You may remember my saying from a previous article on strength training my phrase “there are no shortcuts to excellence”. The same principle applies to weight loss. There are lots of fad diets out there making promises to help you lose weight but at the end of the day, losing weight is not easy, it takes effort, discipline and a resolve to succeed – there are no short cuts.
Theoretically it’s easy to lose weight – essentially use more energy than you eat and you will enter a calorie deficit and lose weight. So you either exercise more to use more energy or eat less or do both. As expected, exercising more and eating less is the most effective approach and the numbers back it up. Research recently published in the European Journal of Sports Science found that, over 3 months, an exercise only weight-loss strategy resulted in an average weight loss of 1.5 ± 2.9 kg whereas an exercise plus nutritional intervention resulted in an average weight loss of 3.4 ± 3.6 kg.
Another factor to consider is trying to lose too much weight too soon. Aim to lose no more than 0.5 kg per week. Anymore and you’re in danger of entering a phase of ‘lock down survival mode’ as you metabolism slows and your body tries to conserve energy for an anticipated food shortage.
And in your battle to lose weight please remember carbohydrates are your friend! Often people decide they are going to cut out carbohydrates in their quest to lose weight. But this approach can have a negative effect on your weight loss goals because you actually some need carbohydrate to exercise at a reasonable intensity for a prolonged period (you may get away with it for a 2 week ‘crash and burn’ program). Remember to lose weight we’re after an energy deficit not a carbohydrate deficit.
If you’re unsure about your diet I highly recommend taking the time to complete a 3-day food diary. There are plenty of phone apps out there to help you record your intake.
By Dr Laurence Houghton (PhD Sports Science)