What Steps Should I Take for Healthy Weight Loss?

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Answered by: Jessica, An Expert in the How To Lose Weight Category
Weight loss can help you improve your health, even if you just lose a small percentage of the extra weight you're carrying. Of course, you won't get as many benefits if you go about your weight loss efforts in an unhealthy way. Healthy weight loss means avoiding fad diets that promise fast results but don't typically provide lasting weight loss. Taking a few simple steps will make your weight loss journey safer and more effective.

Cut Calories

This is a given. You can't lose weight unless you eat fewer calories than you use throughout the day. Each pound of weight loss requires a deficit of 3,500 calories. The standard recommendation is to cut 500 calories per day, for a total of 3,500 per week. However, women shouldn't go below 1,200 calories per day and men should eat at least 1,800 calories per day to avoid adversely affecting their metabolism or going into what is sometimes called "starvation mode."

Move More

If you want to lose more than a pound a week, add exercise into your daily routine. Exercise is an important component of healthy weight loss, with both cardio and strength training providing weight loss benefits. Cardio helps you build more calories while you're exercising, increasing the amount of weight you lose. Strength training helps you add more muscle. Muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn just to maintain your current weight. Strength training also helps improve your body composition as you lose weight, so you'll have a higher percentage of muscle and a lower body fat percentage once you reach your desired weight.

Eat Foods Low in Energy Density

It's hard to lose weight if you're always feeling hungry. Choosing mainly foods that are low in energy density, or calories per gram, can help you fill up while still cutting calories. The amount of food you eat determines how full you feel, not the number of calories in the food. Low-energy-density foods include nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, broth-based soups and salads. Chose lean meats over fatty meats and replace part of the meat in your favorite dishes with vegetables. Fill up half of your plate at each meal with vegetables and fruits, and divide the other half of your plate between a starchy food and a lean protein source, such as brown rice and skinless chicken breast.

Allow For Treats

Giving up all of your favorite foods may leave you feeling deprived and make it harder for you to stick to your diet. Allow yourself an occasional treat. Just keep the portion size small. For example, have one cookie rather than a whole pack, and eat mainly nutritious foods the rest of the day. Another way to incorporate your favorite foods is to make healthier versions of these foods at home. If you love macaroni and cheese, for example, make this dish with low-fat cheese and add in plenty of vegetables, such as pureed cauliflower, chopped broccoli, peas or diced tomatoes.

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