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Questions and answers on weight loss

When will I start losing weight?

Each person is different. If you have reduced your calories by about 500 calories a day by reducing food that provide empty calories and exercise and are consistent with that every day you will theoretically lose about a pound a week. However, your gender, metabolism, weight, age, fitness level, health, medication, and genes can be involved in weight loss. focus on what you can control not what you can’t. Track your progress. Focus on the results you are getting e.g sleeping better, more energy, walking faster, breathing better.

I’ve stopped losing weight, how can I continue?

It's normal for weight loss to slow or plateau as the body adapts to new food and lifestyle changes. This could mean it’s time to review your food and lifestyle with the following checks: how are you feeling? Success is not all about measuring your weight, are your old habits creeping back? Check your portions sizes by writing a food diary. Try something new –step up your activity and try something new combine strengthening and endurance activity, increase the time or the number of days gradually, keep motivated by seeking support, reward yourself with non-food rewards, stay positive and avoid eating for emotional reasons as much as possible. Writing a food and mood diary can help you to reflect without judgement to make small sustainable changes to manage any emotional eating. Finally seek the support of a state registered professional e. g Dietitian/ counsellor /Psychologist.

What is my realistic weight loss?

We are used to seeing people celebrate big weight losses in slimming groups. But these aren’t sustainable over a period. These losses are mainly down to large fluid changes in the body. Someone may lose 7lbs one week and another person the week after. It gives the impression that we can lose this much weight each week.

What have we learnt so far? It takes a reduction of 1500kcals a day to lose 3lbs a week and this is hard work. It’s better to aim for 1-2lb loss each week. This is the equivalent of 4-8 stone loss over the course of a year.

Understanding weight loss can be helpful in taking the ‘blame’ out of slight weight increases (<7lbs)

Why is it that I feel hungry as I lose weight?

When we cut carbs, body uses glycogen stores from muscle and liver –4g water lost for 1g glycogen. Then body adapts and starts to use energy from fat cells and weight loss is 1-2lb per week- leptin decreases and ghrelin increases with age, lack of sleep, fat cell loss so we are less satisfied.

Which part of my body do I start to see a difference first as I lose weight?

Visceral fat first, stored within abdomen and around organs e. g liver pancreas and intestine is lost first. Subcutaneous fat, stored under skin helps with insulation, cushions, and serves as a reserve source of energy for the body and is much harder to lose. This is what skin fold Callipers measure to estimate your total body fat.

Why does my weight fluctuate daily?

Daily fluctuations are normal-average 5/6lb per day-all comes down to what you eat, drink and even sleep​. So, it’s best to weight weekly.

Eating a healthy diet with number of calories your body uses daily may reduce your chances of significant weight fluctuations​

Some research- weight highest on Sunday and lowest on Friday –maybe most accurate weekly measurement on a Wednesday​

Lowest after you wake and empty bladder and bowel –same time same place similar clothing. We will discuss other ways later ​

Foods’s high in carbs and salt can cause body to retain fluids – cut back on sugary drinks and processed foods.​

Foods’s high in fat take longer to process and expel through waste​

Exercise can encourage weight loss- if you burn more calories than you eat/drink-if you recently switched up your routine to strengthening/resistance training, you may begin to build muscle mass –can burn extra 10-15 calories per pound of muscle per day. Muscle denser than fat and takes up less space ​

Medications can cause body to retain water, increase appetite and change your metabolism-E. G insulin, thiazolidinedione’s, beta -adrenergic blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and lithium –see your doctor​

Menstrual cycle-maybe higher first day of your period, this should go back to average within a few days of your cycle beginning ​

Alcohol-processed differently and can slow digestion which can lead to water retention​

Illness –underactive thyroid, Cushing syndrome and PCOS can lead to unexpected weight gain whilst Diabetes and Crohn's associated with unexpected weight loss- if you are experiencing unusual symptoms see your doctor ​

If more than 6lb gain or loss over a short period of time -see your doctor or dietitian ​

I have been exercising for months and I’m gaining weight –why?

Look to your diet as some people compensate for exercise by eating more thinking that exercise gives them permission to eat what they want. You may also be resting more after exercise. Keeping a food and activity diary my help, you stay on track.

Does muscle weigh more than fat?

Not true a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle, but the good news is one takes up less space. Muscle is dense and helps to support your body. So, it is possible for a slim person to weigh the same as another person of similar height and frame due to the difference in composition.

Regular resistant training as well as regular meals can help prevent muscle loss. This can burn more calories

Why do I gain weight when I stop smoking?

Giving up smoking is good for your health firstly. The nicotine in cigarettes can curb appetite so when you give up smoking you tend to feel hungry and eat more. Also, when you stop smoking your metabolism will decrease. This means you will burn calories from food more slowly. Remember if you have the will power to give up smoking so will you have the will power to manage your appetite with healthy eating and reduce food containing empty calories e. g crisps, sweets, fizzy drinks. 5 simple thigs you can do:

1. Have filling healthy food within regular balanced meals,

2. Portion control your meals, make fruit, vegetables biggest portion of your meal and reduce fatty and sugary foods to minimum,

3. Manage stress and boredom

4. Increase activity – walking is the cheapest fun feel good way and drink water as best choice

5. Recognise satisfaction cues to avoid second helpings.

How do I manage to maintain weight once I have achieved my goal?

Keep up activity

Add 200 k calories per day and chart your weekly weight to see if it’s stopped decreasing and achieving maintenance

Keep up healthy balanced meals and snacks, keep up regular meals, keep up fruit and vegetables as a large part of meals, keep up hydration, keep up managing stress and boredom and keep up sleeping well.

Drinking water helps lose weight?

Drinking water keeps you hydrated and helps you snack less. Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Water is essential for good health and well -being.

Are sugar substitutes safe, and how much of them can I consume each day?

The government has deemed all artificial sweeteners on the market safe for normal consumption. If you are trying to reduce your sweet craving sweeteners may not be the answer. It may help to initially swap ordinary high sugar product with one that has a sweetener but in the long term it’s best to reduce your sugar cravings by having foods that are naturally sweet such a fruit within a healthy balanced diet. See the truth about sweeteners on the.

Can I take supplements/pills to help speed my weight loss?

Any over the counter appetite suppressants or weight loss medications are Not recommended. It is more sustainable and healthier if you adopt a healthy food and lifestyle habit and learn to control your appetite. Eating a balanced healthy diet aims to provide you with all the nutrients you need. It is a good idea to speak to your doctor or Dietitian first if you think you need multivitamin supplements

Does taking honey help with my weight loss?

All added sugars such as table sugar, honey and syrups should only make up 5% of your energy from food and drink each day. That’s about 30g 7 tsp worth for all aged 11 and over. Honey is high in sugar and contains calories 1 tbsp =64calories. Honey like sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash resulting in increased hunger and potential long-term weight gain.

What can I do to raise my metabolism?

Here are some factors that affect BMR and metabolism:

  1. Muscle mass. The amount of muscle tissue on your body. Muscle requires more energy to function than fat

  2. Age. As you get older, your metabolic rate generally slows. This is because of a loss of muscle tissue and changes to hormonal and neurological processes.

  3. Body size. Those with bigger bodies have a larger BMR basal metabolic rate because they have larger organs and fluid volume to maintain.

  4. Gender. Men generally have faster metabolisms than women

  5. Genetics. Some families have faster BMR than others with some genetic disorders also affecting metabolism.

  6. Physical activity. Exercise increases muscle mass and powers up your metabolic engines burning kilojoules at a faster rate, even when at rest.

  7. Hormonal factors. Hormonal imbalances such as hypo & hyperthyroidism can affect your metabolism.

  8. Environmental factors. Environmental changes such as increased heat or cold forces the body to work harder to maintain its normal temperature and increases BMR.

  9. Drugs. Caffeine and nicotine can increase your BMR whilst medications such as antidepressants and steroids increase weight gain regardless of what you eat.

  10. Diet. Food changes your metabolism. What and how you eat has a big influence on your BMR. Having regular meals is also important to maintain your energy levels

There are so many diets that are offered out there which one suits me the best?

Losing weight cannot be accomplished overnight, it’s a gradual process of making permanent food and lifestyle changes that suits you and you are happy to make. Thinking of it as a DIET will make you believe it’s a temporary change of restrictions to help you achieve your target weight as quickly as possible. This will add pressure and may feel overwhelmed by the unrealistic changes you are making with the DIET. It’s more beneficial for you to think of it as a new way to live a healthy life.

It’s better to make permanent small realistic healthy food and lifestyle changes to achieve slow sustainable weight loss than to lose weight fast and regain weight -yo yo Dieting

Why is it so difficult for some people to lose weight?

For some people with limited mobility, on medication that impacts on metabolism and appetite and who have low energy requirements, not putting on weight and just feeling better eating healthy is a more realistic target than losing weight.

Why is sleep important for weight loss?

We can choose to change our drinking, eating, activity and sex but breathing oxygen and sleep is a necessity.

Short sleep has been independently associated with weight gain (Patel and Hu 2008). Sleep restricted by 2 hours increases snacking by 25% (Nedeltcheva et al 2009)

lack of sleep causes Leptin levels to decrease and Ghrelin to increase increasing our appetite and insulin resistance (Spiegel et al 2004 and 2005). We may choose less healthy food when we have more time to eat

Why is it important to have regular meals?

Regular healthy meals regulate: your appetite, your blood glucose levels keeping range between 4-7 mmol/l, boosts your metabolism and helps you avoid weight gain by minimizing binge eating, cravings and muscle loss.

I initially lose a large amount of weight but then it slows down why?

When calories from food are reduced-First few weeks’ rapid drop in weight is normal-body gets energy from glycogen stores in muscle and liver. Glycogen hold onto water 4g of water=1glycogen used

Once the body uses up glycogen stores it starts to burn fat. Fat does not store water1g fat releases x2 amount of energy than 1 g of glycogen resulting is slow weight loss 1-2lb per week. If it’s faster than this, it means lean muscle mass is being broken down for energy

As body fat stores are reduced so does the hormone produced by fat cells Leptin reduce. Low levels of leptin in your body can increase your appetite.

Losing weight can lower your metabolism with a smaller body carries lean muscle mass and burns fewer calories to move around

Lower calories mean it takes less calories to digest and absorb your food

By 2-6 months a weight loss plateau is likely to occur

A state of energy equilibrium could result with weight remaining steady for some time

How can Drinking water help with weight loss?

Here are some points for you to remember:

  • · Stops you craving for salty and sweet food

  • · Helps you recognize the difference between hunger and thirst

  • · Increases your metabolism

  • · Keeps you on track of what you ate

  • · Drink water first when you feel hungry if the stomach is still growling, grumbling, and gurgling after 15 minutes then it’s hunger

  • · It’s calorie free

Why is reducing salt important for weight loss?

Eating too much salt can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, stroke and more recently obesity.

Normal blood pressure 120 mm Hg/80 mm Hg

PRE-hypertension 120-139 mm Hg/80-89 mm Hg

Hypertension-140-159 mm Hg/90-99 mm Hg stage 1

Whilst salt is not a direct cause of obesity it is a major influencing factor through its effect on soft drink consumption. Salt makes you thirsty and increases the amount of fluid you drink. 31% of the fluid drunk by 4–18-year-old is sugary soft drinks which have been shown to be related to childhood obesity. Lancet. 2001; 357, 505-508 and British Medical Journal. 2004; 328,1237

In 2015, new research emerged to suggest that salt intake may directly increase the risk of obesity, independent of energy intake or sugar-sweetened beverage intake.

Reference: Hypertension 2015; 66: 00-00

The average Briton takes 1.5 tsp 8.1g per day. Adults should eat no more than 1 tsp 6g per day and children about half of this 3g/day. 75% of the salt we eat is in the food we buy.

So, if you know what to look for and start choosing foods lower in salt, you can really reduce your intake.

Does plant-based eating help me lose weight?

People choose plant-based diet because they may be concerned about the environment, treatment of animals, just like the taste or its just fashionable. A vegan diet excludes all meat and animal products (meat, poultry, fish, sea food, dairy, and eggs) whereas vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish, and sea food. Plant based diets are rich in beans, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, whole grains e, g rice oats, cereals, breads, and pasta. A good varied, well-balanced plant-based diet can offer variety, taste, essential fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, high in fibre and be affordable when well planned. They are low in saturated fats, more satisfying, help you manage your weight, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

So what's the Answer ? - Small changes can make a difference

High fat high sugar food and alcohol contain more calories. Changing to lower fat alternatives, lower sugar and low alcohol by volume can reduce our calorie intake.

You can make some small changes but does not mean you have to completely give up your favourite food. Here’s a list you can chose from and make 3 small changes at a time:

  1. Make a change by the type of food you buy

  2. Make a change by the amount you eat

  3. Make a change by the way you cook food

  4. Make a change by the way you serve food

  5. Make a change by changing the choice of food

  6. Make a change with snacks

  7. Make a change by changing when you eat

  8. Check your mobility/activity

  9. Check your hydration

  10. Check your support

  11. Check your sleep

  12. Check your food, mood, and activity diary

For specialised Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby Kabeer


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