Weight Loss

Why do I need to lose weight if I am overweight?

Being overweight increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. If you are overweight, losing just 5 to 10% of your weight and keeping it off lowers your risk for developing most of these diseases. Your healthcare provider can give you a good sense of whether you have an increased risk of health problems because of your weight. What can I do to lose weight?

Changes that will help you lose weight include: a better understanding of your own health healthier eating habits a plan for rewards for following your program to lose weight more physical activity Diets for losing weight involve: making smart choices from every food group: fruits, vegetables, grains, milk products, meat, and fats finding a balance between how much food you eat and how much exercise you get getting the most nutrition out of your calories. If you are trying to lose weight, this most often means eating fewer calories and avoiding some foods. A weight loss diet needs to give enough nutrition and a good variety of satisfying foods as well as fewer calories.

What works best is a gradual change in your habits of eating and physical activity–a change that you can continue for the rest of your life. The ideal diet is one that helps you lose weight slowly but steadily, so you can keep a healthy weight after you have reached your goal.

The best weight loss plan is one that fits your own needs and food preferences. Ask your healthcare provider for a safe, healthy, and effective weight loss program. What foods should I choose to lose weight? A healthy eating plan is one that: Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Includes fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs or egg whites, nuts, seeds, and soy foods. Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Keep a food diary. As soon as you eat or drink, write it down. It may be helpful to use a small pocket diary.

Seeing what you eat and drink will help you learn more about your eating patterns and food habits. What foods should I limit or avoid? As much as you can, avoid the following types of food: refined carbohydrates (sugar) and foods containing added sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, dextrose, highfructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, honey, and brown sugar refined grain products such as white rice and white flour (Try to substitute whole grains for refined grains whenever you can.) Also avoid: saturated fats such as butter, cream cheese, poultry skin, whole-milk dairy products (including cheese), and fat on meats other foods that often contain a lot of fat and trans fats, such as pastries, cakes, cookies, potato chips, and crackers fried foods packaged meats because they are often high in fat, salt, and preservatives (Look for low-fat, low-salt varieties.).

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Moderate drinking means up to 1 drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks for men. A drink equals 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 and 1/2 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Remember that alcoholic beverages add calories to your diet with very little nutrition. What are calories? A calorie is a way to measure the energy value of food. Your body burns calories to use for basic body functions. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats contain calories and produce energy. To lose weight, reduce the calories in the food you eat (without giving up nutrition).

Increase the number of calories you use in physical activity. Your body will burn fat stored in your body to get the energy it needs and you will lose weight. Eating 500 calories a day less than you need to maintain your present weight can result in losing 1 pound a week. Try to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. If you lose more than that each week, you begin to lose muscle rather than fat. Most weight loss diets suggest 1200 to 1500 calories a day for women and 1500 to 1800 calories a day for men.

However, calorie needs can vary a lot depending on your activity level and current weight. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian to help you determine how many calories you need a day. Don’t reduce your calories too much. If you get too few calories a day, your body will shut down its metabolism so that you can survive the lean time. This can happen if you go on a “starvation diet.” The body’s survival response will then stop you from losing weight.