Unfortunately, like our America cousins who spend upwards of $30 billion per year on diet treatments, us Brits love to buy the 'quick fix' diet schemes we see advertised on TV, displayed on supermarket shelves and send to our e-mail inboxes each day.
Though these 'miracle cures' and diet schemes may sound great and might even cause short term weight loss, they never work in the long run. Most people gain back all the weight and sometimes even more. Healthy weight loss is about making certain changes in your overall lifestyle; more important is your ability to stick to them.
Experts agree that healthy weight loss equals one to two pounds per week. The human body must burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat; this means cutting 500 calories out of your daily diet (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories per week). Any more than this and our bodies will go into 'famine mode;' genetically programmed for survival, the human body will actually slow down its metabolism to conserve calories rather than expend them. This is one reason why short term calorie-restriction diets fail, as the body works extra hard to prevent loss and replace mass.
The fact that our bodies will work against us is part of why losing weight can be so difficult; to lose weight effectively you have to reduce your caloric intake yet increase how many calories your body burns. This is accomplished with a healthy combination of exercise to boost your metabolism and a nutritious, well-balanced diet built around the right foods.
Most fitness gurus recommend exercising at a moderate intensity (breathing heavily but still able to hold conversation) for 30 to 60 minutes at least three to five times a week. The other part of the puzzle is eating right; you need calories to think, jump, walk and live. The wrong way to lose weight is to restrict your caloric intake to the point that you put yourself in danger or rely on fad diets that don't provide the correct nutrition. Healthy weight loss relies on the appropriate amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, dairy and whole grains.
People vary so dramatically in size that finding the 'right' weight for you can be confusing. Experts agree that calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best way to check whether your height and weight are proportionate to one another. Try the online calculator from the National Institutes of Health (at nhlbisupport.com) or exercise your brain and grab a pen and paper: