To maintain a stable weight, your energy intake needs to equal the energy you use. If you use more energy than you consume, you will lose weight. On the other hand, if you eat more than you use, you will gain weight. The sensible answer to losing excess body fat is to make small healthy changes to your eating and exercise habits. These changes should be things that you can maintain as part of your lifestyle – that way you will lose weight and keep it off.
Download our e-book today for some great information on “Eating For Exercise compiled by Sonja, our club dietitian.
Skipping meals is a no no – In fact, if you skip meals, you may find you eat more when you do eat and this may lead to a larger stomach capacity. Studies show that stomach capacity can increase if large individual meals are eaten. This can then increase the amount of food you need at each individual meal before you feel ‘full’. So if you are trying to lose weight this This is a reason not to starve yourself if you’re trying to lose weight as ultimately you will increase the amount of calories that you are able to consume at any one time therefore increasing your ability to gain weight.
‘Yoyo’ diets will slow your metabolism – Many people who need to lose weight try crash dieting, which is a short-term solution that will increase your body fat levels in the long term. Continual cycles of dieting, weight loss and weight gain are called ‘yoyo’ dieting. Yoyo dieting does not help you to maintain a healthy body weight.Your body responds to these periods of semi-starvation by lowering it’s metabolic rate.
When you lose weight, you lose fat and muscle. Muscle burns calories at a rate 2 and a half times more than fat & fat barely burns any calories at all. So, when you then stop dieting and eat normally again, your body will burn even fewer calories than before because the relative amount of muscle in your body has decreased and your metabolic rate is slower.
This kind of eating pattern can also affect your general health – just one cycle of weight loss and weight gain can contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, regardless of body fat levels. That’s why it’s important to maintain the weight loss and a healthy approach to your continued success is the only way to go.
Think about when and why you overeat. Some of the factors that can lead to weight gain include:
- Night eating
- Social eating
- Habitual eating
- Eating food while drinking alcohol.
- Hangover eating (i.e too much to drink the night before)
If you can avoid eating at these times, and keep to regular meals and snacks, it will help you to lose weight.You could also try to eat less food at each meal and increase the number of high fiber, high carbohydrate, low saturated fat meals and snacks throughout the day. If you aim to include 2 fruit and 5 serves of veg in every meal, this will help you stay on track and is a very healthy way to approach you daily eating.
Try to find healthy ways to cope with stress or emotional upsets. A healthier approach to food and exercise is needed and exercise is a great stress reliever. You can also lose body fat by making a few easy changes to your eating habits.
- Avoid yoyo diets.
- Eat a wide variety of food from all food groups. Check that you eat from the following food groups every day – bread and cereals, vegetables, fruit, milk and dairy, and meat, fish or legumes.
- Have six small, frequent meals and snacks rather than three large meals a day.
- Reduce your intake of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Make soft drinks, lollies and snack foods an occasional ‘extra’.
- Try to balance an ‘extra’ food with extra exercise. The more energy you burn, the more treats you can afford to have. Remember, you should only add extra foods after you have covered your nutrient needs with choices from the healthier food groups.
- Cut down on saturated dietary fats and alcohol.
- Try to eat more fresh foods and less processed foods.
- Avoid using food for comfort, such as when you are upset, angry or stressed. Explore other healthy ways to cope with these feelings.
- Try to stop eating once you’ve had enough. If you continue to eat, particularly foods high in saturated fat, the extra kilojoules will be stored as fat.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating includes information about how much and what types of food you need to eat to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise is important to weight loss – Exercise prevents muscle loss and increases muscle maintenance and the right training programs will increase muscle mass. So it is important to exercise when you are losing weight as you want to lose body fat and not muscle mass. Exercise will protect your muscles and keep your metabolic rate ticking over at a healthy level assuming you are consuming enough calories to make this happen.
Australia has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. This is because Australians have become more sedentary and for most of us, exercise is not a natural part of our lifestyles and this is why it’s important to form a routine and structure exercise into your dailiy schedule.
Do you need more energy on a day to day basis? Then get moving… Some people feel too busy or too tired to exercise regularly, but exercise will actually increase your energy levels and help you to feel less tired. Exercise does not have to be overly strenuous to do any good. Even moderate amounts of physical activity can speed up the metabolic rate and aid weight loss.
The amount of energy you ‘burn up’ depends on your age, your gender, weight, hight and the intensity level you exercise at. Young people burn more energy than older people for many reasons, they can exercise harder with the ability of higher heart rates and they carry more muscle mass, meaning body composition has alot to do with calories burned. Men burn more energy than women as they naturally carry more muscle and are generally bigger. More physically active people burn more energy than your average couch potato as they carry more muscle and as we now know muscle burns 2 and a half times more energy than fat during rest.
A healthier approach to exercise – The best approach to increasing the level of physical activity in your life is to take it slowly. You can increase your activity levels by simply increasing movement throughout the day ie take the stairs or go for a walk in your lunch hour. The human body is designed for movement and any physical activity brings benefits. Moderate intensity exercise – walking, cycling, even mowing the lawn – has been shown to help reduce body fat. Just start moving a little more every day and be considered about it. Try;
- Playing a sport.
- Walk instead of taking the car on short trips.
- Get off the train, bus or tram one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
- Play more outdoor games with your children.
- Walk the dog.
- Take stairs instead of lifts.
- Choose exercise activities that you think are fun, rather than those you think are ‘good’ for you.
Type of help available – I f you have been a chronic crash dieter for a number of years, you might want to see a professional such as Sonja, our club dietitian to help reintroduce you to a helathy way of eating. If you are overweight, over 40 years of age or haven’t exercised regularly for a long time, check with your doctor before you start any exercise program. For inspiration on healthier cooked check out some of our recipes.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating www.health.gov.au
- Accredited practicing dietitian (APD) www.daa.asn.au
Remember any type of regular physical activity, no matter how moderate, can help you to lose body fat.