Losing a pound a week is a realistic weight-loss goal for many people. But to lose 1 pound a week and keep it off, you should have a plan.
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When you decide you want to lose weight, take stock of your daily diet as it is and look for high-calorie, low-nutrition foods you can cut out without leaving yourself feeling hungry.
Lose a Pound a Week
Weight loss works best when you undertake it with a plan for eating nutritious foods, losing the weight slowly and adopting a moderate exercise plan, says the Cleveland Clinic. Start with a realistic goal. One realistic goal is to lose 1 pound a week.
To lose a pound a week, you need to burn off 500 calories a day more than you eat. You can do this by eating less or exercising more. If you stick to this plan, you should take in 3,500 calories less than you burn off each week. According to the Mayo Clinic, 3,500 calories equals 1 pound of fat. So to lose a pound a week means you need a deficit of 3,500 calories during that week, or 500 calories a day.
It's best to lose weight through a combination of cutting calories and adding exercise, says the Mayo Clinic. Eat healthy foods, and find a way to include activity, whether it's taking the stairs or walking from the end of the parking lot to a building.
If you're a woman who eats about 1,800 calories a day, you'll need to cut that to 1,300 calories per day. If you're a man who eats about 2,200 calories a day, you should aim for about 1,700 calories a day.
Harvard Health Publishing says that, to maintain healthy nutrition levels, women should never eat less than 1,200 calories a day, and men should never eat less than 1,500 calories a day, except under the supervision of a doctor. Remember to always consult with your doctor before beginning a weight-loss plan.
Start With Healthy Eating
Cutting calories doesn't mean you'll go hungry. You should plan to eat a healthy combination of fat, protein and carbs. Take a realistic look at your diet, consider what you're eating and decide what changes you can make.
The Mayo Clinic suggests swapping out high-calorie items for healthier foods and drinks that contain fewer calories. Instead of a 250-calorie flavored latte, drink black coffee, which has 4 calories. Instead of eating 1 cup of chocolate ice cream, which is around 285 calories, eat 1 1/2 cups of strawberries at around 69 calories. Instead of a 201-calorie, 16-ounce lemon-lime soda, drink 16 ounces of sparkling water and enjoy knowing it had zero calories.
A group of people who followed a successful weight-loss diet outlined in an April 2018 Harvard Health Publishing blog post adhered to a plan that included:
- Eating as many vegetables as possible
- Choosing to eat high-quality, nutritious whole foods and limiting eating anything processed
- Preparing much of their food at home
- Avoiding processed food additives like trans fats, added sugars and refined carbohydrates like flour.
Add Some Exercise
- Boost your mood
- Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Help maintain your weight loss
Resting energy expenditure, the rate at which you burn calories while resting, accounts for 60 to 75 percent of the calories you burn each day, Harvard Health Publishing says. You can increase that by getting regular exercise, which keeps your metabolism burning calories and helps to curb appetite.
Once you find that combination of healthy eating and exercise and have checked in with your doctor, you'll be on your way to a leaner, healthier you.
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss: 6 Strategies for Success"
- Contemporary Clinical Trials: "DIETFITS Study: Study Design and Methods"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Exercise and Weight Loss: The Importance of Resting Energy Expenditure"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Which Diet Is Best for Long-Term Weight Loss?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Cleveland Clinic: "The Very Best Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off"