• Alison Lincoln

What the science says about ... Weight loss


There’s a lot written about the most effective ways to lose weight, some of it is backed up by science and some not so much. Here are the research nuggets I’ve found most helpful in changing the way I think about weight loss:


· Diet is better than exercise for losing weight – studies have shown that those who start an exercise programme are more likely to “reward” themselves for their efforts; are hungrier so have a tendency to eat more and may be less active after exercise because they’re tired.


· A few hours standing up a day is good for your back, increases calorie burn and reduces the risk of diabetes.


· Laughing is a great way to increase your heartrate, breathing rate and work out your abs – try laughing without moving your abs! (OK this is a bit more popular science but I like it!)


· Eat meals at regular intervals within a 10-12 hour window.


· Aim for 7-9 hours sleep a night, it reduces stress levels and thus the tendency to overeat.


· Getting active kick starts your metabolism. Whilst diet may be better than exercise for losing weight the combination of diet and increasing activity is most effective.


· There is no magical combination of foods or diet that will guarantee weight loss. Any diet will work if you stick to it.


· If you’ve been overweight you are likely to have to work harder to maintain any weight loss. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get immediate results.


· Its about the brain – poor decisions make you gain weight, good decisions make you lose weight. The catch is that once you've been over-weight your brain responds differently to hunger and satiation (feeling full) and needs time to be retrained.


In a world where we are conditioned to think that we just need to work harder or try harder to achieve everything we’ve always wanted (including weight loss), it’s hard to realise that actually it’s not the big push or the concerted effort that makes the difference. Ultimately it comes down to our day to day choices – the little ones each and every day.


Nothing more complicated, or let’s face it harder, than that. 1% everyday – that’s all 1% change.


· move more by 1%

· eat less by 1%

· choose healthier options 1% of the time


Over the course of a week that’s 7%, over a month that’s 30% (ish), over a year that’s 365% difference! (the maths may not be perfect but you get the point).


WAIT! 1% difference daily can lead to 365% difference in just 12 months – Wow I think I can do that!

They say life is the sum of our choices, so I’m going to aim to choose wiser at least 1% of the time!

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection”
Mark Twain

Want to know more? Read :

Immunity: The Science of Staying Well by Dr Jenna Macciochi

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker


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