If you're overweight, losing weight does more than just improve your appearance -- it also improves your health. Being overweight puts you at an increased risk for health conditions, such as high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, stroke, and certain cancers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services favors weight loss at a gradual rate of one to two pounds per week, stating that it's easier to keep the weight off long-term, and to get used to the required lifestyle changes. At this rate, you can lose five to 10 pounds in five weeks.
Accumulate a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories through diet and exercise. In a week, this adds up to a deficit of 3,500 to 7,000 calories, and since one pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, you'll lose weight at the expert-recommended rate of one to two pounds.
Eat foods from all the basic food groups to ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly. Include a variety of vegetables and fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal, and protein from sources, such as fish, poultry, unsalted nuts, egg whites, and beans.
Practice portion control, and limit diet-sabotaging foods that are high in cholesterol, salt, sugar, and trans and saturated fats, which are present in fatty meats and commercial baked and fried foods. Compare your portions with the recommended serving sizes mentioned on food packaging, and replace unhealthy, high-calorie foods with lower-calorie alternatives. For instance, instead of ice cream and creamy soups, eat frozen yogurt and broth-based soups.
Schedule up to 300 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise into each week, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Perform cardio that moves both your lower and upper body for optimal caloric burn. For instance, swing your arm as you jog, take a cardio-kickboxing class, use an elliptical with moving arms, or play racquetball or tennis. Exercise at an intensity during which you can still talk; vary your workout routine so you target different muscles and prevent overuse injuries.
Strength train at least twice a week on nonconsecutive days. Strength training promotes weight loss, because your body uses up a lot of calories to maintain the muscle tissue you gain; your resting metabolism gets a boost, making you burn calories all day long. Work your major muscle groups with compound and combination exercises, such as bench presses, pushups, deadlifts, lunges with lateral raises, step-ups with front raises, and squats with overhead presses.
Sleep about seven to eight hours every night to keep your hormones in check. According to Harvard School of Public Health, sleep deprivation triggers the release of hunger-stimulating hormones, leaving you with hard-to-combat cravings for unhealthy, fatty foods during your waking hours. Giving into these cravings can trigger weight loss that could've been prevented by getting enough sleep.
Before jumping into a workout, perform five to 10 minutes of low-intense cardio to warm up your body.
Consult your doctor prior to beginning a workout routine or diet, especially if you've been inactive, or suffer from an injury or health condition.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Ask the Trainer: Exercises for Losing Weight
- Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness: A Personalized Program; Wener Hoeger and Sharon Hoeger
- Harvard School of Public Health: Obesity Prevention Source: Sleep