How to lose weight if you are not exercising?
Weight loss is easier if you exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. However, if this is not possible due to an injury or a health issue, you may need to pay closer attention to your diet and consider some of the following options.
Your energy requirements (metabolism) are heavily influenced by your age, height, genetics, muscle mass, and how much you move throughout the day. Your energy requirements are measured in calories, which is also how we measure the energy in food. To stay healthy, there are other nutrients in addition to energy, that your body needs such as protein, carbs, fats, fibre as well as vitamins and minerals. The majority of these are found in food and have calories. As a result, there will always be a minimum number of calories you must consume in order to meet your body's basic needs. The amount needed will be as unique as you are, as it will be determined by factors such as your age, health, medical conditions, and lifestyle. e.g. stress, smoking, alcohol intake etc.
To lose weight, you must consume less energy (food) than you expend (your metabolism). The trick is not to restrict your food intake too much, as your body will go into a sort of "starvation mode." This is when your body is unable to compensate for the difference between calories consumed and calories required. This can exhaust you and make you grumpy! Your body is also more likely, to break down your muscles as a way of making up for the missing energy in your food intake which is rather a clever decision by your body because muscles are very energy hungry that need feeding all day long. Fat, on the other hand, consumes no energy and simply sits there – it just sits there happily and quietly in the corner and is no burden on the body at all! When you severely restrict your food intake, breaking down muscle will help the body achieve an energy balance faster and more efficiently.
Reduce your intake by 500kcal per day for healthy and sustainable fat loss (rather than muscle loss). This could result in a monthly weight loss of 2-4kg. Because of the many daily and weekly fluctuations that occur naturally, it is better to monitor your weight monthly rather than weekly. If your weight is around 2- 4 kg less after a month, you're on the right track!
To create a nice and even calorie deficit, try to cut 100-200 kcals from each meal or snack. This will be easier on you and your body. Simple swaps like: are an easy way to accomplish this.
- Use veggie sticks instead of crackers with your sliced cheese.
- Use low fat yoghurt instead of full fat Greek yoghurt.
- Switch from full cream milk to light or skim milk
- Use lean (heart-healthy or less than 10% fat) meats instead of regular meats.
- Cut the rice and pasta in half and add an extra cup of vegetables.
- Instead of bacon, add tomatoes and mushrooms to your cooked breakfast
- Fruit instead of sweet biscuits
- Instead of a chocolate bar, melt a couple of squares of chocolate and drizzle over berries.
If you believe you have done everything possible to reduce your food intake in a healthy way but are still not losing weight, consult your doctor about appropriate blood tests and possibly a referral to a dietitian for some individual planning.
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Author: Anna D’Arcy, APD, My Nutrition Clinic, March 2023