How do I choose a healthy weight loss plan?

Weight loss plans are only recommended if they:

  • are based on a healthy, balanced diet 
  • encourage regular physical activity 
  • expect you to lose no more than 0.5-1kg (1-2lb) a week

Adults can try weight loss plans that involve the above, but speak to your GP first if you have a medical condition such as:

Check your BMI

Before starting any weight loss plan, find out whether you really need to lose weight and, if so, how much. Check your BMI (body mass index) on the healthy weight calculator to see if your weight is already healthy for your height. For more information, see What is the body mass index (BMI)?

If your BMI score suggests you’re overweight or obese (a BMI score of 25 or more), you should consider losing weight.

Healthy balanced diet

To lose weight in a healthy way, you need to use more energy than you consume. You can do this by:

  • eating a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories
  • increasing your physical activity 

Find out how to start getting active your way

If you need to lose weight, your weight loss plan should be based on a healthy, balanced diet. This means:

  • eating less fat and sugar
  • eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
  • choosing unrefined or high-fibre varieties of starchy carbohydrates

See the lose weight section for more information on:

Some people find that joining a group can motivate them to lose weight. Use the Find services tool to find a weight loss group near you.

Your GP may be able to recommend a calorie-controlled or low-fat diet. Read more information about treating obesity.

    Exercise for losing weight

    Your weight loss plan should include regular physical activity. The amount of physical activity you can do will depend on your current level of fitness. If you haven’t exercised recently, see your GP for a health assessment first. It’s also important when starting to exercise that you build up your fitness gradually.

    Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, such as cycling or fast walking. Adults who are overweight can improve their health by meeting these guidelines, even if they don’t lose weight.

    To lose weight, you'll need to do more than the recommended 150 minutes a week, as well as making changes to your diet.

    For more information, see the fitness section.

    Take it slow

    Gradual weight loss of around 0.5-1kg (1-2lb) a week is recommended. You need to be realistic about how much weight you want to lose and how quickly you can do it.

    For more information, see Why is gradual weight loss better than a crash diet?

    Read the answers to more questions about healthy eating.

    Further information:

    Media last reviewed: 17/07/2013

    Next review due: 17/07/2015

    Page last reviewed: 03/03/2014

    Next review due: 03/03/2016