If you cringe at the thought of slogging through a workout at the end of a long workday, take heart: You can lose weight by reducing your calorie intake. Losing weight depends on creating a calorie deficit, or taking in fewer calories than your body uses each day. Whether you create that deficit by eating less, exercising more or a combination of the two doesn't matter. Still, you might want to reconsider skipping a workout; exercise makes a weight-loss diet more effective and it improves your overall health and well-being.
Reduce your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day to lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week, which is considered a safe rate of weight loss. If you are considering starving yourself to fit into a new bikini by summer vacation, think again. Consuming fewer than 1,200 calories a day can lead to nutrient deficiencies, and a large amount of rapid weight loss often comes from lean muscle mass and water weight, not fat.
Give up sugar-sweetened beverages and baked goods, candy, flavored yogurt or any other foods with added sugars. Added sugars are a major contributor of calories to the American diet. Instead, soothe your sweet tooth with sugars found naturally in fresh fruit and low-fat, no-sugar-added dairy products.
Pile your plate high with fresh veggies at every meal. Replace high-carb grain products and fatty meats with fresh produce to reduce your calorie intake. Sorry, this does not give you license to pig out on potatoes; choose non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, lettuce and bell peppers, which are lower in calories and higher in fiber and water content to help you feel full.
Choose whole grains instead of refined grains. The calories are about the same, but the way your body processes the two types of grain is different. Refined grains have the bran and germ removed during processing, which also removes much of the fiber and other nutrients. Fiber helps foods digest slower, leading to steadier blood sugar and insulin levels. Refined grains, on the other hand, are digested quicker, leading to spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Over time, significant fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels can lead to weight gain. So, make your favorite veggie pizza with a whole-grain crust and ask for brown rice in your California roll the next time you grab sushi with friends.
- The benefits of exercise are plentiful. A trim waistline, a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes and better quality sleep are just a few reasons to get back in the gym. If the gym isn't for you, try a yoga class, hiking, dancing, cycling or any other activity that gets your heart pumping for about 150 minutes each week.
- MayoClinic.com: Fast Weight Loss -- What's Wrong with It?
- ShareCare: Is There a Calorie Minimum Below Which People Should Not Go?
- Harvard School of Public Health: Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet
- JoyBauer: Health Benefits of Refined Grains
- Integrative Oncology Essentials: Anti-Cancer Nutrition -- Sugar and Carbohydrates 101
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise -- 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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