Healthy weight loss involves a net calorie deficit, in which you burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis. A safe rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 lbs. per week; so allow two to four months to lose 15 lbs. from a 150-lb. frame. A combination of calorie reduction and energy expenditure through exercise is needed to meet your weight-loss goals. However, consult with your health care provider prior to embarking on a new weight-loss regimen.
Adjust your diet to consume 500 fewer calories per day than you currently take in. Because each pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, this adjustment allows you to shed 1 lb. per week through diet alone. Include high-quality protein, complex carbs and unsaturated fats for optimal health. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables as well. Avoid skipping meals, and never consume fewer than 1,500 calories per day if you are a man or fewer than 1,200 per day if you are a woman, cautions Rutgers University.
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Resistance exercises helps your body maintain lean muscle mass, ensuring the bulk of the weight you lose comes from fat tissue and not from your muscle stores. Because muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, maintaining your muscle mass helps your body burn calories not only while you work out, but also while you rest and recover.
Aerobic exercise, such as running, bicycling, swimming and brisk walking, helps your body burn calories, helping you reach your daily calorie deficit goal for weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine says a 30- to 60-minute exercise session may burn 200 to 600 calories, depending on the activity and intensity level. Cardio exercise also improves your heart and lung health and is an important component of overall fitness.
Even modest amounts of excess weight may be unhealthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, maintaining a healthy weight may lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. The more fit you are, the better you tend to feel and the easier it is to go about your daily activities.
A gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 lbs. per week, while it requires patience, may help you adjust to the lifestyle changes necessary to keep the excess weight off long term. Make incremental changes to your diet, such as substituting water for sugary drinks, to slowly modify your eating habits. Select exercises you find enjoyable, and switch them up on occasion for variety. And don't forget this over-looked component -- get enough sleep. Not enough sleep can lead to weight gain.
- Rutgers University: Healthy Weight Loss Guidelines
- Harvard Health Publications: 7 Habits to Help You Lose Weight and Keep it Off
- University of Washington School of Medicine: Eight Healthy Tips For Easy Weight Loss
- American College of Sports Medicine: Energy Balance, Weight Loss a Two-Sided Equation
- CDC: Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity