Your body weight is determined by the amount of energy obtained from your food compared to the amount of energy that your body is using. Any extra energy (calories) you take in from food and drink is mostly stored as fat. To lose weight, the energy you take in from food must be less than the energy you use, in other words, ‘eat less and exercise more’.
Physical activity increases the amount of energy you are using, it increases your muscles (lean tissue mass) and helps to increase your metabolic rate and maintain weight loss. Physical activity also reduces the risk of weight loss reaching a plateau level, which is often seen when people are trying to lose weight.
To ensure that physical activity can become part of your routine, make sure you choose activities that you enjoy and that you can easily include in your daily lifestyles, such as using the stairs instead of taking lifts or escalators. Also, try to walk or cycle short journeys – for example do the school run on foot instead of taking the car, go for a walk during your lunch break or go for walks or bike rides at weekends with friends or family.
To help lose excess weight you need to reduce the calories you eat. This can be achieved by reducing portion sizes and choosing different types of food. For example, eating less of high-calorie foods or filling up on vegetables and salads will achieve calorific reduction and therefore weight loss.
Below are a few ideas to get you started:
- Eat wholegrain foods, such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta. They’re digested more slowly than the white varieties, so will help you feel full for longer
- Aim for 5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day; at least one serving with every meal.
- Replace snacks such as chocolate, biscuits and crisps with healthy alternatives like dried fruit and nuts
- Think of how you are preparing food and instead of frying or roasting food, boil, poach, grill, steam or microwave it and removes excess fat from meat before cooking.
- Often we think we are hungry when really we are thirsty, so try having a glass of water, before something to eat,
- Replace fizzy drinks with water or cordial
Further reading is available at www.nutrition.org.uk