To lose weight, you need to eliminate more calories than you consume each day, and the combination of diet and exercise is the most effective way to go about this. A daily, 30-minute workout is a good place to start, but eating fewer than 1,200 calories a day is not typically recommended. Your doctor can help you decide how many calories to consume in a day, as well as the best rate for your weight loss.
Calories to Lose
One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so to lose 1 pound a week, you need to eliminate 500 calories each day. How many calories you burn while exercising will depend on several factors, including your current weight, fitness level and the intensity of your workout. Similarly, the amount of calories you need to cut from your diet will depend on factors such as your current weight, how much you burn through exercise and recommendations by your doctor. But if you burn off more calories in your 30-minute workout than you take in, you will lose weight.
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Diet and Calories
Eating a low-calorie, nutritious diet is best when trying to lose weight and improve your health. Some diet regimens require you to consume as few as 500 to 800 calories a day, but these should only be done under the supervision of a licensed health care provider and are typically for people who have severe obesity. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that diets that restrict calories to under 1,100 a day may have serious side effects and health risks.
A Healthy Calorie Range
If you are dieting on your own, focus on making smarter food choices and avoiding items that are high in fat and sugar. You can start by consuming 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day if you are female and 1,500 to 1,800 calories if you are male. But if you feel significantly deprived or do not think you are getting all the nutrients you need, consult a dietitian for recommendations on balancing your eating plan and increasing your caloric intake.
Daily Exercise Guidelines
According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, the latest guidelines regarding exercise state that you may need to work out for up to one hour a day to lose weight and keep it from creeping back on. However, everyone's body is different, and you may not need to do this much. If you are new to exercise, aiming to work out for 30 minutes most days of the week is a good place to start, and you can work your way up to 60 minutes if necessary.
Calories Burned by Exercise
Certain activities burn more calories than others. For example, a 155-pound person can burn 186 calories by walking at 4.5 mph for 30 minutes, but running at 6 mph for the same amount of time can burn 372 calories. In general, the more intense your exercise, the more calories you burn, and the fewer calories you have to eliminate from your diet to lose weight at a steady pace.