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Healthy way to lose weight

The best way to lose weight is slowly, with small changes to what you eat and your lifestyle.

These days it is recognised that weight loss is not as simple as eating less and moving more. Lots of things influence our body weight, and some are outside our control such as our age, our genes and certain health conditions. Following a healthy diet and keeping active will have a positive impact on your health regardless of weight.

If you have a BMI of between 25 and 30, our advice is to lose weight slowly. Gradual weight loss means you are more likely to keep the weight off and stay at a healthy weight. You should aim to lose about 5-10% of your current body weight or about 0.5kg a week. This can be achieved by eating fewer calories and being more active than you normally are.

How can I lose weight safely?

  • Start by aiming to lose 5-10% of your current body weight.
  • Aim to lose around 0.5kg (1lb) per week.
  • Gradual weight loss can be achieved by eating fewer calories than you normally eat and being more active each day.
  • Try our 12-week weight loss programme, which has nutritious calorie-counted meal plans designed to help you lose weight in a gradual and safe way. It provides vegetarian and non-vegetarian meal plans.

Why should I aim to lose 5 or 10% of my weight, this seems like a small amount?

Losing just 5-10% of your weight has lots of health benefits. You can see improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars. This can lower your risk of developing:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • certain cancers.

How do I know if I need to lose weight?

You can find out if you are carrying extra weight by calculating your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI uses your height and weight to work out if you are a healthy weight.

Having a BMI in the overweight or obese category puts you at an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

  • Normal or healthy weight = a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Overweight = a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
  • Obese = a BMI of 30 or more.

You can also check your waist measurement to make sure you are not carrying too much weight around your middle. Having too much fat around your middle can increase your risk of health problems.

How to measure your waist

Find your waist

  • With your finger, feel the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hipbones; your waist lies between these 2 points, normally where the bellybutton is.

Measure your waist

  • Wrap the measuring tape around your bare skin or a light t-shirt.
  • Make sure the tape is snug, but does not compress your skin.
  • Relax, exhale and measure your waist.

Healthy waist measurement

  • Men = Less than 94 centimetres (37 inches)
  • Women = Less than 80 centimetres (32 inches)

Read more about how you think and approach weight loss in the HSE’s “Talking about weight - A guide to developing healthy habits

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