(Article by Hannah Groves with Rebecca Ireland)
A common question asked by clients to Personal Trainers is how can I lose weight? Whilst this is a popular question there is a lot of variables involved in losing weight safely and effectively. We asked Personal Trainer and Study Active Assessor Rebecca Ireland how she would approach the question of ‘how can I lose weight’ and what advice she would give.
IMPORTANT: The ideas in this article are purely for information only – please do not start an exercise programme until you have completed a PAR-Q and, if necessary, received medical clearance. Always warm up and cool down and never do any exercise that you are unsure of without the support of a qualified professional.
What is the most effective way to lose weight?
To put it simple the most effective way to lose weight is reduce what you eat and move your body more. Although, if it was that easy why are “Around two-thirds of the English population aged 16 or over are overweight or obese?” (NHS, 2023)
Firstly, you need to get your nutrition right and secondly combine this with exercise. You could spend hours exercising in the gym but if you are still eating more than you should be then you are not going to lose weight. You may have heard the saying “You can’t out train a bad diet!” This is 100% true. To lose weight effectively you need to be in a calorie deficit and exercise at least 3 times per week minimum.
What are your tips on how to lose weight?
My biggest tip on losing weight is doing it gradually and be patient you are not going to lose weight overnight. Firstly, get your calories right. A man should be consuming 2500 calories per day and a women should be consuming 2000 calories per day just to be able to function. When we think about calories, we don’t often realise that our body uses calories all day every day. We burn calories when we are sat still and even when we are asleep because our body uses energy otherwise known as calories to work and function properly day in day out. To be in a calorie deficit you need to do this safely and effectively. This should be done by being mindful of what you eat and making healthy choices. Making small changes to begin with like changing refined carbohydrates such as white bread, wraps, rice, pasta, potatoes to complex carbohydrates such as whole meal bread/wraps, pasta, and sweet potatoes etc… The benefits of eating complex carbs over refined carbs is that they are easier to digest, they provide fibre which is good for our digestive system, and they keep you fuller for longer, preventing us from overeating or snacking unnecessarily. Another important nurition tip to lose weight is to keep process foods to a minimum or if possible, completely eliminate them from your diet. These are things like crips, cakes, ice cream, chocolate, sugar drinks, take aways etc… By swapping these for more complex carbohydrates and fresh cooked meals containing lots of nutritious vegetables will be a big game changer when it comes to losing weight. Try to swap unhealthy snacks for things like fruit, and vegetables, and make sure you’re eating because you’re hungry and not bored. I you’re that hungry you’ll eat the apple if you’re bored you won’t.
A useful tool when losing weight is to follow the NHS Eatwell plate. It’s a tool designed to help people make healthier choices. It helps you understand how much, and of what sort of things you should be eating. It also helps to ensure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet.
The 1 thing is would advise from my own experience is not to restrict certain foods too. For example, I would try to avoid having any unhealthy foods like crips, chocolate, biscuits etc… in the house, if possible, as you won’t be able to eat them if they are not accessible in the cupboards but remember it’s ok to have a treat every so often. For example, a little bit of chocolate maybe on a Friday night is ok, but in moderation, so when you go food shopping get a small bar rather than a huge bar. If you eliminate certain foods you enjoy, you will “fall of the wagon” at some point, so remember in moderation is key.
These small changes should become a lifestyle change and not because you are on a diet.
My biggest tips for burning calories, and in terms of exercise is to find something you enjoy, again make this a lifestyle change and a hobby not a choir. The government recommended guidelines says an adult should aim to:
- do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. Moderate intensity could be going for a long walk or cycle ride, a dance class. Vigorous intensity could be things like a spin class, boxing, or high intensity classes, etc…
- do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) on at least 2 days a week. This can be in the gym lifting weights, or again in a class or other outdoor activities that help strengthen our muscles.
- reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity. If you work is sedentary sat at a desk all day, get up and move from time to time, take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to work instead of drive, on your lunch break get up and move.
It’s important to find time to do activities, I always dismissed the thought of getting up and hour earlier to go to the gym before work. Now I get up early and exercise 5-6times per week and I feel better for it. I’m more focused during the day, I don’t have a chance to talk myself out of it and let’s face it the last thing you will want to do once you’ve step through the front door and sat down after a hard day is to go back out again to exercise. If you can’t exercise before work, do it straight after work before you get home and relax for the evening.
In my opinion people who want to exercise will find time to exercises, and again you need to be patient. You will not lose a stone just because you’ve exercised for a week and eaten healthily for a week. Be consistent with both your nutrition and exercise will give you result. It takes about 4 weeks for your spouse to notice any visible changes, 8weeks before your family will notice any visible changes and about 12weeks before the rest of the world to see any changes.
What would you suggest on how to lose body fat?
Losing body fat can be a challenging process, and different things work for different people. You have to find what works for you, but if you're looking to shed those extra pounds, here are a few things to consider.
First and foremost, I believe a well-balanced diet plays a crucial role in losing body fat. You want to focus on consuming whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Avoiding sugary drinks and snacks can also make a significant difference. Additionally, portion control is key; try using smaller plates or measuring your food to avoid overeating.
Regular exercise is another pivotal aspect of losing body fat. Incorporate a mix of cardiovascular exercises, such as running, cycling, or swimming, along with strength training to build lean muscle. Exercise not only burns calories but also boosts your metabolism, making it easier to shed unwanted fat. Additionally, exercise will make you feel better both mentally and physically.
In addition to diet and exercise, it's important to stay hydrated and get enough sleep. Drinking plenty of water helps to curb cravings and flush out toxins, while proper rest promotes optimal hormonal function and regulates appetite.
Finally, it's crucial to set realistic goals and maintain a positive mindset throughout your journey. Losing body fat takes time and consistency, so be patient with yourself! Celebrate small victories and seek support from friends or online communities to stay motivated.
Remember, losing body fat is a gradual process that requires a lifestyle change. By making healthier choices, you'll be on your way to achieving your weight loss goals and living a healthier, happier life.
Can you provide tips on how to exercise to lose weight?
Firstly, choose activities you enjoy as it increases your chances of sticking with it and an exercise routine that suits your level of fitness. Whether it's cardio, strength training, or a combination of both, consistency is key.
Ultimately, a varied exercise programme works in the same way as a varied diet does, if you keep things interesting you will see results.
Cardio based exercise such as longer slower running, and interval training have both had their place in my weight loss journey. Group exercise classes are also another great form of cardio that I would recommend as they provide motivation and where they are already programmed for you, it may take out some guess work. However, just like food too much of something is bad and this is true in exercise for weight loss too. This is because your body adapts quickly to the type of exercise and plateaus, meaning your results will start to slow down.
Resistance training (weights) has also been an outstanding benefit for my weight loss. As your body continues to burn calories for 72 hours after you have finished. Meaning it not only burns calories but also changes your body shape.
Personally, I believe that a combination of both cardio and resistance training is the best way to help you lose body fat, as it will increase your overall health and fitness, as well as changing your body shape.
What would you suggest to someone who is asking how to lose weight fast?
Honestly, losing weight gradually and slowly is better both physically and mentally. I completely understand the desire to lose weight as fast as possible but, you need to ask yourself “How long do you want to keep the weight off?” Slow and steady wins the race! If you lose weight in small amounts consistently (1-2 LBS per week) you greatly increase the chance of being able to maintain the desired weight, once you have achieved it. If you lose it too quickly, it is harder to sustain, which could result in you putting it all back on, if not more. You need to let your mind adapt to the lifestyle changes you are making as well as your body. It’s not a sprint it’s a marathon! Sustainability and consistency are key when it comes to both diet and exercise. Although don’t be afraid to include sprints into your exercise routine to lose the weight…. But only if you want to and enjoy them, like me! 😊
Summary - top tips to lose weight:
Thank you, Rebecca for taking the time to talk to us about this common question regarding ways to lose weight. It has been insightful to receive Rebecca’s views and gain her expert advice on losing weight by incorporating nutrition with exercise. The take away here is consistency is key – a lifestyle of moderation!