Why are diet and lifestyle important in influencing the body weight?

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Body weight involves many factors including your environment, behavior change, genetics, health status, physical activity and diet. Genetically, we have a set point weight, in other words a weight at which are body is preprogrammed to gravitate towards despite environmental factors.

The energy balance equation is that energy intake (calories) = energy output (physical activity) to maintain a certain weight. Daily physical activity influences body weight through energy expenditure and building of lean muscle mass, resulting in weight loss when stored energy is used. A diet that does not provide enough calories to maintain weight will also result in weight loss of stored energy.

Long term healthy weight maintenance for vitality and to prevent chronic disease is best achieved with a steady nutrient dense diet plan including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, proteins including lean meat, nuts, legumes, beans, soy or dairy and reduced saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Daily physical activity with some weight resistance, and enough activity to break a sweat of a least 30 minutes per day, physician permitting, is a secondary key to healthy weight maintenance.



Reducing calories can lead to weight loss:

Consuming fewer calories than you need daily will cause your body to draw upon its energy stores to overcome the deficit, causing you to lose weight. When you don't eat for a period of time, glycogen and fat are used as fuel sources to meet your body's glucose and energy needs until your next meal or snack. Amino acids from the breakdown of body protein, particularly muscle, can also be used to make glucose.

Excess calories can lead to weight gain:

Eating more calories than you need, regardless of the foods they come from, will result in your body storing the excess as fat. You have limited capacity to store glucose as glycogen and you can't store extra protein, but you have unlimited capacity to store fat.

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

These two factors will determine your risk for developing disease. It is what you do every day that determines health not the occasional blip. If you are eating health-promoting foods and a plant based diet you are promoting wellness and preventing disease. If you are active on a regular basis you are reducing your risk of heart disease. If you don't smoke you are decreasing your risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. More than two drinks a day in men and more than one drink a day in women increase your risk of certain cancers. Rolled together, your lifestyle and diet maybe the most important determinant of health.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.