Advice for weight management


Maintaining a healthy weight

For successful weight management you can make a few simple calculations to see what your current Body Mass Index and Basal Metabolic Rate is. Once you’re armed with this knowledge, you can work with a healthcare professional to develop a weight loss/gain regime that will get you to your ideal weight.

Use the tabs above to work through this process. The more aware you are, the easy it will become to manage weight.

Body Mass

Calculating a healthy weight

There are a few simple calculations you can make to determine weight and health. While these calculations have limitations on determining health, they can be a good indicator to determining risk of conditions and diseases that are damaging.


Our bodies vary in shape and size and one measurement can’t determine your frame. However, Doctors and healthcare professionals are able to recommend a healthy weight range rather than determine a specific healthy weight for a specific individual’s height. This is the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale.


Want to know your BMI?

Use our calculator to work out your Body Mass Index

BMI indicates if you are overweight, obese, underweight or normal. A healthy BMI range is between 18.5 and 25. Anything below 18.5 suggests you may be underweight while being above 25 indicates you could be overweight.

Note that BMI alone is not a perfect guide to the risks of obesity or cardiovascular problems. Other factors can be taken into consideration.

Waist Circumference

Where you carry excess weight can determine future problems with health. Those people shaped like an apple rather than a pear will store fat around the midriff and are most at risk of developing diabetes or heart disease.

Weight circumference risks are:

– For a man, higher than a 32in waist indicates a greater risk, above 35in and you’re at a worrying risk
– For a woman, higher than a 37in waist indicates a greater risk, greater than 40in is worrying

Waist-to-hip ratio

Measuring the narrow point of your abdomen (your waist circumference) to your widest point (the hip circumference) may be a better measurement of risk.

Waist-to-hip ration calculation
  1. Stand up straight and relax your stomach.
  2. Locate the narrowest point of the waist and take a measurement. Write this down.
  3. Locate the widest point of the hips and buttocks and take a measurement. Write this down.
  4. Divide step 2 by step 3. This is your waist-to-hip ratio.

For men, a ratio of 1.0 (the waist bigger than the hips) and for women 0.8, means you should be looking to reduce weight and increase exercise as soon as possible.


How does metabolism affect weight?

You’ve probably heard people say that being overweight is because of a slow metabolism (i.e. energy is burned more slowly) and people who are thin have a fast metabolism. This isn’t true.

Our ‘metabolic rate’ is the amount of energy (or calories) that we burn every day through normal bodily functions – breathing, heart beat etc. This rate is known as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

There is a scientific measurement that calculates the amount of calories people burn when resting, whether they’re overweight or not. The measurement is based on oxygen breathed in and carbon dioxide breathed out.

Consistent results from these measurements have proved that people who are overweight will use more energy to keep their bodies functioning (because of their larger body, the muscles and organs are bigger).

Despite people’s difference in size, leanness, obesity etc., everyone has a similar metabolic rate. Your BMR is influenced by the composition of your body. For instance, muscle needs more energy than fat to function and getting old increases fat gain while reducing muscle. As we age, our BMR decreases.

Also, two people who are the same age and the same weight can have different metabolic rates if one is more active (and therefore has more muscle) than the other person.

Physical activity plus our BMR will make up our body’s total energy expenditure. How much energy (calories) we need depends on how active we are.

It is a myth among people who are overweight that they have a slow metabolism because they eat little but still put on weight. People also eat more than they think. A study showed that when asked to write down what had been eaten in a day, people will miss out items – they also don’t realise the number of calories the foods they eat contain.

The simple fact remains, if you consume more calories than your body requires you will gain weight. By accepting this you are on the path to losing weight. Not only that, but once you lose the weight and understand your body’s needs to maintain a healthy weight, you can manage it better.


What’s your BMR?

Use our calculator to work out your basal metabolic rate (BMR)


How many calories do we burn?

To work out your total calorie expenditure (or energy expenditure), you’ll need to know your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and then apply this to your level of activity.

This equation is known as the Harris Benedict Equation, however it does not take into account how lean you are (a lean body will require more calories). People who are muscular will find this calculation to under-estimate needs while very overweight people will find the calculation over-estimates calorie needs.

If you haven’t done so, calculate your BMR using our BMR Calculator

Your Calorie Needs
Calculate your total daily calorie needs by multiplying your BMR result by your level of activity:

  1. Sedentary (little to no exercise) : Calories = BMR x 1.2
  2. Light activity (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calories = BMR x 1.375
  3. Moderate activity (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calories = BMR x 1.55
  4. Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calories = BMR x 1.725
  5. Extra active (extreme exercise/sports + physical job or double training) : Calories = BMR x 1.9

If your level of activity is “Sedentary”, then:

Your BMR (for example 1593) x 1.2 = 1912

Therefore, you’ll require 1912 calories to maintain your current weight.

Once you know the number of calories needed to maintain your weight, you can easily calculate the number of calories you need to eat in order to gain or lose weight

Losing weight

How to lose weight

Fat stored in the body amounts to 3,500 calories per pound (a pound of fat is in fact made up of 3/4 fat and 1/4 lean tissue). Decreasing your calorie intake by 3,500 through dieting and/or exercising will mean you’ll lose one pound.

You can restrict your calories just by dieting but a combination of calorie reduction through diet (calories going in) and exercising (calories burnt off) is the best way to lose weight and keep the weight off. If you want to sustain weight loss this can only be achieved with regular exercise.

To drop the fat, a good guide is to first reduce your calorie intake by 500 but not more than 1,000. Those with little weight to lose will find 1,000 calories too much of a deficit beyond a healthy intake. Common advice is to not let calorie intake drop below 1,800 per day for men and 1,200 for women.

A useful calculation when first losing weight is to reduce your intake by 15-20% below your daily maintenance level as worked out in ‘Your Calorie Needs’.

Rough guide to calorie burning in relation to physical activity:

(These figures will be dependent on your size, gender and age)

– Burn 300 calories through 60mins gardening
– 200 calories through 60mins walking
– 600 calories through 90mins football
– 450 calories through 45mins dancing

Gaining weight

How to gain weight

You’ve worked out your calorie intake for maintaining weight using our BMR calculator and Harris Benedict Formula (if you haven’t done so, click on the calories tab), now you can work out how many calories will be required to gain weight.

Gaining weight is the opposite way someone will use to lose weight – you’ll need to consume more calories than you burn. As before, we know that one pound of fat (75% fat, 25% lean tissue) is around 3,500 calories. By adding 500 calories to your daily calorie intake, over one week you’ll gain one pound.


Healthy weight management

Please remember, the advice in this article is meant as a guide and calculations are a starting point to managing weight to a healthy level.

When considering any weight management regime, it is important to consult your GP and a trained nutritionist to ensure there are no underlying causes to your weight problems and your calorie consumption is kept to safe levels.

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