Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Am I Overweight?

The body mass index system is still a popular way to determine if you are overweight, although it does not apply to children, pregnant women or anyone with a history of strength training. See our BMI calculator. BMI is not perfect, but a reading of over 25 in an unfit individual indicates a weight problem.

It is the system still used by the World Health Organisation to classify overweight and obese individuals. There is no universally accepted system to calculate obesity in children at the moment.

A better method is to measure your waist to hip ratio. A larger waist to hip ratio indicates higher levels of visceral (belly) fat which is a good indicator of whether a person is overweight. Measure your waist just above the belly button and your hips at their widest point. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.

Healthy Waist-Hip Ratios:

  • Women: A figure of below 0.8 is considered safe, above indicates elevated visceral fat levels
  • Men: A figure of over 0.9 indicates too much fat

Waist measurement alone is also an indicator. General indicators of healthy waist measurement are:

  • Women: Waist circumference below 81cm / 32 inches
  • Men: Waist circumference below 94cm / 37 inches
These are considered by the UK National Obesity Forum to be the upper limits of a healthy waist circumference.
  • Women: 81–88 cm (32–35 in)
  • Men: 94–102 cm (37–40 in)
Waist measure is considered now to be more important than BMI because it indicates the presence of visceral fat which is a more dangerous type of fat accumulation which affects metabolism and raises risk of CHD and other obesity related conditions.

How do I lose weight?

Exercise and diet – start here:

What is the best exercise to lose weight?

Really, there is no best exercise. All forms of exercise will help you to lose weight. The important factor is that you exercise often and aim to progress, i.e. get fitter, stronger and faster. The more you exercise the more fat you burn. To lose weight all you need to do is burn more calories each day than you consume. The more exercise you do, the more calories you burn.

Some forms of exercise such as Tabata training and weight training will burn a lot of calories and have been shown to improve fitness quicker, but the focus in these cases is often on improving sporting performance. For weight loss it is a matter of burning more than you eat.

I cannot lose weight, my family are overweight, it is genetics!

Nobody is overweight due to genetics. There has been no major change in the prevalence of genes which lead to increased weight gain in the last 100 year, however, people have become more overweight. Overweight families tend to simply follow bad diets and are sedentary. There are some genes which make people more likely to become overweight, but these are easily controlled with healthy diet and regular exercise.

I need to lose weight in 2 weeks for a wedding / holiday / school prom, how do I lose weight in 2 weeks?

In short, you have left it too late. Fast weight loss is not really possible. Although there are some systems, such as the maple syrup / lemon fast which cause quicker weight loss, these really do just involve forcing starvation. This is not good in the long-term and generally people will regain more weight afterwards.

If you really have to lose as much weight as possible in 2 weeks then exercise twice a day for 30-45 minutes and eat a calorie restricted diet which is also very low carbohydrate. Follow the Atkins induction plan for 2 weeks while exercising. Do not do the Atkins induction for more than 2 weeks though.

Am I too young to do weight training?

Generally heavy weight training, such as heavy barbell squats, deadlifts and power cleans should be avoided before the age of 16. During the teenage years the body, and most importantly the spine, is still developing and excessive weight training can cause some problems.

However, bodyweight training and some light weight training is OK in younger teens.

How can bread make us fat?

Bread is high in energy and energy is ultimately either burned off or converted to fat. White bread is also high GI which means that it is digested very quickly and causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. In healthy people a rise in blood sugar causes an immediate increase in body fat.

I eat a healthy diet but I am still overweight, healthy diets do not work!

Healthy diets do work. A healthy diet is more than just eating the right proportion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You need to ensure that you are eating a good variety of foods and most importantly, not eating too much. As far as food and weight are concerned, you really can have too much of a good thing.

I have slow metabolism, how can I lose weight?

Unless you have a medical condition and a doctor has told you that you have a slow metabolism, it is likely they your metabolism is normal. The reason you are overweight is because you are simply eating more than your body needs. Increase your needs with exercise and eat less. Often a poor diet leads to increased hunger. A diet that is well-balanced with plenty of lean protein and low GI vegetables helps to keep you full for longer.

After I exercise I want to eat more. Is this OK?

This is a habit that you must break. Exercise actually released the PYY hormone which suppresses hunger, so naturally you should have a reduced appetite after exercise. Exercise burns much fewer calories than most people realise, so if weight loss is your goal then you must reduce eating and exercise more.

I have tried every diet and fitness plan but nothing works for me. Is there anything that I can do to lose weight quickly?

This is a very common question, unfortunately the truth is that diets and fitness plans do work when they are followed correctly. You must follow the plan exactly as it is set out and not add your own rules and snacks.

Is running bad for me?

No, there is no evidence to support that running causes arthritis. People get arthritis regardless of whether they exercise or not.

I exercise for 10 minutes a day, is this enough to lose weight?

No. 10 minutes exercise is not going to get you much fitter and it will not burn many calories. By time you have eaten half a slice of bread you will have replaced all the calories you burned off in the 10 minutes of exercise. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. There is no reason why you cannot exercise for 1-2 hours a day though. Professional athletes exercise for 3-5 hours a day.

What should I eat before I exercise?

If you are doing a morning cardio workout, you do not need to eat, just drink some water to help hydrate. If a more intensive workout such as weight training, then you need a well-balanced, healthy and nutritious meal an hour before your workout.

What should I eat after I exercise?

A well-balanced meal or snack. If weight training then a protein shake works well. Do not allow your post workout snacks to take you over your daily calorie limits though.

What is a healthy diet?

Read this article: Basics of a healthy diet. Note that a healthy diet also includes a calorie limit.

My parents say I am too young to exercise, am I?

No. Exercise is natural and a vital part of our physical development. Children, teenagers and adults should all exercise. Children can safely run 5 miles a day or do 1-2 hours of gymnastics and sports. Before we had televisions and computer games most children would play outside all day long, and in previous centuries would work in the fields all day. Exercise makes us fit and strong at all ages.

How do I lose my belly fat?

Exercise and diet. Same rules apply. We have several articles dedicated to this subject, start here: How to lose weight / belly fat.

Do I need to take supplements to lose weight?

No! Supplements are only needed if you want to gain weight, i.e. build muscle. A healthy diet does not require any supplements for most people. Only athletes, bodybuilders and people very serious about their fitness require supplements. If you are doing less than 60 minutes of high intensity exercise 7 days a week then a healthy diet is all you need.

Can I just take fat burners?

No, fat burners are really not recommended. Many have unpleasant side effects and they do not teach you how to follow a healthy lifestyle. They should only be used in conjunction with a well structured weight loss plan when supervised by a medical professional.

I went on a diet and lost weight, but put it all back on again. Diets don’t work!

Diets work, but you have the maintain a healthy lifestyle permanently. Reverting to the diet and lifestyle that caused weight gain will lead to renewed weight gain. Most people under report the number of calories they consume, diets do not fail, dieters fail to follow the plan.

How Many calories do I need?

It depends largely on your gender, age and daily activity levels. Focus on eating healthy foods and being very active and you will naturally consume fewer calories and lose weight. Teenagers require more calories than any other age group and without adequate nutrition long-term health problems such as osteoporosis (weak bones) is a serious problem.

I am a woman, if I do the weight training I will build bulky muscles won’t I?

No. Women will build lean and long muscles which help to give shape to the body. Only men who consume a lot of additional protein will build very large muscles. The main natural factor for increased muscle growth is testosterone.

Are All Diets Scams?

The diet and weight loss industry seems to have developed a bad reputation and now many people feel that anything with the word “diet” in must be a scam. But most good diets are developed with an understanding of human nutrition in mind. Diets such as the Dukan and Atkins are designed to help kickstart weight loss in those that have not made any effort to lose weight in a long time. They are good ways to lose weight in the short-term.

In the long-term all diets are more or less equal in their effectiveness. Also, when a person regains weight after a diet, it is not the diet that has failed to work. It is the individual who has failed to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

If you have any more questions please ask below, we answer every question and there is no such thing is a dumb question!

  21 comments for “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. MotleyHealth
    April 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Ella, if you can run every other day with ease, why not up the pace? Aim to run faster (5 miles is a good distance) and just do one weight training workout a day rather than two – but use heavier weights. In fact, one good workout every other day would be better.

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