How to Lose Weight

To lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit, or use up more calories than you consume. But before you cut calories or increase energy intake, it’s important to see where you’re starting from. Here are four steps you can take before you embark on weight loss:

1. Determine how many calories you need to maintain a healthy body weight.

2. Find the MyPyramid daily meal pattern that’s associated with your recommended calorie level.

3. Keep a log of everything you eat and drink (including portion sizes) for several days (including weekdays and weekend days); then compare your intake with the meal pattern that’s recommended by MyPyramid. A registered dietitian (RD) can help you assess your current intake and make recommendations for trimming your total calorie intake. She will also take into account your medical history, physical activity level, and personal preferences to help you create a lifestyle plan to help you lose weight slowly and steadily in a safe way. To find an RD in your area, contact the American Dietetic Association.

4. Keep a log of your current physical activity habits and compare it with what’s recommended in current federal physical activity guidelines.

Before embarking on weight loss, it’s important to set realistic goals. If you aim too high, you might set yourself up for disappointment. Even if you do achieve your “dream” weight, you might not be able to comfortably maintain that weight over the long term without drastically cutting back on calories and increasing physical activity and exercise. It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s better to lose less weight and maintain that weight loss over time than to lose a lot of weight and gain most if not all of it back. Several studies have shown that losing even 5 percent of your initial body weight (10 pounds if you weigh 200, or 7.5 pounds if your weight 150) can significantly reduce your risk of several diet-related diseases and have health, physical, and emotional benefits.

Most experts recommend a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. People with a higher initial body weight might shed pounds more rapidly than that, while those who start at a lower initial body weight might lose weight more slowly.

Because it takes cutting back (or burning) 3,500 calories a week to lose 1 pound of body fat, a 500-calorie deficit is needed each day. That deficit can be achieved by pairing fewer calories with more physical activity. For example, you can reduce your calorie intake by 200-300 calories each day (about what’s in an average candy bar or 2 slices of bread with 1 tablespoon of butter) + increase energy expenditure by 100-150 calories.

Simultaneously combining dietary efforts with physical activity to lose weight is smart because it supports slow, gradual weight loss and preserves lean muscle tissue to keep your metabolism revved up.

Slow and steady weight loss can also help your body adjust to a new body weight and help you stick to your new, more healthful food and fitness behaviors. On the other hand, rapid weight loss can put your at risk for developing gallstones and can promote rapid loss of lean muscle tissue; that slows your metabolism and makes your body less efficient at burning body fat.

Curbing Calorie Intake

Here are some tips to help you reduce your total calorie intake:

• Reduce portions of foods you typically consume, especially those that are high in calories, fat, or added sugar.
• Replace foods high in saturated and trans fats with reduced or low-fat options.
• Decrease liquid calories; limit caloric beverages to low-fat or nonfat milk or soymilk, 100% fruit juice such as orange juice (up to one glass a day), and an occasional alcoholic beverage (if you are not on medications or have health conditions that preclude you from doing so).

Increasing Physical Activity and Exercise

Here are some tips to help you increase your daily energy expenditure:

• Find opportunities to walk more.
• Invest in a pedometer. Try USANA Pedometer to be best used with USANA Reset Program. Tracking the number of steps you take can be a great motivator; set a long-term goal of 10,000 steps a day and a short-term goal of increasing your daily mileage by 1,000 steps each day until you reach that goal.
• Instead of emailing or texting colleagues, get up and go see them or call them on the phone and walk and talk.
• If you don’t exercise regularly at a gym or at home, identify physical activities you enjoy (whether it’s dancing, ice skating, biking, or playing a sport). Set a goal to engage in that activity once a week; after you’ve done that for a month, add a day until you find yourself being more active several days a week.
• If you already go to the gym or do formal exercise, increase your frequency, intensity, or duration one or more times a week to burn more calories.
• Set small, reasonable goals. Sign up for a run or a charity walk alone or with a friend and use that as a great excuse to train more often and more intensely.
• Always check with a physician before engaging in exercise if you are pregnant or postpartum, have any medical conditions, or are on medications.

How to Maintain Weight Loss

For many people, losing weight is much easier than maintaining that weight loss long-term. But there are people who have been successful losers. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a database of people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off, was created by Rena Wing, Ph.D., and James O. Hill, Ph.D., from the University of Colorado. NWCR has tracked more than 5,000 of these individuals and has found the following:

• Registry participants have lost between 30 and 300 pounds (66 pounds on average); weight losses have been maintained for 1-66 years (5 ½ years on average).
• About half of all participants lost weight on their own, and the other half with help from some type of program.
• Almost all participants modified both their food intake and incorporated more physical activity to lose weight.

NWCR participants also report the following behaviors helped them keep their weight off long-term:

• Eating breakfast
• Weighting themselves at least once a week
• Watching less television
• Engaging in exercise for about an hour each day
• Eating consistently on weekdays and weekends
• Try USANA Diet Nutrtion Bars and Nutrimeal Drinks

National health and nutrition examination surveys are population-based surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. They are designed to assess the health and nutrition status of noninstitutionalized Americans. These surveys are currently conducted annually.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which an individual stops breathing briefly during sleep, often accompanied by snoring.

Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis characterized by the wearing down of cartilage (connective tissue found in many body parts) and the bone underneath it within joints.

A registered dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition professional who has met American Dietetic Association (ADA) requirements; she received a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in dietetics or nutrition, completed an approved internship program, passed the registration exam, and receives continuing education credits to maintain the RD credential.

Gallstones form when substances in bile (a fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder) harden; they can cause pain or infection and may require surgical removal of the gallbladder.

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