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

Don’t go hungry


Being healthy is not neccessarily about eating less. Whilst it’s important to watch your calorie intake, eating too little or too irregularly can lead to dizziness, low mood and fatigue. It can also hinder your progress by causing cravings and the urge to overeat.

By ensuring that you are regularly supplying your body with good quality nutrition throughout the day you will see far better results in the gym and feel better for it too.


Exercising without adequate fuel is like trying to drive a car with no petrol. Food eaten before exercise should be 1relatively low in fat and fibre, moderate in protein and high in carbohydrate in order to maximize maintenance of blood glucose (and therefore energy levels).

After exercise your dietary goals are to provide adequate fluids plus protein and carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen and promote recovery.


An ideal pre-workout snack is a banana and a couple of oatcakes; this will give you a boost of energy without weighing you down.

Post-gym, try a chicken sandwich on wholemeal bread or a smoothie prepared with a handful of fresh or frozen berries, live yogurt, ice cold milk and some ground flaxseeds.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Eat like an athlete


Training for sport requires a combination of endurance, strength, speed and agility. High energy requirements coupled with high fluid loss and the potential for injury make a well-established nutrition strategy a must in order to get the best results possible.


To stay hydrated, you must drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a training session.

4Water is all that is needed if you’re exercising for less than an hour, but sports drinks or diluted fruit juice are a better choice for longer workouts. These contain sugars which provide fuel for the exercising muscles and help speed up the absorption of water into your bloodstream.


A diet rich in carbohydrates will provide energy to maintain performance and assist recovery. A high carb, low fat meal should be eaten 2-3 hours before you begin training, with yet more carb-rich foods consumed soon afterwards to help replenish glycogen stores.

It is also important to include protein-packed foods post-workout to aid the repair and growth of muscle fibres.


© Sarah West Nutrition

You can’t beat an egg


You don’t need to buy expensive foods to consume a nutritious diet. Apart from being inexpensive, eggs are a great source of concentrated nutrition including fat-soluble vitamins D, A, E and K, all the B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, zinc and iron.

Still not convinced? Contrary to popular belief, they won’t negatively affect your cholesterol levels; however many you eat.


The structure of the human body is built on protein. Exercise depletes the critical amino acids required to make protein, but eggs contain everything our bodies need for optimum 2growth and maintenance of lean, metabolically active tissue.

So forget expensive protein shakes to boost your strength training; eggs give you access to one of nature’s best protein sources at a fraction of the cost.


Eggs are easy to prepare and can be cooked in a variety of ways, which is vital to help keep boredom at bay. Try them scrambled, poached, fried or in an omelette as a quick post-workout meal.

And don’t just eat the whites; egg yolks contain protein and B vitamins and are relatively high in calories, which can help you achieve the caloric surplus necessary for muscle gain.

© Sarah West Nutrition

The power of protein


Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body.

When you eat foods that contain protein, your digestive system breaks them down into basic units called amino acids. These amino acids are then re-used to make the proteins needed to maintain your hair, skin, nails, bones, blood, internal organs and muscles.


Resistance workouts are a form of stress, which triggers muscle breakdown and can make you feel tired and sore. They also deplete critical amino acids such as glutamine, valine, isoleucine and leucine.

It’s only after you’ve completed exercise that your muscle tissues begin the rebuilding process, so it’s important to replenish lost nutrients to help the body recover.


Consuming high-quality protein following a tough workout helps provide your body with all the necessary amino acids needed to help repair muscle fibres damaged during exercise. Protein also promotes growth of new muscle as an adaptation response to your training, helping to boost your metabolism and increase fat burning.

Try a chicken or tuna salad served with sliced avocado and hard boiled eggs for a protein-rich post-workout snack.

© Sarah West Nutrition

No substitute


Eating a healthy, balanced diet is something we all aspire to, but many of us will admit to falling short when it comes to making the right choices every day.

In today’s health-conscious society there are a bewildering range of vitamins and minerals available to supposedly boost our wellbeing, but can they really bridge the gap?


Supplementing your diet with protein shakes can be convenient for gym-goers, but that doesn’t make them necessary. Research shows that if the total quantity of protein you consume in your daily diet is sufficient then it is unlikely that adding protein powder will result in any additional health gains.

Making an effort to eat a source of complete protein (such as meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese or eggs) with each meal is both cheaper and tastier!


They may seem harmless enough but some nutritional supplements can interact with prescription medications – making them less effective – and others (such as vitamins A, D, E, K and iron) can be toxic in high doses.

It is very difficult to overdose on vitamins and minerals from food, so try making some improvements to your diet before forking out on expensive supplements. You may be doing yourself more harm than good.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Feel fuller for longer


Do you have days when you experience ongoing hunger, even when eating at the top of your calorie range? It can be so distracting and depriving that you feel ready to throw in the towel.

However, don’t be tempted to give up before you’ve added what could be the missing ingredient back into your weight loss programme: satiety.


Research suggests that paring aerobic and resistance training may increase satiety hormones and boost the body’s ability to stabilize blood sugar, meaning you feel fuller for longer (compared to cardio exercise alone).

By swapping aerobic exercise for weights several times a week you may find you are consuming up to 500 fewer calories per day; equating to up to 12.5 pounds in a year.


Studies suggest that protein appears to help prolong satiety more than carbohydrates or fat can.

Consuming even a small amount of protein (found in lean meat, seafood, low-fat dairy, legumes, lentils and soy products) with each of your meals and snacks will help you stay full whilst still keeping you within your daily calorie allowance.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Snack attack


Although you may feel guilty about snacking, eating between meals doesn’t need to be a weight loss disaster. In fact, grazing on small amounts of food throughout the day can help you to avoid extreme hunger and prevent you from overeating at your next meal.

The key is to keep moderation and balance in mind. Select foods that will satisfy your hunger, supply your body with lasting energy and provide you with key nutrients. If it doesn’t fit this description, then don’t eat it!


After a workout try snacking on a handful of raw unsalted nuts, celery sticks with peanut butter, some cottage cheese with fruit or chopped vegetables with hummous.

The protein in these snacks is important for preserving existing muscle mass (which can help boost your metabolism) and will also help keep you full up for longer, without undoing all your efforts in the gym.


The key to healthy snacking is preparation. With a little planning you can ensure you always have a selection of healthy snacks in your bag or desk drawer so that you’re ready to make the right choices when temptation strikes.

By keeping the right kinds of foods handy, heeding your hunger pangs can become an important part of your weight loss journey.

© Sarah West Nutrition