How do I successfully lose weight?

How does it work: to lose weight? Many people ask themselves this question. Because it is easier to get the pounds on your hips than to get rid of them. And it is difficult in cases of severe overweight or obesity.

The calculation is based on the body mass index, abbreviated as "BMI". 

This is calculated from the body weight in kilograms divided by the body height, Then this answer is divided by  the body height again.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people are over weight if they have a body mass index of 25 or more.

Overweight people with a body mass index of 30 or more are obese.

This is more than just appearance, because the risk of numerous secondary illnesses explodes. 

These include diabetes, lipid metabolism disorders, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, fatty liver and joint problems. Obesity is also a risk factor for certain types of cancer and fertility disorders. Another new finding is that obesity can increase the risk of dementia. In view of these dramatic consequences, obesity should therefore be "tackled". It takes a lot more than discipline to do so because eating less food alone is not enough to normalize a strong body weight.

According to the latest scientific findings, a successful weight loss programme comprises two phases. In the first phase it's all about losing weight, in the second phase the weight is kept. 

Phase one: The earlier recommendation to lose weight is outdated, because with a tedious and dragging weight loss, the motivation to persevere with losing weight for a long time is reduced. Rapid successes motivate you to continue. However, fast weight loss needs to be well planned. A good method is the changed fasting cure, which means: a light cuisine with small portions. These should be protein-rich to ensure that muscle mass does not shrink with the fat pads. In addition, a moderate intake of carbohydrates makes sense, to supply the brain with usable calories. Formula diet products, i.e. protein-rich nutrient powder mixed with liquid, are also well suited. After a few weeks - the duration depends on the weight loss target - the formula diet meals are replaced by proper meals.

Then phase two begins with three modules: The first module is about keeping the weight or reducing it further in small steps. To achieve this, it is important to get used to new eating habits and leave past eating sins behind. One should refrain from eating the odd fast food hamburger occasionally, because junk food is considered to be one cause of obesity today.

 It is therefore important to learn about healthy alternatives.

The second module in phase two is the movement. However, their great importance lies not in the direct burning of calories, but rather in altering the entire metabolic situation. According to new findings, targeted strength training is necessary because the build-up of muscle mass burns additional calories - not only during sporting activity, but over the entire 24 hours of a day. All studies show that those who have increased their physical activity in phase two can keep their weight down well.

The level of long-term weight loss is also associated with behavioural therapy. This is the third module of phase two. In behavioural therapy, motivation and self-confidence are strengthened, for example in group discussions. Such group discussions are offered by psychotherapists. However, there are also food systems and nutritional concepts that work with such group discussions. Study results show that the level of weight loss is linked to regular participation in the weekly meetings. Behavioral change also involves checking the reason for eating. Just out of hunger? Or from boredom, from frustration, from sadness? Together with a psychotherapist, it is possible to consider which methods are better suited to satisfying these needs than food intake.

This cannot be achieved on one's own initiative, but often only with the help of competent advice. A good deal of health insurance companies offer or support weight loss courses. It is also advisable to talk to your doctor as medication may also help. It is under discussion whether drug-assisted slimming aids are useful for a limited period, such as about a year, in phase two.

With massive obesity, surgery is also possible. It can offer a realistic chance to reduce weight and cure diabetes. 

The following different procedures are possible: the adjustable gastric band, the so-called "tube stomach" or the "gastric bypass". It should be noted that surgery is not a panacea for obesity. It is an important building block in the treatment. But surgery is not the only measure that can solve all the physical and psychological problems associated with obesity.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Marielle Becker