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» How to Lose Weight Successfully and Safely

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Considering that nearly 70 percent of adults in the U.S. qualify as either overweight or obese it’s little wonder that Americans spend $20 billion annually on weight loss products and procedures. Every year, 108 million Americans start dieting, often making four to five attempts to lose weight each year. Despite the fact that a higher percentage of men (74 percent) qualify as overweight or obese than women (64 percent), 85 percent of all individuals who diet each year are female.

One of the reasons why dieters make so many attempts to lose weight stems from the decision to use fad dieting methods instead of more traditional weight loss techniques that offer lasting results.

Fad diets that require individuals to give up carbs, drink miracle elixirs, or only eat grapefruit may offer immediate results, but they also offer the potential of gaining back the weight lost nearly as quickly. This can cause unhealthy weight fluctuation and lead dieters to become discouraged about their weight loss efforts.

Fortunately for individuals looking to lose and keep off weight, you can safely lose three or more pounds at week by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

Losing Weight Through Exercise

Every successful weight loss strategy must consist of equal parts diet and exercise. It’s very difficult to lose weight only by dieting as maintaining such a strict calorie count without burning off any excess calories provides you with a very small margin for error. One extra spoonful of sugar in your morning coffee or handful of pretzels as a late afternoon snack can be all that it takes to derail a diet and keep you from losing weight.

However, if you burn 500 more calories than you intake every day for a week, you should lose one or two pounds. If this kind of slow and deliberate weight loss doesn’t offer you the type of results you want, you can start losing weight more quickly by eating less and exercising longer.

For example, if you consume between 1,000 and 1,200 calories a day, and exercise for at least one hour a day, you can potentially shed between three and five pounds in the first week alone. Reducing the amount of sodium and starch you consume can also help you to lose an additional five pounds within the first two weeks of a diet, but that weight comes mostly from retained water and not from burned fat.

Once you reach your weight loss goal, you can begin to slowly increase your daily calorie count, but still need to maintain your exercise routine in order to keep from gaining weight.

Depending on your current weight and level of health, you might need to consult a physician prior to starting any exercise routine.

Losing Weight Through Diet

While you need to exercise in order to lose weight, a healthy diet can help you speed up how quickly you reach your weight loss goals. Dieters should focus on reducing the amount of starches, animal fat, and added sugars they consume, while increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits, soy products, lean protein, and nonfat dairy foods.

Of course improving your diet is only part of what makes a diet successful. Changing your eating habits can also make as big an impact on a diet as what you eat. Here are a few tips to help keep you on track with your next diet:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables. In addition to containing plenty of needed nutrients, vegetables contain a lot of water, which will help keep you full longer.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can often be confused with hunger, so staying hydrated will help to prevent any phantom hunger pangs.
  • Remove temptation. Giving up chocolate on a diet is a lot easier when it’s not sitting in the pantry waiting to be eaten. Removing these sinful foods from the home will make it a lot harder to relapse on a diet.
  • Stay active. Boredom is a great appetite stimulator. Staying active will help keep you from eating because you have nothing else to do.
  • Eat only from the plate. Grazing from the fridge or straight from the bag is a great way for you to lose count of how much you’re eating each day. Also, without a visual representation of what you’ve consumed, it’s harder to understand just how much you’ve eaten.
  • Don’t skip. One of the most common dieting strategies is to skip meals to save on calories. However, skipping meals, especially breakfast, will just make you hungry later in the day, making it more likely that you’ll overeat during your next meal or continue to snack throughout the day.
  • Keep track of everything. Write down what you’ve eaten throughout the day. This will help you identify where any excess calories can be cut from, while also reminding you how much you’ve already eaten in any given day.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Timothy Harbolt, a Salem, OR dentist. 

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