Look at any magazine or listen to television and radio commercials, and you're bound to be inundated with advertisements for diet aids such as weight loss pills, shakes and programs that promise to help you take off those extra pounds. While some diet aids may facilitate weight loss, failing to make significant lifestyle changes will almost certainly result in your body gaining back the extra bulk. In addition, rapid weight loss through the use of diet aids can adversely affect your health. Losing five pounds over a three-week period is a safe weight loss rate and, better yet, you can do it naturally.
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Exercise is crucial not only to your weight loss goals but to your health in general. When you exercise, you reduce your risk for Type II Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, while also burning calories. Because 3,500 calories make up one pound, you'll need to burn a minimum of 17,500 calories over a three week period to lose five pounds. The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults participate in 2 ½ hours of aerobic exercise each week to maintain muscle tone and lose weight.
Modify Your Diet
While the recommendation to "eat healthy" is common weight loss advice, its all too easy to make the wrong choices by mistake. For example, choosing a salad is healthier than choosing a hot dog, but piling on the salad dressing turns your health-conscious lunch into a calorie-laden nightmare. If traditional "healthy foods" don't satisfy your palate, consider modifying the foods you love to reduce their calorie and fat content without sacrificing taste. Opt for whole-wheat crust on your pizza and top it with plenty of vegetables rather than greasy meats; or try baking foods you previously fried. Coupled with exercise, healthy food substitutions can help you reach your weight loss goal.
While eating the right types of foods and exercising are crucial factors in shedding additional pounds, liquid calories can quickly add up and ruin your diet. According to the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, 21 percent of the average American's daily calories come from liquids. Not only is water calorie-free, but it helps the body metabolize stored fat and increase weight loss. Although diet soda may seem tempting due its lack of calories, stick to water. Diet drinks contain false sweeteners that can condition your body to crave sugar—making it challenging for you to resist sabotaging your diet with sugary treats.
Change Your Habits
How you eat can be almost as important as what you eat. If you're a chronic meal-skipper, you may be avoiding the calories in one meal only to binge at the next. In addition, depriving yourself of nourishment leaves you more likely to make unhealthy choices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you eat slowly to avoid overeating, plan healthy meals ahead of time rather than at the last minute and evaluate whether you are truly hungry before sitting down to a snack or meal. Even moderate lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your daily calorie consumption and help you reach your weight loss goal.
- National Institutes of Health/Medline Plus: Exercise and Weight Loss
- University of Wisconsin Green Bay: Liquid Calories Count
- CNNHealth.com: Bad Foods That Are Actually Great For Your Waist
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Improving Your Eating Habits
- United States Department of Agriculture: Nutritive Value of Foods
- Prevention Magazine: Weight Loss
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Exercise May Help Maintain Weight Loss