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Understanding The Science Of Weight Loss

While the premise of weight loss is simple; you need to expend more calories than you consume. This is much harder to adopt and practice in reality. The idea that all you need to do is count calories, and you should lose weight is problematic. It suggests that failing to lose weight is just a matter of weak willpower.

In reality, there are a lot of factors that affect how many calories each individual will get from the food and how they will affect their body. To get the full picture, there are three main effects to understand.

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Metabolic Effect

Your metabolism is how your body uses energy. The rate at which your body uses energy just to stay alive is your metabolic rate. This minimal rate of energy use is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR accounts for between 40-70% of your daily calorie use.

BMR is different between individuals. It also changes during your lifetime. It can be affected by age, gender, current weight, previous weight, diet, and body composition. This means that the number of calories each person burn while merely sitting around doing nothing for an hour will be different.


Counting calories is not an easy task. Many people aren’t aware of how many calories are present in certain foods especially high-sugar drinks, alcohol and dairy products, such as 208 calories in one pint of beer or 270 calories in a can of iced tea. Calories in drinks can be especially easy to overlook. However, when you’re aiming to lose weight, it becomes essential to make sure you are consuming fewer calories than you are expending.

Even if you can successfully count calories, it still isn’t that simple. A calorie is an amount of energy. However, the form that calorie is in will affect how the body metabolises it. Some of the energy from the food you eat is converted into heat as it is digested. This is the food’s thermic effect. A low thermic effect means most of the energy goes into your body for use. A higher thermic effect means a lot of the energy is wasted.

Here the approximate thermic effect for different macronutrients and how many calories your body you gain if you consumed 100 calories of each.

MacronutrientThermic EffectCalories Gained from 100 calories consumed
Fat2 – 3%97 – 98 calories
Carbohydrate6 – 8 %92 – 94 calories
Protein25 – 30%70 – 75 calories


This shows that eating protein offers you the opportunity to consume more calories without them having the same effect on your body. Another consideration with protein is that it can have an impact on your BMR. A diet higher in protein can shift your BMR, causing you to burn up to 100 extra calories per day.


 Exercise should form part of a healthy weight loss program. However, it should be approached with care and consideration. The calories expended during exercise are often much lower than expected. An hour-long workout could burn between 200 – 400 calories, which is about the same as 1 -2 chocolate bars.

 However, the real benefit of exercise is that it can trigger changes in your BMR. After training, your BMR is elevated. This means you will continue to burn calories at a faster rate even after you are done exercising. Since higher levels of muscle in the body also boost your BMR, careful use of exercise can boost weight loss efforts. It is the indirect effects of exercise that are most important in changing your calorie expenditure.

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 Hormones produced by both your brain and your gut play major roles in controlling your appetite. There are a lot of different hormones involved, and the levels of these hormones in your body will have a significant impact on how full you feel when you eat.  A hormone called ghrelin is produced in your gut. It is released when your stomach is empty, and then levels decrease when you eat. However, in some overweight people, the levels of ghrelin do not drop much after a meal. This leads to feelings of hunger persisting despite the stomach being full. For these people, there are dietary or pharmaceutical options that can help.Another hormone that can cause problems is leptin. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells. It tells your body that you have enough fat stored so you can stop eating. In some people, this signalling system is impaired. So the message does not get through.


The psychology involved in overeating should not be overlooked. There are many different reasons why we overeat. Ignoring them and relying on willpower often leads to failure or relapse. It is important to approach weight loss and dieting in a way that makes it as easy as possible. We are all conditioned to feel good when we eat. Many cues are individual to ourselves that start to push us towards eating. For some its stress, for others, it’s sitting down in front of the TV. Understanding what triggers your brain to start demanding food is important. This effect also means that we are programmed to find ‘banned’ foods more tempting. Any truly effective weight loss plan must take these factors into consideration.


 For any individual, their weight loss programme must address their unique metabolic, hormonal and psychological situation. Without doing so, it is easy to be in a position where you are applying effort in the wrong place.

 To personalise your weight loss plan, it is necessary to see how your body is working right now. To get the full picture, tests are used. A saliva test can be used to explore your DNA to look at any genes that might suggest any dietary needs or genetic predispositions. Urine tests are useful for revealing levels of some hormones important to diet and appetite. Blood tests are taken to see how your body responds to different foods.

 With our doctor-led weight loss program, all of this information will be put together to create the ideal plan for you. These plans can be incredibly diverse, even between genetically identical twins. When it comes to weight loss, there is no simple answer. You need a plan that addresses all of your body’s complex needs, and this is precisely what we can provide.

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