The promise of fast weight loss in a short period of time or losing weight while still eating anything you want is enticing if you want to reach your ideal weight; but fad diets rarely yield healthy long-term results. To lose weight and keep it off, set realistic goals involving the consumption of healthy foods while reducing your total daily calorie intake. Consult your physician to determine the safest means for weight loss based on your health status.
Calories and Weight Loss
The only tried and true way to lose weight is by creating a calorie deficit. The combination of cutting the amount of daily calories you eat and burning additional calories from exercise is the best way to achieve healthy and long-term weight loss, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Determine the amount of calories your body needs to sustain its current weight before creating a calorie deficit. The basic way to find out your calories per day is based on your gender, weight and activity level. Active males multiply weight by 15 and active females multiply by 12. Inactive males multiply weight by 13 and inactive females multiply by 10. This gives you a baseline calorie number to work with so you can set your reduced calorie goals.
Pounds Per Week
It takes 3,500 calories to gain or lose 1 pound of fat in one week. To lose weight safely and in a healthy manner, aim for no more than 2 pounds of weight loss per week. This means creating a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories subtracted from your required daily calories for sustaining current weight. For instance, if you need 2,500 calories per day to stay at your current weight, then to lose 1 pound you have to consume no more than 2,000 calories per day. Harvard Health Publications notes that consuming fewer than 1,500 daily calories for men or 1,200 for women isn't safe and could result in dehydration, weakness, loss of lean body tissue and infections. Consult your physician before starting your reduced calorie diet to determine safety.
Healthy Eating For Weight Loss
Healthy eating involves choosing foods that are filling but low in calories, as well as low in saturated fats. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are naturally low-calorie and low-fat. Dairy, red meat and fried foods are high in calories and saturated fats, but these foods are important to a well-balanced diet so choose leaner versions. Low-fat dairy, lean cuts of red meat like sirloin or tenderloin and baked poultry supply your body with protein for healthy muscles and tissue without adding the extra fat. Fish twice a week is a healthy protein source that also has unsaturated fat, which is heart-healthy. Water throughout the day is important for hydration and it's calorie-free. Avoid empty calorie foods and drinks like soda or packaged snack foods that may claim being low-calorie but have higher sugar or fat content, which doesn't support a healthy weight-loss plan.
Energy and Meals
Four to six small meals throughout the day helps you maintain energy while also keeping you nourished as you lose weight. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy if you choose whole grains and fresh produce instead of processed and packaged foods. Start your day with 1 cup of bran cereal topped with low-fat milk and half cup of blueberries. Snack on celery with low-fat peanut butter. For lunch eat a mixed green salad topped with fresh grilled chicken chunks, low-fat cheese and light vinaigrette dressing. As a mid-day snack eat a half sandwich of tuna and lettuce on wheat with a side of carrot sticks. For dinner, bake a salmon patty topped with fresh pepper and garlic, a half cup of steamed broccoli and brown rice. Plan your meals ahead of time and record your daily calorie intake in a food journal to track your weekly weight loss.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: How Many Calories and Fat Grams Do You Need?
- FamilyDoctor.org; What it Takes to Lose Weight; 2004
- Cleveland Clinic: The Very Best Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
- Michigan.gov: Lo-Cal Dangers
- Harvard Health Publications: Calorie Counting Made Easy
- Weight-Control Information Network: Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths
- NHLBI: Calculate You Body Mass Index