Have you ever felt like your weight loss plan is a bit too extreme? Do you sometimes think the plan could be affecting your health? If yes, then you just might be right, because many Nigerians are going about weight loss the wrong way.
Losing weight is important, but the problem is that most weight-loss fads available do not take into cognizance that it is a step-by-step process that considers certain health factors. Because of this, many people are undertaking certain drastic weight loss measures that put them at various health risks.
While there are many ways to lose weight, it’s important to have a science-backed approach to get results, hence, the purpose of this post.
This guide will walk you through the science-backed steps of losing weight and most importantly maintaining it in Nigeria. But before all of that, it is important to understand the concept of weight loss to do it right.
What is weight loss?
The concept of weight loss can be a bit confusing being that it can refer to losing fat, muscle, and water or simply just one of these elements. But before we discuss any of this, we must define body weight.
Body weight is the amount of weight that a person carries in their body. It is the sum of your bone, muscle, fat, and other body tissue. It is usually measured in kilograms (kg), but can also be measured in pounds.
The average human body has a mass of about 70 kg if you include all parts of it including your organs, hair, and bones as well as any clothing or shoes you’re wearing at the time.
Back to our definition of weight loss. To better understand the concept, we will define it under two headings; fat loss and muscle loss.
This means losing adipose tissue (also called body fat). This is generally what is referred to as weight loss. It is the process by which your body burns fat.
When you lose adipose tissue, the number on the scale will decrease and so will the circumference of your waistline or hips.
Muscle loss on the other hand occurs if you stop exercising regularly or don’t eat enough protein while exercising. Over time less muscle mass will be built up by working out, whereas more fat is stored in its place – resulting in a low metabolism due to less muscle activity.
In the general sense, weight loss happens when your body burns more calories than it consumes. This happens when you eat less food than your body needs and burn more calories through exercise. The process of burning calories is known as thermogenesis, which involves the conversion of food into energy by breaking down chemical bonds between atoms in your body’s cells.
Overweight and Obesity in Nigeria
Overweight and obesity have become major public health problems in Nigeria, hence the increasing demand for different weight loss solutions across the country.
Overweight and obesity in Nigeria is a growing problem. In a country where the average body mass index (BMI) is low, this is a serious concern. According to the WHO, a BMI of 25 or higher indicates that someone is overweight and 30 or higher indicates obesity. (Check your BMI)
The country’s obesity rate has been steadily climbing over the past few decades, and it’s not just adults who are affected: Nigerian children are also becoming overweight at a high rate.
This is of concern because being overweight can lead to other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers. These conditions can increase your risk of premature death by around 40%.
A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine estimated that there were 21 million and 12 million overweight and obese persons in the Nigerian population aged 15 years or more in 2020, accounting for an age-adjusted prevalence of 20.3% and 11.6%, respectively. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased dramatically over the last decade, particularly among women.
We estimated that there were 21 million and 12 million overweight and obese persons in the Nigerian population aged 15 years or more in 2020, accounting for an age-adjusted prevalence of 20.3% and 11.6%, respectively.National Library of Medicine.
However, there are many factors that can lead to obesity and being overweight, including genetics, lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, age, gender, and ethnicity.
Factors Driving Overweight and Obesity in Nigeria
Several factors may be driving the increasing levels of overweight and obesity in Nigeria. These include:
- Lifestyle changes: In a country like Nigeria where the majority of the population are highly active people due to their occupations, the increase in sedentary lifestyles due to white-collar jobs and other economic changes is driving a proportional increase in weight across the population.
- Poor diet: More and more people in Nigeria are eating fast food and processed foods. Eating too much of these types of food is causing compounding weight gain over time because most processed foods are high in fat or added sugar (and sometimes both).
- Stress: There is an increasing unhealthy culture among working-class people towards rest and stress, and one of the negative effects of this aside from its effect on physical health is how stress leads to an increase in weight for some.
- Hormonal imbalance: While poor diet, lifestyle changes, stress, etc. contribute to weight gain, another leading factor driving weight gain in Nigeria, especially amongst women is a hormonal imbalance with conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Other factors driving the increase in overweight and obesity in Nigeria include; Smoking and increased alcohol consumption, genetics, etc.
Science-Backed Strategies To Losing Weight in Nigeria
The truth is, there are many misconceptions about weight loss in Nigeria. Some people think that going on strict diets, taking certain decoctions, or using pills is the only way to lose weight, but this isn’t true.
When it comes to weight loss in Nigeria, it’s important to remember that there is a science-backed process that factors your body type, metabolism, lifestyle, genetics, and mental health. You don’t have to do anything drastic or dramatic. Rather, if you focus on small, manageable changes and see them through for the long term, you will inevitably reach your goals.
The first thing to know is that when it comes to losing weight for good, the most important thing you can do is follow a program that will work with your body’s natural biology.
While we can’t change our genetics or body type, we can control our diet, and exercise habits, and also build certain healthy lifestyle changes to create the best possible environment for weight loss.
All of these are built into six core pillars of science-backed activities for long-term weight loss success.
- Social support
- Emotional health
We all know that nutrition and healthy eating are key to losing weight. But what does “eating healthy” actually mean?
It’s not just about what you eat—it’s also about when you eat it, and how much of it you consume. If you want to lose weight, some specific nutrition habits will help get you there faster.
If you eat foods that contain high amounts of sugar or carbohydrates (like bread), then you will gain weight. If you eat foods that contain more protein (like chicken), then you will be able to maintain your current weight or even lose some pounds!
Getting enough protein foods helps maintain muscle mass, which in turn boosts your metabolism and gives you energy. Eating healthy fats (like olive oil) will boost metabolism as well as help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
Carbohydrates should be limited because they cause spikes in blood sugar levels that can lead to cravings later on—which may result in overeating or snacking on foods high in calories but low in nutritional value such as cookies or chips.
Because of the high carb content of our typical Nigerian meals, it’s going to take more than just eating right if you want to truly lose weight and keep it in Nigeria. You’re going to have to get active!
Science has shown us that to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. Studies have shown that those who engage in regular physical activity have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who do not engage in regular activity. This is likely because exercise increases energy expenditure and thus leads to a negative energy balance, which results in weight loss.
Exercise is an important part of any weight loss plan and it doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive! There’s a whole world of science-backed ways to exercise that will help you burn fat and keep it off for good. Here are just a few: Running, cycling, swimming, dancing, etc. Click here to explore simple at-home exercises and cardio exercises respectively.
Science-backed medications for weight loss work by increasing your metabolism rate or by reducing your appetite so you can reduce your food intake. Some of these medications also help suppress your appetite by affecting certain chemicals in your body such as serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals make it easier for you to feel full after eating less food than usual.
Medication for weight loss can be an effective way to lose weight when combined with healthy eating habits, exercising, and other healthy lifestyle activities.
But before taking any weight loss medication, make sure it is prescribed by your doctor, to prevent any underlining side effects.
4. Social Support
Losing weight is a personal journey, but it’s also a social one. It’s easy to feel alone in your quest to lose weight and get healthy, but a support group can make things easier and better.
Social support is one of the most important factors when it comes to weight loss. It helps us maintain healthy habits by providing us with a community of like-minded individuals who can encourage each other and share tips and tricks for staying on track. And once you start seeing results you are more likely to stay motivated and continue along that path of positive change.
Social support is a crucial component of your weight loss journey, and it can help you make better decisions about food, exercise, and your overall health.
You’ve probably heard that sleep is important for your physical health—but did you know that getting enough of it can also help you lose weight?
One study found that women who slept between six and seven hours a night lost more weight than those who slept less or more.
But how does sleep affect your ability to lose weight? The answer has to do with hormones. When you’re sleeping well, your body produces more leptin, which helps you feel full and therefore eat less. It also helps boost serotonin levels, which makes you feel happier and more satisfied with life (and therefore less likely to seek out comfort foods).
Sleep deprivation makes you more likely to reach for high-fat, high-carb foods that you might not normally be drawn to, and it makes it harder for your body to recognize when you’ve had enough food. This can lead to overeating, which can lead to weight gain, which can make it even harder for you to sleep well—so the cycle continues!
6. Emotional Health
It’s no secret that emotional health is important for many reasons, but it’s also important for weight loss.
When you’re feeling good about yourself and your life, you’re more likely to stick with the healthy habits that will help you reach your goals. When you feel down and depressed, it’s much easier to fall back on unhealthy behaviors like binge eating or skipping workouts.
Emotional health is often overlooked when talking about weight loss, but it has a huge impact on how well your body responds to dieting and exercise. When we feel happy, confident, and secure in ourselves, our bodies respond much better to what we put into them. When we feel stressed out, anxious, or depressed about ourselves or our lives, our bodies tend to hold onto fat rather than burn it off effectively.
General Weight Loss Tips for Nigerians
- Eat healthily
- Avoid junk food or good for healthy junk food alternatives
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Eat more fiber (fiber-rich foods include whole grains, beans, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables)
- Eat more protein (protein-rich foods include lean meats, fish, poultry without skin, and low-fat dairy products)
- Eat fewer carbs (carbohydrates are sugars that come from grains), you can try these low-carb Nigerian meals
- Eat less sugar
- Exercise regularly
- Keep a fitness diary to record exercise, nutrition, lifestyle activities, and changes
- Get more sleep.
Losing Weight in Nigeria
Most Nigerians are not aware of how to lose weight, and this is why there are people who resort to drastic measures like drugs and starvation. But what most people don’t know is that losing weight is easy when you know how to do it properly.
The human body is a machine that runs on energy. In order to lose weight, you have to be in a caloric deficit—meaning you’re burning off more calories than you’re consuming.
Losing weight is a process, not an event. The first step is to start and then take it one step at a time. Don’t let your weight loss efforts overwhelm you. Don’t try to do too much too soon and don’t try to lose more than 2 pounds per week.
Weight loss doesn’t come easily for most people, but science has shown that the right combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes can help many people lose weight and keep it off long term.
As a Nigerian, we hope that you have gotten a better understanding of how to lose weight properly and in a healthy manner that will not hurt your health. If you’re looking for some support, we recommend joining our waitlist, If you want even more information on this topic, check out our other blog post on different weight-loss topics.