Weight loss is something that many of us are striving for pretty much all the time and for any number of reasons, whether that’s for health, for looking better, or simply because you just want to fit into that nice pair of jeans you’ve got but, mysteriously, appear to have shrunk…
1. How does weight loss work?
Quite simply, you lose weight when you burn more calories through exertion than you consume over a prolonged period of time. Consistency is the key when it comes to weight loss. If you’re in a calorie deficit (i.e. you’ve consumed fewer calories than you’ve burned) on day one, but then over-eat or don’t exercise enough on day two, then all your hard work is instantly undone. Therefore, you need to be in a calorie deficit over an extended period of time in order to achieve your weight loss goals. The faster you want to lose weight, the bigger your calorie deficit needs to be, so you need to eat less and move more.
2. Why is weight loss important?
There are any number of reasons why weight loss is so vital. Not only can it be good for us physically, reducing our chances of suffering from health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even some cancers. Meanwhile, losing weight is a fantastic way for those who already suffer from some of these conditions to help manage them, thanks to a reduction in blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and blood pressure too. Additionally, weight loss has even been proven to be good for our mental health and our self-image. This raises our self-esteem and makes us feel happier and more confident in ourselves. Lastly, being a healthy weight also leads to sleeping better, feeling more energetic and an improved immune system as well.
3. Where does weight loss show first?
Where we lose fat first is different for everyone, and is often determined by our genetics. We’ve all heard our parents say “as soon as I get fat it goes straight to my stomach” and, unfortunately, this will generally be where their children also accumulate fat. There is no specific place that any one person will lose fat from first; some people lose from their midsection, others will from their lower body and some will lose from their faces. Generally speaking, the first place you lose fat, will be from the last place you gained it.
4. Why is weight loss so hard?
Weight loss tends to be hard when you make a lot of changes in a very short amount of time. One of the key points to remember about weight loss is that it requires consistency. If you aren’t consistent with your efforts, you won’t see a change. More often than not, when people go on a ‘diet’ they don’t do the research into the best diets for their habits, lifestyle, age etc. There are multiple factors which impact weight loss, and they all need to be considered. Trying a one-size-fits-all diet of eliminating food groups, over exercising and under eating can result in a person becoming malnourished. This type of dieting is not a sustainable way to live, and at some point the abstainer will stop, regain bad eating habits and regain the weight.
The easiest way to be consistent with weight loss is to make small, easy to incorporate changes which don’t feel like a challenge. You could start by swapping fizzy drinks for flavoured water, then your banana for some berries. The next week you could swap the lift for the stairs, or get off public transport one stop early to increase your steps. By making these small changes gradually and regularly, it increases the chance that they will eventually turn into a habit. Once your healthy living choices become a part of your routine, it won’t feel like you are changing everything at one go, and weight loss won’t feel so hard.
5. Why is weight loss so slow?
The speed at which you lose weight is dependent on the magnitude of your calorie deficit. If you are only consuming 200 calories less than you are expending each day, the rate at which you lose weight will be slow. It also depends on the weight that you start at. Those who are obese or overweight will lose weight quicker than those who have less to lose. Your environment also plays a role. Those who spend the majority of their days sedentary, such as in office jobs, as opposed to people who have active jobs, such as in manual labour, will naturally be less active throughout the day and need to actively incorporate exercise into their routine.
If your weight loss is slow, try making small changes by swapping out refined carbs and upping your vegetables and proteins for one meal a day, or adding in a short walk during your lunch break. These small changes to decrease calorie intake and increase calorie expenditure will increase your calorie deficit further – without you even really noticing.
6. Can rapid weight loss cause side effects?
One of the most common side-effects you may have heard of is “hanger”. As much as it pains us to admit, the hanger is definitely real when it comes to weight loss. It’s important to eat meals which are full of slow release carbohydrates and fibre to keep you fuller for longer and to avoid an empty stomach from affecting your mood. Rapid weight loss can also result in some side effects such as headaches, fatigue and irritability. These are the result of an increased time spent in a severe calorie deficit, which can amplify symptoms associated with dehydration, malnutrition and muscle loss. It is recommended to lose weight gradually and consistently, as rapid weight loss can also lead to rapid weight gain once you stop ‘dieting’.
7. Is a weight loss plateau real?
Yes, sometimes our bodies do get used to certain diets and/or exercise regimes, and plateaus can occur. A weight loss plateau can happen when your body gets used to your current energy deficit. Your body reduces the number of calories it burns to the same number of calories you take in each day. This means maintaining the same reduced calorie diet is no longer effective for weight loss. A plateau can also occur when someone doesn’t stick to what they should be doing either knowingly or unknowingly. Some may unknowingly misreport how much food they are consuming, or how much energy they are expending. Others may knowingly have a cheat meal, or day, that counteracts the calorie deficit they achieved. In either case, the calorie deficit is no longer sufficient to cause weight loss.
8. What is the best exercise for weight loss?
Any exercise that pushes your body is great for weight loss. However, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is recommended for torching some serious fat. Research has shown that interval training results in greater fat loss than steady state cardio, so skip the hours on the treadmill and go all out for 30 minutes. HIIT increases our calorie burn, fat oxidation, insulin sensitivity and resting metabolic rate, all of which will help you to reach your weight loss goals. If you have to spend some time on cardio machines, try doing sprint intervals on the treadmill, or doing a variety of exercises in a circuit; work, rest, repeat. That being said, there is no real “bad” type of exercise when you’re trying to lose weight, and any type of exercise is better than no exercise. Find something you enjoy doing, stick to it and you will see results.
9. How to lose weight without exercise?
It is possible to lose weight without exercise, but you need to have some self-discipline. Without adding exercise into your routine, in order to lose weight you will need to decrease the number of calories you consume per day. Try reducing your portion sizes on each meal, or reduce/ cut out your snacking in-between. You can also make healthy swaps by changing to lower calorie foods, such as swapping out a sandwich for a salad, or a packet of crisps for some popcorn. It is advised to follow a healthy diet with a healthy lifestyle, so even small workouts – which don’t feel like workouts – can aid weight loss. If you’re not a fan of exercising, try adding more LISS (low intensity steady state) into your daily routine. A brisk walk around the block will help to encourage weight loss when teamed with a calorie deficit.
10. Are weight loss supplements healthy?
This very much depends on which supplements you are looking at. There are a variety of weight loss products, some of which are healthy and some of which are not, so all I can say is that you need to do your research. It is important to look at exactly what is in the product, which credible brands will list on the product itself/ online, and do some research into results or other user experiences so you can make an educated decision. You can also look to find a supplements company who are commended for using natural ingredients that are scientifically backed. Once again, think about making small changes to begin with. To up your protein intake, try incorporating a protein shake after a workout. If you dislike the taste of coffee but would like to increase your caffeine intake, try taking a green tea supplement.