Fat or weight? Today nutritionists talk of "losing fat" rather than of "losing weight". This is because your aim is to shed body fat, not fluid or lean muscle, as commonly happens if you fast or embark on a strict diet. Yes, the weight comes off, but most of it is fluid which is quickly regained once the diet is over.
You don't want to lose muscle either as it is metabolically active (unlike fat) and is responsible for keeping your body's metabolism set high, so you can burn off more kilojoules (calories).
10 tips for fat loss
- Exercise & move more over your day.
- Eat only when hungry. Stop eating when you're satisfied, but not over full.
- Eat regularly & often. Don't skip meals. Smaller-sized mini-meals consisting of the right kind of foods is a better approach than skipping meals and then bingeing later on. In particular, don't miss breakfast - it helps speed up your metabolism and prevent you reaching for a pastry or biscuit at mid-morning. Avoid large meals late at night, which is the time when we are least active and excess kilojoules (calories) are readily converted to body fat.
- Slow down your rate of eating
Sit down to eat and stretch out your meal to last 20 minutes to allow the brain's appetite control centre to register that you are full.
- Less fat - and the right type
Cutting down on fats is still a good way to shed body fat. Gram for gram, fat has more kilojoules then either protein or carbohydrate. It's easy to overconsume and stores of fat cannot be oxidised (burnt off) in the same way carbohydrate and protein can. But you don't need to eliminate all fat completely. Allow yourself small quantities of healthy fats from oils, nuts or avocado to stay healthy. Cut back on the 'bad' saturated and trans fats - watch Catherine's video interview below.
- Increase your serves of low-fat protein
There's no need to embark on an Atkins' high-protein approach to eating. But larger serves of lean red meat, fish, chicken or eggs will keep you satisfied for longer and dealy the return of hunger. If you're vegetarian, opt for more tofu, beans and other vegetarian protein.
- Choose low GI carbohydrates. Don't cut carbs completely. Swap to slowly-absorbed carbohydrate foods in smaller amounts. Healthy carbs include pasta, grain breads, legumes, fruits and yoghurts. Cut out the ‘junk' carbohydrates like sweets, cakes, desserts and soft drinks.
- Choose high-fibre options. Boost your intake of fibre from vegetables, wholemeal breads, wholegrain cereals, beans and fruit. Fibre makes food "bulkier" and more filling, so you feel fuller with less.
- Less alcohol. The less alcohol you drink, the easier your fat loss efforts will be. It is concentrated kilojoules (calories) and diverts the body from burning off other nutrients.
Try not to eat for comfort. Don't bury your feelings with food. Talk to a counsellor about other ways to handle unhappy feelings instead of food.
How much should I lose?
Nutritionists recommend a steady weight loss of half to one kg per week (of body fat, not fluid). This translates to one to two pounds a week.
A little is better than nothing
As little as 10 to 15 per cent weight loss - about 9kg if you currently weigh 90kg - is all that is needed to bring about improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and breathlessness in seriously overweight people. In other words, you don't have to reach your goal weight (or what you weighed when you were 20) to get health benefits and feel better.
Want to find out more ways to help your weight loss efforts?