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Weight loss techniques

Dr. Alexandra Phelan: General Practictioner | minute read
Weight loss techniques

If you have decided that you want to lose weight, this article covers some ways to make it happen.


Dieting works best in combination with exercise. Your GP or health advisor can help you to determine how to start and how to exercise safely. You will most likely build up slowly to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on at least five days of the week. Moderate intensity means that you are breathing slightly more than normal, but you can still comfortably talk as you exercise. For most people, a brisk walk every day for between 30 minutes to an hour will show benefits.

A healthy diet

Weight loss should be gradual. Most experts recommend weight loss of one to two pounds a week. Usually, doctors recommend that weight loss should be achieved by eating around 600 calories less each day than you normally do, but this will depend on how much weight you need to lose.

A healthy diet means swapping unhealthy food choices such as fast food, for healthy ones such as fruit, veg and whole grains. You should limit your intake of fat, sugar and alcohol and increase your intake of starchy high fibre foods such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta. In addition you should eat five 80g portions of fruit and veg each day. Opt for leaner cuts of meat and start steaming and boiling food instead of frying it.

When shopping check food labels and avoid buying products that contain more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g.

Adopting a healthy, balanced diet will provide all of the calories and essential nutrients that the body needs and in the long-run will be more successful than trying to follow a fad diet.

Drug treatments

If dietary and exercise changes have not worked to effectively lose weight, then doctors can prescribe medication to tackle the weight gain. The only medication currently prescribed is orlistat. This works by blocking the action of an enzyme (a protein that controls chemical reactions in the body) to prevent undigested fat being absorbed into your body. Instead the fat gets passed out with your faeces (poo) - leading to weight loss.

Where obesity is life-threatening weight loss surgery may be offered (bariatric surgery). This is a last resort. You may be offered this if you are morbidly obese with a BMI of 40+ or a BMI between 35 and 40 with an obesity-related condition that might improve if you lose weight, such as type 2 diabetes. Surgery may involve ‘gastric banding’ where the stomach’s size is restricted forcing you to eat less, or gastric bypass which changes the way the digestive system absorbs food.

Slimming supplements

Slimming supplements such as Alli, XLS Medical Fat Binder & Adios are approved over-the-counter supplements that are available to overweight adults 18 years and older. Supplements should be used in conjunction with a low-calorie, low-fat diet and regular exercise. These products claim to work in various ways - some aim to speed up the body’s metabolic rate others claim to reduce the body’s absorption of fat.

Alternative remedies and self-help

There are all kinds of remedies that people try for weight loss but some which may prove effective include:

  • Green tea - this contains a class of antioxidants which have been associated with an increased metabolism and the ability to stimulate fat burning.

  • Fish oil - the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help change the way the body uses fat. Some studies suggest instead of storing it, the body burns fat as fuel.

  • L-glutamine - when blood sugar levels drop, cravings tend to follow because your brain isn't getting the fuel it needs. L-glutamine instantly fuels the brain, and stops the code red that makes you crave sweets and starchy foods.

This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078