How to lose weight
Your body mass index (BMI) is a useful indicator to determine if you are a healthy weight or if you may need to lose weight.
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 indicates a healthy weight
A BMI below 18.5 indicates weight is too low
A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is defined as overweight and indicates that health could begin to suffer
A BMI over 30 indicates a weight high enough to put health at risk. This risk increases as BMI increases.
Understanding energy balance is the key to maintaining a healthy weight and losing weight successfully. Energy balance is the balance between the energy you take in (food) and the energy you use up (physical activity). Weight maintenance is all about energy balance. If you eat more calories than you use up with physical activity you will gain weight. If you use up more calories through physical activity than you take in by eating you will lose weight. If your weight stays the same and does not go up or down, then you are in energy balance.
So how can this help me to lose weight?
Many people who try to lose weight become disappointed because they cut down on the food they are eating, but still do not lose weight. This happens because they have not reduced their calories enough to reach energy balance.
The following example shows what might happen to three different people following a diet.
Ester, Sue and Carole all want to lose weight. They all need to eat 2000 calories a day to keep their weight stable. At the moment they are all eating 3000 calories each day and gaining weight. What happens when they cut down?
Ester reduces her food by 500 calories a day and now eats 2500 calories a day – She is still gaining weight.
Sue reduces her food intake by 1000 calories a day and now eats 2000 calories a day – She stops gaining weight but is not losing weight.
Carole reduces her food by 1500 calories a day and now eats 1500 calories a day – She is losing weight.
All three ladies reduced their food intake but only one lost weight. This is because only Carole was using up more energy than she was taking in.
So where does physical activity come in?
Physical activity can help to use up more calories and can help you to lose weight. But be aware that if you treat yourself with a snack or high calorie drink after exercise you can easily take in more calories than you have used up.