The weight equation is, in most cases, a simple one; energy in versus energy out. If you consume more energy (in calories from food and drinks) than you use (via exercise and daily bodily functions), then you will gain weight.*
Weight gain can also occur in middle age due to menopause and associated reduced metabolic rate.
For many people, weight gain occurs because of small changes that accumulate over time, for example, an extra glass of wine, second helpings, increasing portion sizes or clearing your kids’ plates at dinner. These things can become habits and can be hard to break.
To lose weight, it comes back to that simple equation, with the focus being on expending more energy than you take in. There are many steps you can take to achieve weight loss:
Remove or reduce unhealthy calorie-dense foods
- For example takeaways, alcohol, confectionary and fried foods. These are of course fine to have on occasion and can provide much enjoyment. When eaten regularly however they can contribute to weight gain and provide few beneficial nutrients.
Reduce portion sizes of some foods
- Many of us eat bigger portions than we need to, and this is especially true for meat and carbohydrate foods like pasta and rice. It’s helpful to know that the Strictly You meals are perfectly portioned to help you reach your goals.
- Most vegetables (with the exception of starchy ones such as potato, sweet potato and corn) are low in calories but also high in fibre. Increasing your vegetable intake can help you lose weight, as they’ll help to fill you up without adding excessive calories to your day. Extra vegetables are never a bad thing, so larger serves of salad, and snacks of veggie sticks are a good thing to try.
Include protein and healthy fats
- Protein keeps you full for longer, and you may be less likely to need extra snacks in your day by including protein in each meal. It is also important to help build and maintain muscle mass. - Fat is the macronutrient that takes the longest to empty from your stomach, so including it in meals can also prolong feelings of fullness. Foods with healthy fats include nuts and seeds, avocado, fish and plant-oils.
Increase your water intake
- It’s true that thirst can sometimes be mistaken as hunger. Ensure you’re well hydrated by drinking 1.5 – 2.5L of water per day (how much you need depends on your body size). Choosing water as your main drink is essential for weight loss efforts as it is also calorie-free.
- Regular exercise of some sort is very important when trying to lose weight. Not only does it burn calories (thus increasing your ‘energy out’), but it can help to build muscle mass. As muscle is more metabolically active than other body tissues, having more of it means your body burns more energy when at rest.
Think about your mindset
- Do you engage in any self-sabotaging behaviours? It might be helpful to dig deep and think about why you’re doing things that aren’t helpful to achieving your goals. As always, be kind to yourself. When you feel better about who you are, you want to look after your body.
*Note - there are some exceptions to this such as specific medical conditions and medication side effects. Consult your GP if you think this applies to you.
Prepared by Kara Vogt – Accredited Practicing Dietitian