Weight loss is very much in the news these days due to its prevailing rise as an epidemic amongst our nation. Few people can now claim not to have heard that there is a relationship between weight and many forms of chronic disease. Typically, as weight increases, so does our risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart disease, liver disease, and even cancer. Type 2 diabetes alone is estimated to cost the NHS £9 billion a year. When all the complications of obesity are taken into account, the cost to the country is thought to be approaching £30 billion a year.
A poor diet has been shown to contribute to more disease and death than smoking, alcohol, and physical inactivity combined. Despite this, many individuals still do not heed the message or, worse, deny it. Those of us who recognise being overweight and obesity as a cause of chronic disease should strive to influence the situation. In the UK, over 60% of adults are now overweight and 27% are obese.
The World Health Organisation officially named obesity as a disease in 1997, stating that obesity was a complex, incompletely understood, serious, chronic disease. This is, therefore, recognition of the need for medical treatment.
A huge number of weight-loss methods are now available, each with their own claim to success. How do you choose which one is right for you? Before asking this question, and before even thinking about how much you may need to lose, I would suggest you make plans for your future. If you are going to make all that effort to lose weight, you don’t want to put it straight back on afterwards. If it’s time to lose weight, it’s time to think about a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and adequate daily physical activity. If you are already doing this, that’s great; otherwise, I would recommend you have a think about it before you start a diet. Get some help from a professional who is trained in nutrition.
A number of indices will tell you roughly how much you should weigh or how much you need to lose. All have their different issues and need to be interpreted by someone who understands them. The best way is to ask your doctor, as they will be able to tell you how much weight you should lose to be healthy.
When a decision is made about how to lose the weight, it depends on the amount you wish or need to lose and on your lifestyle. If it’s just a few pounds, or up to half a stone (3-4 kg), then a low-calorie diet associated with adequate physical exercise can get you there. A number of methods are available. Just make sure you choose a healthy option, as fad diets that claim to act quickly by limiting you to a single type of food or by eliminating whole food groups are not healthy options. Some diet plans still try to blame all our woes on fats, so they remove as much fat as possible, but then they add so much sugar that in the end you are no better off. If you are going for a low-calorie diet, make sure you get the right amount of the essential nutrients, all you really want to cut down on is fat and sugar.
When you need to lose more weight, you must think more carefully about the method you use. To get down to a healthy weight could mean a long period of dieting, and you’ll need to keep up the motivation. A low-calorie diet is only going to achieve a couple of kg (4-5 lbs) a month, a good number of people find they have to continue dieting for a year a more. In this case, it is worth taking professional advice to consider other options that will help lose the weight more quickly or with less stress.
There are medications that provoke weight loss or that decrease appetite, but these will not help you to learn to eat correctly. Furthermore, they must be associated with a low-calorie diet to achieve that weight loss. At present, clinical trials show a weight loss of around 7kg after a year.
Then there are the very low calorie diets (VLCDs). These are defined as diets of less than 800 kcal/day. Some people call these “crash diets” and claim that they provoke weight regain after the diet is completed, however, numerous clinical trials have now shown this to be false and this myth is now propagated only by groups intent on denying most of the relevant scientific evidence since the year 2000. Some of these diets have the advantage of being ketogenic diets (see below), which means that you are not hungry while you adhere to the strict protocol. Weight loss is fast, and methods such as PronoKal are associated with education programmes to teach you to eat a healthy diet adapted to your lifestyle when you finish the weight loss phase.
The ketogenic diet takes its name from ketosis, a metabolic state that develops when the body burns fat for energy. The body stores energy mainly in two forms: carbohydrate (sugars) and fat. Carbohydrate is a much more rapid source of energy; hence the body’s cells tend to use sugar most of the time, rather than fat. When our store of sugar runs low, we typically develop a feeling of hunger and eat something that contains sugar, replacing the stores. However, what happens when we don’t eat carbohydrate (sugars) is that the body is then obliged to use fat, and we enter a state of ketosis.
People go on diets low in carbohydrates in order to enter ketosis and burn fat. These diets are called ketogenic diets. There are many reasons people go on a ketogenic diet, one of which is to lose weight. Other reasons include combating certain pathological disorders or a reduction in the proportion of body fat (without necessarily losing weight). In sport, ketogenic diets are used for specific purposes, such as controlling body composition.
PronoKal was set up in Spain in 2004 to fill a void in the market, the provision of a medically controlled, rapid weight-loss system based on a very low calorie ketogenic diet. Up to that time, all widely available diets were low-calorie diets and patients were not regularly followed up by doctors. That all changed with PronoKal. The company introduced a very low calorie ketogenic diet prescribed by doctors who performed an initial health assessment with blood tests to ensure the safety of the method and then followed their patients up regularly.
The success of this system led to expansion of the company, now present in 20 countries, with over 600,000 patients treated and more than 6000 prescribing doctors.
PronoKal participates in research into weight loss and actively monitors the efficacy and safety of its different methods. The clinical trials performed by PronoKal have been published in high-quality peer-review medical journals . Furthermore, all design aspects of the PronoKal weight-loss methods are based on evidence published in scientific journals (from both in-house research and research performed by independent groups), meaning that the company can justify each step and action.
PronoKal opened in the UK in 2010, and after establishing its success with London-based doctors, is now undergoing a period of growth nationwide.