When it comes to losing weight, we’re not ones for fads. So in searching for the best way to drop a few pounds safely and sensibly, we decided to consult the very best health and fitness experts London has to offer. From personal trainers and yoga gurus to nutritionists and dietitians, we’ve knocked on the doors of the crème de la crème in the wellness industry to compile the ultimate guide to blasting fat and staying healthy.
Ready for the golden advice experts swear by? Keep scrolling for the Byrdie guide to the best ways to lose weight—and keep it off for good.
1. Don't Go Straight for Cardio—Weights Are a Better Fat Burner
“It’s common to hear people rave about how cardio will burn more calories than weight training—but this is only half true,” says Jonathan Dick, personal trainer and nutritionist at Equinox Kensington. “Yes, in single session cardio you're likely to burn more calories than a strength session. But what strength training will do for you that cardio can’t is ramp up your metabolism for up to 36 hours post-exercise—so you’ll still be burning calories (and ideally fat) while your body uses protein, vitamins, and minerals to repair the muscles.”
2. If You're Lifting Weights, Go Heavy for the Best Results
“Safety and proper technique is paramount, but when it comes to really burning fat, you’ll yield far better results if you’re lifting heavier,” says Otaniyien Ekiomado, personal trainer and head of education at Evolve Fitness London. “The numbers will be different for everyone, of course, but you need to be performing all the key exercises—squats, deadlifts, bench press, single arm rows—with a weight that challenges you on every single rep. If you’re flying through your sets, you’re not challenging yourself properly, and the fat loss results will reflect that.
Lifting heavier weights will mean the muscles need to work harder to repair themselves afterward—a process that ramps up your basic metabolic rate, burning more calories faster.”
3. Sling the Scales—They're Not Telling the Truth
“What you really want here is ‘fat loss’ rather than ‘weight loss,’ and the number on the weighing scale has little to do with your overall health and feeling/looking good,” says Chris Magee, head of yoga at Another Space. “We need to remember that muscle is more dense than fat, and that incorporating a change to your eating and training regime may yield huge results everywhere but on the scale. If your goal is purely numbers-driven, then you’ll set yourself up for failure, because when the number doesn’t go down, it’s easy to become dejected and question everything you did that week—when, in fact, you might have made great progress with muscle gain and fat loss, but the two might have balanced each other out.
If you need a way of tracking progress, take pictures of yourself and compare. They’ll give you a much clearer idea of how far you have come.”
4. Add Cardio to Your Strength Circuits for a Double Burn
“There’s a reason Barry’s method has gained such a cult following—it’s because it works,” says Sandy Macaskill, Barry’s Bootcamp London co-owner and Nike NTC elite trainer. “You can use a similar method in your own workouts by splitting between cardio, on a treadmill say, and resistance circuits with weights. This is why Barry’s is so effective; the cardio element burns fat, while the weight training helps build lean muscle, strengthen your bones and continues the calorie burn for up to 24 hours.”
5. If You're Doing HIIT, Get the Intensity Right
“Everyone loves HIIT, and the science behind the training method is great for fat burning, but I’m increasingly seeing people add it to their training plans and not see the results they’re aiming for,” says Andy Vincent, an elite master trainer at Third Space. “This is because the ‘high intensity’ part of HIIT often gets missed. For starters, HIIT should be short duration—never more than 20 minutes long. If you are honestly going all-out on an exercise, you should not last very long. What I end up seeing is ‘fairly high intensity’ training for 40 minutes, which is not what the studies were carried out on and will not give the same results.
Choose exercises that are easy to perform (poor control and form will lead to injury), such as battling ropes, prowler, sled work, moderately heavy goblet squats, and loaded carries, mixed with bikes, rowers, versa climbers and treadmills for cardio. The aim is to push to your max for 20 to 40 seconds, ideally with eight to 10 repeats. Depending on your start point, you may need 90 seconds rest, and as you get fitter, reduce the rest period.”
6. Don't Neglect the Stretch—It's About More Than Loosening Up
“Stretch before and after your workout,” stresses Catie Miller, Xtend Barre London founder and trainer. “Though usually seen as the muscle-easing end to a workout, stretching is actually an important workout in its own right. Regular stretching has been shown to increase the production of collagen, which helps to firm and tone, increase flexibility, and to correct poor posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position. Stretching just twice a week can assist in maintaining our lean physique and can actually increase our blood and nutrient supply to our muscles.
This reduces muscle fatigue, which means that you can train harder, ultimately leading to better results.”
7. Learn to Engage Your Core Properly in Every Movement
“To get the most out of every single type of physical exercise, whether it’s running, yoga, barre, HIIT or spin, you need to learn how to engage your core muscles properly,” says Niki Rein, founder and creative director of Barrecore. “The way to do it, so you’re not just ‘sucking in,’ is to draw up the pelvic floor, slightly tip your tailbone under so that you’re pulling the lower abdominals closer to the front of the spine, and then close the ribcage and keep the back long. This action of ‘using your core’ will make all exercises not only safer, more stable and stronger—as you’ll be working from the inside out—but you will actually burn more fat during the workout and in the days to follow.
This effect comes from the deep isometric contraction your body has to hold during this pose, which demands constant blood flow to the muscles working for maximum calorie and fat burn.”
8. Don't Skip Your Meals—It'll Slow Your Metabolism
“Don’t miss your meals—for example, don’t skip lunch if you’re going out to dinner later thinking that it will be helpful in avoiding extra calories,” says Marilyn Glenville, Ph.D., nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar. “If you miss meals, your body will think there is a shortage of food, slow down your metabolism and hold on tight to your fat stores. Also, there’s nothing that’s more guaranteed to rev up your appetite, so you’ll likely end up eating more at the meal anyway.”
9. Pile Your Plate with Greens—They're the Staple Food You Need
“Have a lighter dinner by filling at least half your plate with vegetables before adding anything else,” says Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at Superfood.uk. “And no, this doesn’t include roast potatoes. Green vegetables are excellent, as they are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If you’re the one doing the cooking, prepare several vegetable side dishes, and look for recipes to make them more interesting—sauté Brussels sprouts with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice are absolutely delicious.”
10. When It Comes to Your Diet, Just Do the Math
“It isn’t sexy, but the best way to lose weight is to really look at the mathematics of it all—calories in versus calories out, and just really be more mindful of what and how we eat,” says Peter Cox, a clinical nutritionist at Omniya. “When we’re genuinely hungry, our body will let us know, you’ll feel the growling or rumbling in the tummy, but when we’re disconnected from our bodies we can often confuse ‘brain hunger’ with real hunger—we eat when we feel an emotional prompt, rather than a genuine need to refuel.”