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

Get beach ready


The holiday season is nearly upon us and it’s time for swimming trunks, sarongs and bikinis to emerge from their hibernation.

If the thought of baring your body on the beach fills you with dread then it’s time to really focus on getting in tip top shape. Don’t put it off… start today and you’ll soon be shedding those layers with confidence.


Interval training is one of the single most effective ways to burn fat. Try exercising at your normal pace for several minutes, then briefly at a more intense pace (as fast as you can!), before slowing to your normal pace again.

Slowly 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 exercise and if you work hard you should see a redcution in body fat within 4 weeks.


To see a noticeable difference in your weight (without resorting to questionable fad diets), try focusing your meals around appetite-supressing protein and high-fibre vegetables. You will naturally feel satisfied for longer, helping you to resist the lure of calorific snacks between meals.

Protein consumption also helps you to retain muscle whilst losing fat, which is vital for achieving a lean, enviable physique.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Common mistakes


Whether you’re new to the gym or have been going for years, there are some mistakes that gym-goers make time and time again.

If you’ve reached a plateau in your progress or you’re just not getting where you want to be fast enough, there’s a good chance you need to change your approach.


We all tend to repeat the things we like doing, so it’s no wonder that once we find a workout that suits us we stick to it. However, this may not not be doing you any favours.

Try changing your your programme after about 4-6 weeks to avoid getting into a pattern that stops producing results. Try using a machine you’ve never used before, or if you usually stick to cardio then add in some weights or a body pump class.


You’ve been eating lots of reduced fat products specially designed for weight loss but are still finding it hard to lose weight?

Reduced fat foods often have a very high sugar content to make them more palatable. Try swapping reduced fat products for unprocessed, low GI alternatives. These result in a more steady, balanced insulin release, making fat easier to burn and less likely to be stored.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Beat the 3pm slump


It’s a modern day phenomena; even when you’ve eaten well all day, you still find yourself craving something sweet to perk you up in the afternoon.

So how can you beat the 3pm slump and stay energised all afternoon without breaking your diet?


If you’re struggling with cravings, try changing your environment by getting up and doing some exercise.

Physical activity not only helps to relieve stress and fatigue (common junk food triggers), but it also improves inhibitory control within the brain which can help regulate how likely you are to give in to cravings. So get up and go for a walk; you might be surprised by how quickly the sugar craving evaporates.


Be prepared! If it gets to 3pm & you’ve nothing left nutritious left to eat, you’ll be far more inclined to seek out sweet treats.

Remove all temptation and keep a steady supply of healthy snacks in your bag or desk drawer to ensure you’re never caught short. Fresh fruit, vegetable crudities and containers of unsalted nuts & seeds are particularly good choices.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Lasting weight loss


How many times have you gone on a diet? And more to the point, how many times have you gone off a diet?

More than 80% of people who lose weight will regain it – and sometimes more – within two years. So forget unrealistic, fad diets; if you want to sustain your weight loss it’s time to commit to some sensible, life-long changes.


weightloss3Studies show that people who lose weight and keep it off long-term tend to participate in regular physical activity.

To help keep it up, avoid starting with unrealistic expectations. Instead, try setting yourself smaller, more realistic goals that will continually spur you on and encourage you to keep going. After all, exercise should be a journey and not a destination.


People get drawn into restrictive, quick-fix diets with the promise of rapid weight loss. However, if you want results that will stick you need to reconsider the notion of healthy eating merely as a temporary fix.

Instead, think about what you’re doing as a permanent lifestyle shift; your attitude should be “This is how I eat now”. A sensible, balanced diet that you can sustain over time will lead to real, long-term results.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Smart snacking


The office environment can present many triggers for bad eating habits. With many of us spending between 8 and 10 hours at our desk each working day, it is no great surprise that office workers can consume around 650 additional calories each day through snacking alone.

Try the following tips to help keep you on the straight and narrow:


If you do find yourself snacking throughout the morning, make sure there’s a trade off. So if you have a chocolate biscuit or several spoons of sugar with your 11am tea, commit to a brisk 15 minute walk at lunchtime or make an extra effort to get to the gym after work.184225440977270118_Q3kM8EPK_c1

Exercise not only burns calories but it also help encourage you to eat less and make healthier food choices, so it’s a great habit to get into.


One of the keys to maintaining good eating habits during the day is to start with a nutritious breakfast (and grabbing a croissant en route doesn’t count).

Cereal and porridge are popular choices; try topping them with natural yoghurt plus nuts and seeds to boost the protein content and it’ll help keep you going till lunchtime, temptation free.

© Sarah West Nutrition


Are you addicted?


Scientists have found that over consumption of high-calorie food actually triggers an addiction-like response in the brain, encouraging people to crave even more sugar, salt-laden food.

If this sounds familiar, how can you break the cycle?


If you’re struggling with cravings, try changing your environment and doing something positive for yourself that will make you feel good.

478859372848550489_N8JygsMs_cA trip to the gym is ideal as it will not only relieve stress (another common junk food trigger) but can cause you to feel less hungry and more emotionally satisfied. You might be surprised at how quickly the craving evaporates.


Food combinations that include high amounts of salt and sugar are more stimulating, meaning that most people can’t limit themselves to suitable portions.

Foods that won’t trigger cravings are those that occur in nature, such as high fibre complex carbohydrates (i.e. wholegrains and vegetables) plus protein and small amounts of fat. By sticking to more natural foods you will find you feel much more in control of your choices.

© Sarah West Nutrition

In the genes


Blaming your weight on genetics can seem a good way to dismiss all responsibility towards it. However, while your genes can determine where and how easily fat is stored, long term weight gain is far more likely to be the result of individual lifestyle factors.


The only way you’ll lose weight successfully is to accept responsibility for yourself and acknowledge that you do have the power to get in shape, regardless what mother nature has given you
to work with.

1Regular physical activity can help you to burn calories, boost your metabolism and increase self-esteem, whatever your genetic make-up.


Believing you are destined to be overweight is a very disempowering and self-defeating attitude. Whilst we inherit certain genes from our parents, we often inherit dietary habits too – which can have just as much impact.

Try keeping a food diary to help identify any particular areas of weakness that might be preventing you from making progress.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Eat, drink and be merry


On Christmas Day it can be hard to stay healthy. The average Christmas dinner contains over 1,400 calories; 70% of the total calorie intake for an adult woman and over half the amount for an adult man. So what can you do to limit the damage?


Make physical activity a priority, wherever you are. On Christmas Day, why not try energetic traditional family games (such as Charades or Twister) or get 5interactive with the Nintendo Wii and Xbox connect.

You’ll have fun, involve everyone and help raise your heart rate at the same time.


The occasional slip-up is inevitable, particularly when you’re surrounded by indulgent food and drink. So if you do end up eating a little more than you intended this Christmas, go easy on yourself.

One day of overindulgence is not worth beating yourself up over; simply reaffirm your goals and start afresh the next day.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Festive feel-good


Although it is a time of year to be enjoyed, an excess of rich food and alcohol over the Christmas period can begin to add up, leaving you feeling tired, overweight and unfit.

The good news is, you don’t have to forgo the parties and goodies completely to stay healthy and energised this month.


It’s OK to divide your exercise into 10 minute intervals if that’s all you have time for; not only is a short workout much better than nothing at all, but once you’ve started you might 5find that you really do have the energy – and time – to go for longer.

Just 10 minutes of moderate exercise is enough to improve your mood, your vigour and also decrease fatigue.


Drinking too much the night before can mean you’re tempted to pig out on junk food, but why not try something more nutritious to help counteract the sore head?

Eggs not only provide a boost of energy, but they’re also a good source of cysteine; the substance that breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde in the liver. This makes scrambled or poached eggs on wholemeal toast the ideal restorative breakfast.

© Sarah West Nutrition