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Tips to help you lose weight

Before you start trying to lose weight it’s a good idea to keep a food and activity diary for a few days. In the diary record everything you eat and drink and any physical activity you do. You can record this on paper or use an app such as MyFitnessPal or Calorie Counter. This will help you to become more aware of what and when you eat and how active you are.

You may want to record non-weight goals you would like to achieve (such as being more active with your children) or things you want to change (such as having a healthy breakfast every day).

Set realistic goals

Weight-loss goalsHaving a weight-loss goal to work towards is a useful way to stay focused and motivated as you lose weight.

Some people aim to lose enough weight to get into a healthy BMI range. But this could be a lot of weight for you to lose, and it might seem a bit daunting. It may help to set a more achievable goal, such as losing 4 kg over the next six weeks. Then, once you achieve that goal, you can set another one.

For most people, losing 5 to 10% of their weight (for example, losing 5 to 10 kg if you weigh 100 kg) will make a big difference to their health and the way they feel. Losing around 0.5 kg to 1 kg a week is a safe and realistic target.

Also, it can help to think about goals that don't focus on weight. They could be something else you identified in your diary that you want to change.

Follow a healthy eating plan for life

There are many diets available and they will all work in the short-term, because as long as you eat fewer calories than you burn you will lose weight. But once you stop the diet, if you return to your old way of eating you will gain all the weight back, and maybe more.

To lose weight and keep it off you need to follow a healthy eating plan for life. Find out more in Healthy eating to lose weight.

Be more active

Being active, along with changing what and how you eat, can help you to lose weight and keep it off. It also has many other benefits such as improving your mood and managing stress. It can also help keep your bones and muscles strong and reduce your risk of getting diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

For good health you need to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days. But to lose weight you will need to do more

Find out more about being active to lose weight.

Get enough sleep and manage stress

Overweight young woman asleep in bedPeople who get around six to eight hours' sleep a night and reduce their stress levels have double the chance of losing weight.

Not getting enough sleep affects your hunger and fullness hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin lets your brain know that it’s time to eat and leptin tells your brain you’re full. When you don’t get enough sleep your body makes more ghrelin and less leptin. The means you eat more.

Stress has a similar effect on your hunger hormones. And when you are stressed, you produces a hormone called cortisol, which tells your body to hold on to its fat stores.

Being active and using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, or muscle relaxation exercises can help to reduce stress.

Track your progress

It may help to keep a diary and record what you eat and drink, activity you do, and your weight and measurements. You can then check this against the goals you set.

Get support that is right for you

You can get support from a friend, partner, or a health professional such as your GP, a dietitian, or a physiotherapist. There are also weight-loss programmes and resources available that you may find helpful.

If you are very obese and these suggestions aren't working for you, talk to your GP about weight-loss medications or weight-loss surgery.

On the next page: Healthy eating to lose weight

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created September 2017.

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Review key: HIMWA-28082