Losing weight reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Why losing weight matters
Being overweight means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. This extra pressure can cause wear and tear on your heart and blood-vessel system.
What’s the first step?
The first step is to recognise it, its risks, causes and to choose to make a change. Even losing a small amount of weight will improve your overall mental and physical health, as well as help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Being overweight or very overweight (obese) damages our hearts, blood vessels and our joints. It is mainly the result of too many calories in our diet and too little activity. To lose weight, it involves changing your eating habits and getting more physically active.
Knowledge is power. Making small changes now will stop you from gaining extra weight over the next few years. Our tips below will help get you started.
Get the facts to get motivated
By losing extra weight we all instantly begin to feel better, look better, lower our chances of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, and help to reduce or even stop your medication for angina, high blood pressure or raised cholesterol.
If you’ve had a heart attack, bypass surgery or an angioplasty, it’s important that you follow the tips below to lose weight. You should especially try to: choose fish twice a week including oily fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel or trout; and choose at least five or more portions of vegetables and fruit every day.
When people are overweight, it is where our bodies store the extra fat that causes the problems.
Where is the fat stored?
If the extra fat is stored around our waist, this results in an apple shape. This shape is linked with a higher risk of causing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers.
If the extra fat is stored around our hips this results in a pear shape and this shape is less harmful to your health.
Check your waist measurements
You can use your measurements as motivation to get going. From this moment on you’ll be back in control and heading in the right direction.
But remember: no one weight is ideal. There’s a range of healthy weights for a particular height.
Also, there is no quick way to lose weight. A steady loss of one kilogram (one to two pounds) a week is the safest and the most effective way to lose weight – and keep it off.
To measure your waist, use a measuring tape and then check the measurements below to assess your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Healthy waist measurement
Body mass index (BMI)
To check your Body Mass Index, a good gauge for your overall weight, please view our leaflet in our resources or call into your local pharmacist.
If you are in the ‘overweight band’ range of BMI, you should start to follow the following our weight loss tips below and in our leaflet.
If you are in the ‘obese’ or ‘very obese band’ range, please ask for help and advice from your family doctor or a dietitian. Make a note to do it today.
Ok, so what can I do?
Forget about dieting. Instead, follow a weight loss plan for life. Make small gradual changes to the food you eat and get more active. Even losing a small amount of weight has health benefits.
Start with changes that are easy to make and that you can keep up for life – this will help you to reach a healthier weight and then to stay at this weight.
Being a healthy weight isn’t about being as thin as a model, in fact it is quite the opposite. Find the right weight for you by making sure it is within a healthy BMI range, eating healthily, regularly taking brisk walks and being generally active.
Motivate and plan ahead
6 food tips for losing weight
Choose healthy low-fat ways of cooking
Emergency (healthy) supplies
Alcohol = Calories
If you are serious about losing weight, you will be more successful if you cut out alcohol altogether until you reach your target weight. Alcohol is high in calories, can make you more hungry and can weaken your good intentions. For example, one pint of beer has around the same amount of calories as a packet of crisps.
Choose water or diet drinks every second drink. If you really need to have an alcoholic drink, try white wine spritzers or light beer instead of other drinks, and drink more slowly.
If you do drink, spread your drinking over the week, keep some days alcohol-free. Do not drink more than the recommended upper limits: 17 standard drinks (SD) a week for men and 11 standard drinks a week for women.
Support and rewards
Get active to lose weight
To lose weight, you need to use up more energy (calories) than your body takes in from food and drink. That’s why regular physical activity is as important as what you eat for losing weight and keeping your heart healthy.
Being active helps burn calories, tone your muscles, releases “happiness” endorphins and it even helps to control your appetite.
How much and what type of activity?
The amount of activity can be spread over 2 to 3 shorter sessions on any day. For example: 45 minutes walking and 15 minutes swimming, or the total of 300 or more minutes can be spread over the whole week.
Walking is an excellent way to lose weight, especially if you have not been active for a while. You should aim to walk 3 to 5 kilometres at a moderate pace on most days of the week. A three- kilometre walk should take 30 to 40 minutes to complete.
Gradually increase the pace and duration and add in other activities such as swimming, cycling, dancing or find a new activity you’ll enjoy.
Add vigorous intensity?
Vigorous intensity like jogging, running, swimming laps or cycling at more than 10 mph can also be effective in losing weight. But make sure you are fit and healthy enough to do these first.
The advantage of vigorous intensity is that you may need to take only half the time to achieve the same results as moderate intensity.
You can of course combine minutes of vigorous activity with minutes of moderate activity e.g. 30 minutes run or jog (vigorous) and 15 to 20 minutes gardening or brisk walking (moderate).
The amount of time and type of activity will work differently for each person in losing weight. As you get more active and fitter by increasing time or intensity (or both), you should achieve steady weight-loss.
Plus you’ll enjoy the other infinite health benefits such as increased energy and better sleep.
General activity guidelines
Make a menu plan
Regular meals stop you feeling hungry and make sure that you have a daily supply of essential nutrients. Try out the suggestions below and develop your own weekly menu plan.
Have about 8 to 10 glasses (1.5 litres) of fluids a day, preferably water.
When you feel hungry between meals, try drinking a glass of water first. If you’re still hungry, choose fresh fruit or raw vegetables to snack on. There’s plenty of tasty healthy snacks these days, you just need to do a little exploring.
Best of luck and enjoy your journey to weight loss, keep researching and keep at it. Every marathon starts with a step and you’re already up and moving – so keep going!
Our Food Shopping Card will simplify food labels for you
Food Diary – use this to stay on track
Our guides on how to maintain a healthy & happy heart.