So earlier this week I was approached by somebody who asked if I wanted to supplement my income by selling weight loss products to my clients. I politely but firmly refused emphasising the fact that this is not in line with what our company promotes when it comes to a healthy lifestyle and I shall share with you why. You may disagree but this is speaking from personal experience and my own research.

In order to lose weight you need to have a calorie deficit. This basically means that the amount of calories you consume on a daily basis should outweigh the number of calories you burn through just being alive and any day to day physical activity that you do. The recommended and most likely sustainable rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds a week or (500g to 1kg for those that work metrically). To achieve this sort of weight loss you need to have a weekly deficit of 3500 calories (about 500 per day) which you can do by reducing your calorie intake, expend more energy or a combination of both which is the most common and more achievable.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix to this. You have to know how many calories you are consuming by counting them and have a good idea of your expenditure. There are various tools that you can use which will give you a good estimate (no fitness tracker or calorie counting app is going to be 100% accurate). It’s a ball ache to do for the first few weeks and if you don’t start seeing results after 14 days then you may need to do some tweaking and track again. Once you know though how much 50g of something is eventually you can just eyeball the amounts and it will be good enough.

The problem with meal replacement shakes is that it doesn’t teach you how to control portion size. It may tell you how many calories are in the shake and it may provide you with all the nutrients you need but are you likely to be on these forever? How likely are you going to take your shakes on an all inclusive holiday? So as soon as you come off them you have no clue as to how much you should be eating in any one sitting let alone a day that’s going to keep the weight off. Before you know it the pounds are starting to creep back on. Bespoke meal plans are also not ideal. This is one of my bug bears when I see PT’s advertising that they can provide meal plans. Most PT’s are not qualified dieticians but have done some basic nutrition and weight management module as part of their qualification. They can give advice on nutrition but not prescribe it. Again, a meal plan is not going to teach you how to lose or maintain weight in the long term.

Be wary of slimming groups as well that promote “free” foods. All foods have calories. All calories count when consumed. All calories will make you put on weight if consumed in excess.

So these are my tips which have worked for me and are currently working for my husband without using meal replacement shakes, expensive fat burning teas, or paying a monthly membership to a slimming group:

  1. Calculate how many calories you need a day for weight loss. This will vary hugely from person to person and depends on your gender, weight and activity levels. I am only 5ft 3 weigh 57kg and am pretty active but only need 1400-1500 calories a day for weight loss. Whereas my husband is 6ft2, 82kg and has a desk job needs 1800-1900 calories a day for weight loss. It will also decrease as your weight decreases so needs to be reviewed now and again to make sure you aren’t eating too many calories. Once your reach your ideal weight then you calculate your calories for weight maintenance. There are loads of calorie calculators you can use as a starting point just do a Google search.
  2. Use an app like My Fitness Pal to log what you eat on a daily basis (which does have a tool to calculate your recommended calorie intake but it does tend to underestimate)
  3. Once you have a good handle on your calorie intake try adjusting the proportion of macro nutrients to 40% protein, 30% fat and 30% carbohydrates. Protein helps you feel fuller, takes more effort for your body to break down and helps build and repair muscle after exercise. Protein shakes are a good way to get additional protein into you but most people can get extra protein from their diet unless they are trying to bulk up or need it for sports performance.
  4. Increase exercise intensity or frequency of exercise.
  5. Include resistance training to help build lean muscle and so burn more calories when at rest. Body weight exercises can suffice if you don’t have access to weights.
  6. Know how many calories you burn through exercise by using an app or fitness tracker of some description
  7. Body measurements are best for tracking progress rather than the scales as the scales won’t take into account body fat percentage or lean muscle mass or even water retention.
  8. Only measure yourself once every couple of weeks. Use the feel of your clothes as well ie do you need to go another notch down on your belt, are trousers less snug around the waist.
  9. Don’t give up if you have a day where you consume more calories than your allowance. Just reduce your calorie intake the next day or over the course of several days or up your activity level. Don’t forget alcohol contains calories too so be sure to include them in your food diary.
  10. If you are really struggling then ask a professional for help.

So there you have it. What I believe is the most effective and sustainable way to lose weight. As I said it’s not easy , there is no quick fix and there are many other factors that need to be considered if somebody is struggling to lose weight. But with a little bit of patience, keeping track of your food and exercise and being consistent then you should notice the pounds starting to slowly fall away.