Lockdown might be staring to loosen, slowly, but you’re still likely spending a whole lot more time at home than you would have done, in a pre-COVID world. For many, keeping up the motivation to move, eat well and generally make good on health-promoting activities has been hand to keep a hold of.
Or, you might feel inspired to use all this time sans distraction to really hone in on your health and dedicate a few weeks to feeling your best self. ‘Always have too many work events, meals out and social distractions to focus on your wellbeing? Now could be the perfect opportunity to hone in your nutrition and training’, says personal trainer Courtney Pruce (@courtneypruce).
If you are keen to safely lose some weight right now, we’ve got news for you—it’s really not impossible, and you’re really not alone – searches for ‘how to lose weight in six weeks’, ‘can you lose 10kg in 6 weeks’, and ‘lose 6kg in 6-week diet plan’ are currently trending on Google.
Everybody is dealing with this pandemic in their own way—after all, each person is unique and manages stress differently. If you think that a diet isn’t the right thing for your mental health right now, that’s totally ok, too. There are so many ways to feel good, and for some, losing weight isn’t that. We don’t need to hammer home (once again) that weight isn’t the only marker of health.
If, however, you are keen to get to a healthy bodyweight, don’t fixate on the scales and live miserably. Instead, let our team of experts demonstrate the easiest, lockdown-friendly ways to make change – that’ll benefit both body and mind.
First, your most Googled weight loss questions, answered
1/ How much weight can I lose in 6 weeks?
Expert-recommended weight loss hovers around 500g – 1kg per week (anymore and you risk upsetting your metabolism), so some women could potentially lose around 2kg of fat in six weeks, while others will be just shy of 6kg.
But fat loss (weight loss to the masses) is unique and is dependent on many factors. Just because someone else on Instagram is seeing results faster than you, it doesn’t mean that you’re not progressing. It’s important to realise that there are many factors at play when it comes to body composition.
2/ Can you lose 6kg in 6 weeks?
We refer to above: a weight loss at this rate wouldn’t be considered ‘healthy’ by many experts, including the NHS who advise ‘a safe rate of 0.5kg to 1kg each week’.
Plus, ‘it is always advisable for women to not drop their body fat percentage below 18% because hormone production, fertility and regular cycles can be affected long term,’ says Jake Lawrance of F45 Training Camden (@f45_training_camden). ‘A healthy range where you look and feel great will be between 18 and 25%.’
It’s not just about what you weigh but what makes up your weight that matters. Women need body fat.
3/ Can you lose weight in lockdown?
‘Weight loss’ occurs when you are in a caloric deficit, which means you’re fuelling your body with slightly less than it’s burning through its daily expenditure. Understanding your own energy balance (or Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is key to knowing where you stand and where to start. That’s the very basic science of weight loss, no drama or emotion attached’, shares personal trainer Emily Ricketts (@emrickettz).
In short, losing weight can be as simple as eating less than your body is burning to survive each day. Move more and eat a little less, and you’ll likely find yourself in a calorie deficit, therefore losing fat, which, yes, you can do in quarantine. It just means getting inventive with getting your daily steps in and organised with your weekly food shop. There’s no one size fits all with fat loss, but this is the simple, universal equation.
4/ How to stay focused on a weight loss goal for 6 whole weeks?
Before beginning any fitness or food plan, identify your Big Why. ‘This is the magic ingredient to get you through those moments when you’re tempted to give in,’ Dr Jen Nash, Healthspan’s clinical psychologist says. ‘What’s the reason you’ve decided to embark on this six-week regime? Is it a ‘moving away from’ goal to avoid something you don’t want, like a health condition getting worse, or ‘moving towards’, to feel confident for an event? Anchor your Big Why with a physical reminder – a photo, an inspiring word or phrase you can turn too for motivation.’ If you’re someone who is easily derailed, this is vital.
However, do remind yourself of this fact: ‘Focusing on real health outcomes will make us healthier and happier,’ says Kristina Saffran, CEO and co-founder of Project HEAL. Simply put, hooking your happiness on a figure on the scales isn’t likely to work long term.
5/ Do I need to cut out certain food groups?
Definitely not. Say it loud and clear for the ones at the back—cutting out food groups is never nutritionally advised unless you are told to do so by a doctor or nutritional expert as a result of an allergy or health condition.
As above, if you’re keen to lose weight, you will have to ensure you’re in a calorie deficit. That means keeping track of how many calories, roughly, you’re consuming. A sure-fire way to do this and allow for the majority of the foods you love, too? ‘Consider weaving in some ‘free passes’ each week where you can allow yourself to enjoy going off track,’ says Dr Nash. ‘This can help you maintain after the six weeks is up as well – so you really can have your cake and eat it.’ Which leads us on too…
6/ Should you use an app to monitor what you’re eating and drinking?
It’s easy to miscalculate your intake and therefore not see results, especially when you’re at home all day, every day, and the biscuit tin keeps calling your name from your makeshift living room office. It’s then likely that you’ll beat yourself – so stop. Take a moment and get ‘appy. Calorie counting apps are a great way to get an overview of what you’re consuming—read up on the best, according to the WH team.
What food is best for weight loss?
How much should you eat to lose weight in six weeks?
Follow NHS ‘safe rate’ guidelines of a loss of 0.5g – 1kg a week and you’ll need to reduce your current calorie intake by 10%, says Rickets. So if you eat 2,000 calories a day, aim for 1,800. ‘This will be a little different for everybody, but start with a 10% deficit, and adjust things from there, depending on how you’re responding and progressing over the 6 weeks. I’d never advise being in more than a 20% deficit, and the smaller and slower the better, particularly if muscle retention is your main goal.’
Pruce agrees. ‘Starting with a gradual calorie deficit (10 to 20% derived from food intake, daily exercise and general activity) as opposed to a very drastic calorie deficit is a sure-fire way to ensure you maintain optimal mood and energy levels, plus leaves some wiggle room for the fun tasty foods we all crave.’
As above, it’s handy to track your calories and how much carbohydrate, fat and protein, aka macronutrients you’re eating, with an app, to get a better idea of how much energy you’re actually consuming every day. The likelihood is, quarantine has encouraged some pretty mindless snacking and grazing habits, which may, in turn, mean you’re eating more than you realise.
While this is totally normal, given the current climate, totting it all up on an app may give you a better idea of your starting point.
What should you eat to lose weight in six weeks?
1/ Up the fruit, veggies and protein
Not the most novel of concepts, but a valid point, nonetheless; make sure you’re including lots of fruit, vegetables and protein in every meal, says Dr Nash.
Fruit and veg are full of vitamins and minerals and mainly low calorie, so make you feel like you’re eating lots more food for less calories. For example, an 100g serving of zucchini has 17 calories compared to a serving of spaghetti, which has 158 calories. ‘At every main meal, make a minimum of half your plate leafy greens and veg,’ says Nosh Detox founder Geeta Sidhu-Robb. ‘This increases fibre in your diet and makes your gut healthier.’ Win, win.
Protein, on the other hand, keeps you fuller for longer.
2/ Eat more healthy fats
‘One of the easiest things you can do to improve weight loss from a nutritional perspective, is to replace [excess] carbs with good quality protein and healthy fats,’ says Lawrance. ‘This encourages the body to utilise fat as its main energy source, instead of using the carbs you consume for that purpose.’
3/ Enjoy post-workout carbs
‘Post training you should always refuel with carbs and protein to encourage muscle growth and fat loss,’ says Lawrance. Good sources of healthy carbs include:
4/ Get into fermented foods
‘Food intake needs to be carefully balanced and planned for weight loss,’ says clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer. ‘In order to effect consistent weight loss, it’s important that the body’s natural beneficial bacteria be in good shape. An overgrowth of bad bacteria will cause inflammation throughout the body and will stop the body from losing weight.’
How to ensure your gut is ticking along tip top? Sawyer recommends eating fermented foods such as:
These all replenish good bacteria and therefore support weight loss.
5/ Go hard on healthy snacks
While it’s best to figure out what works best for you and your body during your weight loss, snacking can actually be beneficial for some as it maintains your metabolic rate and staves off awful hunger pangs, which sometimes cause temptation says Woods.
‘The key is to snack often, but ensure that you are eating healthy snacks in small portions. Why not try a handful of nuts mid-morning, a rich source of protein to help you stay fuller for longer, and have an oat biscuit or two with avocado, cream cheese or hummus mid afternoon?’.
6/ Think about micro-nutrients
‘When we’re taking in less calories and working the body harder with exercise, you need additional nutrients to keep energy levels high,’ says Sawyer. ‘The multivitamins in the Alive! range contain good levels of iodine as well as all essential vitamins and minerals, plus they are packed with 26 fruit and vegetables and are the only supplement to contain fruit, vegetables and green blends as well as multi-vitamins and multi-minerals.’
Exercise for weight loss
Back to that all-important calorie deficit—we mentioned that it can be obtained two ways, firstly, by eating a little less, and secondly, by moving more. ‘In my opinion, the most important thing is that you ensure your calorie deficit isn’t created through just nutrition alone. To be sustainable, it needs to be a combination of food, regular exercise and daily activity, such as walking, dancing with your kids and household chores’, says Pruce.
Now, we may be advised to only leave the house for an hour a day at current, but lockdown rules and staying home doesn’t necessarily have to mean moving less. Instead, why not take regular laps of your house or garden, get cracking with those household chores, try a standing desk and regularly take the stairs, says Pruce? ‘It’s all better than nothing! Just walking around as much as you can is better than sitting down all day and all contributes to daily energy burn’, she shares.
What’s the best exercise to lose weight in six weeks?
You’ve limited time so your exercise programme is going to need to be efficient. Which means? You want to choose workouts that you actually enjoy and will want to go back too, that burn enough calories, too.
‘Beyond weight loss, exercise is incredibly important for maintaining fitness, muscle mass and mobility and whilst it does contribute to overall calorie burn, the ‘best’ form of exercise is going to be one that you love the most as ultimately, this is the one that you’ll keep going back to. Regular training of any kind is the most important thing in the long run, so workout what works for you’, says Pruce.
Ricketts agrees: ‘Ultimately, the ‘best’ workout is the one you enjoy the most. Exercise should be a pleasure, not a punishment! If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it – and one of the biggest keys to any kind of progress is consistency. So, pick something you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) as that love and passion is what will keep you coming back the next day, and the next, and the next’. Hear, hear.
Example workout week
A very general recommendation from Pruce? ‘Two to four strength sessions and one to two cardio-based sessions a week’. Simply click the links below for example workouts you can do from home.
Strength workout ideas:
Cardio workout ideas:
How many workouts should I do a week?
Again, this isn’t a straightforward answer. Ricketts advises no more than five workout sessions a week and trying to hit 8,000 to 12,000 steps a day, where you can. Pruce advises beginners to start at three sessions a week and build up from there, also advising to hit your daily steps and be generally active, where you can.
More than five workouts a week could be detrimental to your recovery; instead, focus on smashing your sessions, when you do do them, and getting active in other ways, like walking around your flat and standing to work. All experts stressed that recovery is important, too, so be mindful of not overdoing it.
There you have it: the simplest steps to lose weight in six weeks. Do remember, fat loss is different for everyone and every body, but the basic premise is simple – eat (around 10%) less than you normally would, drink lots of water and move regularly.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health UK.
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