How to lose weight

Eager to lose weight but uncertain about where to start, what to expect, or if joining a weight-loss program will truly lead to improved results? You’re in the right place.
Published 16 November 2022 | Updated 1 July 2024
WeightWatchers® member Francoise

According to an Australian survey conducted in 2021, 60 per cent of us are trying to lose weight at any one time. So if that’s you, you’re in good company! There’s also a good chance you’re not 100 per cent sure about what works best—and what doesn’t—as well as whether some weight-loss information is more fiction than fact, right? Here’s what you really need to know about how to lose weight.

Can you lose weight on your own?

Research continues to show that people who join and follow weight-loss programs are significantly and consistently more successful than people attempting to do it on their own. In fact, earlier research shows that WeightWatchers members lose up to eight times more weight and experience bigger changes in important health markers, compared to people trying to lose weight flying solo.

How to choose the right weight-loss program

There are hundreds of weight-loss programs to choose from, so if you’re confused, that’s totally understandable. As well as making sure a weight-loss program is credible and evidence-based,* according to research designed to shed light on which weight-loss programs deliver the best results, there are a few other things to look out for:

1. It has to be easy

Tracking what you eat is definitely one key to weight loss, but given at least one third of Australians are under chronic time stress, research shows it’s programs that make tracking as simple and less burdensome as possible, that are easier to stick to.

> WeightWatchers includes more than 200 foods that members don’t need to weigh, measure or track on their way to weight loss—we call these ZeroPoint foods.

2. It should prompt behaviour change

It’s crucial, yet only a few of the 140+ weight-loss programs examined in a 2022 study include cognitive and behavioural components to support both short-term and long-term weight-loss success.

> At WeightWatchers we help you create small sustainable habits that become second nature. A healthier long term lifestyle is a result of following the program.

3. It must include a support network

Research confirms that receiving ongoing support is necessary for weight-loss success, whether it’s delivered face-to-face or online.

> WeightWatchers provides members with both options, as well as 24/7 live coaching via the app and access to an amazing weight-loss community of like-minded people, too.

4. It has to be sustainable

Weight-loss programs designed around restrictive eating plans—that eliminate certain food groups or require fasting on certain days—might work in the short term, but experts say they aren’t effective long term simply because they’re not sustainable.

> Not only is nothing off limits, WeightWatchers is based on a healthy diet made up of the five key food groups. In fact, it’s not a weight-loss diet, it’s a lifestyle.

5. It needs to deliver an easy-to-use app

When University of Sydney researchers put weight-loss apps under the microscope, as well as the importance of the app being linked to a credible source with health professionals behind it, they identified a few other must-haves. The best weight-loss apps are easy to use, include enhanced features like barcode scanners, behaviour-change techniques and motivational components, like points, levels, rewards and challenges.

> The app ticks all of these boxes and more! Our barcode scanner makes it easy to scan and track foods as well as keep track of your Points Budget.

*We don’t like to brag, but in the study comparing 141 weight-loss programs, WeightWatchers was not only identified as having clear evidence to support its efficacy in helping people safely achieve sustained weight loss, it was also singled out as having the biggest number of randomised clinical trials evaluating its effectiveness. Box ticked!

What to expect when you’re losing weight

Everyone’s journey is different, so don’t be tempted to compare your weight loss, everything from the amount to the rate, with someone else’s. That said, there are a few general ‘rules’ to bear in mind:

The safe rate of weekly weight loss is up to 1 kilogram per week

This rate of weight loss is not only considered ‘safe’, but it’s also recommended for success in terms of maintaining that weight loss.

A weight-loss journey isn’t linear

This means you’ll probably experience a weight-loss plateau along the way – and maybe more than one. Knowing that this is all part of the process can help you prepare and stay inspired to stick with the program when it happens.

The truth about exercise and weight loss

Wondering how much of a role exercise plays in weight loss? Not only is exercise alone unlikely to deliver results, the majority of weight loss relies on changing your eating habits and food choices. In fact, some research suggests that compared to dieting on its own, adding exercise doesn’t produce many, if any additional weight-loss benefits.

Think that means hanging up your workout gear? Not so fast. On top of all the other health benefits that being physically active regularly delivers, research does suggest a strong link between exercise and being more likely to maintain weight loss, with one study showing that for maintenance, exercise may actually be more important than diet.

It’s just one reason why WeightWatchers members are not only provided with fitness workouts in their app but they’re also encouraged to track their activity and can even add Points to their budgets by moving more.

How to lose belly fat

Heard of a weight-loss or exercise program that can help you lose belly fat fast? Fake news, we’re afraid. Unfortunately, you can’t spot reduce belly fat—or fat from anywhere else on your body, either.

Eating a healthy diet and being active will definitely help you lose weight, but the fact is you can’t choose or control which body parts you lose it from, or in which order. Don’t let that discourage you though, with research showing that for people carrying extra weight, losing it from anywhere improves health and wellbeing.

The bottom line…

When it comes to losing weight:

  • You’re more likely to succeed if you join a weight-loss program, rather than relying on a DIY approach.
  • Choose a program that’s evidence-based, simple to follow and inspires behaviour change. It should also be sustainable and come complete with a support network and an app that is so good, it’s life-changing.
  • No two weight-loss journeys are the same, but will likely include plateaus in both weight loss and motivation (that’s totally normal!).
  • Physical activity isn’t as effective for triggering weight loss as dietary changes, but it still has an important role to play—and on WeightWatchers, you get rewarded for it—so don’t ignore it.
  • While you can’t spot reduce belly fat, a healthy weight-loss program will support overall weight loss. And wherever you lose weight from, you’ll enjoy health benefits, as a result.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be regarded as a substitute for guidance from your healthcare provider.