If you're overweight,
losing weight will bring you a range of important health benefits. The key to
success? Making realistic changes to your diet and level of physical activity that can
become a part of your daily routine.
This guide can help you
to start your journey towards a healthy weight. Once you’re on the way, there is lots of
information and advice that can help you keep going in our Lose weight section.
Along the way, you
can monitor changes in your body mass index (BMI) using our Healthy weight calculator.
Modern life can make it
easy to eat and drink more than we realise and do little physical activity. The result is often
weight gain.To lose weight, we need
to change our current habits. This means eating less – even when eating a healthy,
balanced diet – and getting more active.
Drastic fad diets and
exercise regimes that result in rapid weight loss are unlikely to work for long, because these
kinds of lifestyle changes can’t be maintained. Once you stop the regime, you’re likely to
return to old habits and regain weight.
Instead, choose diet and
physical activity changes that you can make a part of your daily routine, and stick to for
Eyes on the Evidence
Evidence shows that the best way
to lose weight is to make long-term changes to diet and physical activity that
result in a steady rate of weight loss. Aim to lose weight at around 0.5kg to 1kg a
week (1lb to 2lb), until you achieve a healthy BMI
What you can do today
You can take four actions
today that will start your journey towards a healthy weight:
you haven’t already, check your BMI with our Healthy weight calculator. If your BMI is in the overweight
range, aim to achieve a weight that puts your BMI in the healthy range. If it is in the
obese range, aim to lose between 5% and 10% of your starting weight. Having lots of
muscle may put your BMI in the unhealthy range, even if you have little body fat.
However, this will not apply to most people.
take the next snack you plan to have and swap it for something healthier. Many common
snacks, such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits and crisps, are high in fat and sugar and
supply calories that we don’t need. Today, swap your elevenses or mid-afternoon
snack for a piece of fruit, a fruit bun or a slice of malt loaf with a low-fat spread.
Aim to do the same every day: you’ve adopted your first weight loss habit.
to swap drinks that are high in calories for drinks that are lower in fat
and sugars. Swap a sugary fizzy drink for a sparkling water with a slice of lemon.
Don't forget that alcohol is also high in calories, so cutting down could help you to
control your weight.
Next, find a way
to fit just one extra walk into your day. Fast walking is a way to burn calories,
and you can often fit it into your daily routine. You might walk to the shops during
your lunch break, or get off the bus one stop early on the way home and walk the rest
of the way. Commit to this and you’ve adopted your second long-term habit. Ideally, you
should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day: it’s not as many
as it sounds. Learn about this in our predometers
What you can do today
There are four actions
you can take this week:
First, plan a
healthy weekly shop. Healthy, balanced meals are key to a healthy weight, and
eating a balanced diet often starts with having the right foods at home. At
the supermarket look out for fresh foods and healthier options. Stuck for ideas?
See our Healthy Meal
Everyone likes a
treat occasionally, like a pizza or a takeaway. So this week, swap your treat for
a healthier, home-made alternative as you can make lower-calorie versions of many
takeaway foods at home. If you do order in, choose healthier options: see Convenience Foods.
Next, commit to
one more way to increase your level of physical activity. The right amount of physical
activity for you depends on your age. It’s recommended that adults between 19 and
64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity –
such as fast walking or cycling – per week, and you are likely
to need more to lose weight. For more on how much activity to do and what counts
as activity, see Physical activity guidelines for
this week’s danger zones. These are times when you might find yourself eating lots
of foods that are high in fat and sugar, perhaps because you are eating out or
simply because you’re tired or stressed. Plan ahead, so that you can limit those foods.
But don’t be too strict: an indulgence from time to time is fine.