Healthy Eating for Weight Loss
Weight loss can be accomplished with a healthy change in diet and eating habits. Learn how to count calories and proteins, and about the impor...

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With two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, weight is a concern for many people. Carrying excess body weight comes with increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea. Losing weight is not just a cosmetic change, but also it leads to serious improvements in health.

Be Realistic

Even dropping five to 15 percent of your body weight may help prevent disease and improve quality of life. If reaching the ideal weight for your height from a chart is unattainable or overwhelming, start smaller with more realistic goals. A safe weight loss should be one to two pounds per week for most people. The heavier you are, the faster the weight may come off in the beginning.

Simple Math

In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you are eating. This seems like simple math on paper, but actually doing it is more difficult. On paper, a pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. In order to lose one pound of fat in a week, you need a deficit of 500 calories per day (3,500 ÷ 7 days = 500 per day). It is best if you exercise to burn some of these calories and decrease your caloric intake to make up the rest of the deficit.

Calories In

Determining exactly how many calories you are eating is not easy. Even the most careful tracker can be off by more than a few hundred calories. Weighing and measuring food is the most precise way but most people don’t have the time or energy to do that, and there are still no guarantees.

Calories Out

Knowing exactly how many calories you are burning is also an inexact science. It depends on your metabolism and daily activity. The more you move, the higher your calories out will be.

Portion Control

Even if they are making smarter food choices, for most people the biggest problem is still eating portions that are too large. Use smaller plates and take smaller portions to start. Eat slowly and pay attention to what it feels like to be satisfied, and stop eating before you’re stuffed.

Calorie Count

Just because something is low-fat does not mean that it is low-calorie. Read labels carefully, and remember that every calorie counts. Choose foods that will fill you up such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lean meats. Foods high in refined grains and sugars may taste good but they are not filling and will leave you wanting more.

Eat Light and Often

Instead of one or two big meals each day, spread your calories among small meals with snacks in between to bridge your hunger and metabolism.

Controlling weight is not easy, but with careful portion and meal planning and exercise you can reach your desired goal without depriving yourself.

Before embarking on any diet, make sure to read Healthline's diet reviews to learn if your plan will be safe and effective for you:

  • 3-Hour Diet
  • Atkins Diet
  • Best Life Diet
  • Blood Type Diet
  • Cabbage Soup Diet
  • Fat Flush Diet
  • Mediterranean Diet
  • Nutrisystem Diet
  • Shangri-La Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Weight Watchers Diet
  • The Zone Diet
Written by: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by:
Published: Sep 21, 2010
Last Updated: Jan 6, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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