Forget fad diets! Nutritionist Lisa Mclean shows you how you can achieve realistic weight loss…

You’ve probably seen it before “Drop a dress size in two weeks!” splashed across internet advertising, magazines, newspapers, television programs. The concept is so appealing – a whole dress size down in 14 days? Brilliant!

But in real life, this is simply not realistic. If you did actually drop a dress size in two weeks, I’d have to ask if you’d been ill, or if you’d cut out major food groups (fat, carbohydrates and protein perhaps?). To drop a dress size we’re looking at a weight loss of approximately five to eight kilograms (kg).

This figure will obviously vary from person to person, as it is dependant on height, body shape, starting weight and how much muscle you have. On a strict diet and exercise regime with a realistic goal weight of 0.75 to 1kg a week, this should take you between six to eight weeks to achieve. The average woman requires around 8000 kilojoule (Kj) per day. This is dependant on many factors, such as height, weight and physical activity. To lose approximately 0.75 to 1kg per week, we would need to look at cutting out 2000kj per day as well as exercising on a daily basis to lose approximately 2000kj. At a moderate intensity, this would translate into approximately 45mins – one hour per day. This can be broken up into smaller sessions (three half hour or three 20-minute sessions per day) to make it fit in to your schedule and to keep it manageable.

Dropping a dress size is an appealing idea for most of us – but it can’t happen overnight or two weeks! But with a solid nutritional and fitness plan it can happen.

Here’s how we go about it:

Set your goal:Set a date with a weight loss goal, such as dropping a dress size, and aim for that.

Be realistic: Don’t expect too much too soon, and be realistic with what you can and can’t achieve in your time span.

Plan ahead: List your meals for the next few days. By knowing what you will be eating you will be less likely to stray.

Tea/Coffee: If you enjoy tea and coffee, still do so but try to avoid espresso-based coffees that are mostly milk, as these, especially the larger commercial servings, can be quite high in calories. If this is something you really enjoy, get a small size with skinny milk and use a sweetener instead of sugar.

Be on your guard when it comes to ‘low fat’: Yoghurts are one of the main culprits here – not all are created equal! Check the fat and kilojoule levels on the side of the packet before purchasing because you could be looking at a difference of up to 500kj per serving in just the low-fat varieties!

Drink in moderation: If you are going to enjoy alcohol try to limit your consumption – try to stick to weekends, and one or two glasses only. Depending on your drink of choice, alcohol can really increase the number of total kilojoules for the day and limit your progress.

Keep a record: Some people find that keeping a food diary is very useful, others find it does nothing. If you think it’ll work for you, give it a go. It can help you identify your ‘problem’ times and lead you to make better choices.
Some studies have even found that people who record their eating patterns subconsciously change their eating habits for the better!