Frequently Asked Questions about Weight Management
Do you need to attain an ideal weight to be
There is a lot of scientific data that tells us a
modest weight loss of 5 to 10% can be good for
your health. A modest weight loss can improve
and even control many common health
concerns. Some of these concerns include high
blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and
What is a good diet to follow?
For many of us, a diet means we deprive
ourselves of food and push ourselves to be on a
rigid eating and exercise program. This often
implies a short-term change, which takes only a
minor effort over a short amount of time. What
is really needed is a change in lifestyle. This
means making slow changes in eating and
working out that can be maintained over the
long term. It involves starting new habits and it
will take a bit of hard work to make these new
habits a part of your daily life.
How much weight am I likely to lose?
Most people have high hopes that make it hard
to measure success. More people are able to
lose, and maintain, a 10% weight loss than a
30% weight loss. Do not forget that the body
seems to defend its weight. But if you make
changes that you can maintain in your eating
and work-out habits, you will likely lose
Weight change rarely occurs at the same rate
over time. There will be weeks when your
weight will not change even with your best
efforts. You can even expect your weight to
increase at times. This occurs mainly with
changes in your routine such as a vacation, a
birthday or a holiday party. A small amount of
weight gain is a minor setback in the scheme of
a long-term plan or goal.
Try not to be too concerned about weight gain
or the lack of progress. We often expect too
much of ourselves. What matters is what your
weight is today, compared with what your
weight was when you started.
If I increase exercise will I lose weight?
Many people report losing less weight than
expected through programs that focus only on
working out. Most studies show that a
“working out only” weight loss plan results in
an average loss of 4 to 6 pounds. This is good
because chances are that the pounds lost are
from fat. But, in order to lose more, you have
to combine eating less with moving more. Eat
less to take off the pounds, move more to keep
the pounds from coming back over the long
Exercise has many helpful benefits such as
better moods and energy level. Working out is
a habit. If you are just starting to exercise,
getting in the habit is more important than what
you do and how much you do. It may take you
weeks or even months to get into the habit of
walking 4 to 5 days a week for 30 to 45
minutes. Regular exercise is a must in order to
have better health and long-term weight goals.
It will also help to improve:
Blood sugar and cholesterol levels
What about all the diets I read about?
Any claims that you can lose weight with ease
are false. Very low-calorie diets are very risky.
They should be done only under medical advice
and support. They can deplete you of needed
nutrients and could be harmful.
Fad diets rarely have any long-lasting effects.
Sudden and major changes in your eating
patterns are hard to sustain over time. Also, so-
called “crash” diets often send people into a
cycle of quick weight loss, followed by a
“rebound” weight gain once normal eating
resumes. Most experts agree that for weight
loss to last, you must change your lifestyle and
How do I get started?
Focus your efforts on working out.
Find a work out program that you are
most likely to stick with.
Work to remove (not eliminate) certain
foods from your diet. Limit high fat
foods and high sugar drinks.
Eat regular meals. Be sure to include
breakfast in your eating plan. Think
about eating smaller portion sizes.
Be aware of your problem areas
(emotional eating, stress eating and
Accept slow but steady rates of weight
Find ways to stay on track despite
roadblocks such as an injury, work, and
Enlist support of helpful people around
you. Recruit people who have healthy
lifestyles to support you in these healthy
If you have more than 20 pounds to
lose, consult with your health care
provider. Ask about meeting with a
dietitian and a work out expert to
support you during this time.
Goal-setting: Set specific, measurable,
attainable, realistic, and timely goals.
Plan ahead: schedule your exercise
work-outs, and plan your meals and
Efforts should be focused on both exercise
AND nutrition for long term progress.
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone
numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical
advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are
different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you have an
emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 1/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved.
Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department of Nursing. HF#409