Yoga & Pilates for Weight Management

This is a topic I usually avoid because it often seems like every other fitness professional on the planet it dealing with it. I find it quite refreshing to step away from the worry of fat loss, and instead prioritise helping you to de-stress, build strength and optimise overall health. However 50% of surveyed adults (3 studies ranging from 42% to 58%) are struggling with their weight so I thought this will likely help a good portion of you…

With this blog post I am going to help you understand how our bodies use energy, how stress can negatively impact our weight AND most importantly how our classes can help you.

Contrary to the articles you read about ‘exercising for weight loss‘ or the advertising you see for the ‘top ten exercises to burn stubborn fat‘ it is not that straight forward.

Obviously right? Or we would all be walking around in our favourite jeans without a care in the world.

I can help you look and feel better and so can our classes, but there are some things you need to understand about weight management first.

DAY-TO-DAY MOVEMENT is more important than exercise for energy expenditure

Our energy expenditure (the calories we burn) is broken down into several components.

The biggest of these being our BMR which I imagine you have herd of, this is the energy required to function and is around 2000calories for men and 1600calories for women. It accounts for between 60-80% of our total energy expenditure.

Next up, our TEF (thermic effect of food) is the energy required to digest, absorb and metabolise the food we eat. This accounts for about 10% of our total energy expenditure.

We also have NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), this is the energy expended for everything we do that is not simply staying alive, sleeping, eating or specific exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, house chores and even fidgeting. This can account for up to 15% of your daily energy expenditure.

EAT *the one we all worry about* (exercise activity thermogenesis) is the energy you burn on a run or in a yoga class and this only accounts for up to 5% of your total daily energy expenditure.

You don’t have to be a maths whizz to see that we can have more of an impact on our metabolism by eating well (whole foods that require more energy to digest and metabolise, 10%) and increasing our day to day NEAT (15%) over worrying about exercise (5%).

*** TEF 10% + NEAT 15% > EAT 5% ***

STRESS NEGATIVELY impacts our weight management

There are two main ways this negative relationship manifests.

1) On our appetite

Acute stress, tends to make people lose their appetite as the brain directs resources away from normal body functions, such as eating, to the organ systems needed to survive an immediate challenge. However, with chronic stress (which most of us are under), adrenaline’s effects on the appetite wears off and cortisol starts to urge the body to replenish your energy stores. Inducing cravings for higher calorie foods.

In times of stress we opt for higher calorie less nutritious ‘easy’ food over home cooked wholesome food.

If you are busy >> make sure you are prepared, both snacks and meals!

2) On our sleep

When we are under periods of stress, we don’t sleep as well and research shoes that those who only sleep for a short duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate hours of rest.

We all know if we wake and we haven’t slept well during the night our likelihood of exercising reduces and we reach for higher calorie, more convenient and less optimal foods. 

Protect the time you sleep and also the environment [screen less, relaxed, dark].


  • Specific classes to TONE & LENGTHEN certain muscle groups will help you stand taller, hold yourself better and carry yourself with greater confidence (Pilates Classes & Vinyasa Yoga Classes). Think about when you try on a dress or outfit in a nice shop… you don’t look in the changing room mirror and slump do you. No, you stand tall? Well if you encourage your body to hold its self like that all of the time you will feel better in yourself.
  • Calming yoga classes and meditation can help to manage stress and induce deeper sleep, which as we read above is going to have an over all positive effect on your weight management whatever your goals (Calming Yoga & Meditation).
  • The fluid movement of both yoga and pilates will help with water retention, reduce the effect of bloating and constipation and all round give you that good “I have got this” post exercise feeling (**ALL OF OUR CLASSES**).
  • If you are looking to incorporate more resistance and weight into your routine and need help with this ask me about an 8-week introduction to strength training programme.
Yoga lesson in a garden

I hope this blog post encourages you to prioritise daily movement and stress management for your base line health and weight management whilst highlighting the power of exercise and movement for optimising your health.

Remember if you need anything I am just an email away! Jess x

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