How to lose weight in 12 weeks, according to the NHS

Flat lay composition with items for sports, training, keeping fit on blue isolated, for NHS weight loss app (Getty Images)
The NHS Weight Loss programme takes 12 weeks. (Getty Images)

If you're looking for help with developing some healthier eating and physical activity habits, in a way that's tailored to you, the NHS Weight Loss Plan is likely one of the best bets.

Completely free, the plan is broken down into 12 weeks to give you time to 'set weight loss goals, use the body mass index (BMI) calculator to customise your plan, plan your meals, make healthier food choices, get more active and burn more calories, and record your activity and progress'.

The weeks are presented as 12 different guides, for example Week 1 is Starting out; Week 2, Moving on up (and about); Week 3 is Healthy new habits; Week 4, Snack attack; Week 5 is Liquid calories; Week 6, Halfway check-in; and so on.

Read more: Best time of day to exercise if weight loss is your goal

You can use the daily diary to monitor what you're eating and adhere to a recommended calorie target, while each weekly guide has actions, hints and tips for achieving your goals (such as articles, tools, recipe inspirations, related apps and more), enabling you to record your weight each week to see your progress.

A positive thing about the plan is that it has a focus on being right for the individual, helping you to work out what a healthy weight is for you with its BMI calculator, and helping you to set healthy calorie targets that suit your body and needs.

When calculating your BMI when first setting up the app, if your weight is already in a healthy range, it will prompt: "This app is focused on weight-loss, so might not be quite right for you. You should aim to maintain a healthy weight."

It does allow you to continue, but won't set you a target weight and calorie goal as it will otherwise.

Watch: Small changes make a huge difference when it comes to healthy eating

It has a 'one week', 'one day' at a time emphasis, enabling users to celebrate their smaller wins without ever feel overwhelmed by far-off targets.

Separately, there is also additional weight loss support out there. Local high street pharmacies will now be able to refer adults living with obesity, and other conditions who qualify, to the NHS Digital Weight Management Programme, also 12 weeks long and accessed online, to help tackle rising obesity levels and type 2 diabetes.

Read more: A man's guide to doing battle with belly fat

Adults with a BMI of more than 30, or people from Asian, black and minority backgrounds with a lower BMI of 27.5 due to their increased risk of type 2 diabetes, will be able to join.

The programme will be available within 10 days of visiting their local pharmacy, while some will also qualify for one-to-one coaching from a weight loss expert.

A pharmacist talking to a customer while serving him his prescription.
Pharmacies can now refer people who qualify to the NHS Digital Weight Management Programme. (Getty Images)

GPs have already referred more than 50,000 adults living with obesity at risk of developing weight-related conditions, according to the NHS.

Three in five adults in England are overweight, while more than one in four are living with obesity.

Meanwhile, people seeking NHS help to lose weight during the pandemic were also, on average, five pounds heavier than those doing so during the previous three years.

Read more: 12 expert-approved weight loss tips good for your body and mind

Dr Bruce Warner, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, said: "The NHS's radical action plan means it is now easier for people to take control of their health – adults with obesity can now walk into any high street community pharmacy to take the first step on a life-changing weight loss journey."