Nikki Hart: Energy gap offers easier weight-loss option, says nutritionist

15 December 2015

Creating an energy gap is the key to preventing weight gain, according to food and nutrition expert Nikki Hart in the first video in a series on healthier eating by FGC..

The four-minute video shows how small changes in our food or activity can create the all-important energy gap that shifts our body towards burning body fat for energy, rather than storing excess energy as fat.

The video is one of four in a series that FGC commissioned from Nikki Hart, a trained dietitian and Registered Nutritionist, who offers practical tips on healthy eating, backed up by sound science.

This first video, ‘Energy Balance & the Complexity of Obesity’, explains why some people are getting fatter and offers simple strategies to help prevent weight gain.

Nikki Hart says she wants people to know that preventing weight gain is easier than they think – and it doesn’t mean starvation or excessive exercise.  In her private practice, Nikki Hart regularly helps people face this common challenge.   

“There are lots of ways we can create an ‘energy gap’, or deficit. The combined effect of being a little more active and swapping some higher-energy foods for lower-energy options, or choosing smaller portions, make a big impact over time. Because everyone is different, it’s about finding the changes that suit your food preferences and lifestyle.

Citing decades of research, Nikki Hart says a very low energy intake is not the way to manage body weight.  “We need a certain amount of energy to be able to consume the wide variety of foods and fluids our body needs to function optimally.  Creating an energy gap and still meeting our nutritional needs, therefore, needs some change in activity, even if they are very small ones to start with.”

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says the videos are intended to offer positive and achievable solutions at a time when people are confused by often contradictory information. 

“A lot of the food or nutrition information can seem too complicated or based on theory rather than practice,” she says. “We want to make sound and practical information available to help people make better-informed food choices.

“Nikki has had years of personal experience working with people who have had success using this approach, and we asked her to give us her take on what’s important when it comes to obesity and healthy eating and living.

“These videos are the next step in building food literacy among consumers and are just one of the ways the food and beverage industry is helping to reduce obesity in New Zealand.

“I believe they will help inform the obesity debate by adding perspective, and will complement the education programme the Government is planning for next year.

“Everyone has a part to play in the obesity issue – government, public health officials, parents, families, and individuals – and this is something else the industry is doing.

“For many years our member companies have supported nutrition education and physical activity programmes, while product reformulation has removed vast quantities of sugar, fat, and salt from our food supply, and the number of options for smaller portion sizes has increased.”

The next video in the series will be launched early next year, and other topics include snacks and treats, smart shopping for healthier foods, and eating to live healthier for longer.

See the video ‘Energy Balance & The Complexity of Obesity’ on YouTube here.

See the type of work the industry has been involved in on our website here.