South Africa continues to battle with obesity, with the latest research saying that seven out of 10 women are overweight.
It’s also estimated that 31% of men, and 13% of children are either overweight or obese.
The World Health Organisation says that obesity and being overweight are linked to more deaths worldwide than being underweight.
The weight problem cannot be blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to research in 2016, the prevalence of obesity in the age groups of 15 years and older in South Africa was 68% for women and 31% for men.
“These are scary statistics, particularly as many international studies show a link between obesity and serious Covid-19 infection,” says Dr Gert du Toit, a surgeon who practises at the multi-disciplinary metabolic centre at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital.
The centre is accredited as a Centre of Excellence for Metabolic Medicine by the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and Metabolism (Sasso)
Diet and weight loss has come to the fore once again as most people want to get rid of the extra weight and get “summer bodies.”
Although the hard work should have started months before already, all is not lost – you can still sport a bikini this season.
Omy Naidoo of Newtricion Wellness Dieticians, says studies have shown that food with a low Glycemic Index (GI) may result in weight loss, reduced blood sugar levels, and lower the risk of heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes.
“These types of foods contain a lot of fibre and are, as a result, slowly digested and absorbed, causing a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels.
“The low-carb, whole-food diet is perfect for people who need to lose weight, optimise health, and lower risk of diseases. This diet is flexible, allowing you to tweak your carb intake according to your goals.
“It is high in vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, fruits, nuts, and fats, but low in starches, sugars, and processed foods.
“Like low-carb diets, this diet has been popular for decades. It involves restricting your fat intake to 30% of your daily calories. One way to achieve this consists of avoiding cooking oil and frying. Try boiling, steaming, baking or roasting your food, instead.
“You may also remove chicken skin and cut out the fat in red meat,” he says.
The Mediterranean diet is also recommended, and according to those who advocate it, it is effective for heart disease prevention.
The diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry, whole grains, legumes, dairy products, and extra virgin olive oil.
Then there’s the vegan diet which relies solely on plant-based foods and eliminates all animal products.
The vegan diet has become increasingly popular in the past decade and offers several health benefits, including weight loss, improved heart health, and better blood sugar control.
Not all food is bad when trying to lose weight. When it comes to desserts, nutrition coach and Under Armour Athlete Daniella Lagerwey says: “Any dessert is weightless-friendly as long as it fits into your daily caloric allowance, but with that being said, there are certain ones to help curb the sweet tooth and not shoot calories up.”
A way to manage your daily food intake can include counting calories. It enables you to control portion size, learn what the caloric difference is different foods and balance those foods within your day/week.
“It's also good to know how much food (calories) your body needs in order to reach your specific goals, but also see it visually on a plate. Knowledge is key.
“A calorie is a measurement of energy. Every person's body utilises different amounts of energy due to many factors such as body composition, lifestyle, genetics.
“The only disadvantage of “calories” is what society portrays it to be. The enemy behind the “calorie” is the person, not the food.
“Food doesn’t make people gain weight, the over consumption of food and the types of food people choose to consume is the problem. Which is why it is so beneficial to know how much food you need to perform at your optimal.
“Eat your veggies, drink your wine, indulge in a slice of cake, move your body and do it all in moderation. Find your rhythm, be consistent and be disciplined. Slow and steady wins the race,” Lagerwey says.
Lagerwey shares easy dessert recipes.
100g fat free smooth cottage cheese
60g fat free strawberry yoghurt
4 large fresh strawberries, chopped up and added at the end
Blend yoghurt and cottage cheese together, pour into a bowl/mug mix in fresh strawberries, place in fridge to chill for about 60 minutes and enjoy.
Chocolate Microwave cake
30g oat flour
15g peanut butter/nut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cocoa
Blitz all together, pour into a bowl. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (depends on microwave). Add mixed berries to top.