How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, Forever

Updated: May 4, 2021

With 2/3 of the UK population now classified as overweight or obese, there has never been more available information about how to lose weight and get in shape. At some point in your life, you’ve probably been on a diet to lose weight and maybe even experimented with some of the more popular diets like keto, paleo, vegan, Atkins, weight watchers, etc. You may have even found success in the past but now that muffin top or spare tyre has made its way back to your waistline and you’re looking for some advice again. The good news is you’ve come to the right place and below is exactly what you need to know to lose weight and keep it off for good. The bad news is there are no quick fixes, miracle cures, or fad diets here. Just evidence-based advice that is proven to work for anyone.

In order to achieve healthy sustainable weight loss, there are a number of core principles (or rules if you prefer), which you need to follow. The 4 core weight loss principles are:

  1. You must be in a calorie deficit (i.e. your calories in must be less than you calories out).

  2. Don't lose weight too quickly (aim to lose no more than 0.5 - 1.0% of your bodyweight per week).

  3. Eat a high protein diet (i.e. 1.6 - 2.2 g/kg/day)

  4. Engage in resistance training (i.e. weight lifting or bodyweight training) at least twice/week.

While you may be able to achieve some levels of success by only following some of these core principles, for long-term results you need to follow all four and remain active once reaching your goal weight.

Now it’s all well and good to make these statements but you’re probably wanting to know why these principles are so key and why this advice may differ from the millions of other people’s weight loss advice you’ve heard before. This is where many so-called weight loss ‘experts’ shy away from talking facts and the long-term results of their diet fads. Just about any crazy fad diet can induce weight loss in the short-term (< 3 months), but the evidence shows they all fail in the long term (> 2 years), often causing greater increases in total body fat accumulation overall. No matter how you do it, creating a calorie deficit will result in weight loss. But, could you follow that juice fast forever? How about never eating another carb your whole life? I didn’t think so. That's why these diets fail long-term, as they’re all looking at how to just get the weight off quickly to make money. What they’re not doing is helping you to put in place habits and behaviours that will maintain a healthy weight and stop the endless yo-yo dieting cycle.

Calorie Deficit

Weight loss is the product of a negative calorie balance (i.e. Calories In < Calories Out). However, calories in vs calories out is not as simple as public health messages such as “Eat Less and Move More” would suggest. Calories in is simple enough, it's the sum of all the food and drinks you ingest each day including alcohol. The calories out side of the equation, however, is a little more complicated and is made up of 4 components:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).

  • Thermic Effect of Food (TEF).

  • Exercise Activity (EA).

All together these 4 components make up your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). To help you understand, and help dispel some diet myths I will explain each of these individually and how much each contributes to your TDEE.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – this is the largest component of your TDEE, making up approximately 60 - 70% of the calories out part of the equation (however, this percentage may be lower in very active individuals). Your BMR accounts for all the energy that is required to run all your bodily functions including, pumping your blood around the body, creating hormones, thinking, breathing, etc.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) – NEAT makes up approximately 15% of your TDEE but may be as much as 50% in highly active individuals. NEAT accounts for all the involuntary movements you make each day like using your devices, fidgeting, talking, moving around, etc. Your NEAT can actually decrease significantly when you become more active as an unconscious effort to be less active in your involuntary day-to-day activities to compensate for the energy you are expending through more regular exercise activity.