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Working out how to lose a stone — safely and sustainably — can feel like a gargantuan (read: impossible) task. Combined with the fact a lot of us try to lose weight within a given time period and unwanted stress can follow… Ever Googled “how to lose a stone in a month” or “how to lose a stone in two weeks”? You’ll know the feeling.
If you’re carrying a little excess weight (and this is key — work out your BMI and, if it’s within normal range, then just look to tone up rather than lose weight) and it’s affecting your health or happiness, don’t please don’t panic or feel you need to make drastic changes. There are often simple ways to improve your health, such as tweaking certain habits and fine-tuning others.
Whether your working on maintaining a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than you burn), keeping your metabolism happy and humming, lose body fat or cementing a more regular exercise routine, let us help you get to a healthy weight and body fat percentage safely and sustainably.
Scroll down for 12 expert tips to lose a stone safely or stick around while we cover off some of the basics.
How to lose a stone FAQs
Your most asked questions, answered. Doesn’t get much better than that, eh?
What is a stone?
A stone is a unit of measurement and is equal to 14lbs. One stone in kg is 6.36kgs. To ‘lose a stone’ your weight would be 14 lbs or 6.35kgs less than your previous weight.
How many pounds (lbs) are in a stone?
How long does it take to lose a stone?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on your lifestyle, nutrition, age and starting weight, along with a host of other contributing factors. That said, guidelines suggest that losing anywhere between 0.5lbs and 2lbs a week is a sensible and safe rate of weight loss.
Commit to a schedule that keeps you progressing without sacrificing the things in life that bring you joy — do not, we repeat NOT, cut our that glass of vino with your friend or bit of choccy in front of the telly on Sunday night. So long as you’re in an overall calorie deficit, you’ll be absolutely fine. You’ll also be more likely to stick to it for the long term — win.
How to lose a stone in a week?
You can’t, it’s as simple as that. Sorry to be blunt, but trying to lose weight at that speed is dangerous, and can be detrimental to your long term mental and physical health. General consensus among experts suggests 2lbs is the maximum amount of weight to try and lose in a week. Trying to lose a stone in a week is seven times what expert opinion suggests. Plus, we’re about living a healthy life for life, right? Right.
Stick to a sensible plan to lose weight and you’ll reap so many more rewards. Trust us.
Should you try to lose weight while sick?
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to contract a bug, trying to lose a stone through a calorie deficit should go to the absolute bottom of your priority list. The most important thing is providing your body with adequate rest, nutrients and fuel, so it can focus on recovery rather than trying to lose body fat.
‘Recovery will look different for everyone and it can take a while to get back to your normal healthy routine. It’s essential that you listen to your body and try not to jump in with your diet and exercise too soon,’ explains nutritionist Jenna Hope.
‘Tune in to your cues and if you’re struggling through a workout or experience changes in your appetite go with it until you feel your normal self again.’
12 tips to lose a stone safely and sustainably
While a change in body composition might be what you’re hoping for, doing it safely is the most important thing. That means no crash dieting or overly restrictive eating designed to shed fat quickly.
Blanket rule: if you feel restricted or experience a feeling of loss of control around food, ease off your weight loss efforts and focus on your mental health. Your health journey is about making healthy choices when and where you can, not going hell for leather and then abandoning ship.
1. Maintain a calorie deficit
Maintaining a sensible calorie deficit is the most sustainable way to lose a stone. A calorie deficit, for those in the dark, means you expend more calories than you consume. When this happens our body is tasked with using another resource for food, usually body fat. Hope suggests losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week to reach your target weight.
‘In order to achieve that, you’d need a daily deficit of around 500 calories,’ she advises, but the equation is individual to each person, so that number could be higher or lower.’
2. Up your water intake
You know you have to stay hydrated, we don’t need to tell you that. But getting the right amount of water can actually make your weight loss efforts a touch easier.
In fact, drinking enough water has been shown to improve mood, brain function and also keep your digestive tract happy – all factors in how you feel overall in your body.
While staying permanently attached to your water bottle won’t be the only thing to help you lose weight, it will keep your metabolism humming along happily and bodily functions in equilibrium in the background, so you can focus on nutrition, sleep and exercise.
3. Stick to a steady weight loss pace
Following Hope’s advice, the maximum amount of weight you should be looking to lose in a month is anywhere between four and eight pounds, which averages out to about half a stone a month or one to two pounds per week.
Any more than this and you may be losing weight in an unsustainable way that you find it difficult to keep off. So quite scrolling, people — you could search “how to lose a stone in a week” or “how to lose a stone in two weeks” all day but, not only is it unhelpful, it could be harmful. Instead of fretting over how long it takes to lose a stone, focus on getting the habits to make it a success in place.
4. Adopt healthy habits slowly
Making too many drastic changes all at once can undermine your best efforts, so take gradual steps towards your goal.
‘Start with small things, such as introducing one additional portion of fruit or vegetables into your daily diet, or removing sugar from your tea and coffee,’ advises Hope. ‘From there, you can start to swap your high sugar snacks for those high protein foods and healthy fats to keep you fuller for longer, like hummus and carrots, a boiled egg or peanut butter on oatcakes.’
Perhaps use your lunch break to get outside, walking for 45 minutes to get some LISS (low-intensity steady-state) exercise in and increase your NEAT exercise for the day too.
What’s NEAT and how can it help me lose a stone?
NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the catch-all term for everything you do that burns calories, excluding exercise, sleeping or eating. For example, commuting, household chores, walking upstairs, gardening and even fidgeting count as NEAT.
It’s important because this type of movement makes up the majority of how many calories you burn in a day – far more than your workout. Find out how to improve your NEAT exercise and why it really is the cornerstone to losing body fat and weight successfully.
5. Avoid crash diets
While cutting calories to a sustainable deficit level will help you to lose a stone, by cutting your daily calorie intake by more than 500 calories (e.g. crash dieting), there’s a good chance you’ll regain the weight and more quickly too.
‘The majority of diets follow the same cycle of ‘restrict, crave, binge, restrict’,’ says Hope. ‘During the restriction phase you may lose weight as you’re significantly limiting your calorie intake, or in some cases, your carbohydrate intake (in which case you’re losing water rather than fat mass). However, as the cycle continues you begin to regain the weight plus more due to the bingeing.’
Binge eating disorder is categorised by a loss of control around food with those affected eating large quantity of food on a regular basis: the disorder can affect anyone of any age or gender.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with an eating disorder, contact Beat, the UK-based charity that hopes to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders.
T: 0808 801 0677
E: [email protected], under-18s: [email protected]
While most people won’t categorise themselves as having a binge eating disorder, the restrict and binge mentality is ingrained into many diets and can have a similar impact on your relationship with food.
‘As you limit your calorie intake, the metabolism slows in order to conserve energy. As a result, over a prolonged period of crash dieting the rate at which you burn energy is significantly reduced,’ Hope says.
6. Be aware of external stressors
If you’re experiencing stress, anxiety and pressure in other areas of your life, try not to get too down on yourself, especially if it stalled your weight loss journey or translated into a little extra weight gain.
According to Hope, stressful periods can cause our bodies to produce high levels of the hormone cortisol.
‘Cortisol can impair your body’s ability to lose weight, as well as increase the fat storage around the middle. Alternatively, it may stimulate consumption of higher fat, higher sugar foods,’ she explains. In short, stress makes us crave junk food. (Thanks, brain.)
Try to make healthy choices where you can and accept that your body works best when it’s less stressed. Nothing to get too down about, just something to be aware of.
7. Focus on how healthy eating makes you feel
If you’re looking for more positive reinforcement, tuning into how healthy eating makes you feel can be a way to remind yourself why you started your fitness journey in the first place.
Instead of depriving yourself, Dr Sheri Jacobson, clinical director at Harley Therapy, recommends focusing on how healthy eating makes you feel. Seek a qualified trainer, registered dietician or nutritionist to help you discern your required daily calorie intake and provide a meal plan with a healthy calorie deficit that won’t see you devouring an entire pack of digestives come 3pm.
8. Invest in a smart scale
Just because the number on the bathroom scale is going down doesn’t necessarily mean you’re achieving the aesthetic goal you’re after: losing a stone could mean losing hard-earned muscle mass, if you go too hard, too fast.
A smart scale measures your weight as well as your body fat percentage, muscle mass and water weight – all numbers that can better inform how your body’s responding to your fat loss efforts.
9. Remember muscle is more dense than fat
Once you’ve got yourself a smart scale (or, if you’re sticking to the old school version, all good) it can be disheartening to not see the number shift for a while, especially if you’re putting your best effort in. This is because muscle is denser (weighs more) than fat. In other words, a pound of muscle takes up less space in the body than a pound of fat.
So, if stepping on the scale every day is making you feel rubbish, try tracking your weight loss by taking body measurements, weekly progress pics and calculating body fat percentage instead. You’ll be amazed by how much of a difference it makes!
10. Make exercise something you enjoy
Spoiler: exercise doesn’t need to feel like a chore. Setting a routine that allows you to sweat it out in a way that boosts endorphins and even joy can be the secret to sticking with your fitness routine.
‘Find ways of exercising that are fun for you personally, whatever that may be – dance workouts, long walks in nature or climbing,’ says Jacobson. ‘It’s when we do things from a place of wanting ourselves to feel good that we start to form habits that last.’
11. Consider a strength-building plan
While learning how to build muscle might not be at the top of your to-do list if your goal is to lose a stone, it could prove to be your secret weight-loss weapon. Yes, really. For starters, more muscle means a faster metabolism which means that your body burns more calories at rest.
If you’re into resistance training as your exercise of choice, focusing on progressive overload will improve your strength and build your body’s ability to work at higher intensities for longer, advises Leigh Clayton, PT at Embody Fitness.
‘It’ll easily give the best bang for your buck in terms of longevity,’ Clayton says. Working at a higher intensity for longer can lead to greater calorie burn as your heart rate spends longer in the sweet fat-burning zone.
What does progressive overload mean?
Progressive overload is the process of continually challenging your body by increasing the strain you put upon it.
For example, increasing the number of reps, the amount of weight or the speed an exercise is performed during strength training workouts are all ways to apply more strain to your muscles and force them to work harder. Exercising in this way helps to build strength, burn fat and grow muscle.
Need a month-long at-home plan to build strength at home? Look no further: PT Alice Liveing’s 28-day Kickstart Challenge will have you sculpting lean muscle and working hard in no time.
12. Go virtual
If you prefer to exercise at home (big up home workouts), it doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to half-hearted or sub-par sessions. From home workout apps to HIIT plans, there’s something to get everyone feeling full of endorphins.
Whether your jam is Barre or Pilates, yoga or cardio home workouts, there is an app or streaming option for it. Don’t believe us? Take a gander through our top picks.
3 tips to maintain your healthy body weight
It’s one thing losing the weight, but keeping it off is a whole different ball game. Try to keep these tips front of mind.
1. Practice mindful eating
One culprit of weight regain can be mindless overeating: ‘Psychologically speaking, the biggest reason people eat when they aren’t hungry is that overeating has become a coping mechanism,’ says Jacobson. ‘We overeat to stave off overwhelming emotional pain or to avoid facing how bored and unhappy we are.
A good way to prevent habitual eating when you aren’t hungry is by taking a two-minute “mindfulness break” whenever you feel the urge to eat, suggest Jacobson. ‘This will help you tap into whether it’s an emotion you need to deal with, or you actually are hungry,’ she says.
2. Remember your body is constantly in flux
Just because you weighed ‘X’ on Monday doesn’t mean you’ll weigh the same on Tuesday or Wednesday. Your body is constantly reacting to internal and external stressors – such as your menstrual cycle hormones or the huge week at work you’ve just had.
Focus on controlling the controllable: sleep, nutrition, exercise and hydration. Your body will do the rest.
3. Focus on the big picture
Other lifestyle changes, such as ensuring you get enough sleep, reducing stress and following a realistic diet and fitness plan that’s enjoyable and not laborious, will help keep the weight from returning.
Most importantly, try not to hone in on indulgences. If you want to keep weight off permanently, it’s not about living a healthy life all the time, it’s about living a mostly healthy life. Strive for progress, not perfection — famously. That’s what makes it sustainable for the long term.