Cutting calories is an effective way to lose weight fast, even if you don't exercise as much as you know you should. The USDA offers weight loss guidelines in its 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report. This comprehensive report suggests limiting intake of sugar, salt and saturated fats. The USDA makes it easy to follow the guidelines spelled out in this report with its free MyPyramid tool. It can help design a customized diet to help you eat right and lose weight.
In order to determine the ideal number of calories to target each day, MyPyramid considers several key factors beyond that of your body weight. It also factors in your age, gender, height and daily physical activity level to give you a more accurate depiction of how many calories is right for you. For instance, 18-year-olds weighing 245 pounds require more calories compared to a 60-year-old weighing the same amount. Also, males typically require more calories than females, and active people require more calories than sedentary people.
The food recommendations of the USDA include grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and meat/beans. Most of your grains should come from whole grain sources, such as breads and cereals. A sample menu for a 30-year-old, 245-pound male includes 8 ounces of grains, 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk and 6.5 ounces of meat/beans. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean cuts of meat to avoid consumption of unhealthy saturated fats and added calories. A well-balanced, low-calorie meal may include chicken breast, side of seasoned broccoli and whole grain rice.
Using the example above for a 30-year-old male, the USDA recommends targeting 2,400 calories per day to help this person lose weight at a safe pace of 1 to 2 pounds per week maximum. A female of the same age and weight needs 1,800 calories a day to lose weight, according to MyPyramid. A 50-year-old male and female weighing 245 pounds should target 2,200 and 1,800 calories per day, respectively. These estimates are based on less than 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Aggressive Weight Loss
You may be able to safely lose weight at a more aggressive pace, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It states that adult women can safely lose weight by consuming as little as 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day and 1,200 to 1,600 calories for men. This can help you lose weight fast. For instance, say you currently consume 2,200 calories per day. Cutting down to 1,200 calories per day produces a calorie deficit of 1,000 calories per day. That's equivalent to losing 2 pounds of body fat per week. Talk to your doctor before starting a low-calorie diet plan.