Losing Weight


Lots of people want to lose weight, but it can be a tough task. Many understand how to lose weight, but lack the willpower to do it, especially in today's society where fast food is all around us. There are many fad diet plans around which promise quick results, but for long-term, sustained weight loss, you need to change your lifestyle.

Essentially, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in from food and drink.

The national guidelines say you need a reduction in your daily calorie intake of approximately 600 calories for sustainable weight loss. This could mean weight loss of 0.5kg each week, which is easier to keep up for good, rather than some extreme 'quick-fix' diet that is hard to adhere to.

Why you should lose weight

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing health problems, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Quite simply, losing weight and being fit helps protect against illnesses and increases your life expectancy.

Not only can being overweight have a serious impact on your health, it may also affect your self-esteem and stop you from doing certain activities.

Why and how to diet

Diet is arguably the main factor behind weight gain or weight loss. Even if you do not exercise much, you can maintain a healthy weight simply by following a healthy diet. Our diet section contains more information and diet plans.

A balanced, healthy diet contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and little in the way of sugar and processed food. This will ensure you receive a good amount of the right vitamins and nutrients, and not too many unhealthy products.

Portion size is highly important. Even if you eat healthy food, if you eat too much you will not lose weight. This requires proper attention, but one simple way to limit how much you eat could include using smaller plates than normal for your meals.

The best strategy is to make small changes you can maintain, rather than a complete overhaul of your lifestyle straightaway. This can be something as simple as replacing an unhealthy snack with a piece of fruit.

You don't need to starve yourself, or cut things out completely. Instead, make simple adjustments and allow yourself a treat now and then, rewarding yourself for your healthy eating.

Exercise and training programmes

However, diet isn't everything, and to lose weight you will need to exercise regularly. If you are quite fit already, you could consider HIIT, because your body should be able to cope with how strenuous it is, and it is seen as a highly effective way to burn fat.

On the other hand, if you are overweight or obese, and rarely exercise, continuous cardio training may be an effective choice. It can be gradual and quite low-intensity to begin with, as you get into exercising more, and over time you can increase the intensity or even switch to other forms of cardio. Our fitness training section contains a range of training types you could choose to follow.

Exercise doesn't need to involve proper kit and sport. Just walking several miles a week will help you get fit, and you can even do quick bursts of exercise during things such as advert breaks if you are watching television.

A study by Harvard School of Public Health in 2014 found weight training to be more effective than aerobic exercise for controlling stomach fat. However, a combination of the two gave the most optimal results, their study stated.

Measuring weight loss and BMI

There are a number of different ways that you can measure your weight loss, such as measuring your BMI, waist size or body fat percentage.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, and is used by the medical profession to determine a person's weight relative to their height. It is a quick and simple calculation, and is used to find out if someone is either: underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.

However, BMI should not be considered as a definitive ranking of your health. Muscle weighs more than fat, so some people who have a lot of muscle (such as athletes) may find themselves classed as overweight or even obese, when in fact they are perfectly healthy. Critics also say that it fails to take age into consideration.

Measuring your waist is seen as an effective indicator of your health, and is simple to do. Measure around your waist (below your ribs and above your hips) after breathing out.

The NHS says that too much fat around your middle can mean a higher risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Men with a waist size of more than 37 inches and women with a waist size of more than 31.5 inches are said to be at a higher risk of health problems.

Measuring your body fat percentage is also a good indicator of your health, because when you lose weight you want to end up with a lower body fat percentage, and this measurement can be used to judge your progress.

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