How to lose weight: even during lockdown

Find out how to lose weight reliably and sustainably, in the comfort of your own home

how to lose weight
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Would like to learn how to lose weight during lockdown? The good news is that even if you're not into running, you can still lose weight from the comfort of your home, without fancy equipment (although if you've been dying to get that elliptical trainer or rowing machine, go for it). 

All you really need to lose weigh at home is a mindful plan that encompasses food, activity levels, and good sleep. Plus, there's one thing you're probably doing more of than ever which will add to weight gain without you even knowing it (hint: tit's our final tip). Read more below.

For more health-related advice, visit our hub page. 

1. Keep track of your calorie intake

Losing weight is about creating a calorie deficit – that is, consuming fewer calories than you are using up. It really is that simple, and even if you're not able to do much exercise at the moment, reducing your total calorie intake is guaranteed to get you to lose weight. 

To do this effectively, first calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) using the NHS BMI calculator. It will ask you for fairly detailed information about your height, age, and activity levels in order to determine whether you are within a healthy weight range. It will also tell you how much of a calorie deficit you will need per day in order to lose weight. Keep to this number and make sure you don't go drastically below it, as this could be dangerous to your health.

Next, start keeping a calorie journal. Most of us don't really know how many calories we eat a day, but if you're trying to lose weight, it's important to know how many calories there are in everything you eat. You won't have to do this forever, as eventually you'll have a pretty good idea of how calorific different foods are.

2. Rethink how you eat

Which brings us to our second point, about your diet. You don't have to go on any special diet to lose weight, but some foods, particularly those that are processed and high in sugar and saturated fat make you hungrier, encouraging you to eat more throughout the day. 

The surest way to lose weight is to drastically cut down on everything processed and everything with added sugar. Instead, eat more vegetables, pulses, and lean protein. In fact, sticking to the rule of thirds – a plate that has one third protein, one third veg, and one third healthy carb – has been proven to be an effective strategy for losing weight. See all our recipes – we have tons of healthy meals for you to make.

Want information on diets? Take a look at our grounded, no-nonsense approach to these:

3. Increase activity levels

Another piece of good news: you don't need to do hardcore exercise to lose weight. The main point is to keep moving, and even a half-hour walk a day (which is what most of us are getting at the moment) is associated with a healthier weight. Other forms of activity that will help you lose weight are cleaning, gardening, and yoga –crucially, though, you'll need to do them every day to see a result. Use our guide to home workouts to find one that suits you.

4. Invest in bathroom scales

Scales can be controversial, because they make some people over-anxious about losing weight. However, bathroom scales – especially more expensive ones with smart features – provide many people with an incentive to lose weight and a goal to work towards. Weigh yourself once a month, but not more frequently, as you won't see a significant result in less time. 

5. Drink more water

Does drinking water really help you lose weight? Yes – adequate hydration boosts metabolism and kickstarts your body's waste elimination processes, as well as combating water retention, which contributes to excess weight.

Don't like the taste of your tap water? Get a water filter – our favourite is this plastic-free water filter from Amazon.

6. Sleep more – and better

Not sleeping is bad for you in all sorts of ways, but the lesser known way lack of sleep damages you health is by making you gain weight. Lack of sleep is particularly closely linked to excess weight around the midriff, so if you want to lose weight in your waist, try to go to bed earlier. 

Find lots of tips for sleeping better in our guide. 

7. The key to weight loss: drink less alcohol

It's not just the fact that alcohol contains extra calories that makes it incompatible with a weight loss programme. Alcohol is empty calories. How many? Even a drink you (we) might think of as low in calories, such as a vodka and diet coke, is 100 calories plus, while a small bottle of beer is around 200 calories. And that takes around 20 minutes of exercise to burn off. Add that up to a whole evening's worth of drinking (and hey, we're guilty of it at the moment, too), and you're looking at a whole load of extra calories that'll be piling on the pounds.

Alcohol also interferes with metabolic processes in the body: basically, while you're drinking, your body is busy metabolising just the alcohol, rather than your dinner, which means more of what you've eaten will be stored as fat. 

Follow our guide on how to give up alcohol to help you with this challenge.

8. How to lose belly fat (hint: it's not press-ups)

Good news for those of us who want to drop a few inches around our waists but hate press-ups: press-ups do nothing for your belly fat, and that's a fact. In fact, any kind of spot weight loss (i.e. weight loss in just one part of your body) is impossible. What is possible is overall weight loss plus muscle toning, which is what will give you a six-pack. 

For those of us who just want a slightly slimmer waist, though, the most important steps to losing belly fat are:

  • Avoid foods high in sugar and all alcohol, especially beer (the term 'beer belly' didn't come out of nowhere);
  • Eat as soon as you get up: there is a theory, supported by some research, that if you don't eat as soon as you get up, your body goes into starvation mode and tries to hold on to its fat reserves, particularly around the midriff;
  • Reduce stress levels: this is connected to the second point; the more adrenaline in your system, the more your body tries to hold on to those vital fat reserves. Try to relax so that you're in thriving rather just surviving mode;
  • Sleep more: your body burns belly fat faster while you sleep than when you're awake, so try to get the recommended seven to nine hours