Start losing weight

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.

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

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.

 

Commit to change

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 life.

Ready to get started?

 

Do today

You can take five actions today that will start your journey towards a healthy weight:

  • Download the NHS Choices weight loss plan, a 12-week diet and exercise plan designed to help you lose weight healthily and keep it off.
  • If you haven’t already, check your BMI with our healthy weight calculator. If you need to lose weight, you will be given a calorie range to stick to. 
  • Now take the next snack you plan to have and swap it for something healthier. Go 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. Try these 100-calorie snacks.
  • Try 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 also contains 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 more in walking for health.
  • Last, think about your breakfast tomorrow morning. Can you make it healthier, using the foods you already have at home? Get ideas in healthy breakfasts (for people who hate breakfast).

Do this week

There are four actions you can take this week:

  • 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 recipes.
  • 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 healthier takeaways.
  • 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 adults. You could try our Couch to 5K running plan or our Strength and Flex workouts. For more ideas see our health and fitness section and our step-by-step exercise guides for beginners. 
  • Last, identify 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. For more advice, see diet danger zones.

Page last reviewed: 13/12/2012

Next review due: 13/12/2014

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Comments

The 28 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Lovedogs said on 03 January 2014

I am trying to download the 12 week weight loss on my iPad but having no luck finding the link to do it. Can anyone help me find it.

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User363614 said on 25 May 2013

Just to add to Janice_Smith, all carbohydrate is turned to sugar (glucose) in the body.
Control the amount of carbohydrate you eat, eat low GI carbs, and the hormonal control will enable weight-loss.

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Anonymous said on 28 January 2013

im not trying to lose weight.

but i want tips on losing body muscle more then fat, walking made my legs bigger . squats make legs bigger. and zumba build my legs up more

i stopped all of them, yet muscle is so hard to shift

witch is why im dieting. ill try the tips given above
hopefully ill get back into my size ten jeans one day .

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seraphine Whist said on 20 January 2013

See this advice is great especially if you live in your own house, I on the other hand live at home where my mother plans all our weekly meals and makes them from scratch, she doesn't buy snack food. I don't control what I eat here and the other half is spent at my boyfriends parents house where I eat the food they provide me, I'm not going to be rude and say I'm sorry you slaved over this beef pasta but it isn't lean so I cant eat it, and I hate beef. I do as much walking as I can but the area I live in isn't one you want to be walking around in after a certain time and I commute to Uni so I'm too early in the morning to fit in a morning walk unless I just got to bed at tea time to get the full amount of sleep.

This advice is really only helpful for certain people, I don't eat loads of food, I have even gone back to the smaller portions as I used to eat food like I was a bottomless pit. I've cut loads of sugar out of my diet which is hard having a sweet tooth and I did loose about 6 pounds but it just stopped and I've lost no more. There is only so much you can do before you just feel defeated especially when the other women in your family are all skinny and always have been.

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Janice_Smith said on 28 September 2012

Well put and very intelligent comments Ukuk_Hai. I agree entirely. Sugar is the biggest culprit of obesity and if it was being introduced to the market now it would be banned for certain. Cut down your sugar intake and you will see weight loss, more energy and better mood. I have cut down my sugar intake to the point where I only eat it in processed foods and the occasional treat to myself but I do admit to having some help along the way. I have tried on my own before but I only ever lasted a few days. Losing weight is achievable if you find something that works for you.

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miss_em said on 04 September 2012

hobbit_amy

why dont you try swimming or cycling. Ive worked with lots of people who can't do high impact sports due to knee problems, but once we changed their fitness routine* they were dropping pounds faster than they have ever did before.

*pilates, swimming, cycling, tai-chi, aqua aerobics.

30 minutes, 5 times a week

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BelC said on 11 August 2012

Totally agree with hobbit_amy !

Many overweight people have already been doing all the things suggested for years with no effect, in fact my weight keeps creeping up. Ideas please for what to do when all the usual things suggested eg, cutting out excess fat, sugar, all junk food, and eating lots of fruit, veg and salad, etc have not had the desired result. I take plenty of exercise as well.

There is so much written about the dangers of obesity, but not much practical help for people for whom this has been a long term problem, presumably due to the body's metabolism having adjusted to an already low calorie diet !

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aries6 said on 28 July 2012

Interesting comments! Now we know some have a fat gene which makes it really hard for them. If someone can help me, a diabetic on a 1500 cal a day and exercise regime, to lose weight to put me into the normal BMI category instead of the overweight, I'd be grateful! It might be my age (68) but I've not lost or gained anything since coming off the 1000 cal a day diet when I was first diagnosed. My diabetes is diet controlled and is mainly vegan.
It's depressing!

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Ukuk_Hai said on 30 June 2012

Exercise will NOT help you to loose weight. Exercise is great for all round health but not weight loss. The amount of effort required to burn off a chocolate bar far outweighs (no pun intended) the best choIce - not to eat it on the 1st place. Reducing individual sugar consumption (not fat) is the key to weight loss.

Beware so called "healthy options" / reduced fat.. They are generally full of sugar. Fat doesn't make you obese...

To paraphrase bill clinton "its the sugar" stupid" !

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Dillip said on 15 June 2012

Practical guidance. But the first few lines are much valuable. We have to apply committed effort. Second I like the idea about adopting a sound method which will be easily assimilated to our daily life. People usually do mistakes in this area. At the beginning, due to high spirit they adopt strict plan. But in the long run they can't stick to it. So it is better to take the mid-way which helps slowly but gives permanent solution.

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mariajames said on 12 June 2012

Slimming down is really a process and we have to change our diet . That's an issue that the majority of us is will be facing . I can’t make a day with no hamburger and soda.I attempt to diet but mostly it won't last for a day.Then I came out with a formula on the weight increased.
Intake of food (eaten) in calories = Calories Used + Body fat (increase on weight)

To reduce weight there basically two ways, firstly going on diet that needs a lot discipline and determination. Secondly is to burn more calories,by more jogging ,walking or work outs. I have tried on walking for 3 miles per day ,and the results are able show after 3 weeks.It was very tired that going on diet . So I realised diet was a easier to adapt than walking 3 miles. I just cut down the volume and I able to see the weight loss.

After reducing the amount of food we consume, we need to move ahead. Next level will be drinking more plain water. If you are a soda fanatic, please try to reduce it and start with drinking more plain water. You may ask why soda or soft drinks, the contain of sugar on these drinks are very high. Most of us know about it but we try to ignore or forget this fact.

On the other hand, water is practically zero calories. Water does not any nutrient value or harmful chemical is your drink it from the correct source. Try to maintain only a cup of water during meal to prevent weaken of the food digestive enzymes. Try to drink slightly warm water to help the enzymes to breakdown the food in much faster manner. As we know 6 cups of water is an importance for daily needs.

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michael 706 said on 18 May 2012

Been eating a much more balanced diet for a month now and have lost 1stone no snacks apart from carrats houmous and flatbread crackers on a evening. very carefull to keep an eye on whats in the food I eat now , lots of choice out there even in supermarkets.

I have not touched alcohol at all ( been very hard ) I drink a lot of suger free drinks. also try to go for a swim most days in our local baths pay monthly only £17. over the next couple of weeks will start having a glass of wine with our evening meals on a weekend, but will steer clear of beer and lager.
got another stone and a half to go. touch wood finding it not to bad at all and feeling a lot better.

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Sba 77 said on 12 April 2012

i'm 19 and i said i wanted to lose weight when i was still at school, like 16, thought there was something wrong with me then, there wasn't. But when i turned like 19 i put more weight on n gt cellulite n now put even more weight on...i used to do 1 hours exercise everyday and kept it up 4 like a month but now don't do that anymore cause i gt depressed or stressed or just cant be bothered...i don't get how anyone can keep that up its effort...and food is one of the pleasures in life, lifes bad enough without that :/ so guess i'm just gonna have to do more exercise and hope it works since i did all that 4 nothing, i lost nothing and now i've just gained weight.

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Ronan Brinkley said on 07 April 2012

I lost weight by turning to Veganism. Yes, I can hear alot of people turning their scoffing at this statement but it is true and healthy. You can have such a variety of foods that before I started, I didn't know I could have, surprisingly, quite a lot of food is suitable for a vegan diet. My one regret is giving it up as I have put weight back on but I am definitely going to be resuming it. I first tried it for Lent and liked it so much I managed to pull it off over Easter and Christmas, now that is an achievement! You can get Easter eggs and advent calendars suitable for vegans. One thing I would say is that it isn't a relatively cheap diet but if its only you eating the food then you're not forking out a small fortune for the food.
Drink plenty of water, eat fruit and veg as a snack instead of a biscuit, I expect you knew that already but if fruit and veg is the only food in your house that is vegan friendly, why not?

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Kirsty F said on 20 February 2012

I started my weight loss and lifestyle change last year, I have lost five stone, so far, more according to the doctor but going to go by my scales. I have another 7 at least to go, so you can imagine how big I am and how big and unhappy I was. I did it by first getting my head in the right place, until you are sorted in your head, no diet will work, I know I had tried and tried and tried and now I am succeeding and the main difference was what was in my head, for some tips check this site out www-year-for-change.com. You can do it if you really set your mind to it and stay positive. Good luck all.

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katyd1d said on 13 February 2012

Funny. I've just been to see the Doctor about my problem losing weight and she has just told me that exercise won't make any difference unless I'm training for a marathon.

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losingit1n2012 said on 04 February 2012

Well I am going to lose the weight this year. I think it's great to have motivation and I found a site called " Get Up and Get Moving. She lost 100lb's. No pills or surgery. http://getupandgetmoving.net

I started eating 6 small meals like she recommended and I am down. going down faster then I thought possible.

Had to share. she was even on the Dr OZ show.

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AnnieFJ said on 10 January 2012

Just because you are eating a healthy diet, it doesn't mean you are eating fewer calories than you burn. The only way to determine this is to record all your calorie intake and weigh it up with your calorie expenditure (energy in v energy out).
Many foods that are considered 'healthy' are pretty high in calories and unless you balance your diet with your exercise you will not lose weight or even maintain your curent weight. I have just lost 3.5 stone in a year not by dieting, but by portion control, counting all my calories and running. The tool that has helped me facilitate this is myfitnesspal.com. You only have to read all the amazing success stories on there to realise that it does work if you do it properly. I'm afraid bad knees are often due to being overweight, but as the weight comes off, the knees can recover. I never used to be able to run, now I run 3 times a week for 5-7 miles each time. If you want great support and success I so recommend my fitnesspal.com. It has helped me back into a size 10 where I havent been for 30 years!!
Best wishes.

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beretta1 said on 03 January 2012

lou 96, you asked if diet pills work,,,,, belive me they dont, i know someone who tried them with disasterous results, just keep persevering with the right diet and exercise,, Keep well away from diet pills and so called quick fixes

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User363614 said on 24 December 2011

If you are tired of being branded greedy and lazy, see Fat Head- the movie for a fact based alternative hypothesis that facilitates health.

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lou94 said on 04 December 2011

This doesn't work for everyone it hasn't worked for me I just can't loose weight I have tried loads of diets it not as if i eat loads of food and do no exercise am a quite healthy person.

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lou94 said on 06 November 2011

I walk 13 miles a day and thats just walking to and from college not counting how many times i walk up and down the 11 flights of steps. I eat healthy don't always have my 5 a day but am never that far off from it. I have cut so many things out my diet i.e crisps, chocolate, fizzy, takeways etc and still not lost any weight. so i started going to the gym for 3 hours a week plus doing self defense and i still not lost any weight. It is starting to get me down now as am so fat compair to all my friends. I seen how over weight can have an effect on health so want to change before it is to late. Can any one suggest anything? Do you know if diet pills work?
Thanks

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Uzume13 said on 20 October 2011

I agree with many of the comments on here. The outdated and 'finger pointy' fat bashing scapegoating is so annoying and unhelpful.

Given that the visually obese are unfortunate to have their dietary issues on display, this does not mean that ALL obese or larger people are necessarily unhealthy compared to their slimmer counterparts. Look at the 'skinny obese' research done at the mayo Clinic and upheld by many other professionals. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18594089/ns/health-fitness/t/thin-people-can-be-fat-inside/


I have been overweight for years, even at my most active on a GI diet and working out 4-5 times a day for 60 mins minimum, I only ever got down to a size 18. I am now back up to a size 24 following menopause and if I really work at it I lose a stone and then nothing. I rarely eat unhealthy foods and I cook from scratch most days. Crisps and cakes plus most processed foods are banned from the house and my poor hubby has to eat junk at work if he wants it. How many thin people are that committed? I know most of my thinner friends eat much more than I do in quantity and add snacks of all kinds throughout the day.

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x1alfa said on 20 September 2011

wait 1-2 lb A WEEK? O_O thats loooooooong i tryed losing wieght my self eating low fat meats more veg salads fruit and cut the snacking completely i also do exercises and cycle alot i started losing a pound a day, but a pound or two a week ?

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s26 said on 29 August 2011

lots of good advice here, I dont snack and I exercise regularly, although my food choice woundt be classed as unhealthy Ive learnt that there are some seemly safe foods that i just have to avoid. I stongly encourage having a look at this for some brilliant advice which really helped me. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1444710338/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=diet048-21

regards,
S

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Judge and Jury said on 16 August 2011

I see no consideration given here or elsewhere to the depth psychology aspects of food consumption. All too many people brush aside all weight problems as issues of moral stamina. This is simply not the case. Quite a number of us, perhaps the majority, carry on into our adult years food and eating attitudes and habits formed in babyhood and never outgrown, unconscious attitudes that require us regardless of willpower to consume as we did back then.

It's simply ridiculous to expect us to deal with such deep problems by pulling up our socks. Can't be done that way. I'd much like to see articles from informed psychologists and psychoanalysts about how to get around such early programming. There must be a way to do it, but it can be by no means the simplistic programs usually espoused by very, very average British people.

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andy097palmer said on 22 June 2011

I agree with the previous comments, this is targeted at people who could make quite obvious changes to their lifestyle and diet; what about those of us who do exercise regularly and eat quite healthily but stil have a problem getting/keeping the weight off.

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hobbit_amy said on 11 June 2011

I don't find this very helpful!

I don't snack, period, let alone 'unhealthy' snacks. I do shop for healthy food, and cook everything I eat from scratch, apart from a curry once a month or so. I also walk everywhere, as I don't drive, including to and from the shops every couple of days with all my vegetables!

Not everyone who's overweight is eating crisps and pizza on the couch all day, and it's not helpful to tailor advice only to those that are. There's not a mention of portion sizes (even of healthy meals), or alcohol, for example.

Even pointing out where those who are already doing all this can go for further advice would be helpful. The only thing I found in this article that would improve on my current lifestyle is to try the running program, and that is probably impossible as my knees are pretty bad.

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