The Best Way to Lose Weight
The best way to lose weight is a combination of healthy eating and regular physical activity. Over time, this can reduce your risk of obesity and diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Cook meals at home instead of ordering out or buying pre-packaged foods. Cooking can help you control calories, sugar and unhealthy fat intake.
Regular exercise is essential for achieving and maintaining weight loss. Every activity you perform uses calories, but exercise burns extra calories that would otherwise be stored as fat.
Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week. This can be in the form of aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging or swimming, and strength training. Including both types of exercise in your routine is beneficial, as building muscle helps you burn calories even when you aren’t exercising.
The key is to find an exercise that you enjoy and will stick with. Start off slowly with a low-intensity routine and work your way up to two or three 30- to 45-minute sessions of total body resistance exercise per week. Try to include some type of cardiovascular exercise a couple of times per week as well, such as running or biking.
Exercise doesn’t just help you lose weight, it also improves your overall health. It boosts good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases unhealthy triglycerides, which can lower your risk for heart disease.
When starting a new exercise program, it’s best to talk with your doctor first to make sure that the activity is safe for you. If you experience any unusual or serious symptoms during exercise, such as dizziness, shortness of breath or chest pain, stop exercising and seek medical attention.
Eating right means balancing what you eat with the calories you burn through exercise. It also includes eating a variety of nutritious foods and avoiding high-calorie drinks and snacks.
Keeping a food diary can help you understand your current diet and determine what changes might be helpful. Make a list of the foods you eat and drink in a day, and write down your hunger level at the time. A food diary can help you identify patterns that may be affecting your ability to lose weight, such as skipping meals or overeating at night.
Focus on whole foods, which are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and low in fat and added sugars. Examples include fruits, vegetables (especially dark green and red), whole grains and beans, nuts, seeds and fish. Try to include all of these foods in your daily meal plans.
Limit or eliminate fried and breaded foods, and eat lean meats, poultry without skin, beans and unsalted nuts. Avoid high-fat dairy products. Choose beverages that are lower in sugar, such as water or 100% fruit juice.
Eat a balanced breakfast of lean protein, filling carbohydrates and healthy fats to give your body the energy it needs for the day. If your favorite breakfast recipes call for frying eggs or adding bread, find healthier ways to prepare them — steamed vegetables, unsweetened yogurt, whole wheat toast, a bagel or a hard boiled egg.
Watch Your Calories
One of the most important steps in losing weight is watching your calories. Counting calories can help you determine your energy needs by taking into account your height, weight and level of activity. This can also help you determine how many calories you should consume each day to lose weight. You can count your calories using a notebook or online tools that track all the food and drinks you have in a day. By carefully tracking everything you eat, you will get an idea of the portion sizes you should have and how many calories each food has.
A good way to start is by buying a calorie counter (they’re inexpensive) and writing down all the foods and beverages you have in a day. You can also use the Internet or smartphone apps to look up calories on a food or drink you’re not sure about. Be prepared to spend some time looking up the information. A few weeks of this will give you a better idea of the food and beverage habits you have, such as when you tend to snack or eat mindlessly.
Another easy way to cut calories is by replacing high-calorie foods with lower-calorie options. For example, choose low-fat milk or yogurt instead of full fat, and use cooking sprays instead of oils and butter. Adding more vegetables to your meals can make any meal more filling and lower-calorie. Choose water and unsweetened tea or coffee over sugary drinks.
Avoid skipping meals, as this can lead to overeating later in the day or binge eating. Instead, eat smaller meals throughout the day and try to eat only when you’re hungry. This will ensure you’re not overeating at any meal and will allow you to eat more mindfully.
Keeping yourself motivated to lose weight can be challenging, especially when the scale isn’t moving quickly or you have to deal with unexpected challenges. But it’s important to know that motivation isn’t some magical thing that comes and goes, and you can learn to create a sustainable source for it. The key is to have a variety of tools in your toolbox, such as setting achievable and measurable goals, keeping a food diary, and finding a support system that will hold you accountable.
Make a list of the reasons why you want to lose weight and post it somewhere where you can see it. Whether you want to reduce your health risks, live longer with your family or just feel better in your clothes, having a powerful motivating reason can help keep you on track when the going gets tough.
When you set a goal, make sure it’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 2 pounds per week, assuming you’re exercising 5 times a week and counting calories. This way you can stay encouraged when the scale isn’t moving and celebrate the small victories like knocking a few more points off your blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
Find a friend who will walk with you or cook healthy meals with you to increase accountability. It will be more fun and you’ll have someone to talk to about your struggles. Investing in a professional may also help, such as hiring a personal trainer or working with a dietician.
Change up your routine by learning new recipes and trying different flavors to avoid getting bored with your food choices. This will help you avoid overeating because you’re eating out of boredom or to compensate for your lack of exercise.
Develop coping skills to deal with unexpected stressors, such as parties, holidays or other events that may tempt you to fall off the wagon. Many people turn to food for comfort, and this can lead to relapses. Having proper coping strategies in place can prevent this from happening and keep you on track for your big goal.