Being very overweight promotes cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and heart failure / Tips for healthy weight loss.
Being very overweight promotes the development of heart disease at a young age. The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) points this out in its guideline on coronary heart disease from 2019. Conversely, this means that weight loss relieves the heart and can alleviate cardiovascular diseases. “Any weight loss, even if it is only a few kilos, effectively prevents heart disease and just as effectively improves high blood pressure and coronary heart disease,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. med. Hans Hauner from the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation. How long-term weight loss works and which methods are suitable for heart patients describes the Institute for Nutritional Medicine head at Klinikum Rechts der Isar in Munich.
When Being Overweight Is Harmful
The body mass index (BMI) is used to assess whether the body weight is still in the normal range or already too high. To calculate the BMI, the weight is divided by the height squared (see formula below). A BMI of 18.5 to 24 is considered normal. From a BMI of 25, a person is deemed to be overweight. From a BMI of 30, one speaks of severe overweight or obesity. With an increasing BMI, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and thus of cardiac insufficiency increases more and more. Excess fat on the stomach has proven to be particularly harmful. The waist circumference should therefore be less than 80 centimeters for women and less than 94 for men.
BMI = body weight in kg / height in m2
Being Overweight Puts A Lot Of Stress On The Heart
Too much weight stresses the heart in several ways: On the one hand, the organ has to do up to 50 percent more to supply the more extensive body mass with blood and oxygen. On the other hand, being overweight increases the risk of developing high blood pressure or diabetes. Increased blood lipid levels (high cholesterol) are also more common in overweight patients. “All of these factors promote the development of coronary artery disease, the underlying disease of myocardial infarction,” says Hauner. The metabolism expert warns that high blood pressure and greater body mass could contribute to heart muscle developing faster and earlier heart failure.
Setting small goals Especially for people who are very overweight and have been physically inactive for a long time, it is essential to set small goals: “Even five percent less weight has a positive effect on the metabolism and increases mobility. Exercise is essential to support weight loss wherever possible,” emphasizes Hauner. That could be a lot of everyday movement, but also a unique program with z. B. 15 minutes of exercise or gymnastics every day or swimming twice a week. It is also essential to check your body weight regularly, e.g., B. once a week.
Lose Weight By Reducing Calories
When choosing the weight-loss method, the most important thing is to limit your calorie intake while maintaining a balanced, heart-healthy diet. In general, a calorie intake of 1,200 to 1,500 kilocalories (kcal) per day is recommended. “Whether you reduce fats (low fat) or carbohydrates (low carb) is less important for the success of your weight loss,” says Susanne Schmidt-Tesch, an ecotrophology at the Institute for Nutritional Medicine in Munich. However, it is more challenging to achieve the recommended amount of fiber of 30 grams per day with a low-carbohydrate diet. The German Heart Foundation follows the recommendations of the ESC and advises heart patients to the following dietary rules:
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables,
- At least 200 grams of both a day
- 30 to 45 grams of fiber daily, preferably from whole grain products
- Fish once or twice a week • Limited amounts of lean meat, reduced-fat cheese, and dairy products
- Low animal fats and fast food dishes, use high-quality vegetable oils sparingly instead.
- Less than 5 to 6 grams of salt a day
- Drink little or no alcohol (a maximum of a tiny glass of beer or wine a day)
- No sugar-sweetened drinks
- Eat smaller portions for weight loss and avoid eating in between, so keep regular meals if possible, e.g., B. three a day.
Traditional Mediterranean cuisine, in particular, is recommended for heart patients as it contains a lot of vegetables, fish, herbs, and olive oil. A vegetarian diet and intermittent fasting can also help you lose weight if the above factors are observed. On the other hand, Crash diets are not advisable as they often lead to the dreaded yo-yo effect. “Before starting a reduced diet, and especially before intermittent fasting, you should always consult the treating cardiologist to avoid risks,” advises Hauner. A food diary can be helpful: write down every day which foods and how much of them are consumed