Our understanding of weight loss practices has drastically improved over recent decades. We're well aware of the mechanics that drive weight loss, but finding the best method to do so is no easy task! The 'move more, eat less' slogan which has dominated public wide guidance is certainly true in principle, but applying these principles is tricky!
Ultimately, when we are looking to lose weight we are simply striving to find the best method to put our body in an 'energy deficit'. An energy deficit is when a body is burning more energy than it's consuming. This means you can adopt three different approaches:
Eat the same, move more (maintain the same energy intake, but increase your energy expenditure)
Move the same, eat less (maintain the same energy expenditure, but reduce your energy intake)
Eat less, move more (reduce your energy intake and increase your energy expenditure)
Energy balance: When energy intake (from food and drink) match energy expenditure/usage (from basic bodily functions to daily activities & exercise)
In theory, depending on your individual circumstances, one of these approaches will work for you. For example, you could already be eating a healthy balanced diet, but the amount of energy you consume is slightly above the amount of energy your body is using.
This means, increasing your bodies energy demands very slightly, through exercising or moving more, will help push your body in that energy deficit and force your body to use its stored fat as an energy reserve.
The concept of eating less and moving more is an effective approach, but it fails to expand on the best methods to do so, and it implies you have to restrict your food intake, as opposed to restricting your energy intake. I quite like to re-phrase the classic slogan from 'eat less, move more' to 'eat differently, move differently'.
Eat differently, move differently.
'Eat differently, move differently' removes the restrictive aspect to the classic 'eat less, move more'. In fact, you can indeed eat larger quantities of food, yet still be consuming less total energy, which means you don't actually have to 'eat less' to lose weight. For example, if you're consuming a variety of energy-dense foods, like cheese and biscuits, but replacing it with larger volume foods like non-starchy vegs and whole grains - you're actually eating more, yet still eating less energy.
The extent to which someone needs to eat differently to achieve their weight loss goals varies from person to person. However, simple tricks like removing ultra-processed foods, or reducing energy-dense foods and replacing these with lower energy and larger volume foods can go a long way to transition your bodies state of energy balance from an energy surplus, to the desired energy deficit.
We know exercise is so important, not only for weight loss but for general health too. What's also very interesting is different forms of exercise will produce different results. For example, there's a big difference between weight training and running. Weight training targets muscle development, and running targets cardiovascular health.
If you already go on walks or even runs throughout the week and the weight is refusing to budge, then think about how you can move differently to increase the energy demands of your body. For example, can you add some higher intensity sprints during your run, or, could you explore some different forms of exercise such as circuit training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or body workouts to help force your energy expenditure up?
So often we're told to eat less and move more to lose weight, but this fails to take into account the importance of finding the right methods to do so! Eat differently, move differently encourages you to explore other ways of nourishing your body and exercising your body, and combining both is a great way to tackle weight loss to achieve your goals!
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