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Keep extra winter weight at bay
Keep extra winter weight at bay

Five kilos. It is a relatively small amount but as many women will agree, notoriously hard to shift. But could it be partly thanks to the way most of us attempt a diet?

Dietitian and author Susie Burrell said weight loss often became an all or nothing pursuit.

"Sure, you can easily lose 5kg if you are strict but the changes are often unsustainable and as a result, the old habits return and the weight lost is regained," Ms Burrell said.

Most dieters would actually be better off not going on a diet at all. According to statistics compiled by the Dietitians Association of Australia, more than 80 per cent of people on diets regain everything they lose, and more, in two years.

Instead of restrictive fad diets that promise rapid weight loss, Ms Burrell said there was a much simpler - and much more liveable - way to slim down.

"Approach losing five kilos as a gradual process," she said.

"The sum of small but sustainable changes will leave you with long-term weight loss even though it may take a little longer."

She suggested eating bigger serves of vegies at lunch and dinner and having bigger meals throughout the first half of the day.

You also needed to think about the extras that add up, like sauces and drinks, and controlling your sweet food intake.

"Structural change to your diet is the key; dietary changes that promote calorie burning, but that can be easily incorporated."

If there was not much change on the scales, don't give up.

Avoid the usual dieting trap of not committing enough time for weight loss (allow at least four to six weeks to see results), be careful with weekend overindulgences, and accept that you may need to get active, more often, she said.

But forget about eating whatever you wanted and making it up with exercise, because, according to exercise and sports scientist Alice Round, it is not possible to out-train a bad diet. She believes weight loss is down to 80 per cent good nutrition and 20 per cent exercise.

Despite this, she said exercise, especially resistance training, had other slimming advantages.

"Weight training is crucial because it allows you to preserve your muscle mass, as body weight decreases," she said.

"This results in higher metabolic activity, and a leaner and more toned physique, as opposed to cardiovascular exercise alone which loses both fat tissue and muscle tissue, and slows down the metabolic rate."