You’ve made up your mind to start a healthy weight loss plan and shed your excess weight – fantastic!
What’s the best way to do it?
You have choices. To lose weight, you can:
– eat fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its present weight. You’ll lose.
– get more active, to help your body burn more calories faster. You’ll lose.
– or, to get the best chance of losing weight most quickly, do both of these together – eat more healthily and do more exercise – you’ll definitely lose!
Healthy Weight Loss Plan – Eat fewer calories
First, find out how many calories a day you’d need to eat to stay at the weight you are using the maintenance level calculator.
Then subtract 500 from that number, and that’s how many calories you need to have each day so that you’ll lose weight. So, if your maintenance level is 2500, you should be looking at a 2000-calorie-a-day intake.
How to cut calories? You can check the number of calories in thousands of foods using our calorie calculator.
You probably know that fatty foods are very high in calories, but here are some other calorie-loaded items you might not know about:
- Hummus Dips are dangerous – it’s so easy to keep on shovelling them into your mouth, taking so much that you swamp your healthy veggie stick! 1 tbsp of hummus can contain 30 calories, so if you much through 4, that’s 120 added to your daily intake. Go for low fat varieties, or serve yourself small portion and hide the rest away.
- Peanut butter Often seen as a healthy option, but a tablespoon can have almost 100 calories, three-quarters of them from fat. Spread thinly, enjoy sparingly.
- Alcohol If you think of alcohol as drinkable sugar you won’t be far wrong. Two glasses of wine or 1 pint beer adds 250 calories to your daily total. Your healthy weight loss plan will have a better chance of success if you cut it out.
- Takeaway foods Chinese and Indian take-outs are often laden with fat – just think of how the rice glistens, and the film of oil you see on top of sauces. Cooking fresh foods at home is a far better choice to cut down on those calories.
If you don’t know whether you’re a healthy eater or not, try the healthy eating self-assessment at the foot of this page.
Healthy Weight Loss Plan – Get more active
Use our exercise questionnaire to find out how you rate, and how much more activity you could be including in your daily routine.
You might decide to include some exercise sessions in your week – but as well as doing that, think about all the little ways you can find to use more energy during the average day. Every little bit counts, so try some of these exercise tips:
- Don’t just listen to music on the radio or computer – dance to it! Shake your booty around the kitchen, and who cares if the neighbours, the cat or your kids think you’re crazy – you’re using your body and getting your heart rate up, and that has to be a good thing. Make it a habit to have a couple of dances a day.
- Run up the stairs, don’t walk. And run up them more often, by keeping things you use regularly upstairs so you have to fetch them and using an upstairs rather than downstairs bathroom during the day.
- Walk to the next bus stop or train station, not the one nearest home. And get off the bus or train at the stop before your destination.
- Put some effort into housework or gardening. These regular tasks are an excellent way to get some additional movement into your life – clean and dig with energy!
- Walk to the local shop for a few groceries, rather than driving. Walk the kids to school and leave the car at home.
- If you work at a desk all day, get up every 40 minutes to stretch and move. Run on the spot for a minute, or keep a small set of weights in the drawer and do a couple of sets of reps – get your colleagues to join in.
- Looking for a new hobby? Make it one that involves physical activity – swimming, tennis, dancing.
Healthy Weight Loss Plan – Eat less, exercise more
A combination of eating less and eating more healthily, plus exercise more is the best approach to losing weight.
As well as getting more active in small ways, you should aim for around 4 hours of cardio exercise and a couple of strength-training sessions each week.
You can spread this exercise out into short sessions and remember, every little bit you do is better than not doing anything.
If you just started taking a brisk 20-minute walk each day to start with, you’d be helping your overall fitness.
To shed pounds, you also need to follow a healthy weight loss diet.
Here are suggestions for meals – choose one breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack each day.
Porridge made with skim or semi-skimmed milk.
Fresh fruit salad (in juice, not syrup).
1 poached egg on 1 slice wholewheat bread (unbuttered).
Homemade vegetable soup with a small wholemeal roll (unbuttered).
Large salad of fresh leaves, peppers, beansprouts with canned sardines or mackerel.
Brown rice salad with mixed vegetables.
Bean salad with salad greens and tomatoes.
Grilled salmon steak with green vegetables and a small baked sweet potato.
Brown rice risotto with vegetables.
Baked skinless chicken breast with baked tomatoes, green veg and cous cous.
Vegetable stir fry with cubed tofu.
Fresh fruit smoothie (with low fat yogurt).
1 tbsp dried apricots or other dried fruit.
1 tbsp plain, unsalted nuts.
Vegetable sticks – carrot, cucumber, red pepper. 2 oatcakes.
Half a toasted wholemeal bagel.
A small bowl of thin vegetable soup, 1 banana.
Putting together your own healthy weight loss plan gives you a foundation of healthy new habits that will help you lose weight and keep it off – for ever.