Losing weight is challenging, but certain tips can help you take the guesswork out of dieting. You can gain weight slowly, almost imperceptibly, over many years. But when you finally decide that it is time to diet, wanting to lose the weight as fast as possible is a common and understandable emotion. There are problems with rapid weight loss, though, and radical diets have drawbacks. Slow and steady is not as enticing as some of the quick, "miracle" diets that promise pain-free, guaranteed results, but it can yield long-lasting benefits. Keeping yourself honest with your diet is important, as is educating yourself about healthy choices you can make every day to improve your health while you reach your ideal weight.
Calories count. This simple fact has been obfuscated by complicated fad diets and perhaps by your own personal relationship to food and weight gain. Eat more calories than you burn each day and you will store the excess and gain weight. A daily deficit of calories will eventually lead to weight loss. To balance your caloric intake with your needs you need to figure out what your energy needs are. How many calories you burn per day depends on your gender along with your age and activity level. There are government websites available that help you calculate how many calories you need per day to sustain your current weight or to reach your target weight. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) My Plate & Food Pyramid website contains links to many helpful sites.
You need a deficit of 500 calories to lose about one pound of excess weight per week. Cutting back further can increase the rate of weight loss, but be aware that you need adequate fuel for your daily routine. Cutting back too radically on your caloric intake can make you tired, sluggish and cause your metabolism to slow.
Not all calories are equal. Empty calories do nothing to give you the nutrition you need. You can improve your health while you diet by cutting out sugary drinks and salty or fatty snacks in favor of water and fresh fruits and vegetables. Whole grains such as brown rice provide dietary fiber that keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Keep a daily food journal help to keep yourself honest. Don't estimate how much you eat, or neglect to write down everything you eat, including small snacks. Calories add up and mindless eating can derail your diet, so write down what you eat as soon as you consume it. Carrying around a small notepad is helpful. There are also websites that do the math for you. The USDA's MyPyramid tracker helps you analyze your food intake and your activity levels.
Get out and move! Rather than cutting back drastically on calories, reduce your food intake by about 500 calories per day for slow, even, sustainable weight loss. Exercise helps you feel better, encourages better eating habits, and burns extra calories, which lets you enjoy a more reasonable diet. Exercise also helps in long-term weight control. In addition, it will boost your self-esteem and improve your cardiovascular health and overall fitness.