Diet Plans for Obese People

Nearly 36 percent of adults in America were obese as of 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An obese individual accrues nearly $1,429 more in health-care costs than someone of a normal weight. Those with a body mass index of more than 30 are classified as obese, and with that classification comes potential health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. To reduce your risks of these diseases and gain a better quality of life, embark on a weight-loss journey that begins with a healthier diet.

Healthy kale and radish salad. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

Low-Calorie Diet

The most established way for an obese person to lose weight is by focusing on diet and cutting calories. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, you should cut your caloric intake by about 500 to 1,000 calories a day to lose one to two pounds a week. Even if you're eager to shed your obese status, resist the temptation to cut back on calories drastically. Generally speaking, women can lose weight safely by consuming 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day, and men should aim for 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day. However, these calorie ranges are just a guide; speak to a doctor about the best way for you to lose weight. Diets of fewer than 800 calories a day require doctor supervision. A healthy low-calorie diet plan avoids saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, too much sodium and added sugars. It includes low-fat dairy products; lean proteins, such as fish, poultry and beans; whole grains; and fruits and vegetables.

Low-Carbohydrate Diet

If counting calories sounds like an obstacle to losing weight, a low-carbohydrate diet plan might work better for you. Research published in 2003 in "The New England Journal of Medicine" found that a low-carb diet created more weight loss in obese participants than a conventional diet during the first six months -- though the differences were the same after one year. Additionally, a study published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" in 2004 found that a low-carb diet plan led to greater weight loss and improved triglyceride and cholesterol levels in obese participants. On a low-carb diet plan, you restrict carbohydrates -- particularly high-glycemic varieties that affect your blood sugar -- in favor of eating more protein and fat. While eating this way, you'll avoid grains such as bread, pasta, rice and oats; some high-sugar fruits; root vegetables; and foods with added sugar, such as candy, ice cream and desserts.

Portion Sizes

No matter which diet plan you choose, losing a significant amount of weight requires a keen eye on determining and adhering to proper portion sizes. Cut back on portions to eat less food and balance your caloric intake. Start by weighing and measuring everything you eat, registered dietitian LuAnn Berry says on Other tricks include using a smaller plate for your meals, because it holds less food, and ensuring that you read the nutrition label for serving sizes and adjust your consumption as necessary.

Combine Diet with Exercise

Although diet is a vital part of losing weight, a study published in 2003 in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" found that a lifestyle overhaul consisting of both a healthy diet plan and physical activity was the most successful approach to losing weight for obese patients. The American College of Sports Medicine says an obese person should focus on low-intensity aerobic activity with the goal of increasing duration and frequency, rather than intensity. It recommends four to five days of exercise for 30 to 60 minutes; break these up into three 10-minute sessions if you were previously sedentary. Appropriate activities include walking, swimming or cycling, all of which put minimal stress on the joints.

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