Seems everyone wants to lose weight. “Just eat less” is what we hear. But there has to be more to it than that, right?
Whether you want to look better, feel better, be healthier or prevent or treat an illness, losing weight the healthy way is important. Here are some tips to help you in your journey if you are looking to lose a few pounds.
What should I weigh?
The answer is twofold: A weight at which you are healthy and a weight you can maintain. There are plenty of eating plans that might help you lose weight, but learning how to keep it off is critical to continued success. Losing 5 to 10 percent of your current weight is a realistic goal.
Do I need to watch my calories?
Calories do count! Our bodies want to balance calories in with calories out — we burn off calories through activity. What we don’t burn we store. How many calories per day are right for you? Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you are female, take your current weight and multiply it by 11 (men multiply by 12). This is the number of estimated calories it takes to maintain your weight on a daily basis.
By decreasing your caloric intake and increasing your activity, you can lose a half-pound to a pound per week by eliminating an extra 250 to 500 calories a day. So, if you take the estimated number or calories you need on a daily basis and subtract 500 calories a day, you could lose one pound a week. We are all different, so this may vary, but it’s a good place to start.
Make healthy food choices
Choose whole grain breads, cereals and whole grains. Eat more fresh fruit and lots of vegetables. Low fat or fat free dairy products are also good choices as are low-fat, lean meats. Limit your fried food intake. Opt for foods that are baked and grilled. Use added fats sparingly and when choosing fats, use those that are liquid. Water and calorie free beverages won’t add any extra calories and will keep you hydrated. What about those sweets and desserts? Special occasions are a good place for those; you can have them in moderation.
What about portions?
Many people eat “healthy” but their portions are too large. That means they are getting more calories than they need. This could result in a weight gain (yes even from “eating right”) or staying the same despite all that hard work. Use the plate planner method found at myplate.gov to portion your foods in a simple manner. A registered dietitian can design a specific meal plan for you to achieve your goals if you want something more structured than the plate planner.
It’s easier to manage what you can measure. So, knowing how many calories you are eating is helpful in knowing how much to cut back. There are numerous apps and online resources to help you track your food and calculate your calorie intake. I’ve seen people use My Fitness Pal, with its food label bar code reader, and Map My Fitness, with its ability to calculate calories burned for different activities. Other useful apps are Lose It, SparkPeople and Fit Bit. Look them up and see which one might be best suited to your goals.
Physical activity provides us with many health benefits. In regards to weight loss and weight maintenance, activity help us balance our calories in with our calories out. Activity can be as simple as just moving more. If you have not been active lately, start with 20 minutes a day of moving more: Park farther away, take a walk at lunch, walk around the house during television commercials. Any time you move, you are burning calories. Remember to talk with your doctor before you start a structured physical activity program.
The Good News
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Weight loss can help to prevent diabetes in those who are at risk for developing it. Weight loss will also help those with diabetes have better glucose control. If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes and would like help with weight loss, ask your doctor about talking with a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator.