Unfortunately, this post will not tell you that you can lose weight in a week. It certainly won’t talk about fad diets that could end up hurting rather than helping your overall health. Over and over, research has shown that weight that falls off within a week or after a round of Tabasco and lemonade inspired fasts doesn’t normally stay off for too long. When approaching weight loss, it’s best to think about with the long view, with a few guidelines in mind.
1. Weight is lost when you burn more calories than you consume
This simple precedent is at the core of any truly successful diet. One pound lost is normally equated to 3,500 calories expended. Likewise, if you eat an extra 500 calories a day than you expend, that would make you gain a pound in that week. Tracking your diet with a food journal (either pen and paper or in an app on your smart phone) can help you become more conscious of exactly how much food you eat on a given day. Once you’re aware of this number, think of ways to add exercise into your day to help you reach your goals for expended (or burned) calories.
2. Focus on fresh, whole foods or foods that are minimally processed
For reasons we are just beginning to understand, eating the salts, sugars, and preservatives in processed foods can cause even more trouble than their calorie counts suggest. Sugars may cause an addiction loop in the body that provokes even more cravings. Excess salt can increase our blood pressure, leading to heart problems. Other preservatives and artificial dyes pose other real risks to the body. Because of this, it is always best to focus on fresh, whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, and lean meats obviously provide many key nutrients for the body, especially compared to their average calorie counts. Not sure how great a certain food is for you? When reading the food’s label, you should know (or at least be able to pronounce!) all of the ingredients.
3. Incorporate exercise into your weight loss program
Simply cutting calories from your diet may help you lose weight, but incorporating exercise into your routine has been shown to help you lose and keep the weight off better. Doing both has been shown to be more effective than practicing calorie restriction or exercise alone. Besides this, there are many other benefits of exercise, from cardiovascular health to cognitive ability.
4. Find support from your healthcare team, your family, and your friends
Getting input from your doctor should be an important first step in your weight loss plan. You may be on a medication or have a health condition that is affecting your ability to lose weight. He or she can also tell you about any tips that may be better suited for you. Just as importantly, get the support of your family and friends early. They’ll be able to help you when your eating plan gets rough, cheer you on during your physical challenges, and help you celebrate your achievements. Also, as NPR reports, losing weight can actually help give them the extra nudge to lose some extra weight of their own.
There are many, many other tips out there that may or may not help you stick with these fundamentals for losing weight. Losing weight is about small daily, monthly, or yearly improvements that, over time, help you arrive at the best healthy weight for you. As the Centers for Disease Control report, losing just 5-10% of your total body weight can translate into benefits for your overall health and a reduction of the health risk factors associated with overweight or obesity.
What are your questions about dieting and losing weight?
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