Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes like dieting and exercise, and behavioural modification are the first steps towards sustained weight loss.      

A woman exercising as part of her lifestyle changes for weight loss

What is a weight loss lifestyle plan?

When you choose to make lifestyle changes for weight loss, you’re trying to reduce the amount of energy that you eat so your body uses its stored energy.

In terms of outcomes, there isn’t one diet or exercise regime that’s better than another. It’s more about what suits your tastes, budget, household and preferences. You should also choose lifestyle changes you think you can make long term.

How does a weight loss lifestyle plan work?

Your weight loss lifestyle plan will include a lower energy diet where you calculate the number of kilojoules you’re eating per day. Your diet will include more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meat, eggs and low fat dairy. You will minimise eating energy-dense and processed foods and sugar-sweetened drinks and avoid alcohol1.

At the same time, it’s important that you introduce exercise into your routine. At the beginning, water-based exercises might be easier, but you could also try walking and other gentler activities.

You don’t have to do any of this on your own. Any weight loss lifestyle changes should be supported by your GP. You can also get the help from professionals like a dietician, exercise physiologist, lifestyle coach and/or psychologist2.

They can all help you find the right lifestyle change for you.

How well does lifestyle change work for weight loss?

Lifestyle changes and behavioural modification can lead to successful and sustained weight loss3.

Studies have found that even small lifestyle changes can make big impacts on your general health. It can help reduce the risk of diabetes and other obesity-related complications1.

It’s estimated that in one year, you can lose about 3.2% of your body weight with lifestyle changes4.

What happens if lifestyle changes doesn’t work?

For many people, it’s difficult to maintain this weight loss in the short to medium term. If you have maintained weight loss for 2-5 years, there’s a better chance you’ll keep it off longer term5.

If you’re finding it difficult to maintain weight loss with lifestyle changes, there are other options. Have a chat with your doctor about what might help.

Prescription medication
1 National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Available from: Accessed December 2021.

2 ANZOS and ADS. 2020. The Australian Obesity Management Algorithm. Available at: https://static1.squaresp . Accessed December 2021.

3 RACP Action to prevent obesity and reduce its impact across the life course – Evidence Review. 2018. Available at Accessed December 2019

4 Sumithran P and Proietto J. The defence of body weight: a physiological basis for weight regain after weight loss. Clin Sci 2103; 124: 231–41.

5 Wing RR & Hill J (2001) Successful weight loss maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr 21: 323-41.