If you've made the decision to lose weight and burn fat with a healthy diet and workout plan, you're already on your way to success. Following a fad diet and making unrealistic workout goals only leads to failure. If you want to lose weight for good, you need to follow a diet and workout plan that fits your lifestyle and that you can easily follow for the rest of your life.
To lose weight, specifically fat weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, and to lose 1 pound in a week, you need to eat 500 fewer calories a day. Most women can lose weight limiting their calories to 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day. An online food diary can help you track your daily intake. If you're feeling too hungry on this low-calorie diet, increase your intake by 100 to 200 calories. When it comes to losing fat, it's better to do it slowly at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week. Losing weight too quickly means you are more likely losing muscle and water.
In addition to watching your calories, what you eat can also help you reach your weight-loss goals. When you're following a low-calorie diet, you want to make sure you fill up on foods that satisfy your hunger without costing you too many calories. This means eating more fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. You should also make most of your grain choices whole grain. The fiber in whole grains takes your body longer to digest, keeping you full longer. Use a small dinner plate to help you stay on track, and fill half of it with your fruits and veggies, one-quarter with your whole grains and one-quarter with your lean protein.
A good cardio workout burns extra calories. While diet is more effective at helping you lose weight, exercise works to help you keep it off. The minimum exercise recommendations are 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio five days a week. But if you want to lose weight and burn fat, you may need to do a little more or increase your intensity. If you have the time, a brisk 60-minute walk most days of the week is a free and easy way to help you burn those extra fat calories. If your exercise time is limited, try jogging for 30 minutes instead. Dancing or a game of tennis also counts as a cardio workout.
When it comes to losing weight and burning fat, don't be afraid to lift weights. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, making it easier for you to maintain your weight loss. If you're a little intimidated by the machines at the gym, you can get a good muscle-building workout at home using free weights, exercise resistance bands or body-resistance exercises such as squats, pushups and situps. For best results, try to work out all of your major muscle groups -- arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs and abs -- two days a week.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.