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Ten Top Tips for a healthy weight - based on scientific evidence

*Cancer Research UK and Weight Concern have joined forces to develop Ten Top Tips for a healthy weight.

Ten Top Tips is a programme that helps you to make lifestyle changes to take in fewer calories through food and burn more calories through activity.

Following Ten Top Tips can help you to lose weight safely and avoid putting on more weight. These tips have been designed to fit into your daily life and are based on the best scientific evidence.

The tips are designed to:

  • be simple and easy to follow
  • help you form healthier habits
  • cover physical activity and eating habits, as well as what you eat




The Ten Top Tips

Eating lower calorie food can help you to lose weight.The tips are simple habits that people can permanently fit into their daily routines. Keeping up all ten tips in the long term will help you lose weight and keep it off.

1. Keep to your meal routine. Try to eat at roughly the same times each day, whether this is two or five times a day. This will help you to avoid unplanned meals and snacks which are often high in 

Handy hints :

  • pick a pattern that fits your daily routine and stick to it. 
  • if you tend snack, try to snack around the same time each day.
  • plan when you intend to eat and check at the end of the day if you have achieved this.

2. Go reduced fat. Choose reduced fat versions of foods such as dairy products, spreads and salad dressings. Use them sparingly as some can still be high in fat. For more information, go to our Avoiding Hidden Calories section.

Handy hint:

  • change to semi-skimmed milk and save 60 calories a day (based on consuming 300mls of milk a day).

3. Walk off the weight. Walk 10,000 steps (about 60-90 minutes of moderate activity) each day. You can use a pedometer to help count the steps. You can break up your walking over the day. For more information, go to our Walking section.

Handy hints:

  • 5,000 extra steps a day (40 mins walking at a brisk pace) will burn 1, 240 calories over a week.
  • take the stairs rather than the lift.

4. Pack a healthy snack. If you snack, choose a healthy option such as fresh fruit or low calorie yogurts instead of chocolate or crisps.

Handy hints:

  • have a banana instead of a standard-size chocolate bar (46g) and save around 150 calories.
  • take a piece of fruit to work with you.
  • choose yoghurts with less than 100 calories per pot. The calcium will also keep your bones healthy.

5. Look at the labels. Be careful about food claims. Check the fat and sugar content on food labels when shopping and preparing food.

Handy hint:

  • a low fat digestive biscuit has the same number of calories as a standard digestive biscuit at 70 calories.

6. Caution with your portions. Don’t heap food on your plate (except vegetables). Think twice before having second helpings. For more information, go to our Portion Caution section.

Handy hints:

  • cook smaller quantities and eat off a smaller plate.
  • put away left-overs as soon as you’ve served.

7. Up on your feet. Break up your sitting time. Stand up for ten minutes out of every hour. For more information, go to our Exercise and activity pages.

Handy hints:

  • standing up on the bus or train burns an extra 70 calories an hour.
  • when watching TV try to stand up during the ad breaks and do a few chores (e.g. wash the dishes or put the rubbish out).

8. Think about your drinks. Choose water or sugar-free squashes. Unsweetened fruit juice is high in natural sugar so limit it to one glass per day (200ml or 1/3 pint). Alcohol is high in calories so limit the amount you drink. For more information, go to our Avoiding hidden calories section.

Handy hint:

  • a pint of ordinary strength beer (3-4%) has two units of alcohol and 182 calories.

9. Focus on your food. Slow down. Don’t eat on the go or while watching TV. Eat at a table if possible.

Handy hints:

  • eating meals at the table will help you focus on the amount of food you eat.
  • don’t eat while walking, wait until you get there.

10. Don’t forget your 5 a day. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, whether fresh, frozen or tinned (400g in total).

Handy hints:

  • a medium sized apple or banana or three heaped tablespoons of peas is one portion.
  • try having fruit or vegetables with every meal, this makes it easier to reach five a day.

We know how difficult it is to lose weight and keep it off. The good news is that if you are overweight, losing just 5-10% of your body weight and keeping it off will have a positive effect on your health. For most people this will be around 3-10kg or ½ - 1 ½ stone. However, if you are seriously overweight, or have other health problems, it may be advisable to seek advice from your doctor before beginning a weight management programme.

The Ten Top Tips programme helps you incorporate the lifestyle changes into your daily routine so that they become automatic. To help develop new healthy habits you need to:

  • Plan ahead: Spend some time now planning how you will fit the tips into your daily routine. For example, think about how to include the extra walking into your day.
  • Keep going: Do as many of the tips as you can each day. For each tip, doing it at a similar point in your everyday routine will make it easier to turn the tip into a habit. For example, you might decide to always have a piece of fruit at lunch time.
  • Track your progress: Record-keeping increases success in developing healthy habits. Use the Ten Top Tips tick sheet to record if you do each tip. Keep this up until the tips become automatic.

You can also download a copy of the Ten Top Tips leaflet or you can order a copy from our publications site.


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Updated: 15 September 2014