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How to lose weight at a healthy pace

Regular exercise and a healthy diet are two sides of the weight loss coin. Here’s how to master them both for lasting weight loss.

Exercise and weight loss

Regular exercise is important for several reasons. First, activity helps burn more calories which will help you create that important calorie deficit. You need to burn more calories than you eat to lose weight. Second, exercise builds a strong, lean body which will burn more calories even at rest. Lastly, staying active will keep your metabolic rate higher. This will make your weight loss journey a lot easier than if you were inactive and sedentary.

Exercise also makes you feel energised, healthy, and positive. Active people tend to make better food choices, eat a healthier diet, and drink more water. Make exercise one part of your healthy living campaign!

Diet and weight loss

It’s impossible to lose weight without getting to grips with your diet and nutrition. The basis of weight loss is calorie balance (how much energy you burn vs. how many calories you eat). However, there’s much more to diet and weight loss than calories.

Eating a wholesome diet will help your body stay fit and healthy. A healthy body functions well on all levels. A good diet will include lots of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, pulses, whole grains, starchy carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

When you pay attention to your diet, you will eat less processed foods, choose fewer man-made snacks, and reduce your intake of trans fats. You will also probably prepare more home cooked food. Over time, all these positive nutritional habits will support your body in lifelong weight loss.

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Are they both equally important?

Diet and exercise both have an important role to play in losing weight and keeping it off. You could argue that it’s possible to lose weight without exercising, and it’s true that you could use dieting by itself. Your weight loss will be more enjoyable (and healthy) if you keep active too.

If the idea of gyms, running, or workouts don’t appeal, remember that exercise can mean any kind of activity which works your body. Walking is a valid (and underrated) way to support weight loss. Find a form of activity you enjoy and do it regularly. Consistency is more important than trying the latest workout trend.

How much exercise should you do?

Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, plus some resistance work to strengthen your muscles. However, we now know that NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is just as important. This simply means every bit of activity which isn't classed as exercise. Your own NEAT could come from walking, playing with your kids, doing DIY, or even manual chores like washing the car or mowing the lawn. In other words, every bit of activity counts.

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The take home point? Eat a healthy diet which you can enjoy in the long term, avoid fads, have a sustainable healthy eating plan which gives you the appropriate amount of calories, and move your body as much as possible during daily life. Remember to also work up a sweat doing your favourite form of activity or exercise as often as you can too.

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