Losing weight - what works?

woman with measuring tape and appleThe approach of the holiday season often stirs us to think once again about losing some weight. Commercial diets and diet books often promise quick fixes, and let’s be honest, most of us would love a quick fix. Unfortunately though, these diets tend to be unsustainable.

"So what does work?",  I hear you cry!

Scientists have been looking at this question for decades and many have concluded that weight loss diets don’t often work in the longer term.  Before you despair, The National Weight Control Register in the US does offer some clues. Over nearly 20 years, the scientists there have been gathering information on people who have lost weight successfully.

Here’s what they say on food:

  • 98% report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight
  • Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet
  • 78% eat breakfast every day

This makes sense. Choosing a high fibre, low fat breakfast will help you keep going for the morning and leave you less vulnerable to the temptation of buns or biscuits with your mid-morning cuppa. With regard to reducing the calorie and fat content of your diet you can try the following ways:

  • Controlling portion sizes
  • Eating more foods with a high water content like most fruits and vegetables. These also contain fibre and a variety of vitamins so a winner all round
  • Choosing lower fat dairy products
  • Choosing fish and lean meat where possible and reducing processed meat intake
  • Reducing the amount of fat you add in cooking, on bread and in salads
  • Only eating sweet and fatty treats occasionally and in small amounts

On physical activity, the Registry says:

  • 94% of those who successfully lost weight increased their physical activity
  • The most frequently reported form of activity was walking
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

For many people time is the biggest barrier to becoming active. Before you get started, it might be worth keeping a physical activity diary so that you can spot gaps in your day when you could have been more active. Then, grab your runners, set your goals and gradually build up to an hour a day.

The last thing the Registry found is that successful people monitor their weight and their progress by weighing themselves once a week. We also recommend monitoring your food intake by keeping a diary when you start to lose weight. You can go back to it now and again to maintain motivation. 

This is not rocket science, I know. The evidence suggests that eating less calories, burning more calories and remaining aware of your weight are all useful strategies.
We are running a 5-week guide to losing weight on our Facebook page starting on the 12th of November to get you in the right mindset for losing weight now and in the New Year.

Those on the Weight Control Register have succeeded. You can do too.


Posted: 09/11/2012 10:00:45 by Aileen McGloin
Filed under: BMI, Diet, Exercise, Facebook, Portion sizes, Weight loss

About Me

Avatar Image
Aileen McGloin
Hi, my name is Aileen McGloin and I am the Director of Marketing and Communications, at safefood. I trained as a public health nutritionist originally and am passionate about changing food-related behaviour. I have a particular interest in using digital technology to promote health. At home, I love books, am in a book club and married to a crime writer. I’m a fiend for all things fashion and like walking, swimming and TV that is so bad it’s good. I live in Co. Wicklow with my husband and 10 year old daughter.