If you want to maximize your weight loss, the best approach is gradual rather than trying to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Extreme dieting is not only an unsafe approach to weight loss, but also an ineffective means to long-term success. In order to achieve your ideal body weight, you first need to determine how many calories your body needs each day to sustain your daily activities and then create a safe, effective plan for weight loss. Consult with your doctor before you begin your program.
Safe Weight Loss Recommendations
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week -- between a quarter and a third of a pound per day -- when trying to lose weight. In order to achieve this goal you have to create a caloric deficit -- burning off more calories than you consume. Given that one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, you can feasibly lose two pounds per week by subtracting 1,000 calories from your diet each day, or by calorie reduction and increased calorie expenditure totaling 1,000 calories. Experts agree that daily calorie reduction combined with regular physical activity on most days of the week -- 60 to 90 of minutes of cumulative activity per day -- is the safest, healthiest goal for gradual weight loss.
Determining Your Caloric Needs
Your body's daily caloric need is the first thing you'll need to know in order to successfully lose and maintain your desired weight. You can get a general estimate of your daily caloric needs by multiplying your target weight by 12 to 15 -- based on your daily activity level. For example, if your target weight is 135 pounds and you are moderately active, then you can multiply 135 by 13 for a rough estimate of 1,755 calories per day. This formula does not take into consideration age and gender, both of which would alter your daily needs. As you age you typically need fewer daily calories and males typically require more calories per day than females.
Dangers of Extreme Dieting
Extreme dieting -- consuming fewer than 1,100 calories per day -- will put you at risk for a number of unwanted side effects. Dizziness, fatigue, gallstones, hair loss, intolerance to cold, and confusion name some of the problems you could suffer from losing too much weight too quickly. Though you will you lose fat, about 30 percent of your weight loss will include muscle loss, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is advised that no one stay on a strict diet for longer than 16 weeks and nor should anyone fast in order to lose weight.
Create A Safe Weight-Loss Plan
Is is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans go on diets each year. Before you begin your program, get clearance from your doctor. This will not only ensure your safety, but also help you understand any health limitations you may have. Set a realistic weight goal and timeframe that you can feasibly achieve. A good weight loss program is one that is not only gradual, but encourages healthy diet and physical activity modifications that you can maintain for years, rather than weeks.
- Harvard School of Public Health: How To Get Your Healthy Weight
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Weight Control and Diet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- National Institutes of Health: Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: The Evidence Report
- Acefitness.org: Daily Caloric Needs Estimator