How do I lose weight?

There are so many diets out there that it’s both confusing and overwhelming. Many of them have benefits but can be difficult to stick to or aren’t sustainable for most people long term. I try to keep it simple, at least when starting out, and look at calories in vs calories out. If you eat more calories than your body needs, you’ll gain weight, so to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit.

For example, the average female needs around 2000 calories per day. You need to create a 3500-calorie deficit per week, in order to lose about 1lb. So, if you reduce your calories and increase the amount of exercise your doing, you should see weight loss. Like I said, this is a very simple view and there are many variables here – not everyone is “the average female” – your personal metabolic rate and make up (body fat vs muscle) is a factor, and your activity levels, but 1500 calories is a good baseline (I would avoid going much lower than this and sending your body into starvation mode).

Where do I start?
I tell all my clients that your plan should start with a food diary. And I mean an honest food diary. Use an app like myfitnesspal to log everything you eat. Even if you feel awful or guilty writing it down. The truth is, we do a lot of mindless eating – we don’t even realise what we’re putting into our bodies. By writing down everything, it forces you to take a more mindful approach to eating (plus we become accountable to our food diary!). A lot of the time you’ll have that “ah ha” moment when you realise just how many calories you’re eating in a day and you’ll be surprised just how many calories some foods have in them. You might see that, with a few simple changes, you’ll be able to reduce the number of calories you’re eating.
Once you’ve kept a food diary for a week, decide on a few simple changes you’ll make over the coming weeks. Don’t try to change too many things at once, as you won’t stick to it (be realistic). Some good starting off steps are “I will not eat after 8pm in the evening” or “I will stop having a glass of wine each evening, and only have it on a Saturday”.

You’ll also need to reduce the number of calories you’re consuming – and you can do some of that using your small changes – for example, how many calories are you eating after 8pm or how many glasses of wine are you having? This may be enough to create some of that that calorie deficit.

Increase the amount of exercise you’re doing to help burn more calories – cardiovascular training (running, HITT training, spinning) will burn a lot of calories from a session. Strength training will build muscle, and the more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn just to sustain that muscle (meaning your can allow yourself a little bit more food without it effecting your weight loss = definitely do strength training!). Try a little bit of both to keep it varied. If this type of training sounds a bit scary, start small – getting out for a good power walk 3-4 times per week is perfectly OK, as long as you’re challenging your body.

Once you know what you need to do, start meal planning and scheduling your workouts. You need to know what you’re making, do the shopping and have it prepared so you know exactly what you should be eating (I know this is easier than it sounds!). You should have your exercise sessions in the diary and book ahead or book a block of classes so that you’ll be more obliged to go – pay as you go is good but making a financial commitment to regular exercise is better.

What about different diets like paleo, keto, intermittent fasting – what are these?
The paleo diet is based on what we used to eat when we were cavemen. It removes dairy, wheat and anything processed from your diet, meaning you eat mostly meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts. This is not typically a “diet” for weightloss but rather a change to the way we eat. Weightloss may be a positive side effect when you change your diet until your body gets used to eating in this way.

The keto diet is low carb, high fat. It means you don’t consume more than 20g of carbohydrates per day. You remove bread, pasta, potatoes and all sugar from your diet, and mostly eat some dairy, meat, fish, vegetables and some fruits. You eat plenty of meat – and all the fat – you like. There’s not usually calorie counting on this diet – weight loss is achieved as your body switches from using carbohydrates for fuel, to burning fat for fuel. This diet does achieve weight loss – without a doubt – but it’s not for the faint hearted and requires, in my opinion, a lot of discipline and hard work/preparation and can be difficult to continue long term.

Intermittent fasting comes in various forms, but it’s based on the fact that once upon a time, human beings were used to going long periods without food and as such, the body can function fine with a small eating window (perhaps 8 hours per day of eating – so fasting from 8pm at night, to mid-day for example). This helps give the body time to do a detox type clean up, as its not having to focus on processing food. Again, this can lead to weight loss, but the bottom line is that by reducing the number of hours you eat, you’re reducing the number of calories consumed, so ultimately, it’s almost the same as the calories in vs calories out approach (lower calories also help give your body time for that same clean up). If you fast for too long it can lead to binge eating, so you’ll need a perfectly timed prepared meal at the ready for when it gets to mid-day. Personally, the approach has worked well for me for weight loss, but certainly not my mood – I completely turn into a hangry diva when fasting.

Low GI/GL diet. This one is my favourite. It’s very similar to the Keto diet in terms of reducing sugar but personally I think it’s just a little bit more realistic (brown rice, pasta, wholemeal and sourdough bread are OK). This diet is science based. High GI foods (carbohydrates like white bread, cakes etc) take no time to digest and are immediately released into your bloodstream as a big hit of energy. Your body then releases the hormone insulin to help remove some of this glucose from your bloodstream, either delivering it to the cells for energy or storing it. Basically, if you’re not using this type of energy immediately, it stores as fat. Over time your body may also become insulin resistant, causing type 2 diabetes. Low GI foods take time for your body to digest, releasing energy slowly so you have time to use it, without the need for an insulin release, and without you needing to store away any of this energy as fat.

Different diet styles suit different people, and what works for some wont for others. The important thing is to choose something that’s simple enough for you to actually stick to!

Do you need help to achieve your goals?
Still not sure where or how to start? Send me an email at I can discuss your needs with you and help you set realistic goals, create a personalised plan and support you in reaching your goals.

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