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Body

Ask the experts: Calorie counting, weight loss

Sovereign ambassador Nicola Smith, a personal trainer, nutrition and lifestyle coach, answers your nutrition and fitness questions.

Q. What is your opinion on calorie counting and weight loss? I’ve read several of Dr Libby Weaver’s books and understand her philosophy about not counting calories and instead focusing on eating wholefoods. I eat very healthily with reasonable portion sizes, but I'm not losing very much weight. In the past (mostly when I was in my 30s), I could lose weight if I counted calories. Now, at 50, I eat much better but still the weight clings on. Everyone says I look well and my skin and hair is great, but I’m a bit confused. What should I do?
A. When we are younger, our metabolism can handle a lot more stress, but over time it can get messed up with calorie restriction-type diets and the quality of the food we eat. With this in mind, you should focus on overall health and not get too worried about the scales for now. Forgive your body if what may have worked in the past isn’t working today and realise that, despite your weight worries, it sounds like you’re in fairly good health.
You need to invest time into restoring your metabolism and hormones, and providing your body with good-quality food is the right place to start. Then you need to ensure you’re eating enough food to provide your body with energy.
If you under-eat, your body will hold onto weight because it believes it is starving, no matter how good the quality of the food.
It it is more important that you listen to your body and eat intuitively. This means eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Try not to overeat and pay attention to how certain foods affect your body. After a meal, you should feel content and nourished – you shouldn’t feel tired, lethargic or jittery.
Another way to gain perspective on what you are eating is to use a food diary app (such as fitday.com or myfitnesspal.com) to keep track of how much you’re eating each day and work out whether you are eating enough and getting a good balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
If you have been exercising in the same way for some time, your body may need you to mix up your training to boost your metabolism and shift that extra weight. You could also add a couple of short body-weight workouts to your week to help increase your fitness and improve your energy levels.
Finally, ensure you get eight to 10 hours of good-quality sleep each night because this is when your body recovers and repairs. This will also help improve your natural hormonal rhythm and improve your overall sense of wellbeing.
Photos: Getty Images

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