Q&A: how to lose weight sensibly

24 February 2016

A healthy workforce is a more productive one1, so how can busy people make changes to their diet that will keep the weight off in the long term?

A healthy, engaged workforce is better for business1, and being a healthy weight is important for overall health. Yet for many people, the barriers to losing weight are numerous2. What we need, says Bupa dietitian Lindsey Milligan, is a common-sense approach to weight loss.

What’s the best way to lose weight?

To put it simply, if you want to lose weight, you need to burn off more calories than you take in from food and drink3.

So how many calories do I need to cut out?

Around 600 calories a day is the general recommendation (although if you usually eat much more than you need, you may have to cut out more)4. It can also help to increase the amount of physical activity you do – especially if your calorie intake is too high4.

So I just need to eat less?

Consuming fewer calories doesn't always mean eating less, it can just mean choosing different types of food. Weight for weight, fat has more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein5.

What swaps should I make, then?

For example, instead of snacking on crisps and cakes, satisfy your hunger with bread, potatoes, rice and pasta at mealtimes.

How quickly will I lose weight?

It's important not to 'crash diet' and lose weight too quickly as it won't help you to keep off the weight in the long run. As soon as you stop restricting your calorie intake, you'll probably put the weight straight back on6.

So what’s a realistic goal?

Aim to lose about 0.5 to 1kg (1 to 2lb) per week6. This way, your body will still get the fuel it needs while you make some improvements to your diet that will help you to keep the weight off – for good.

What's next?

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  1. Health, wellbeing and productivity: Key findings of the 2012/2013 survey, Towers Watson, 2013

  2. Barriers to and Facilitators of Long Term Weight Loss Maintenance in Adult UK People: A Thematic Analysis. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014.

  3. Maintaining a healthy weight and preventing excess weight gain among adults and children. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

  4. Obesity: Identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in children, young people and adults. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), November 2014.

  5. Fats. British Dietetic Association.

  6. Fad diets. British Dietetic Association.