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Health & Fitness

When Excess Weight Kills Desire

Simple carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates include baked foods, soda and sugars. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Eric Amunga’s weight was fluctuating between 68 and 75 kilogrammes for most of his adult life. Actually, the most he had weighed was 78 kgs.

But then he picked up a habit of eating frequently, and having a lot of simple carbohydrates in his diet, even when he was not hungry and in no time, his weight ballooned to 117 kgs with body mass index (BMI) of 43, way above the recommended 29.

He started experiencing a lot of health-related issues like lethargy, man-boobs, constant backaches and his visit to the hospital further revealed that his blood sugar levels were rising as well as his blood pressure.

“I suffered depression and my sex life was also not good so I decided to take a step to cut weight and be healthy. I started the journey last year August by doing a lot of research through reading books and journals, consulting endocrinologists before I got the perfect strategy to lose weight,” says Eric.

He embarked on shedding off the bad habits in his life. He dispensed with eating simple carbohydrates, processed foods and changed his behaviour.

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Eric is now 72 kgs having lost 45 kgs in only eight months. He was 117 kgs in July last year but this dropped to 97 kgs by December, before shedding a further 20 kgs in the next four months.

He says he was losing between four and five kgs every month or one kilogramme every week, attributing the weight loss to the consistency and determination he put in the process.

“My strategy is called the trilogy of fat loss. It involves three things — modifying the diet by doing away with simple carbohydrates, processed foods; behaviour change towards food where one only eats while hungry, just two meals a day and with a lot of water whenever the cravings for food comes, and the third is exercising.”

Simple carbohydrates include baked foods, soda and sugars.

Exercising here involves doing functional workouts that focus on specific parts and major muscles of the body such as lifting, carrying, dropping and twisting.

“You have to target the major muscles that are responsible for the normal functions of a human being. Anaerobic exercises is what results in the burning of fats and therefore one should focus on high intensity interval trainings,” explains the reproductive health consultant.

From the successful journey, Eric is now a fat loss and men’s health specialist focusing on helping obese men lose excessive fat.

“When I lost weight, I attracted a lot of interest from people, especially from men. They asked what I did and so I realised men are struggling with issues of weight and then I saw it prudent to help them. For women they easily speak out but men hide and dealing with them is hard.

“I have also formed social media platforms talking about fat loss in men and issues to do with men’s health with one such forum scheduled for November 2 in Nairobi,” he explains.

The fat loss coach avers that one in every four men is obese and two in every five have expanded abdominal girth, making obesity an issue worth being looked at, adding that obesity is when an individual’s BMI is above 29.

“Even most of rugby players are obese inasmuch as they run and that is why you find some of them dying by collapsing. They have a lot of visceral fats. A scan of their muscles will reveal lots of fats covering the muscles.”

This can be caused by a trio of factors including diet, frequency of eating and leading a sedentary lifestyle as a result of accumulation of too much fat in the body when the food taken is not spent but stored. The food is stored in form of glycogen, or stored glucose, derived from simple carbohydrates — called simple because they immediately convert themselves to glucose without a struggle of the body unlike the complex ones which form long chains that require burning of fats to break down — such as sugar, soda, fruit juices, juices, ugali, wheat, rice; and processed foods.

Eric points out that there are a number of health risks associated with obesity in men brought about by the fats interfering the normal functioning of the body, testosterone — a critical hormone that defines a man — and the digestive system.

This makes one to be susceptible to a number of health complications like depression, lethargy, low self-esteem, and psychological trauma, man boobs — caused by having high oestrogen, the female hormone, more than testosterone; diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

In addition to being predisposed to erectile dysfunction where one cannot sustain an erection because of low testosterone, weak muscles, obese men have low sperm count affecting fertility; low quality of sperms with some lacking heads or tails or are immotile and cannot swim; premature ejaculation, and emotional instability manifested by being angry all the time.

“One is also at risk of contracting cancer especially colorectal cancer because of an impaired digestive system as a result of the excessive fats leading to colon and rectum — responsible for the reabsorption of salts, minerals and water — getting tired and with time they undergo metaplastic changes becoming cancerous,” he warns.

And how can all these be prevented?

The expert explains that one just needs to avoid junk foods that do not add any nutritional value to the body, reduce frequency of eating by only eating when hungry and avoid sedentary lifestyle by being active.

“There is a fallacy that fatness runs in the family, it doesn’t. The genes only puts you closer to being fat. What makes a family become fat is their behaviour. What the father or the mother is eating is what the child will eat and definitely the child will be fat.”

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