Weight Loss/Control Glossary of Terms
A Little Help With Some Difficult terms
Aerobic Exercise. Any activity involving large muscles, done
for an extended period of time. Aerobic exercise can be done
for weight loss, but it also provides cardiovascular
benefits. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking,
biking, jogging, swimming, aerobic classes and cross-country
Aloe. Herbal product derived from the aloe plant, it is
often added to herbal weight loss products. However, it has
not been shown to effectively promote permanent weight loss.
Different parts of the aloe plant may be used. Aloe gel may
lower blood glucose and keep other medications from being
properly absorbed. Aloe leaf lining has more side effects,
including nausea, diarrhea, lowering of serum potassium and
laxative effects that could be dangerous to individuals not
in good health.
Appetite Suppressants. Medications that act upon the brain,
"tricking" it into believing that it is not hungry or that
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. A body composition test
that works by sending a small electrical signal through the
body, enabling the amount of fat, muscle and other lean
tissue to be measured.
Body Composition Test. A test used to determine the current
percentage of body fat a person has.
Body Mass Index (BMI). A popular method used to gauge
whether or not a person is overweight. BMI is calculated by
dividing a person's weight (in kilograms) by his or her
height (in meters, squared).
Calorie. A unit of measure for the amount of energy released
when the body breaks down food.
Carbohydrate. Any of a large group of sugars, starches,
cellulose and gums that the body uses by converting into
glucose, a simple sugar, for fuel.
Cascara. A common ingredient used in weight loss products.
One of the few herbs approved by the FDA as an
over-the-counter drug. It is a strong stimulant laxative.
Catecholamine. A chemical in the brain that affects mood and
Chitosan (KITE-o-san). A dietary supplement made from
chitin, a starch found in the skeleton of shrimp, crab and
other shellfish. It has not been shown to contribute to
permanent weight loss.
Cholesterol. A type of fat that circulates in your blood. It
comes from two sources. the body makes its own regardless of
what is eaten and from foods containing animal products.
Dietician or Dietitian. A person who specializes in the
study of nutrition.
Diuretic. A drug that promotes the formation of urine by the
Diuresis. Water loss
Duodenum. The beginning portion of the small intestine.
Ephedrine (Ma-Huang). A common ingredient in herbal dietary
supplements used for weight loss. Ephedrine can slightly
suppress your appetite, but no studies have shown it to be
effective in weight loss. Ephedrine is the main active
ingredient of ephedra. Ephedra is also known as Ma Huang,
not ephedrine. High doses of ephedra can cause very fast
heartbeat, high blood pressure, irregular heart beats,
stroke, vomiting, psychoses and even death.
Extensive Gastric Bypass. A gastric bypass operation in
which portions of the stomach are removed. The small pouch
that remains is connected directly to the final segment of
the small intestine, thus completely bypassing both the
duodenum and jejunum.
Fat. Organic compounds that are made up of carbon, hydrogen,
and oxygen, it is the body's most concentrated source of
energy. Like protein and carbohydrates, fat is a principal
and essential component of the diet.
Fat Absorption Inhibitor. Medications that work by
preventing the body from breaking down and absorbing fat
eaten with meals.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Government agency whose
mission is "to promote and protect the public health by
helping safe and effective products reach the market in a
timely way, and monitoring products for continued safety
after they are in use."
Food Triggers. A situation or emotion that causes a person
to eat such as stress or depression.
Gastric Banding. A surgical procedure in which a band made
of special material is placed around the stomach near its
upper end, creating a small pouch and a narrow passage into
the larger remainder of the stomach.
Gastric Bypass. A type of operation that combines the
creation of a small stomach pouch to restrict food intake
and the construction of bypasses of the duodenum and other
segments of the small intestine to cause malabsorption
(decreased absorption of nutrients).
Glucomannan. Made from the root of Amorphophallus Konjac, an
herbal supplement that is said to contribute to weight loss
by delaying the absorption of glucose from the intestines.
Guarana. A nervous system stimulant derived from the seeds
of a Brazilian plant of the same name, it is often found in
herbal supplements that promote weight loss.
Guar Gum. Also known as guar, guar flour, and jaguar gum, it
is a dietary fiber obtained from the Indian cluster bean.
Used extensively as a thickening agent for foods and
pharmaceuticals, it is commonly sold as an herbal supplement
to promote weight loss.
High Protein Diet. Diets that recommend receiving up to 30%
of calories (or more) from protein as opposed to the
recommended 10%-15% from protein. These diets also recommend
low carbohydrate consumption and are often high in total
Hydrostatic Body Fat Testing. A body composition test
performed by submerging the person in water and then
measuring his or her underwater weight.
Jejunum. The middle section of the small intestine.
Ketone. Waste products in the body that are a result of fat
Ketosis. An abnormality of the body's metabolic process,
resulting in an increase of ketones in the blood, which can
increase the risk of developing kidney stones. Ketosis is
prevented by eating at least 100 grams of carbohydrates a
Ma-Huang. See ephedrine.
Meridia. See Sibutermine
Metabolism. The amount of energy (calories) your body burns
to maintain itself. Metabolism is the process in which
nutrients are acquired, transported, used and disposed of by
Monounsaturated fat. A type of fat found in large amounts in
foods from plants, including olive, peanut and canola oil.
Mortality. The rate of death.
Obesity. An excess proportion of total body fat. The most
common measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI).
Orlistat. A commonly prescribed fat absorption medication,
it is sold under the brand name Xenical.
Phen-fen. A weight loss drug made up of fenfluramine and
phentermine. Its use has been linked to heart valve problems
and has been banned by the FDA.
Phenylpropanolamine (PPA). Once a common weight loss
ingredient in appetite suppressants, recent studies have
linked PPA to an increased risk of stroke. The FDA warns
consumers to avoid use of products containing PPA.
Polyunsaturated Fat. A type of fat that is found in large
amounts in foods from plants, including safflower, sunflower
and corn oil.
Protein. An organic compound that is the "building block" of
the human body. Protein builds and maintains muscle tissue.
Pyruvate. Formed in the body during digestion of
carbohydrates and protein, some studies indicate that it may
help with weight loss. Although it appears to be safe,
claims of boosting metabolism, decreasing appetite and
aiding in weight loss require further study.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). The level of essential
nutrients required to adequately meet the known nutrient
needs of practically all healthy persons, according to the
Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of
Restriction Operation. The type of surgery most often used
for producing weight loss. Food intake is restricted by
creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach where the
food enters from the esophagus. Examples of restriction
operations include. gastric banding and vertical banded
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RGB). The most common gastric
bypass procedure. First, a small stomach pouch is created by
stapling or by vertical banding. This causes restriction in
food intake. Next, a Y-shaped section of the small intestine
is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the
duodenum as well as the first portion of the jejunum.
Saturated Fat. A type of fat most often found in animal food
products including milk, eggs, meat and butter. Saturated
fat is also found in vegetable products such as coconut and
palm oil. Studies show that too much saturated fat in a
person's diet increases heart disease risk.
St. John's Wort. An herb that is primarily used as an
antidepressant due to its effects on serotonin. There is
limited research indicating its use for weight loss.
Serotonin. A neurotransmitter found in the brain that
affects mood and appetite.
Sibutramine. A common prescription appetite suppressant, it
is sold under the brand name Meridia.
Vertical-Banded Gastroplasty. The most frequently used
restrictive operation for weight control. During it, both a
band and staples are used to create a small stomach pouch.
Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD). A short-term weight loss diet,
VLCDs are commercially prepared formulas of 800 calories or
less that replace all usual food intake. Not all VLCD need
be formulas; they could just be low calorie meal plans.
These diets (in fact most diets less than 1000 calories) are
low in essential nutrients and require vitamin/mineral
Xenical. See Orlistat
Yerba Mate. Also known as Paraguay tea, this strong central
nervous system stimulant is often sold as a dietary
supplement. It has not been proven to cause weight loss.
Weight Cycling. The repeated loss and regain of body weight.
When weight cycling is the result of dieting, it is often
called "yo-yo" dieting.
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About The Author
Michael Lewis has been collecting articles and information
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