A report issued by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in February 2013 reveals some worrying statistics about weight gain in the UK. In 2011/12 only 34% of men and 39% of women had a normal body mass index, and even more alarmingly, the numbers of people who are admitted to hospital because of obesity has tripled in the last five years - last year around 3,000 men and over 8,000 women needed treatment due to their weight.
Losing weight is a challenging process with many obstacles to overcome and a great deal of confusing and sometimes contradictory information. In actual fact the key to weight loss is very simple: eat fewer calories than you burn and your weight will go down. The difficulties arise in knowing exactly how to go about achieving this apparently simple aim and, crucially, in making sure you don’t put the weight back on again in the future. Here is an introduction to some of the basic principles of safe weight loss.
There are thousands of different kinds of diets, all of them promising that their way is the best. Basically, you need to make sure that you consume fewer calories (energy), but don’t miss out on the vitamins or minerals that your body always needs. For women, a diet which provides between 1,000 and 1,200 calories a day is recommended, and for men those figures are 1,200 to 1,600.
Be careful of what are known as very low calorie diets (VLCDs) such as the Grapefruit or Hollywood Diet. These tend to involve eating the same types of low calorie foods and only provide around 800 calories a day. With a diet like this, the chances are that you will lose weight fast, but you won’t be getting enough energy and the diet will be very hard to maintain. Many people give up after a while and end up going back to their previous unhealthy lifestyle, and naturally they put the weight back on.
At the same time as you cut the amount of calories you consume, you also need to make sure that you get plenty of exercise. It is the right balance of diet and exercise that will ensure that you lose weight safely, and become a fitter, leaner person in the long term. An hour’s worth of a cardiovascular activity each day should be enough for most people to see the benefits. Find something you enjoy; if the exercise you’re doing is making you miserable you will be unlikely to stick at it. Running is an excellent means of losing weight, but be careful not to do too much too soon, as it can put a strain on your joints, particularly the knees. Swimming is a good alternative as it tones your arms and legs without putting them under any undue pressure. Other forms of exercise worth trying out are cycling, hiking and even kayaking.
With both the diet and the exercise, it is important to go at a steady pace. Sudden, dramatic weight loss or too much exercise all at once will put your body under a lot of pressure, and in the long run you will be less likely to keep your weight down. The actual figures vary for each person of course, but a general rule of thumb for safe weight loss is as follows:
Eating around 1,200 calories and exercising for about an hour each day, should result in the steady loss of around two pounds per week.
If you are unsure about anything concerning diets and exercise, check with your doctor first. As long as you don’t expect miracles, and you adopt a sensible approach, there is every chance you will be able to attain your desired weight.
Guest Post By: Wildmoor Spa & Health Club