• Question: why is starving yourself not a productive way of trying to lose weight and what is the best method to lose weight?

    Asked by zeinab to Sarah, Tim, Tom on 23 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Tom Crick

      Tom Crick answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      Starving yourself is a poor (and dangerous) way of losing weight — you are depriving your own body of natural nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, etc. You can put yourself at risk of getting ill and you can get weak very quickly. Ironically, crash dieting can slow down your body’s metabolism, which is exactly what you want to increase to burn calories more effectively!

      The best way to lose weight is as part of a planned calorie-controlled diet (eating healthily: fruit and vegetable and cutting down on fast food, sweets, fizzy drinks, etc) with exercise — you need to burn more calories than you consume!

    • Photo: Sarah Thomas

      Sarah Thomas answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      Starving yourself does not help you lose weight at all. While in starvation mode, the body ceases to burn calories. Then, when you eat, your body will store everything it can in the form of fat. This means that you will GAIN weight.

      If you exercise while in starvation mode, rather than burning fat, you actually burn muscle! So it doesn’t help you get more toned and anyway – you need energy to exercise properly and work those muscles!

      I can’t tell you what’s the scientific best way to lose weight but here’s some advice:

      First find out if you actually need to lose weight – here is a link to a BMI calculator that will tell you what a healthy weight would be for your height. You need to know your height (feet or metres) and your weight (kg or stones).


      If you do want to lose weight then it really comes down to diet and exercise, and determination too – you really have to stick with it!!

      In terms of diet, cut out unnessary high-sugar high-fat junk – we all know what’s bad for us but it’s up to you to say “no”! There’s lots of healthy diet advice on the internet so have a look at a few articles. The important thing is to be healthy and eat nice full meals that make you full so you aren’t tempted to snack. Try counting your calories (the average woman should have 1940 calories a day). If you are having way less than that, the problem as to why you aren’t losing weight could be down to what you are eating: a cheese and onion pasty has the same calories as tomatoey pasta and a salad – which do you think is better for you?

      Finally, exercise!! Exercising regularly will help you lose weight, but there is something you should know! Certain types of exercise increase your appetite so much that you end up eating more and this stops you from losing weight! The worst one is swimming! Have you ever gone for a big swim and then been ravenously hungry afterwards?! There is research that shows that walking is the best form of exercise to help you lose weight. It burns calories but doesn’t make you super hungry. Try investing in a pedometer – you are supposed to do 10000 steps every day! Walk to school, to work, to the shops, go for a walk with your friends to the beach, walk your neighbors dog! Get off the bus 2 stops early and walk the rest of the way!

      If what you really want to do is tone up a little bit, I would recommend jogging. You could aim to take part in a run for charity (like me, I did the Race For Life 10K on Sunday). Also I think pilates is really good for your core muscles (tummy and back). You should look and see what exercise classes there are at your local gym. The nice thing about pilates is that it is kind of relaxing and you don’t get red and sweaty but then the next day your muscles really hurt!

      Last but not least – the most important thing about body image is to LOVE YOURSELF!! Honestly!! Look in the mirror and list all the things about your body that you like! Everything in trashy magazines is airbrushed like crazy, that is not what real people look like ok! Everybody has little hang ups about their bodies – ask your friends! Losing weight to be healthy and feel good is great! But at the end of the day, there are lots of things about your body that you are not going to be able to change, and you just have to learn to accept them, and then learn to love them! When you hear other people’s body hang ups, they sound ridiculous! And that’s because they are! To prove this to you, I will tell you mine: I have moles and they freak me out! Some of them are flat like big freckles and others stick out a little bit and they are the worst! I have them on my face, my neck, one next to my belly button, one on my ribs, and one of my calf. Yuk they are so wierd! And I also have this theory that my body is out of proportion because I think I have a short torso and long legs, and I’m short. 😀