Basics of Weight Loss
Our food provides the vital energy we need for daily life. But to stay a healthy weight, the amount of energy (calories) we eat must be balanced by the amount we use up in daily metabolism and physical activity.
The 'energy in' must equal 'energy out' equation to maintain our weight. If we eat more calories than we burn up, we'll store the excess as fat.
How can I lose weight?
If you need to lose weight, the only way is by creating an energy
deficit so you body has to burn your fat stores for the energy it
To lose 1lb a week you need to create a calorie deficit of between 500 - 600 calories a day (3,500 calories/week) - the most effective way to do this is by cutting down on the calories you eat, whilst at the same time using up more calories by moving your body more.
The other point to highlight is that it is the overall week that counts in achieving this calorie deficit. The reason why the food diary system is so effective. It not only helps you monitor your food intake daily, but it gives you the weekly picture too (see the 'Week View'). If you do go over your calorie intake on one day, you have the chance to 'pull it back' by adjusting your calorie intake and exercise level for the rest of the week.
Losing weight isn't about shedding pounds as quickly as possible. It's about sticking to a sensible diet that gives you the energy and nutrients you need - and treating yourself sometimes too! It's also about finding ways you can incorporate more physical activity into your daily life.
The Nutracheck online weight loss system does not recommend a daily target of less than 1,400 calories per day. While anything over 1,000 calories per day is still is deemed acceptable, Dr Ian Campbell, medical adviser to Nutracheck, believes that a lower level than 1,400 makes the diet unnecessarily restrictive - and the key to success is sustaining a diet. A lower calorie target may result in a quicker weight drop initially, but the question is how long can you sustain it for? It is better to go for a safe steady loss of 1 - 2lbs per week. After all, the weight did not pile on overnight - conversely we should not expect to magically lose it overnight either!
Faddy diets that cut out foods unnecessarily, or don't keep away the hunger pangs or exclude foods you enjoy, are a recipe for disaster. Instead you have to change your lifestyle and think long term: a weight loss of a pound a week may not seem much but it adds up to around a stone in three months.
According to the Food Standards Agency having a healthy balanced diet means you should:
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, at least 5 portions of a variety every day.
- Base your meals on starchy foods, such as potatoes, brown rice and wholemeal bread.
- Have just moderate amounts of meat, fish and other good sources of protein.
- Have some dairy foods such as cheese, milk and yoghurt - choose lower fat options whenever you can.
- Watch how much salt you're eating - the most anyone over the age of 11 should be having is 6g a day (or 2.5g sodium).
- Watch out for high fat or high sugar snacks and drinks, and don't have them too often.