Losing weight involves more than just dropping pounds. In order to look lean and toned, you should strive to reduce your body fat while preserving lean muscle mass. In addition to regular cardiovascular and strength-training exercises, focus on a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods. Be patient as you lose body fat--it takes time for quality weight loss to occur. However, the long-term results of a proper diet plan are worth it.
When people seek to lose weight, they often want it to happen fast. While embarking on starvation diets or fad programs often result in quick weight loss--if you can stick to the restrictive program--the weight usually returns. Yo-yo dieting often creates a fatter body. When you lose weight, especially quickly, you lose muscle and fat, according to the book “You, On a Diet" by Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz. When that weight returns, you're likely gaining more fat.
The best way to lose body fat is to diet slowly. Don't lose more than 1.5 lbs. a week, recommends "Iron Magazine." For obese individuals, losing one percent of body weight a week is appropriate. Burn about 1,000 to 1,500 calories more a day than you consume to achieve this rate of loss. If, however, you tend to burn only 2,000 calories a day, you should re-adjust expectations about your rate of weight loss or substantially increase your activity level. MedlinePlus.com warns that women should not drop below an intake of 1,200 calories a day. Men shouldn't consume less than 1,500 calories a day.
Types of Food
Target fat loss by eating quality whole foods. Include such lean proteins as skinless chicken, lean beef, pork tenderloin, whey protein, and beans. Whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal, offer fiber that helps keep you feeling full for longer. Leafy green vegetables and fruits offer volume and nutrients without a lot of calorie density. Don't skip meals. Eat three meals and two snacks daily--each comprised of a protein and carbohydrate. Don't go longer than four hours between meals. This can make you feel uncontrollably hungry and result in binging during your next meal.
Importance of Fat
Going fat-free will not help you lose body fat. Fat is an important macronutrient that facilitates hormone production and vitamin absorption. It also plays a role in making you feel satisfied. Eating healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids can actually help you lose body fat. Choose moderate servings of such foods as avocados, plant oils, nuts and salmon. Replacing such fats as saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated fats while following a reduced calorie diet can result in significant fat loss, according to a study in the March 2007 journal "Diabetes Care."
Women will lose fat more slowly than men. Women generally have a higher body fat percentage than men because of the needs of child-bearing. Remember that exercise is intrinsic to any plan to reduce your body fat. Burn calories through 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week. Augment your fat loss with weight training that builds lean body mass.
- MedlinePlus: Weight Control
- "Iron Magazine": Fat Loss Basics; Anthony Ellis; Jan. 1, 2010
- Diabetes Care: Monounsaturated Fat–Rich Diet Prevents Central Body Fat Distribution
- "You, On a Diet"; Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz; 2006