Your Weight Loss Guide
One of the most searched terms in the health and fitness industry!
Due to weight loss being one of the most popular terms in the fitness world understandably there is a substantial amount of content around the subject. Key topics including weight loss tips, the best diets or recipes as well as the best exercises for weight loss. However not all the content you read around the subject is helpful or even safe. Weight loss is unique to each individual and there is no one rule that suits all. Found on this page are the fundamental points associated with weight loss to help you implement this highly popular goal to your current lifestyle.
Why Do We Decide To Lose Weight?
To be able to understand weight loss first we need to understand why we might want to lose weight in the first place.
Many people look to lose weight if they feel they’re carrying excess bodyweight. Excess bodyweight to one individual could be different to another, therefore it can become quite subjective. I would also like to note that everyone can find their desired weight from different methods, for example a number written on the bathroom scales or how they perceive themselves in the mirror.
Someone could want to lose weight for medical reasons, increasingly in the UK people are finding themselves overweight or obese. By definition the terms are described as overweight or very overweight (obese) with a lot of body fat. Reducing your weight in these circumstances can really help reduce the risk of numerous life-threatening conditions including; type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
How can we tell if we need to lose weight?
One of the simplest and widely used methods for checking if you’re a healthy weight is through body mass index (BMI). This is a measurement of how healthy your weight is for your height, age and gender.
Without being too technical, the different substances that make up your body all weigh differently. Muscle for example is much denser than fat, so very muscular people, such as heavyweight boxers, weight trainers and athletes, may be a healthy weight even though their BMI is classed as obese. For most people, BMI is a useful indication of whether they're a healthy weight.
To help measure if your overweight or need to lose weight is waist size. This can be an additional measure alongside BMI to help confirm if you should lose weight if your BMI result is above 25. Measuring your waist size for men and getting 94cm or above can indicate an increased risk of developing obesity related health problems, likewise 80cm for women.
As previously mentioned an individual could be seen as a healthy weight on the BMI calculator but feel they still want to lose a little bit more weight, everyone is different.
9 Weight Loss Myths
1) I Must Exercise All The Time To Lose Weight
This is not true. Yes it could be the case that some individuals need to increase how physically active they are, however the general guidelines for an average adult is 150 minutes of Physical Activity each week. This equates to only 2.5 hours a week. This includes activities you may not of thought of such as faster walking, dancing, taking the stairs even cleaning the house. Some individuals who may need to lose more weight may possibly need to do more than this to lose weight but it is a starting point.
2) Carbohydrates Are Evil
It is thought that eating carbohydrates generally or more specifically when losing weight is bad. People are more likely to put on weight if they eat carbs. On the other hand, as with any food eaten in the right quantities as part of a well balanced diet carbs on their own won’t lead to someone putting on weight. There are other things you can do to put your mind at ease when it comes to carbohydrates including eating more whole grain or wholemeal carbs such as brown rice, wholemeal bread etc. Try not to fry the foods instead seek other cooking methods.
3) Skipping Meals Are A Good Way To Lose Weight
To lose weight and more importantly keeping the weight off you need to reduce the amount of calories you consume in combination with increasing the amount of calories you burn. Simply skipping a meal does reduce calories you consume however it is not a good idea. This is because a significant lack of calories results in tiredness and lack of energy, you may also miss out on vital nutrients needed in the body. People tend to look to snack higher fat and sugar foods instead, which could lead to weigh gain.
4) All Slimming Pills Are Safe For Weight Loss
There are many advertised supplements or pills for ‘effective weight loss strategies’. However, most of these tablets aren’t always safe to use. They are usually unlicensed, un-prescribed products that can contain hidden ingredients which can be harmful to an individuals health. When considering any medicine for weight loss you should always consult a specialist i.e your local GP or a registered dietician.
5) Drinking Water Helps You Lose Weight
As with most weight loss strategies this isn’t a simple black or white answer. In that sense the answer is no. You do not directly lose weight from drinking water but it does keep you hydrated which is an essential part of staying healthy and well. People Often mistake hunger for being thirsty therefore when you’re thirsty and needing a drink sometimes you snack more.
6) Starving Yourself Is The Best Way To Lose Weight
Crash diets are diets that usually consist of very low calorie intake (starving yourself) in an attempt to lose weight fast. They are short term and intense plans which usually results in any weight loss gained bouncing back after the diet is finished. They sometimes even result in longer term weight gain which just contradicts the original goal. The diet is too hard to maintain and having this little calories means you’re likely missing out on essential nutrients and suffering from an unbalanced diet. Being low on energy tempts to body to crave high fat high sugar foods to boost it’s energy supply.
7) Some Foods Speed Up Your Metabolism
Green tea, black coffee, spices or energy drinks are some of the foods and drinks claiming to speed up your bodies metabolism. Although some studies (Hursel R, Viechtbauer W and Westerterp-Plantenga MS. 2009) found some evidence to suggest this might be the case, the evidence is not substantial or they aren’t effective long term solutions.
8) Cutting Out All Snacks Can Help You Lose Weight
Everyone can get peckish or wants to eat smaller foods during the day to keep them ticking along. This isn’t a problem on it’s own and it’s usually down to the type of snack you’re eating. Making simple healthier choices such as fruit or vegetables instead of higher fat and sugar options such as chocolate or crips.
9) Healthier Foods Are More Expensive
Sometimes it’s easy to believe that healthier foods are more expensive than their unhealthier counterparts. I can’t blame you when a chocolate bar is only 85p in the supermarket compared to a fruit pack being £2.00. However when it comes to larger meals for example you evening meal, replacing ingredients for healthier alternatives could work out costing less. Let's take a look at meat, choosing a cheaper alternative and adding in more vegetables could go further and cost less.
Fat diet is a term used to describe a plan where you usually eat a very restrictive diet with few foods or an unusual combination of foods for a short period of time. Fad diets are usually identified by their claims as seen below;
Promise a magic solution in this case, losing weight fast.
Promote a severe limitation of food groups for example carbs.
Promoting the consumption of one type of food.
Market a secret formula that may have only just been discovered.
Examples of common fad diets include; Low carb, Detox diet, Cabbage Diet, Keto Diet and Intermittent fasting.
Most fad diets do see weight loss results however most of them see weight gain soon afterwards. This is due to the hard to sustain nature of the diet for longer periods of time. People typically get fed up of the diets and return to old eating habits.
Most fad diets tend to have very little science to support their claims as well as promoting unhealthy eating practices which can make you ill. Many fad diets make it hard to function properly due to the restricted calories or lack of certain food groups making them an unbalanced diet, this can lead to poor health. Excluding foods can be dangerous as it prevents you from important vitamins or minerals the body needs to work properly.
Instead diets for weight loss should be built on the principles of making healthier food choices, checking portion sizes, being realistic about weight loss and achieving a balanced diet as well as getting active.
How Do We Lose Weight Safely And Effectively?
Hopefully by now you’re starting to get an idea about some concepts associated with weight loss. So how do lose weight effectively? As previously mentioned everyones weight loss journey is individual to themselves. However, the fundamental two pillars that build an effective weight loss strategy are calories in combined with calories out.
Calories In (Consumed)
Beginning with calories consumed, nearly everything we eat and drink contains calories or fuel (energy) than can be broken down and used by the body. Being aware of what we are eating and how many calories are entering the body is the first step in achieving an effective healthy weight loss strategy.
Calories Out (burnt)
Your metabolism is a chemical process that occurs within the body continuously. It is the process of everything your body does for example breathing, repairing cells or digesting food. All of these processes require energy, the total amount of energy required for all these processes in a day is also known as daily basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Everyones BMR is unique to themselves based on their body size, gender or even genes. Different cells require more energy to maintain for example muscle needs more energy than fat therefore people with a higher muscle mass tend to have higher metabolisms. As we age and our muscle tends to be lost and more fat is gained which explains why our metabolisms slow down with age.
It is believed that your BMR equates to 80% of your daily energy requirements and that the remaining 20% is through extra activities in your lifestyle such as exercise. Combining both of these give you the total amount of energy required by the body, also known as total daily energy expenditure.
The Energy Scales
In an ideal world the energy scales should be balanced, meaning that you want the total daily energy expenditure to equal the total energy consumed in this case calories. See below for example.
Total Energy Expenditure:
Total Calories Consumed:
However our target here is to lose weight therefore the scales need to tilt towards burning more energy than we are consuming, this is also known as being in a calorie deficit as. A safe weight loss range to work within is losing around 0.5 to 1kg a week. This equates to roughly consuming 500 calories a day fewer than your normal total daily energy expenditure. It is important to note this is not an exact number and less than 500 calories fewer can still work at a slower rate. Remember everyone is different. See below for example.
Total Energy Expenditure:
Total Calories Consumed:
Key Weight Loss Tips
Slow and Steady Wins The Race
It’s important to remember that where we have seen attempts to lose weight quickly i.e fad diets and skipping meals, has usually seen weight gain in the long term completely undoing the hard work you’re trying to achieve. Taking smaller steps to gradually lose weight is highly more likely to be successful because you can maintain it for longer giving you lasting results. Making smaller less dramatic changes to your lifestyle will encourage adherence and consistency increasing the likelihood of sustaining it long term. Making small alterations can include gradual change in food choices or exercise preferences.
Increase the amount of exercise you do
Not only is consuming healthier well balanced foods an important part of your weight loss journey, regular physical activity is too. It will aid in burning extra calories to help you achieve your calorie deficit but it also improves general health and well-being. It is important for those individuals who are more inactive or inexperienced with exercise start gradually in order to reduce the risk of injury, projects such as couch to 5k is a great way to increase levels of exercise.
Keep A Diary
Many people don’t tend to realise how much they eat therefore writing down a list of everything you’ve eaten and find out how many calories you’ve consumed can really help you realise if you’re consuming too much or too little. Keeping track can really boost your weight loss results.
Set yourself Goals or Targets
Creating a plan not only helps you understand the journey you want to take but also breaks down the end outcome into smaller more processable chunks. This can be taking your weight loss goal and choosing small milestones to reach along the way. You can set yourself a deadline to reach your goal by for example wanting to lose 5kg in two months ready for summer. Another option is to incorporate weekly challenges where you might make a lifestyle change for that week. All these things give you something to aim towards, whilst you take small progressive steps towards your goal it increases your motivation and determination to reach your end weight loss target. It also gives you a taste of success when you read these self set targets. Who doesn’t like succeeding?
Starting Your Weight Loss Journey!
After a lot of reading it’s not surprising if it’s a slight information overload. However, I hope you’ve found the information surrounding weight loss valuable and can easily apply some of this information to your own weight loss journey. To conclude here are some final pointers to recap and help you get on your way to fabulous results.
Work out if you need to lose weight and how much you need to lose.
Try to learn how to count calories on your plan.
Set yourself good targets to reach and improve adherence and motivation.
Don’t be afraid to find extra guidance and support if you need it.
Remember an effective weight loss plan features;
A safe and sustainable approach to weight loss.
Tailored to your own personal weight loss journey.
Learn to make healthier food choices.
Maintains a well balanced diet.
Incorporates physical activity.
Learns skills to prevent weight gain.
Need extra help?
Trying to understand, adhere and sustain to a weight loss plan can be hard to do on your own, especially whilst trying to balance this with family, work and leisure time. This is why a great way to help with your weight loss journey is by seeking help from a personal trainer. A personal trainer is someone who already knows what to do and has had great experience in helping other people achieve weight loss success. They can help support, motivate, guide and educate you through your weight loss journey.