In theory, weight loss is relatively easy to accomplish because it comes down to simple math. If you reduce calories consumed and increase calories expended, weight loss will occur. Physiological, psychological, emotional, social and economic factors can play a role in creating barriers to weight-loss management adherence and success. But losing weight over a 6-month time period will ultimately depend on energy balance. A negative energy balance or calorie deficit must be created for weight loss to occur.
Weigh and measure your food for at least a 1-week period. This will make you more aware of serving sizes and caloric values.
Record your macronutrient and calorie consumption in a nutrition log. Use food labels to determine the protein, carbohydrates, fat and calories consumed. For food sources without a label, use a food almanac to look up nutritional values, such as the Nutrition Data website (see Resources).
Calculate your daily caloric intake. Create a calorie deficit by decreasing your daily caloric intake. Slowly lower your calories and decrease your calories by 500 per day. For example, if you determine you are consuming 2,500 calories per day on average, lower your calorie intake to 2,000 calories. This will create a net calorie deficit of 3,500 calories for the week, and 1 lb. of fat equals 3,500 calories.
Engage in an exercise program to burn additional calories. This will increase the calorie deficit, and weight loss will be expedited. Train a minimum of three times a week, incorporating both cardio and weight training into your routine.
Track your body weight by weighing yourself once a week. Weighing yourself more frequently is not a reliable measurement since weight can fluctuate from food intake, water consumption and even stress. Your goal should be to lose 1 to 2 lb. a week. Lower your daily caloric intake by another 500 calories if you are not experiencing weight loss.
Repeat the process each week over 6 months or until your desired body weight is reached. You can maintain the body weight by limiting calorie intake and continuing a comprehensive workout program.