestions for exercise and burning off excess calories.
• Be consistent. Curtis advises patients to get 30-60 minutes of exercise three to five times a week. “We simply look for heart rate increase – you don’t need gadgets to measure it – you just need to do it,” he says.
• Enjoy the activity. Calories get burned through a wide variety of activities, including walking, biking, and swimming. “Make the activity something you like to do,” counsels Petersen. “That way you’re much more likely to do it on a regular basis.”
A Little Extra Help
Petersen says that although these tips seem simple, they aren’t always easy, and that’s why the GPRMC bariatric program makes sense for some patients who need a little extra help. The program offers three types of surgical procedures to help patients limit their food intake.
“We think of surgery as a tool,” says Petersen. It helps patients make better food and lifestyle choices and instill habits to hopefully last a lifetime.”
GPRMC offers two different informational meetings for patients thinking about bariatric surgery. The first is a free seminar offered the second Tuesday of the month at 7pm in the Pioneer Room at GPRMC. One of the GPRMC bariatric surgeons in on hand to answer questions and discuss diet, exercise and surgical options.
The other meeting is a support group for patients who have had the procedure, but it’s open to anyone. “Often we have prospective patients come and talk to those that have been through the surgical procedure,” explains Petersen. These sessions meet the first Thursday of the month at 6:30pm in the Pioneer Room.
For information and appointment for consultation, Call 308-696-8508.