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  • How much exercise should I be doing for the best results?

    Studies show that moderate exercise - such as walking for 30 minutes every day - can result in improvements in overall health. You can add exercise to your activities throughout the day by adding a little extra walking to the things you already do. What's important is including activity regularly in your routine. Start gently and work your way up. That way you are more likely to lose weight slowly and keep it off.

  • Will I gain weight if I eat before bed?

    Your weight depends on your balance of calories, rather than when you eat. Eating before bed should not affect your weight loss progress, as long as it is a healthy snack. People tend to opt for unhealthy foods as a ‘midnight snack’, which is why there is a perceived link between eating at night and gaining weight.

  • Why is breakfast so important?

    Healthy breakfasts are essential in losing weight. If you have too few calories to start the day, the body will naturally slow down your metabolism, to conserve whatever energy it has left. This will impede your weight loss.

    Breakfast is also important to prevent you from feeling hungry throughout the day. You are more likely to make unhealthy choices if you are constantly slightly hungry.

  • What happens if I eat too few calories?

    When caloric intake goes below a certain level, the body will involuntarily slow down your metabolism in order to conserve whatever energy it has left. This ‘starvation mode’ is the body’s way of surviving with very little food. This would be helpful if you were actually starving, but it will prevent you from making further weight loss progress.

    So, in order to lose weight, you must reduce your caloric intake, but still, eat enough to avoid this ‘starvation mode’. For men, this lower limit is usually around 1,500 calories per day; women should stay above 1,200.

  • If I am trying to lose weight, how many meals should I eat each day?

    There is no consensus on this. On one hand, eating three main meals each day gives your body more time to burn fat in between meals. On the other, eating five smaller meals each day will keep your metabolism up to speed and will prevent you from getting hungry.

    Ultimately, it comes down to your habits and lifestyle. If you are too busy to commit to five regular meals, it may be preferable to stick to three larger ones, so long as you do not resort to unhealthy snacks in between meals. If you know that you feel hungry very frequently, five or six small meals might be a better option. As long as you eat the appropriate amount of calories, the frequency of your meals should not make a notable difference.

  • Will skipping meals help me lose weight?

    Once you have a regular routine, try to avoid skipping meals. You may skip a meal thinking it will help you reduce your intake of calories, but then overcompensate when you get hungry later.

    It is particularly important to evenly distribute your eating throughout the day if you have diabetes. Overcompensating after skipping a meal will impact your blood sugar levels in a harmful way.

  • Does yoga help with Weight Loss?

    Yoga can be very helpful when you are trying to lose weight. First, yoga is an exercise which can very effectively burn calories. This is especially true for types of ‘power yoga’, such as Vinyasa. Second, yoga will improve your fitness and flexibility, making other exercises and activities much easier for you.

    Finally, yoga and meditation help to teach mindfulness, which is very important for a healthy lifestyle. You will find yourself more disciplined in everyday life, which will help you to knock bad habits and make lifestyle changes.

  • Does taking the stairs make that much of a difference?

    Taking the stairs instead of the elevator may seem like a cliché, but these extra steps each day are incredibly important in burning calories, especially if you have an otherwise sedentary job and/or lifestyle. Consider using a pedometer or a smartphone app to track how many steps you take each day. If you get above 10,000 steps per day, you will be burning an extra 250 calories.

  • Once I have lost weight, how can I keep it off?

    To sustain your weight loss, you must continue to exercise and be mindful of your diet. Try to incorporate exercise into your routine, so that burning calories does not feel like a chore. Many people find it difficult to maintain the motivation they had when they first started to lose weight – you may find it helpful to look up new routines, or to find a running group.

  • Why have I been gaining weight since I started exercising?

    There are a number of reasons why this may happen. Most often, because exercise increases appetite, people end up accidentally eating more calories than they have burned. This is especially common for women – the hormones which regulate the appetite are made more active by exercise.

    It may seem justified to reward yourself with a high-calorie meal after a session of exercise. This is a very bad habit to fall into, as you will end up undoing all the good from your exercising. You must maintain your discipline and stick to foods that are high in fibre such as whole grains and vegetables.  This will require a holistic change to your lifestyle, including removing temptations from your kitchen or office.

  • How frequently should I check my progress?

    Some people check weekly, some check every day. As long as you do so regularly, it should not matter.

  • How do I get rid of excess body fat?

    Calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) to determine whether you have excess body fat. A BMI of over 25 often corresponds to an unhealthy weight, especially if your waist circumference is over 40 inches if you are male and 35 inches if you are female. Excess body fat can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

    To effectively lose excess body fat, you will need to combine a reduction in your caloric intake with increased exercise.

  • How many calories should I be trying to burn?

    Generally, you will lose 1 pound if you can burn off 3,500 more calories than you have taken in. Spread over a week, you will lose 1 pound if you reduce your calories by 500 each day, and you will lose 2 pounds if you reduce your calories by 1000 each day. This is most effectively done by both increasing your calorie-burning exercise and reducing the number of calories you consume. It is usually not healthy to attempt to lose more than 2 pounds per week.

  • Why do I need to exercise even if I am on a diet?

    Exercising while on a diet is the most effective way to lose weight. This is because there are two factors helping to improve your balance of calories. Exercising is also very useful in avoiding regaining weight after it is initially lost.

  • What strategies can I use for my weight loss diet?

    Controlling your portion sizes and following a meal plan can be great strategies to implement in your diet. Consult with a dietician or personal trainer, or make your own balanced meal plan with professional guidance. As a rule of thumb, try to stick to more natural, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses and lean meats, over processed foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

  • Are weight loss shakes good for you? And are weight loss supplements safe?

    Supplements like carnitine can have some benefits, and are often used as part of a balanced diet to help speed up weight loss. However, such supplements should only be used with the advice of a medical practitioner. Weight loss shakes can complement a sensible diet plan, but should never replace meals.

  • Is it a good idea to drink diet tea products?

    It is not advisable to consume diet tea products, because they often lack approval from a healthcare association. These products are marketed as a way to cleanse, detox and lose weight, but have little scientific proof to back these claims.


  • Does weight loss slow down with age?

    The aging process is one of the main reasons why your metabolism slows down. However, by preserving and gaining lean mass through exercise, you can help speed up and maintain your metabolic rate.

  • Can problems with my thyroid effect weight loss?

    Losing weight with an underactive thyroid may pose some difficulties. You may encounter problems such as insulin and/or leptin resistance. It is recommended that you seek advice from a GP before you embark on a weight loss plan.

  • Are weight loss bootcamps and retreats worthwhile?

    There is a real range of weight loss bootcamps, retreats and schemes designed to help you lose weight fast with a drastic change of eating habits and increased exercise. However, this is often not the most healthy way to do it. To see real results, and lose weight in a sustainable and healthy way, it is worth making permanent lifestyle changes.

    You can see real results with a healthy diet, a gym membership or upping your daily activity by walking or running to work.

  • How does PCOS (poly-cystic ovary syndrome) affect weight loss?

    Weight loss may also be more difficult for people with PCOS. This is because higher androgen levels can lead to weight gain. Contact your GP or a dietician for guidance on how you can lose weight healthily if you have PCOS.

  • How do I know if I quality for weight loss surgery, like a gastric band?

    If all else fails, and you are an extreme case, weight loss surgery may be a viable option. Weight loss surgery is available on the NHS for people who meet certain criteria, including having a BMI of over 40, or a BMI of between 35 to 40 and an obesity-related condition that may improve if you lost weight, e.g. type 2 diabetes.


Authored By:

A photo of  Scott McDougall

Scott McDougall


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

Reviewed By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

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