How to Lose Weight – The Basics of Weight Loss
If you’re overweight, losing weight will bring you a range of important health benefits. The key to success? Think small, realistic changes to your diet and level of physical activity that can become a part of your daily routine.
Although there are many programs advertised to help you lose weight, the only proven long-term and safe method is to burn more calories than you consume.
1. Healthy Calorie Intake
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is a system of nutrition recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The DRI system is used by both the United States and Canada and is intended for the general public and health professionals. Applications include:
- Composition of diets for schools, prisons, hospitals or nursing homes
- Industries developing new food stuffs
- Healthcare policy makers and public health officials
The current Dietary Reference Intake recommendation is composed of:
- Estimated Average Requirements (EAR), expected to satisfy the needs of 50% of the people in that age group based on a review of the scientific literature.
- Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA), the daily dietary intake level of a nutrient considered sufficient by the Food and Nutrition Board to meet the requirements of nearly all (97–98%) healthy individuals in each life-stage and gender group. It is calculated based on the EAR and is usually approximately 20% higher than the EAR (See “Calculating the RDA”, below).
- Adequate Intake (AI), where no RDA has been established, but the amount established is somewhat less firmly believed to be adequate for everyone in the demographic group.
- Tolerable upper intake levels (UL), to caution against excessive intake of nutrients (like vitamin A) that can be harmful in large amounts. This is the highest level of daily consumption that current data have shown to cause no side effects in humans when used indefinitely without medical supervision.
The RDA is used to determine the Recommended Daily Value (RDV) which is printed on food labels in the U.S. and Canada.
2. Weight Loss Tips
One pound of fat contains approximately 3,500 calories, so to lose one pound a week, a person should consume approximately 3,500 fewer calories per week. This can be done by reducing the daily intake by 500 calories per day (500 x 7 days will provide a deficit of 3,500 calories per week). To lose 2 pounds per week, a deficit of 1,000 calories per day is required.
If this seems impossible, remember that physical activity also contributes significantly to weight loss. The deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories can come from a combination of increased physical activity and reduced intake on a daily basis.
Therefore, you don’t need to experience significant food deprivation. The lowest intake per day recommended for women is 1,200 calories, unless they are in a medically-supervised, very low-calorie regimen which may have a daily level of 500 to 800 calories per day.
The lowest level recommended for men is 1,500 calories per day. A very low-calorie diet can also be used by males if they are in a medically-supervised program.
Tips for preventing weight gain:
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar.
- Reduce how much alcohol you drink.
- Avoid stress, frustration, and boredom.
- If you are depressed, seek medical treatment.
Avoid a sedentary lifestyle by increasing your activity level:
- Perform aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week .
- Increase physical activity by walking rather than driving.
- Climb stairs rather than using an elevator or escalator.
- Always talk to your health care provider before starting an exercise program.
For weight loss to be successful, here is a summary of basic guidelines:
- Physical activity will assist in increasing muscle tissue which will burn more calories. You should plan on 20-minute sessions at least 3 times per week. Exercise is an important weight loss tool, but how much you need varies from person to person.
- Changes in eating habits will help encourage a permanent lifestyle change. REPLACE your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones. Keeping a food diary for a few days, in which you write down everything you eat and the time of day you ate it, will help you uncover your habits.
- A slow weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds a week, until the desirable body weight is reached, is best. Although that may seem like a slow pace for weight loss, it’s more likely to help you maintain your weight loss for the long term. If you lose a lot of weight very quickly, it may not be fat that you’re losing. Some diets include an initiation phase to help you jump-start your weight loss.
- To lose one pound of fat, you must burn approximately 3500 calories over and above what you already burn doing daily activities. Remember that 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat contains 3,500 calories. So to lose 1 pound a week, you need to burn 500 more calories than you eat each day (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).
- The apparent weight loss effects of water are still a subject for further research, but there is some evidence that suggests that drinking water can be associated with appetite reduction, consuming fewer calories, burning slightly more calories, and eating more fruits and vegetables. Increased water consumption, or replacement of energy-containing beverages with energy-free beverages, or consumption of water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables with a lower energy density, may help in weight management. Popular advice to children regarding water consumption is often inaccurate.
- Keep track of how many calories you eat. For at least a week, enter and track your calories online or use a food journal to write down what you eat and drink each day.
This web page is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment! Nothing on this web page should be construed as medical advice. Please check with your own physician about any information that concerns you.