How to lose weight, the healthy way

We’re bombarded with so many new fad diets and quick-fix tips that working out how to lose weight effectively – but healthily – can seem very confusing. These tips will help show you how (and there’s no fasting or detoxing in sight):

1.Swap simple carbs for complex carbs

Carbohydrates are essential for a fit, healthy body and should never be removed from the diet entirely.

However, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white pasta, white rice and processed, convenience foods) are devoid of natural nutrients and can wreak havoc on your weight because they’re digested very quickly, leaving you feeling unsatisfied and more likely to overeat.

3In contrast, complex carbohydrates provide a gradual, steady stream of energy throughout the day. Obtaining the majority of your daily carbs from more natural sources (such as wholegrains, vegetables, beans and pulses) will therefore fill you up for longer, on fewer calories.

2. Eat little and often

Studies suggest that your body releases less insulin (the fat storage hormone) when your food intake is more evenly distributed throughout the day, even when you consume the same amount of calories overall.

Eating five or six nutritious mini-meals of 250-300 calories each may therefore help you to lose weight faster, without going hungry.

3. Include protein with every meal

Protein is a blood sugar stabiliser, helping you to feel fuller for longer and reduce hunger and sweet cravings. Including a source of protein (such as eggs, dairy products, lean meat, beans, pulses, nuts or seeds) with each meal or snack can therefore help you to feel satisfied on less calories.

vintage-fitness-devices-04-thumb4. Don’t be too restrictive.

When you want to lose weight, there’s nothing more motivating than seeing fast results. However, whilst many quick-fix diets might offer rapid results, dramatically restricting your calorie intake can lead to deficits in the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs to function properly.

This often leads to unpleasant side effects (such as headaches, dizziness, low mood, cravings and fatigue), which make it hard to stick to fad diets for long enough to see tangible results. Eating too few calories also slows your metabolism, making it difficult to maintain exercise intensity or duration.

Focusing your meals around appetite-suppressing protein and filling high-fibre vegetables is a far more effective (and sustainable) approach.

5. Drink plenty of water

Studies have suggested that overweight people who drink two cups of water half an hour before each meal eat around 75 fewer daily calories and lose 5 pounds more than those who don’t. Water drinkers have also been shown to keep the weight off long term.

Game-Card-Glass-Vintage-GraphicsFairy001Water is no magic potion; it is believed to help people shed pounds simply because it contains no calories and fills up the stomach, making you feel less hungry and less inclined to overeat. However, drinking more water does stops you from reaching for high-calorie, sugar-filled beverages; and the fewer calories you get from drinks, the healthier (and slimmer) you’ll be.

6. Change the way you train

Interval training is one of the most effective ways to burn fat. It get can applied to many forms of exercise simply by incorporating brief bursts of high-intensity activity, followed by a more mellow pace.

The key is to build up these intervals so that with each high intensity burst you’re working harder than the one before. Our bodies are quick to adapt to this sort of exercise and if you work hard you should see a reduction in body fat within 4 weeks.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Keep at it


Training to get fit, by its very nature, is the repetition of something in order to see improvements. Unfortunately this process can quickly lead to boredom and loss of motivation.

By taking an innovative approach to your training and making a few subtle tweaks, you can help re-motivate yourself and find a whole new stimulus to get great results.


As you become fitter, you develop the ability to do more and work out for longer. However, the key to taking your fitness to the next level is to increase your training intensity, not just how long you exercise for.

Try mixing periods of high intensity work with active recovery; also known as high intensity interval training. It’s a much more efficient way of working and could give your training a real boost.


According to research, one method of potentially enhancing your endurance involves regularly drinking beetroot juice.

Although the exact mechanism remains unclear, the effects are believed to be down to the high concentration of naturally occurring nitrates found in beetroot. These convert into nitric acid in the body, which dilates blood vessels and leads to a reduction in the amount of oxygen used during exercise.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Good fat, bad fat


We’re bombarded with supposedly guilt-free, low fat options in the snack aisle at the supermarket. But how healthy are they really?

When fat is removed, more sugar is generally added to improve taste and appeal to consumer’s taste buds. An excess of sugar in the diet triggers the over-secretion of our fat storage hormone, insulin; so while our low-fat options have steadily increased, so have obesity rates.


High intensity interval training – involving a mix of intense effort followed by bouts of recovery – is one of the most effective ways to burn excess body fat in the gym.

To get the most out of an interval session you must ensure that you really push yourself, then ease right off during the recovery periods. Try a 2:2 work/rest ratio to start with and then gradually decrease the length of your rest periods as your stamina improves. You will soon see the benefits.


Are you fat-phobic? Essential fatty acids actually help to balance the key hormones that exert control over your weight and should never be avoided.

To increase your essential fatty acid intake, up your intake of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring and sardines. If you’re vegetarian or not keen on fish, take a good quality essential fatty acid supplement (such as Eskimo 3 stable fish oil or Solgar’s fish oil concentrate) or try adding a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your morning smoothie or mixed into dips and salad dressings.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Diet & exercise myths


Trying to lose weight? It may seem a straight-forward concept, but there is a wealth of misleading information out there which can leave you feeling confused and far from achieving your goals. These tips will help to dispel a couple of common diet and exercise myths which may be holding you back.


The myth: Sit-ups will give me a flat stomach.

The reality: Many people’s stomachs are flabby due to excess fat rather than weak stomach muscles. Whilst correctly performed sit-ups will help strengthen your muscles, you won’t see the definition you crave unless you first lose the layer of fat resting on top.

If you really want to see results, try interval training in combination with crunches and you will both burn fat and strengthen abdominal muscles.


The myth: If I exercise a lot,  I can eat whatever I want.

The reality: Even if you’re in the gym every day of the week, it doesn’t give you a license to forgo a healthy diet. It is all too easy to out-eat your workout and undo all your calorie-burning efforts.

If you want to see results, try consuming 250 fewer daily calories whilst burning an extra 250 calories per day in the gym: this creates enough of a calorie deficit to achieve an average weight loss of a pound a week.

© Sarah West Nutrition