How to lose weight and keep it off

    Maintaining a healthy weight is key for good health, but many of us go about it the wrong way. Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at The British Heart Foundation, explains how to do it right

    Woman's feet on weighing scales in a bathroom

    Your weight can make a difference to your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Being obese (having a BMI of 30 or greater) is a risk factor, but weight is also linked to other conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, which can also increase your risk of CHD. 

    If you’re not sure if you need to lose weight, calculating your BMI can be a good starting point and help you work out whether you are at an appropriate weight for your height. Check your waist circumference too as your body shape is also important. Carrying too much weight around our middle increases risk, even if your BMI is within the healthy range.

    When it comes to getting the weight off, everyone wants to lose weight quickly, and there are many diets out there promising instant results. But while they might work in the short term, more often than not they are difficult to stick to and so the weight quickly comes back on. 

    When choosing a diet look out for some of these common diet myths and fads to help you spot the types of crash diets that are best avoided. 

    How can I lose weight for good?

    We asked Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, for her top tips for losing weight in a healthy way:

    ‘While any weight loss will require a change to eating habits, it shouldn’t mean missing out on nutrients or cutting out whole food groups. Aim for regular meals and a balanced diet but also take care with your portion sizes. You might be eating a healthy balance of foods, just too much of it. Changes to your food aren’t the only thing to consider either. The most effective weight loss approaches combine changes to diet with increased physical activity and also address some of your behaviours around food to help you understand your own eating pattern and responses to food at different times or in certain situations.

    Diets that involve removing – or severely limiting – specific foods or food groups that are nutritionally important are not going to be a long-term solution. The more extreme high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets limit fruit, vegetables and fibre, particularly in the early stages, while faddy diets based on single foods (cabbage soup, anyone?) involve eating a lot of one type of food and not much of others. Some diets also drastically limit calorie intake so you get results fast. However, a very low-calorie intake can leave you tired and hungry, so you give up, regaining the weight as quickly as it came off.

    National guidelines recommend that, for sustainable weight loss, a reduction in calorie intake of about 600 a day is needed. This could lead to a weekly weight loss of around 0.5kg (1lb). While it may not sound a great deal next to the promises of many quick-fix diets, it allows you to incorporate healthy eating habits into your lifestyle permanently, so you’re more likely to keep it off for good.’

    Woman looking in fridge and deciding what to eat

    How can I tell which diets are safe and healthy?

    If you are considering starting a diet, make sure that you have all the facts first, and always consult your GP before restricting or changing your diet.

    Our expert tips on how to eat a balanced diet is a good place to start if you’re looking to improve your nutrition in general, ensure you’re getting key nutrients and perfect your portion sizes.

    If you’re tempted to follow one of the many diets on the market, read the six things you should consider before starting a diet which explains how to spot an unsustainable or fad diet.

    We’ve also looked into some of the most well-known plans in our popular diet guides. Read our analysis of the 5:2 diet, Paleo diet, Dukan diet, Atkins diet, Sirtfood diet, dopamine diet and many more.

    Finally, if you’re looking for a balanced, healthy eating plan that is nutritionist-approved, sign up to our free Healthy Diet Plans. They're a great way to kickstart healthy habits and try out delicious and nutritious recipes. We bring out a brand-new Healthy Diet Plan twice a year, plus plenty of extra recipes, fitness tips and healthy eating inspiration – and if you sign up, you’ll get this all sent straight to your inbox.

    How can exercise help me lose and maintain weight?

    Staying fit and active is important for overall health, and can help you to lose excess weight in combination with a balanced diet. Read our top exercise tips for weight loss and learn about the relationship between fitness and fat burning, plus how many calories you’ll burn through different activities.  

    If you’re a beginner who is looking to take your first steps in fitness, find out how to exercise for free and how to workout at home to discover simple and cheap ways to increase your activity levels.

    We’ve got plenty of tips to help you fuel your fitness, too. Discover what to eat for different types of workouts, including yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), endurance training or aerobic activities. If you’re into running, cycling or swimming, our expert fitness tips will help you to get the most out of every session.

    Now read...

    Six things you should consider before starting a diet
    How to eat a balanced diet
    10 common diet myths - busted
    More health and nutrition inspiration

    For more information on heart health visit The British Heart Foundation website.

    All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

    Have you successfully lost weight or are you trying to? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

    Comments, questions and tips

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    connnect world's picture
    connnect world
    16th Apr, 2020
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    Kya wendy daza's picture
    Kya wendy daza
    3rd Apr, 2019
    very good
    Sandy Soo
    15th Feb, 2019
    To the woman constantly giving in to her hunger cravings: Discover the Secret West African Red Tea Proven to Stop Hunger Cravings in Their Tracks & Help You Shed One Pound of FAT Every 72 Hours
    25th Apr, 2018
    I'm currently following the slimming world plan. I find this highly sustainable and very much a common sense approach to weight loss. I have lost 24lbs in 12 weeks and have another 14lb to go. Once I have lost the weight I intend to continue with this plan only not quite as strict as am at the moment in order for me to maintain the weight loss.
    Gregg Johnson's picture
    Gregg Johnson
    29th Jan, 2018
    Thanks for the great article. I always knew that eating the right balanced diet is the key to losing weight and that’s how I was able to get some good results. I have recently decided to lose some weight and I was able to succeed too due doing research on these foods. What also really helped was reading “The Fat Burning Kitchen”. I am sure it will provide tremendous value to anyone who is looking forward to losing some weight by eating the right kinds of food. You can check it out here:
    Daniela Torres's picture
    Daniela Torres
    26th Dec, 2017
    10th Sep, 2016
    If you’re looking for quick and massive fat loss then you should try fat freezing and not fat burning strategy. Freezing takes less time and energy to reduce extra fats from the body and blue fat freeze system is the best way to go about it which is a fat freezing kit used while resting at home.
    21st Jun, 2016
    I used to be slim in my high school days, but since college I have been gaining weight, so much so, that I now look bad, and everyone around is commenting on my weight. I did try some weight loss programs but honestly could not stick to any for too long, none of them showed results anyway, and my problem is not solved a bit. Please, please can anyone suggest me a good way to lose weight? Thanks in advance.
    23rd Aug, 2016
    Try counting the calories you eat. There are loads of different apps out there where you type in your current weight and how much you want to loose. It then tells you how many calories you should eat a day to reach this goal, and helps you keep track of how many you've eaten. The first few days it's a bit annoying having to weigh and note everything you eat, but it quickly becomes a habit. This has worked wonders for me, because it helps me make better choices for my meals, and tells me just how many chocolates I can eat before I've eaten too many calories :-) Good luck.
    25th Jul, 2016
    Also drink lots of water


    9th Aug, 2016
    I used to be slim in my high school days, but since college I have been gaining weight, so much so, that I now look bad, and everyone around is commenting on my weight. I did try some weight loss programs but honestly could not stick to any for too long, none of them showed results anyway, and my problem is not solved a bit. Please, please can anyone suggest me a good way to lose weight? Thanks in advance.
    21st Jan, 2019
    One of the best things I ever did for my health was spending a couple of weeks on a weight loss retreat at a place called Weight Crafters. It was brilliant. They feed you good food, get you on a schedule, and have you busy all day doing active fitness stuff. I actually had fun, AND burned off 15lbs. Highly recommended.
    29th Dec, 2018
    Trying to loose weight can be very annoying also stressful. Our lifestyle is our main concern. Being active is the most sensible approach by maintaining a healthy body alongside with a good diet. I highly recommend this site: