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How to Lose Weight Well

James McIntosh
January 21, 2020

How to Lose Weight Well

Series 5 Episode 3

First transmitted 8pm, Channel 4, Monday 20th January 2020, Little Gem Media Limited.

James McIntosh and Dr Thomas Ernst FRCP, authors of Knit and Nibble - appeared on the hit Channel 4 TV series talking about how hand knitting, that they call 'knititation' can help burn calories for those that are sitting for long periods.

Channel 4’s prime time series - How to Lose Weight Well, as introduced by one of the presenters on the show - Dr Xand van Tulleken:

"We're a nation devoted to dieting, from the holiday of a lifetime to putting the hot back into hot tub party, there's always something to slim down for.

But the world of dieting makes more empty promises than a calorie free doughnut.

We're here to help you doge the dribble, and navigate through the nonsense.

Each week we'll try the newest, most hyped-up diets today, so you can decide for yourself which ones are worth stomaching."

James and Dr Thomas were interviewed by Dr Helen Lawal, with the segment starting at 7:04 minutes into the 1 hour show about how dieting can be difficult for some, asking the question:

Dr Helen

As a Dr I know how important it is that we get moving and get off our seat.

The problem is, a lot of people find exercise sweaty, boring and time consuming, but what if there was a way to still burn calories while sitting down?

Sounds too good to be true - right?

Well ... we all know that inactivity is the enemy of weight loss but it doesn't take much to make a difference - even something like fidgeting or texting can burn calories, but if you want to sit still and burn calories then how about knitting?

After a debilitating depressive episode, food writer James McIntosh turned to knitting.

And along with his partner Dr Thomas Ernst, they claim it has been instrumental in James' recovery.

So tell me about how you got into knitting?


I found 2 chopsticks and a piece of string in our flat, and that was it!

I was very ill and was stuck in bed, my self confidence had gone, I wasn't able to do anything - and for some reason I taught myself to knit.

It allows me to focus on the present with something in my hands - we call it knititation - it's mindfulness for somebody like me.

Dr Helen

I love that! - 'knititation'.

So you see it [knitting] as a form of mindfulness?



Dr Helen

What way do you think knitting itself could potentially lead to weight loss?


I found through knitting my hands are busy. I'm not sitting eating to grab - and I'm getting on with my project.

Dr Thomas

Using something, using your muscles, just being active is already better than doing nothing, doing something with your hands [using] 200 - 300 calories extra a day makes a big difference.

This was then backed up by a psychologist about how an activity like knitting can be transformational for our minds and our bodies:

“A lot of individuals that are struggling with over eating, very often it is psychological or emotional factors such as stress or boredom that are driving people to over eat. Activities like knitting gives a distraction technique to break the habit by giving other things to focus the mind on can certainly facilitate the weight loss journey."

Summary by Dr Helen Lawal:

“Although knitting might be a bit of a wooly idea for weight loss it’s definitely a good way to keep our fingers active and out of the biscuit jar.”

For more about knititation visit www.knitnibble.com

The full show can be viewed HERE

And a little trailer is below.

Knit and Nibble - the award winning book - by James McIntosh and Dr Thomas Ernst FRCP
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